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Twitter now lets everyone limit replies to their tweets

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Twitter may describe itself as the town square, but that doesn’t mean you have to talk to everyone walking past your seat at the cafe. Today, to increase the amount of “meaningful conversations” that take place on Twitter, and to help people weed out abuse and spam in their replies, the company announced that it is rolling out a new feature where users can limit who replies to their Tweets.

After a brief run in beta, the feature is rolling out globally starting today to users of the iOS and Android apps, as well as twitter.com, Suzanne Xie noted in a blog post announcing the feature. TweetDeck is not yet supported, Twitter tells me.

A small globe icon will start to appear at the bottom of your tweet, and if you do nothing, everyone will still be able to reply — this is the default option. Or, you can tap it and limit replies just to those who follow you; or just to those who you tag in the tweet itself.

And, if you pick the third of these and tag no one, it’s also a way to broadcast a tweet or a thread of tweets with no replies at all. (This all applies to “open” accounts; those that have locked who can view their tweets are limited by default; and it doesn’t seem to replace the option to hide replies, which Twitter launched last year. We asked and Twitter declined to make any update or statement on the “hide replies” functionality.)

Those who can’t reply will get a greyed-out icon, but they can still view, retweet, retweet with comment and “like” the tweets.

The basic idea behind limiting replies is more control. Specifically, setting parameters around those who can reply can help the original poster curtail abusive or trolling replies, or to limit replies to keep the conversation on track. Both can be especially critical in a number of use cases common on Twitter. Those tweeting about a sensitive issue or a political topic are classic scenarios that bring out trolls. And those trying to broadcast a conversation with a specific group (or indeed in a monologue) with the intention of making that conversation publicly viewable can now do it without interruption.

“Sometimes people are more comfortable talking about what’s happening when they can choose who can reply,” Xie wrote. “We’ve seen people use these settings to have conversations that weren’t really possible before. Starting today, everyone will be able to use these settings so unwanted replies don’t get in the way of meaningful conversations.”

Xie said that beta test feedback has been positive. Those using the feature said they felt more comfortable and protected from spam and abuse, and the feature is getting used: It found that those who have submitted abuse reports and had access to the new limit reply tool were three times more likely to use the settings.

It seems that limiting replies is more of a complement to, not a replacement for, muting and blocking: 60% of those using the limit replies feature weren’t already muting and blocking other users. Xie doesn’t mention how it is used alongside another spam-controlling feature Twitter launched last year, hiding replies.

People who are limited from replying directly can still retweet with a comment, and thus still inject whatever they want to say. But Xie noted that “these settings prevented an average of three potentially abusive replies while only adding one potentially abusive retweet with comment,” adding that there was no uptick in unwanted direct messages, either.

The feature getting announced today has been a while in the making, both from a product and even longer from an idealogical point of view.

The concept for limiting replies was first announced back at January at CES, when Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s VP of Product said that the primary motivation [for the feature] was control. “We want to build on the theme of authors getting more control and we’ve thought … that there are many analogs of how people have communications in life,” he said at the time.

The feature then formally started to roll out in a limited test in May, and the version that is getting turned on today looks just like that. (In fact, the screen shots are exactly the same, except with a more recent date on the tweets.)

But the bigger thinking behind the new feature stretches back earlier than this year.

Twitter has long (as in years now) been working on creating better ways to channel its open-ended social platform to keep it from getting exploited and abused.

The issue stems from the platform’s basic DNA: Twitter was built around the idea of anyone being able to reply to anyone else, regardless of whether two users follow each other, or whether someone wants to hear a certain response. The issue, some argue, is that Twitter has dragged its feet because the open-ended aspect is actually in Twitter’s best business interest, since it encourages more engagement and use. (For a recent example of that argument pertaining specifically to cancel culture conversations, see here.)

Admittedly, it can be one of the more empowering feelings you can have on this big internet of ours, to be able to reply to someone on Twitter when you have an opinion on something, or just a question. Never mind that the reply may never come, or come from an army of trolls. And indeed, that open-ended aspect hasn’t always played out as a positive every time.

