Reddit launches a ‘News’ tab into beta testing

Reddit is rolling out its “news” tab into beta, the company announced this week. The expansion follows on Reddit’s initial test of a news-related feature that began this May, when an alpha version shipped to some users of Reddit’s iOS app. At the time, Reddit explained it wanted to give news its own dedicated home on its site in order to make it easier for those with a lot of subreddit subscriptions to find the news without having to hunt around.

To determine what’s newsworthy, Reddit says it first figured out which subreddits were engaging with news the most. It did this by looking at the most-clicked posts by domain in the subreddits. The company came up with a list of around 1,000 domains from media publishers focused on news. This list was used to help it surface those communities where news was regularly discussed.

To be clear, the domain list was only used to find the appropriate subreddits where news was often discussed – it doesn’t mean Reddit is limiting news stories it surfaces to those 1,000 domains.

In addition, Reddit has a few other requirements for the communities featured in the News tab. They must have active moderation, abide by Reddit’s content policies and its guidelines for healthy communities, and the community has to require the post title accurately reflects the article title.

The communities included in the News section of Reddit discuss a variety of topics, across business, science, sports, gaming, entertainment, tech news, and more – popular categories across Reddit as a whole. The majority of the posts are link posts, with the exception of some sports news where video is allowed.

The News tab itself then organizes the posts by category, so users can filter the news for themselves. And users can further configure the tab to their own liking.

While Reddit users are often known to actually break news by (sometimes unwittingly) being the first to spot things, the News tab is focused on showcasing the work from news publications.

It’s more of a scannable list of top stories with an active comments section. That’s something that you don’t find on a number of news sites these day, as many have removed commenting. Meanwhile, a lot of discussion around the news takes place on social media, like Facebook and Twitter – but it’s not necessarily centralized.

Given that the product is still in beta, Reddit is still listening to user feedback about the new feature.

As you’d expect, there’s a lot of it – from “this is a bad idea” to “can we see the list?” to “this site is such a joke” to “this is actually controlling the bubble” to “this sounds like a sales pitch to someone who has never used Reddit” to this feels like another ‘Facebook’ style change that nobody asked for” to completely unrelated complaints about other issues.

It could be that Reddit is hoping to attract some attention to its app in the wake of Facebook pulling Trending Topics – its news discovery feature – from its social network.

A larger audience of non-Reddit users may now be looking for another way to easily browse news on mobile – so Reddit thinks it may as well filter some of its existing content and pop it into a tab for easy access. But it’s not likely that people will turn to Reddit for news, especially when there are formidable alternatives like Google News and Apple News.

The feature is in beta for the time being. The company has not said when it’s publicly launching.

 

 

BlackBerry signals slowing sales on subscription switch

BlackBerry signals slowing sales on subscription switchThe company forecast 8 percent to 10 percent growth for the business in 2019, compared with 20 percent in 2018, overshadowing its first-quarter revenue and profit beat. BlackBerry will no longer be selling its software and services on a licensing basis and will have to convince companies to agree to subscriptions, Chief Executive Officer John Chen said on a post-earnings call. The growth guidance is lower than what the market has been expecting, and that's mainly due to the company having to recognize enterprise software revenue based on subscription, Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said.


Amazon FreeTime Unlimited finally lands on Apple’s App Store

Five and half years after it launched, one of the more popular apps for kids’ reading and entertainment has finally arrived on the iOS. Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the e-commerce giant’s subscription service for children 3-12 that gives unlimited access to 10,000 books, movies and TV shows for $2.99 per month for up to four users across tablets, phones, e-readers, and smart speakers, is now available on the App Store.

Apple is promoting the new app at the moment on the home page of the App Store, where a reader saw it and flagged it to us.

“We launch new products and features as they’re ready,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We’re excited to bring theFreeTime Unlimited experience to iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.”

FreeTime Unlimited is already available on Amazon devices and on Android. Now, when users sign up for a subscription on any one platform, they can use it across all of them — whether it be a Fire tablet, a Fire Kids Edition tablet, compatible Android phones and tablets, or compatible Echo devices.

