Amazon takes on The Honest Company with an exclusive brand of eco diapers, Earth + Eden

Last November, Amazon quietly re-entered the diapers market with the launch of its own private label diapers under the Mama Bear brand – its first diaper brand since pulling its Amazon Elements line back in January 2015. Now, Amazon has added a new, exclusive premium diapers brand, this time under the new name of Earth […]

Last November, Amazon quietly re-entered the diapers market with the launch of its own private label diapers under the Mama Bear brand – its first diaper brand since pulling its Amazon Elements line back in January 2015. Now, Amazon has added a new, exclusive premium diapers brand, this time under the new name of Earth + Eden. Unlike Mama Bear, which is the Amazon equivalent to something like Pampers, Amazon’s Earth + Eden appears to be more of a competitor to premium diapers, like those sold on Honest.com.

The Honest Company touts its diapers’ super-soft, safe, gentle, hypoallergenic, and most importantly, sustainably-sourced materials, as does the Earth + Eden diapers’ product page.

The Amazon diapers are described as:

Cruelty free – not tested on animals; Made with SFI Certified sustainably sourced fluff; Printed with non-toxic water-based inks; Produced in a Zero Waste to Landfill Facility

In the Q&A section of the product page and in the images, the manufacturer also notes other “green” choices it made – like how the diapers are “free from harsh chemicals,” have “no lotions, parabens, fragrance, latex, or chlorine bleaching,” and use “non-toxic, water based inks.”

The product images themselves also have an eco vibe to them with photos of babies in green grass fields, or mothers cuddling little ones with flowers and trees all around them.

Also like Honest.com’s diapers, the Earth + Eden diapers come in prints instead of just plain white. However, its print is not all over the diaper as with Honest’s diapers – just a band at the top. (And frankly, Earth + Eden’s prints are a little boring by comparison.)

But the new diapers may not be competing so much on looks, as they are on price.

The diapers range in price from $0.21 each (size 1) to $0.51 each (size 7), which puts them more in line with a mainstream disposable diaper brands, like Luvs, Huggies or Pampers – not premium diapers like Honest or Pampers Pure, for example.

The website This Just In was first to spot the diapers’ launch, and notes that the manufacturer identifies themselves as by “First Quality Enterprises” of Great Neck, N.Y.

Multiple sources initially told TechCrunch the diapers were a new private label. In addition, the listing for the Earth + Eden diapers shows up under a heading entitled “Our Brands” when shoppers search for baby diapers on Amazon’s site. (See photo below)

However, Amazon said that this is not an “Amazon” brand – it’s a new exclusive brand to Amazon.

Amazon explains that despite listing the product (as pictured above) as “Our Brand” that doesn’t mean it’s an Amazon brand. Instead, the company tells us it will refer to things that are manufactured by others but made exclusive to Amazon as “Our Brand,” as well.

That seems a bit misleading – the text should probably read “Amazon Exclusive,” in that case.

The new diapers arrived on Amazon in July, we’re told. Amazon Some customers received them for free through Amazon Vine, the retailer’s own program that connects manufacturers to trusted reviewers.

Diapers are a huge business, but one where Amazon could still do better.

While its Amazon Elements line of wipes had achieved a 14% market share as of the time the Mama Bear brand of diapers launched last November, those same diapers are currently the #46 best-seller in their category.

In addition, Amazon last year exited its Quidsi business, whose flagship property was Diapers.com. That URL now redirects to a landing page on Amazon.com, where baby products are listed. (The Earth + Eden brand appears on this page, as well, when you click on the link to view the diapers.)

The Honest Company now has its own Amazon storefront where shoppers can buy its diapers, overnight pants, lotions, shampoos, and other personal care products. The storefront was launched last year, as part of the business’ larger shift from e-commerce to omnichannel.

For The Honest Company, it was already difficult to compete with Amazon.com, despite its eco focus. Now, Amazon is adding products to its site that will directly compete with an Honest Company top seller.

Update, 9/17/18, 5:30 pm et: Post updated shortly after publication, as Amazon reached out to clarify the brand is a new exclusive product to Amazon.com, but is not a private label. See above text in bold for details.