People, some of whom might be vulnerable or going through difficult situations, can be singled out for negative responses by other users, leading some of them to leave Twitter altogether, sometimes in very high-profile incidents. At a time when social media has become ever more influential and is being criticized by many asking whether it is fair enough, responsible enough and responsive enough in relation to the (incendiary and other) content that bounces around its playing fields, it has been a bad look for Twitter, and it’s been trying for years now to fix it. 

I’m guessing that some will decry the move to limit replies as a curtailing of free speech and free expression, that it might give a stronger voice to those who are actually using Twitter to disseminate abusive information themselves, by potentially limiting how people can respond.

There are a couple of counter arguments, though. One is that people can still see and retweet what someone says, one way of responding. A retweet with comment can still be pretty powerful: Sometimes these tweets can go viral and be seen even more than the original tweets themselves.

Xie noted that people will be able to see when replies have been limited, and that Twitter is working on ways of making that more obvious. That might well include pointing people to further information elsewhere. And the new timeline containing “Retweets with Comments” launched in May gets four times more visits on Tweets using these settings, Xie said.

There have, in fact, been a number of tweaks to reduce the amount of noise on the platform: Last year Twitter turned on the ability to hide replies, and over the years Twitter has improved the process for reporting harassment (including a number of updates and tests around harmful language), blocking people (although it seems this has some people contesting it) and muting people.

And it’s worth pointing out that Twitter has been making a lot of efforts to better detect and help users report original tweets that are abusive, discriminatory, contain fake news and the rest.

That might be the most important point here. This is a net positive for the platform, but still just one step in a long journey to work on improving the climate on Twitter overall.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/08/11/twitter-now-lets-everyone-limit-replies-to-their-tweets/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ingrid Lunden

Garmin global outage caused by ransomware attack, sources say

An ongoing global outage at sport and fitness tech giant Garmin was caused by a ransomware attack, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the incident.

The incident began late Wednesday and continued through the weekend, causing disruption to the company’s online services for millions of users, including Garmin Connect, which syncs user activity and data to the cloud and other devices. The attack also took down flyGarmin, its aviation navigation and route-planning service.

Portions of Garmin’s website were also offline at the time of writing.

Garmin has said little about the incident so far. A banner on its website reads: “We are currently experiencing an outage that affects Garmin.com and Garmin Connect. This outage also affects our call centers, and we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and apologize for this inconvenience.”

The two sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to speak to the press, told TechCrunch that Garmin was trying to bring its network back online after the ransomware attack. One of the sources confirmed that the WastedLocker ransomware was to blame for the outage.

One other news outlet appeared to confirm that the outage was caused by WastedLocker.

Garmin’s online services have been down for days. The cause is believed to be ransomware, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the incident. (Screenshot: TechCrunch)

WastedLocker is a new kind of ransomware, detailed by security researchers at Malwarebytes in May, operated by a hacker group known as Evil Corp. Like other file-encrypting malware, WastedLocker infects computers, and locks the user’s files in exchange for a ransom, typically demanded in cryptocurrency.

Malwarebytes said that WastedLocker does not yet appear to have the capability to steal or exfiltrate data before encrypting the victim’s files, unlike other, newer ransomware strains. That means companies with backups may be able to escape paying the ransom. But companies without backups have faced ransom demands as much as $10 million.

The FBI has also long discouraged victims from paying ransoms related to malware attacks.

Evil Corp has a long history of malware and ransomware attacks. The group, allegedly led by a Russian national Maksim Yakubets, is known to have used Dridex, a powerful password-stealing malware that was used to steal more than $100 million from hundreds of banks over the past decade. Later, Dridex was also used as a way to deliver ransomware.

Yakubets, who remains at large, was indicted by the Justice Department last year for his alleged part in the group’s “unimaginable” amount of cybercrime during the past decade, according to U.S. prosecutors.

The Treasury also imposed sanctions on Evil Corp, including Yakubets and two other alleged members, for their involvement in the decade-long hacking campaign.