The move is a significant one both for Apple and Amazon. At a time when other media companies are launching kid-friendly versions of their services that bring in more parental controls and better filters to help block out content that is inappropriate for young ones, FreeTime Unlimited has proven to be one of the most popular kids-focused entertainment apps of them all — content includes video from Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, PBS Kids, National Geographic and Amazon Originals for Kids — and yet it wasn’t available on one of the most popular (and well reviewed) tablets used by children.

While Amazon initially kept it as an Amazon-only product for its early years — as a way of driving more sales to its own hardware — last year it finally launched a version for Android devices, but it’s taken over a year more to finally bring it to iPhone and iPad devices.

One of the reasons for this could be the ongoing struggle between Amazon and Apple. In some regards, the two are complementary companies: Amazon ships a lot of Apple products, and iOS is a very strong platform for Amazon in terms of online sales, for example.

But in others — such as in hardware, increasingly online entertainment and “owning” customers, and for talent to build its products — the two are rivals. Apple, for one, has not allowed apps on its iOS platform to enable Amazon book purchases directly from their apps, and Amazon doesn’t sell books and movies from its own app to avoid Apple’s cut. So it’s not surprising to see Amazon also delay certain content and features from the Apple platform in some kind of tit-for-tat.

I’m guessing those skirmishes will go on for a long time to come, but for now, iPad and iPhone users will have a little more Amazon than they did before on their devices. Why now? It could be that Amazon felt that user growth was tailing off on the other platforms, so now is a good time to boost with new availability.

It’s also likely influenced by Apple’s increased attention to parental control features on iOS, which may have some parents feel like they have enough options to lock down their kids’ devices while still allowing them access to more wholesome and educational content. That could limit the appeal for a subscription service like Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited. But iOS 12 – which includes the new parental controls – doesn’t launch to the public until later this fall. That gives Amazon time to attract users to its own service in the meantime.

As with the existing version of FreeTime Unlimited, the app is divided into age groups and will have parental controls by way of the Amazon Parent Dashboard, as well as Discussion Cards that give them talking points about the work and summaries of what the kids are watching.

 

There may be variations based on geographies, but in the US the content will include films like Frozen, Moana, Star Wars, and Inside Out; TV shows like Sesame Street, Arthur, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood from PBS; Bubble Guppies, Team Umizoomi, and Dora the Explorer from Nickelodeon; Marvel comics including Spider-man, the Avengers, and Captain America; and Amazon Originals such as Just Add Magic, The Kicks, Thunderbirds are Go, Creative Galaxy, and Tumble Leaf.

One drawback to the iOS implementation of FreeTime Unlimited is that, unlike on Amazon’s own tablets, you can’t configure FreeTime Unlimited to completely reskin the device’s user interface to keep kids locked into the experience. Apple simply doesn’t allow third-party apps to have that level of control. Instead, FreeTime Unlimited works like any other app – you can launch it and exit at any time.

As with other apps, subscribing to FreeTime Unlimited will come via a user’s iTunes account (and thus Apple will get a cut) and will get automatically renewed until you turn off the auto-renewal 24 hours before the renewal date. There is also a free 30-day trial.

 

