Ex-Apple designer & former Twitter engineer launch Halide, a premium iPhone camera app

An ex-Apple designer and former Twitter engineer have teamed up fora new take on iPhone photography, with todays launch of theiriOS camera app called Halide. The idea is to offer a variety of high-end tools for taking quality photographs, but packaged in a way where accessing those controls via gestures becomes like muscle memory similar to using the dials on a camera.

Explains the apps website, the new apps gesture-based control scheme is meant to feel asintuitive and tactile as a great film camera, like an old Leica or Pentax.

While there are a number of alternative camera applications for iOS today like Camera+ or Camera Awesome, for example these tend to bemarketed towards mainstream users who want to shoot like a pro. Halide, on the other hand, is designed more with the power user in mind first. That is, it will largely appeal to those who have some understanding of photography, and want to do things like quickly change the exposure ormanually focus with a swipe.

However, there is a built-in automatic mode like the stock iOS app. This makes the app usable even by novice iPhone photographers, who sometimes need help when trying to take tricky shots.

But this automatic mode is designed tobe turned off by tapping the A button in order to tweak specific values like ISO, white balance and shutter speed, however. The app also includes professional tools like focus peaking (which highlights the areas in focus, allowing users to manually pull focus), a detailed histogram, an adaptive level grid and support for both JPG and RAW capture.

Halide was developed by Ben Sandofsky and Sebastiaan de With, both of whom have experience with high-end photography.Sandofsky previously worked on Periscopes video processing stack, was an advisor to both HBOs Silicon Valley and Shyp, and worked as the tech lead on TwittersiPhone, iPad and Mac applications.

Meanwhile, de With is an ex-Apple designer who has done client work for Sony, T-Mobile, Mozilla and others, and runs the San Francisco design agency Pictogram, which designed the Nylas Mail app; he also worked on Doubletwists design, and others. Hes a photographer, as well, often takingphotos as he take tripsby motorcycle.

Beyond the apps feature set, something that differentiates the app is its gesture-based interface. But its controls also work with a tap so you dont have to learn all the gestures immediately. Thismakes the overall experience more consistent, and doesnt leave newcomers hunting around toaccess the appsfeatures.

The team sees the gesture-based interface as part of what makes Halide usable even for less experienced photographers.

You dont really need to understand concepts like Exposure Compensation, EVs, or manual focus to enjoy the features in Halide, says de With. So we hope to see many people pick it up, not just the die-hard photographers.

Another feature in the app is instant review, which lets you swipe left or right on the photos you just took to either trash them or mark them as favorites. You can also use 3D Touch to preview the last photo you took in Halide.

The team was inspired to build Halide after seeing how the iPhonessensors improved over the years, even as theshooting experience remained stagnant.

I went to Hawaii with friends, and I was that guy lugging around a giant camera, explains Sandofsky, of how he came up with the initial idea. At the bottom of a waterfall, the humidity made the camera sensor condensate, so I had to keep it off for a day while the camera internals dried out, he says. For the next day, I shot everything with an iPhone. At the time, iOS lacked important features, and all the camera apps had issues. But I was blown away by the quality of that tiny camera, and remembered how much more I enjoyed the trip by going light.

Sandofsky says he built the first prototype on hisflight home from that trip, and later showed it to de With, who had furtherideas around the user experience. Development officially started around WWDC last year, when the new camera APIs were announced.

A year later, the app was ready to launch.

  1. Full Manual

  2. Manual Focus with Focus Peaking

  3. Exposure Adjustment

  4. Composition Grid

  5. Full Manual with Crosshair

  6. Two Up

The team doesntexpect their new app to fully replace the default camera app, but instead exist alongside it ready for those times you want to take a great photo, not just a quick snap.

The apps co-creators tell TechCrunch theyre self-funding Halide, which they consider a passionate side project.

Halide is available for $2.99 at launch, and will increase to $4.99 next week. If it does well, the team may consider a new pricing structure in the future, but didnt go into details.

The app is available in English, with plans for localizations in Spanish, Dutch, German, and French.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/30/ex-apple-designer-former-twitter-engineer-launch-halide-a-premium-iphone-camera-app/

Advertisements

How a Silicon Valley veteran created an app that 400 nonprofits use to help refugees

Image: Mashable Composite; RefAid / Trellyz

Shelley Taylor calls herself a Silicon Valley veteran. Veteran, she tells me, “means old.”

Raised in Palo Alto, Taylor has an extensive tech background. She isn’t an engineer, but she wrote the “bible of user interface” back in 1995 at the dawn of website creation, inventing a lot of the language still used to this day to describe websites and ecommerce. She’s launched a bevy of startups and advised companies like AOL, Cisco, Microsoft, and Yahoo in their early days.

“My approach to being a technology founder, which I pretty much have always been, is starting with the user experience and then using that to do product design development,” she says.

That’s exactly what she’s doing with her latest project, albeit with a more humanitarian twist. Taylor is behind the Refugee Aid app, or RefAid, which connects refugees with crucial services when and where they need them most. More than 400 of the largest aid organizations in the worldfrom the Red Cross to Save the Children to Doctors of the Worldall use it.

In many cases, they even rely on it.

Through a simple, easy-to-use interface, the free mobile app uses geolocation to show migrants, refugees, and aid workers a map of the closest services for food, shelter, health care, legal help, and more. Aid organizations can communicate with each otherand touch base with the refugees they’ve helpedthrough a web-based content management system, as well as update and keep track of the services they offer.

The app began as Taylor’s passion project in early 2016. It’s an offshoot of her company Trellyz, formerly known as Digital Fan Clubs, which launched four years ago to help people manage their brands and monetize their fans on Facebook. But about 18 months ago, Taylor, who has lived in Europe on and off for the last 25 years, felt compelled to do something a bit different.

“I was impacted by the horrible images, and just felt a sense of frustration. I just thought, ‘What can we do?'”

“I was struck, like many other people, by the refugee crisis,” she says. “In Europe, it’s much more prominent. Where I am in Italy, just looking out over the sea where I am, there are people who have been drowning trying to get to Europe, to safety. And so I was impacted by the horrible images, and just felt a sense of frustration. I just thought, ‘What can we do?'”

Since Digital Fan Clubs already created geolocation-based apps with real-time data, Taylor wondered how they could adapt that technology for refugees, who she knew were already using smartphones. So she asked a number of large organizations like the UNHCR and the British Red Cross if an app like RefAid would be helpful. They all had the same answer: “That would be great.”

