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Snapchat ‘Crowd Surf’ stitches together everyone’s concert videos

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Snapchat’s got a new trick to stay one step ahead of Instagram by turning everyone’s quick video clips from concerts into a much more watchable music video you control.

Snapchat “Crowd Surf” uses artificial intelligence machine learning technology to analyze when lots of people are all recording the same musical performance at the same time. It can then lace together the different angles while keeping the song playing smoothly so you can choose where to watch from and see more than 10 seconds of footage in a row. You can see a demo recorded by TechCrunch below:

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Snap tested out Crowd Surf last night at pop singer Lorde’s performance at San Francisco’s Outside Lands music festival. When she played her hit “Green Light” and everyone thrust their phones in the air, Snapchat combined the clips. You can watch the Crowd Surf in the Snapchat “Featured” section below your friends’ recent Stories, and tap to see a new angle whenever the flipping phone Crowd Surf icon is lit up.

The result is remarkably fun to watch. You can hop from the center of the crowd to the front row to the side stage to get an immersive look at what it was like to see the concert in person. In fact, I did see the show in person, but Crowd Surf lets me watch how everyone else was enjoying the same moment. Snapchat pioneered the crowdsourced Our Story three years ago at the EDC music fest, and now it’s back pushing the bar higher.

Which begs the question… how long until Instagram Stories copies this? Both Snap and Instagram are in a heated war for users, with Snap inventing new features and Facebook’s giant Instagram team quickly cloning them to the detriment of Snap’s growth.

Each wants to encourage users to submit their posts for public display. Snap lets you syndicate your post to Our Stories before you share it, which then appears in curated Our Stories, search results and the new Snap Map. Instagram Story Search pulls together posts tagged with locations and hashtags for dedicated Stories about different places and topics.

We’ve asked Snapchat for more details on how Crowd Surf works. Mashable spotted it this morning. Snapchat previously offered Story Explorer that let you check out similar Snaps to one you enjoyed during a Live Story by analyzing location and time, but not audio.

Crowd Surf is set to be available at more public events in the future, but will require tons of people shooting and submitting Snaps from the same moment. That could limit it to huge events like music festivals, though perhaps it could work for parades, sports events or political rallies too. And the mere existence of the feature could attract more submissions.

If people think their Snaps could get chosen for Crowd Surfs and get extra viewers, they might be more likely to shoot and share on Snapchat when they’re watching a concert.

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How Slack uses a raccoon to keep distractions on Slack at bay

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Slack has undoubtedly changed how employees at many companies communicate. But more and more, it feels like Slack’s focus on immediate responses is far more distracting than the asynchronous emails it often replaces. As Slack CTO and co-founder Cal Henderson noted at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin today, we still have to figure out how Slack can fit into many a company’s culture and how to keep Slack discussions from going off topic despite the existence of GIFs and emoji. Internally, at Slack, the company mostly uses a raccoon for doing this.

“Internally, we have this idea of the polite raccoon,” Henderson said. Whenever a conversation goes off topic, the raccoon means that it’s time to take that conversation into a different channel (or maybe offline).

Henderson noted, too, that a lot of the work that Slack is putting into machine learning is about making people more efficient and reducing the number of unnecessary messages. “There is definitely more we can do in terms of filling up people’s time so that can better separate between work and outside of work,” he said.

Henderson himself, too, uses Slack’s do-not-disturb setting to keep messages at bay during his off time, but throughout today’s panel, he noted that it’s very much up to the individual and company to set their policies. He also very much defended the existence of Slack itself.

“Something like Slack would have existed even if we didn’t build it,” he said. That’s in part due to the rise of consumer messaging in general and the fact that businesses are now comfortable with buying their software from multiple vendors, which has resulted in a situation where there is no obvious center for business software.

“Communication is the only obvious location to tie those together.”

Featured Image: Sercan Topali / EyeEm/Getty Images Readmore

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20 critical startup truths no one will tell you

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Some knowledge is so important, everyone assumes everyone already knows it. But they don’t, especially in the tech world where things move so fast that most people are faking. But Stripe’s Patrick McKenzie spends his time helping the payment platform’s startup customers survive, and now he’s laid out 20 crucial learnings everyone should read. Click or scroll through for tech’s dirty shouldn’t-be-secrets.

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Apple releases iOS 11.2 with ‘I.T’ autocorrect fix, faster wireless charging and Apple Pay Cash

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Apple released an iOS update in the middle of the night (Cupertino time). iOS 11.2 brings Apple Pay Cash, but the feature is not live yet. The company still needs to flip a switch on its servers to enable it.

Today’s update also enables support for faster 7.5W Qi wireless charging. If you have an iPhone 8 or an iPhone X as well as a wireless charger that supports 7.5W or more, your phone will now charge more quickly as Apple first limited wireless charging to 5W.

Some users have had some issues with the autocorrect feature. The default iOS keyboard would change ‘it’ into ‘I.T’ for no apparent reason. iOS 11.2 should fix that too.

In iOS 11, if you tap on the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth icons in Control Center, iOS doesn’t disable Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Instead, your phone disconnects itself from Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth accessories until the next day at 5 AM (or you restart your device, or you go to a new place for Wi-Fi).

Apple doesn’t disable those features so that you can connect your Apple Watch or Apple Pencil, enable Personal Hotspot from another device and use Wi-Fi for more accurate location features. With iOS 11.2, the icons are no longer greyed out. You’ll now see white icons to indicate that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth still work, you’re just not connected to any network or accessory.

In smaller news, iOS 11.2 brings a couple of revamped emojis, new wallpapers, a new indicator at the top right of the lock screen to help you find Control Center and better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth indications.

Releasing iOS 11.2 on a Friday night is a bit odd, but that might be because some iPhones keep rebooting themselves because of a time bug. After your device’s clock passes 12:15 AM on December 2nd, 2017, apps with local notifications crash your phone (workout or meditation apps for instance). Apple may have rushed iOS 11.2 to fix this bug. You can probably expect a macOS, tvOS and watchOS update next week.

So you should update your phone when you get a minute before you encounter this weird clock crash. Head over to the Settings app, then hit General, then Software Update.
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