By imposing sanctions, it’s near-impossible for U.S.-based companies to pay the ransom — even if they wanted to — as U.S. nationals are “generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them,” per a Treasury statement.

Brett Callow, a threat analyst and ransomware expert at security firm Emsisoft, said those sanctions make it “especially complicated” for U.S.-based companies dealing with WastedLocker infections.

“WastedLocker has been attributed by some security companies to Evil Corp, and the known members of Evil Corp — which purportedly has loose connections to the Russian government — have been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury,” said Callow. “As a result of those sanctions, U.S persons are generally prohibited from transacting with those known members. This would seem to create a legal minefield for any company which may be considering paying a WastedLocker ransom,” he said.

Efforts to contact the alleged hackers were unsuccessful. The group uses different email addresses in each ransom note. We sent an email to two known email addresses associated with a previous WastedLocker incident, but did not hear back.

A Garmin spokesperson could not be reached for comment by phone or email on Saturday. (Garmin’s email servers have been down since the start of the incident.) Messages sent over Twitter were also not returned. We’ll update if we hear back.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/25/garmin-outage-ransomware-sources/
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TikTok unveils $200 million fund for U.S. creators

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TikTok today announced a $200 million fund, aimed at helping top creators in the U.S. supplement their earnings, and potentially coax the next Charli D’Amelio out of the woodwork.

Called the TikTok Creator Fund, the money is aimed at helping “eligible” creators on the platform earn a livelihood, it said. Eligible for now is defined as 18 years or older, meeting a certain (unspecified) baseline for followers, and consistently posting original content that is in line with TikTok’s community guidelines. The platform will begin accepting applications from U.S.-based creators starting next month and distribute the capital over the coming year.

The promise of payouts is coming at a key moment for the app and its Chinese parent ByteDance . TikTok has been facing mounting criticism in the US, its biggest market by revenues, over how it handles user data and its ties to China, with calls from the Trump administration to ban the popular app outright.

And in response to that, TikTok has been making moves to present a more friendly face to the US. It has pledged to add 10,000 more staff in the US, and this week rumors began to circulate that investors in the US are considering buying a majority stake in the TikTok business back from ByteDance to establish control of the company out of China’s hands.

(It’s not clear if the latter is testing the waters of sentiment, or just an outright rumour, but as an aside to that, these days, ByteDance and TikTok try to go to great lengths to show they are not connected, if you go by how they handle their PR: Chinese spokespeople will not answer TikTok questions and refer journalists to the US team.)

Vanessa Pappas, GM of TikTok’s U.S. business, said in a blog post that ByteDance is starting the Creator Fund at $200 million and plans to increase it over time. She did not disclose how TikTok would decide what sum would be paid to an individual creator, and whether there would be any additional conditions to getting a payout. (We have asked about this and how many followers creators might need to have to be eligible, and will update as we learn more.)

TikTok already helps its creators sign brand partnerships and sponsorship deals, and it provides monetization for live-streams. The platform also has a $50 million Creative Learning Fund to introduce teachers to the platform, which has been used by some 1,000 teachers in the U.S. already. And a Creator Marketplace connects brands to creators to collaborate on paid campaigns.

“Through the TikTok Creator Fund, our creators will be able to realize additional earnings that reflect the time, care, and dedication they put into creatively connecting with an audience that’s inspired by their ideas,” she said.

TikTok currently employs about 1,400 people in the U.S. and recently crossed the milestone of 2 billion installs globally. Last year, it said it had 26 million users in the U.S.

Several lawmakers including Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton have expressed concerns in recent months that TikTok’s user data could end up with the Chinese government. China-headquartered ByteDance insists that it does not share any user’s data with the Chinese government, and that it stores its U.S.-based user data in the U.S. and Singapore. Earlier this week House lawmakers voted 336-71 to bar federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued devices.

TikTok, which appointed Disney streaming executive Kevin Mayer as its chief executive officer in May this year, also insists that it is a Cayman Islands incorporated firm.

For now, it seems that the programs that TikTok is launching are squarely aimed at fighting that fire in the US. It did not respond to a request for comment asking what it was doing to help creators in other markets supplement their earnings.

