Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

As part of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to get one billion people into virtual reality, the company has also targeted social interaction as a potential powerhouse, with avatars communicating in a shared virtual world. This vision is already a reality on the company’s software platform Facebook Spaces, headed by Rachel Franklin, who previously worked on “The Sims.” She recently described her team’s philosophy and how that motivates design choices. She also described Facebook’s most successful VR elements. Continue reading Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Snapchat debuted “context cards” this week, a new feature that helps its users easily make a restaurant reservation or book an Uber ride without having to exit the app. The new feature is designed to keep users engaged with the app and its contextual location-based search. By swiping up from geotagged images while viewing certain stories, users will get related data such as contact info, directions and reviews. Early partners include Bookatable, Foursquare, Michelin, OpenTable and TripAdvisor. Ultimately, more time on Snapchat could mean more advertising revenue for the popular messaging app. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Americans Spend Half of Their Media Day Consuming Digital

According to new data from eMarketer, the average U.S. adult is expected to spend two more minutes each day consuming media than the average time per day last year, up two hours from a decade ago. The researcher estimates that adult consumers will average 12 hours and 1 minute per day with major media this year. This increase, not surprisingly, reflects a continued shift in consumer behavior toward multitasking, thanks in large part to mobile tech. The average American still spends the most time watching television (nearly four hours per day), while mobile continues its ascent (currently at three hours and 17 minutes per day). Continue reading Americans Spend Half of Their Media Day Consuming Digital

Studies Show Smartphones, Social Media Cause Brain Drain

According to data collected by Apple, the typical iPhone owner uses his or her phone 80 times a day, which equals 30,000 times over the year. Now scientists are researching what happens to our minds when our phone is a constant companion that dominates our perception and cognition. What they’ve discovered is that, as our brains become dependent on the phones, our intellect becomes weaker, an effect that continues even when we aren’t using them. There are some in Silicon Valley that are increasingly concerned by the unintended consequences of smartphone and app use. Continue reading Studies Show Smartphones, Social Media Cause Brain Drain

LINE’s New Clova Wave Smart Speaker Is Available in Japan

LINE, known for its popular WhatsApp-style mobile messaging platform, has released a $125 smart speaker in Japan named Clova Wave, beating Amazon and Google to market. LINE has more than 220 million messaging users in the region. The company first announced the speaker device at a conference in June, after unveiling its new digital assistant, Clova. LINE also earlier announced a smart speaker called Champ, based on the LINE Friends characters, but no release date was revealed. LINE is a subsidiary of Naver Corp., South Korea’s largest web operator and search portal. Continue reading LINE’s New Clova Wave Smart Speaker Is Available in Japan

Facebook Messenger Day Now Attracts 70 Million Daily Users

Messenger Day, Facebook’s version of Snapchat Stories that launched six months ago, may not be experiencing the same growth as similar offerings from Instagram or WhatApp, but it now touts 70 million daily users. Messenger Day enables users to share photos and video slideshows. While its latest daily usage is significant, it only took Instagram Stories two months to reach 100 million users, and two weeks less for WhatsApp Status to attract 175 million (both have since surpassed the 250 million daily user mark). Continue reading Facebook Messenger Day Now Attracts 70 Million Daily Users

Atlassian’s Stride Software Is Designed for Corporate Teams

Australia-based Atlassian, which offers enterprise software, has introduced a new program called Stride that combines chat, conference calls and project tracking. Similar to the company’s HipChat messaging service and Jira project management, Stride is available for desktop computers and mobile phones, and works with competing software. Stride faces a competitive landscape, including Slack Technologies, Dropbox and Microsoft. Atlassian doesn’t use salespeople but rather gets small teams to use its software, and then expands on that foundation. Continue reading Atlassian’s Stride Software Is Designed for Corporate Teams

Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Facebook, which bought WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014, is now testing two free business tools on the messaging service. WhatsApp Business lets small businesses answer customer questions and send updates; larger businesses can avail themselves of another free tool that plugs in to the WhatsApp platform. Facebook is also debuting verified profiles for businesses on WhatsApp, to distinguish them from individuals. Businesses in Brazil, Europe, India and Indonesia, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, are testing the new tools. Continue reading Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Facebook and Google Take the Lead in Popular Mobile Apps

