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In this week’s What’s Appening, we delve into Meta’s plans for paid verification on Instagram and Facebook. Yes, it feels a lot like Mark Zuckerberg is copying Elon Musk’s notes, but we explain how it’s part of a wider shift in the monetization tactics of social media platforms. In other news, we look at a big update coming with iOS 16.4, where Apple will let websites bypass the App Store for push notifications. We will also cover how AI will shape some of the world’s most popular gaming platforms. Our Stat of the Week looks at the huge fees being paid for free Starbucks NFTs. And What’s dAppening says a hearty welcome back to Napster, which hopes to make a big splash in web3 music.

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Takes 🎬️

📱 💵 Meta – Parallels with Twitter Blue in Verified Subscriber Plans

On Sunday, Meta released a blog post describing its testing for Meta Verified, a new subscription bundle for Instagram and Facebook that has many similarities with what’s going on at Twitter: Blue checkmarks for paid subscribers, increased visibility in posting, increased support, and so on. Rolling out first in Australia and New Zealand, it is expected to cost $11.99 in the US for web users ($14.99 on iOS/Android apps) when it goes live here. However, while people – us included – have been having fun pointing to Mark Zuckerberg copying Elon Musk, it’s worth noting that it’s not some eureka moment that Musk alone had, even if his ‘fans’ are scrambling to give him credit for it. This has been mooted for a long time, becoming particularly relevant when Apple launched app tracking transparency with IOS 14.5 in 2021. In short, social media platforms had to look at new ways of monetization as those juicy ad revenues became less dependable. So anyone claiming that Meta made this decision only because Twitter did something similar is likely to be wide off the mark. Indeed, there are some differences between the revamped Twitter Blue and Meta Verified, including the fact that Meta vows to honor verified ‘legacy’ accounts. Meta has talked about increased security, too, but it remains to be seen whether they will follow Musk’s route of turning off 2FA security via SMs for non-paying users. Finally, it is not a given that this will turn out to be successful for Meta, or Twitter for that matter. Both companies will be playing the long game with subscriber revenue, but they are also gambling on a two-tier service. Social media exploded due to its equitability, where your voice could be heard just as much as anyone else’s. Take that away, and users could flee in their millions; billions in Meta’s case. #MetaPayUp Read more here.

 🚨🍏 Apple – iOS 16.4 Will Include Support for Web Push Notifications 🎉🎉

This little nugget of information might have largely passed by the tech media, but it’s a HUGE deal to devs like us. Apple’s iOS 16.4, which is due to arrive sometime in the spring, will include support for web push notifications. In essence, that means websites not installed as apps on your iPhone/iPad and those not listed on the App Store will be able to send push notifications, providing the user has given permission and the website is added to the home screen. The push notifications should work the same way as those from installed apps, appearing on a locked screen, notification center, or paired Apple Watch. As our product manager Kayne pointed out, the ability to use push notifications is often the raison d’être for many apps existing in the first place, otherwise they’d be perfectly fine as a mobile-optimized PWA (progressive web app). It means that businesses that don’t have apps would be able to share updates and prompts with customers through 3rd party push notification services, connecting to their users without having to list on the App Store – or pay those infamous App Store fees. #ApplePush Read more here.

🎮 🤖 AI – Roblox and Minecraft Point to Generative AI-Gaming Future

Roblox, the game played by over half of America’s children, is jumping on the AI bandwagon. If you aren’t familiar with the Roblox format, it allows users to create games and virtual settings through (fairly basic) programming. But building virtual worlds and experiences is set to get a lot easier with AI, with Roblox adding two generative AI tools that will allow the creation of virtual materials using text prompts. The AI tools should be added to Roblox’s developer kits in about two weeks. In a similar fashion, Microsoft (quelle surprise) is also experimenting with AI in its kid-friendly building game, Minecraft. While it remains to be seen whether there will be a public release, an in-house demo shows how AI can be used to build all those Minecrafty things – castles, forts, islands – by simply describing to the AI what you want to be built. It looks cool, and we are certain AI will have a huge influence on both these platforms as well as the wider gaming industry, but it does feel a teeny-weeny bit like cheating. #AIGaming Read more here.

🧐 Stat of the Week: $2,000

☕ ⤴️ Starbucks – Some Odyssey NFTs Already Have a $2000 Floor Price

Starbucks’ Odyssey Reward Program isn’t even released generally to the public yet, but that hasn’t stopped its NFT stamps – only available in the closed beta version – selling for a song on Nifty Gateway, a secondary NFT marketplace. These are free NFTs, remember, but some, like the Holiday Cheer Edition 1 Stamp, have reached a floor price of $2,000. This was Starbucks’ first-ever NFT, so traders are banking on its value rising like a frothy latte over time. #StarbucksNFTs Read more here.

🕸️ What’s dAppening?

A dApp is a decentralized app. Here’s the latest in web3, NFTs and blockchain apps.

📻 🕸️Napster – The “Original Music Disruptor” Is Back with Web3 Plans

Napster – hey, 90s kids remember Napster! – never went away, you know. It bounced about in various forms, including the (legal, but unsuccessful) Napster streaming service. However, after the brand changed hands several times over the years, it’s now very serious about becoming the biggest name in web3 music. To help reach those goals, it has acquired Mint Music, an NFT marketplace designed to let artists build web3 communities. Napster paid “eight figures” (the exact sum is undisclosed) for Mint Music, so it has some serious backers behind it. That seriousness also comes in the form of new CEO Jon Vlassopulos, a former Roblox executive who wants to deliver metaverse-like experiences for Napster users. Much of what Napster has planned remains shrouded in secrecy, but Vlassopulos has claimed this is just the beginning of a multibillion-dollar market for web3 music. We are keen to see what the self-styled “original music disruptor” comes up with in the web3 space. #NapstersBack Read more here.

Meanwhile at 3Advance…

This week, we’re celebrating a big birthday here at 3Advance…


Mark Evans, our director of Engineering has played an instrumental role in 3Advance’s success and growth. Since joining the team in late 2013 (yes, that’s over NINE years ago!) he has managed and mentored many developers, successfully ran and launched countless apps, and he has been an incredible leader for the team.

Mark’s expertise, guidance, and support have been invaluable, and we couldn’t have gotten this far without him. Mark has set the bar high for excellence and his dedication to his craft is truly inspiring.

Mark, we hope that your special day is filled with happiness, dancing hot dogs, and unlimited Mountain Dews surrounded by your loved ones. Happy birthday Mark, and thank you for everything you do!

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