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Tag Archives: sarah-perez

6 million users had installed third-party Twitter clients

Twitter tried to downplay the impact deactivating its legacy APIs would have on its community and the third-party Twitter clients preferred by many power users by saying that “less than 1%” of Twitter developers were using these old APIs. Twitter is correct in its characterization of the size of this developer base, but it’s overlooking millions of third-party app users in the process. According to data from Sensor Tower, six million App Store and Google Play users installed the top five third-party Twitter clients between January 2014 and July 2018. Over the past year, these top third-party apps were downloaded 500,000 times. This data is largely free of reinstalls, the firm also said. The top third-party Twitter apps users installed over the past three-and-a-half years have included: Twitterrific, Echofon, TweetCaster, Tweetbot and Ubersocial. Of course, some portion of those users may have since switched to Twitter’s native app for iOS or Android, or they may run both a third-party app and Twitter’s own app in parallel. Even if only some of these six million users remain, they represent a small, vocal and — in some cases, prominent — user base. It’s one that is very upset right now, too. And for a company that just posted a loss of one million users during its last earnings , it seems odd that Twitter would not figure out a way to accommodate this crowd, or even bring them on board its new API platform to make money from them. Twitter, apparently, was weighing data and facts, not user sentiment and public perception, when it made this decision

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Netflix tests video promos in between episodes, much to viewers’ dislike

Netflix is testing video promos that play in between episodes of shows a viewer is streaming, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. The promos are full-screen videos, personalized to the user, featuring content Netflix would have otherwise suggested elsewhere in its user interface – like on a row of recommendations, for example. The promos also displace the preview information for the next episode being binged, like the title, description, and thumbnail that previously appeared on the right side of the screen. The test was first spotted by Cord Cutters News , following  a Reddit thread filled with complaints . A number of Twitter users are  angrily tweeting about the change, too. (See below examples.) We understand the introduction of promos in between the episodes is not a feature Netflix is rolling out to its subscribers at this time. Instead, it’s one of the hundreds of tests Netflix runs every year, many of which are focused on how to better promote Netflix’s original programming to its customers. This test is currently live for a small percentage of Netflix’s global audience. And unlike some prior tests, the promos may feature any content in Netflix’s catalog – not just its original programming. There is some misinformation about the way the test works out there because of what may be user error on the part of the original Reddit user, or an undocumented bug. Image credit: Reddit user WhyAllTheTrains  via this post The original Reddit post said these new video promos are “unskippable,” noting there’s a Continue button with a countdown timer on it that looks similar to the one you’d see on a YouTube ad

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Facebook’s Kodi box ban is nothing new

According to recent  reports , Facebook has updated its Commerce Policy to specifically ban the sale of Kodi boxes on its site – that is, devices that come with pre-installed Kodi software, which are often used for illegally streaming digital content. However, the ban is not a new one – Facebook confirms its policy on Kodi box sales hasn’t changed since last summer, and its external Policy Page – the one being cited as evidence of the new ban – was updated in December. It’s true that the changes have flown under the radar until now, though. The policy change was first reported by Cord Cutters News , and later linked to by TorrentFreak and Techdirt . The original report claims that Facebook added a new rule on its list of “Digital Media and Electronic Devices” under “Prohibited Content,” which specifically calls out Kodi boxes. It says that Facebook posts “may not promote the sale of devices that facilitate or encourage streaming digital content in an authorized manner or interfering with the functionality of electronic devices.” The Policy page lists a few examples of what this means, including wiretapping devices, jamming or descrambling devices, jailbroken or loaded devices, and, then  “promoting the sale or use of streaming devices with Kodi installed.”  (The only permitted items are “add-on equipment for Kodi devices, such as keyboards and remotes.”) But this ban on Kodi boxes, Facebook says, is not a recently implemented policy. According to a Facebook spokesperson, it launched a new policy last summer that prohibited the sale of electronic devices that facilitate or are intended for unauthorized streaming or access to digital content – including Kodi boxes. This policy has not changed since last summer, but its external Policy Page – this one being cited by the various reported – was updated in December 2017 to offer additional illustrative examples and more detailed information on all its policies, including the one related to unauthorized streaming devices. In other words, Facebook has been banning Kodi boxes since it decided to crackdown on unauthorized streaming devices last year. It’s just now being noticed. The ban affects all posts on Marketplace, Buy and Sell Groups, and Shop Sections on Pages. Facebook explains it takes a very strong enforcement approach when “Kodi” is mentioned with a product for sale. As Techdirt pointed out , that’s problematic because the Kodi software itself is actually legal. However, device makers like Dragon Box or SetTV have been using the open-source Kodi platform and other add-ons to make copyright infringement easier for consumers

