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Netflix now lets you share a favorite title directly to Instagram Stories

Having reached critical mass, Netflix shows are now influencing culture — whether that’s prompting everyone to “tidy up” or causing chaos with “Bird Box”-inspired challenges. For good or bad, what happens on Netflix is talked about, memed and shared across the social media landscape. Today, Netflix is launching a new feature aimed at better inserting its brand into those online conversations: Instagram Story integration.
Launching first on iOS, Netflix users will be able to share their favorite movies and shows to their Instagram Story right from the Netflix mobile app.

The feature will add the title’s custom art to a users’ Instagram Story, where it remains visible for 24 hours. The Story can also be customized with other options, like a user poll, for example.
If the viewer has the Netflix app installed on their iPhone, they’ll see a “watch on Netflix” link in the Story that takes them to the show’s or movie’s page in the Netflix app when tapped.

This isn’t the first time you could share a show from Netflix’s app to a social platform — that’s been supported for some time. However, the existing experience will pull up iOS’s “share sheet” (the built-in sharing function in the iOS operating system).
According to a screenshot provided by Netflix, however, the new sharing feature is now a part of the Netflix app itself.
After tapping “share,” a screen appears with various options, including WhatsApp, Messages, Messenger, Twitter, Line and more, in addition to the newly added “Instagram Stories.”

The launch follows Facebook’s introduction of an option last year that allows third-party apps to share their in-app content to Instagram Stories. The idea was to provide users with an alternative to screenshotting what they wanted to share from other apps — like a song, a video, a playlist, etc. — to Instagram Stories. It’s also meant to provide a more seamless experience for the Story’s viewers, as they’re able to tap the Story to engage with the shared content — while also giving the brand more control over the look-and-feel of what’s being shared.
In Netflix’s case, it’s branding shared title art with the name of the show or film, as well as a teaser or slogan, and the words “Netflix Original,” where relevant. (The feature works with all titles, not just originals.)
The feature could prompt more word-of-mouth recommendations between friends and followers on Instagram, whose Stories platform alone is bigger than Snapchat, reaching more than 400 million users. And it could help content go viral within a certain fan base or demographic — like teen girl viewers or sci-fi fans, for instance — as prominent Instagram accounts shared the Netflix show.
“We’re always on the lookout for ways to make it easier for members to share the Netflix titles they’re obsessing about and help them discover something new to watch,” said Netflix in a statement about the launch.
Instagram Stories integration is launching today on iOS to Netflix users worldwide. An Android version is in the works.

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Fender’s Acoustasonic Telecaster does electric/acoustic double duty

The electric guitar has been floating around in some form or another since the early 1930s. But given how much the instrument dominated the music landscape for the latter half of the 20th century, interesting innovations don’t really come along too often.
Fender’s models are probably the most iconic of the bunch, and the company has found most of its successes sticking to what works. In recent years, however, the American guitar manufacturer has been looking for ways to broaden its appeal as rock music has slowly waned from the music charts.

The Acoustasonic Telecaster, however, makes a pretty compelling case that there’s still room for innovation in that well-tread ground. The acoustic/electric hybrid is more than just your standard hollow body with built-in pickups. The magic is a built-in digital signal processing chip — not entirely dissimilar from the one you find in effect pedals.
The company describes the “Acoustic Engine” as, “a proprietary blend of classic analog and future technologies that optimizes the guitar’s natural sound, and then modifies the resonance to deliver a curated collection of voices. These acoustic and electric voices can be played solo or blended via the Mod Knob to create new sounds. They can also be used simultaneously, courtesy of the Fender Acoustasonic Noiseless magnetic pickup.”

If you pay any attention to instruments, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is all fairly gimmicky. But demos and some early hands-on with the guitar show a surprisingly rich and full sound from the system.
The Acoustasonic is built in Fender’s California factory. It’s available starting today for $2,000.

