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No sympathy for cancelled app encouraging ‘rebellious’ pandemic parties

(TECH NEWS) Apple and TikTok cancel Vybe Together’s accounts to prevent the secret party organizing app from promoting pandemic parties, while its founder cries foul and backpedals mightily.

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Group of people celebrating and cheers-ing with beverages, an example of unsafe pandemic parties.

Where can you find a fun secret party during COVID-19 restrictions?

Vybe Together: We’ve got you, party people! Check out these videos of wild, private bacchanalia you can join or throw! Be a rebel.

Apple and TikTok: Not on our watch.

Vybe Together: Waaah. So unfair, jk, we were talking about small, intimate get-togethers that are totally COVID-safe.

Vybe Together, an app promising to help people find secret parties in their area, in the era when parties are a bad idea, had the proverbial rug pulled out from under them when both Apple and TikTok put the kibosh on Vybe Together. Apple pulled the app off of its platform, and TikTok banned their channel. They cited that it goes against their community guidelines and COVID-19 regulations in several cities. Founder Alexander Dimcevski and the official Vybe Together Instagram account and website are currently backpedaling to beat the ban.

Taylor Lorenz of the New York Times tweeted the app into greater public awareness on Dec. 29, reporting the large secret pandemic parties they were promoting for New Year’s Eve. Alas, the tweet and likely numerous reports of the party app going against community and recommended COVID-19 guidelines, led Apple and TikTok to ditch Vybe Together before New Year’s Eve.

Despite Vybe Together’s founder’s cries of poor, pitiful me, and the app’s claim to the contrary, the intention to help people find and attend large scale private/secret parties was what they seemed to be showcasing. For example, on TikTok, the account showed videos of unmasked partygoers, attracting more of what the founder deemed, in an LA Times article, “the coolest people in the city.”

The official word on the Vybe Together website is that they are sorely misunderstood and innocent of any wrongdoing. Vybe Together’s current Instagram account hints at what the LA Times called “its outlaw intention” with its tagline “Get your rebel on. Get your party on.” According to various sources, the TikTok account featured videos of unmasked partygoers. The mere fact that app users had to submit their social media profiles and photos of them partying to vet appears to indicate they were trying to make their partygoers prove they wouldn’t report the illegal (or at least ill-advised) parties.

The official website now claims that it was merely an error in branding, and nothing more, and that of course they were only promoting small gatherings in people’s own homes. However, they had already promoted a rooftop party for NYU students prior to getting hit by the big Apple and TikTok ban hammer. This particular party was cross-promoted on Eventbrite (another platform notoriously promoting pandemic parties).

Dimcevski claims in the LA Times that he was “canceled by the liberal media.” The word from the app’s team seems to be a mix of feeling sorry for themselves, backpedaling because they got caught out, yet still promising to come back soon. In any case, it’s a mixed message and an unwelcome one, when cases and deaths are still surging in both New York City and Miami, where the app was promoting these private parties.

Apple and TikTok are privately owned companies with some responsibility to keep potentially illegal activity off their sites, a massive and ungratifying task. Are Apple and TikTok making an example of the app? Perhaps. Is Vybe Together the only platform out there promoting pandemic parties with the potential to be super spreader events? Certainly not.

However, their flaunting and promoting parties seems reckless, callous, and dangerous in the face of CDC guidelines. With thousands of doctors, healthcare workers, local officials, and infectious disease experts worldwide pleading with the public to avoid gatherings with people outside their own household, even small ones, it’s difficult to muster sympathy for the app’s founder or team.

Real Estate Technology

10 UX /UI design trends leading the way for 2022 and beyond

(TECHNOLOGY) Keeping your website and mobile up to date is the first step. Check out these UX and UI design trends that will dominate the future of tech.

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An overhead look at a person working on a no-code design website on a laptop on a desk.

A new year means new trends, here are the top 10 trends in UI/UX development and how they can be implemented. With consumers interacting with the online world more in 2022 than ever before, being ahead of the curve can help content stand out. Let’s take a look at the top 10 trends in UI/UX design for 2022.

UI/User Interface

1) Vintage, 90’s

I guess it’s true what they say; everything old is new again! In the last months of 2021 the 90’s made a huge comeback across the board, from fashion to interior design and now in web design too. Some elements of this style are a mix of bright and pastel colors, shadows, line graphic elements, serif fonts, and round text elements. In the immortal words of Taylor Swift, “I come back stronger than a 90’s trend”.