You can try Siri Shortcuts today in these iOS 12-ready apps

With today’s release of iOS 12, Apple is also rolling out a new feature called Siri Shortcuts, which allows users to create their own voice commands to take actions in apps. For example, you could create a shortcuts for ordering your morning coffee, playing your favorite music, getting your daily schedule, and much more. In […]

With today’s release of iOS 12, Apple is also rolling out a new feature called Siri Shortcuts, which allows users to create their own voice commands to take actions in apps. For example, you could create a shortcuts for ordering your morning coffee, playing your favorite music, getting your daily schedule, and much more. In preparation for the iOS 12 launch, a number of app developers have already added support for Siri Shortcuts – sometimes even through a dedicated button in their app – in order to help nudge users towards adoption.

You can configure Siri Shortcuts in iOS Settings or create more complex voice commands using Apple’s new Shortcuts app, also out today. But these are things that will appeal more to power users – at least for the time being.

Mainstream users, meanwhile, will likely come across Siri Shortcuts for the first time when using their favorite iOS apps.

With iOS 12, app developers can integrate an “Add to Siri” button right in their app’s interface for common tasks that their app can perform – like playing a favorite playlist, for instance.

When a user taps this button, they’ll be directed to a screen where they can record their own custom voice command to launch whatever task or action the developer is suggesting.

In time, a number of apps will roll out this functionality.

But if you’re keen to play with it today, on day one, here are some of the early adopters of this feature.

Pandora

A new playlist isn’t the only update Pandora is rolling out today – it’s also one of the first apps to launch a Siri Shortcuts button. With the app’s iOS 12-optimized update, users can head to the Settings in the Pandora app and tap “Add to Siri.” They can then choose a specific station, album, or playlist and record a custom phrase to say the next time they want to hear it.

Streaks

Habit-tracker Streaks is also among the first to include an “Add to Siri” button. When tapped, users can record custom phrases to complete their tasks. That way you can say things in a more natural style – like, “Hey Siri, I drank my water,” or “I ate healthy today.”

PCalc

Always an early adopter, the popular calculator app has added a Siri Shortcut button that will let you record voice commands for any common activity in the app, like converting currencies, setting the clipboard, opening conversions, and more.

CARROT Weather

The funny and sarcastic weather application CARROT Weather added support for Siri Shortcuts so you can ask for a short-term or long-term forecast for your location or any other location you’ve saved in the app.

The Weather Channel

If you prefer a more traditional weather app, The Weather Channel is also out with Siri Shortcuts support today, too, so you can check your forecast with a voice command.

Things

To do list app Things represents a good use case for Siri Shortcuts, as you can create voice commands for common actions you take in the app, then have them also appear on your Lock screen. For instance, you could ask Siri to “Show Today” or “Add To-Do.” You can even record shortcuts for things you add to your to-do list app a lot, like lists of movies you want to see or errands you need to run.

When you say “Hey Siri, add an errand,” Things will launch a new to-do with everything filled in, including the tags, so all you have to do is enter the title and save.

There are also ready-made to-do’s available for things that are always the same, like a packing list or a favorite recipe. And using the new Shortcuts app, you can combine multiple shortcuts from different apps into one workflow.

 

Sky Guide

Longtime favorite app Sky Guide, a map to the night sky, now lets you ask questions about the stars using your voice. With Siri Shortcuts, you can say “Hey Siri, what start is that?” (or something else you choose) after pointing your phone at a bright star, planet, or satellite.

Citymapper

The handy transit navigation app has also just rolled out support for Siri Shortcuts with an option that will let you say things like “Hey Siri, check my commute,” to have Siri read out info on disruptions, departures and your expected ETA. You can also ask it to route your way home, check departures, and more.

Google News

An unexpected addition, all things considered – but this top news application is already live with Siri Shortcuts support, allowing readers to use voice command to navigate to their favorite news sources and other frequent destinations.

TripIt

The top-rated travel planner is ready to support Siri Shortcuts today, allowing you to configure custom voice commands for common travel tasks like getting your flight details or asking about your other travel plans.

Trello

This top organizer app lets you use Siri Shortcuts to create custom phrases to open up specific cards or boards you’ve created, with its iOS 12-ready update.

Monster Job Search

This job search app will save you from repeatedly typing in the same queries, by allowing you to create a Siri Shortcut for your favorite searches instead.

Bear

This focused and elegant note-taking app will now let you create notes with the sound of your voice – just head to Settings, Siri & Search, All Shortcuts to start building your own custom commands.

