Facebook Bot Recommends Movies Based on Your Interests

While Facebook’s bot platform remains in its early stages as developers test potential apps and the challenges involved with natural language processing, a company named And Chill has created a movie recommendation engine that may be ideal for the social platform. Going beyond the basic like/dislike model, the new bot can be accessed through Messenger or SMS and asks each user for specific reasons why he or she likes a given movie. The information is then analyzed by And Chill to provide appropriate recommendations of similar films and links to YouTube trailers. Continue reading Facebook Bot Recommends Movies Based on Your Interests

Twitter Character Update Makes Room for Interactive Content

Twitter is planning a series of changes designed to make communication easier via the social platform, hopefully without alienating its loyal base (earlier proposed changes led to public outcry). Notably, Twitter will modify the 140-character limit of a tweet, which often frustrates some users, but in many ways has come to define the service. “Under the rule-bending, tagging users by their handles at the beginning of replies and adding photos, GIFs and videos will no longer count against the 140-character limit in tweets,” reports The New York Times. “Twitter users will also be able to quote and ‘retweet’ — or rebroadcast — their own older tweets, which was not possible before.” Continue reading Twitter Character Update Makes Room for Interactive Content

Messaging Service WhatsApp Temporarily Shut Down in Brazil

As the result of a court order, Facebook-owned WhatsApp was shut down in Brazil yesterday. In an effort to obtain user data for a criminal investigation involving drug trafficking, Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão ordered telecoms to suspend the popular messaging service for 72 hours throughout Brazil. In March, Judge Montalvão ordered the arrest of Facebook exec Diego Dzodan, who was briefly taken into custody for refusing to turn over WhatsApp data (a higher court ordered the release of Dzodan after one night). WhatsApp says it has cooperated to the “full extent of [its] ability with local courts.” Continue reading Messaging Service WhatsApp Temporarily Shut Down in Brazil

Sean Parker’s Airtime Returns as an App for Virtual Viewing

Napster co-founder Sean Parker has relaunched a product that first debuted in 2012 and was almost an immediate flop. Airtime is now an app, for Android and iOS, that lets users gather in a “room” to chat, text and watch YouTube and Vimeo videos together or listen to songs and podcasts from Spotify and SoundCloud. Parker, also an early investor in Facebook, says he created — and now recreated — Airtime to offer an alternative to the “certain loneliness” of the “fast superficial interactions” that form the basis of Facebook. Continue reading Sean Parker’s Airtime Returns as an App for Virtual Viewing

Amazon’s Alexa Moves Artificial Intelligence Into Mainstream

Amazon spent years to bring Echo from an idea to an intelligent, voice-controlled product that could play music, order groceries and read the news out loud. Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos demanded perfection, bringing latency levels to below 1.5 seconds, and the result is that Echo and its virtual assistant Alexa are a hit. In less than two weeks, Echo hit a million pre-orders, which took the iPhone 70 days to achieve. Amazon is now letting third-party hardware manufacturers integrate Alexa into their products. Continue reading Amazon’s Alexa Moves Artificial Intelligence Into Mainstream

Instagram to Slowly Introduce New Algorithm-Based Newsfeed

Following in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is on the verge of changing its newsfeed. But, unlike Facebook, Instagram plans to roll out its changes slowly, as a series of small tests to a single-digit percentage of user groups. The new feed will be algorithm-based and personalized, much like that found at its parent company Facebook. The result would be a shift away from reverse chronology list to the photos/videos Instagram thinks you will most want to see from among those you follow. Continue reading Instagram to Slowly Introduce New Algorithm-Based Newsfeed

Apple, WhatsApp Cases Focus on Law Enforcement vs. Privacy

Although President Obama finally stated that he sides with the Justice Department in the ongoing battles between law enforcement and Apple over encryption of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, U.S. citizens aren’t so sure. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey revealed that 47 percent of Americans believe Apple shouldn’t cooperate with law enforcement. The government is not just facing a difficult battle with Apple but another, even more crucial one with Facebook’s WhatsApp popular messaging application. Continue reading Apple, WhatsApp Cases Focus on Law Enforcement vs. Privacy

