Get out of your next traffic jam with this flying car

Airbus unveiled its new self-flying car concept at the Geneva Auto Show.

The Pop.Up Concept lets drivers on the road get picked up by a quadricopter and fly around town.

The passenger cabin sits on a four-wheeled frame and can be driver-operated or self-driving.

When the driver is ready to fly, an air module can be requested by using a smartphone app.

A massive drone will then attach to the top of a “passenger capsule” and bring you to your destination.

Don’t expect to see these flying cars in the sky anytime soon – Pop.Up is still in the concept stage and is years away from reality.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/07/airbus-reveals-a-modular-self-piloting-flying-car-concept/

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The Gameband is the ultimate wrist gaming solution for playing Pong


Ready for some XTREME WRIST GAMING ACTION? Sure you are. But here’s the Gameband, a new smartwatch for gamers that lets you play simple games on a tiny, wrist-mounted screen. Founded by Feargal Mac Conuladh, the watch has a MicroSD slot for storage of up to 256GB of games and it can play games like Terraria and Pong on a 1.63-inch screen.

The watch runs Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with a few tweaks to make it a gaming powerhouse. The game selection is obviously pretty limited as it doesn’t have true control buttons or much space on the screen itself, but simple games translate well to the small screen. However, you can get a little Breakout in between bouts of Centipede and the makers promise more games are coming.

The watch costs $149 and comes with a few fun bands, including an Atari model that will tickle your nostalgia bone. They’ve raised $287,000 on Kickstarter so far and should ship in September. If you can’t wait that long you can always install an NES emulator on your old Android Wear watch, allowing you to truly “level-up” your Mario-on-the-wrist experience. Do a barrel roll!

Kidizen raises $3.2M for a kids’ clothes resale app with a social twist


Kidizen, a marketplace for secondhand children’s apparel, has raised $3.2 million in Series A funding, the company announced today. The funding was led by Chicago-based Origin Ventures, which backed the startup following its more than 100 percent year-over-year growth in 2016 — which has allowed the business to reach more than a quarter million registered users across the U.S.

Also participating in the round were Royal Street Ventures, Corigin Ventures and MergeLane. Prior investors Sofia Fund and Gopher Angels joined, too. Brent Hill, a partner at Origin Ventures, and Laura Brady, partner at Royal Street Ventures, will join the company’s board of directors as a result of the funding.

The mobile-first store was founded in February 2014, and is run by three parents: Mary Fallon, Dori Graff and CEO and co-founder Dug Nichols.

The idea emerged from Fallon’s and Graff’s earlier platform, Itizen, launched in 2010, which tracked the stories attached to collectible items as they changed hands. But they realized their users were interested more in a marketplace for buying and selling items, not tracking them.

The Kidizen mobile app was soon born, allowing parents to snap photos of their kid’s clothes and other items, like accessories and shoes, or even baby gear and toys, in order to resell them to other parents in need.

However, unlike secondhand marketplaces such as ThredUp, sales are not limited to high-end apparel. Parents can list lesser-quality clothing, post lots or post pieces individually. However, the majority of the listings tend to be mid- to high-end apparel, or boutique clothing, given the better potential for sales. Sellers get to keep 82 percent of their profits.

What makes Kidizen unique, compared with other secondhand marketplaces, is that it has developed an online community and social network of sorts alongside its storefront. In its app, there’s a “Gallery” feature that lets moms post photos of their kid’s style. (To clarify, while open to anyone, almost all users are moms.)

“Our users are using Kidizen to express themselves,” explains Nichols. “Users have pride in how they express their sense of style,” he says.

The gallery feature was added around two years ago, and has become a core part of the app. Filled with lifestyle photography, Nichols says it’s similar to an in-app Instagram feed of sorts. Plus, the photos shared in Kidizen can be pushed out to other social networks, like Instagram and Facebook, and other users can comment on the photos, giving it a social feel.

Hashtagging is also a popular activity, and moms tend to add tags to both their own photos and listings as well as those belonging to other users.

