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Snapchat’s filters can now recognize your cat

What do you do after you lose three million daily users in three months? You start focusing on people's pets. Snapchat filters can now recognize your cat. You can insert your moody feline companion into a slice of bread, put fancy eyeglasses on them...

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The top 10 startups from Y Combinator’s Demo Day S18 Day 2

Fifty-nine startups took the stage at Y Combinator’s Demo Day 2 , and among the highlights were a company that helps developers manage in-app subscriptions; a service that lets you create animojis from real photos; and a surplus medical equipment-reselling platform. Oh… and there was also a company that’s developed an entirely new kind of life form using e coli bacteria. So yeah, that’s happening. Based on some investor buzz and what caught TechCrunch’s eye, these are our top picks from the second day of Y Combinator’s presentations. You can find the full list of companies that presented on Day 1 here , and our top picks from Day 1 here.  64-x With a founding team including some of the leading luminaries in the field of biologically inspired engineering (including George Church, Pamela Silver and Jeffrey Way from Harvard’s Wyss Institute),  64-x  is engineering organisms to function in otherwise inaccessible environments. Chief executive Alexis Rovner, herself a post-doctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute, and chief operating officer Ryan Gallagher, a former BCG Consultant, are looking to commercialize research from the Institute around accelerating and expanding the ability to produce functionalized proteins and sequence-defined polymers with diverse chemistries. Basically they’ve engineered a new life form that they want to use for novel kinds of bio-manufacturing. Why we liked it:  These geniuses invented a new life form. CB Therapeutics Sher Butt, a former lab directory at Steep Hill, saw that cannabinoids were as close to a miracle cure for pain, epilepsy and other chronic conditions as medicine was going to get. But plant-based cannabinoids were costly and produced inconsistent results. Alongside Jacob Vogan, Butt realized that biosynthesizing cannabinoids would reduce production costs by a factor of 10 and boost production 24 times current yields. With a deep experience commercializing drugs for Novartis and as the founder of the cannabis testing company SB Labs, Butt and his technical co-founder are uniquely positioned to bring this new therapy to market

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The top 10 startups from Y Combinator’s Demo Day S18 Day 2

Fifty-nine startups took the stage at Y Combinator’s Demo Day 2 , and among the highlights were a company that helps developers manage in-app subscriptions; a service that lets you create animojis from real photos; and a surplus medical equipment-reselling platform. Oh… and there was also a company that’s developed an entirely new kind of life form using e coli bacteria. So yeah, that’s happening. Based on some investor buzz and what caught TechCrunch’s eye, these are our top picks from the second day of Y Combinator’s presentations. You can find the full list of companies that presented on Day 1 here , and our top picks from Day 1 here.  64-x With a founding team including some of the leading luminaries in the field of biologically inspired engineering (including George Church, Pamela Silver and Jeffrey Way from Harvard’s Wyss Institute),  64-x  is engineering organisms to function in otherwise inaccessible environments. Chief executive Alexis Rovner, herself a post-doctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute, and chief operating officer Ryan Gallagher, a former BCG Consultant, are looking to commercialize research from the Institute around accelerating and expanding the ability to produce functionalized proteins and sequence-defined polymers with diverse chemistries. Basically they’ve engineered a new life form that they want to use for novel kinds of bio-manufacturing. Why we liked it:  These geniuses invented a new life form. CB Therapeutics Sher Butt, a former lab directory at Steep Hill, saw that cannabinoids were as close to a miracle cure for pain, epilepsy and other chronic conditions as medicine was going to get. But plant-based cannabinoids were costly and produced inconsistent results. Alongside Jacob Vogan, Butt realized that biosynthesizing cannabinoids would reduce production costs by a factor of 10 and boost production 24 times current yields. With a deep experience commercializing drugs for Novartis and as the founder of the cannabis testing company SB Labs, Butt and his technical co-founder are uniquely positioned to bring this new therapy to market. Why we liked it:  Using manufacturing processes to make industrial quantities of what looks like nature’s best painkiller at scale is not a bad idea. RevenueCat RevenueCat  helps developers manage their in-app subscriptions. It offers an API that developers can use to support in-app subscriptions on iOS and Android, which means they don’t have to worry about all the nuances, bugs and updates on each platform

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Snapchat shrinks by 3M users to 188M despite strong Q2