India, where TikTok has more than 200 million users and over 1 million creators, banned TikTok and 58 other apps developed by Chinese firms late last month over cybersecurity concerns. Its neighboring nation Pakistan issued a “final warning” to TikTok earlier this week over what it deemed “immoral, obscene, and vulgar content.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/23/tiktok-creator-fund-200-million-us/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Manish Singh

Lenovo brings some unique features to its new gaming phone

Gaming phones are a weird one. They make sense on paper to some degree. As we well know, everyone’s a gamer these days, and much or most of that gaming happens on mobile devices. So why aren’t devoting gaming phones a more popular phenomenon? It’s not for lack of trying.

Lenovo’s the latest company to toss its hat in that highly-specific ring. That’s the sort of thing you can do when you’re the size of Lenovo and can experiment with such things. Gaming phones are a kind of go big or go home proposition, and the company’s doing mostly the former with the Legion Phone Duel, a mobile addition to the company’s Legion line of gaming PCs.

For starters, the handset was briefly alluded to in Qualcomm’s recent Snapdragon 865 Plus announcement — and is now is one of a very small club of phones sporting the chip. From where I sit, however, the most interesting thing about the category is the way it affords manufacturers an opportunity to experiment with ideas in a way that you don’t often see on flagships. And, indeed, there’s definitely some interesting stuff happening here.

For one thing, it’s got two batteries — something you don’t really see outside of foldables. Of course, those sport them for the very pragmatic reason that phone batteries don’t fold. Here, however, the batteries are separated to prevent overheating, leading the company the split the extremely health 5,000mAh capacity in two. You’re going to need that sort of battery for a gaming-centric 5G handset.

Also worth pointing out is the horizontal pop-up selfie camera — the most notable feature from early leaks. The idea here, of course, is that serious mobile gaming happens in the landscape configuration. As such, the design makes sense for video capture to stream to services like Twitch and YouTube. It’s a highly specific case use, of course, but this is highly specific phone. And, of course, your results of taking selfie video on the mobile device you’re using to game may vary.

Speaking of unique feature positions, there are also two separate USB-C charging ports — one in standard position on the bottom, and the other on the side. Again, the idea here is to make it as easy as possible to remain in landscape mode. If you’ve ever attempted to charge your phone and play a game at the same time, you know how much of a pain that can be.

Along with the aforementioned Snapdragon chip, you’ll also find up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage. The display is 6.65 inches at 2340×1080, with a 144Hz refresh rate. The phone does not appear to be coming to the U.S. for now, but will be available this month in China (where it will be called the Legion Phone Pro), followed by the Asia Pacific region, Europe/Middle East/Africa and Latin America.

Pricing is TBD.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/22/lenovo-brings-some-unique-features-to-its-new-gaming-phone/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Brian Heater

As COVID-19 surges, 3D printing is having a moment

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COVID-19 will be remembered for many things — most undoubtedly negative. There are, however, some silver linings among the horrors of the deadliest pandemic in recent memory. Among them, if the sort of human ingenuity that shines whenever the world is faced with a similar crisis.

The simple truth of the matter is the world wasn’t prepared for a virus of this magnitude. It’s something that’s played out in country after country, as the novel coronavirus has continued to devastate communities across borders.

In spite of early warning signs, many nations — the U.S. certainly included — were caught off-guard, lacking the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessities required to battle the virus for a prolonged stretch. For many, taking on COVID-19 has required improvisation and resourcefulness — both, thankfully, qualities found in good volumes among the maker community that helped give rise to 3D printing technology.

If you’ve followed the technology even in passing over the last decade, you’re no doubt aware how much time evangelists spend justifying the usefulness of 3D printing beyond the the confines of desktop hobbyists. The defensiveness is certainly understandable. Consumer 3D printing has all of the trapping of an overhyped boom and bust. The truth of the matter is that it simply wasn’t ready for the mainstream moment many investors and members of the press were ready to thrust upon it.