“Basically, they’re creating what are like these curated collections through the hashtag…It’s in its infancy, but what we’re seeing that this is really a self-expression platform that’s both about the stuff and the style and inspiration,” says Nichols.

Because of this community element, the app is seeing high repeat usage. Indeed, 88 percent of all sessions are daily repeat users, and 55 percent are hourly repeats. In addition, 80 percent of purchases are coming from repeat customers, the company says.

Kidizen has also been regularly featured in the App Store since its debut, but it attracts many customers through word-of-mouth, Nichols claims. “We see 70 percent organic user acquisition monthly. Most come with a need: buy or sell, and they stay because of the community engagement.”

The peer-to-peer marketplace is growing to include more than just individual moms and power sellers these days, and now has a small portion of customers who run boutique clothing shops (like those found on Etsy) or are brick-and-mortar consignment stores looking to resell their items.

The funding will be used to add more features to the service, including those that allow for more curation, sharing and self-expression, but the particulars are being kept under wraps. A future version of the app will take on Facebook Groups — a massive rival for online resale marketplaces like this — by introducing a local selling component.

The funding will also allow the Minneapolis-based company to grow its team of five to 15, refresh its apps and eventually expand the service to the web.

How to set parental controls for your Nintendo Switch from your phone

Are your kids enjoying the Nintendo Switch? Considering the console just launched, you may have allowed them to spend most of their time playing Breath of the Wild. But it’s been a few days now, so it may be time to start setting some ground rules — that’s where Nintendo’s new parental controls app comes in. Nintendo Switch Parental Controls is an iOS and Android app that lets you monitor Switch usage remotely. There are already some parental controls baked into the Switch, but  the app allows you to set up activity notifications and set a designated amount of play time for your child. Here’s how to use it.

More: How to connect with friends on Nintendo Switch

Setting up parental controls

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Head to the Settings menu on the Switch, and select Parental controls. Here, you can choose to use the Switch or the app to configure the controls — this is where you add the registration number to pair your Switch with your smartphone or tablet. Once you login via your Nintendo ID, you’ll need to pair the Switch with the app. You will need to create an account if you haven’t already, but you do not need to use the same account that’s on the Switch to control it.

Once paired, you can set a daily amount of play time on the Switch — from only 15 minutes (which seems cruel) up to six hours. You can also restrict the ability to post screenshots from games to social media, share profile information, and chat with users (once that feature becomes available).

For the games themselves, you can set a restriction based on age group, such as teen or pre-teen, so that your children are not playing games you might deem inappropriate. If you’d prefer to be more specific, you can also set restrictions based on a specific age. By default, the ratings system is linked to your regional content ratings body, such as the ESRB in North America, but can be changed to reflect other, international ratings groups.

Once you’ve successfully set your preferred parental controls for the Switch, you’ll get access to the default view of the app. Here, you can see how long your child has been playing on the Switch and which game, and you can check out a monthly summary as well. It’s also a neat way for anyone to check their Switch activity, though you may want to turn off all restrictions for yourself. The data is not logged in real time, but, instead, at several points during the day.

Slide over to the Console settings to change your app’s pin to something you can remember, or simply use the randomly-generated pin that’s provided.

Will the Galaxy S8 be safe? This is Samsung’s new 8-point battery safety check

On August 2016, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone to the world at a press conference in New York City. Initially, the device received rave reviews, but soon after, as you probably know by now, those devices started bursting into flames. It was a terrible blow to Samsung’s bottom line, and the company knew it needed to act swiftly if the company had any hopes of stopping the potential damage this would cause to its reputation.

More: Everything we know about Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 recall

2017 brings a new batch of Samsung flagship devices, including the Galaxy S8, which according to the latest rumors, will make its debut on March 29. Recently, Samsung explained the cause of the Galaxy Note 7 fires and the new testing it has put in place to prevent it from ever happening again.

Samsung published its new 8-Point Battery Safety Check online, so customers can see the new protocols. We break them down one by one below.

Durability Test

samsung battery durability test 2

This test expands and enhances battery testing by putting the batteries through overcharging tests, extreme temperature stress tests, and even puncture tests.