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New WordPress policy allows it to shut down blogs of Sandy Hook deniers

WordPress has taken down a handful alt-right blogs, according to several complaints from affected blog owners and readers who claim the sites were removed from WordPress.com, despite not being in violation of the company’s Terms of Service. Some site owners also said they were not notified of the shutdown in advance and have lost their work. The removals, we’ve learned, are in part due to a new policy WordPress has rolled out that now prohibits blogs from the “malicious publication of unauthorized, identifying images of minors.” Yes, that’s right: the company has created a new rule to specifically handle the Sandy Hook conspiracists, and boot them from WordPress.com. While some of the affected sites had already been flagged for other violations, many were hosting Sandy Hook conspiracy theories and other “false flag” content. In a YouTube video , the host of one site lamented, “They have wiped out 11 years of my fucking life.” He then read through WordPress’s Terms of Service, confused as to how he was in violation. According to Google’s cache , his site hosted 9/11 “truther” content and claimed that Sandy Hook was a staged event. These are generally repugnant points of view to a large swath of people, but he’s correct in saying they weren’t views that WordPress had prohibited. The update to WordPress’s policy follows a damning report from The NYT this week that explained on how the world’s largest blogging service  has allowed Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists to remain online . The issue, in part, has to do with how WordPress’s policies were originally written, the article explained. WordPress policies were designed to be more resistant to the strategic use of copyright claims as a means of getting content removed. Longtime web veterans know they were written this way because they were created at a time when large corporations would wield copyright law – like the DMCA – as a weapon used to force platforms to take down content about their company that they deemed unfavorable. But in recent years, the permissiveness these policies has also created loopholes for those whose spread disinformation, incite hatred and violence, and post abusive and offensive content to the web. With little other recourse available to them, some Sandy Hook parents have used copyright law get images of their children removed from the web. As The NYT explained, a Sandy Hook victim’s father, Leonard Pozner, filed copyright claims with a number of platforms, including WordPress, on images of his son Noah, a 6-year old victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Facebook, Amazon and Google complied with those requests.

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Bumble announces a fund to invest in women-led businesses

Dating and networking app Bumble today announced the launch of Bumble Fund, a new vehicle focused on early stage investments specifically aimed at helping diverse, female entrepreneurs raise capital for their businesses. Sarah Jones Simmer, Bumble Chief Operating Officer, will lead Bumble Fund’s investment strategy along with Bumble Senior Advisor, Sarah Kunst, the company says. “Investing in and empowering women in business is something that our founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd is deeply passionate about and is at the very core of what Bumble stands for,” said Jones Simmer, in a statement about the fund’s launch. “Through Bumble Fund we’ll look not only to support those women leaders who have been largely ignored, but we’ll also demonstrate why those investments build smart, successful businesses.” Bumble Fund’s initial commitments include one of the winners of Bumble’s first “Bizz Pitch” competition, Sofia Los Angeles, a swimwear company founded by Anasofia Gomez. Its other commitments so far include Mahmee, a health care platform for coordinating prenatal and postpartum care; Female Founders Fund, another early stage fund for backing female talent; BeautyCon, the digital media company and festival operator focused on the beauty industry; and venture fund Cleo Capital, also focused on female founders. The new fund will make investments that range from $5,000 to $250,000, in companies that are headed by women and focus on women’s interests. Bumble has committed over a million so far, it says. The team will also work to identify new, potential investments via Bumble’s own Bumble Bizz platform – the dating app’s business networking platform available within its flagship mobile app. The company will also find new founders to back through its future Bumble Bizz pitch competitions, it says . The move could help bring more attention to Bumble Bizz, while giving the company a stake in promising companies. Bumble, however, only spoke of the need for more investment in female founders, not the other bottom line advantages to its own operations. In a blog post, Bumble shared the fact that startups headed by women had only received 2% of all venture capital last year