Over the course of just one weekend, Taylor and her team created RefAid using the company’s app creation platform technology. It launched in February 2016, first in the UK and Italytwo countries where refugees can have very different needs. In the UK, many refugees have already reached their destination, and are focused more on integrating into a new society. Many refugees in Italy, meanwhile, are just arriving off boats after extremely harrowing, dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean.

Image: RefAid / Trellyz

Image: RefAid / Trellyz

Nel Vandevannet, director of Belgian projects at Doctors of the World, and Mark Forsyth, refugee support services coordinator at the British Red Cross, both say RefAid has proven extremely useful for their organizations. Spreading awareness of their services has been difficult, but the app has streamlined the entire process.

“I think the application is perfect for very vulnerable groups of people.”

In Belgium, where many refugees are quickly passing through to get to the UK and other parts of Europe, Vandevannet says the app has helped Doctors of the World explain to them their rights. And, in many cases, it helps point them in the direction of life-saving health care. It’s not always easy to translate this kind of vital information and convince refugees of what they need, but tapping into their smartphoneswhich Vandevannet calls “their compasses”has helped develop more trust between aid workers and refugees.

“I think the application is perfect for very vulnerable groups of people, who, because of bad experiences, repression, violence they had through their traveling … don’t really go to services,” she says. “The application is something they can control. If the police would give information, [refugees] would never go. Because they would think that it’s controlled by police, you would have to give your identity, and so on.”

The app protects refugees’ identities by only requiring an email address, not names or other personal information. There’s also a double-login function that protects their accounts, in case they ever lose their phones.

According to Forsyth, the British Red Cross has mainly used RefAid as a directory of relevant services across the country. It enables them to search for up-to-date information about services, such as locations and opening times.

“It’s not uncommon for refugees and asylum seekers to be moved all around the country,” he says. “So it’s really useful that RefAid covers the whole country, so we can contact services in other cities and refer people on.”

RefAid is now available in 14 countries: Greece, the UK, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Malta, Turkey, and the U.S.

They weren’t planning to launch the app in the U.S.at least not so soon. But as one of his first acts as president, Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 to create a 90-day travel ban for citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program. (The ban was ultimately blocked by lower courts, a ruling that a federal appeals court upheld just last week.)

“Because I’m an American, I was so upset by the Trump [travel] ban,” Taylor says. “I’m an expat living in Europe, and I’m so proud of our American history of welcoming immigrants. I thought about it all weekend, and I thought, ‘Well, we just have to do it.'”

She invited her team and a group of friends to her house on the following Monday, and they all got on their phones and called as many organizations with real-time legal services as they could. They wanted to make sure that people who were being detained had access to essential phone numbers. Even though the ACLU and others had set up free legal resources at international airports, many people couldn’t even get out of customs to reach them.

“I thought, if we could at least make this available to people so that they can make phone calls, that would be a great start for RefAid in the U.S.,” Taylor says.

In just that one day, RefAid went live in 21 U.S. cities, focusing on legal services in areas with big international airports.

RefAid isn’t the only app on the market helping refugees and immigrants at various stages in their journeys. But it’s especially novel because of the unexpected problems it solves for nonprofits overall: managing their resources.

What Taylor and her team didn’t realize is that most of these organizations didn’t have centralized databases of the services they were offering. Information on the different categories of aid they provided and what satellite offices offered was all in aid workers’ heads, or on pieces of paper filed away in drawers.

“Because it’s on my phone, it’s available wherever, whenever, even if I’m not in the office.”

“The first organization that said they would love to use our system said, ‘We’ll get back to you when we’ve collected all of the services.’ I asked, ‘Well, how many are there?’ And they said, ‘We don’t really know,'” Taylor says.

That same organization, which Taylor didn’t name, had 60 offices in the UK. It took them two-and-a-half months to compile everything and give her an Excel spreadsheet with 300 lines of services.

Forsyth says it’s been a similar case for the British Red Cross.

“Services are changing all the time, especially these days, so paper and PDF directories are virtually obsolete from the second they are made,” he says. “RefAid is updated regularly, and because it’s on my phone, it’s available wherever, whenever, even if I’m not in the office.”

It was a revelation, and Taylor saw a market opportunity. She dropped everything else, changed the name of Digital Fan Clubs to Trellyz, and pivoted toward exclusively helping nonprofits manage their resources.

Now, the company is applying RefAid’s technology to a new app called LifeSpots, in which all nonprofits can compile their services by location, helping people find the assistance they need as well as local volunteer opportunities. It’s expected to launch within the next month. Trellyz also plans to do the same thing for cities, offering another app for local governments to list and manage the public services they offer.

RefAid is updated every few weeks or couple of months, as more nonprofits use it and provide feedback. Even governments are starting to hop on board Washington State uses the app to help distribute information about local services available to refugees, as well as the UK’s National Health Service and cities across Europe.

Doctors of the World is also working with Trellyz to integrate a “medical passport” into RefAid, allowing refugees to put their own medical histories in the app. It’s all secure, staying in the hands of users, and solves the problem of not being able to keep such important paperwork with them as they’re traveling.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what Taylor said about focusing on user experience understanding who’s using the app and then developing it to maximize the impact. And with RefAid, that human-centered approach is clear as soon as you register. You immediately get a short, two-sentence email sent to your inbox.

“Thanks for registering for the RefAid app,” the email reads. “We all hope that you find some support near you, and that you have a safe journey.”

With that attitude and the technology behind it to create real, positive change, RefAid is quickly becoming a must-have addition to any refugee’s phone.

WATCH: This is what refugees face when coming to America

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/29/refaid-refugee-aid-app-shelley-taylor/

UK eyeing fines for social media content moderation failures

After the UK Prime Minister Theresa May secured a joint statementfrom theG7 on Friday,backing a call for social media firms to do more to combat online extremism, a Conservative minister has suggested the party is open to bringing in financial penalties or otherwise changing the law in order to encourage more action on problem content from techcompaniesif itsreturned to government at the UKgeneral election on June 8.

The Guardian reports the comments by security minister, Ben Wallace, speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Sunday. Wallaces words follow an expos by the newspaper of Facebooks moderation guidelines which the ministerdubbed totally unacceptable, citing anexample of Facebooks moderator guidance saying its OK to publish abuse of under-seven-year-old children from bullying as long as it doesnt have captions alongside. Facebooksrules have also beencriticized by child safety charities.