According to comScore’s annual U.S. Mobile Apps Report, consumers spend 57 percent of their digital media time on smartphones and tablets using apps. The figure is roughly the same as the previous year, suggesting that the shift to mobile has reached a point of leveling out. The report also notes that Facebook and Google own eight of the top 10 apps. Among the most popular mobile apps today are Facebook (top app for all age groups except 18- to 24-year-olds), YouTube (No. 2 overall and No. 1 with 18- to 24-year-olds), Facebook Messenger, Google Search, Google Maps, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Play, Gmail and Pandora. Continue reading Facebook and Google Take the Lead in Popular Mobile Apps

Snapchat Plans to Offer Scripted Content by End of the Year

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival yesterday, Snapchat’s head of content Nick Bell said the social platform will likely offer scripted content via Snapchat Shows by the end of the year. However, Bell does not see Snapchat as a broadcast TV killer. “Mobile is the most complementary thing to TV that has been around,” Bell said. “We’re really capturing the audience who are not probably consuming TV at the same rate and pace of engagement that they once were.” He noted that NBC’s “The Voice” and ABC’s “The Bachelor” both experienced a boost in viewer numbers after launching Snapchat offshoots. Continue reading Snapchat Plans to Offer Scripted Content by End of the Year

Millennials Regularly Use Variety of Apps for Digital Services

According to a new study from measurement firm Nielsen, the lack of brand loyalty among 18- to 34-year-olds is reflected in their consumption of digital services such as communication apps and streaming music. Perhaps not surprisingly, Nielsen found that the demographic consumes a great deal of digital media but tends to use multiple services across categories, rather than focus on one service for a specific segment. For example, while only 39 percent of consumers over 35 use two or more apps to stream music, almost 60 percent of millennials will commonly do so on a regular basis. Continue reading Millennials Regularly Use Variety of Apps for Digital Services

YouTube Introduces In-App Video Sharing and Chat Globally

YouTube has been testing a feature in select markets that allows the platform to become a kind of mobile messenger. The feature, which began testing in mid-2016, lets users avail themselves of a new tab in the mobile app to send videos to their friends and chat. After a soft rollout to users in Canada at the beginning of 2017, YouTube later launched the new feature in parts of Latin America. The global rollout  this week, but will take a few days to appear on all users’ phones. YouTube also tweaked the user interface in several ways. Continue reading YouTube Introduces In-App Video Sharing and Chat Globally

Internet Firms Adjust to the Needs of the Next Wave of Users

The Internet is undergoing an evolution, with an onrush of people forming the ranks of what the tech industry dubs “the next billion” users. These newcomers have a decidedly different profile than those who came before: often barely literate, these people avoid text in favor of voice activation and images as a way to communicate. These first-time Internet users are finally gaining entry with the advent of low-cost smartphones with user-friendly interfaces and inexpensive data. Now, tech companies must adapt. Continue reading Internet Firms Adjust to the Needs of the Next Wave of Users

Facebook Buys AI Startup Ozlo to Improve Virtual Assistant M

Facebook just acquired Ozlo, a small AI startup founded four years ago and based in Palo Alto, California. The social media giant made the purchase in order to improve Messenger’s virtual assistant, dubbed M. Ozlo describes its product as “an index of knowledge about the real world,” which implies that a user could ask questions and receive answers about a wide range of topics. The company has 30 employees, and a majority of them will be joining Facebook’s Messenger teams in Menlo Park, California and Seattle, Washington. Continue reading Facebook Buys AI Startup Ozlo to Improve Virtual Assistant M

Facebook Messenger 2.1 Offers Built-In NLP, Payments SDK

Facebook’s newly debuted Messenger Platform 2.1 features built-in Natural Language Processing (NLP), provided by Wit.ai, a company acquired by Facebook in 2015. NLP has been available to app developers since the acquisition, but Messenger 2.1 is the first time it is a built-in feature. The built-in NLP currently detects common phrases (“hello,” “bye,” and “thanks”) as well as date/time, location, phone number, email and amount of money, all of which trigger an automated response from the bot. Continue reading Facebook Messenger 2.1 Offers Built-In NLP, Payments SDK

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