TIME

Snapchat Just Unveiled a New Feature

The app's unveiling it for the Electric Daisy Carnival

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Snapchat unveiled a new feature Tuesday called “Our Story” — riffing on its “My Story” platform.

While “My Story” allows an individual to broadcast a collection of Snapchat experiences over 24 hours before they self-destruct, “Our Story” gets away from the individual experience and embraces the collective. According to Snapchat’s blog, “We built Our Story so that Snapchatters who are at the same event location can contribute Snaps to the same Story. If you can’t make it to an event, watching Our Story makes you feel like you’re right there!”

Basically, users who are at the same location can use “Our Story” to add their videos, photos, and doodles to a publicly viewable content stream. The feature is launching in conduction with this weekend’s Electric Daisy Carnival—for which Snapchat is providing free Wi-Fi so that its users can experiment with the new product.

Snapchat explains, “If you’re at Electric Daisy Carnival, simply add a Snap to “Our EDC Story” that appears in your “Send to…” page. You’ll need to turn on location services to let Snapchat know that you’re actually at the event.” Snapchat says it won’t store user location information.

The stream will be broadcast to people who aren’t at the event as well, as long as they add EDCLive on Snapchat.

Snapchat’s monetization strategy is regularly called into question, and this new feature could serve as an example of how the company might be looking to turn a profit via brands and event sponsors.

TIME App

Tinder’s New Photo Feature Is A Lot Like Snapchat

Tinder

The dating app added a "Moments" feature that allows users to share photos with matches that will disappear in 24 hours

Updated 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday

In a continued attempt to move away from its “just a hookup app” stereotype, Tinder added a new feature Thursday that turns it into more of a social sharing platform. “Moments” allows users to show their matches photos taken throughout the day that will disappear after 24 hours — longer than your average Tinder relationship.

“We’ve done a really good job of helping people form new relationships, so good in fact that we just reached 2 billion matches this week, but making the connection is just the start,” founder and CEO Sean Rad told TIME. “We wanted to give our users a better way to get to know their matches and communicate with them. And that’s what led to Moments.”

A user can click on a camera icon at the top of their “Matches” tab to take a photo that will be shared with all potential suitors and then get erased from existence in 24 hours. (But keep your pants on—literally—users can easily report and block inappropriate photo sharers).

While the “Moments feature certainly has some Snapchat-esque elements—people can draw, caption, and put filters on the ephemeral photos—it still stays true to the Tinder user experience.

“I think Tinder is different [from Snapchat],” Rad said. “Of course we’ve taken inspiration from other experiences out there, but the core user experience with moments is very Unique and familiar to our users in the way we present the content. The action of swiping is very unique to Tinder.”

Users have the ability to swipe through their potential suitors’ Moments, found on top of their “Matches” tab. A swipe right alerts the photo taker that you “Liked” their Moment, creating new opportunities for communication.

Rad said that Tinder decided to make the pictures self-destruct in a day to “take away that pressure of wanting to make it perfect and allow you to be more yourself.”

Tinder claims to produce 800 million swipes and 10 million matches a day. And the founders promise that it is adding more features that will expand on the dating functionality.

As Josh Stein, a partner at VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, told Bloomberg,”Tinder might end up competing with Snapchat or Facebook.”

This could be seen as the next step to making Tinder—which Rad says “is already about more than just dating”—a social platform.

“I think you could look at it as an evolution,” he said. “To us social means meeting new people and strengthening the bonds that you have with existing relationships. We’ve done the meeting people well, now it’s about giving unique and fun tools to people to connect with those matches.”

TIME Japan

This Japanese App Is Literally Just a Girl Staring at You 

Never be lonely again, or is it too late?

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Forever alone? More like never alone! “Watching Cute Girl” is a free Japanese app that’s pretty much what it sounds like. Launch the app on your iPhone, and a cute girl looks out at you from the screen, periodically saying something charming or offering to give you a (virtual) hug.

Watching the demo video, it’s clear that the app is the latest in a long line of Japanese inventions that attempt to solve the enduring problem of social isolation. These range from anime body pillows (often used as “girlfriends”) to the hugging coat that automatically hugs its wearer and the ramen bowl with an iPhone mount (actually a great idea for anyone).

It’s another step toward the technology featured in Spike Jonze’s Her: virtual people that we can interact (and possibly fall in love, or at least obsession) with. It also brings to mind Japan’s hostess culture, in which women are paid to idly flirt and spend time with solo businessmen. This app seems slightly less exploitative, but still more than a little strange. Do you really want a spruced-up Tamagotchi to be your girlfriend?

Reviews of the app show that the answer is actually, yes, people do. “It makes for good company for whenever I’m busy studying or doing work on the computer,” reviewer Moylan writes. “And it runs very smoothly!”

TIME

Uber Offers Private Jet Service to Cannes for 1%ers Who Don’t Plan Ahead

Because bullet trains are declasse

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In its never-ending pursuit of the stranded commuter, taxi startup Uber will offer private jets from Paris to Cannes during that peak commute time for the 1%, the Cannes Film Festival.