Why it matters

Samsung enhanced its durability tests, and it will perform these tests with increased frequency.

Companies have used nail penetration tests before to assess the safety of lithium-ion batteries.  Nail penetration tests simulate an internal short that involves puncturing a battery at a certain speed. If the battery does not smoke or catch fire, then the battery passes the test.  This test is useful to gather data about thermal runaway under controlled conditions. It does not necessarily represent real world internal shorts.

Visual Inspection

You cannot leave everything to machines, and in this test, Samsung will visually inspect and compare the new batteries with good samples that meet a set of standardized guidelines and criteria.

Why it matters

Samsung has done visual inspections before. It has enhanced these inspections by increasing the standard, and by making sure that it performs the inspections at every stage, starting with the components, and all throughout the production.

We do not have any specific information regarding which are the guidelines that Samsung is following for their visual inspections. Samsung enhanced these established guidelines that may include inspection of the positive and negative terminals, weight, and size of the battery.

X-Ray

samsung battery inspection x-ray

This test will allow Samsung to see any of the abnormalities, including those found in the Note 7 batteries. Samsung will use X-Ray machines to see inside the battery. This will be very important in detecting problems like electrodes touching the phone’s housing, which was one of the issues found to cause fires on the Galaxy Note 7.

Why it matters

Samsung has increased the standard of the X-Ray tests. Both Samsung and the supplier will conduct X-Ray tests on the batteries, and it will conduct the tests on samples of the batteries themselves as well as on the assembled device.

One of the worst issues found in the Note 7’s battery was a pouch in the battery that the supplier had created. This pouch did not allow enough space for the battery to contract and expand as it went through its charging and discharging cycles. In order for Samsung to find these sorts of issues, it would have to perform an X-Ray test.

Charge and Discharge Test

samsung battery stress test

All batteries will undergo a large-scale charging and discharging test. Samsung started conducting this test with the original Note 7 fire investigation.

Why it matters

Samsung added this new test to the manufacturing process, and it will perform the test on the fully assembled unit. The number of units Samsung will put through these charge/discharge tests will be up to 100,000 units, which is a massive amount of devices.

Samsung found that because some of the batteries did not have enough room to expand and contract, they could not go through a normal charge and discharge cycle. All of these issues together caused the negative and positive electrodes to touch thereby causing a short circuit. Charging and discharging a large sample of smartphones will definitely help catch any problems.

TVOC Test

samsung battery charge and discharge

This test detects any leakage of TVOC, which stands for Total Volatile Organic Compound.

Why it matters

Battery manufacturers use Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) throughout their manufacturing process. The TVOC test is another brand new test. Samsung is testing every single device throughout the entire production process. These Volatile Organic Compounds used to manufacture batteries are often toxic, and a constant check of any sort of leakage from the manufacturing of the battery to the completed device is certainly a welcomed change.

Disassembling Test

samsung visual battery test

Samsung and the supplier are committed to check the quality of components like the battery tab welding and the insulation tape.

Why it matters

The insulation tape within the battery was missing in some Galaxy Note 7 samples. The missing insulation tape was a major factor that contributed to the Note 7 fires. Samsung disassembled their batteries for inspection before so this is not entirely new. What is different now is that it is enhancing the test for itself and for the supplier. Samsung performs the disassembly test on a number of samples before it uses the batteries in the production of the devices.

Accelerated Usage Test

samsung battery safety test

Samsung describes this as an intensive test simulating accelerated consumer usage scenarios. Furthermore, Samsung explained that it is able to simulate 2-week real-life usage scenarios by a typical customer, but go through those 2 weeks of use in 5 days.

Why it matters

Very similar to the Charge/Discharge test, Samsung performs this test with the fully assembled devices. We are happy to see that the sample size is quite large at up to 100,000 devices. These accelerated tests not only simulate real life usage, but it will show any abnormalities in the cathodes and anodes. If you remember, the overheating inside the Galaxy Note 7 occurred because of an anode-to-cathode contact. The rapid Charge/Discharge test combined with the Accelerated Usage test will stress both the cathode and anode so that Samsung can catch any issues in time.