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The Alexa-Cortana integration is now available in a public preview

Microsoft today will begin to allow Alexa device owners to summon its own virtual assistant, Cortana, through their Echo devices, as well as call for Alexa via Cortana. The integration between the two voice computing platforms was previously announced and briefly demoed on stage in May at Microsoft’s Build 2018 event in Seattle. But the companies at the time hadn’t given a timeline as to when the integrations between the two assistants would be available to the public. Now, the companies are taking the first steps towards that goal with a public preview of their Alexa-Cortana collaboration. Customers who want to test out this new feature will be able to try it starting today, August 15, Microsoft says. The integration will continue to roll out in the days ahead, so you may not immediately gain access, we should note. Initially, customers will be able to call up Microsoft’s Cortana through their Echo devices and enable Amazon’s Alexa on Windows 10 devices and on Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. Later, it will arrive on mobile platforms like iOS and Android. Once enabled, the integration will allow Cortana users to ask Alexa to shop Amazon, manage their Amazon orders, and use some of Alexa’s third-party skills. Alexa users, meanwhile, will gain access to Cortana’s knowledge about productivity features including calendar management, their day at a glance, and their email. For example, Echo device owners can say to Cortana things like “What new emails do I have?,” “What is on my calendar today?,” and “Add ‘order flowers’ to my to-do list.” And Windows device users can click the microphone button or say “Hey Cortana, open Alexa,” followed by queries like “What are today’s shopping deals?,” “Set the temperature to 72 degrees,” or “Open Jeopardy.” The companies say that more skills and features will be added in time. “With this public preview, we want users to engage with the experience and provide feedback so our teams can continue to improve the experience,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. “Our goal is to create a seamless integration and this is our first step towards achieving that goal.” When Microsoft and Amazon first discussed making their assistants work together, there was some skepticism about how it would all work

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DC Entertainment’s new streaming and digital comics service pops up on Google Play

DC Universe’s digital subscription and streaming service has just appeared on Google Play , ahead of its planned fall 2018 release. Announced in late June, the service includes a streaming library of original programming like a live action version of “Teen Titans” and several other shows; plus a selection of DC animated movies, classic TV series like “Wonder Woman,” the four Christopher Reeve-starring Superman films; and a host of other content like a lineup of digital comics, an online forum, and more. So far, interested users can only sign up to pre-order the service, and that, apparently, has not changed. However, the company  has said that it would begin a beta test in August , and the app’s launch appears to be the first indication that’s about to kick off. One screen, for example, shows a board within the community section where beta users can offer feedback. The Google Play version of the app is listed as “Unreleased,” but you are able to now download it to supported Android devices. Unfortunately, you’re not able to view its content without becoming a beta tester – even if you signed up to pre-order the new subscription service. When we tested this, we were instead directed to a placeholder screen after logging in that says:  “Your Universe Begins Fall 2018.” (Don’t worry, Oath corporate Expense Account auditors – I’ll cancel this. I’m just trying to do my job here, okay? Please don’t email me.) The new app was released on Monday, and because it’s still not usable by the general public, it has no reviews. It also has no app description in its current state. The app’s screenshots do give a sense of how the subscription service will look and feel, though

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Pandora Premium comes to Google Assistant-powered devices