Users will be able to hail a jet on the app from May 12 to May 18. The service, offered in partnership with Goodwill Airlines, will allow travelers to hail a black car to Paris’ Bourget airport, followed by a private jet to Nice, followed by another black car to Cannes, all in a few easy swipes on the smartphone.

The ride will cost $8,930, which can be split between three jetsetters, and if the price tag seems a bit high for a scrappy independent film maker, Uber will knock another $34 off of the airfare with the promo code “AirUber.”

TIME Israel

New iPhone App Turns Back The Clock on Israel

A smartphone placed on an Israeli map in Jerusalem, displaying the new iNakba application that allows users to find the remains of Palestinian villages that now lie inside modern-day Israel, May 5, 2014.
A smartphone placed on an Israeli map in Jerusalem, displaying the new iNakba application that allows users to find the remains of Palestinian villages that now lie inside modern-day Israel, May 5, 2014. Thomas Coex—AFP/Getty Images

What Israel calls Independence Day, Palestinians know as "Nakba," The Catastrophe. Now an iNakba app maps villages erased after 1948, tracking a changing landscape. A spokesperson for the app's developer Zochrot said, "maps are a political tool"

Tuesday was Independence Day in Israel, and Israelis marked 66 years of statehood with barbecues, flyovers, and fireworks. Supporters of the Palestinians used the occasion to unveil a new app that looks at the holiday from the perspective of the side that lost the 1948 war and has been locked in conflict with Israel ever since: iNakba

In Arabic, “nakba” means “catastrophe,” and the iPhone application maps some 500 Palestinian villages that once stood on the land controlled by Israel since 1948. The app was developed by Zochrot, an Israeli nongovernmental organization that exists to remind Israel’s Jewish majority of that history. “The application provides coordinates and maps of Palestinian localities that were completely demolished and obliterated after their capture, partially demolished, or remained standing although their residents were expelled,” Zochrot says on its website.

This appears, on an iPhone screen, as a forest of ochre-colored Google Map pins laid over the familiar map of modern Israel. Tap on any one pin and the Arabic name of the village comes up: Umm al-Zinat, for instance, in the north near Haifa. Tap again, and a page opens showing a photo—some feature handsome stone buildings, this one just rubble—and a few lines of data: There is the name of the Jewish communities that went up after 1948 (Elyakim), the date and the Israeli military unit that occupied it, and the Palestinian population in 1948 (1,710) and after 1948 (None).

A menu allows viewers to upload photos of their own, and offers driving directions, using Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze—the crowd-sourcing navigation app developed by Israelis and purchased by Google for $1.15 billion.

“The idea of the app is like changing the landscape, because we in Zochrot believe that maps are a political tool, and from ‘48 till today, Israel on its maps just erased Palestine and its localities and our heritage,” Raneen Jeries, a spokesperson for Zochrot, tells TIME. “So we put Palestine back on the map.”

The app has its practical uses. Of the 3,000 downloads in the first 24 hours, some may have been by descendants of the 750,000 people who fled or were forced out in 1948 and now come to Israel looking for the site of their ancestral home in a landscape of freeways, factories and subdivisions. Bound volumes like All That Remains can help, but as Jeries says, “It’s not easy to find the destroyed places.”

But the app also represents a new frontier—clean, bright, helpful—in the competition between historical narratives. Israelis and Palestinians have different experiences of the last century, and each wants the world at large to see history from their perspective. The differences between them extend even as far as dates: Israel changes the date of Independence Day every year, marking the occasion according to the lunar-based Jewish calendar. Palestinians use May 15, the day after Israel signed its declaration of independence on the Gregorian calendar in 1948.

The iNakba effort is unlikely to change many minds among Jewish Israelis, says Dahlia Scheindlin, a political consultant and pollster who blogs on the leftist +972 site. “Up until now, Zochrot has taken very radical positions,” she tells TIME. By supporting the right of return for Palestinians—allowing descendants of the 1948 exodus to live in Israel—the group has placed itself in line with a segment of the Jewish Israeli population that, Scheindlin says, is too tiny to register in public opinion surveys. Nakba is so unpopular a notion that until the Knesset legal advisor barred its introduction in 2012, Israeli lawmakers championed a bill barring its commemoration inside Israel, even though 20 percent of the population is Arab, many descended from the Palestinians who were allowed to remain after 1948.

Still, Scheindlin says, Zochrot has displayed a talent for framing a volatile issue in new ways. “They’re making an effort to get noticed in Israeli society,” she says, “and at least talk in way that will get people thinking.”

TIME relationships

There’s Now A Wide Selection Of Tinder Alternatives For Jewish Singles

Getty Images

Matchmaker, matchmaker, swipe me a match

Considering that there are dating apps for farmers looking for other famers, it should hardly be a surprise that there’s a new Tinder specifically geared towards Jewish singles.