Source: Plus

 

Example of Vintage trend by Plus

 

2) Scrollytelling

 

A portmanteau of the words “scrollying” and “telling”; scrollytelling is just what it sounds like! A story is told to the user as they scroll down a continuous page. Considering that a large part of what we do on our mobile devices involves scrolling (sometimes with no end in sight) this trend is a natural next step.

 

Source: Bluemarinefoundation

 

Example of Scrollytelling Trend by Blue Marine Foundation

 

3) 3D and 3D animations

 

3D design is a trend that has been steadily increasing over the years, but will peak in popularity this year! From Apple showing off their newest device concepts via 3D animation, to car websites showing off their car models, 3D animation can be invaluable to showing off every aspect of a new product. 3D animation will be the most popular in ecommerce, architecture, and business, and also make an appearance in fashion, education, and culture.

 

Source: The Originals Museum Renault

 

Example of Originals Museum Renault 3D trend

 

4) Minimalism

 

Since the days of Marie Kondo and ridding yourself of objects that “spark no joy” minimalism has been a fast-growing trend, and 2022 is no exception. Minimalism is all about free space, contrasting text, graphic elements, and space. Minimalism is simple and free of distractions and is pleasing to the user.

 

Source: Neuro

 

Example of Minimalism Trend by Neuro

 

5) Brutalism

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum to the aforementioned minimalism trend, we have brutalism. Brutalism is chaotic and attention-grabbing (and maybe a little headache-inducing). It consists of huge titles, bold fonts, and bright and neon colors splashed all over the webpage. It is about creativity and challenging regular design rules. It is sure to garner attention in 2022.

 

Source: MSG

 

Example of Brutalism Trend by the MSG Brand

 

UX/User Experience 

 

1) AR/VR

 

Unsurprisingly, the augmented and virtual reality trends will extend to UX designs. Since Meta announced the Metaverse and the VR Oculus headsets (which are also owned by Meta) coming out with new versions, and gaining popularity it only makes sense that AR and VR trends would extend to web design as well. The biggest practical application is in e-commerce. Ikea released Ikea Place, where you can place furniture in your home via VR prior to purchasing it. The AR/VR trend will steadily grow in popularity for years to come; especially as the Metaverse gains ground in the future.

 

Source: The Wall Street Journal

 

Example of VR Trend by Metaverse

 

2) Audio Only

 

Music giant, Spotify launched a live audio app, called Greenroom. Greenroom allows creators to interact with fans in real-time, by creating rooms, selecting speakers, and discussing topics. With podcasts and audiobooks at an all-time high, coupled with security concerns over messaging communication and a dash of healthy contempt for video calling, it makes sense that audio-only apps would make an appearance. It is also easy and requires no links or registration. Where tech giants like Spotify lead, other companies are sure to follow.

 

Source: Spotify

 

Example of Audio App Trend by Greenroom

 

3) Customization

 

From the customization of features inside an application such as the name, appearance, and color of chats inside social media sites like Instagram or Facebook to the customization of just about every feature of a smartphone, the last several years have been huge for environment customization. Where frequent and long-term interactions are expected, this 2022 trend is a great option.

 

Source: Instagram, Telegram

 

Example of UX Design Trend by Instagram, Telegram

 

4) Mobile-first design

 

With smartphone sales reaching 1.53 billion in 2021, and with the portability of smartphones, it is no surprise that consumers prefer interacting with websites via their mobile devices. UX developers can take advantage of this by utilizing chatbot and push notifications, keeping only the necessary elements, designing user-friendly call to action to drive sales, and most importantly, keeping it simple. This trend is a safe bet since it is guaranteed to grow exponentially in the coming years.

 

Source: Statista

 

Number of smartphones sold to end users worldwide from 2007 to 2021 representing mobile design trend

 

5) Page Speed Prioritization

 

Going hand in hand with mobile design, 2022 will see an emphasis on page speed prioritization. It may seem like a no-brainer but, in a world where rapid consumption of content is expected, fast page speeds should be a given. Websites need to be optimized so that photos and videos do not slow the page when they are loading. One way to help with page speed is to use small fonts, and only one per title and one per body text. This is especially true for startup sites looking to build an audience (which can never happen if users jump ship immediately due to slow loading times). Google’s algorithms love well-optimized pages, which rank at the top. This means the burden is on the designer to create a well-optimized page without sacrificing design. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned UI/UX pro, these trends are sure to help create.