Pandora Premium is coming to Google Home, Mini, and Max devices, and other smart speakers and screens with Google Assistant built-in, the company announced this morning. The integration means listeners who pay for Pandora’s on-demand music service will be able to search and play any song, album, or playlist, just by asking Google, and can even search by lyrics, play their personalized “mood” playlists, and take other actions using their voice. For example, Google Assistant users will be able to thumbs up and thumbs down tracks on Pandora, skip tracks, create new stations, or play a song again, using voice commands. The service can also be set as the default on Google Home, so you don’t have to specify to play the songs via Pandora when issuing commands. Support for Pandora Premium on Google Home has been long-awaited. Pandora Plus and Pandora’s free service have been available on Google Home since November 2016 . The Premium service, however, is Pandora’s true Spotify competitor, offering a more robust feature set in addition to on-demand music. Access to personalized soundtracks is one of Pandora Premium’s newer features, and a potential selling point for the company’s top-tier service, along with this new Google Assistant integration. In an effort to challenge Spotify, Pandora this spring rolled out its own set of personalized playlists based on listening behavior and other factors, built using its Music Genome. This made Pandora capable of creating over 60 personalized playlists. Most users will only see a subset of those – like “party soundtracks, or those for moods like “happy” or “rainy days,” or those for various genres of music they like. Now these, too, can stream over Google Assistant-powered devices. The ability to search by lyrics is another benefit to using Pandora Premium on Google Assistant devices – and an area where Spotify is glaringly absent

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Airbnb shows off new collaboration features that let co-travelers plan trips together

In recent years, Airbnb has been working to expand its business beyond accommodations, by becoming a more robust travel companion with features like guidebooks , suggested experiences , and full-service hospitality for high-end travelers with its still invite-only Airbnb Beyond , for example. Now the company is preparing even more trip-planning features, including support for adding co-travelers to trips and other collaboration features for group travel. Airbnb offered a sneak peek at these otherwise unannounced features at a recent tech talk given at company headquarters. “Trip planning is not necessarily complete unless you can share your trip with someone. So now we’re building features that let you add co-travelers – so you can add and share ideas, so you can add comments, so you can collaborate,” said Laura Xu, an Android engineer on Airbnb’s Trip platform, during the presentation. “You can really build out your trip.” From the screenshots displayed, the co-travelers feature will allow Airbnb users to send invites to people who are joining the trip. This allows everyone to save ideas to a master list, including homes that match their criteria, experiences, food and drink, sights and more. Each item will indicate who added it to the trip. There’s also a way for others to comment on the items, which allows for group conversations about the place or activity. The company didn’t say how soon the features were arriving. The focus of this portion of the presentation was to give a look at how a company of Airbnb’s size and scale can change its platform and codebase to support more than just home listings. Over the past couple of years, the company has added support for things like restaurants, concerts, coworking spaces, luxury rentals, and even high-end vacations like castle rentals and even private islands, Xu said

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Twitch is closing its Communities

Say goodbye to Twitch’s Communities. The game streaming service says it’s soon killing off this still relatively new addition to its site in favor of implementing a tagging system instead. With the changes, users will be able to filter streams by tags within a directory or across different games on the Browse page, in order to better find the sort of streams they want to watch. The closure of Communities and addition of tags is being planned for mid-September, says Twitch. Twitch launched Communities just last year , with the goal of better catering to users’ unique interests. For example, different types of gaming, like retro, or different activities, like speedrunning, could then have their own community. There are also communities centered around titles like Fortnite Battle Royale, PUBG, League of Legends, and others, as well as those focused on creative endeavours like music, drawing, cooking, cosplay, and more. But the system has become less helpful as Twitch itself, the number of streamers and the number of communities grew. Today, there’s a lot of overlap between different Communities or between Communities and games, says Twitch. This is attributable, in part, to the open nature of Communities – there are many with similar names, and no good way to tell what makes them different from one another at first glance. “Communities were one solution for giving viewers information to help them decide what to watch, but viewers weren’t able to see that information while browsing within a directory they were interested in,” the company noted in an announcement. It also found that Communities weren’t driving viewers to watch streams – in fact less than 3% of Twitch viewership was from users who found streams through the Communities feature. That points to a pretty broad failure of Communities serving as a discovery feature. Twitch now hopes that the implementation of tags will make things better on that front.

