This App Sends You Super-Short Stories as Push Notifications

iStock
iStock

Some apps are notorious for sending useless and unwanted push notifications. A new type of message sent by Serial Box works differently—instead of encouraging you to open the app, it shows you a flash fiction story you can read without ever unlocking your phone, The Verge reports.

Serial box, a startup publisher that bills itself as "HBO for reading," has been bringing serialized stories to readers since 2015. Now, starting July 9, the company will begin experimenting with a whole new way to deliver manageable prose in a convenient package.

On "Microfiction Mondays," users will receive a push notification containing a flash fiction story limited to 150 characters or less. Like the other stories on the app, these pieces will be written by Serial Box's team of writers. The stories won't be available anywhere else on the app or website, so the only way to read them is to download the app and enable push notifications.

Phone screens with push notifications.
Serial Box

"The perfect bite-sized story for a busy afternoon filled with meetings, we hope these will provide a moment of fictional solace for our Serial Boxers," the company wrote in a blog post.

Serial box isn't the only place experimenting with how readers consume short stories. In 2011, a French startup began installing vending machines that dispense receipt-sized short fiction pieces in public spaces.

[h/t The Verge]

Twitter Bug Accidentally Alerted Users When Someone Unfollowed Them

iStock/bigtunaonline
iStock/bigtunaonline

Social media networks may notify you every time your former high school classmate has a birthday, but there's one piece of information most sites choose not to share with users. When someone unfriends or unfollows you, platforms like Facebook and Instagram will save you the pain of knowing about it. This is normally the standard on Twitter, but thanks to a new bug, some Twitter users have received notifications when people unfollowed them, Vice reports.

For several days in June, many Twitter users reported receiving push notifications on their phones every time one their followers removed them from their feed. The notifications didn't clearly reference the awkward situation: The bug told users that someone had “followed them back” when they had actually hit the unfollow button. People eventually caught on to what was really happening.

The bug apparently didn't affect all users, so if you unfollowed someone on Twitter in the past week or so, there's a chance they didn't notice. Though if they really wanted to know, there are third-party apps that show Twitter users who unfollowed them.

According to Fast Company, Twitter has resolved the issue and users no longer risk getting their feelings hurt every time they check their notifications. So feel free to continuing curating the list of people you follow in privacy.

[h/t Vice]

This Amazingly Simple Google Docs Hack Is a Game-Changer

iStock/ardaguldogan
iStock/ardaguldogan

The seconds it takes to manually open a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide on your computer are short compared to the time you spend working in them. But if you're already feeling stressed or tempted to procrastinate, the process of going to Google Drive, selecting New, and opening a blank document can be annoying enough to disrupt your workflow. For people looking to maximize as much of their time as possible, Google introduced a hack late last year that creates a new Doc, Sheet, or Slide in seconds.

According to TechCrunch, you can launch a blank Google Doc in less time than it takes to type out a full web address. If you're already signed into your Google account, simply go to your web browser, type in doc.new (no www. required) and hit Enter to go to your fresh, new document. For Google Slides, do the same for slide.new, and for Sheets, use sheet.new. It doesn't matter if you pluralize the name of the app: Typing doc.new or docs.new will bring you to the same place.

Google owns the .new web domain, which allowed it to create these convenient hacks for its users. If you're a frequent user of Google's applications, you can bookmark the addresses so they pop up in your browser suggestions with just a couple keystrokes.

The new document shortcut is pretty straightforward, but there are several more Google Docs features that make life more convenient for users in unexpected ways, including features for automatically transcribing audio and outlining documents.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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