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Snapchat had a big August amid TikTok uncertainty

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The continual uncertainty around TikTok’s future may have provided a big boost to Snapchat in August. Or maybe it was just the Disney eyes filter that went viral. In any event, preliminary estimates from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower indicate that Snapchat’s mobile app across both iOS and Android saw approximately 28.5 million new installs last month — its single largest month for first-time downloads since May 2019, when it had then seen 41.2 million new installs.

May 2019, however, was an outlier in Snapchat’s history. The only other month, besides May 2019, where Snapchat had seen more monthly downloads than it did in August was December 2016, Sensor Tower data indicates.

Based on the firm’s findings, Snapchat downloads were up 29% year-over-year in August 2020, compared with 9% growth in July.

It’s unclear what combination of trends or changes may have shaped Snapchat’s download data over the past month.

But one significant area of interest in the social apps space has been the ongoing news around a possible TikTok ban in the U.S. News coverage of the ban already had a notable impact on the app stores’ top charts in recent weeks. Earlier in August, a number of direct TikTok competitors — including Likee, Byte, Dubsmash, Triller and others — saw sizable increases in weekly active users in the U.S. But none have grown to the point where they’re an obvious shoo-in to take TikTok’s place if the Chinese-owned video app is banned from the U.S., per Trump’s executive order.

It’s been more difficult, however, to pinpoint how larger TikTok competitors — like Snapchat and Instagram –were impacted by the news of a TikTok ban. These broader social apps tend to continually grow on a month-over-month basis and they regularly add new features, which could impact downloads and usage. For example, Instagram in recent weeks has been expanding features around live streamingshopping and debuted its own TikTok alternative, Reels.

Though not a direct TikTok rival, Snapchat has also been working to attract the same young demographic that now favors the short-form video app.

This month, Snapchat announced its plans to launch a new music-powered feature that would appeal to TikTok users. The feature, due to arrive this fall, will allow users to set their Snaps to music, similar to TikTok. Snap  also confirmed it has deals in place with top music industry partners, including Warner Music Group, Warner Chappell, Universal Music Publishing Group, NMPA publisher members, Merlin and others, which have licensed their content for use in the Snapchat app.

Image Credits: App Store, screenshot by TechCrunch

In addition, Snapchat in late July turned on a new feature called “Minis,” which are basically lightweight, simplified versions of apps that live within Snapchat’s chat section. The apps, built using HTML, allow users to engage with a range of tasks — like buying tickets, meditating with Headspace, collaborating with friends and more — without having to leave the app.

Snapchat has been benefiting, too, from a prominent position on the App Store. Apple currently has it featured in an editorially curated list of app suggestions called “New to iPhone?” on the App Store’s “App” homepage. The collection, which you don’t even have to scroll down to find, recommends apps that first-time iPhone users will want to download.

Other bumps in downloads could be attributed to increased marketing spend, as is common among larger app publishers. Snapchat, however, isn’t commenting on what, specifically, may have changed in August.

And maybe it was just those 66.4 million TikTok videos tagged #disneyfilter that gave Snapchat a bump this past month!

Sensor Tower’s new Snapchat data is considered preliminary because it’s only been finalized through August 26th. When the remaining days of August are also finalized, there may be some changes to the resulting numbers. But those changes will likely be minor, at best.

These figures were also initially reported by one of Sensor Tower’s financial services customers in an analyst note. They were not publicized by Sensor Tower’s data reporting team. But the company confirmed the data’s accuracy with TechCrunch.

Snapchat, as of its Q2 earnings in July, reported its daily active users had grown to 238 million, up nearly 4% from the 229 million the company reported in April. The company won’t comment on the new download data.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/02/snapchat-had-a-big-august-amid-tiktok-uncertainty/

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Microsoft acquires Smash.gg

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Microsoft has acquired esports tournament and event organization platform Smash.gg for an undisclosed amount.

The news was shared today by the Smash.gg Twitter account and confirmed by Microsoft via its MSN Esports socials.

“With this acquisition, the http://Smash.gg community and tournament organizers will continue to benefit from the http://Smash.gg platform, while our team will now benefit from additional resources and support as part of the Microsoft Content Services team,” reads a tweet from Smash.gg.

An additional notice on the Smash.gg website adds that the platform will continue “as a self-service esports platform available to tournament organizers from all game communities.”

Smash.gg launched in 2015 as an esports tournament and event organization platform, including brackets set-up and registration support for both online and live events.

It has previously raised capital from investors such as Spark Capital, Accel, and Horizon Ventures.