JSwipe is a Tinder derivative that launched on the first day of Passover, perhaps aiming to distract a bread-starved consumer base with pictures of nearby Jewish matches. After clarifying your Jewish affiliation (Orthodox? Willing to convert?) and eating tendencies (What’s your stance on cheeseburgers?), users are free to swipe right (which prompts a happy face Star of David) and left (sad face Star of David) to their Semitic-seeking hearts’ content.

And why stop at just one Jewish Tinder alternative?

There’s also JCrush, an app that launched in early April for the less decisive lover. Not only do users have a “Maybe” option, but even if they swipe left for no (in this case shown by a red “x” mark with “Oy Vey” written across the symbol) they can go back to change their minds.

Note: Religious affiliation doesn’t assure quality control. Some mensch matches apparently believe “Mazel Tov, sweet cheeks!” is an appropriate conversation starter.

TIME Music

Music Tweets Will Rock Their Own Billboard Chart

Twitter logo is displayed at the entranc
KIMIHIRO HOSHINO—AFP/Getty Images

The end of Twitter's #Music app ushers in a new beginning with Billboard

Music has been one of the Twitter’s most popular topics since the the social media website’s explosion. Seven of the top 10 most-followed accounts on Twitter are musicians, and all together they have more than 30 million followers. Now Billboard is getting in on the action, too.

In May, a collaboration between the Twitter and Billboard will create the Billboard-Twitter Real-Time Chart, which will track the most-talked about and shared music on Twitter, the New York Times reports.

The announcement comes in the wake of the Twitter #Music app’s demise, which was unveiled a year ago but failed to gain traction. It was removed from the Apple store last week.

An executive affiliated with Billboard told the Times the new chart will involve only positive mentions while filtering out negative ones.

[The New York Times]

TIME Alcohol

Smartphone App Helps Alcoholics In Recovery

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Yagi Studio—Getty Images

Your phone could alert you in "danger zones," such as when you're near a bar you used to frequent

Relapse rates for recovering alcoholics are similar to those suffering from chronic illness, and continued help after leaving a formal treatment center is uncommon and difficult. But soon there may be an app for that.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison gave a group of of alcohol-dependent people leaving a residential recovery program a smartphone with the Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System app. The app has audio-guided relaxation techniques, as well as alerts that go off when the participants might find themselves in high-risk situations, such near a bar they used to frequent. Use of the smartphone app was coupled with traditional treatment, and participants reported their drinking behaviors for the past 30 days at 4, 8, and 12 months.

Participants who used the smartphone app reported less risky drinking days than those without, with risky drinking defined as drinking four drinks for men and three for women in a two-hour period. They were also more likely to abstain from alcohol overall. The results were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The study authors believe apps like theirs could be used to augment alcohol-dependent treatment. “If other studies confirm our results, such applications could provide the type of care identified as most effective—that is, care that continues at least 12 months and involves proactive efforts to change patient behaviors,” the study authors write.

TIME viral

This Video of a Guy Chugging Hot Sauce Shows Exactly Why You Should Never Chug Hot Sauce

It's also an ad for Hot or Not… because hot sauce.

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A classy bro by the name of L.A. Beast thought that it would be a great idea to chug a jug of Tabasco sauce. It wasn’t… because *spoiler alert* vomit.

To make matters more unsettling, this 10-minute video about hot sauce is actually a advertisement to get people to download the dating/judgement app Hot or Not. Unfortunately this is decidedly not hot.

[h/t: KSFM]

TIME

Every Teen’s Nightmare: Teachers Who Can Turn Off Your Phone Remotely

An examination invigilator (R) collects mobile phones from South Korean students before they take the College Scholastic Ability Test, a standardised exam for college entrance, at a high school in Seoul on November 7, 2013. Jung Yeon-Je—AFP/Getty Images

South Korean educators no longer have to compete with smartphones for a student's attention

What do educators in the world’s most wired country do when students just can’t put down their phones in class? They develop an app that has the power to remotely control all devices when on campus.

With the help of iSmartKeeper, teachers in South Korea’s Gangwon province, where several schools are trialling the technology, can choose to manage their students’ cell phone usage in several different ways. They are able to lock all phones while in school, allow only emergency calls, allow only phone calls or shut down all apps except certain educational tools. Using GPS geofencing technology, the app automatically takes control of phones as they enter school grounds.

South Korea’s government has become increasingly aware of the possible downsides of mass connectivity. Communication networks are faster and more accessible than those of most other countries, but younger South Koreans also said to have developed an unhealthy relationship with their devices.

According to the National Information Society Agency, 18 percent of the nation’s teens are addicted to their smartphones, meaning that they’re using them for more than seven hours a day and experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, insomnia and depression when removed from their phones. The South Korean government has responded with taxpayer-funded counseling – and tools like iSmartKeeper.

So far, the trials of the app have produced mixed results. Geofencing has misfired in at least one instance, keeping a student’s phone locked down for hours after leaving school. The app also only works on Android phones, and students have naturally found ways to bypass its restrictions. Nonetheless, the Gangwon Provincial Office of Education has reportedly advised all its 677 schools to start using the system. One can guess that their teachers have simply grown tired of collecting cell phones at the beginning of every day – a common practice until now.

[Verge, WSJ]

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