The companydeclined to comment for this story. But Facebook has previously said it intends to make it simpler for users to report content problems, and willspeed up the process for its reviewers to determine which posts violate itsstandards (although it has not specified how it will do this). It has alsosaid it will make it easier for moderatorsto contact law enforcement if someone needs help.

Beyond bullying and child safety issues, concern about social media platforms being used to spread hate speech and extremist propaganda has also been rising up the agenda in Europe.Earlier this yearthe German cabinet backed proposalsto fine social mediaplatforms up to50 million if they fail to promptly remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours after a complainthas been made for obviously criminal content, and within seven days for other illegal content.It appears a Conservative-majority UK government would also be looking seriously at applying financial penalties to try to enforce content moderation standards on social media.

Wallaces comments also follow a UK parliamentary committee report, publishedearlier this month,which criticized social media giants Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for taking alaissez-faire approach to moderating hate speech content. The committee also suggested the government should consider imposing fines for content moderation failures, and called fora review of existing legislation to ensure clarity about how itapplies.

After chairing a counterterrorism session at the G7 on Friday, which included discussion about the role of social media in spreading extremist content, the UKs PM Maysaid: We agreed a range of steps the G7 could take to strengthen its work with tech companies on this vital agenda. We want companies to develop tools to identify and remove harmful materials automatically.

Its unclear exactly what those steps will be but the possibility of fines to enforce more control over platform giants is at least now on the table for some G7 nations.

For their part tech firms have said they are already using and developing tools to try to automate flagging up problem content, including seeking to leverage AI. Although given the scale and complexity of the content challenge here, there willclearly not be aquick tech fixfor post-publication moderation in any near-term timeframe.

Earlier this month Facebook also said it was addinga further3,000 staff to its content reviewer team bringing the total number of moderators it employs globally to review content being posted by its almost two billion users to 7,500.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/29/uk-eyeing-fines-for-social-media-content-moderation-failures/

The Pope and President Trump: A tale in 10 tweets

(CNN)Donald Trump and Pope Francis are not the first president and pontiff to tweet. But they are the first to use the social media platform so prolifically, and pointedly.

    Things Donald Trump has said about the Pope

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/23/politics/pope-trump-tweets/index.html

7 ways to protect yourself online when social media is harming your self-esteem

Image: vicky leta / mashable

Social media can help us feel more connected to our friends, even when we’re far away. But, for many of us, the culture of of oversharing and #humblebragging can have a serious impact on our self-esteem.

With 10 million new photographs uploaded to Facebook every hour, experts say social media is a mine of endless potential for young people to be drawn into appearance-based comparisons. Instagram has been recently ranked worst for young people’s mental health, and causes feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

In the age of ubiquitous social media, how can we protect ourselves online when our use of social media is directly impacting on our self-esteem?

Create a self-appreciation folder on your phone

Student Issie Lakin, 17, says that constantly looking at “beautiful women with ‘perfect’ bodies, curves, expensive clothing and constant travelling” has had a definite impact on the way she views herself. This constant comparison to other people on Instagram is damaging, she says, so she tries to remind herself of the positive things in her life.”The best coping strategy for me was acceptance and looking at motivational images and daily reminders to remind myself of how much I have achieved,” says Lakin.

“Cheesy as it sounds, a thing for me to do was to look up self-motivation and appreciation quotes, downloading them onto my phone and putting them into a folder. Whenever I have a bad day I look at the folder,” she says.

Delete the apps from your phone

You don’t need to delete your actual accounts, but deleting the apps from your phone can help with the urge to constantly check these platforms. If you find that checking Instagram is sending you into a spiral of negative thoughts, deleting the apps even if for a short period of time could give you the distance you need.

Avoid Instagram’s ‘Explore’ tab

Some people find Instagram’s “Explore” tab to be full of photographs and videos that make them feel bad about themselves. Steering clear of it can prevent you from encountering photos that you don’t need to see and that wouldn’t ordinarily appear in your timeline.

Image: vicky leta / mashable

Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad

Jenny Rae, a 25-year-old blogger who’s currently “flashpacking” in southeast Asia, says social media has harmed her self-esteem in the past and she often feels insecure when comparing herself to others.”I protect myself online by attempting to consume social media mindfully. Someone once advised me to unfollow any accounts that made you feel negative in any way, and only follow ones that inspire you or make you feel good,” says Rae.

Impose a limit on your social media usage

Integrative psychotherapist Hilda Burke says the main challenge for many people is that social media triggers the tendency to compare oneself to others. Burke says that “a certain amount” of comparing oneself to others is “part of human nature.” She recommends imposing limits on how much time you spend on social media per day. She says that limit often affords people the space to focus on building their own confidence. Some people only check Facebook during their working day, and keep their free time strictly Facebook-free. Others limit their Instagram activity to when they’re on holiday.

Woman using touchscreen smartphone

Image: Getty Images

Turn off your push notifications

Social media is invasive, and a constant stream of push notifications can draw us into apps that are toxic for our self-esteem. Some people turn off their push notifications so that their phone isn’t constantly tempting them to enter those apps.

Talk to someone

If social media is getting to be too much, try talking to someone about how you’re feeling. 7cups.com is a free anonymous and confidential online text chat and you can talk to trained listeners and online therapists who will listen to you.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/21/social-media-self-esteem-protection/

General Election 2017: The hashtags, likes and re-tweets battle – BBC News

Social media has become a big part of political campaigning, as parties find new ways to reach out to potential voters. Here I look at how Scotland’s parties are doing in the hashtags, likes and re-tweets battle?


It’s all about you…

Image caption Each of Scotland’s party leaders have a bigger following on their personal Twitter accounts than their parties do

Modern election campaigns are becoming increasingly personal – and, in some cases, presidential.

SNP events and merchandise are branded “I’m with Nicola”. She’s on most of her party’s campaign material and don’t be surprised if her face adorns the front of the SNP manifesto.

In the 2016 Holyrood election the Scottish Conservatives were more or less rebranded the Ruth Davidson For a Strong Opposition Party, while the prime minister has followed suit with Theresa May’s Team in 2017.

This is reflected to an extent in their social media following – every single Scottish party leader has a significantly larger Twitter audience than their party’s official page does.

On Facebook, Ruth Davidson has twice as many “likes” as the Scottish Conservative page, while Nicola Sturgeon also narrowly outstrips the official SNP page and, on a rather smaller scale, Willie Rennie trumps his Lib Dems.

This might reflect the fact people want to see a personal touch on social media – they want to hear little revelations straight from the horse’s mouth, rather than carefully polished party press releases.


