China’s WeChat plans to resurrect tipping button after agreement with Apple

WeChat, with nearly 1 billion users, is the most popular app in China that integrates messaging, payment, gaming, content publishing. (Reuters)
Updated 15 January 2018

China’s WeChat plans to resurrect tipping button after agreement with Apple

HONG KONG: China’s largest social media platform WeChat plans to resurrect its “tipping” feature used to send cash to content creators, after removing it from Apple Inc’s iOS devices last year over an app-store rules dispute with the US firm.
Tencent Holdings’ WeChat has reached an understanding with Apple regarding this “feature with Chinese characteristics,” Allen Zhang, the creator and president of WeChat, said at the annual WeChat developers conference in Guangzhou on Monday.
The new tipping button would be tweaked so that payments go to individual authors, instead of the WeChat public account holders, Zhang added, without giving any further details on when exactly the feature would be reintroduced on iOS.
Apple did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment. In September, the US firm had modified its app store rule to exempt personal cash gifts from being counted as in-app purchases, of which Apple takes a 30 percent cut.
WeChat, with nearly 1 billion users, is the most popular app in China that integrates messaging, payment, gaming, content publishing, as well as “mini programs” that look and operate much like apps on iOS and Google’s Android operating systems — but are far less data-intensive.
The launch of “mini-programs” last January was seen by many as a threat to Apple’s and Google’s duopoly over the app-store ecosystem, but Tencent has repeatedly said it was not seeking to compete against Apple or to kill apps.
There are now some 580,000 mini-programs on WeChat with 170 million daily active users, Gerald Hu, a WeChat manager told the conference. More than 1 million developers and 2,300 third-party platforms are currently working on WeChat mini-programs.
According to Zhang, the current adoption of mini-programs is fully in line with expectations. “We have plenty of patience for mini-programs,” Zhang said.
On Monday, WeChat also announced a partnership with French video game developer Ubisoft, whose mobile game publisher Ketchapp will start launching WeChat-based games.
WeChat-based games have already accumulated 310 million users.


NASA finds Indian moon lander with help of amateur space enthusiast

Updated 03 December 2019

NASA finds Indian moon lander with help of amateur space enthusiast

  • NASA released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that showed the site of the spacecraft’s impact
  • A version of the picture was marked up to show the associated debris field

WASHINGTON: India’s Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on its final approach to the Moon’s surface in September, has been found thanks in part to the sleuthing efforts of an amateur space enthusiast.
NASA made the announcement on Monday, releasing an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that showed the site of the spacecraft’s impact (September 7 in India and September 6 in the US).
A version of the picture was marked up to show the associated debris field, with parts scattered over almost two dozen locations spanning several kilometers.
In a statement, NASA said it released a mosaic image of the site on September 26 (but taken on September 17), inviting the public to compare it with images of the same area before the crash to find signs of the lander.
The first person to come up with a positive identification was Shanmuga “Shan” Subramanian, a 33-year-old IT professional from Chennai, who said that NASA’s inability to find the lander on its own had sparked his interest.
“I had side-by-side comparison of those two images on two of my laptops ... on one side there was the old image, and another side there was the new image released by NASA,” he said, adding he was helped by fellow Twitter and Reddit users.
“It was quite hard, but (I) spent some effort,” said the self-professed space nerd, finally announcing his discovery on Twitter on October 3.
NASA then performed additional searches in the area and officially announced the finding almost two months later.
“NASA has to be 100% sure before they can go public, and that’s the reason they waited to confirm it, and even I would have done the same,” said Subramanian.
Blasting off in July, emerging Asian giant India had hoped with its Chandrayaan-2 (“Moon Vehicle 2“) mission to become just the fourth country after the United States, Russia and regional rival China to make a successful Moon landing, and the first on the lunar south pole.
The main spacecraft, which remains in orbit around the Moon, dropped the unmanned lander Vikram for a descent that would take five days, but the probe went silent just 2.1 kilometers above the surface.
Days after the failed landing, the Indian Space Research Organization said it had located the lander, but hadn’t been able to establish communication.