△OCV Test

samsung battery charge and discharge

This strange looking acronym stands for Delta Open Circuit Voltage.

Why it matters

Samsung will check any changes in voltage throughout the manufacturing of the device, from components all the way to the finished assembled device. Samsung and the supplier will perform this test on each device. The Open Circuit Voltage test is very important, and it will allow Samsung and the supplier to monitor the voltage of a battery when it does not form a complete circuit. A voltage reading will be consistent throughout the manufacturing process, as the battery is not connected. The supplier and Samsung will flag any battery that is unable to hold its charge as a faulty battery. Samsung will conduct this test with every battery instead of choosing a number of samples.

Hugging Face wants to become your artificial BFF


Meet Hugging Face, a new chatbot app for bored teenagers. The New York-based startup is creating a fun and emotional bot. Hugging Face will generate a digital friend so you can text back and forth and trade selfies.

Playing with Hugging Face was a lot more engaging than talking with a customer support bot. Like other companies, Hugging Face doesn’t want to be useful. It wants to create a fun digital companion.

The startup was co-founded by Clément Delangue and Julien Chaumond. They have raised $1.2 million from Betaworks, SV Angel and NBA star Kevin Durant and others. Quite a nice list of investors.

“There are many people working on artificial intelligence for productivity or utility applications,” co-founder and CEO Delangue told me back in September 2016 when the app was still in early private beta. “We’re building an AI so that you’re having fun talking with it. When you’re chatting with it, you’re going to laugh and smile — it’s going to be entertaining.”

I tried the app and I have to say that it was surprisingly entertaining. There’s no interface — Hugging Face is basically a conversation like in other messaging apps, with a text field at the bottom and chat bubbles everywhere else.

When you send something, the company’s servers will try as hard as possible to interpret your message, photo, emojis and more. In my experience, it wasn’t perfect, but that’s not really the point. Hugging Face doesn’t want to replace Siri or Google Assistant. Most of the time, I tried sending something to see what would come up. The element of surprise is an essential part of the experience.

You can ask for jokes, talk about your day but also set up a reminder. The bot will also ask questions about your friends and loved ones so that you always have someone to talk with.

But this isn’t about replacing your friends. It’s just that you can’t be with your friends at all times. “If you compare it to a pet, your pet isn’t going to replace your friends. You can be the most popular guy in the world and have a dog or a cat,” Delangue said.

When you sign up, you immediately know this isn’t yet again another boring Messenger bot. You can name your bot and choose its profile picture. And when I gave it my age, it told me that I was the same age as Emma Watson. This tidbit is useless as I don’t know Emma Watson, but it still made me smile.

Named after the “hugging face” emoji 🤗, the app is now available for iOS for free. While it seems a bit counterintuitive to launch a brand new app instead of using existing chatbot platforms, such as Messenger, Skype, Telegram and more, the company is already thinking about launching on third-party platforms.

Now, let’s see if Hugging Face can learn from its users. I hope that the chatbot is going to get better over time as the company can start aggregating conversation data. This is what could turn Hugging Face from a great first-time experience into a lasting friendship.

Gboard gets upgraded with instant translation, GIF & emoji suggestions and more


Gboard, Google’s attempt to further infiltrate your phone by way of a keyboard application, is rolling out an update this morning that will introduce a handful of new features, including GIF and emoji suggestions as you type, easier voice typing, Google Translate and more keyboard themes.

The latter option will allow you to personalize the keyboard by selecting from an expanded selection of new scenic views, says Google, which can be set as the keyboard’s backdrop via the app’s Settings. The company notes that additional styles will arrive more often going forward, as well.

Other platforms, including Apple, offer emoji suggestions as you type, but Gboard is today upping its game by offering suggested GIF searches in the suggestion strip, too. These GIFs also can be shared across other apps, including Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Hangouts and Allo, which makes Gboard something of a stand-in for other popular GIF search apps, like Giphy.

Google Translate, however, is probably the best feature in the new release, as it will help you translate your texts into other languages right from the keyboard. To use this, you’ll tap the Translate icon in the quick-feature menu, then Google Translate will begin instantly translating words and phrases as you type. This will make it easier to communicate with those who speak different languages, without having to switch back and forth between the text interface and a translation app.

