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By Fiza Ali
WhatsApp is bringing "view once" mode for its iOS beta users
by Fiza Ali
Whatsapp is working on new capabilities that are similar to Snapchat's "view once" photos and videos feature to add to its iOS app. It is also redesigning its in-app notification.
After launching the View Once feature for WhatsApp beta for Android earlier, the company is introducing the same for iOS beta users with version 184.108.40.206. as well. By employing the latest feature, WhatsApp users will be able to send photos and videos using the View Once mode for them to disappear once they have been opened. However, unlike Snapchat, WhatsApp won't tell the sender if the recipient took a screenshot or not.
Along with View Once mode, the beta version is also getting redesigned in-app notifications. This feature will allow users to see more details about the messages in the notification panel such as stickers, GIFs, videos, and images.
According to WABetaInfo:
The release date for the latest capabilities has not been announced yet, however, their availability for beta testers indicates that they are going to be launched soon.
Source and images: WABetaInfo via 9to5Mac
Snap signs music licensing deal with Universal Music Group
by Paul Hill
Snap has announced that it has signed a deal with Universal Music Group (UMG) so that its artists can have their music included in Snap’s library and be used in Sounds, Lenses and more. Sounds is a fairly new feature on Snapchat that allows you to add music to your Snaps. With the UMG deal, you’ll have more songs to choose from when publishing your Snaps.
One of the UMG artists is the Jonas Brothers. In a statement about today’s news, they said:
Since launching last October, Sounds has been made available around the world on Android and iOS. Videos created with music from Sounds now total 521 million and the collective views total 31 billion views. If you couldn’t find the right song to play in the background of videos before, the UMG deal may change this for you.
Prior to the UMG deal, Snap had already signed multi-year agreements with various publishers including Warner Music Group, Merlin, NMPA, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Kobalt, and BMG Music Publishing.
Snapchat adds Pride Lenses, stickers, and printable custom flags
by Paul Hill
To celebrate Pride Month, Snapchat has added a suite of creative tools to help LGBTQIA+ people better express themselves on the platform. The new tools consist of augmented reality Lenses, stickers, and a service that allows users to create their own individual Pride flag – which can also be printed off by Snap’s partner Pride Basics.
Discussing the customisable flags, Snap said:
Thanks to a partnership with Pride Basics, Snapchatters will be able to take their custom made flags and get them printed and shipped directly to their home. Snap also said that for each flag sold, $2 will be donated to InterPride - an organisation that helps coordinate Pride events around the world.
Flags can be customised and purchased directly from the Pride Basics website and cost $15. The flags can be shipped outside the United States but prices may vary depending on where you are having the product shipped to.
UK government teams up with social media in vaccine drive
by Paul Hill
The UK government has announced that it’s working with Snapchat, Reddit, TikTok, and YouTube to encourage young people to get their coronavirus vaccines. It comes after the government opened up vaccines to all people over the age of 18. Earlier this month, the government announced a similar arrangement with dating app firms that are also popular with younger people.
As part of the initiative, Snapchat users can currently use NHS stickers and a filter to encourage their friends and family to get the vaccine. Later in the month, an augmented reality lens that reads “I’ve had my vaccine” will be available for users in the UK to use on their accounts.
Snapchat will also host questions and answers about the virus and has also expanded its ‘Here For You’ feature which helps people access NHS resources about COVID-19, ensuring they get reliable information.
For its part, Reddit has been hosting Ask Me Anything sessions with various experts including Dr Amalina Bakri. Reddit said it will continue to host these question and answer sessions over the coming weeks to ensure people have access to factual and reliable information from a range of experts.
TikTok has added NHS ‘I’ve had my COVID vaccine’ stickers to its library which users can share to encourage vaccine take-up. It’s also working with a group of scientists called Team Halo which is producing entertaining and shareable videos about vaccines.
YouTube is running a video campaign called ‘Let’s Not Go Back’ to encourage 18 to 34-year-olds to get their vaccine. It attempts to remind the audience of the importance of being vaccinated using the medium of personal experiences for the last year of lockdown in an attempt to make a connection with viewers. This campaign is running on YouTube, billboards, bus stops, and social media. The government says these ads have served over 400 billion impressions worldwide.
If you’re yet to make an appointment to receive your vaccine, head over to the NHS’ website now to book. The second dose of the vaccine will be administered 8 to 12 weeks after you receive your first dose.
Snap buys WaveOptics, the display maker of SPS 2021 Spectacles
by Subir Kathuria
Yesterday Snap Inc, the parent company of Snapchat announced its latest generation of Spectacles, the SPS 2021. Now the company has announced that it is acquiring WaveOptics, the manufacturer of the augmented reality displays that power its newest Spectacles for $500 million. The deal is the company's largest-ever and a testament to Snap's long-term goal to push its way into a future where AR eyewear could go mainstream and be ubiquitous. Fifty percent of the deal amount will be paid in stock at closing and the rest will be paid in either cash or stock after two years.
The team will report to Steen Strand, director of Snap's hardware division.
WaveOptics, the Oxford, UK-based firm was founded in 2014 and has over 100 employees spread over U.K., U.S., China, and Taiwan. It makes displays with a technology called waveguides, which allows for the overlaying of virtual objects onto the real world through a transparent surface like glass and accompanying light projectors. The firm has received $60 million in funding to date. Other investors in the company include Octopus Ventures, IP Group, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, China’s Gobi Ventures, Goertek, and HostPlus.
The move from Snap is seen as a defensive step against its rivals. Apple bought the holographic waveguide-maker Akonia in 2018, Google has posted a job listings so it can create a team to build waveguides, and Facebook has Oculus in the VR field and is planning to build products for AR as well.
The deal does not stop WaveOptics from supplying waveguides to other companies. But it will work exclusively with Snap on custom optical systems. The deal prevents WaveOptics from falling into the hands of a rival that could potentially stop Snap from getting any technology for its use. Snap has been developing Spectacles for years, with three generations of publicly available models. This deal is an indication that Snap has no intention of going slow on its AR vision any time soon.
Source: The Verge