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Facebook now requiring Pages with large US audiences to go through additional authorization

Facebook today announced it’s implementing a new measure to secure Facebook Pages with large U.S. followings in order to make it harder for people to administer a Page using a “fake or compromised account.” Beginning with those that have large U.S. followings, some Facebook Pages will now have to go through a “Page Publishing Authorization” process. This will require the Page managers to secure their accounts and verity their location. Facebook says the process only takes a few minutes to complete. If a Page requires this authorization, the Page admins will receive a notice at the top of their News Feed directing them to begin the process. If they choose not to submit to Authorization, they will no longer be able to post to their Pages, the company says. Enforcement will begin this month. When the Page owners click through, a message informs them why this is being done and what steps they have to take. To secure their account, Facebook is asking the Page manager to secure their account using two-factor authentication. This makes it more difficult for their account to be hijacked by a third-party, and is a best practice that all Facebook users – not just Page admins – should follow. Separately, the Facebook Page managers will need to verify their location. This will then be set as the Page’s primary country and display in the new Page Info tab Facebook introduced in June . Here, Facebook will also show a list of countries of the people who manage the Page, and how many managers hail from each country in that list. In addition, under Page History, Facebook will show when a Page has merged with another

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Workona helps web workers finally close all those tabs

A new startup, Workona , this week launched software designed for those who primarily do their work in a browser. The company’s goal is to become the OS for web work – and to also save web workers from the hell that is a million open tabs. To accomplish this, Workona offers smart browser windows you set up as workspaces, allowing you a place to save your open tabs, as well as collaborate with team members, search across your tabs, and even sync your workspace to different devices. The Palo Alto-based company was founded in fall 2017 by Quinn Morgan (CEO), previously the founding product manager at Lucidpress, and Alma Madsen (CTO), previously the first employee and Director of Engineering at Lucid Software, the makers of Lucidpress. “Last year, Alma and I decided we wanted to build something together again, and initially began working on a different startup idea,” explains Morgan, as to how Workona began. “As a remote team at the time, we were using cloud apps like Google Docs, Asana, Slack, and Zoom to stay connected. Both of us were wearing multiple hats and juggling ten different projects at once.” “One late night, with ten windows open for each project, the idea just struck us: ‘Why doesn’t the browser – the tool that we actually do most of our work in – not have a good way to manage all of our projects, meetings, and workflows?'” Of course, there are already browser add-ons that can help with taming the tab chaos, like OneTab, toby, Session Buddy, The Great Suspender, TooManyTabs and others. But the co-founders didn’t want just another tab manager; they wanted a smart browser window that would save the work you do, automatically. That way, you wouldn’t have to keep all the tabs open all the time, which can make you stressed and less focused. And you wouldn’t have to remember to press a button to save your tabs, either. With Workona, the software guides users to create workspaces for each of the projects, meetings, and workflows they’re currently working on. (Working on…Workona…get it?). You can also take a browser window that represents one project and save it as a workspace. These workspaces function like a folder, but instead of holding a set of files, they can save anything on the web – cloud documents, task lists, open websites, CRM records, Slack sessions, calendars, Trello boards, and more. In each workspace, you can save a set of tabs that should reappear when that workspace is re-opened, as well as set of “saved tabs” you may need to use later. After creating a workspace, you can use Workona to re-open it at any time.

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Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile video startup NewTV closes on $1 billion