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Huawei Honor’s smartphone with a hole-punch display is real

Honor officially launched the Honor View 20 today in Paris. Honor is Huawei’s sub-brand for mid-range phones. And the View 20 doesn’t look like your average smartphone — the company traded the notch for a hole-punch display.
Honor thinks this design isn’t as intrusive as a centered notch. And rumor has it that Samsung could also put a hole-punch display into the Samsung Galaxy S10.
I played with the Honor View 20 for a bit of time, and it definitely feels different from an iPhone X-style notch. Let’s start with the little details that annoy me. The 4.5mm cutout for the selfie camera isn’t exactly in the corner of the device and it looks a bit weird with a standard Android menu. Somehow, I want the cutout to be vertically centered — it’s not.
And yet, when you look at photos and videos, it looks great. After a few minutes, you barely notice it. It feels like yet another icon in the notification area while the rest is just s-c-r-e-e-n. I hope more companies are going to follow this trend.

The device features a gigantic 6.4-inch LCD display with rounded corners — I’ve been using OLED displays for a couple of years, and it’s hard to look at LCD displays again. It’s nearly as big as an iPhone XS Max. While you can’t find a bezel at the top of the device, the View 20 still has a chin — a small bezel at the bottom of the device.
Unlike Huawei’s P20 Pro, the company has moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the device. It has two cameras on the back — a 48 megapixel Sony IMX596 sensor as well as a second, cheap sensor to detect objects in 3D and add background blur using software features.
Huawei/Honor has updated its system-on-a-chip. The company has been working on its own chips instead of working with Qualcomm or Samsung. The result is a new Kirin 980 system-on-a-chip. Like Apple’s A12 Bionic, the company now uses a 7nm manufacturing process. The phone has a 4,000 mAh battery.

It comes in four colors — Midnight Black, Sapphire Blue, Phantom Red and Phantom Blue. As you can see in the photos, the company is still setting its phones apart from the competition thanks to colorful backs with mesmerizing reflections. This time, the Honor View 20 has a V-shaped pattern on the back. Unfortunately, it attracts fingerprints like crazy.
The Honor View 20 is going to be available starting tomorrow for €569/£499 for 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, or €649/£579 for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. As usual, Huawei/Honor focuses on Asia and Europe.
But the best part about this new phone is that you get an exclusive character skin for Fortnite when you buy it. What else do you need from a phone?

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Mozilla gets a new CFO

Mozilla, the not-for-profit behind the Firefox browser and other open-source projects, today announced that it has hired Roxi Wen, the former CFO of display manufacturer Elo Touch Solutions, as its new CFO. Wen will replace former Mozilla CFO Jim Cook, who departed almost a year ago after 14 years with the organization.
Wen joins Mozilla at a crucial time. In terms of its technology, Firefox is now a real competitor again. With that foundation in place, Mozilla is now in a position where it needs to look toward growth again, something that has eluded it for a while.
“As our CFO Roxi will become a key member of our senior executive team with responsibility for leading financial operations and strategy as we scale our mission impact with new and existing products, technology and business models to better serve our users and advance our agenda for a healthier internet,” writes Mozilla CEO Chris Beard in today’s announcement.
It’s interesting to note that Mozilla, which currently has about 1,000 employees, is looking at new business models, too. The organization remains heavily dependent on revenue from search partnerships, which obviously creates some friction as Mozilla continues to focus on privacy.
Prior to her CFO role at Elo, Wen held senior positions at FleetPride, GE Energy, Medtronic and the Royal Bank of Canada.

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Google will start retiring Hangouts for G Suite users in October

Google’s strategy around its consumer messaging services remains baffling, especially since it killed off Allo (yet kept Duo on life support). Today, the company clarified the timeline of the transition from classic Hangouts to Chat and Meet for its paying G Suite customers. For them, the Hangouts retirement party will start in October of this year.
For consumers, the situation remains unclear, but Google says there will be free versions of Chat and Meet that will become available “following the transition of G Suite customers.” As of now, there is no timeline, so for all we know, Hangouts will remain up and running into 2020.
As for G Suite users, Google says it will start bringing more features from classic Hangouts to Chat between April and September. Those include integration with Gmail, the ability to talk to external users, improved video calling and making calls with Google Voice.
Google originally started migrating Hangouts users to the Meet video conferencing service last year. The story there was pretty straightforward, though, given that Meet was a new service with new functionality. For Hangouts, the story is far more complicated, and Hangouts Chat isn’t currently available to consumers. They do have the choice between dozens of other messaging apps, though, and all of this confusion is likely to cost Google quite a few users.