But even as desktop 3D printing companies begun to scale back or shutter at an alarming rate, the industry has continued to have success stories among those who have further innovated and targeted the right market. Formlabs jumps out amongst the desktop market, with Carbon presenting a success story on the industrial side of the fence. What unites both beyond innovation is a focus on real-world case uses.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/06/as-covid-19-surges-3d-printing-is-having-a-moment/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Brian Heater

YouTube TV hikes price to $64.99 per month following new channel additions

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YouTube TV is getting another price hike, making its live TV streaming service less competitive with the cable TV services it aims to replace. The company announced today its service would now cost $64.99 per month, starting today, June 30, for new members. The change will also be reflected on the next billing cycle for current members after June 30.

The bump in pricing is now one of several price increases YouTube TV has seen since its debut, starting with a modest $5 per month bump in 2018, followed by a much more substantial price hike last year to $50 per month.

The increases are due to the rising costs of programming for the streaming TV service as the pay TV industry collapses amid a rise in cord cutting — a trend now accelerating at even a faster pace due to the pandemic.

YouTube TV had announced in May it would soon gain 14 more ViacomCBS channels as part of an expanded distribution deal. This included the addition of new channels like BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land and VH1 which are today being made available. This brings YouTube TV’s base plan to over 85 channels.

Other channels that were are a part of that same deal — including BET Her, MTV2, MTV Classic, Nick Jr., NickToons, and TeenNick — are due to arrive at a later date, the company noted.

While YouTube TV didn’t announce its plans to raise prices back in May, at this point it’s to be expected whenever a service says it’s adding channels to its core offering.

But for YouTube TV’s some 2 million subscribers, new additions aren’t always welcome.

The original promise of live TV streaming services were smaller lineups, sometimes even a la carte options, for a lower monthly price.

Services like Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, Philo, and others offer pared down channel selections compared with the hundreds of channels offered by cable and satellite providers. But in the years since their respective launches, they’ve slowly closed the gap with cable by adding more and more channels to base packages and raising prices.

In addition to the ViacomCBS channels, YouTube TV also recently introduced premium add-ons including Cinemax and HBO Max.

Now, instead of wooing consumers on price, YouTube TV focuses on feature set.

For example, YouTube TV announced today a new feature that allows users to jump to various segments within select news programs on the service, starting first on TV screens and coming to mobile in the next several weeks. It also touted its unlimited DVR, dark mode option, “Mark Watched” feature, and redesigned Live Guide with access to TV programming for the week ahead.

“We don’t take these decisions lightly, and realize how hard this is for our members,” YouTube TV’s announcement read, in detailing the price hike.

“That said, this new price reflects the rising cost of content and we also believe it reflects the complete value of YouTube TV, from our breadth of content to the features that are changing how we watch live TV,” wrote YouTube TV VP of Product Management, Christian Oestlien. “YouTube TV is the only streaming service that includes a DVR with unlimited storage space, plus 6 accounts per household each with its own unique recommendations, and 3 concurrent streams. It’s all included in the base cost of YouTube TV, with no contract and no hidden fees,” he said.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/30/youtube-tv-hikes-price-to-64-99-per-month-following-new-channel-additions/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Sarah Perez

The iRig Pro Duo makes managing advanced audio workflows simple anywhere

Connecting audio interfaces to the various mobile and computing devices we use these days can be a confusing headache. The iRig Pro Duo, which IK Multimedia announced this year at CES and recently released, is a great way to simplify those connections while giving you all the flexibility you need to record high-quality audio anywhere, with any device.

The basics

The iRig Pro Duo is a new addition to IK’s lineup based on the original iRig Pro, which adds a second XLR input, as the name implies. It’s still quite small and portable, fitting roughly in your hand, with built-in power optionally supplied via two AA batteries, while you can also power it via USB connection, or with an optional dedicated plug-in power adapter accessory.

Compared to desktop devices like the Scarlett Focusrite 2i2 USB audio interface that’s a popular standard among home audio enthusiasts, the iRig Pro Duo is downright tiny. It’s still beefier than the iRig Pro, of course, but it’s a perfect addition to a mobile podcaster’s kit for ultimately portability while also maintaining all the features and capabilities you need.

