A new version of Mixer, Microsoft’s Twitch rival, hits iOS and Android


Microsoft today is officially launching a new version of its Mixer mobile gameplay streaming app, its Twitch rival. The app, which is initially available on Android with iOS arriving soon, was first introduced into beta testing this fall, with a focus on improvements to its overall user experience, content discovery, performance and personalization features.

For example, the beta build introduced a redesigned “Trending” section that cycles through the featured broadcasts at the top, a better filtering tool to help you find interactive and co-streaming broadcasts, and a new “Following” section for tracking favorite broadcasters. This tab will feature broadcasters who are live along with other recommended streams.

Meanwhile, users profile pages have been updated with links to…

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Facebook pushes pre-roll ads on Watch as it stops subsidizing Live


Everyone’s least favorite ads are coming to Facebook, but six-second pre-rolls will only appear on original Watch tab videos you purposefully view and not in the News Feed. Facebook is embracing pre-rolls after years of shunning them as it tries to make payouts to video creators sustainable. Facebook’s head of video Fidji Simo tells TechCrunch that it will not renew direct subsidies to Live News Feed video broadcasters, confirming a Digiday report about it halting payments that included $50 million in contracts for 140 publishers and celebrities.

“A lot of the deals … were always meant to be temporary,” says Simo. “We have been funding content for a while. We thought we’d launch a new type of format, and we tried to help publishers learn how to make that content…

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Snapchat launches augmented reality developer platform Lens Studio


Snapchat is finally opening up so outside developers can help it offer infinite augmented reality experiences beyond those it designs in-house. Today Snap launches the Lens Studio AR developer tool for desktops so anyone can create World Lenses that place interactive, imaginary 3D objects in your photos and videos.

But brands, news publishers, and developers will have to promote their own Lenses by marketing their QR Snapcodes that users scan to unlock an AR effect for 24 hours. That’s because Snapchat won’t display these Community Lenses in its camera unless businesses pay a partnered creative agency to build them a special effect and then buy Sponsored Lens ads from Snap.

The launch could vastly broaden Snapchat’s AR entertainment value, helping it to compete with…

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Half of Amazon app users have been switched to a new, swipe-based 1-Click checkout


Has Amazon’s ‘one-click’ checkout on mobile looked a little different to you lately? A number of users of Amazon’s mobile applications have recently reported seeing a new checkout option that replaces the click – well, on mobile, the tap – with a swipe instead. As it turns out, the option is part of a fairly large-scale test Amazon has underway. Currently, around half of U.S. iOS and Android customers are seeing the new feature.

If you’re in the test group, you’ll notice that the one-click ordering process you’re used to has been updated with a new, orange button that reads “Swipe to buy with 1-Click.” That means, instead of tapping on the button to make the purchase using the shipping and payment information already on file, you slide your finger across the…

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Gfycat wants to fix your low-fidelity GIFs with machine learning


We all love to share GIFs — and there are plenty of ways to do that, through online portals or keyboards — but often times because there is so much content, you’ll end up surfacing up a lower-fidelity GIF.

There can be plenty of copies of the same video clips as a GIF, or maybe it’s just difficult to capture and upload, but Gfycat hopes that it can be solved at a technical level. Gfycat is now making a big push on the technical front to make those GIFs look better and more discoverable as creators look to continue to upload content, regardless of what kind of quality or fidelity they are. And it’s more of a video problem than an image recognition problem, CEO Richard Rabbat said.

“We have scaled [through] creators through word of mouth, and they are just getting excited…

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Lily raises $2M from NEA and others for a personal stylist service that considers feelings, not just fit


One of the reasons recently IPO’d Stitch Fix became so popular among female shoppers is because of how it pairs the convenience of home try-on for clothing and accessories with a personal styling service that adapts to your tastes over time. But often, personal stylists bring their own subjective takes on fashion to their customers. A new startup called Lily aims to offer a more personalized service that takes into account not just what’s on trend or what looks good, but also how women feel about their bodies and how the right clothing can impact those perceptions.

The company has now closed on $2 million in seed funding from NEA and other investors to further develop its technology, which today involves an iOS application, web app and API platform that retailers can integrate…

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This app will help you figure out if you can fit that Costco-sized paper towel box in your apartment


You’re probably going to get a better deal when you buy consumer products — like paper towels — wholesale, but at the same time you’re also buying a very, very large package of said consumer products. So, they might not always fit in your apartment.

Wholesale goods are the primary play for a startup called Boxed, a retailer looking to play the sort of digital-to-your-door Costco game. But there might be a bit of a challenge visualizing how big those packages are, so the company built an augmented reality tool to demo the sheer size of that massive box of Mac and Cheese you might buy through the app. All things said the AR demo is a little bit of a joke. Built during a hackathon, Fong said that it’s primarily a way to help get the brand out there.

It’s a fun little…

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To fix SoundCloud, it must become the anti-Spotify

Startups die by suicide, not competition. It wasn’t that anyone was stealing SoundCloud’s underground rappers, bedroom remixers, and garage bands. SoundCloud stumbled because it neglected these hardcore loyalists as it wrongly strived to usurp Spotify as the streaming home of music’s superstars.

But four months ago after laying off 40% of its staff, SoundCloud scored a do-or-die investment of $169.5 million that saved the company and brought in a new CEO. Now the question is whether SoundCloud can get back in the groove. I sounded the alarm about SoundCloud’s mishandled headcount cuts, misguided direction, and morale problems, so it feels important to lend some suggestions alongside the criticism.

SoundCloud has something no one else does: the…

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Twitter officially launches ‘threads,’ a new feature for easily posting tweetstorms


Twitter today is announcing the launch of a new feature that will allow people to more easily post tweetstorms – that is, those series of connected tweets that have grown to become a popular workaround for getting past Twitter’s character count limitation in order to share longer thoughts. The company confirmed last month it was testing the feature – which it’s now calling “threads” – across its iOS and Android apps.

The tweetstorm format has been used for a long time on Twitter, initially by a small number of early adopters, including a16z co-founder Marc Andreessen, who would often pen the equivalent of blog posts using tweets.

The need for tweetstorms became more pressing over the years, as users continually bumped up against Twitter’s 140 character count limit…

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