Google is killing off Allo, its latest messaging app flop

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Daily Crunch: Munchery shuts down

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here:

1. After raising $125M, Munchery fails to deliver
On-demand food delivery startup Munchery is ceasing operations, effective immediately. The company laid off 30 percent of its workforce in May, after shutting down its Seattle, Los Angeles and New York operations.
At the time, Munchery said it planned to double down on its biggest market, San Francisco, which would help it “achieve profitability in the near term, and build a long-term, sustainable business.” Sadly, that doesn’t see to have worked out.
2. Apple Pay is coming to Target, Taco Bell, Speedway and two other US chains
Apple Pay is rolling out to Target stores now — Apple says its mobile payment tech will be available in all 1,850 U.S. retail locations “in the coming weeks.”
3. French data protection watchdog fines Google $57 million under the GDPR
The regulatory body claims that Google has failed to comply with the new regulations. At issue: How new Android users set up their phone and follow Android’s onboarding process.
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – DECEMBER 17: Marina de Tavira, Alfonso Cuaron, Yalitza Aparicio and Nancy Garcia pose during the premiere of the Netflix movie Roma at Cineteca Nacional on December 18, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Victor Chavez/Getty Images for NETFLIX)
4. Netflix’s ‘Roma’ nominated for 10 Oscars, including best picture and director
“Black Panther,” meanwhile, received seven nominations.
5. Samsung could release three variants of the Galaxy S10
According to a leaked image from Evan Blass, Samsung’s new flagship device could come in three different versions — the Samsung Galaxy S10, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and the Samsung Galaxy S10E (a more affordable version of the phone).
6. Shodan Safari, where hackers heckle the worst devices put on the internet
Hackers share their worst finds from Shodan, a search engine for exposed devices and databases popular with security researchers.
7. TechCrunch podcasts are back, baby!
After a few slow weeks due to holidays and travel, all of TechCrunch’s podcasts have new episodes. On Equity, the team talks about new funding rounds for scooter startups. On Original Content, we review the Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” And on Mixtape, the big topic is a sex tech fail at CES.

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Linux Foundation launches Hyperledger Grid to provide framework for supply chain projects

The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project has a singular focus on the blockchain, but this morning it announced a framework for building supply chain projects where it didn’t want blockchain stealing the show.
In fact, the foundation is careful to point out that this project is not specifically about the blockchain, so much as providing the building blocks for a broader view of solving supply chain digitization issues. As it describes in a blog post announcing the project, it is neither an application nor a blockchain project, per se. So what is it?
“Grid is an ecosystem of technologies, frameworks and libraries that work together, letting application developers make the choice as to which components are most appropriate for their industry or market model.”
Hyperledger doesn’t want to get locked down by jargon or preconceived notions of what these projects should look like. It wants to provide developers with a set of tools and libraries and let them loose to come up with ideas and build applications specific to their industry requirements.
Primary contributors to the project to this point have been Cargill, Intel and Bitwise IO.
Supply chain has been a major early use case for distributed ledger applications in the enterprise. In fact, earlier today we covered an announcement from Citizens Reserve, a startup building a Supply Chain as a Service on the blockchain. IBM has been working on several supply chain uses cases, including diamond tracking and food supply protection.
But the distributed ledger idea is so new both for supply chain and the enterprise in general that developers are still very much finding their way. By providing a flexible, open-source framework, The Linux Foundation is giving developers an open option and trying to provide a flexible foundation to build applications as this all shakes out.