The iRig Pro Duo also includes balanced L/R 1/4″ output, built-in 48v phantom power for passive Macs, a 3.5mm stereo jack for direct monitoring, 2x MIDI inputs and dedicated gain control with simple LED indicators for 48V power status and to indicate audio input peaking.

Design

Beveled edges and a slightly rounded rectangular box design might not win the iRig Pro Duo any accolades from the haute design community, but it’s a very practical form factor for this type of device. Inputs go in one side, and output comes out the other. IK Multimedia employs a unique connector for its output cables, but provides every one you could need in the box for connecting to Mac, iOS, Windows and Android devices.



The whole thing is wrapped in a matte, slightly rubberized outside surface that feels grippy and durable, while also looking good in an understated way that suits its purpose as a facilitation device. The knobs are large and easy to turn with fine-grained control, and there are pads on the underside of the Duo to help it stick a bit better to a surface like a table or countertop.

The lighting system is pretty effective when it comes to a shorthand for what’s on and working with your system, but this is one area where it might be nice to have a more comprehensive on-device audio levels display, for instance. Still, it does the job, and since you’ll likely be working with some kind of digital audio workflow software whenever you’re using it that will have a much more detailed visualizer, it’s not really that much of an issue.

Bottom line

As mentioned, iRig Pro Duo works with virtually all platforms out of the box, and has physical connector cables to ensure it can connect to just about every one as well. IK Multimedia also supplies free DAW software and effects, for all platforms – though you do have to make a choice about which one you’re most interested in since it’s limited to one piece of software per customer.

If you’re looking for a simple, painless and versatile way to either set up a way to lay down some music, or to record a solo or interview podcast, this is an option that ticks essentially all the boxes you could come up with.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/29/the-irig-pro-duo-makes-managing-advanced-audio-workflows-simple-and-anywhere/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Darrell Etherington

Slack announces Connect, an improved way for companies to talk to one another

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Virtual events are the new norm for product rollouts in 2020, with Slack taking to the internet earlier today to talk about a new part of its service called Slack Connect.

On the heels of Apple’s lengthy and pretty good virtual WWDC that took place earlier this week, Slack’s event, part experiment and part press conference, was called to detail the firm’s new Slack Connect capability, which will allow companies to better link together and communicate inside of their Slack instance than what was possible with its shared channels feature. The product was described inside of a business-to-business context, including examples about companies needing to chat with agencies and other external vendors.

In its most basic form, Slack is well-known for internal chat functionality, helping teams talk amongst themselves. Slack Connect appears to be a progression past that idea, pushing internal communications tooling to allow companies to plug their private comms into the private comms of other orgs, linking them for simple communication while keeping the entire affair secure.

Slack Connect, a evolution past what shared channels offered, includes better security tooling and the ability to share channels across 20 orgs. The enterprise SaaS company is also working to give Connect-using companies “the ability to form DM connections independent of channels,” the company told TechCrunch.

The product could slim down email usage; if Slack Connect can let many orgs chat amongst themselves, perhaps fewer emails will be needed to keep different companies in sync. That said, Slack is hardly a quiet product. During his part of the presentation, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield noted that the service sees up to 65 million messages sent each second at peak times.

According to the CEO, Slack Connect has been piloted for a few months, and is now available for paid plans.

Slack shares are off 3.8% today, before the news came out. Its broader company cohort (SaaS) are also down today, along with the market more broadly; investors don’t appear to have reacted to this piece of news, at least yet.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/24/slack-announces-connect-an-improved-way-for-companies-to-talk-to-one-another/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Alex Wilhelm

Colin Kaepernick joins Medium board of directors and inks partnership publishing deal

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The online publishing platform Medium said that it has added former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and civil rights advocate Colin Kaepernick to its board of directors.

The company also said it had inked a partnership agreement with Kaepernick to develop projects focused on race and civil rights in America under the Kaepernick Publishing imprint — Kaepernick’s personal publishing company founded in 2019.