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new mobile video startup NewTV, now headed by CEO  Meg Whitman , has closed on a billion in new funding in round led by Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, the company has confirmed. WndrCo, Katzenberg’s tech and media holding company, officially  announced the round’s close on Tuesday, following last month’s report from CNN which had first leaked the news of the billion-dollar investment. CNN’s report had attributed the funding to investors like Disney, 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros, Entertainment One and other media companies, noting they had put in a combined $200 million. The company has now confirmed the investor lineup includes Hollywood studios 21st Century Fox, Disney, Entertainment One, ITV, Lionsgate, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, and Warner Media. On the technology side, it say Alibaba is invested. In addition, the round was led by strategic partners The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Liberty Global, and VC firm Madrone Capital. “More so than ever, people want easy access to the highest quality entertainment that fits perfectly into their busy, on-the-go lifestyles,” said Meg Whitman, CEO of NewTV, in a statement. “With NewTV, we’ll give consumers a user-friendly platform, built for mobile, that delivers the best stories, created by the world’s top talent, allowing users to make the most of every moment of their day.” NewTV had not shared much detail about its ambitions ahead of this fundraise, beyond its bigger goal of reinventing TV for the mobile era. Specifically, it’s interested in taking the sort of quality programming you’d find on a service like Netflix, broken up into smaller, bite-sized videos of 10 minutes or less – designed specifically for mobile viewing. In an interview with Variety , the company has now disclosed that NewTV will launch later in 2019 with a premium lineup of original, short-form series where each episode is 10 minutes long. The service will include both an ad-supported tier and an commercial-free plan, similar to Hulu. Its original content will include both scripted and unscripted shows, like sitcoms, dramas, reality shows, and documentaries, but not live TV like you’d find on Sling TV or YouTube TV, for example. NewTV will partner with producers to license their programming, but it won’t own or produce shows itself. Katzenberg also positioned NewTV – which the company says is only the “working title” for now – as something that’s not a direct competitor with Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, but is rather “a different use case.” As he told Variety, the difference isn’t just the length of the content, but that the NewTV platform itself will be built from scratch for the mobile viewing experience. In terms of distribution, NewTV will look to telco partnerships.

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Microsoft decides to support Skype Classic ‘for some time’ after users revolt

Skype Classic is not being killed off…well, not just yet. In July, Microsoft announced Skype 8.0 was launching on the desktop, and that it would be shutting down version 7.0 (aka Skype Classic) as a result. The older version would no longer function after September 1, 2018, it had said. However, the company has now decided to hold off on Skype 7.0’s shutdown for the time being, following significant user backlash. In a post published to its community forum , Microsoft announced that support for Skype Classic would be extended. It reads, in full: ******UPDATE****** Based on customer feedback, we are extending support for Skype 7 (Skype classic) for some time. Our customers can continue to use Skype classic until then. Thanks for all your comments – we are listening. We are working to bring all the features you’ve asked for into Skype 8. Watch this space. Beyond the post itself, Microsoft isn’t sharing any further information about the closure or its plans. So it’s unclear at this time when Skype Classic will be closed down for good. From the sounds of things, however, Microsoft’s goal is to bring the features users are demanding to Skype version 8.0 before ending support for version 7.0. Some Skype Classic users were so upset about the impending shutdown, they even started a Change.org petition , which pleaded with Microsoft to “keep the desktop version of Skype alive for professional users!” The petition stressed that the way pros used Skype is different from a mainstream audience – the one Microsoft is now seemingly trying to court with things like @mentions and emoji reactions, and a more colorful and youthful user interface.

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Instapaper returns to EU, relaunches its premium subscription service

Last month, Instapaper spun out from Pinterest – two years after being acquired – to again become its own independent “read later” service. Today, the new company is announcing a plan that will allow it to sustain itself in the years ahead: yes, its subscription service has returned. The company is relaunching its Instapaper Premium subscription service for $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year. This offers a variety of upgraded features to Instapaper users, including an ad-free website, full-text search, and more. It’s also live again in the EU, as it has now become GDPR compliant. Instapaper’s relaunched Premium service will include the following: Full-text search for all articles in your account Unlimited Notes Text-to-Speech playlists on mobile Speed reading to get through all of your articles up to 3x faster An ad-free Instapaper website “Send to Kindle” using a bookmarklet or our mobile apps These are the same features that Instapaper had made free for all,  directly following its acquisition by Pinterest. In doing so, Instapaper became a more compelling alternative to rival Pocket, which continued to charge for things like ad-free browsing and full-text search. But it also raised the question as to what Pinterest aimed to do with Instapaper going forward – if it wasn’t bringing in its own revenues, there was concern the service was being put in maintenance-only mode. In truth, Instapaper never quite made sense for Pinterest, beyond both sharing a similar focus in allowing users to save pieces of the web to their personal collections – in Instapaper’s case, articles to be read; for Pinterest, just about anything else. Of course, it also brought to Pinterest a valuable team of engineers. The companies had said at the time of the acquisition they would work on the development of Rich Pins.  Pinterest today offers Article Pins that let users save stories they want to read. But it has never become known as an Instapaper alternative.

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