Spreading the word…

Page Twitter Followers Facebook Likes
The SNP 184,000 280,000
Nicola Sturgeon 668,000 295,000
Scottish Conservatives 18,500 20,000
Ruth Davidson 103,000 40,000
Scottish Labour 29,400 22,000
Kezia Dugdale 54,600 9,600
Scottish Lib Dems 9,600 3,500
Willie Rennie 17,200 6,300
Scottish Greens 42,400 61,600
Patrick Harvie 69,000 13,800
UKIP Scotland 774 5,000
David Coburn 17,900 1,600

For most parties, Twitter remains the medium of choice for their political messaging, with Facebook – despite its much larger user base and reach – a close second.

They generally use Facebook for posting their own purpose-made material, and Twitter for sharing on-message tweets from party activists or journalists.

Twitter also offers politicians the chance to bicker with each other in a public forum. Thanks to the tagging of tweets, barely a day goes by without one leader “calling out” another over an election issue.

Other social networks are of course available. Several parties having experimented with SnapChat, leading to faintly horrifying spectacles like John Swinney transforming into a dog at the 2016 SNP conference.

Parties have also attempted to take to Instagram, with varying levels of effort. The SNP is by far the most active on the picture-editing and sharing platform.

The Tories don’t have an account, while both the Lib Dems and UKIP have accounts but have never posted anything. The Scottish Greens have an account, which made a solitary post (about Trident) in July 2016. The one comment on it reads: “You guys need to get a social media manager.”

Meanwhile, somewhat bizarrely, Labour has an Instagram account, but it’s set to private, so only its nine followers can see its eight posts.

But what are the parties actually sharing on these platforms?


Smile, you’re on camera…

Image caption Political parties have experimented with live broadcasts – with mixed results

Looking through the social media accounts of the various parties, the presidential-style focus on leaders still dominates. Of the last 100 pictures posted on the SNP Facebook page, 82 of them were of Nicola Sturgeon; in most of the others, she was just out of shot.

The Scottish Conservatives tend to post slightly different pictures – while maintaining a heavy focus on Ms Davidson. They feature a lot of newspaper clippings with supportive stories, and purpose-made quote boxes and “memes”, simple blocks of text and images (not unlike the flyers they distribute in the post) designed for widespread sharing.

Labour also post a lot of these memes, mostly promoting their own policies. The Lib Dems meanwhile feature a lot of links back to their own website, rather than bespoke material designed specifically for social media.

As mobile technology has improved and people are more and more able to stream a video without waiting 15 minutes for it to buffer, video has become a bigger and bigger part of campaigning; in particular the captioned video, which features subtitles so users can watch them without even needing to turn the volume up.

Scottish Labour have embraced this most enthusiastically, posting one or two captioned videos a day on Facebook. The SNP also regularly post videos, generally of Nicola Sturgeon speaking at events, and occasionally offer Facebook Live streams of her bigger set-piece speeches.

The Tories have also dipped their toe into the water on this front with another twist on the format: the tame interview. On Theresa May’s first campaign trip to Scotland, the PM featured in a social media video being questioned by Ruth Davidson. (The Scottish Conservative leader is a former journalist, but this was not exactly a Paxmanesque inquisition).

There have been occasional attempts at live video broadcasting via Periscope and Facebook Live, with mixed results – David Coburn was infamously pranked by Periscopers inventing technical problems.

Some parties – the SNP in particular – have also been using a lot of animated graphics and gifs as an upgrade on still pictures.


You can’t beat a bar graph (apparently)…

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Political parties love bar charts

For some reason, political parties really love bar graphs.

Fittingly for an election dominated by binary issues, almost every seat in Scotland is developing into a two-horse race – between the SNP, who hold 56 out of 59 of them, and whoever is most likely to beat them locally.

So the opposition parties have taken to populating their literature with graphs illustrating that “only X can stop the SNP here”. The same phenomenon is also widespread in the rest of the UK, with “only X can stop the Tories here”.

The idea of the bar graph is that it lends a bit of scientific credibility to such claims; after all, it’s a graph. Maths must be involved, right?

Well, not always. Often these bar charts are decidedly unscientific. There’s a whole community of people online who sit with rulers, pointing out the errors – and in some cases, correcting them.

Many don’t feature any figures at all, or parties find ways of jamming in the most supportive numbers they can find – such as vote share at local elections, fought under a different electoral system, or the party’s own “analysis” of figures.

There have even been examples where bar charts cited polling figures that the polling companies themselves didn’t recognise.


Did they really say that?…

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption A Tory meme attacking Nicola Sturgeon with her own words, left; and an SNP one attacking David Mundell, right

Parties love sharing inspirational quotes from their candidates and representatives.

What they love even more is sharing quotes where their opponents have put their feet in their mouths or gone off-message.

These quotes are generally missing important context or are up to a year old, but serve the simple purpose of making an opponent look bad.

The SNP are particularly fond of dredging up statements Scottish Conservative members made while campaigning against Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum, while the Tories in turn seize on just about any mention of independence from Ms Sturgeon.

Video versions are also on rise; there was one recent row over Labour cutting a video of SNP MSP James Dornan down to a single sentence, which he said left him with “nothing but contempt for the way they’ve misled the public”.


We’re in it together…

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption SNP activists on someone’s lawn (left), while Tory candidates manage to combine the arts of doorstep pictures and bar charts

The classic political campaign features lots of “boots on the ground”, with activists knocking on doors while local constituents dim the lights, mute the TV and pretend they’re not in.

Today’s candidates have found a way of combining the political tradition of door stepping with the social media tradition of obsessively sharing pictures of your own face, with the campaign trail selfie.

These generally feature a hardy band of rosette-wearing, placard-clutching activists grinning away in a cul-de-sac, with no actual voters anywhere in sight. Bonus points are awarded if it’s raining heavily.

They have invariably encountered a “great response on the doorsteps”.

These prospective politicians may not have parked their tanks on anyone’s lawn, but they have almost certainly taken a picture there.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-39948432

Facebook takes on Twitch with new live-streaming deal for esports

In addition to Facebooks announcement of a new partnership with the MLB to live stream a number of regular season games, the social network this week also signed a deal withglobalesports company ESL to bring over 5,550 hours of esports events and other original content to Facebook, including 1,500 of original programming.

The move will aid Facebook in challenging Amazon-owned Twitch as well as Twitter, both of which have esports deals as part of their efforts in the live streaming space.