Ulysses

Writing editor Ulysses lets you use Shortcuts to open sheets and groups, create new sheets, and more.

Facebook expands bug bounty program to include third-party apps and websites

Facebook announced this morning it’s expanding its bug bounty program – which pays researchers who find security vulnerabilities within its platform – to now include issues found in third-party apps and websites. Specifically, Facebook says it will reward valid reports of vulnerabilities that relate to the improper exposure of Facebook user access tokens. Typically, when […]

Facebook announced this morning it’s expanding its bug bounty program – which pays researchers who find security vulnerabilities within its platform – to now include issues found in third-party apps and websites. Specifically, Facebook says it will reward valid reports of vulnerabilities that relate to the improper exposure of Facebook user access tokens.

Typically, when a user logs into another app using their Facebook account information, they’re able to decide what information the token and, therefore, the app can access and what actions it can take.

But if the token becomes compromised, users’ personal information could be misused.

Facebook says it will pay a minimum reward of $500 per vulnerable app or website, if the report is valid. The company also noted it wasn’t aware of any other programs offering rewards of this scope for all eligible third-party apps.

If a vulnerability is determined to be legit, Facebook will then work with the affected app developer or website operator to fix their code. Any apps that don’t comply with Facebook’s request to address the issue will be suspended from the platform until the problem has been solved and undergoes a security review.

In addition, Facebook says it will revoke all the access tokens that could have been compromised in order to prevent potential misuse. If it believes anyone has actually been impacted by the problem, it will notify them, if need be.

The company spells out what sort of information researchers (the white hat hackers) should include in their reports in order to receive the reward. It also says it’s only accepting reports where the bug is discovered by passively viewing data sent to and from a device and the affected app or website – not through any more of manipulation on the researchers’ part.

The news comes at a time when Facebook is still dealing with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which compromised the personal data from as many as 87 million Facebook users. This was followed by news this summer that a quiz app had been leaking data on 120 million users for years.

Since then, the company has been tightening its API platform, reviewing all apps, suspending hundreds of apps deemed suspicious, rolling out tools to help people better manage their apps, and more.

As a part of those changes, Facebook said earlier this year that its bug bounty program would be expanded.

Separately from this new program, the company now also runs a Data Abuse Bounty program which rewards first-hand knowledge of third-parties that collect user data in order to pass it off to malicious parties.

“We would like to emphasize that our bug bounty program does not replace the obligations on app developers to maintain appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data — either regulatory obligations (for example, if the app developer is a data controller for the purposes of GDPR) or the rigorous controls we require through our terms of service and policies that apply to all developers on the Facebook platform,” wrote Dan Gurfinkel, Facebook Security Engineering Manager, in an announcement.

More details on the program are here.

Pandora takes on Spotify’s Release Radar with its newest playlist, The Drop

Pandora is taking on Spotify with the launch of a new personalized playlist, The Drop, announced this morning. Similar to Spotify’s Release Radar, The Drop will also focus on new releases from artists its listeners care about. New tracks are added to the playlist on the day they’re released, the company says  – that means […]

Pandora is taking on Spotify with the launch of a new personalized playlist, The Drop, announced this morning. Similar to Spotify’s Release Radar, The Drop will also focus on new releases from artists its listeners care about. New tracks are added to the playlist on the day they’re released, the company says  – that means Fridays, as with Release Radar.

Pandora’s playlist will also be longer than Spotify’s 30-track Release Radar as it doesn’t immediately ditch older tracks when new ones arrive. The Drop will instead grow to feature 100 of the latest tracks listed in order, with the newest at the top.

The selections on your version of The Drop will be based on your prior listening behavior on Pandora, the company says. And they’ll be algorithmically programmed, not hand-curated.

As you listen, if you find something you like, you’ll be able to add it to “My Music” or share it directly with friends and family.

The launch arrives at a time when the company has been more recently focused on personalized playlists as a means of upselling free users to its paid tiers.

In May, the streaming service rolled out dozens of personalized playlists to its Premium subscribers, based on their listening behavior and Pandora’s Music Genome. These “soundtracks,” as Pandora calls them, are categorized by genre (R&B, Hip Hop, Pop, Alternative, etc.) as well as by mood or activity (Focus, Chill, Happy, Rainy Day, etc.).