Some languages will likely work better than others here, thanks to a big update Google Translate recently received, which brought the Google Neural Machine Translation system (GNMT) to more languages across the Translate platform. This system takes advantage of deep neural networks to translate entire sentences — not just phrases — for greatly improved translations.

Voice typing also got a boost, with an updated interface that makes it easier to switch between text typing and voice.

And finally, tapping on the “G” icon in the suggestion strip will offer access to new search features, including web, GIF and emoji.

Gboard is a fairly popular application — in terms of third-party keyboard applications, that is. The category had its 15 minutes of fame when Apple opened up access to customizing your keyboard input with the rollout of iOS 8. But after a while, there were fewer launches of new keyboard apps as developers realized the market for these customizations was still fairly niche. Gboard, which launched last spring, was a bit of a late arrival to the space, but has held its ground as a top 50 “Utility” on iOS and top 50 “Tool” on Android.

The new version of Gboard is initially available only on Android, and is a free download from the Play Store. 

Report: Apple placating China with ad policies affecting Chinese-language media

Why it matters to you

Apple may be pressuring retailers not to place ads in targeted publications at the behest of Chinese officials.

When it comes to appeasing the local governments of profitable markets, Apple exercises a strong editorial arm. That’s according to The Australian, which reports that the Cupertino, California-based company has deliberately interfered with the Chinese-language print ad campaigns of carriers in Australia in order to curry favor with Chinese officials.

The Vision China Times, a Chinese print newspaper, was informed in August 2016 that Apple didn’t want its products to feature in any of the publication’s carrier ad placements. But a few short weeks later, ads featuring the iPhone appeared in other publications seen as “Beijing-aligned” or “[People’s Republic of China] government-influenced” Australian-Chinese media.

More: WeChat’s censorship system extends beyond China’s borders, finds new study

Maree Ma, the paper’s general manager, told The Australian that the last time an iPhone ad appeared in the paper was in October 2015, for the iPhone 6s. “Since then, when [Australian carrier] Telstra runs their iPhone ads, they do not place any with our paper. There was a campaign last year in 2016 we missed out on.” Ma believes The Vision China Times has been effectively “blacklisted” by Apple “for political reasons as they are trying to protect their business in China.”

The Epoch Times, another local media property, has been similarly targeted. Carrier advertising in newer issues of the magazine don’t feature Apple products, and in October 2015, the publication failed to secure a cross-promotional deal for the iPhone 6s on Telstra.

“We have never had issues with Telstra, but at the last minute they had to pull out,” a spokesperson for the Epoch Times said. “Then we asked why. (Our advertising agent) said it’s actually from Apple.”

More: Report: Facebook planning censorship tool that could pave the way for China entry

John Fitzgerald, a Swinburne University professor specializing in the study of Chinese soft power, told Apple Insider that the heavy-handed policy could be an attempt by the Chinese government to exercise media controls outside its borders. “I would not be surprised if advertisers doing business in China were considering where their products appeared, considering Beijing’s strict media controls,” the professor told Apple Insider.

It wouldn’t be the first time the government has applied pressure on advertisers to cut business ties with publications seen as critical of the regime. In 2014, a Honk Kong newspaper claimed that two London-based banks stopped advertising as a result of government interference.

And it wouldn’t be the first time Apple has bent its policies at the behest of Chinese officials. In December, Apple pulled The New York Times app from the region’s iOS App Store — allegedly for violating local regulations. Conspicuously, the decision followed the Times’ series on “hidden perks and subsidies” provided by the Chinese government to local producers.

More: Is Facebook willing to trade censorship for access to China?

Apple seems eager to do whatever it takes to gain a foothold in the veritable gold mine of the Chinese market. Last financial quarter, China generated $16.23 billion in revenue for the company and is posed to overtake the revenue generated by Europe.

