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Tag Archives: kids

With its goofy video loops, YC backed Splish wants to be the ‘anti-Instagram’

Is there any space on kids’ homescreens for another social sharing app to poke in? Y Combinator backed  Splish wants to have a splash at it ( ) — with a super-short-form video and photo sharing app aimed at the under-25s. The SF-based startup began bootstrapping out of their college dorm rooms last July, playing around with app ideas before settling on goofy video loops to be their social sharing steed of choice. The Splish app pops content into video loops of between 1-5 seconds. Photos can be uploaded too but motion must be added in the form of an animated effect of your choice. So basically nothing on Splish stays still. (Hence its watery name.) But while wobbly, content on Splish is intended to stick around — rather than ephemerally pass away (a la snaps). Here are a few examples of Splishes (embedded below as GIFs… but you can see them on its platform here , here and here ):   It’s the first startup for the four college buddy co-founders: Drake Rehfeld, Alex Pareto, Jackson Berry and Zac Denham, though between them they’ve also clocked up engineering hours working for Snapchat, Facebook and Team 10. Their initial  web product  went up in March and they landed a place on YC’s program at the start of May —  when they also released their  iOS app . An Android app is pending, and they’ll be on the hunt for funding come YC demo day. The gap in the social sharing market this young team reckons it’s spotted is a sort of ‘anti- Instagram’ — offering a playful contrast to the photo sharing platform’s polished (and at times preening) performances. The idea is that sharing stuff on Splish is a bonding experience; part of an ongoing smartphone-enabled conversation between mates, rather than a selectively manicured photoshoot which also has to be carefully packaged for public ‘gram consumption. Splish does have a public feed, though, so it’s not a pure messaging app — but the co-founders say the focus is friend group sharing rather than public grandstanding. “Splish is a social app for sharing casual looping videos with close friends,” says Rehfeld, giving the team’s elevator pitch. “It came out of our own experience, and we’re building for ourselves because we noticed that the way you socialize right now in real life is you do activities with your friends

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Roblox responds to the hack that allowed a child’s avatar to be raped in its game

There’s a special place in Hell for people who think it’s funny to rape a 7-year-old girl’s avatar in an online virtual world designed for children. Yes, that happened . Roblox, a hugely popular online game for kids, was hacked by an individual who subverted the game’s protection systems in order to have customized animations appear. This allowed two male avatars to gang rape a young girl’s avatar on a playground in one of the Roblox games. The company has now issued an apology to the victim and its community, and says it has determined how the hacker was able to infiltrate its system so it can prevent future incidents. The mother of the child, whose avatar was the victim of the in-game sexual assault, was nearby when the incident took place. She says her child showed her what was happening on the screen and she took the device away, fortunately shielding her daughter from seeing most of the activity. The mother then captured screenshots of the event in order to warn others. She described the incident in a public Facebook post that read, in part: At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My sweet and innocent daughter’s avatar was being VIOLENTLY GANG-RAPED ON A PLAYGROUND by two males. A female observer approached them and proceeded to jump on her body at the end of the act. Then the 3 characters ran away, leaving my daughter’s avatar laying on her face in the middle of the playground

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Reminder: Other people’s lives are not fodder for your feeds

#PlaneBae You should cringe when you read that hashtag. Because it’s a reminder that people are being socially engineered by technology platforms to objectify and spy on each other for voyeuristic pleasure and profit. The short version of the story attached to the cringeworthy hashtag is this: Earlier this month an individual, called Rosey Blair, spent all the hours of a plane flight using her smartphone and social media feeds to invade the privacy of her seat neighbors — publicly gossiping about the lives of two strangers. Her speculation was set against a backdrop of rearview creepshots, with a few barely there scribbles added to blot out actual facial features. Even as an entire privacy invading narrative was being spun unknowingly around them. #PlanePrivacyInvasion would be a more fitting hashtag. Or #MoralVacuumAt35000ft And yet our youthful surveillance society started with a far loftier idea associated with it: Citizen journalism. Once we’re all armed with powerful smartphones and ubiquitously fast Internet there will be no limits to the genuinely important reportage that will flow, we were told. There will be no way for the powerful to withhold the truth from the people. At least that was the nirvana we were sold. What did we get? Something that looks much closer to mass manipulation

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Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids Edition adds support for Spotify

