Bytes: What’s new in tech

Yahoo’s mail failure; Instagram introduces messaging; Apple TV adds new networks

Yahoo’s mail failure

It’s been a bad few weeks for Yahoo, said Violet Blue in “Despite promising to restore Yahoo Mail service to its customers,” the company was unable for several days last week to end a stubborn outage, in an embarrassing culmination of delivery failures that go back to at least Nov. 25. The service problems, which were “not openly acknowledged by Yahoo” until last week, have affected at least 1 million users, who faced both undelivered emails and problems logging in to their inboxes. The company initially tried to downplay the problem, locking down threads on the site’s support and feedback pages that mentioned or complained about Yahoo Mail’s recent service problems. But by week’s end its tack changed. “This has been a very frustrating week for our users,” CEO Marissa Mayer said, “and we are very sorry.”

Instagram introduces messaging

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Instagram is rolling out a new feature that lets users chat with their photo-sharing friends, said Jordan Crook in Company founder Kevin Systrom announced Instagram Direct, a direct-messaging feature that will let users “send each other private chat-like messages.” But there’s a hitch: “Instagrammers cannot send text-only messages to each other, but must send pictures to start the chat function.” The new function also allows group chats, but limits the group size to 15 people. Even with those limitations, Direct “adds a new layer of engagement to the app,” which previously allowed users to interact with each other only on public portions of the site.

Apple TV adds new networks

Don’t get caught without something to watch, said Chris Welch in Apple rolled out its latest update for Apple TV last week, and while the device’s “lineup doesn’t quite match Roku’s just yet,” its programming options are expanding. Apple has added new apps for Watch ABC, which allows cable subscribers to stream live programming from the broadcast network across multiple devices, as well as apps for Bloomberg, Korean-language channel KORTV, and Sony’s streaming service Crackle, which “offers a catalog of movies, TV shows, and original programming that can be viewed for free.” The new additions are the latest in a wave of content that has been introduced to Apple TV recently, including HBO Go, WatchESPN, PBS, and Vevo.

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