The blockchain begins finding its way in the enterprise

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Waymo plans to open a self-driving car factory in Michigan

Waymo and Magna plan to build thousands of self-driving cars at a factory in southeast Michigan, including autonomous versions of the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan.
Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet, announced Tuesday that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation voted to approve the company’s plan to set up a manufacturing facility in the state to build its self-driving vehicles. The MEDC approved an $8 million grant for the project.
The announcement is the latest signal that the startup is preparing to scale up its commercial operations. In December, Waymo launched a limited commercial robotaxi service in the Phoenix area, dubbed Waymo One.
The Waymo One self-driving car service, and accompanying app, still has Waymo-trained test drivers behind the wheel. The safety driver will eventually be removed from the vehicle and the service will slowly open up to more people throughout 2019.
The companies are moving quickly. The goal is to begin moving into a facility by mid-2019 and begin preparing the site for manufacturing Level 4 autonomous vehicles. Level 4 is a designation by SAE that means the vehicle handles all of the driving under certain conditions.
The location has not been determined, except that it will be in southeast Michigan. This will likely be an existing facility, and not a new build. The factory will create up to 400 new jobs, according to Waymo.

We're getting started on the world’s first factory that is 100%-dedicated to the mass production of L4 autonomous vehicles, creating hundreds of jobs in Michigan. @MEDC #PureMichigan https://t.co/dWuRyjfYtp
— John Krafcik (@johnkrafcik) January 22, 2019

Waymo has supplier partnerships with Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover. Last year, Waymo said up to 20,000 modified I-Pace vehicles will join Waymo’s driverless ride-hailing service in the first two years of operation. Waymo also has a deal with FCA for up to 62,000 modified minivans.
Waymo develops the hardware and software and then works with the automakers to integrate it into the vehicles at its Novi, Michigan facility. Through a partnership with Magna — the same company that is manufacturing the Jaguar I-PACE in Graz, Austria — the production and integration will now happen at a dedicated facility.

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Microsoft’s Code Jumper makes programming physical for children with visual impairments

Microsoft just unloaded a whole bunch of news in time for the BETT education show. The most interesting bit of the bunch, however, is probably Code Jumper. The tethered hardware device is design to teach children who are blind or have otherwise impaired vision how to code.
The device is a continuation of Project Torino, which the company announced back in early 2017. Microsoft’s Cambridge, U.K. lab designed a “physical programming language,” which tasks kids with building programs by connecting pods.
“The project came about after the team learned the most popular path to introducing young children to coding,” the company writes, “usually called block coding, was not accessible enough because it couldn’t be read easily, not even with assistive technology such as a screen reader or magnifier.”
Microsoft is transferring both the research and tech to the American Printing House for the Blind, which is expected to make the product available to Australia, Canada, India, the U.K. and the U.S. in 2019. Additional countries will get access in the coming years.

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Mooncard raises $5.7 million for its expense platform

French startup Mooncard raised a $5.7 million funding round (€5 million) from Raise Ventures, Aglaé Ventures and business angels. The company provides a service to track and manage your company’s expenses with the help of good old plastic cards.
Corporate credit cards aren’t as widespread in France as in the U.S. and other countries. That’s why fintech startups have been trying to find a way to streamline expenses for French startups.
Mooncard lets you get as many cards as you want for your team. Managers can set different kinds of rules with different limits and validation processes.
Every time you pay with your card, you get a text message with a link. When you tap on the link, you can take a photo of the receipt, add details and submit your expense. Your accounting team can see expenses in real time and share reports with accountants.
Behind the scenes, companies create a specific account for expenses and top up that account. Mooncard works with Wirecard for the banking integration.
So far, 1,000 companies are using Mooncard, such as Air France, Vinci, Virtuo, Ledger and others. Companies pay between €13 and €15 per user per month, and Mooncard plans to have 200,000 users within three years.