Amazon is addressing one of the larger issues with its Echo Dot Kids Edition – support for Spotify’s streaming music service, with the option to filter out explicit lyrics. The news was announced on Friday alongside new content from Disney for the Kids Edition device. However, Amazon says the Spotify support would not be available until next week. Lack of access to one of the most popular streaming services was one of my personal critiques with the Kids Edition. As a Spotify household, it was hard to use the device here because of its limited support for music services outside Amazon and iHeartRadio Family. Our favorite playlists and music was not available, because we don’t pay for Amazon’s on-demand music service. This will be a welcome change. When Spotify is enabled, Amazon says the explicit filter will also be turned on by default – but parents can turn it off on their FreeTime dashboard. Along with the support on the Kids Edition device, the update will also now allow Spotify customers who don’t subscribe to FreeTime the option to turn explicit lyrics off, as they can already do with Amazon Music and Pandora. In addition, Amazon says the Echo Dot Kids Edition is gaining a host of new content from Disney this week and the next. It has already added a new kids skill called Disney Dailies that includes jokes and sketches taking place in the “Zootopia” world which are updated every day. Next week, there will also be new character alarms featuring characters from Pixar’s “Coco,” Disney’s “Moana” and others. And Disney has updated its Daily Stories with stories from “Incredibles 2,” “Doc McStuffins,” “Wall-E,” “Moana” and more. The Kids Edition is a combo package of a Echo Dot with a protective case and a year of FreeTime Unlimited, which includes exclusive Alexa skills for Kids Edition owners, as well as other content like games, apps, books, and videos.

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Winnie raises $4 million to make parents’ lives easier

An app that has the needs of modern-day parents in mind, Winnie , has now raised $4 million in additional seed funding in a round led by Reach Capital. Other investors in the new round include Rethink Impact, Homebrew, Ludlow Ventures, Afore Capital, and BBG Ventures, among others. With the new funds, Winnie has raised $6.5 million to date. The San Francisco-based startup, which begun its life as a directory of kid-friendly places largely serving the needs of newer parents, has since expanded to become a larger platform for parents. Winnie was founded by Bay Area technologists, Sara Mauskopf, who spent time at Postmates, Twitter, YouTube and Google, and Anne Halsall, also from Postmates and Google, as well as Quora and Inkling. As new parents themselves, they built Winnie out a personal need to find the sort of information parents crave – details you can’t easily dig up in Google Maps or Yelp. For example, you can use Winnie to find nearby kid-friendly destinations like museums or parks, as well as those that welcome children with features like changing tables in restrooms, wide aisles in stores for stroller access, areas for nursing, and other things. "Babies are people too, and they deserve a designated clean bathroom space just like the rest of us." https://t.co/Ps8egQcDLL — Winnie (@Winnie) June 5, 2018 Winnie serves as a good example of what investing in women can achieve. Somehow, the young, 20-something men that receive the lion’s share of VC funding had never thought up the idea of app that helps new parents navigate the world. (I know, shocking, right?) And yet, the kind of questions that Winnie tries to answer are those that all parents, at some point, are curious about. The data on Winnie is crowd-sourced, with details, ratings and reviews coming from other real parents. Listings in San Francisco may be more fleshed out than elsewhere, as that’s where Winnie got its start. However, the app is now available in 10,000 cities across the U.S., and has just surpassed over a million users. In more recent months, Winnie has been working to expand beyond being a sort of “Yelp for parents,” and now features an online community where parents can ask questions and participate in discussions. “The crowdsourced directory of family-friendly businesses is still a huge component of what we do…and this has grown to over 2 million places across the United States,” notes Winnie co-founder and CEO Sara Mauskopf

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Are scooter startups really worth billions?

It’s been hard to miss the scooter startup wars opening fresh, techno-fueled rifts in Valley society in recent months. Another flavor of ride-sharing steed which sprouted seemingly overnight to clutter up sidewalks — drawing rapid-fire ire from city regulators apparently far more forgiving of traffic congestion if it’s delivered in the traditional, car-shaped capsule. Even in their best, most-groomed PR shots, the dockless carelessness of these slimline electrified scooters hums with an air of insouciance and privilege. As if to say: Why yes, we turned a kids’ toy into a battery-powered kidult transporter — what u gonna do about it? An earlier batch of  electric scooter sharing startups  — offering full-fat, on-road mopeds that most definitely do need a license to ride (and, unless you’re crazy, a helmet for your head) — just can’t compete with that. Last mile does not haul. But a short-walk replacement tool that’s so seamlessly manhandled is also of course easily vandalized . Or misappropriated. Or both. And there have been a plethora of scooter dismemberment / kidnap horror stories coming out of California, judging by reports from the scooter wars front line. Hanging scooters in trees is presumably a protest thing. Scooter brand Lime struck an especially tone-deaf tech note trying to fix this problem after an update added a security alarm  that bellowed robotic threats to call the cops  on anyone who fumbled to unlock them.