Since their debut, more than 790,000 users have listened to at least one of these personalized soundtracks, Pandora told TechCrunch. In addition, users have collectively listened for nearly 1 million hours, and have played a total of 21.4 million songs from their soundtracks to date.

Energy is the top soundtrack with 2.8 million spins, followed by Hip Hop (2.5m), Country (1.8m), R&B (1.43m), Party (1.41m), Pop (1.4m) and Happy (1.2m).

Like these playlists, The Drop will also only be available to Premium subscribers or those testing Pandora on a free trial before committing to a subscription.

The Premium tier is Pandora’s answer to Spotify’s on-demand service, offering playlist creation, downloads for offline listening, unlimited skips and replays, higher-quality audio, and no ads, as well as the ability to play any song at will.

The strategy of enticing paying customers with personalization features may be working.

The streaming service in July reported its two paid tiers – Plus and Premium – had reached 6 million subscribers – a number that’s up 23% year-over-year. But its user base overall is declining slightly, as Spotify and Apple Music charge ahead. Its 71.4 million active users represented a 6% drop from its 76 million users in the year-ago period.

While I was able to test The Drop pre-launch, it’s harder to speak precisely to its quality because my child uses my Pandora account more often than I do. So my playlist was an eclectic mix of David Bowie, Blood on the Dance Floor, Interpol, Ariana Grande, Twenty One Pilots, Echo & The Bunnymen, among others. That said, it didn’t have anything on it that was way off base for at least one of us.

It was also not 100 songs at launch – just 14 – as the playlist will grow over time.

The Drop is launching today, but will roll out to Pandora’s Premium user base over the course of the next two weeks, says Pandora.

 

 

Twitch updates security for its TwitchCon event following the Jacksonville esports shooting

Twitch is today announcing changes to its security procedures for its TwitchCon event taking place in San Jose, California on Saturday, October 27th. The update follows news of the tragic shooting at an esports event in Jacksonville, Florida last month where three people died, including the shooter, and 11 were injured. Twitch said it would review […]

Twitch is today announcing changes to its security procedures for its TwitchCon event taking place in San Jose, California on Saturday, October 27th. The update follows news of the tragic shooting at an esports event in Jacksonville, Florida last month where three people died, including the shooter, and 11 were injured. Twitch said it would review its procedures as a result, and would soon have more information about what it’s doing to keep attendees safe.

Today, the company shared those plans.

According to Twitch, it’s working with San Jose’s local law enforcement, convention staff, and additional security services on the event.

The conference will include bag searches and screenings at designated entrance points, and attendees will be limited to carrying just one bag.

The bag can be no larger than 12” x 15” x 6”, the company says.

Backpacks, luggage, large bags and bulky clothing will not be allowed. In addition, backpacks acquired at the show – even those that are Twitch-branded – will not be eligible for re-entry. There will be an on-site bag check available, but the company suggests that larger bags are just left at home as space will be limited.

It says small fanny packs or clear bags will help attendees move through the security checkpoints faster.

Meanwhile, exhibitors will only be able to hand carry their products and display materials in oversized bags and rollers before 8 AM on show days – that way there won’t be a way for people to bring in large bags when the event is underway.

Press will also have to wear their press badges, and crew that needs to carry their large camera equipments will needed to be approved.

Of course, the event has a no weapons policy as well, and anyone in violation will be removed without refund.

Badges must be worn at all times, and an ID or passport needs to be on hand, as well.

At first glance, the updated procedures don’t seem remarkably different from Twitch’s earlier policies.

The company’s security plan before Jacksonville had also included bag searches, walkthrough or hand-held scanners, the use of uniformed guards, ID checks, and the wearing of badges.

The biggest on-record change appears to be the backpack ban.

However, we understand the reference to Twitch’s closer work with law enforcement services and the “additional security services” is a reference to other changes that may not have been fully detailed. (We’d guess this is likely because Twitch doesn’t want to provide too much information to anyone trying to workaround its security procedures.)

The annual TwitchCon event brings together the Twitch community to play games, watch live esports, participate in hackathons and cosplay contests, attend sessions, and hear from the company about what’s next for the live game-streaming service.

Last fall, for example, Twitch unveiled a new set of tools at TwitchCon that would allow creators to make money from their online channels.

