TIME apps

France to Ban Uber’s Cheapest Service Next Year

Latest regulatory headache for the ride-sharing app

The French government announced plans Monday to ban Uber’s low-cost service next year, as Paris taxis clogged the capital in a “go slow” or “escargot” protest against the ride-sharing service.

The decision to ban UberPop came after a French court on Friday declined to ban Uber from operating in the country. But Uber’s victory was short-lived.

“Not only is it illegal to offer this service but additionally for the consumer there is a real danger,” French interior ministry spokesperson Pierre-Henry Brandlet told iTELE, questioning drivers’ inadequate insurance. Brandlet said that the ban will begin Jan. 1.

MORE: 5 places where Uber is fighting for its life right now

The decision comes as Uber is facing scrutiny and regulatory pushback around the world. It was banned in Spain, Thailand and parts of India—where an Uber driver was recently accused of raping a passenger — late last week.

Uber did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment, although it tweeted Monday morning that demand in France remains strong.

The company, which was fined 100,000 euros in France this October for fraudulent business practices, called some of the country’s attempts to ban the app “discriminatory” last month.

TIME Auto

Smartphone Driver’s Licenses Could Be Coming to This State

Chances are, less people with forget their licenses at home

Iowa will soon allow citizens to use a mobile app on their smart phone as their driver’s license.

The free app will be available for Iowans in 2015, Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) director Paul Trombino announced during a state budget hearing, the Des Moines Register reports. The digital license can be used at airports and during traffic stops. The app would require a pin number to maintain security.

The new app is part of the Iowa DOT’s shift toward a variety of transportation-related technology advances, like cameras in snowplows and online bridge-building support.

The Register reported that Trombino is asking for $14.8 million for the license project: “We are really moving forward on this. The way things are going, we may be the first in the nation,” he said.

[Des Moines Register]

TIME Books

The Diary of Anne Frank: There’s an App for That

Anne Frank (1929-1945).
Anne Frank (1929-1945). Heritage Images/Getty Images

Game of Thrones actress Carice van Houten, who is Dutch, reads the audio book version

The Diary of a Young Girl, otherwise known as the Diary of Anne Frank, is headed to your smart phone for the first time in its original language.

A Dutch-language app containing the bestselling and widely translated book was announced earlier this month by publisher Uitgeverij Prometheus, Haaretz reports. The app also features interactive timelines, photo and video content and an audio book version. Game of Thrones actress Carice van Houten, who is Dutch, reads the audio book version.

The app is not the first Anne Frank app — an English-language one was released last year — but this app is the first to publish the diary in its original language. The diary documents the two years the Frank family spent in hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam before thy were discovered and Anne Frank was sent to a concentration camp, where she later died.

[Haaretz]

TIME apps

The 50 Absolute Best iPad Apps

TIME's list of essential software every iPad owner should download.

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.

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