Facebook Messenger Day launches as a Snapchat Stories clone for making plans


Today Facebook is globally launching Messenger Day to put a utilitarian spin on the slideshow format. While Snapchat Stories is for retelling what you’ve done, Messenger Day’s “Who’s up for?” filters and Active Now indicators help you find friends to chat and meet up with.

Now after gaining millions of users through tests in a dozen countries like Poland and Australia, Messenger Day is rolling out for everyone at the top of Facebook’s chat app with today’s iOS and Android updates, plus in desktop messaging threads. The feature lets you share with the public or a custom friend decorated photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

If Messenger Day catches on, it could encourage visual communication through Messenger’s newly enhanced camera, jumpstart chat threads and get friends together offline. And Facebook’s VP of messaging David Marcus tells me Day will “probably” insert advertisements between posts to become one of Messenger’s first revenue streams.

Alongside WhatsApp Status, Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories, Messenger Day could use convenience to compete with Snapchat for user growth, which has become a key weakness for Snap as it goes public. A billion people already use Messenger, after all. Snap’s share price dipped slightly this morning as Messenger Day was announced.

The launch demonstrates Facebook’s philosophy that while Snapchat may have invented Stories, it’s actually a fundamental content medium bigger than any one company. Facebook is not afraid to copy, no matter what critics say. All that matters is whether it’s valuable to users.

People will naturally ask why they need another place to share, and maybe they don’t. But if Messenger can reimagine the Stories format around usefulness instead of just fun, without inconveniencing the rest of the chat app, it could spur us to make more memories instead of just consuming old ones.

Hands-on with Messenger Day

“This is about today. It’s not about yesterday. It’s not about tomorrow,” Marcus tells me. “The two key functionalities are 1) I’m going to set context because it’s going to make for better conversations if people know where I am and what I’m doing. And 2) It’s about where I want to take my day, like ‘I’m bored and I want to go out for coffee’ or ‘I want to go see a movie’ so I’m going to use a frame, take a photo, and see which of my friends are going to engage with me to actually make that plan, because planning is one of the core capabilities of a messaging app.”

I got to spend yesterday trying Messenger Day on my own, and was impressed by how it accomplished both those objectives without adding friction to the app.

Watching

Messenger Day appears above your chat threads on Messenger’s home screen, employing the same bold design that helped Instagram Stories rocket to 150 million daily users in 5 months. There you’ll see thumbnail tiles previewing the Days of friends, instead of just a name and profile pic. They’re reverse chronologically ordered to help you make plans with people sharing now. You can tap to fast-forward or rewind, and hold to pause, with your next friend’s Day appearing right after the last. That auto-advance style will make it easy to insert ads between Days.

While there’s no Like counter, Messenger lets you instantly reply privately to a Day with custom or pre-filled messages like “haha”, “Wow”, a heart, or a “100” emoji that show in your chat thread with that person. This drops the barrier for turning a broadcast into a conversation that can feel a bit daunting in Snapchat. And if you’re already chatting with someone who’s posted, you’ll see a call out on mobile and Facebook’s desktop site to watch their Day.

One special feature that Snapchat doesn’t have: Active Now. You’ll see a green dot on the Messenger Days of friends who are currently available to chat with on the app. That breaks the ice to push users from seeing a friend doing something fun to asking if they can come join. In this way, Messenger might be a way to cure the loneliness that could succeed where Down To Lunch, Free and Foursquare failed.

Sharing

Messenger’s big camera redesign from December seems tailor-made to boost Day usage. You can post by tapping the big shutter button at the bottom, the “Add To Your Day” spot at the top or from a prompt when you share imagery in a thread. Sharing options include natively shot photos and 15-second videos, as well as uploaded media, including GIFs that are shown inset with a black border to denote they’re old. You manually can save what you share frame by frame.

By default, posts are visible to “Everyone except” specific people you block. However, Facebook says that only people who have permission to message you like Facebook friends will see your Days at the top of their app. You also can choose a specific list of people who can watch your Days, and this applies to everything you post, rather than having to be set each time. You’ll also have the option to send posts to friends directly as well as sharing to your Day. You’ll see the faces of people who’ve seen your Day at the bottom of the posts.