However, the events in Jacksonville have had many of TwitchCon’s regular attendees concerned about event safety.

After all, the video game competition, taking place at the GLHF Game Bar in Jacksonville, Florida, had been live-streamed on Twitch when the shooting happened. Would a copycat try to get into Twitch’s conference?, some have wondered.

According to reports, the Florida shooter had been upset about losing two games of Madden earlier in the tournament, even refusing to shake hands with the winner after one game. Despite a history of mental illness, the shooter had been able to legally acquire his weapons. It wasn’t clear how he got them into the Jacksonville bar.

Sadly, mass shootings in the U.S. have now taken place at schools, movie theaters, churches, concerts, workplaces – even at YouTube –  and elsewhere. But they had not yet before occurred at an esports event.

The tragic event brought attention on the esports industry as a whole, which still sits somewhere outside of mainstream attention, despite Twitch having over 2 million broadcasters and 15 million viewers who tune in daily to watch.

 

Shortly after the tragedy, Twitch said it would make changes.

“Security at TwitchCon is our top priority and is something we take very seriously at all our events,” the company told TechCrunch in August. “We regularly review and iterate on our policies and approach in order to provide a safe and positive experience for staff, attendees, and exhibitors. In the wake of yesterday’s tragedy we will be re-reviewing our plans and updating them accordingly,” a spokesperson had said at the time.

The updated plans for TwitchCon are detailed on Twitch’s blog.

Image credit: Twitch

 

Mobile bank Chime picks up credit score improvement service Pinch in all-stock deal

Chime, the no-fees mobile bank valued at $500 million as of its last round, has put some of its funds to use with its first acquisition. The deal is for Pinch, a startup that was focused on helping millennials and other young adults build better credit. It was best known for a service called PinchRent, […]

Chime, the no-fees mobile bank valued at $500 million as of its last round, has put some of its funds to use with its first acquisition. The deal is for Pinch, a startup that was focused on helping millennials and other young adults build better credit. It was best known for a service called PinchRent, which allowed users to increase their credit scores over time by reporting on-time rent payments to credit bureaus.

Millennials can sometimes struggle to improve their credit, or are uneducated about what their credit scores mean, studies have shown. And like any younger demographic, they may also be afflicted with shorter credit histories, which impacts those scores, too.

Many in this age group have said that their low credit scores are holding them back, and millennials prefer debit to credit, Visa has reported.

Pinch’s focus was to provide a different way for its users to increase their scores, rather than simply using credit cards or making loan payments on time.

It did this by aggregating the information on rent payments and submitting that to the credit bureaus. (The bureaus can take rental information, but they don’t work with individual landlords. That’s where Pinch came in.)

Since its founding in 2016, more than 80% of people on its service increased their scores from 10 to 100 points.

The startup was preparing to announce a $1.8 million seed round of funding from Homebrew and Collaborative ahead of its acquisition.

Pinch had only been in beta testing prior to joining Chime, and was also planning to do a full public launch. Instead, it shut down its service by alerting users via email that its last day of business would be June 27, 2018.

At the time of the service’s closure, it was in talks with Chime. But the deal itself only closed this Tuesday, we understand.

Chime declined to share the deal terms, but noted it’s an all-stock transaction and investors were happy.

The acquisition includes Pinch’s core team (5-10 people, depending on how the offers play out) plus founders Maia Bittner and Michael Ducker, who will now help the mobile bank launch credit and lending products over the next six months.

Bittner previously co-founded subscription startup Rocksbox, and worked as a Sequoia Capital scout. Ducker, meanwhile, hailed from Microsoft and Twitter before starting Pinch.

Chime, whose user base is 90% millennials, may or may not relaunch Pinch’s rent-paying service, but it will be soon moving into credit.

“I think, particularly, post the 2008 crisis, there’s been just a general distrust of big banks. But also, people have seen how the amount of credit [they have] can create challenges in their life,” says Chime CEO Chris Britt, discussing the struggles its users face in terms of building their credit.

“And younger consumers are so saddled with with student loan debt that the last thing they want to do is get more debt on a credit card,” he adds, explaining why young people turn to debit cards.

He says Chime’s goal now is to helping serve this group’s needs around credit with a set of millennial-focused products.

“The reality is the typical debit card and checking account do nothing to build your credit score. So as we think about the future set of products that we want to roll out, we’re very focused on helping our members with that part of their life,” he adds.