For example, Twitter in March announced its own partnerships with ESL and DreamHack to bring over 15 events from the ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters and DreamHack circuits to Twitter, where theyll be made available for live streaming on the web and mobile, directly through the Twitter app.

Meanwhile, video game streaming site Twitch is still today the de facto home for esports content. Last June, a report indicated that over 100 million Twitch users had streamed 800 million hours of esports in the last ten months on the service, with event and league organizers gatheringthe lions share of those views accounting for 71.3 percent of all esports viewership.

Facebooks deal will kick off next month, beginning with content from the Rank S competitions, a ladder for the Counter Strike:Global Offensive community. This will be supplemented by an exclusive, 30-minute CS:GO weekly show that will feature the top players, upcoming talent and other competition highlights.

All the ESL One and Intel Extreme Masters will also stream via ESLs Facebook network across six languages English, French,Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and German.

The company has made other more moves to attract live streamers to its network in recent days, as well. It added support for desktop streaming to user profiles, allowing gamers to more easily stream their gameplay, and it announced other content partnerships with esports teams Team Dignitas and Echo Fox.

For esports companies like ESL, the opportunity to stream on Facebook means theyll have a chance to reach a broader audience including, perhaps, more mainstream viewers who dont regularly frequent a video gaming-focused destination like Twitch.

However, the deals dont preclude ESL from also streaming to rival networks like Twitch, Twitter, or YouTube.

With over 1.94 billion monthly active users on Facebook, this is a huge step toward expanding the reach of esports among mainstream audiences, said Johannes Schiefer, Vice President of Social Media and Editorial at ESL, in statement, reiterating this point. Last year, ESL content generated over 2 billion impressions and reached over 200 million users on Facebook globally. Now, with the addition of live streaming for all major ESLevents, as well as exclusive content around CS:GO and ESEA, we are excited to expand our reach to more audiences and build strong local communities of highly engaged esports fans, he added.

ESEA is ESLs subscription-based platform foramateur, semi-professional and professional CS:GO players. Its Rank S competition brings together over 300 of the best North American and European ESEA players who compete for a $40,000 prize pool each month across the two regions.

ESL likely alsosees Facebook as a means of re-engaging esports viewers when theyre not actively seeking out gaming content, thanks to Facebooks ability to alert users about new live streams through push notifications, and other alerts when theyre more passively browsing the network.

Facebook, too, recently adjusted its video settings on mobile to autoplay videos with the sound on a change that could increase viewership of live streamed, professionally produced video content like this, and open up the door for more advertising possibilities

Esports is a rapidly growing business and source of revenue in 2016, global revenue reached $493 million, and its expected to see a 41.3 percent increase this year. By 2020, its expected to reach $1.488 billion.

The content will begin streaming in June 2017 on the ESEA Facebook Page and in its official Facebook group.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/19/facebook-takes-on-twitch-with-new-livestreaming-deal-for-esports/

Project recreates cities in rich 3D from images harvested online

People are taking photos and videos all over major cities, all the time, from every angle. Theoretically, with enough of them, you could map every street and building wait, did I say theoretically? I meant in practice, as the VarCity project has demonstrated with Zurich, Switzerland.

This multi-year effort has taken images from numerous online sources social media, public webcams, transit cameras, aerial shots and analyzed them to create a 3D map of the city. Its kind of like the inverse of Google Street View: the photos arent illustrating the map, theyre the source of the map itself.

Because thats the case, the VarCity data is extra rich. Over time, webcams pointed down streets show which direction traffic flows, when people walk on it, and when lights tend to go out. Pictures taken from different angles of the same building provide dimensional data like how big windows are and the surface area of walls.

The algorithms created and tuned over years by the team at ETH Zurich can also tell the difference between sidewalk and road, pavement and grass, and so on. It looks rough, but those blobby edges and shaggy cars can easily be interpreted and refit with more precision.

The idea is that you could set these algorithms free on other large piles of data and automatically create a similarly rich set of data without having to collect it on your own.

The more images and videos the platform can evaluate, the more precise the model becomes, said a postdoc working on the project, Kenneth Vanhoey, in an ETH Zurich news release. The aim of our project was to develop the algorithms for such 3D city models, assuming that the volume of available images and videos will also increase dramatically in the years ahead.

Several startups have already emerged from the project: Spectando and Casalva offer virtual building inspections and damage analysis. Parquery monitors parking spaces in real time through its 3D knowledge of the city. UniqFEED (on a different note) monitors broadcasted games to tell advertisers and players how long theyre featured in the feed.

The video above summarizes the research, but a longer one going deeper into the data and showing off the resulting model will be appearing next week.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/19/project-recreates-cities-in-rich-3d-from-images-harvested-online/

Popular social media sites ‘harm young people’s mental health’

Poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter increased feelings of inadequacy and anxiety

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young peoples mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young peoples mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young peoples feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate childrens and young peoples body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

The findings follow growing concern among politicians, health bodies, doctors, charities and parents about young people suffering harm as a result of sexting, cyberbullying and social media reinforcing feelings of self-loathing and even the risk of them committing suicide.

Its interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing. Both platforms are very image-focused and it appears that they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people, said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, which undertook the survey with the Young Health Movement.

She demanded tough measures to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young peoples mental health and wellbeing. Social media firms should bring in a pop-up image to warn young people that they have been using it a lot, while Instagram and similar platforms should alert users when photographs of people have been digitally manipulated, Cramer said.

The 1,479 young people surveyed were asked to rate the impact of the five forms of social media on 14 different criteria of health and wellbeing, including their effect on sleep, anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-identity, bullying, body image and the fear of missing out.

Instagram emerged with the most negative score. It rated badly for seven of the 14 measures, particularly its impact on sleep, body image and fear of missing out and also for bullying and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. However, young people cited its upsides too, including self-expression, self-identity and emotional support.

YouTube scored very badly for its impact on sleep but positively in nine of the 14 categories, notably awareness and understanding of other peoples health experience, self-expression, loneliness, depression and emotional support.

However, the leader of the UKs psychiatrists said the findings were too simplistic and unfairly blamed social media for the complex reasons why the mental health of so many young people is suffering.

Prof Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: I am sure that social media plays a role in unhappiness, but it has as many benefits as it does negatives.. We need to teach children how to cope with all aspects of social media good and bad to prepare them for an increasingly digitised world. There is real danger in blaming the medium for the message.

Young Minds, the charity which Theresa May visited last week on a campaign stop, backed the call for Instagram and other platforms to take further steps to protect young users.