Medium’s decision to bring Kaepernick on board as a director and publisher for the site follows an industry-wide reckoning within startups around the country about their role in perpetuating racial disparity in America. The accounting comes as protests in cities across the country shine a spotlight on police brutality and the political and economic disenfranchisement of the nation’s Black communities in the wake of the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.

According to Medium’s chief executive Ev Williams, the deal with Kaepernick is the culmination of a long-running discussion between the company and the athlete and activist.

“We’ve been in talks with Colin for some time, and we are honored to be electing him to join our board,” said Williams, in a statement. “Colin’s voice and actions have led the discussion on racial justice, and the world is finally catching up to him.”

Kaepernick will be writing stories and working on features for Medium’s Level, which describes itself as a publication for the “interested man” and its new blog on anti-Black racism and civil rights, Momentum. The activist and former quarterback will also interview leaders, activists and athletes for the Medium platform.

“I am excited for Kaepernick Publishing to partner with Medium to continue to elevate Black voices in the news and publishing industry,” said Kaepernick, in a statement. “I also look forward to creating new opportunities and avenues for Black writers and creators with my new role as a Board member.”

Medium currently boasts 170 million monthly readers across its blogs and editorially driven publications including ZORA and Level, which are aimed at women and men of color, according to the company. Medium also publishes GEN, focused on “politics, power, and culture”; the technology-focused masthead, OneZeroElemental, a health-focused site; Forge, for self-help and advice; and Marker, which the company bills as a business-focused site.

Momentum is the latest addition to Medium’s suite of curated blogs and publications.

To date, Medium has raised over $130 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Spark Capital, GV, Greylock Partners, The Chernin Group, Lowercase Capital and Obvious Ventures.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/18/colin-kaepernick-joins-medium-board-of-directors-and-inks-partnership-publishing-deal/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jonathan Shieber

Dropbox introduces slew of new features for business and home users

Dropbox has always been about file storage, sharing and collaboration, but it wants to stretch beyond those roots and provide customers, especially those using the Dropbox Plus paid tier with a set of additional capabilities that typically would have involved using third-party products. This includes password management, an online vault and full computer backup. While it was at it, the company also introduced a couple of updates for business users too.

For starters, Dropbox wants to help people manage the multitude of passwords across our lives. This is moving into territory of password managers like LastPass or 1Password. As you would expect, the password manager feature stores all your passwords and autofills the password for you.

Dropbox is also getting into the online vault business. The idea with these tools is to give you a secure place to store your important documents in a digital context, rather than using a safe deposit box as in the past. You can share a pin with trusted loved ones to give access to these documents like a will or insurance policy in the event of an emergency.

The company is also getting into the backup business, giving Dropbox Plus users the ability to regularly backup the entire contents of your PC or Mac and retrieve it fully should you lose your computer or experience a full out machine failure.

Dropbox Plus users will soon be able to do a full machine backup. Image Credit: Box

All of these products are in Beta right now, but Dropbox says they should be available to all Dropbox Plus customers in the coming weeks. Dropbox Plus customers pay $9.99 a month for 2 TB of storage and many other features. By adding these additional features, Dropbox is sweetening the offering and making it more attractive to fork over the monthly fee beyond pure storage space.

The company also is offering a new embedded eSignature feature for Dropbox Business users with HelloSign, the company it acquired last year. Unsurprisingly, the company is making HelloSign the default eSignature solution and providing an easy workflow to send, sign and return documents without leaving Dropbox. This is in Beta right now.

In addition, the company is offering a new App Center where business users can find other cloud services that integrate easily into Dropbox like Google Docs, Slack and Zoom.

Lastly to make life easier for home users, the company is introducing a family account for up to six family members. It includes a common storage for sharing items like family photos and important documents, as well as private storage for each person. This will be available for Dropbox Plus customers initially and more widely later in the year, according to the company.

While this is a broad set of features, it’s designed to expand the utility of the Dropbox family of products, provide greater separation between the free and paid tiers, while helping Dropbox users balance work and family life from one product.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/16/dropbox-introduces-slew-of-new-features-for-business-and-home-users/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ron Miller

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