TIME relationships

Cuddlr Is a 100% Real App for Spooning With Random Strangers

But it's not for sex! The app promises!

Have you ever had the overwhelming urge to spoon with a complete stranger in a public place? Anybody? We’ll take that silence as a resounding maybe!

Cuddlr is a location-based app that finds people in the immediate vicinity who are game for a strictly “platonic” cuddle. Users are shown a name and picture (because cuddling compatibility knows no age) of potential snuggle buddies. If you approve one another within a 15-minute window, then you can send a message about where to meet up and then see real-time walking directions of where the other person is as he or she approaches. (You can also block a user at any time.)

Founder Charlie Williams talked to Salon about the app’s unique offerings (it’s not for sex, he promises!):

A cuddle is longer than a hug, but shorter than a date, so you’re not faced with having to sit through a drink or two if you’ve decided someone isn’t for you: you can politely end a cuddle any time. People uninterested in dating, whether because they’re already in a relationship, or not pursuing a relationship, will enjoy having a way to experience a connection with someone without any pressure to dress up, find an activity, exchange numbers or even see each other again.

This concept adds a whole new, fun level of “is this cheating?” to modern relationships.

Post-cuddle, users can then rank their partners’ performance … just like AirBNB.

MONEY Saving

This App May Let You Retire on Your Spare Change

Acorn App
Acorn

The new Acorns app rounds up card purchases and invests the difference for growth, with no minimums and low fees.

Americans spend $11 trillion a year while saving very little. So it makes sense to link the two, as a number of financial companies have tried to do over the past decade. The latest is the startup Acorns, which hopes to hook millennials on the merits of mobile micro investing over many decades.

Through the Acorns app, released for iPhone this week, you sock away “spare change” every time you use your linked credit or debit card. The app rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar, takes the difference from your checking account, and plunks it in a solid, no-frills investment portfolio. So when you spend, say, $1.29 for a song on iTunes, the app reads that as $2 and pushes 71¢ into your Acorns account. With a swipe, you can also contribute small or large sums separate from any spending.

The Acorns portfolio is purposely simple: Your money gets spread among six basic index funds. The weighting in each fund depends on your risk profile, which you can dial up or down on your iPhone. More aggressive settings put more money in stocks. But you always have some money in each fund, remaining diversified among large and small company stocks, emerging markets, real estate, government and corporate bonds. The app will be available for Android in a few weeks and through a website in a few months.

Why Millennials Are the Target

Micro investing via a mobile device clearly targets millennials, who show great interest in saving but have been largely ignored by financial advisers and large banks. Young people may not have enough assets to meet the minimum requirements of big financial houses like Fidelity, Vanguard, and Schwab. With Acorns, there are no minimums. There are also none of the commissions that can render investing in small doses prohibitively expensive. “We want small investors who can grow with us over time,” says Acorns co-founder Jeff Cruttenden.

This approach places Acorns in the middle a rash of low-fee, online financial firms geared at young adults—including Square, Betterment, Robinhood, and Wealthfront. Such firms hope to capitalize on young adults’ penchant for tech solutions and lingering mistrust of large financial institutions. Cruttenden says a third of Acorns users are under age 22. They like to save in dribs and drabs—and manage everything from a mobile device.

Acorns charges a flat $1 monthly fee and between 0.25% and 0.5% of assets each year. The typical mutual fund has fees of 1% or more. Yet many index fund fees run lower. The Vanguard S&P 500 ETF, which invests in large company stocks, charges just 0.05%. If you have a few thousand dollars to open an account, and the discipline to invest a set amount each month, you might do better there. But remember that is just one fund. With Acorns you get diversification across six asset classes—along with the rounding up feature, which seems to have appeal.

Acorns has been testing the app all summer and says the average account holder contributes $7 a day through lump sums and a total of 500,000 round ups. Cruttenden says he is a typical user and through rounding up his card purchases has added $521.63 to his account over three months.

A New Twist on an Old Concept

Mortgage experts tout rounding up as a way to pay off your mortgage quicker. On a $200,000 loan at 4.5% for 30 years your payment would be $1,013.38. Rounding up to the nearest $100, or to $1,100, would cut your payoff time by 52 months and save you $26,821.20 in interest. Rounding up your card purchases works much the same way—only you are accumulating savings, not cutting your interest expense.

Bank of America offers a Keep the Change program, which rounds up debit-card purchases to the nearest buck and then pushes the difference into a savings account. Upromise offers credit card holders rewards that help pay for college. But Acorns’ approach is different: the money goes into an actual investment account with solid long-term growth potential.

One possible drawback is that this is a taxable account, which means you fund the Acorns account with after-tax money. Young adults starting a career with a company that offers a tax-deferred 401(k) plan with a match would be better served putting money in that account, if they must choose. But if you are like millions of people who throw spare change in a drawer anyway, Acorns is a way to do it electronically and let those nickels, dimes, and pennies go to work for you in a more meaningful way.

Read more on getting a jump on saving and investing:

 

TIME Map

This Map Shows When 2 People Play the Same Song at the Same Time

Spotify Serendipity

Created by the company's first media artist in residence

The music-streaming service Spotify unveiled an online map called “Serendipity” on Thursday that shows when people in different cities are listening to the same song at the exact same time — or at least within a tenth of a second of each other — regardless of the city, timezone or hemisphere.

The project, based on real-time data, was created by interactive artist Kyle McDonald, the company’s first media artist in residence.

“There are so many ways we’re connected to each other, but sometimes we forget, or we just can’t see it,” McDonald said on Spotify’s blog. “In person, it’s easy to see the features we share, or when we share stories in online discussions. But we’re also connected in more ephemeral ways, and we can extract these relationships with new tools. Even though listening to music can be a very private experience, I wanted to see how often this experience is shared.”

Check out Serendipity here.

TIME animals

Why New Yorkers Are Getting Matched With Dogs on Tinder

Swipe right to adopt

Posing with a puppy to prove your humanity is a Tinder trope as old as, well, Tinder. But starting last week, New Yorkers found themselves swiping right with literal dogs. Like, the four legged kind, not the kind that sends you lots of suggestive eggplant emojis.

East Village no-kill shelter Social Tees Animal Rescue teamed up with The Barn at ad agency BBH to push pet adoption … via a dating app.

Since Tinder requires a Facebook account for entry into its vortex of swiping, Social Tees set up ten separate Facebook pages for various abandoned puppies looking for a home. Bios ranged from typical exhortations of “Single and ready to mingle!” to the less subtle: “Roses are grey, Violets are grey, and everything is grey because I’m a dog.”

The adoption initiative began July 31, and Social Tees told TIME that its staff had individually approved all potential matches. There were 2,500 matches as of Monday, and people are encouraged to foster a dog for two weeks or to adopt one permanently.

This isn’t the first time shelters have targeted lonely singles on dating sites. The ASPCA put targeted ads on OKCupid in February, right in time for Valentine’s Day, in a pro-bono promotion that resulted in 6 dog and 35 cat adoptions over the course of a weekend.

TIME

Snapchat Just Unveiled a New Feature

The app's unveiling it for the Electric Daisy Carnival

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?

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

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.

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