At Mobile World Congress, Seven Trends Point to the Future

At Mobile World Congress, phone manufacturers introduced new hardware and software. Rivals Samsung and LG competed with new screens, cameras, and payment technologies. From the perspective of advertisers, however, other mobile capabilities are emerging that are likely to have significant impact on how brands and consumers interact. Among those developments, messaging evolves into a dominant platform, artificial intelligence becomes “our best friend,” and ad blocking forces mobile content behind a pay wall. Continue reading At Mobile World Congress, Seven Trends Point to the Future

Facebook Profits Skyrocket, Beating Wall Street Expectations

Facebook finished 2015 with a strong fourth quarter, with sales rising 52 percent from a year ago to $5.84 billion, and profit more than doubling from $701 million to $1.56 billion. The upswing beat Wall Street’s predictions for Q4 of $1.2 billion in profit on $5.37 billion in revenue. Investors rewarded the company by pushing its stock up more than 12 percent in after-hours trading. Responsible for the stupendous upward trend is mobile advertising, which soared to 80 percent of the company’s total ad business in Q4 2015. Continue reading Facebook Profits Skyrocket, Beating Wall Street Expectations

Facebook Makes Decision to Shutter Services Platform Parse

Facebook announced yesterday that it plans to shutter Parse, its toolkit and support platform for mobile developers the company hoped would serve the Internet of Things and lead to a cloud business that could compete with Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Parse provides developers with support and tools that enable programmers to write code rather than spend valuable time maintaining the back end. Users of the platform include developers at productivity app Quip and Expedia’s travel website Orbitz. The social giant paid a reported $85 million to acquire Parse in 2013. Continue reading Facebook Makes Decision to Shutter Services Platform Parse

Code Reveals Potential Features for Snapchat Including Video

Developers have discovered code within the current version of Snapchat that may offer clues about new features coming to the popular messaging app. While Snapchat may not roll out the features, it does show that the company has been working on ways to ramp up competition with other messaging apps such as WeChat and FaceTime. The hidden code provides a framework for the integration of stickers to sell within the app and an enhanced video chatting system that works more like a phone call. Continue reading Code Reveals Potential Features for Snapchat Including Video

Spotify, Apple Focus on New Ways to Experience, Create Music

Spotify is acquiring Soundwave and Cord Project, two small startups founded in the last few years and known for their design abilities. Soundwave is a social tool for finding, sharing, and talking about music, and Cord Project is an audio-first messaging app for Android, iOS, and the Apple Watch, with a tap-and-talk voice messaging system. Although Cord might seem to be a puzzling fit for Spotify, its founders Thomas Gayno and Jeff Baxter have launched other companies that focus around providing “an audio experience.” Continue reading Spotify, Apple Focus on New Ways to Experience, Create Music

WhatsApp Nears One Billion Users, Explores New Applications

Now reaching nearly one billion users, WhatsApp, the mobile messaging startup Facebook purchased for about $19 billion in February 2014, is looking at ways to make money. Until now, it’s been free for a year, and $1 per year thereafter, making it very popular for users outside the United States. In the process it’s become a social network and a way for businesses to communicate with the world. Now, chief executive Jan Koum dropped that $1 fee and has begun to experiment with how to create revenue. Continue reading WhatsApp Nears One Billion Users, Explores New Applications

Facebook Adds Uber Ride-Hailing Service to Messenger App

Facebook users will soon be able to start hailing an Uber ride without leaving the Messenger app. The new partnership will also allow the Uber service to capitalize on Facebook Messenger’s millions of users. Facebook plans to add other ride-sharing companies in the coming months. The new service is part of Facebook’s strategy to emulate rival Asian apps such as WeChat, which already allows users to message each other, hail rides, and shop for goods and games. Continue reading Facebook Adds Uber Ride-Hailing Service to Messenger App

Carriers, Twilio Clash Over Text Messaging Regulatory Status

Text messaging is a regulatory gray zone that is currently the object of a dispute between AT&T, Verizon and other wireless carriers, and Twilio, a software company that enables automatic text-sending, with consumer advocacy groups Public Knowledge, Common Cause, and Free Press. Twilio is petitioning that the FCC impose common carrier regulations on text messaging, which means carriers could not block or throttle texts. The carriers say they’re protecting consumers against spam. Continue reading Carriers, Twilio Clash Over Text Messaging Regulatory Status

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