Apple Music hits 20 million paying subscribers

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Apple Music has hit an important milestone. The service now has more than 20 million subscribers, Billboard reported Tuesday. 

This is a 15% increase from September, when Apple said the service had 17 million paying customers. 

Apple’s SVP of internet software and products, Eddy Cue, told Billboard that 60 percent of Apple Music users have not bought any content from the iTunes Music Store in the last 12 months. 

Cue also touted Apple’s partnership with Chance the Rapper, whose Apple Music-exclusive album Coloring Book performed well on the Billboard charts.  Read more…

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Android app updates will get drastically smaller, again

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Updating apps on your mobile device isn’t just a matter of a few seconds anymore; with apps (games, especially) steadily rising in size, a larger set of updates can easily grow into gigabytes of data and many minutes of downloading. 

Google addressed the issue earlier this year by switching to a new compression algorithm, which the company says reduced the size of app updates by 47 percent on average. 

Now, the company has made even bigger progress by using an app updating technique called File-by-File patching which makes app updates 65 percent smaller on average compared with the full app.

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Apple just revealed the most-downloaded app of 2016

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Apple just revealed the most downloaded apps of 2016 and the top spot should come as little surprise to those who have been paying attention: Snapchat.

As if we needed more proof that Evan Spiegel’s app was having its best year ever,  Snapchat beat out Facebook, Instagram and Pokémon Go to be the most-downloaded free app in the App Store in 2016, according to Apple.

Though much of the list will come as little surprise as Facebook, Instagram, Google Maps and YouTube regularly land the top spots in the App Store, the order may be less expected. Facebook’s much-maligned app, Messenger (which currently has an average App Store rating of just three stars) landed the second spot, while the summer’s massive hit Pokémon Go came in at number three. Read more…

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Pandora’s new premium service will focus on personalization

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Pandora just offered an early look at its upcoming on-demand streaming service called Pandora Premium, and it looks like it’ll be focusing on personalization to differentiate itself in an increasingly crowded space.

Pandora had previously confirmed it would release its own on-demand service. With the official launch not for at least a few more weeks, CEO Tim Westergren showed off the company’s new music service during an event in New York Tuesday, multiple outlets reported.

The upcoming service will take each user’s history into account, so that all the songs you have previously liked on Pandora’s Internet radio service will impact the recommendations you get on the new Premium tier, Engadget reportedRead more…

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The line between Instagram and Facebook is getting very, very thin—and here’s why you should care

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An algorithmic feed. Live video. A seemingly unquenchable thirst to copy Snapchat. Sound like an app you know? You’d be forgiven for thinking the answer was Facebook, though, it’s not. 

Instagram’s the app you’re looking for, and it’s been steadily moving closer to Facebook (which owns Instagram) in recent months. 

And on Tuesday, the company took the next step in that direction, and announced it was adding the ability to “like” comments within posts. 

While Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom billed it as a way to “encourage positivity” on the platform, for many, the move’s just the latest in a series of ways Instagram is more and more often resembling Facebook. Read more…

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Instagram is changing comments in a big way

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Instagram comments are getting more like Facebook.

The company is updating its comments so users can like each other’s comments on posts, the Facebook-owned company announced on Tuesday. The app is also adding the ability to turn off commenting on specific posts and remove followers from private accounts without using the block button.

All of the changes are starting to roll out as of Tuesday, but Instagram says it should take a couple weeks to show up to everyone. 

In a blog post Tuesday, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said the ability to like comments helps Instagram users “show support and encourages positivity throughout the community.”  Read more…

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Snapchat might be trying to bring video games to your Story

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If a flurry of 3D-centric job postings is any indication, your Snap Stories will probably be getting a lot more animated and interactive in the not-so-distant future. 

Business Insider noticed the influx of newly opened roles, which are mostly classified as being “Research” positions at Snap’s HQ in Los Angeles. The listings call for candidates with 3D design, animation, modeling, rigging and skinning experience.

While many of these positions point to the further development of the ways that we already use Snapchat’s augmented reality features (like its filters and World Lenses), others look to be branching out in a new direction, particularly in character design and gaming. Read more…

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Microsoft has a new AI chatbot and it doesn’t want to talk about Tay

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Microsoft is experimenting with a new, tamer chatbot. 

Months after the company’s first chatbot Tay went viral for all the wrong reasons, Microsoft quietly rolled out a new bot that looks to be far less controversial than its predecessor.

Named Zo, the latest chatbot appeared on chat app Kik and is still “early access,” according to Microsoft, though anyone with Kik can start messaging the bot now. In our limited testing, much of what the bot says is similar to the bland and sometimes nonsensical musings spouted by other bots. 

Of course, after the public relations nightmare that was Tay, it’s understandable that Microsoft would be careful with its next chatbot.  Read more…

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Google’s new app will help loved ones find you in an emergency

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When something goes wrong, one of the first things you think about is getting in touch with the people you care about. But if there’s been a natural disaster, an accident or some other emergency, that may be a lot easier said than done. 

Google’s latest app, called Trusted Contacts, aims to fix that. The app allows friends and family members to remotely share their location with just one touch. 

When you sign up for the app, you designate specific people in your address book as “trusted contacts.” This allows you to share your location at any given time and allows them to request your location.  Read more…

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Distracted driving kills, so why don’t more apps have driver warnings?

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Fatalities on American roadways are on the rise and smartphones may be at least partially to blame, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Deaths on American roadways increased 7.2 percent percent in 2015, according to the group, representing the biggest single-year increase since 1966.

Exactly what role smartphones may have played in these 35,092 deaths is difficult to determine. The primary culprit behind this increase in fatalities, according to their report, is actually the improving economy (people drive more when they have more money). Consistently rising speed limits on the nation’s highways may also bear a large part of the blame. Read more…

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