Germany bans smartwatches for kids and asks parents to destroy them

Germany’s telecommunication agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, has banned smartwatches for kids, and is asking parents to destroy them. According to Bleeping Computer, (via Gizmodo) the regulators have deemed smartwatches targeted at kids “prohibitive listening devices” and are asking parents to destroy any smartwatches their kids have and advising schools to pay closer attention to kids with them.

Germany is targeting the listening capabilities of smartwatches but strangely didn’t say anything about the European Consumer Organization’s (BEUC) announcement that smartwatches pose a security threat to kids’ privacy. The BEUC warned that GPS-tracking smartwatches could be hacked and attackers could track or spoof the GPS location of kids’…

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The Verge – All Posts

Evan Spiegel has made great products at Snapchat. Growing them has been harder.

Yes, Evan Spiegel is still good at making products. They just might not be products everyone wants to use.

Snapchat suddenly has a product problem.

CEO Evan Spiegel announced last week that Snapchat is getting a redesign because it’s “difficult to understand or hard to use.”

His decision to rebuild the app just nine months into Snap’s life as a public company has led some to question whether or not Spiegel is truly the product savant he’s been made out to be. When I profiled Spiegel last spring, those close to him likened him to a Picasso — an extraordinary claim, but also a nod to his ability to create stuff no one else could.

The problem is that Spiegel is not just an inventor. He’s the CEO of a publicly traded company. This means that his success is measured by metrics like user growth, revenue and profit, not by the novelty of his latest creation.

Spiegel is great at coming up with creative and unique products. Disappearing photos and videos? Awesome. Opening the app directly into camera mode? Novel. Pioneering the push into mobile-native vertical video, and vertical video advertising? It’s changing the way some of the world’s largest content producers are thinking about their business.

Snapchat was also one of the first to push augmented reality into the mainstream, with goofy face filters and cartoon avatars that will dance on your kitchen table. Even Spectacles, the video-recording sunglasses that were much flashier than they were practical, were at least fun and interesting.

They just aren’t necessary to enough people — or defensible enough to prevent copycats. Snap’s product problem is a problem of scale and utility, not creativity.

As a digital advertising company, Snap’s business is dependent on getting a boatload of users, which in turn means it can show those users a boatload of ads. Snapchat has 178 million daily users, so it’s far from small. But six years after its founding, Snapchat’s user growth has slowed.

One of the reasons seems to be that Facebook has copied many of Snapchat’s best features into lots of its products, most notably Instagram. Snap’s user growth slowed dramatically in Q3 2016, the same quarter Instagram copied Snapchat’s Stories feature.

It’s tough to blame Spiegel for Facebook, and it’s tough to invent products that Facebook can’t quickly replicate — and with almost 1.4 billion daily users, quickly dominate.

It’s easy, though, to blame Spiegel for failing to grasp the importance of scale when trying to build an independent digital advertising business that can hold its own as a public company. At the time of the IPO, Snap’s philosophy was to focus on select markets with higher-end smartphones instead of aiming for broader appeal.

Despite a general consensus that Snapchat was too hard for many people to understand — its difficult-to-navigate app became something of an identity, helping lure younger, mobile-savvy users, at the expense of mass adoption — Spiegel refused to change. Even as Snapchat became a buzzy cultural phenomenon, those who used it weren’t able to easily find and connect with their friends, which probably stifled some network growth.

So, yes, Snapchat suddenly has a product problem. Its core app doesn’t appeal to as many people as Wall Street would like. And because Spiegel pushed Snap to go public so early in its existence, Wall Street isn’t something he can simply ignore.

This is now a personal challenge for Spiegel, who is not just CEO at Snap, but has the final say on almost all decisions, especially product ones. He chose to narrow Snap’s focus, which seemed smart at the time. Now he has the tricky problem of changing his thinking — and Snapchat’s user experience — on the fly to make it more friendly to new users without alienating his old ones.

Recode – All

7 iPhone Apps Killing Your Battery (and How to Stop Them)

While a low battery may be a fact of life for heavy smartphone users, in many cases, a lot of the blame can actually be placed on the apps that are frequently used. Press the right arrow to learn about 7 of the worst iOS battery hogs — and several ways you can minimize their impact.

iDrop News

Amazon Key hardware and Cloud Cams are out today, get them here

Two weeks ago Amazon announced both the new Cloud Cam and Amazon Key service, with November 8th set as the official release date for both. According to the calendar, that day is today. Right now you can order both the standalone Cloud Cam as well as the Cloud Cam Key Edition, an Amazon Key kit, or the separate individual Amazon Key Edition smart locks. 

Amazon Cloud Cam listing (left) and Amazon Cloud Cam Key Edition listing (right)

If you’re interested in the Cloud Cam, you’ll need to keep in mind that there appear to be two separate models.

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Amazon Key hardware and Cloud Cams are out today, get them here was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

Android Police – Android News, Apps, Games, Phones, Tablets

Twitter is giving everyone longer tweets, but you probably won’t use them

Those 280-character tweets are here to stay.

The test is over — 280-character tweets are here for good.

Twitter announced on Tuesday that it’s rolling out longer tweets to virtually* all of its users, doubling the traditional 140-character limit to 280 characters. Twitter has been testing longer tweets since September, and claims the test proved out the company’s theory — that giving more people room to tweet results in more engagement.

“People who had more room to Tweet received more engagement (Likes, Retweets, @mentions), got more followers, and spent more time on Twitter,” the company wrote in a blog post. Twitter has been testing longer tweets with “tens of millions” of users, according to company spokesperson Will Stickney.

Twitter has been thinking about longer tweets for years, but got cold feet the last time it considered expanding the limit in early 2016. When Twitter first announced that it was testing longer tweets this fall, the service’s users freaked out, worried that giving people more room to write would ruin the brevity that makes Twitter Twitter.

Shockingly, it looks like that reaction was overblown. Twitter says that just 5 percent of tweets sent by users in the test group were longer than the traditional 140-character limit. Only 1 percent of those tweets actually used all 280 characters.

Again, here’s how Twitter explained it in a blog post:

“Since we saw Tweets hit the character limit less often, we believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer. This shows that more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a Tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before.”

So, whether you like it or not, Twitter thinks longer tweets are better for business. And they’re here to stay.

* People who use Twitter in Korean, Japanese or Chinese will still get just 140 characters. Twitter says this is because you can convey a lot more meaning in a lot fewer characters with those languages.

Recode – All