Chime is now one of several millennial-focused mobile banks on the market, which do away with traditional banking fees as well as brick-and-mortar location. Others like Simple and Stash are also available, but Chime has raised over $110 million, making it the largest in terms of funding.

The company today also shared new numbers – it says it has over 1.7 million bank accounts on its platform, and is opening more than 150,000 accounts per month – in line with Wells Fargo. It expects to surpass 2 million bank accounts and $10 billion in total transaction volume by year-end.

Further down the road, Chime may venture into investing, but not until its user base is ready.

“So we’re very deliberate in how we think about helping our members along their financial journey. We start with the checking account, we make sure you’re paying all your bills, then we make sure you have a savings account balance – because you should have a savings account balance before you start day trading,” Britt says.

“It’s sort of irresponsible to be encouraging day trading if you don’t have the financial means…I think investment accounts and retirement accounts come first,” he notes.

Streaming service CBS All Access rolls out support for offline viewing

CBS All Access, the network’s over-the-top streaming service for cord cutters, will now let subscribers save shows for offline viewing. The feature, “Download & Play,” is only available to those on CBS’s Commercial Free plan, not those on the cheaper, ad-supported tier. It also supports a range of programming, including CBS All Access Originals, reality […]

CBS All Access, the network’s over-the-top streaming service for cord cutters, will now let subscribers save shows for offline viewing. The feature, “Download & Play,” is only available to those on CBS’s Commercial Free plan, not those on the cheaper, ad-supported tier. It also supports a range of programming, including CBS All Access Originals, reality shows, primetime dramas, news magazines, and other classics from the CBS library.

At launch, the lineup of supported shows includes originals like Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Fight, One Dollar, Strange Angel, and No Activity, plus Big Brother, Survivor, Blue Bloods, Bull, Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver, NCIS: New Orleans, 60 Minutes, and 48 Hours. All classics will also be available for offline access, meaning you can download old Star Trek episodes, Cheers, Twin Peaks and many others.

Content from local stations, local news and sports will not be available for offline viewing.

There are a few caveats in using the download feature. The content is only available offline for 30 days after the download, or 48 hours from the time of playback. If it expires, you’ll then have to download it again.

Downloads are also only available in the U.S. for the time being, CBS says.

However, users are able to download up to 25 videos at once, and can watch videos on up to 5 different devices.

The feature is going live on both iOS and Android, on version 6.0 of the CBS All Access app and higher.

The company considers this a “premium” option, which is why it’s only making it available to Commercial Free subscribers, it says.

In reality, though, CBS may need more time to make ad attribution work on offline content – something that’s still fairly new.

Hulu, for example, only recently announced it would allow offline viewing, including the download of commercials for those on its ad-supported plan. It then became the first in the industry to support downloads with ads, it said during its Upfronts presentation in May.

CBS may choose to invest in similar technology in the future, but for now, it’s easier to just roll out offline support to those who pay more to skip the commercials.

Other major streamers have allowed for downloads for years, it’s worth noting. Netflix added support on mobile back in 2016, following Amazon Prime Video’s launch of offline support the year prior.

The addition of offline support for CBS All Access means you’ll be able to watch shows when you’re out of reach of a network or good signal – like when traveling, commuting, or on a plane, for example. (Maybe I’ll finally finish this new, not so great Star Trek). Or you can use the option to save money on your data plan.

But the feature will matter even more as CBS expands its originals catalog, which will include new shows like a reboot of The Twilight Zone from Get Out director, Jordan Peele; Scream writer and producer Kevin Williamson’s twisted fairytale series Tell Me a Story; and a new Star Trek series led by Patrick Stewart, among others.

Netflix’s newest program certifies post-production tools for Netflix Originals

Netflix on Thursday announced a new program aimed at helping Netflix Originals artists and producers select the right tools for delivering their content to its streaming service. With the launch of the Netflix Post Technology Alliance, as the program is called, Netflix will now identify products from vendors that meet technical and delivery specifications today, and […]

Netflix on Thursday announced a new program aimed at helping Netflix Originals artists and producers select the right tools for delivering their content to its streaming service. With the launch of the Netflix Post Technology Alliance, as the program is called, Netflix will now identify products from vendors that meet technical and delivery specifications today, and will continue to support any specifications that Netflix rolls out in the future.