Source: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2020-12-02-microsoft-acquires-smash-gg

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Microsoft Teams will stop working for millions tomorrow

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Microsoft Teams is undergoing a big change, with the popular web conferencing service set to stop working on Internet Explorer 11. On Monday November 30 the web-based version of Microsoft Teams will stop working with IE11, so if you’re an Internet Explorer fan you’ll have to switch to Microsoft Edge to use Teams in a browser. The Windows 10 makers announced this big Microsoft Teams change earlier this year, and it appears to all be part of a push to move Internet Explorer 11 users onto Edge.

Besides IE11 losing Microsoft Teams support at the end of November, the veteran browser will also no longer be able to access Microsoft 365 services in the future.

On August 17 2021 the remaining Microsoft 365 services will stop working with Internet Explorer 11.

While this comes just a few months after the Legacy version of Microsoft Edge reaches its end of support on March 9 2021.

These changes were announced over the summer in a Microsoft blog post where the Redmond-based tech giant said they “want to be clear that IE 11 isn’t going away”.

However, the amount of mileage you’ll get from Internet Explorer 11 is greatly reducing, and with Legacy Edge reaching its end of support it’s clear the Chromium-powered version of Edge is the basket Microsoft is putting all its eggs in.

Announcing the news previously, Microsoft said: “We’re announcing that Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) by this time next year.

“Beginning November 30 2020, the Microsoft Teams web app will no longer support IE 11.

“Beginning August 17 2021, the remaining Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support IE 11.

“This means that after the above dates, customers will have a degraded experience or will be unable to connect to Microsoft 365 apps and services on IE 11. For degraded experiences, new Microsoft 365 features will not be available or certain features may cease to work when accessing the app or service via IE 11. While we know this change will be difficult for some customers, we believe that customers will get the most out of Microsoft 365 when using the new Microsoft Edge. We are committed to helping make this transition as smooth as possible.”

Internet Explorer has long been a staple of the Windows experience, with the first iteration of the browser launching back in 1995.

However, as Control Panel and Paint have shown, Microsoft are not afraid of deciding to make huge changes to long-running features or software that customers have grown to know and love.

Besides this major Teams change, there is another big difference that Internet Explorer 11 users will notice this month.

Some of the most popular websites in the world no longer open in Internet Explorer 11, with users being redirected to Microsoft Edge version 87 instead.

This change kicked into effect recently, and affects hugely popular websites such as YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

But that’s just scratching the surface, with Express.co.uk previously reporting that over 1,000 websites will stop working in IE11.

When IE11 users try to access a blocked website they will get redirected to Edge and see this message appear: “You’re now browsing in Microsoft Edge.

“This website doesn’t work with Internet Explorer. Microsoft recommends continuing in Microsoft Edge to experience better speed, performance, and security.”

For those that still are having difficulty saying goodbye to the veteran and popular browser, Microsoft will allow users to enable ‘Internet Explorer mode’ in Edge.

If this is all part of a push to try and move users onto the Chromium-powered version of Microsoft Edge, then it’s having the desired effect.

Stats from NetMarketShare have shown since the start of the year, Edge has grown its market share by over two percent and managed to leapfrog Mozilla’s Firefox and become the world’s second most popular web browser.

And with more and more great features getting added to Edge, such as vertical tabs and an autofill for money-off coupons on online retail stores, whose to say Edge won’t continue to slowly but surely close the gap on Google Chrome in 2021.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/1365641/Microsoft-Teams-will-stop-working-for-millions-Internet-Explorer-11-block

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Android might separate emoji from OS updates so you can get new ones faster

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Emoji are important. Heck, they were the biggest reason I wanted to write about the recent iOS 14.2 update. More emoji = better expression.

Whenever Unicode consortium, a non-profit organization that handles dissemination and approval of emoji, releases a new set, there’s palpable excitement to start using them in our favorite apps and devices as soon as possible. However, we often need to wait it out till Apple, Google, or your phone maker releases an OS update with the new set.

This process may change for Android users. Sleuths at XDA Developers a clue in Android code that suggests the Big G is thinking about separating emoji from the system update, so you can get them faster.

Here’s what’s happening: until now, font files containing emoji were stored under the /system/fonts directory. So refreshing them has been possible only through an over-the-air update.

The new code commit suggests that they are to be stored under a new /data/fonts/files directory, which allows for a server update to these files. That means Google or other manufacturers can push a font file update to push new emoji to users anytime.

The new code also indicates that this will help other apps read these files and import new emoji directly into their system.

As folks at XDA noted, this code hasn’t been merged to the Android open source project, so it’s not final yet. But we can hope that this update makes the cut and we get new emojis without waiting for an over-the-air update.

Source: https://thenextweb.com/plugged/2020/11/25/android-might-separate-emoji-from-os-updates-so-you-can-get-new-ones-faster/

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