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Billions of photos equals billions of dollars as Snapchat files for IPO

They’re gonna need bigger Spectacles to see all that cash

Snap Inc., maker of the super-popular Snapchat app and those super-hip Spectacle video sunglasses, has filed to take the company public in an IPO that is estimated at $25 to $30 billion. If things go as planned, the New York Times says that would make Snap Inc.’s IPO the third most valuable tech company IPO in history, right behind Alibaba and, of course, Facebook.

Not bad for a tech venture that started – and still works out of – a seaside bungalow in Venice Beach. So, when can you snap up some shares of Snapchat? Looks like March of next year, although no specific date has been announced.

Conspiracy theory overload in 3…2…

Smartphone tech has progressed to the point now that even the cheapest $100-ish Made-In-China off-brand Android smartphone is a pretty capable phone. But, there’s a problem.

The New York times is reporting that security contractor Kryptowire has discovered a software backdoor in many of the low-cost Android-OS phones that sends a data package back to China every 72 hours. The information includes a user’s location, contact lists, who they talked to, and what they wrote in text messages. Yeah, not good. The software is also apparently on many disposable and prepaid phones, also known as burner phones.

The Times says that the Chinese company that wrote the software totally admits they did it, but they also said that it was never supposed to show up in phones… outside of China. Also, the company said that the code is present in some 700 million phones, cars and “smart” devices. American vendor BLU Products, which sells a number of low-cost Android phones, says they had to scrub the code out of over 120,000 units they imported before reselling them.

Where is the data going? So far, it’s only been traced to a “Chinese server” and there’s no master list of phones that are affected. Who runs or has access to that server is still a mystery, and so far, there’s no easy way to tell if your Android phone is affected. We will update this story as soon as a method to test your phone becomes available.

The view from above

The holidays came early for drone pilots yesterday with DJI announcing two new models, the Inspire 2 and the Phantom 4 Pro. The Phantom 4 Pro retains the iconic DJI quadcopter form factor but ups the tech considerably, including a new 20-megapixel camera with a 1-inch sensor, and much improved avoidance tech that has a much longer range, wider coverage and can even prevent things like an unintended water landing. It’ll cost $1,500.

But the big news is the Inspire 2, DJI’s dedicated flying cinema platform. This bad boy sports dual-battery redundancy, a top speed of nearly 70 miles an hour, and 5.2K video capture with Adobe Cinema features from its Zenmuse camera platform, which accepts numerous pro lenses. Oh, and there’s a separate second FPV camera just for the pilot, making flying-while-filming easier to control – especially when it’s out near it’s 4.3 mile range limit.

The Inspire 2 also features avoidance tech on the bottom and top of the bird, so flying indoors will be a bit less… crashy. The new Inspire 2 starts at a fairly reasonable $3,000, and options up from there. We’re hoping to get both in for a review soon, so in the meantime, start storyboarding your epic aerial feature for that local film festival.