The program’s focus is on certifying vendors’ products across categories, including cameras, creative editorial, color grading, and IMF packaging.

Some vendors whose products have already received certification include  Adobe, Arri, Avid, Blackmagic Design, Canon, Colorfront, Fraunhofer IIS, Filmlight, Marquise Technologies, MTI Film, Ownzones, Panasonic, Red Digital Cinema, Rohde & Schwarz, and Sony.

These products will be allowed to sport the Netflix Post Technology Alliance logo, to alert artists of their certification status.

“Manufacturers of products bearing this logo are closely partnered with Netflix,” the company explained via  a post on its tech blog. “They have early access to the Netflix technical roadmap and collaborate with Netflix on technical support, training, and updates. As Netflix technical requirements evolve, you can be assured products bearing this logo will evolve in step with us.”

The program doesn’t extend to every type of tool used in production, however. For example, it won’t include lenses.

But many other of the other tools that are used will join the program in time, as new products submit themselves for inclusion.

Netflix explains its goal here is not to dictate to artists what tools have to be used – they should use whatever best makes sense for their efforts, it says. Instead, it’s about being able to quickly identify those tools that have been vetted for delivery to Netflix, as well as being able to identify companies who plan to continue to work with the streamer’s evolving tech on an ongoing basis.

Flagging products like this could help smaller producers just getting started, and that, in turn, could help feed more content into the streaming service over time, as their works won’t get rejected for quality issues.

The program joins others Netflix already runs, including a Post Partner Program, which collaborates with post-production partners worldwide, and the Prefered Fulfillment Partner program, which represents a global network of media fulfillment companies.

 

YouTube Kids adds a whitelisting parental control feature, plus a new experience for tweens

YouTube Kids’ latest update is giving parents more control over what their kids watch. Following a change earlier this year that allowed parents to limit viewing options to human-reviewed channels, YouTube today is adding another feature that will give parents the ability to explicitly whitelist every channel or video they want to be available to […]

YouTube Kids’ latest update is giving parents more control over what their kids watch. Following a change earlier this year that allowed parents to limit viewing options to human-reviewed channels, YouTube today is adding another feature that will give parents the ability to explicitly whitelist every channel or video they want to be available to their children through the app.

Additionally, YouTube Kids is launching an updated experience to serve the needs of a slightly older demographic: tween viewers ages 8 through 12. This mode adds new content, like popular music and gaming videos.

The company had promised in April these changes were in the works, but didn’t note when they’d be going live.

With the manual whitelisting feature, parents can visit the app’s Settings, go to their child’s profile, and toggle on an “Approved Content Only” option. They can then handpick the videos they want their kids to have access to watch through the YouTube Kids app.

Parents can opt to add any video, channel, or collection of channels they like by tapping the “+” button, or they can search for a specific creator or video through this interface.

Once this mode is enabled, kids will no longer be able to search for content on their own.

While this is a lot of manual labor on parents’ part, it does serve the needs of those with very young children who aren’t comfortable with YouTube Kids’ newer “human-reviewed channels” filtering option, as mistakes could still slip through.

A “human-reviewed” channel means that a YouTube moderator has watched several videos on the channel, to determine if the content is generally appropriate and kid-friendly, but it doesn’t mean every single video that is later added to the channel will be human-reviewed.

Instead, future uploads to the channel will only go through YouTube’s algorithmic layers of security, the company has said.

YouTube Kids expands to tweens

The other new feature now arriving will update YouTube Kids for an older audience who’s beginning to outgrow the preschool-ish look-and-feel of the app, and the way it sometimes pushes content that’s “for babies,” as my 8-year old would put it.

Instead, parents will be able to turn on the “Older” content level setting that opens up YouTube Kids to include less restricted content for kids ages 8 to 12.

According to the company, this includes music and gaming videos – which is basically something like 90% of kids’ YouTube watching at this age. (Not an official stat. Just what it feels like over here.)

The “Younger” option will continue to feature things like sing-alongs and other age-appropriate educational videos, but YouTube Kids’ “Older” mode will let kids watch different kinds of videos, like music videos, gaming video, shows, nature and wildlife videos, and more.

YouTube stresses to parents that its ability to filter content isn’t perfect – inappropriate content could still slip through. It needs parents to participate by blocking and flagging videos, as that comes up.