Tom Madders, its director of campaigns and communications, said: Prompting young people about heavy usage and signposting to support they may need, on a platform that they identify with, could help many young people.

However, he also urged caution in how content accessed by young people on social media is perceived. Its also important to recognise that simply protecting young people from particular content types can never be the whole solution. We need to support young people so they understand the risks of how they behave online, and are empowered to make sense of and know how to respond to harmful content that slips through filters.

Parents and mental health experts fear that platforms such as Instagram can make young users feel worried and inadequate by facilitating hostile comments about their appearance or reminding them that they have not been invited to, for example, a party many of their peers are attending.

May, who has made childrens mental health one of her priorities, highlighted social medias damaging effects in her shared society speech in January, saying: We know that the use of social media brings additional concerns and challenges. In 2014, just over one in 10 young people said that they had experienced cyberbullying by phone or over the internet.

In February, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, warned social media and technology firms that they could face sanctions, including through legislation, unless they did more to tackle sexting, cyberbullying and the trolling of young users.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/19/popular-social-media-sites-harm-young-peoples-mental-health

Facebook and The Trevor Project hope to help prevent LGBTQ youth suicides

Facebook has been working to make users feel safer on the platform for years, and in its latest effort to enhance the online community, the social media platform partnered with The Trevor Project, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.

On Tuesday in the middle of Mental Health Awareness month Facebook announced that users will be able to connect with mental health resourcesfromThe Trevor Project right from their direct messages. The project rolls out over the next few months.

According to The Trevor Project’s website, the rate of suicide attempts is “four times greater for LGB youth and two times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth,” so it’s clear how helpful access to a supportive chat bot could be. And though The Trevor Project is aimed at helping suicide prevention in young people, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 40 percent of transgender adult respondents reportedly made a suicide attempt during their lives, so Facebook users of all ages could certainly benefit from the helpful resource.

The messenger crisis support will also expand awareness to other areas of the mental heath community with the help of participating organizations likeCrisis Text Line, the National Eating Disorder Association, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The social media site recently received a great deal of backlash surrounding the spread of live-streamed suicide videos and earlier this month after a violent video of a Cleveland man shooting and killing a 74-year-old man was posted to the site founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted more human intervention is necessary on the site to ensure the safety of users.

The site also collaborated with mental health organizations back in 2016 to launch tools and resources aimed at supporting the mental health community. Users now have easily accessible support groups along with the ability to report concerning posts related to self-injury or suicide directly to Facebook.

Back in March the site was even testing a pattern recognition system that would use AI to identify posts that include certain keywords pertaining to suicidal thoughts.

Studies have shown that excessive social media us could increase levels of depression, so the more resources the better.

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this list is a good place to start.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/17/facebook-lgbtq-trevor-project/

‘Google for Jobs’ is here to make it a lot easier for companies and workers to find each other

Image: Shutterstock / Julia Tim

Google wants to play matchmaker, but for job seekers and talent hunters.

Google announced on Wednesday a new job-oriented search tool that will use the company’s advanced “machine learning” technology to provide personalized results.

It’s not just for people. Google teased the new tool as a good way for candidates to find jobs, but also for companies to find the right people.

The new tool will be integrated into Google’s existing search engine and is meant to use contextual details like location to help surface relevant job listings at the top of searches.

“Through a new initiative, Google for Jobs, we hope to connect companies with potential employees, and help job seekers find new opportunities,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post. “As part of this effort, we will be launching a new feature in Search in the coming weeks that helps people look for jobs across experience and wage levelsincluding jobs that have traditionally been much harder to search for and classify, like service and retail jobs.”

Pichai announced the new feature during Google’s I/O presentation, where it teased a variety of its newest tools.

“Google for Jobs,” as Google is calling it, isn’t available just yet but will be out in the coming weeks.

The tool would seem to be an immediate threat to job boards like Monster and professional networks like LinkedIn, which is now owned by Microsoft. That made it all the more surprising that LinkedIn and Monster worked with Google on the tool.

Pichai said that Google for Jobs is part of the company’s broader commitment in using its technology to help people. It’s also a familiar challenge, considering many people start their job hunt with a Google search.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/17/google-for-jobs-new-search-tool/

How to bring humanity and tech together: Innovators and advocates on hope for the future

Image: Shutterstock / whiteMocca

The headlines are everywhere.

Social media makes us narcissists. Screen time atrophies the brain. Work is inescapable. We sleep less, weigh more, and report higher levels of depression all thanks to the onslaught of tech.

On the other hand, many of technologys benefits are undeniable: longer life spans, reduced poverty, and the democratization of both knowledge and opportunity.

The question is: Can we bring humanity and tech into harmony?

To find an answer, I connected with some of techs biggest names executives at places like Dropbox, Deloitte, Canon, Polycom, and more as well as a few of techs lesser-known stars. Their answers point toward hope in our work, commerce, and connections.

Humanizing the tech we work with

Workplace communication is often lamented as the very antithesis of humanity.

Memo-driven hierarchies, reply-all email chains, and new cover sheets on your TPS reports are partly to blame. But the real disease lies deeper: namely, control, our desire to solidify tools and processes from the top down.

Ironically, the antidote comes from a relationship to tech that unshackles tools and processes, instead, from the bottom up.

Technology should work for people, not the other way around. It succeeds when it fits seamlessly into our lives and solves real problems. Too often, it forces us to change our behavior to fit its own limitations. Think about how painful it can be to file an expense report compared to how easy it is to pay a friend with Venmo.

Increasingly the question of whether technology helps us or hurts us is our decision people will choose the products they love. The way to make tech more human is to listen.


The future of work will be driven by technology, but technology at home and at work is and always will be bound by the desires, wants, passions, and needs of human beings. In enterprises, its a trend known as the consumerization of IT. More and more, the tools we use at work are being driven by consumers, instead of management. The professional rise of text and video, for instance, is a direct reflection of that same rise in our day to day lives.

The key, however, is to prioritize bandwidth for infrastructure and freedom for personal choice.


Technology should be viewed as a way to better connect, rather than divide, human interactions. For example, AV/VR technologies combined with ubiquitous, broadband capabilities could enhance the collaborations of workers in remote locations.

Regarding intelligent automation, we dont foresee a quick, wholesale pivot to robotics but rather humans staying in the loop to perform the higher value work of making decisions and taking actions based on insights produced by machines.

So with the right mindset, technology can enrich work rather than impoverish it. It can accentuate our humanity and maximize our potential.


