Finally, a phone made in the year 2013 that Zack Morris can approve of. All kidding aside, Spot’s aptly titled Global Phone isn’t the most — shall we say, svelte — of handsets, but it’s capable of communicating in places that your iPhone could o…
So, this is weird. Earlier today, if you visited Square’s hiring page on Jobvite, there were two unusual job listings, one for “Chirply — Potential Acquisition” and another for “SeatMe — Potential Acquisition.”
If those were accurate statements, well, that’s a pretty strange way to announce a pair of pending deals. But before you start sending out those congratulatory tweets and emails, I should note that a source with knowledge of the matter told me that Square is not pursuing an acquisition of those companies at this time. (A company spokesperson declined to comment.)
So how did their names end up as “potential acquisitions” on a Jobvite page? Well, probably the same way they would have shown up if there really were talks — someone, somewhere in the company, screwed up. Regardless of the reason, that screwup has been corrected — after I reached out to Square, the listings disappeared. (You can see them in the screenshot below.)
As for what those startups do, Chirply is a crowdsourced card design site (at least, that’s what it did when I wrote about it two years ago — the current website is one of those cryptic beta pages.) And SeatMe is a reservation startup trying to take on OpenTable. (I emailed both companies for comment and will update if I hear back.)
It doesn’t seem totally out there to believe Square might be vaguely interested in these companies, particularly as talent acquisitions. But that’s a long way from having serious talks.
Thanks to Amin Issa for the tip.
O’Tierney is less well-known than his co-founders, particularly the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey, but according to his LinkedIn profile (where he describes himself as an iOS engineer), his accomplishments include building the original iPhone app, as well as being a “large contributor” to its first iPad app, the first Pay with Square product, and the Register app.
Why are so many apps blue? The obvious answer is many tech brands contain blue in their logo or tradedress. But why? What’s with the love of blue tones? I ask because the number of blue icons on my phone has reached a kind of tipping point where I’m often firing up the wrong (blue) app. Apple’s iOS 7 redesign is also pushing away from using lots of blue, towards a more balanced multicoloured look.
Sharing economy businesses like Airbnb, RelayRides, and FlightCar have come under fire recently, with participants accused of failure to comply with insurance regulations, building codes, and other rules. In addition to those complications, which I wrote about in the recent issue of TIME magazine, there’s the problem of taxes. Namely, it seems as if almost no one involved in the sharing economy knows exactly what taxes they’re supposed to pay, nor when or how to pay them. And for several reasons — the rules are unclear, enforcement is almost nonexistent, and many feel that “sharing” shouldn’t be taxed at all – very few people pay them. One part of the equation is fairly straightforward: Money earned from renting out a room in your apartment, loaning your car to a stranger, or from any other sharing economy business is considered income, and participants therefore may have to pay income taxes on those earnings. Airbnb, in fact, sends 1099-Misc forms to all hosts who are supposed to pay taxes on their rental income. The site also mentions that a state or locality may require that other short-term rental fees or taxes be paid, and this is where things get really, really messy. According to Airbnb, it’s entirely up to the host to include the proper taxes in their rental listing rates, and then it’s up to the host to pay them. “You are responsible for managing your tax and other regulatory obligations,” Airbnb’s Taxes FAQ section says. “Please contact a tax professional or city compliance department for advice about your tax status and compliance.” How many Airbnb hosts actually hand over hotel taxes to the local tax collector? No one really knows, but it’s likely that the percentage is tiny—perhaps even zero. Most cities haven’t even clarified if short-term hosts should be paying hotel taxes on their rental income, because such a stipulation would implicitly tell residents that short-term rentals are legal — which is itself unclear in many cases. In the spring of 2012, San Francisco made it clear that short-term rentals
It was a big week in gadgets, and thus, a big TC Gadgets podcast it shall be. This week, we discuss developments at E3, including Xbox One and PS4 pricing, the death of Nokia’s Symbian OS, and of course, WWDC.
Will you buy a PS4 or an Xbox One? Does despair fill you from nose to navel when you remember the good old days of Symbian? Is the new iOS 7 design repelling, attractive, or some bizarre combination of the two? John Biggs, Matt Burns, Jordan Crook, Darrell Etherington, and Natasha Lomas touch on all of this and more.
We invite you to enjoy our weekly podcasts every Friday at 3pm Eastern and noon Pacific.
Intro Music by Rick Barr.
Apple has now taken another step to push app publishers to use its preferred ad tracking option, the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), with the debut of the iOS 7 beta. Confirming what many have suspected, Apple is eliminating an alternative option involving tracking by MAC addresses. This method had sprung up following a change to Apple’s Developer Documentation in 2011, announcing its intention to end developers’ reliance on the unique identifier known as the UDID.