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Amazon FreeTime Unlimited finally lands on Apple’s App Store

Five and half years after it launched , one of the more popular apps for kids’ reading and entertainment has finally arrived on the iOS. Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the e-commerce giant’s subscription service for children 3-12 that gives unlimited access to 10,000 books, movies and TV shows for $2.99 per month for up to four users across tablets, phones, e-readers, and smart speakers, is now available on the App Store . Apple is promoting the new app at the moment on the home page of the App Store, where a reader saw it and flagged it to us. “We launch new products and features as they’re ready,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We’re excited to bring the  FreeTime  Unlimited experience to iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.” FreeTime Unlimited is already available on Amazon devices and on Android. Now, when users sign up for a subscription on any one platform, they can use it across all of them — whether it be a Fire tablet, a Fire Kids Edition tablet, compatible Android phones and tablets, or compatible Echo devices. The move is a significant one both for Apple and Amazon. At a time when other media companies are launching kid-friendly versions of their services that bring in more parental controls and better filters to help block out content that is inappropriate for young ones, FreeTime Unlimited has proven to be one of the most popular kids-focused entertainment apps of them all — content includes video from Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, PBS Kids, National Geographic and Amazon Originals for Kids — and yet it wasn’t available on one of the most popular (and well reviewed ) tablets used by children. While Amazon initially kept it as an Amazon-only product for its early years — as a way of driving more sales to its own hardware — last year it finally launched a version for Android devices, but it’s taken over a year more to finally bring it to iPhone and iPad devices. One of the reasons for this could be the ongoing struggle between Amazon and Apple. In some regards, the two are complementary companies: Amazon ships a lot of Apple products, and iOS is a very strong platform for Amazon in terms of online sales, for example. But in others — such as in hardware, increasingly online entertainment and “owning” customers, and for talent to build its products — the two are rivals. Apple, for one, has not allowed apps on its iOS platform to enable Amazon book purchases directly from their apps, and Amazon doesn’t sell books and movies from its own app to avoid Apple’s cut. So it’s not surprising to see Amazon also delay certain content and features from the Apple platform in some kind of tit-for-tat.

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Amazon FreeTime Unlimited finally lands on Apple’s App Store

Five and half years after it launched , one of the more popular apps for kids’ reading and entertainment has finally arrived on the iOS. Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the e-commerce giant’s subscription service for children 3-12 that gives unlimited access to 10,000 books, movies and TV shows for $2.99 per month for up to four users across tablets, phones, e-readers, and smart speakers, is now available on the App Store . Apple is promoting the new app at the moment on the home page of the App Store, where a reader saw it and flagged it to us. “We launch new products and features as they’re ready,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We’re excited to bring the  FreeTime  Unlimited experience to iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.” FreeTime Unlimited is already available on Amazon devices and on Android. Now, when users sign up for a subscription on any one platform, they can use it across all of them — whether it be a Fire tablet, a Fire Kids Edition tablet, compatible Android phones and tablets, or compatible Echo devices. The move is a significant one both for Apple and Amazon. At a time when other media companies are launching kid-friendly versions of their services that bring in more parental controls and better filters to help block out content that is inappropriate for young ones, FreeTime Unlimited has proven to be one of the most popular kids-focused entertainment apps of them all — content includes video from Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, PBS Kids, National Geographic and Amazon Originals for Kids — and yet it wasn’t available on one of the most popular (and well reviewed ) tablets used by children. While Amazon initially kept it as an Amazon-only product for its early years — as a way of driving more sales to its own hardware — last year it finally launched a version for Android devices, but it’s taken over a year more to finally bring it to iPhone and iPad devices. One of the reasons for this could be the ongoing struggle between Amazon and Apple. In some regards, the two are complementary companies: Amazon ships a lot of Apple products, and iOS is a very strong platform for Amazon in terms of online sales, for example

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Amazon FreeTime Unlimited finally lands on Apple’s App Store

Five and half years after it launched , one of the more popular apps for kids’ reading and entertainment has finally arrived on the iOS. Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the e-commerce giant’s subscription service for children 3-12 that gives unlimited access to 10,000 books, movies and TV shows for $2.99 per month for up to four users across tablets, phones, e-readers, and smart speakers, is now available on the App Store . Apple is promoting the new app at the moment on the home page of the App Store, where a reader saw it and flagged it to us. “We launch new products and features as they’re ready,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We’re excited to bring the  FreeTime  Unlimited experience to iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.” FreeTime Unlimited is already available on Amazon devices and on Android. Now, when users sign up for a subscription on any one platform, they can use it across all of them — whether it be a Fire tablet, a Fire Kids Edition tablet, compatible Android phones and tablets, or compatible Echo devices. The move is a significant one both for Apple and Amazon. At a time when other media companies are launching kid-friendly versions of their services that bring in more parental controls and better filters to help block out content that is inappropriate for young ones, FreeTime Unlimited has proven to be one of the most popular kids-focused entertainment apps of them all — content includes video from Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, PBS Kids, National Geographic and Amazon Originals for Kids — and yet it wasn’t available on one of the most popular (and well reviewed ) tablets used by children. While Amazon initially kept it as an Amazon-only product for its early years — as a way of driving more sales to its own hardware — last year it finally launched a version for Android devices, but it’s taken over a year more to finally bring it to iPhone and iPad devices. One of the reasons for this could be the ongoing struggle between Amazon and Apple. In some regards, the two are complementary companies: Amazon ships a lot of Apple products, and iOS is a very strong platform for Amazon in terms of online sales, for example. But in others — such as in hardware, increasingly online entertainment and “owning” customers, and for talent to build its products — the two are rivals. Apple, for one, has not allowed apps on its iOS platform to enable Amazon book purchases directly from their apps, and Amazon doesn’t sell books and movies from its own app to avoid Apple’s cut.