At its core, work is about communication. It’s about people sharing work, ideas, and opinions. Productivity suites were built to facilitate this but that was a long time ago. The way we communicate has shifted dramatically since then, and we need not a better but an entirely new way to work together.

If we redesigned productivity software around the way people work today connected, mobile, and social how would it work? Wed elevate the fundamentals of human communication over esoteric features that most people dont even use anymore and unify content and communication. Its a next-generation way to work together.


Making commerce relevant and inclusive

To say the Internet fundamentally changed commerce is an understatement. However, the gulf between physical and digital products as well as the gulf between the haves and have-nots has been a bane since its inception.

For consumers, more automation often means less individuality. Especially when it comes to irrelevant marketing and the disenfranchised. Can technology bridge these worlds?

The lines between ecommerce and commerce are blurring as more and more brands look to experiment with traditional retail models. Pop-up shops for product drops and digital showrooms where people can co-create through VR, AR, and 3D are just two examples.

Whether in-person, online, or blended, these experiences should integrate with purchase history, browsing behavior, and geolocation. Bringing those pieces together creates the kind of deep personalization we naturally crave.


Paradoxically, I think machines are going to help us make our relationships with our customers more human.

With advances in machine learning, digital assistants will be able to understand customer history and context and handle repetitive tasks much better.

This will free humans to focus more on the relationship instead of rote tasks.


The key is to remember that technology even AI and cognitive serves at the pleasure of the people. Its easy to be seduced by the multitude of magic wands at our disposal, but it’s always about the wizard.

The best way to bring humanity back to tech is to force yourself to be surrounded by people. Sitting in an office, spitting out reports, and using them to infer customer needs and desires is shortsighted. And that robs us of what is really lacking in much of technology today: empathy.

Start with requiring the makers of technology to spend two hours per week with real customers, observing how they use it.


Theres a misunderstanding that technology is somehow neutral or unbiased, which is simply not true: anything made by humans is going to be biased, so we need to have a bias for inclusion.”

It might seem counterintuitive, but we can make financial services more human by servicing the underserved via a smartphone app versus a traditional bank. Many of our customers call us family; they think of us as a friend or a partner.

Were able to include people who are excluded from traditional finance. Women, for example, often encounter discrimination in a face-to-face interaction with a male lender; being able to access credit from the palm of their hand is liberating. Even men tell us they are afraid to face more formal lenders sometimes for fear of rejection and the shame that might bring them. Having a private, personal relationship with your financial services validates our customers humanity, and reminds them that someone out there believes in them.


Fostering connections that dont add to the noise

Perhaps the most daunting challenge is how tech affects relationships. Study after study not only documents the increasing time we spend behind screens but also their interpersonal dark side.

Of course, how we use technology is far more important than what and when. Setting aside its abuses and, in some cases, combating them means leveraging our new-found interconnectedness for the good.

We need to remember why technology is evolving in the first place: it solves real problems and connects people.

One example includes using the latest imaging technology to help find missing children or prevent the exploitation of children. Canon has partnered for the last 20 years with The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children by providing the latest state-of-the-art technology which allows law enforcement to quickly disseminate photos across the U.S., not just to law-enforcement, but through social media as well.


We released a feature called Content Suggestions in 2014, and there was a substantial bump in platform use. Many users loved it. However, we noticed that some were sharing identical posts without reading them.

Essentially, we were contributing to spam, which was not great for content creators and also not great for Buffer as a product. We believe in creating authentic voices on social media, and this broke down that trust users had in us.

Even though this feature had lots of traction we ultimately decided to shut it down. At the time, we had our values of Listen First and Do the right thing top of mind.


With the rise of chatbots and voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home, talking to computers is becoming the norm. The challenge at this point is how to personalize interactions, and connect humans and computers on a more intimate level.

Brands are already taking the lead in engaging conversational experiences are tailoring their bot personas to directly reflect their target audience for the best chance of retention and engagement. In messaging platforms planning a personality that informs the dialogue and entire interaction with consumers is critical. These authentic brand experiences wont be led by engineers but rather writers and designers, who can connect humans to technology through storytelling.


Technology has the ability to connect people across the artificial lines in the sand we call nation-state borders. At BITNATION we’re using the blockchain technology to help people create their own nations, based on their beliefs and desires, rather than on where they were arbitrarily born.

Using the blockchain we’ve helped refugees. People have used our technology to get married, to title their land, to write birth certificates and wills, and much more.

Make technology about people and not about technology

Writing about the patron saint of innovation, columnist Jason Hiner explained, Steve Jobss most important contribution will be that he made technology about people and not about technology.

Is there hope for the future of humanity and tech? Certainly. This doesnt mean the pitfalls are easy to avoid, but it does mean theyre far from inevitable.

Tangible buying experiences, serving the underserved, the consumerization of IT, and crossing traditional borders all point to the power of tech to reinforce our humanity rather than undercut it.

After all, humans arent merely dominated by tech. We are its creators and hope lies in the image of ourselves we stamp upon it.


Aaron Orendorff is the founder of iconiContent and a regular contributor at Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Fast Company, Business Insider and more. Connect with him about content marketing (and bunnies) on Facebook or Twitter.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/17/how-to-bring-tech-and-humanity-together/

Trump’s bad week just got even worse and Twitter was there for it

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Don’t look now, but it seems like Comey’s Revenge has officially begun and it’s not looking good for Trump.

A memo from the recently fired FBI director made its way to the New York Times Tuesday and it was jam-packed with damaging claims about the president.

Among the most outrageous were the allegations that Trump asked James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into Trump’s former national security advisor Michael T. Flynn and equally as worrying that he floated an idea to lock up reporters for publishing classified information.

As the clamor for a full investigation grew, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said his committee is willing to issue a subpoena to get hold of the memo.

Amidst all the craziness, a person was spotted jumping the White House fence. The only question was whether they were trying to infiltrate the Oval Office or flee the raging dumpster fire.

How exactly the latest, potentially wildly damaging revelation will play out remains to be seen but in the meantime, Twitter had a schadenfreude-fest.

Here’s how it played out.

‘Obstruction of Justice’ shot to the top trending list within hours.

Impeachment was a popular subject.

Of course Trump’s old tweets came back to bite him

And the GIFs were out in full force.

A lot of people thought it wasn’t really a fair fight.

One person was conspicuous by his absence.

The ball, as ever, is in Trump’s court.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/16/twitter-on-fire-after-trump-comey-revelation/

This app claims to tell you if someone’s into you by reading your texts

Image: ambar del moral / mashable

Text messages are the currency of modern-day courtship. But, when the texts start to become scarce, many of us search for signs of a relationship’s demise.

