Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel approved a controversial major redesign that plunged the company’s growth even after receiving warnings from engineers and a mediocre performance result during pre-launch tests, claims a new report in The Information.
“Some current and former employees told The Information that the overall goal – to make the app easier to use, Spiegel said later – wasn’t adequately conveyed to those working on bringing the new design to life,” Engadget reported on Friday.
The February redesign had aimed to separate “friends’ content” from the “celebrity content” and moved the posts and messages of users’ friends to a different section of the app.
The change had drawn criticism from celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Chrissy Teigen, who argued that the redesign made the app harder to navigate.
Besides, putting up to 83 percent negative reviews on the Apple App Store, users also filed an online petition calling for the removal of the new update that attracted more than 1.2 million signatures on Change.org.
Earlier this month, the audio-video sharing platform rolled out new redesign for iOS where snaps and chats were aligned chronologically and Stories from friends were moved back to the right-hand side of the camera screen.
“There is no doubt that collaboration yields better results,” Spiegel told The Information in an email.
Few WhatsApp for iOS 2.18.52 users have received group video calling
Same goes for very few Android beta version 2.18.145 and above users
A new Add participant button shows up in WhatsApp video call
At the F8 keynote, it was announced that the Facebook-owned WhatsApp is getting the group calling feature soon. Now, a few users are reporting that they are seeing the feature in their Android and iOS app, and are able to use it. Mind you, very few users are reporting this update, and it doesn’t mean that the official roll out has begun. WhatsApp is the biggest messaging app in the world, with over a billion active users globally.
WABetaInfo reports that few users on WhatsApp iOS version 2.18.52 and Android beta version 2.18.145 and above can see group video calling activated. This feature is not officially rolled out yet, and it does not work on the invitation system either. Users just have to be very lucky to see this feature, and WhatsApp seems to have randomly picked a segment of users to test this feature with. In any case, this does mean that the group calling feature is coming to WhatsApp Android and iOS real soon.
For all those lucky users who have it, they now see an Add Participant icon on the top right window after making a video call to one person. Clicking on that icon allows you to add up to three more people to the video call. The screen then splits into four halves for a proper group video call.
WhatsApp has rolled out the new iOS version 2.18.52 to all users, and you can check for an update on the App Store. After updating the app, you can go ahead and see if you have the video calling feature activated or not by following the above mentioned method. If you do see it, then let us know your first impressions in the comment section below!
It reportedly exposed Apple IDs and their passwords in plaintext
The vulnerable servers have been disabled
TeenSafe, an app that lets parents monitor their children’s text messages, social media, and phone location, is found to have leaked data related to thousands of its users that include both parents as well as children. The data, which was reportedly stored on two of the vulnerable servers backed by Amazon Web Services, compresses the email addresses of parents that are associated with the teen monitoring app, alongside the Apple IDs of children and their plaintext passwords. It is also said that at least 10,200 records from the past three months were put at risk.
UK-based security researcher Robert Wiggins reported that two of the TeenSafe servers had exposed the user data, as spotted by ZDNet. While the company pulled the affected servers shortly after it received an alert, ZDNet was able to verify some of the data exposed. It is reported that the servers were unprotected and accessible without requiring a password. Further, as the app asks users to disable the two-factor authentication, attackers can view personal data only using the credentials that surfaced on the servers.
Among other data surfaced, there were the email addresses and passwords of the parents using the TeenSafe app in addition to the email address of children that were used as their Apple ID. It is also reported the device names of children who were being tracked using the app were spotted alongside their device’s unique identifier. Likewise, the data also included error messages associated with a failed account action – in some instances highlighting the time when parents weren’t able to identify their children’s real-time location. All this was notably stored in plaintext instead of under any encryption. However, the company claims on its website that its app is “secure” and uses encryption to protect the data.
ZDNet’s Whittaker verified the leak by reaching out the parents whose email addressed were spotted in the leaked data. Moreover, various email addresses of children were found to be associated with their high schools.
“We have taken action to close one of our servers to the public and begun alerting customers that could potentially be impacted,” a TeenSafe spokesperson said in a statement to ZDNet.
Since the vulnerable servers are no longer live for access, attackers won’t be able to obtain the data. However, TeenSafe hasn’t provided any clarity on how it is set to protect their servers in future.
Twitter has long had a strange disdain for third-party Twitter apps, but it’s allowed many of them to pass under the radar for the last several years. That’s starting to change this summer, when Twitter will revoke a key piece of access that developers currently have to the service, replacing it with a new access system that limits what they can do. The changes aren’t going to make third-party Twitter clients useless, but they are going to make the apps somewhat worse.