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Fresh tickets and New VC partners for the TechCrunch Winter Party

We’ve got a double dose of exciting news for you, startup fans. First, we’re thrilled to announce that investment firms August Capital, SV Angel and Uncork Capital have partnered with us for the 2nd Annual TechCrunch Winter Party at Galvanize on February 8. And second, today we released into the wild another fresh, though limited, batch of tickets.
If you haven’t snagged a ticket to this Silicon Valley shindig, take heed. This is the fourth week we’ve released tickets, and they’ve been flying off the proverbial shelf. They’re strictly first-come-first-serve, so do yourself a favor: Buy your ticket today and avoid a severe case of FOMO — fear of missing out.
Our Winter Party is the perfect time to kick back and connect with your people in a relaxed fashion while enjoying delicious hors d’oeuvres and creative cocktails. It’s a celebration of the early-stage startup community, which, we might add, shows up in force. Last year, nearly 1,000 of Silicon Valley’s finest rocked Galvanize, the multi-level venue, to its roots.
No TechCrunch event would be an event without ample opportunity to network and build potentially life-changing business relationships. And who wouldn’t want the opportunity to converse with such an influential crowd — including investors and partners from August Capital, SV Angel and Uncork Capital?
Conversations flow easily in such a convivial setting, but if you want to level up on your exposure, consider buying a demo table. Only a handful of promising startups will display their wares, so book your demo table now. And bring your friends, because the $1,500 price also includes three tickets.
OK, here are the nitty-gritty party details.
When: Friday, February 8, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Where: Galvanize, 44 Tehama St., San Francisco, CA 94105
Ticket price: $85
Along with great food, drinks and world-class networking, you can expect plenty of games, activities, photo ops and giveaways. Come and get your TechCrunch swag and who knows, you might even win door prizes — like tickets to Disrupt San Francisco 2019.
We’ll keep rolling out tickets until they’re gone, but why take the risk? The 2nd Annual TechCrunch Winter Party goes down on February 8, and you simply don’t want to miss out on a fun night of opportunity. Buy your ticket now and cross it off your to-do list.

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Twitter will get an even darker ‘dark mode’

Twitter’s dark mode is about to get darker. In response to a customer’s complaint that Twitter’s dark theme isn’t really black, but more of a blue-ish shade, company CEO Jack Dorsey replied that’s going to be fixed. Though a seemingly minor tweak, dark mode settings for apps have become increasingly popular as a means of conserving battery life on high-end devices and making easier on our eyes the apps we use often for long stretches.
The interest in dark themes has grown steadily since Twitter first debuted its own “Night mode” back in mid-2016.
A number of apps now support darker themes, including YouTube, Google, Medium, Reddit, Wikipedia, Instapaper, Pocket, IMDb, iBooks, Kindle, Google Maps, Waze, Opera Mini and many more. It’s even rumored that the upcoming version of the Android OS will have a system-wide dark mode setting — something dark mode users have wanted for years.
This weekend, the topic made its way to The Wall Street Journal, which made the case for dark modes becoming a standard setting across all apps and devices — not only for ease of use and battery benefits, specifically on OLED screens — but also because it may help lessen device addiction, and improve sleep.
In other words, having a decent dark mode is no longer just an aesthetic choice like skinning your Gmail with a cute photo — it’s an option that has real-world benefits. And for many, a dark mode is now their default.
Twitter’s dark mode, however, has been on the lighter end of the spectrum. (You can view a screenshot of its dark theme on Darkmodelist.com, where you can compare it to others.)
The app doesn’t go for a true black, but rather a blue-black shade.
That’s being addressed, according to @jack’s tweet.

Was just talking about this with @kayvz. Will fix.
— jack (@jack) January 20, 2019

Of course, there’s an argument to made here that Twitter is overly concerned with tweaking minor product details, as if things like a better dark mode or differently threaded conversations matter that much at a time when the company is facing significant issues with regard to how it handles extremism, harassment, doxing, spam, fake news, flat user growth and more on its platform. (And that its CEO doesn’t seem to have good answers for how it’s handling these issues.)
But for those who are on Twitter anyway and addicted to browsing the timeline, a “blacker” dark mode will improve their use of the product.
Neither Dorsey, nor Twitter itself, has yet shared more information on when we’ll see this update, or which platforms will receive the “black” dark mode first. (Reached for comment, Twitter couldn’t offer more details.) However, Twitter first launched its original dark mode on Android, so that may be a place to watch.

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