Giphy is launching its own take on stories with curated GIFs throughout the day

We’ve been unable to escape the prolific spread of Snapchat Stories since last year, seeing it superseded by Instagram and copied by everything from WhatsApp to even real estate websites. Now Giphy is announcing that it’s refreshing its homepage to prominently feature Stories, which will be curated by an editorial team. Stories will be centered around the day’s trending subjects, told through GIFs. One story will be published every hour, curated by categories of Entertainment, Sports, and Reactions.

Despite the obvious connection to Instagram Stories in its name, Giphy Stories are a little more like a cross between a Twitter Moment and Snapchat’s Discover content. There’s episode recaps like “The Bachelorette Finale in GIFs” which are reminiscent of Tumblr GIF sets, and reaction packs like “The best GIFs for your summer out of office email” which read like a Buzzfeed listicle in GIF form. Stories will be available on desktop and mobile.


Giphy

It’s an interesting move for Giphy as it shifts from a GIF database site to one that takes more of an editorial role. Giphy is also opening up Stories to Partners & Artists later this year, and they’ll be able to create and distribute their own curated stories.

Firefox’s latest experiment recommends stories based on your browsing history

Firefox is launching a new experimental browser extension called Advance, which recommends new websites and articles based on what you’re currently reading and your recent browsing history.

There are two parts to Advance: a “Read Next” section, which recommends related articles based on your current tab, and a broader “For You” section, which uses your recent history to populate its recommendations. In an example, Firefox said that when browsing, say, a list of popular restaurants, Advance could recommend other, similar eateries to make it easier for you to compare them.


Image: Firefox

All the recommendations are personalized to the specific user, unlike the company’s sponsored Pocket integration, which shows a mix of paid ads and regularly recommended articles. (It’s easy to imagine that Firefox could use Advance as a similar source of revenue down the line if it’s successful.)

Advance is powered by a machine learning startup called Laserlike, which specializes in recommendations. As a security measure, users will have full control over when Advance is running, be able to see what browser history Laserlike has been granted, and request deletion of that information if they choose.

Advance is part of Firefox’s Test Pilot program, which the company uses to test new features for users who want to try them before rolling them out to the main app. Interested users can sign up and install Advance here.

Zillow now lets you apply for apartments and pay rent online

Applying for an apartment rental is about to look a lot like submitting a job application online. As anyone who’s been through the hell of apartment hunting can attest, finding a home can be a grueling experience, and Zillow is looking to simplify it by centralizing the entire process. Starting today, Zillow is offering renters and landlords property management tools for apartment applications and rental payments online, as reported by MarketWatch.

Renters can pay $29 to submit an application to as many apartments as they want within a month, which includes an Experian credit report and an eviction history and background check from Checkr. This is a lot less time-consuming than submitting individual applications, and it’s cheaper than credit checks that can range anywhere from $50 to $100. After renters move in, they’ll be able to pay rent online through Zillow, with a small processing fee if they pay by credit card.

Landlords will be able to use the service for free through the existing Zillow Rental Manager tool, which will now prompt them to accept applications and rent payments online if they don’t have it enabled.

The features will also be available on Zillow-owned brands Trulia and HotPads, but they won’t yet be available on the New York real estate site StreetEasy. This is a good first step toward demystifying the apartment hunting process — like submitting one résumé through job application portal sites like Indeed, minus the “personalized” cover letters.