The Stories War has officially killed Snapchat’s growth, leading to its first user count decline ever. In Q2 2018 earnings today , Snapchat’s daily active users number shrank 1.5 percent to 188 million this quarter, down from 191 million and positive 2.9 percent user growth last quarter. Snapchat did beat earnings expectations with $262.3 million in revenue and a loss of $0.14 while Wall Street estimated an EPS loss of $0.17 with $249.8 million in revenue. Snap’s net loss decreased by 20 percent year-over-year, so it only destroyed $353 million this quarter compared to $385 million last quarter. Snap will have some extra cash to extend its runway despite its still-massive losses thanks to a $250 million investment from Saudi Prince  Al-Waleed Talal in exchange for a 2.3 percent stake in the company. Snapchat gets $250M investment from Saudi prince for 2.3% Despite its user count shrinking for the first time since its launch in 2011, the improvement to revenue (up 44 percent year-over-year) and reduced losses led Wall Street to give Snap’s shares an immediate 11 percent pop in after-hours trading. But after dodging multiple questions about how it would improve revenues and when its optimized Android app would arrive, shares fell back to just below the day’s closing price of $13.12. Snapchat is coming off a disastrous Q1 earnings with its slowest-ever user growth rate that led to a 24 percent plunge in its share price in May. But the company has been highly volatile, seeing a 37 percent boost in its share price after surprisingly positive Q4 2017 earnings. Now it’s proving that Facebook isn’t the only social network with growth troubles. In hopes of distracting from the shrinking DAUs, Snapchat shared a monthly active user count for the first time: 100 million monthly active users in the U.S. and Canada. Snap says this is the highest it’s ever been, yet the reveal highlights that teens are as addicted to daily Snapchat use as they once were. DAUs are a much more accurate way of measuring engagement and ad revenue potential, as opening a single notification and never returning can still register someone as an MAU. CEO Evan Spiegel blamed the DAU shrinkage on “a slightly lower frequency of use among our user base due to the disruption caused by our redesign.” But since, he believes “we have now addressed the biggest frustrations we’ve heard” so he’s optimistic about future growth.

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Snapchat launches its first speech recognition lenses

Snapchat is today launching ne w  lenses that respond to voice commands. The company says it’s now rolling out a series of lenses that will animate when users speak simple, English words like “hi,” “love,” “yes,” “no,” and “wow,” as opposed to taking some other action – like opening their mouth or raising their eyebrows, as has been the trigger for some of the company’s prior lenses that animate with special effects. For example, saying “hi” in the new lens will launch an animation that surrounds you with a flock of chatty birds; “love” will play cheesy jazz music; “yes” creates a zoom effect; “no” puts you in an infinite photo tunnel; and “wow” puts a bow on your head and surrounds you with the word. While the company has offered lenses that involve audio before, this is the first time it has created lenses that actually recognize words, then use its understanding of what was said as a marker that kicks off the lens animation. Snapchat says it will begin to make around five to six of these new lenses available to users within the next week. They’ll appear periodically in the Lens carousel along with the others, starting today, Wednesday August 1st. The lenses will prompt users how to trigger the animation, when launched, Snapchat says. Unique lenses have always been one of Snapchat’s biggest differentiators. And it has continually pushed the bar forward in this area by creating those that take advantage of camera technology and augmented reality in new ways. For example, it has launched things like World Lenses that add AR elements to any scene – including, more recently, Bitmoji – plus selfie games , lenses that can change the sky , paint the world around you, and more. In May, it also launched the first lenses that react to sounds – but not particular words

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Snap has lost its Spectacles division chief

The head of Snap Lab, the hardware team behind Snap's camera-equipped Spectacles, has recently left the company following a restructuring that affects his division. Cheddar got its hands on the internal email Mark Randall sent, wherein he revealed th...

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Snapchat debuts a library of selfie filters

Piece by piece Snap is trying to eek a developer platform out of Snapchat Lenses and give users something extra at the same time. Today, we’re seeing the most user-facing of these efforts as Snapchat debuts a new Lens Explorer section which will give the user base greater access to scouting out new face filters beyond what’s sitting in the oft-refreshed Lens Carousel on the app’s central camera screen. The new update will be rolling out to iOS users slowly, the company says. There are 70 million daily active users of Snapchat Lenses (more than one-third of total Snapchat DAUs) who spend an average of about three minutes playing around with them per day but up until now discoverability hasn’t been too extensive. It’s honestly pretty surprising that its taken so long for Snapchat to gain this type of discovery feature, Lenses have long been a distinguishing feature of the platform though Facebook has been aiming to catch up with their own efforts. Why now after all this time? Well, Snap is likely hoping for a bit more of an influx of Lenses now that they’ve begun more heavily building up feature functionality in its Lens Studio software for third-party devs to create their own filters based on Snap’s face-tracking tech. The company says that over 100,000 Lens filters have been submitted since the launch of Lens Studio and that these creations have been seen some 2.5 billion times by users as they explore. While many of these have undoubtedly been Sponsored Lenses — Snap’s own unique AR ad product — these filters will not be found in the Explorer section at launch, with the hub sticking to the freebies for the time being. In the long-game as Snap looks to own their revamped vision at a bona fide camera company, something like Lens Explorer may offer a novel way to stack AR functionality into the app’s camera, allowing users to curate what sort of augmented reality functionality they want their device to have. Users can shop for what functionality they might like and the camera could have those abilities readily available. As the company looks at e-commerce and gaming verticals, it’s clear that there could be much more to their future plans than selfie filters alone.

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