Snapchat Launches Chat 2.0 | Crunch Report


Snapchat launches Chat 2.0, SoundCloud gets
subscriptions, a resolution to the government’s fight with Apple and more… It’s Tuesday, March 29, and this is Crunch
Report. Snapchat basically upgraded everything today
under the umbrella of what it’s calling Chat Two Point Oh. New features include auto-advancing
stories, two hundred available stickers in private chat, video and audio notes, and some
changes to video and audio calls, including the ability to call someone who isn’t chatting
with you and to send camera roll photos during that call. Broadly speaking, the idea is to
give Snapchat users the opportunity to communicate in any medium or format that they want. And
as TechCrunch’s Josh Constine notes, this also turns Snapchat into more of a phone and,
really, a full suite of communication tools. The updates rolled out on iOS and Android
today. SoundCloud has been called YouTube for audio
— but would you pay to listen to some of that content? SoundCloud is betting that the
answer is yes for at least some of you. It’s launching a new subscription service called
SoundCloud Go, starting in the US. In exchange for a nine dollar and ninety nine cent monthly
subscription fee, SoundCloud is offering access to what it says tens of millions of premium
tracks, plus features like offline listening and ad-free listening. Some of that premium
content might become available to free users too, for example a musician releasing a new
album might make one song available for free and put the rest behind the paywall. Now some
of you might also remember that SoundCloud already charges for something called SoundCloud
Pro but that’s more of a service for creators, rather than consumers. SoundCloud Go, on the
other hand — got the name difference? — could potentially be more competitive with services
like Spotify. Google Fiber is supposed represent the future
of the Internet with its lightning-fast speeds, but today Google’s announcing something a
little bit old-fashioned — landline home phone service, available to Fiber subscribers
for ten dollars a month. It makes a little more sense when you think about Google becoming
the main channel for communication from your home, at least in some areas. Of course, there’s
only so much you can do to make landlines sexy, but Google is throwing in things like
unlimited US calls, call filtering and blocking, voicemail transcription and call forwarding
to mobile. However, the phone itself is not included. Here’s a late-breaking story from last night:
The legal battle between the Justice Department and Apple appears to be resolved. That’s because
the FBI says a mysterious, unidentified third party helped it use an “”alternative method””
to unlock the iPhone used by one of the suspects in the San Bernadino shooting. The government
says it no longer needs Apple’s help to unlock the phone, so it’s dropping the case. In response,
Apple released a statement saying, quote, “”Apple believes deeply that people in the
United States and around the world deserve data protection, security and privacy. Sacrificing
one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk.”” What’s still not clear
is who helped the government and what this alternative method was, or how a similar case
might be resolved in the future. We all know that pictures make everything
better on social media — or at the very least, they lead to higher engagement. But
what about users who are visually impaired? Well, Twitter adding something that will allow
those users to get a better sense of what’s being posted in a photo. To use it, you need
to turn on the Compose Image Descriptions feature. After that, you’ll be able to include
a text description that accompanies your photos on Twitter, so visually impaired users can
then read or hear it through things like screen readers or braille displays. Now most likely,
not everyone’s going to take the time to do this, because we’re not all that thoughtful,
but it’s something that large brands and publishers could think about. That’s the report for today. I’m Anthony
Ha. Crunch Report airs every weekday at 7 pm Eastern,
4 pm Pacific, on Techcrunch.com. You can also find us on iTunes, and on YouTube. We’ll see
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