EARNINGS: Blackberry reports surprise profit, stock volatile in early trading

EARNINGS: Blackberry reports surprise profit, stock volatile in early tradingYahoo Finance's Alexis Christoforous and Jared Blikre break down the latest market action after the company reported first quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations. Here's the performance of the components of the Nasdaq 100 Index as of 10:30 am ET: HSIC Henry Schein Inc 2.39% CMCSA Comcast Cl A 2.21% HOLX Hologic Inc 2.05% LBTYA Liberty Global plc Cl A 1.94% DISH DISH Network Corp Cl A 1.84% LBTYK Liberty Global plc Cl C 1.87% VOD Vodafone Grp Plc ADS 1.42% NTES Netease Inc Ads 1.16% FOXA(F) Twenty-First Century Fox Inc A 1.18% MAT Mattel, Inc 1.26% FOX(F) Twenty-First Century Fox Inc B 1.02% CHTR Charter Communications Inc 0.99% DISCA(HB) Discovery Inc Ser A 1.00% AAL American Airlines Grp inc 0.94% CSX CSX Corp 0.89% EXPE Expedia Grp Inc 0.87% INTC Intel Corp 0.75% QRTEA Qurate Retail Inc 0.85% DISCK(HB) Discovery Inc Ser C 0.71% TMUS T-Mobile US Inc 0.70% PCAR PACCAR Inc 0.73% DLTR Dollar Tree Inc 0.61% TRIP TripAdvisor Inc When-Issued 0.56% SBUX Starbucks Corp 0.45% VIAB Viacom Inc Cl 'B' 0.53% ORLY O'Reilly Automotive, Inc. 0.47% STX(HB) Seagate Tech 0.46% SIRI(HB) Sirius XM Hldgs Inc 0.56% SBAC SBA Communications'A' 0.34% INCY Incyte Corp 0.29% KHC The Kraft Heinz Company 0.30% ADP Automatic Data Proc 0.30% CERN Cerner Corp 0.33% ULTA Ulta Beauty Inc 0.24% NXPI NXP Semiconductors N.V. 0.09% COST Costco Wholesale Corp 0.12% MNST Monster Beverage Corporation 0.11% MDLZ Mondelez Int'l Inc Cl A 0.07% XRAY Dentsply Sirona Inc 0.07% HAS Hasbro Inc 0.09% WBA Walgreen Boots Alliance Inc -0.07% PAYX Paychex Inc 0.01% VRSK Verisk Analytics Inc -0.07% BIDU(HB) Baidu Inc -0.18% CTSH Cognizant Tech Solutions'A' -0.05% JD JD.com Inc -0.12% AAPL Apple Inc -0.22% ALXN Alexion Pharmaceuticals -0.18% ESRX Express Scripts Hldg Co -0.21% QCOM Qualcomm Inc -0.32% FISV Fiserv Inc -0.22% AVGO(HB) Broadcom Inc -0.19% FAST Fastenal Co -0.22% CTAS Cintas Corp -0.31% CELG Celgene Corp -0.37% TXN Texas Instruments -0.35% VRTX Vertex Pharmaceuticals -0.32% ADI Analog Devices -0.33% MXIM Maxim Integrated Prod -0.43% BMRN Biomarin Pharmaceutical -0.27% CA CA Inc -0.44% AMGN Amgen Inc -0.47% NCLH Norwegian Cruise Line Hldg -0.42% AMZN Amazon.com Inc -0.49% REGN Regeneron Pharmaceuticals -0.50% $NDX.X Nasdaq 100 -0.51% BIIB Biogen Inc -0.55% CSCO Cisco Systems -0.54% AABA(HB) Altaba Inc -0.61% NFLX Netflix Inc -0.67% MAR Marriott Int'l Cl A -0.65% SHPG Shire plc ADS -0.65% EBAY eBay Inc -0.68% TSCO Tractor Supply -0.64% LILAK(HB) Liberty Latin America Ltd Cl C -0.71% SYMC(E) Symantec Corp -0.67% FB Facebook Inc -0.72% SWKS Skyworks Solutions -0.67% LILA(HB) Liberty Latin America Ltd Cl A -0.71% ROST(HB) Ross Stores -0.72% ATVI Activision Blizzard Inc -0.76% GILD Gilead Sciences -0.82% GOOGL Alphabet Inc Cl A -0.79% GOOG Alphabet Inc Cl C Cap Stock -0.81% MYL Mylan NV -0.85% EA Electronic Arts, Inc. -0.90% ISRG Intuitive Surgical -0.89% ILMN Illumina Inc -0.96% WDC Western Digital -0.98% XLNX Xilinx Inc -0.95% BKNG(HB) Booking Hldgs Inc -1.06% MCHP Microchip Tech -1.08% CTRP Ctrip.com Intl Ltd -1.12% PYPL(HB) PayPal Hldgs Inc -1.24% AKAM Akamai Technologies -1.29% INTU Intuit Inc -1.32% MSFT Microsoft Corp -1.37% LRCX Lam Research -1.35% CHKP(HB) Check Point Software Tech -1.39% ADBE Adobe Systems -1.68% CTXS Citrix Systems Inc -2.08% ADSK Autodesk, Inc -2.27% MU Micron Tech -2.42% NVDA Nvidia Corp -2.45% AMAT Applied Materials -2.44% TSLA Tesla Inc -2.81% KLAC KLA-Tencor Corp -4.37%