Read More »

Amazon FreeTime Unlimited finally lands on Apple’s App Store

Five and half years after it launched , one of the more popular apps for kids’ reading and entertainment has finally arrived on the iOS. Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the e-commerce giant’s subscription service for children 3-12 that gives unlimited access to 10,000 books, movies and TV shows for $2.99 per month for up to four users across tablets, phones, e-readers, and smart speakers, is now available on the App Store . Apple is promoting the new app at the moment on the home page of the App Store, where a reader saw it and flagged it to us. “We launch new products and features as they’re ready,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We’re excited to bring the  FreeTime  Unlimited experience to iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.” FreeTime Unlimited is already available on Amazon devices and on Android. Now, when users sign up for a subscription on any one platform, they can use it across all of them — whether it be a Fire tablet, a Fire Kids Edition tablet, compatible Android phones and tablets, or compatible Echo devices. The move is a significant one both for Apple and Amazon. At a time when other media companies are launching kid-friendly versions of their services that bring in more parental controls and better filters to help block out content that is inappropriate for young ones, FreeTime Unlimited has proven to be one of the most popular kids-focused entertainment apps of them all — content includes video from Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, PBS Kids, National Geographic and Amazon Originals for Kids — and yet it wasn’t available on one of the most popular (and well reviewed ) tablets used by children. While Amazon initially kept it as an Amazon-only product for its early years — as a way of driving more sales to its own hardware — last year it finally launched a version for Android devices, but it’s taken over a year more to finally bring it to iPhone and iPad devices. One of the reasons for this could be the ongoing struggle between Amazon and Apple. In some regards, the two are complementary companies: Amazon ships a lot of Apple products, and iOS is a very strong platform for Amazon in terms of online sales, for example. But in others — such as in hardware, increasingly online entertainment and “owning” customers, and for talent to build its products — the two are rivals. Apple, for one, has not allowed apps on its iOS platform to enable Amazon book purchases directly from their apps, and Amazon doesn’t sell books and movies from its own app to avoid Apple’s cut. So it’s not surprising to see Amazon also delay certain content and features from the Apple platform in some kind of tit-for-tat.

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Google’s Family Link software now recommends ‘teacher-approved’ apps

Google today is expanding the capabilities of its Android parental control software, Family Link , to go beyond helping parents better manage their child’s device and app usage. Now, the Family Link app will also help parents learn about what apps they may want to install for their kids, as well. In a new discovery section, Family Link will feature a list of educational apps for children ages six through nine that parents can install with a tap. The apps are “recommended by teachers,” the section proclaims. Google explains that it worked with teachers from across the U.S. to come up with this curated list of apps with educational value. The teachers were recruited to rate content based on their expertise in learning and child development, and had a diverse background in terms of things like years of experience, demographics, and locations in the U.S. The apps must also meet Google’s Designed for Families (DFF) program requirements.  At launch, the recommended apps come from publishers like MarcoPolo Learning Inc., BrainPOP, Edoki Academy and others, and include those that teach kids about facts and figures, interesting places around the world, and, of course – it’s Google! – the basics of coding, among other things. There are currently a few dozen recommended apps, but they won’t appear all at once. Instead, Google tells us, the list will refresh on a weekly basis so as not to overwhelm either the parent or child. Over time, Google plans to add more apps to the feature, including those for other age ranges. Currently, all the apps are free, but Google may choose to highlight paid apps in the future, a spokesperson says. Parents can tap on the apps to visit their page on Google Play, and add them directly to their child’s device with a tap on the “Install” button.

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Austin-based Altr announces it has raised $15M for its blockchain tech that it claims provides ultra-secure data access and storage, after four years…

Dean Takahashi / VentureBeat : Austin-based Altr announces it has raised $15M for its blockchain tech that it claims provides ultra-secure data access and storage, after four years in stealth   —  After four years in stealth, Altr announced today that it has raised $15 million to build software that uses blockchain technology to provide cybersecurity.

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