Page speed trend

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Real Estate Technology

Tech trends: What’s emerging that is now impacting the real estate industry

(TECHNOLOGY) Tech and its effects impact all aspects of life. What are the top tech trends impacting the real estate industry now?

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home for sale representing tech trends in real esate

Several hundred Realtors® met this week to discuss emerging tech trends impacting the real estate industry. With the real estate market seemingly ready to bust, it’s important to consider how technology may affect home buyers and sellers.

Data trends to know

Jane Dzielski, Google’s Principal Analytical Lead, presented important information about home buying trends. Prior to the pandemic, about 10% of households moved each year. Over the past two years, 25% of consumers have moved. Another 24% plan to move in the next year. She also reported that internet searches for buying a second home have “surged” since the second half of 2020.  Second homes are considered a great investment to earn money renting while having access to a vacation home.

Tech trends to pay attention to

Ashley Stinton, Second Century Ventures, brought her experience in marketing to the session by discussing investment in real estate technology companies. She reported that “over $31 billion was invested in 2021.” She also said, “We’ve seen 12 new prop tech unicorns as well as over 150 merger and acquisition transactions.” SCV has a program to support new tech to bring innovations to the real estate industry.

Other speakers went on to discuss the impact of the metaverse on real estate. Meta is investing $10 billion per year over the next decade to the metaverse. As the metaverse impacts how we interact with and use the internet, it’s going to change how people buy and sell homes.

Cryptocurrency and blockchains will also impact the real estate landscape. According to one of NAR’s directors, over 11% of first-time homebuyers sold cryptocurrency as part of their down payment in 2021. This figure is trending upwards since 2019. Many experts expect it to continue to rise.

Tech has certainly made an impact on home buying and selling since the pandemic. Home appraisals are being conducted without needing to physically visit the home by desktop appraisals. Closings are being conducted virtually. Expect tech to innovate to give home sellers and buyers more options in the future years.

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Real Estate Technology

How to avoid hackers and being sued by customers for being hacked

(TECHNOLOGY) Real estate transactions are being targeted by cybercriminals. One company just got sued by customers for being hacked. Are you safeguarding your company and clients?

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Lock and card on laptop representing being hacked.

Can you imagine your company being hacked, and your customers’ information being used by these criminals, and then you are held liable? It got us to thinking – if hackers are targeting real estate transactions, can brokers or teams be vulnerable here?

To get the answer, we chatted with Katie Johnson, General Counsel at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and if you’re a real estate professional, you should keep reading to learn how to minimize your risk.

Something NAR’s been thinking about

NAR has a tremendous number of resources on this topic, and they’ve clearly been pondering how to safeguard the industry for quite some time.

In her own words, Johnson offers three ways that you can safeguard yourself and your customers from being hacked:

1. Create, maintain, and follow a comprehensive Data Security Program. Many states require businesses to maintain written data security policies regarding the collection, use, distribution, and destruction of consumers’ personally identifiable information. Going through the process of creating such a policy will help members understand what type of personally identifiable information they receive from clients, how it is received (e.g., email, hard copies, text, transaction management tools), and whether it is necessary.

The policy should also address how to properly dispose of such information. NAR has published a Data Security Toolkit to assist members with creating that policy. We also offer a 4 hour course for members.

2. Implement good email practices. We are increasingly hearing about data breaches resulting from a hacked email account. Therefore, it’s important for all email users to change passwords on a regular basis and to use complex passwords that would be difficult to guess.

Also, avoid sending sensitive financial information via email whenever possible. If necessary, then use encrypted email. Use up-to-date firewall and anti-virus technologies. Avoid using free Wifi to send emails or conduct business. Clean out your email account on a regular basis and avoid opening suspicious email or attachments.

3. Be paranoid. This is advice that my colleague, Jessica Edgerton gives, and it’s very true. If an email, phone call, or social media posting looks suspicious, it probably is best to avoid engaging. If a member thinks a breach has occurred, then all affected or potentially affected parties, as well as proper law enforcement, should be notified as soon as possible.

Moving forward, better informed

Further, Johnson notes that they are not aware of any legal liability imposed on NAR members to-date, but she notes that “the possibility is always there as cyberfraud in real estate transactions persists.”

“In addition to legal liability,” Johnson adds, “data breaches can have other harmful effects on a member’s business such as time and resources spent implementing new security measures, training, and having to contact clients that may be affected by the breach.”

Can you honestly say you’re already doing all of these things? If not, spend some time this month to protect yourself, your team, and most importantly, your customers.

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