It’s best if kids continue to watch YouTube while in parents’ presence, of course, and without headphones, or on the big screen in the living room where you can moderate kids’ viewing yourself.

But there are times when you need to use YouTube as the babysitter or a distraction so you can get things done. The new whitelisting option could help parents feel more comfortable letting their kids loose on the app.

Meanwhile, older kids will appreciate the expanded freedom. (And you won’t be constantly begged for your own phone where “regular YouTube” is installed, as a result.)

YouTube says the parental controls are rolling today globally on Android and coming soon to iOS. The “Older” option is rolling out now in the U.S. and will expand globally in the future.

Correction: An earlier version of this post referenced the lack of a blacklisting feature. This was incorrect – blacklisting by channel or video is possible. This section was removed shortly after publishing. Apologies for the error. 

YouTube Kids adds a whitelisting parental control feature, plus a new experience for tweens

YouTube Kids’ latest update is giving parents more control over what their kids watch. Following a change earlier this year that allowed parents to limit viewing options to human-reviewed channels, YouTube today is adding another feature that will give parents the ability to explicitly whitelist every channel or video they want to be available to […]

YouTube Kids’ latest update is giving parents more control over what their kids watch. Following a change earlier this year that allowed parents to limit viewing options to human-reviewed channels, YouTube today is adding another feature that will give parents the ability to explicitly whitelist every channel or video they want to be available to their children through the app.

Additionally, YouTube Kids is launching an updated experience to serve the needs of a slightly older demographic: tween viewers ages 8 through 12. This mode adds new content, like popular music and gaming videos.

The company had promised in April these changes were in the works, but didn’t note when they’d be going live.

With the manual whitelisting feature, parents can visit the app’s Settings, go to their child’s profile, and toggle on an “Approved Content Only” option. They can then handpick the videos they want their kids to have access to watch through the YouTube Kids app.

Parents can opt to add any video, channel, or collection of channels they like by tapping the “+” button, or they can search for a specific creator or video through this interface.

Once this mode is enabled, kids will no longer be able to search for content on their own.

While this is a lot of manual labor on parents’ part, it does serve the needs of those with very young children who aren’t comfortable with YouTube Kids’ newer “human-reviewed channels” filtering option, as mistakes could still slip through.

A “human-reviewed” channel means that a YouTube moderator has watched several videos on the channel, to determine if the content is generally appropriate and kid-friendly, but it doesn’t mean every single video that is later added to the channel will be human-reviewed.

Instead, future uploads to the channel will only go through YouTube’s algorithmic layers of security, the company has said.

YouTube Kids expands to tweens

The other new feature now arriving will update YouTube Kids for an older audience who’s beginning to outgrow the preschool-ish look-and-feel of the app, and the way it sometimes pushes content that’s “for babies,” as my 8-year old would put it.

Instead, parents will be able to turn on the “Older” content level setting that opens up YouTube Kids to include less restricted content for kids ages 8 to 12.

According to the company, this includes music and gaming videos – which is basically something like 90% of kids’ YouTube watching at this age. (Not an official stat. Just what it feels like over here.)

The “Younger” option will continue to feature things like sing-alongs and other age-appropriate educational videos, but YouTube Kids’ “Older” mode will let kids watch different kinds of videos, like music videos, gaming video, shows, nature and wildlife videos, and more.

YouTube stresses to parents that its ability to filter content isn’t perfect – inappropriate content could still slip through. It needs parents to participate by blocking and flagging videos, as that comes up.

It’s best if kids continue to watch YouTube while in parents’ presence, of course, and without headphones, or on the big screen in the living room where you can moderate kids’ viewing yourself.

But there are times when you need to use YouTube as the babysitter or a distraction so you can get things done. The new whitelisting option could help parents feel more comfortable letting their kids loose on the app.

Meanwhile, older kids will appreciate the expanded freedom. (And you won’t be constantly begged for your own phone where “regular YouTube” is installed, as a result.)

YouTube says the parental controls are rolling today globally on Android and coming soon to iOS. The “Older” option is rolling out now in the U.S. and will expand globally in the future.

Correction: An earlier version of this post referenced the lack of a blacklisting feature. This was incorrect – blacklisting by channel or video is possible. This section was removed shortly after publishing. Apologies for the error.