The changes, which go into effect August 16th, do two main things: first, they prevent new tweets from streaming into an app in real time; and second, they prevent and delay some push notifications. Neither of these are going to break Twitter apps completely, but they could be very annoying depending on how and where you use it.
The first change means the Twitter timeline has to be manually refreshed. That’s not necessarily a huge deal on mobile, as you’re probably used to pulling to refresh the timeline anyway. Luke Klinker, the developer behind the Android Twitter client Talon, said that only 2 to 3 percent of his users ever turned on the auto-refresh feature, or what’s known as streaming to Twitter client makers, because it was such a drain on battery. Craig Hockenberry, a senior engineer at Iconfactory, which makes Twitterrific, said it would be a bigger problem in some scenarios, like when you’re watching an event on TV. “Pulling to refresh in those cases works, but is awkward and feels ‘slow,’” he writes in an email to The Verge.
On the desktop, the lack of streaming could be a bigger issue. Twitter apps can still request that your timeline be refreshed, but they can only do it so often. If you’re the kind of person who absolutely needs to see every tweet the second it’s tweeted, that’ll be a problem.
But it might still be fine for some users. Tapbots co-founder Paul Haddad, who’s behind the Mac and iOS app Tweetbot, says that his apps are already set up to automatically check Twitter for updates “every so often” when a user has streaming disabled. “As an anecdote, we’ve had users running without streaming for months for one reason or another and not even notice,” he writes in an email to The Verge.
Push notifications could be more of a problem. On mobile, it sounds like they’re either going to vanish or be severely limited. Klinker has never had access to the developer tools that allow for push notifications, so the Talon app has never supported them. He has been able to create workarounds, like having the app occasionally request updates in the background, but it can’t receive all types of notification and, again, it’s a drain on battery.
That’s an annoying change, especially since the type of people who download third-party Twitter apps are probably the type of people who like to stay engaged on Twitter. It could also be a major issue for Twitterrific, which is available for free on iOS but charges $3 for access to notifications. That in-app purchase is Twitterrific’s “primary revenue stream,” according to Sean Heber, an engineer at Iconfactory. The feature will essentially be broken, or at least partially broken, once Twitter enacts these changes. “So this is a big problem,” he wrote in a tweet.
On the desktop, notifications will be limited, but not as dramatically. Haddad says that like and retweet notifications will stop working on Tweetbot for Mac, and other notifications will be delayed by one to two minutes.
There may be other, unexpected issues too. Heber said it’s still unknown if direct messages will work on mobile. Haddad said he expects issues on mobile to primarily revolve around push notifications, but that he wasn’t ready to detail the exact impact yet.
Twitter will offer developers a way to buy access to a new API that will enable all the old, real-time features. But the service appears to be extremely limiting and prohibitively expensive for consumer app developers. I suspect it’s likely meant for companies doing data analysis or offering financial services; something that can be sold for much more money. Twitter’s pricing comes out to $11.60 per user per month, and that’s only if an app doesn’t go above 250 users. Any more than that and they have to negotiate a deal for greater access. And given Twitter’s well-known disinterest in third-party Twitter apps, it’s unlikely this would be an option for developers.
While developers aren’t exactly thrilled with the way Twitter’s changes have turned out, it sounds like they aren’t too shaken either. “We’d obviously prefer to continue to offer things in as real-time a manner as possible, but not being able to do that is not the end of the world,” Haddad said.
Klinker said most users of Talon and other recent Android Twitter apps won’t notice any changes, since they never had access to push notifications anyway. They also aren’t likely to get some new Twitter features, he said, like polls. “My users won’t see any changes, but Twitter has restricted what I hoped to be possible for the future,” he wrote. Klinker said he was excited for the API changes because it could have finally granted his app access to notifications, but Twitter’s pricing makes it “clear that push notifications for third-party apps is the last thing Twitter wants these APIs used for, which is disappointing.”
Twitterrific for iOS should “mostly keep working without push, in theory,” wrote Heber. He said Iconfactory will “still expect to keep the app running with reduced functionality for as long as we can.”
“One thing I’m concerned that Twitter doesn’t understand: a lot of the folks who use our apps are longtime users who are highly engaged with the service,” Hockenberry said. “These folks aren’t served well by the official client and are likely to find a different outlet for their social media needs.”