Instead of passing around your phone over brunch with friends, how about getting an app to overthink and analyse your text messages for you? Crushh is an algorithm-driven app that reads your text messages and according to its creator can interpret how much the other person likes you and detect any possible shifts in a relationship.

Creator Es Lee says the idea for the app came when he was sitting in a park with a “confused” friend who was new to the New York City dating scene. “He’d gone on a date that he thought had gone really well, but the woman hadn’t responded to his last text,” says Lee.

“I flipped through the text exchange and I could tell that she liked him from the ‘body language’ displayed in the texts. But that hadn’t been too obvious to my friend,” he continued. This textual body language refers to the punctuation, emoji and language used in a text, as well as the frequency of the messages and the time it takes to respond.

Lee decided to convert this analysis into an algorithm that works in a similar way to a human brain, minus the memory problems. The app takes the role of a friend and decodes text message chains using data and algorithms developed from analyzing more than 200,000 relationships and consulting with sociologists, psychologists and dating experts, says Lee.

To use the app, you need to select a contact and specify your relationship to that person. It then analyses your text messages already in your phone.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

The app analyses sentiment, punctuation, emoji usage as well as message length and response rate to give you a score out of 5, telling you if that person likes you more, less or the same as you like them.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

Machine learning algorithms are used to adjust scoring for personal behaviour, taking into account factors like age, and personality. “It takes into account personal behaviours,” says Lee. “Things like, the features he or she does and doesn’t use. It looks at individual patterns prevalent in a person’s messaging behaviour.”

The app also charts your relationship over time, and can point out any changes in messaging behaviour. Very useful if you’re trying to pinpoint the moment your relationship began turning sweet or sour.

Image: crushh

Does it actually work, though?

Can an app really tell you how much a person likes you based on a string of texts? We contacted two experts and neither were entirely convinced.

Stephen Pulman, a professor at Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science, says the app looks like a “straightforward application” of sentiment analysis and emotion detection techniques, which can be “reasonably accurate.”

“The problem is that nuances like sarcasm and metaphor are still difficult for this kind of technology to detect. Problems may arise in the interpretation of the contents of a message,” says Pulman. “The only technical problem I can see is determining whether the topic of the text actually concerns the person or the relationship, rather than being generally warm about something else,” Pulman continues.

Furthermore, the technology needed to analyse a relationship via text messages is very advanced and likely still at the academic research phase.

“What I can say for certain is that the app doesnt understand the messages and it’s making a decision based on the syntactical attributes of the messages without understanding the semantics behind it,” says Mark Bishop, Director of the Tungsten Centre for Intelligent Data Analytics at Goldsmiths, University of London.

“We’re crowdsourcing intelligence about how a person texts” – Es Lee, creator of Crushh.

The app is only available on Android because iPhones don’t allow apps to access iMessages. Lee is hopeful that Apple will change this. The app also doesn’t pull in messages sent on apps like WhatsApp, Messenger or Snapchat, so if your convos are happening on multiple apps, your score and history won’t give an accurate reflection of your relationship.

Lee regards Crushh as a “diagnostic tool” for relationships, and a way to use data to pinpoint problems and potential areas to work on. “We’re crowdsourcing intelligence about how a person texts,” says Lee. He says there are no plans to sell that data and wants to convert that intelligence into advice and tips.

Who knows, maybe someday we’ll be able to use data to figure out why we’re being ghosted? Alas, if you’re an iPhone user, it looks you’ll have to keep going to brunch with friends for your answers.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/16/crushh-app-text-message-analysis/

Heres why youll buy your next shoe on Instagram

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017 three startups took the stage to talk shoes with TechCrunch Editor in Chief Matthew Panzarino. Josh Luber of StockX, John McPheters of Stadium Goods andRyan Babenzein from Greats all gave their thoughtson the current state of shoes.

They first discussed why the secondary sneakers market has had such a resurgence recently. The panel agreed that the rise of social media, and especially Instagram, has led to a big resurgence in discovery of shoes. Customers no longer have to go into a footlocker to see the newest shoes they can just scroll through their Instagram feed.

Babenzein added that sneakers are essentially considered social currency. People start caring about what kind of shoes they wear when they are kids, and this mentality often carries into adulthood.

The conversation shifted to Instagram and how the platform has, and will continue to, transform commerce.Babenzein explained thatas a retail brand theyve looked at third-party tools to let Instagram users select a product and add it to their cart without ever leaving the Instagram app.

And all three agreed that its only a matter of time before Instagram rolls out full e-commerce support so customers can complete a full transaction without leaving the app.

McPheters also noted thatInstagram has been a tremendous help with international engagement. Even though it would be difficult for Stadium Goods to sell directly in a country like China (they do it via a partnership with Alibaba) Instagram lets users there discover shoes and streetwear just like a user in the U.S would.

  1. John McPheters (Stadium Goods), Ryan Babenzein (Greats) and Josh Luber (StockX) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

    John McPheters (Stadium Goods), Ryan Babenzein (Greats) and Josh Luber (StockX) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017
  2. Ryan Babenzein (Greats) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

    Ryan Babenzein (Greats) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017
  3. John McPheters (Stadium Goods) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

    John McPheters (Stadium Goods) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017
  4. Josh Luber (StockX) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

    Josh Luber (StockX) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017
  5. IMG_1358

The conversation then turned tothe current state of brick and mortar retail, which is a hot topic among startups and big retailers alike.Babenzein noted that while people have been saying retail would die since the day the internet was born, the fact is that shopperssometimesstill want to touch and feel an invite before they buy it.

That doesnt mean Greats is about to open a store in a mall or on Broadway in NYC. So while the concept of brick and mortar retail may be morphing to get rid of the 10-year lease and emphasis on prime location, its never going to die.

Luber from StockX agreed, and said that the future of brick and mortar retail is all about experience. He noted that Kith and Footlocker both sell sneakers but how they manage the customer experience makes one much more popular with sneaker fans than the other.

Before the talk ended Panzarino asked the trio about which sneaker brands were standing out today as being particularly innovative.

All three said Adidas, specifically citing new innovations like the Adidas Futurecraft 4D-printed shoes.Two years ago Adidas was 1% of the total resale market in dollars today its over 33%. And the stock price has tripled in that time, as the brand has signed mega celebrities like Kanye West.If that isnt growth, I dont know what is.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/16/heres-why-youll-buy-your-next-shoe-on-instagram/