Before or after you share, you can embellish your content with drawing, text captions, animated selfie lenses, environmental effects like overlaid bubbles or lava lamp colors, style-transfers that make your image look like a painting or sketch, virtual “Dress Up” props, speech bubbles, stickers and more than 5,000 illustrated filters.

This is where Messenger Day’s unique slant on Stories for messaging comes in. The searchable, categorized filters include calls to action like “Who’s up for grabbing coffee?”, “Road trip”, “Movie night?”, “Let’s grab drinks”, “Let’s go for a run” and tons more. These make it easy and fun to invite friends to hang out with you offline. And unlike posting “who wants to grab dinner?” on Facebook, where a lack of responses could make you look unpopular, the posts disappear and all replies in Messenger Day are private so you don’t have to worry about seeming lonely.

And in case there’s not the right filter for you, Messenger Day can take any text you write and turn it into a filter, like with your friend’s name or the place you’re located. These computer-generated filters make the creative options in Messenger Day ostensibly infinite.

What’s missing

Overall, Messenger Day felt less interruptive and more seamless than I expected. Like Instagram Stories, it’s easy to ignore if you don’t care about it. And Messenger works fine even if friends only post to Day rarely, as that could reduce the noise and keep it focused on planning hangouts.

Still, there’s plenty of missing features I immediately wish it had, including:

  • Option to save your whole Day as a video and export to the Facebook feed (Snapchat)
  • Swipeable color and light filters (Snapchat, Instagram)
  • Option to choose how long a photo appears
  • 3D stickers that can be pinned to objects (Snapchat)
  • FaceSwap (Snapchat)
  • Personalized avatar stickers like Bitmoji (Snapchat)
  • Easily accessible emoji as stickers (Snapchat)
  • Caption background colors (Instagram)
  • Boomerang or GIF capture (Instagram)
  • Brush styles for drawing (Instagram)
  • Mentions of friends that would start group chats if you reply (Instagram)

The biggest priorities should be some basic color and light adjustment filters, and caption background colors because Messenger’s font is already a bit hard to read and can blend into the imagery to become unreadable.

Surely with time, Messenger will adopt some of these and build more features that make it stand out. But for v1 of a global rollout, it does a remarkable job of hitting most of the key features so it immediately feels usable.

For now businesses aren’t allowed on Day. There also are no ads, but when asked if he saw an opportunity for them, Marcus told me “Probably . . . we want to experiment with more ways to open threads with businesses . . . You never want us to get in the way of someone sending a message really quickly . . . as long as we keep that alive, we have license to experiment and see whether really good advertising that opens threads people want to have . . . is actually valuable.”

Attacking Snapchat from all angles

Messenger Day’s “Who’s Up For?” filters help you plan to meet up with friends

Visual communication is the future, and as I wrote yesterday in my deep dive about Messenger’s evolution, any chat app that doesn’t get on board is doomed. Still, Messenger is taking a risk here by putting Day above your threads, reducing the number you see on your screen at first. Branching out so aggressively into social media isn’t worth hampering Messenger’s growth in traditional chat, so Facebook will have to watch carefully to make sure different demographics around the world don’t message less after the rollout.

Facebook was late to the Stories format, but now it’s approaching it and competing with Snapchat through every one of its core apps. If it succeeds, it could further curtail Snapchat’s growth, especially abroad in some markets where teens haven’t even tried it but have been on Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram for years. Facebook’s versions likely won’t eradicate Snapchatting by existing loyal users, but could chip away at its use cases while being good enough to convince some people they don’t need to sign up for another social network.

There are no punches pulled here. Facebook is unabashedly stealing the best parts of Snapchat and putting them front and center. That might seem like the opposite of innovation, or at least bad sportsmanship. But Facebook’s ideology has always centered around scale, not originality. It wasn’t the first social network, but it’s the one that got everyone. It didn’t invent Stories, but time won’t necessarily reward the one that did. Just those that put them in everyone’s pockets.

Finery wants to fix your wardrobe malfunction

Figuring out what to wear is such a drag that some smart people don what amounts to a uniform each day. Steve Jobs did it, Dean Kamen does it. This woman did it.