It’s been a long time since Apple announced it would begin phasing out developer access to the UDID on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad – something which at first led to some confusion in the industry. Over the years, developers had learned to use the identifier for advertising purposes, and as a way to store data about their users. But the method raised privacy concerns, since the number is tied to each individual device and cannot be removed, cleared, or controlled by end users.
Several alternatives soon appeared in the UDID’s place, each hoping to become the new default method. Many developers still use some these – or just as likely, a combination of some these – today.
Earlier this year, Apple began signaling again that the alternative it had in mind for the post-UDID world was its own when it began rejecting apps using cookie-tracking methods. Then in March, the company announced that it would no longer accept new applications or app updates that access UDIDs as of May 1, 2013.
With that deadline now behind us, Apple is again pushing its community to the UDID’s more privacy conscious replacement, the IDFA. This Apple-approved method provides the attribution advertisers need, along with the privacy and security controls Apple wants to provide for its users.
According to data collected by mobile app marketing firm Fiksu, which helps app publishers with user acquisition efforts, iOS 7 devices – all beta testers, at this point – are always now returning a MAC address of 02:00:00:00:00:00. This “dummy” address is the equivalent of the phone number 555-1212, for example. It began showing up for the tens of thousands of unique iOS 7 devices in Fiksu’s logs earlier this week, says Craig Palli, Fiksu’s mobile app marketing technology platform head.
There is also a mention in the pre-release notes for iOS 7 distributed to developers which states that this single, meaningless MAC address is now the new expected behavior.
“The MAC address, a hardware based identifier, has long been a way for advertisers to have a permanent, unique identifier for each device, providing a stable tracking option as an alternative to the controversy-plagued UDID,” Palli explains. “However, the same privacy concerns raised about the UDID apply equally to the MAC address – it just received less publicity,” he adds. Now, for those who haven’t yet made the switch to IDFA, the window to migrate is closing.
That being said, Palli says that most publishers and ad networks generally knew that the MAC method would not be supported, and the amount of traffic addressed by MAC addresses had “rapidly diminished” in recent months. Today, it exists as a very small, single-digit percentage, he tells us. Other methods, including digital fingerprinting and to a lesser extent, HTML5 cookies, are also still in use today, both with their own strengths and weaknesses.
At this time, there have not yet been any reports of app rejections because of the MAC address method being used, though, as noted above, the cookie-tracking method had seen some rejections earlier this year.
The app publisher and advertiser communities have had a long time to prepare for UDID’s demise and the shift to the IDFA. And while that hasn’t been an entirely error-free process, the time has now come to finalize the move.
“Fortunately, as an ecosystem, we’ve transitioned to the IDFA,” says Palli, “so by the time iOS 7 rolls out it should make little to no difference from an app developer or marketer’s point of view.”
The photo-sharing app that’s all the rage with teenagers has found a surprising new clientele: Wall Street bankers and traders. Snapchat, an app that lets users send one another photos that self-destruct in seconds, is becoming increasingly popular in the heavily regulated world of finance — and it’s hard not to wonder if the trend is based on the mistaken belief that Snapchat messages truly disappear. According to New York magazine, recent college graduates who picked up the Snapchat habit in school are now bringing it to their older peers at America’s largest investment firms. The app hasn’t quite reached the boardroom yet, but it’s increasingly popular with young finance professionals, who seem to regard Snapchat as a more spontaneous — and safer — communication method than email or Facebook. A junior analyst at a big bank told New York that he and his colleagues agreed to keep photos of their party-filled weekends off public social media profiles and share them via Snapchat instead. “We can all see them, laugh at them, and confidentially show them to people that won’t fire us.” In fact, Snapchat isn’t a particularly effective strategy for keeping one’s private life private. The person who receives the photo can take a screenshot of it with a simple click of the iPhone. Even worse, a data retrieval firm recently said that it can restore all the Snapchat photos on an Android phone for a fee of $300 to $500. That company’s clients are often law enforcement officials, which means Snapchat might not be the best vehicle for sharing racy jokes, let alone proprietary information about a client. For now, though, it seems as if most bankers are using the app for innocuous reasons. ”I use it to show how lame I am. Taking pictures of myself, alone at my desk on the weekend,” a Goldman Sachs banker told CNBC. (MORE: Is Facebook Losing Its Cool? Some Teens Think So) Snapchat likely doesn’t care what they’re sending as long as they keep doing it. The app is now shuttling 150 million photos per