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Google Pony Express: Part of the big, digital cash grab

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Analysis

What is it with all these companies suddenly wanting to be in business? And by “business” I mean finance. Whether it’s on my phone, in my watch or on the desktop, big name tech and social media companies are angling to get between your wallet and everyone else holding their hands out.

Google Pony Express, the project ReCode stumbled on this week, is another perfect example. According to the site and a raft of secret documents they perused and then published, Google is working on an entire Gmail-driven bill payment system. So instead of you visiting two dozen sites to pay your e-bills, you just check your Gmail.

There’s more to it than that, obviously, all sorts of authentication between you and the banks and you and the companies you’re paying, but the idea, which may or may not happen later this year, makes a lot of sense.

Gmail could organize all your bill payments and receipts of payments received into folders (or labels) so you can stop organizing then into folders on your computer. One would hope that Google would go the extra mile and tie Pony Express to Google Docs Spreadsheet so you can see an itemized history of payments, but they may not go that far out of the gate.

I’m intrigued by the idea, and I realize now that managing your money and payments is a hot new frontier for all these Silicon Valley companies. But why?

Mobile gets it started

This interest in your personal finances has been led by a flurry of activity in Mobile Payments. Google tried to start the fire years ago, but was largely ignored. Then Apple came along with some of the very same ideas, but with a better blend of easy-to-use security and NFC-enabled mobile payments, and the land rush was on again.

Now everyone from Samsung to Facebook is looking at how they can help part you with your money wherever and whenever you want. Even smaller players are trying to help consumers and businesses move money. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Twitter is launching some sort of Direct Message payment system (they are not, at least not yet).

I’ve always understood the mobile payment craze. Buying stuff on the go is a universal activity, which means it’s a multi-trillion dollar market — a big enough pie for everyone to get a piece. Plus, it’s an obvious fit for the companies making mobile devices: Apple, Samsung, Google.

Managing everyday bills, though, is something different. Many people still put checks in the mail or visit the bank directly to enact payments. They already distrust systems reading their mail. Would they actually trust Google to take that a step further and make payments on their behalf? For companies like Google, though, the even bigger and even more universal market of bill payments is too big too ignore. Google will do everything it can to make Pony Express attractive to everyone and will work overtime to gain trust so they can access your bank accounts, creditors and the companies providing you with goods and services — even if only as a middle man.

Trust me, some people will trust Google and give Pony Express, if it ever launches, a shot.

I might.

I appreciate Gmail scanning my email to identify junk and weeding it out before I have to see it. Other mail systems like Outlook mail do this as well. I’m certain that bill payment would be handled even more securely.

There will be many who will dismiss the idea out of hand — “No snooping Google in my finances!” — But that won’t stop Google from rolling out Pony Express. Digital natives will be early adopters and slowly, but surely, other people will give in and give it a try.

Face it, there’s no getting away from these tech giants getting into your business. Let’s just hope they they do it in a responsible way — and get all my bills paid on time.

source:http://mashable.com/2015/03/25/google-pony-express/

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Instagram is working on a new messaging app

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Rivaling Snapchat, Threads will enable users to automatically share their location, movements, and battery life with their IG ‘close friends’ list

Now Facebook is a wasteland for your racist aunt and high school friends’ wedding photos, the platform is determined to maintain its social media stronghold via Instagram and WhatsApp (sorry, ‘Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook’). Its latest venture? A new messaging app called Threads.

As reported by The Verge, Threads will be a companion app to Instagram, promoting constant sharing between users and their IG ‘close friends’ list. The app will enable people to automatically share their location, movements, and battery life with each other, as well as send text, photo, and video messages.

The development could be seen as another attempt to rival Snapchat – which already lets users share their location – following Instagram’s introduction of Stories three years ago.

Instagram has been trying to develop the messaging side of its app since late 2017 when the company started working on Direct, a standalone camera-first app exclusively for DMs. The platform ceased work in May this year after research revealed users found it frustrating to switch apps when they wanted to send a message – although this is exactly what happened with Facebook Messenger in 2016.

Screenshots acquired by The Verge show that users have the option to switch on automatic sharing, but are also able to update their statuses manually. Although Threads encourages friends to share their location with one another, it will reportedly show updates like ‘on the move’, rather than a real-time location.

The app’s main feed will show all messages, as well as friends’ updates and active status, and will allow users to watch their close friends’ IG stories as opposed to having to go back to Instagram to view them.

This announcement comes after a number of updates to the platform, including the removal of likesan anti-bullying feature, and a tool to report fake news. Although, there’s currently no launch date for Threads, and given Instagram’s history with fucked-up trials, it may never even materialise.

Source: https://www.dazeddigital.com/science-tech/article/45768/1/instagram-facebook-new-social-media-messaging-app-threads-to-rival-snapchat

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Massive change coming to WhatsApp with introduction of ads

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WhatsApp will see a massive change by 2020 with the introduction of adverts into the instant messaging app.

It’s been rumoured for a while and now WhatsApp looks set to finally bring adverts to its popular messaging app.

The Facebook-owned firm revealed the news during its annual Marking Summit in the Netherlands, with a rollout expected next year.

Photos of the way these new adverts will look have even been posted online with attendee Olivier Ponteville, giving fans a closer look at what’s to come.

The image, which can be seen on Twitter, shows how ads currently appear on Facebook and Instagram with a WhatsApp screenshot then revealed with a full-screen advert.

According to technology website BGR, once the message appears users will be able to “swipe up when an ad appears for more information about the product or service being advertised.”

Adverts in WhatsApp have been spoken about for a while but this is the first evidence that things are changing within the popular service.

How fans react is yet to been seen but it’s unlikely to go down well with its billions of users.

The bad news is that it seems there’s nothing that can be done to stop this new feature from arriving within the app.

It seems almost certain that there will be no way to switch them off or hide these paid-for messages which may prove to be hugely irritating.

Source: https://www.thenewsguru.com/technology/internet/article/massive-change-coming-whatsapp-introduction-ads/

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Facebook Messenger finally adds quoted replies

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Today Facebook Messenger has added a sorely missing feature – quoted replies. This allows you to reply to a specific message in a conversation, and is incredibly helpful when you’re engaged in chats that have a big range of topics. Using the new feature, the people you’re talking to will now know exactly what you were replying to with that “LOL”, for example.

This has been a feature in WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook, for a very long time, and it’s always been sort of a baffling omission in Messenger. So it’s good to finally see it there too.

In order to quote a specific message, long tap on it and you’ll see a new Reply button to the right of the reaction emojis. Tap that, write your reply, and, just like in WhatsApp, the message you’re replying to will appear above your reply. Easy. This potentially means you’ll have less misunderstandings with your friends as to which message was referencing what.

The feature is rolling out now on both iOS and Android.

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