Energy, financials push Wall St higher; tech weighs

Energy, financials push Wall St higher; tech weighsThe benchmark Brent crude jumped 1.9 percent to $74.48 a barrel, following three days of declines, after OPEC agreed on Friday to raise production by around 1 million barrels per day from July for the group and its allies, according to a source. Exxon Mobil rose 2.1 percent and Chevron gained 3 percent providing the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Dow. A recent rally in oil prices due to an OPEC decision to restrict supply in an effort to drain global inventories, has helped S&P energy be the best performing S&P sector in the last three months.


Tinder takes on Coffee Meets Bagel with test of Tinder Picks

Tinder will begin testing a new feature aimed at helping people find more matches who fit their particular interests across areas like education, job type, hobbies and other details. “Tinder Picks,” as the new feature is being called, will be available only to those on Tinder Gold – the existing subscription offering that includes a number of Tinder Plus features, like Passport, Rewind, Unlimited Likes and more, but also allows users to see who has already liked them.

Combined, Tinder Plus and Gold had an average of 3.5 million paid subscribers in Q1, but Tinder doesn’t break down the two offerings individually.

Tinder Gold launched globally in August 2017, and is being tested at different price points in various markets. The company says that during its first month, subscribers saw an over 60 percent increase in matches as a result of the offering.

With Tinder Picks, the company hopes to increase matches even more.

The feature is based on information shared in Tinder users’ profile – including education, what type of job they have, what they enjoy doing and other hobbies and interests. Tinder uses this information to organize users into groupings.

For example, a “foodie” might earn that tag because they work in a restaurant, went to a top culinary school, or mentions food in their bio.

Tinder Picks considers this information along with users’ previous swiping behavior to determine who the day’s top Picks are.

Users will see their daily Picks by tapping the diamond on the top of the Discovery screen. However, you’ll need to upgrade to Tinder Gold to actually tap into their profiles, swipe on them, or send them a Super Like.

The price of your Tinder Gold upgrade could vary because Tinder uses dynamic pricing that varies based on region, length of subscription, recent in-app promotions, and other factors, like age.

Tinder Picks refresh every 24 hours, but Tinder Gold users can opt to buy more at any time, the company says. These will be sold in packs of 10, 20 or 30 Picks a la carte. (Reminder: yes, we are talking about people…which Tinder has turned into a product.)

The new feature also works with Passport, so you can check out a list of Picks in other cities.

Picks is still in testing, so users in different markets may see slight different versions of the feature.

Tinder says Picks is live now in the U.K., Germany, Brazil, France, Canada, Turkey, Mexico, Sweden, Russia and the Netherlands. It will see how users respond over the next few days, then evaluate whether to roll out the feature more broadly.

“With Picks, we’re offering users a new way to discover the most interesting people on Tinder,” said Brian Norgard, Chief Product Officer at Tinder, in a statement. “Picks delivers a personalized, premium user experience within Tinder Gold that puts a spotlight on unique characteristics that make our users stand out.”

Picks is another interesting addition for Tinder because it’s a similar model to a rival dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, which just raised $12 million for international expansion efforts. Like Coffee Meets Bagel, the premise is to offer an alternative to endless swiping, and instead present a curated selection of potential matches to browse through, or the option to pay to have a few more.

It’s yet another example of Tinder’s now Facebook-like dominion over rivals. It will buy them out – as it did with Hinge (after adopting its media-sharing focus with “Feed“); or it will copy competitors’ features, like it did with Bumble, Happn, and now Coffee Meets Bagel.