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Amazon Alexa can now play podcasts from Apple, making Amazon’s line of Echo devices the first third-party clients to support the Apple Podcasts service without using AirPlay. Before, this level of support was limited to Apple’s HomePod. According to Amazon, the addition brings to Alexa devices Apple’s library of more than 800,000 podcasts. It also allows customers to set Apple Podcasts as their preferred podcast service. The move is the latest in a series of partnerships between the two rivals, which also included the launch of the Apple TV app on Amazon’s Fire TV platform, as well as the launch of Apple Music on Echo devices and Fire TV. Amazon, in response, has expanded its assortment of Apple inventory to include Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and more. To get started, Apple users who want to stream from Apple Podcasts will first need to link their Apple ID in the Alexa app. Customers can then ask Alexa to play or resume the podcasts they want to hear. Other player commands, like “next” or “fast forward,” work, too. And as you move between devices, your progress within each episode will also sync, which means you can start listening on Alexa, then pick up where you left off on your iPhone. In the Alexa app’s Settings, users will also be able to specify Apple Podcasts as their default player, which means any time they ask Alexa for a podcast without indicating a source, it will stream from the Apple Podcasts service. Not to be outdone, Spotify also today announced its support for streaming podcasts on Alexa in the U.S. Of course, Spotify Premium users...

The payments group Visa is paying $200m for a 20% stake in Interswitch ahead of a potential London IPO next year Visa and Interswitch are in advanced talks about a transaction that could be announced as soon as this week. Sponsored link Sources said on Sunday that the US-based multinational would invest $200m in Interswitch in return for a 20% stake. The deal will see Visa becoming a cornerstone investor in the Nigerian-headquartered company ahead of a prospective initial public offering in London during the first half of 2020. Interswitch is one of the largest Africa-focused electronic payments and infrastructure companies, with point-of-sale terminals, online consumer payment platforms and its own card, Verve. The latter is the biggest domestic debit card scheme in Africa, with more than 19 million cards active on its network. An investment by Visa will facilitate the formation of a strategic partnership to target the fast-growing African digital payment market. ...

Google is reportedly interested in purchasing US-based social video app Firework that lets users share short videos like Chinese player TikTok. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo had also shown interest in acquiring Firework but "talks with Google are further along". Based in Redwood City, California, Firework that entered India last month was valued at more than $100 million in a fundraising round earlier this year. TikTok's parent, Beijing-based ByteDance, is valued at around $75 billion. Firework is part of a suite of apps created by Loop Now Technologies, a startup that focuses on next-generation consumer mobile applications. Similar to TikTok that allows users to post 15-second short videos, Firework allows users to create 30-second videos and with "Reveal", its patent-pending technology, will allow creators to take both horizontal and vertical video in one shot from their mobile device. The app is currently available on both Android and iOS smartphones with over a million registered users. Firework has appointed Sunil Nair as CEO and MD for its India operations. My vision for Firework in India is to become more relevant and give our users every opportunity to stay meaningful and seamlessly experience a new view from their lens," Nair said in a statement. In November last year, Facebook also quietly released a standalone app called Lasso to compete with TikTok. On Lasso, which is currently available in the US, users can record themselves dancing and lip-syncing to music, similar to what they can do on TikTok. In addition, Facebook recently roped in former Google employee Jason Toff for a key portfolio...

Popular online reference website Wikipedia went down in several countries after the website was targeted by what it described as a "malicious attack". The server of the Wikimedia Foundation which hosts the site suffered a "massive" Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, the organization's German account said in a tweet late Friday. In a separate statement, the Wikimedia Foundation said that the attack on the Wikipedia online encyclopedia -- one of the world's most popular websites -- was "ongoing" and teams were working to restore access. DDoS attacks often involve legions of zombie computers -- machines infected with viruses and commanded to simultaneously visit a website. Such a massive onslaught of demand can overwhelm website computer servers, slowing service or knocking them offline. Wikimedia condemned the breach of its server, saying it threatened "everyone's fundamental rights to freely access and share information." Similar cyber-attacks have hammered other popular internet domains including Twitter, Facebook, and Google in recent years. ...