It’s not just choosing what to wear, but knowing your own clothing inventory. How many times have you discovered an item that you totally forgot about until you found it squished against the wall, suffocating under the weight of all the clothes you can see, but only infrequently wear?

Creating a look with your own wardrobe.

Creating a look with your own wardrobe.

Image: Finery

“A millennial woman will spend $250,000 to $300,000,” on clothes over her lifetime says Whitney Casey, founder and CEO of Finery, a new site launching later this month that aims to be a personal clothing inventory, management, ensemble-selection and shopping service. 

Despite the finances involved in their wardrobes, she notes, most people are only wearing 20% of their available wardrobe, which translates into trillions of dollars in unworn outfits hanging in closets everywhere.

Finery, which is currently only for women (children’s clothes are next, followed by men’s clothing), gets to know you, your closet and clothing and style preferences by scanning through every online clothing purchase you’ve ever made. 

“Anything over 20% online clothes shopping is enough to gain value.” 

The company is patenting technology that can, with your permission, scan through the email account that you use to do most of your online shopping (you can select more than one) and find all your clothing purchases. It will not, Casey promises, ask you for your email password.

The site has already lined up more than 500 retailers (which accounts for over 10,000 brands) who are sharing their data with them. Patent-pending technology parses through the existing product databases and matches it up with the information on the receipt. It also looks at other details included in the receipt emails like product images, which will help Finery pick up color, style, and other details.

There's a lot of detail in each item card.

There’s a lot of detail in each item card.

Image: finery

Depending on how well the system does its job, a crisp-clean replica of your clothing item should appear in your account (Casey claims a 93% accuracy rate). 

The site will use that information to recommend outfits, find clothing redundancies and help you return outfits you don’t want. There’ll even been a countdown and notification for when the return window is closing for each piece of clothing. 

Outfit recommendations will be based, in part, on style advice parsed from style guides absorbed by the artificial intelligence of IBM’s Watson. It will also choose ensembles based on day of the week and local weather forecasts. The site will also let you share your look with other site members.

The first step in creating a look is checking out your digital closet.

The first step in creating a look is checking out your digital closet.

Image: finery

Finery’s success will depend on how well it can overcome the entrenched habit of in-store clothes shopping. According to Nielsen, 82% of those who reported buying clothes in the last six months made purchases at brick and mortar retail locations. On the other hand 41% report also buying clothes online in that same time frame. The market research firm Mintel sees a shift in buying habits. A September 2016 study found that 81% of surveyed online adults reported making an online purchase and a whopping 87% of those shoppers are willing to buy clothing online.

Casey admits that many people still do not shop for clothes online and, even among those who do, they may do less than half of it through web sites. “If you do not shop online, you may not like our product,” she said. However, anything over 20% online clothes shopping is, Casey said, enough to gain value. 

You can bring your analog clothing world into Finery as well. You can search the Finery database for your clothing or upload images of your clothing (either images you took or those you find on Google) and then let the site, which uses Cloud Vision, identify the image. Casey said it will auto-identify what the object is, the color and material. You might have to add additional elements like brand and size.

Finery’s algorithms are not perfect yet, but you can let the system know about any misidentifications via a dropdown. Similarly, if the email parsing system pulls in clothes you bought as gifts for someone else you can just identify them as such. 

While Finery is ready to build outfits for you, there’s also a drag and drop system that lets you build outfits on your own.

For now, Finery (which is in private beta and launches on March 23) makes money off affiliate links to clothing e-tailers. Eventually, though, it will launch an in-site marketplace where users can sell their clothing, trade it and even offer it to be borrowed. Finery will take a percentage of the transactions. 

Casey says this will differ from other sites that let you sell your clothing because users won’t see offers that don’t, for instance, match their size.

These tools are designed to help you make the most out of what you wear and help you add to your closet in a smart way. In the end, Casey thinks Finery can save time. 

“We spend 8 years of our lives shopping and 2.5 hours a week getting dressed,” she said. Finery could, Casey thinks, cut some of that way down.