Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Social media giant Facebook announced it now has 2 billion monthly active users. The new milestone comes five years after reaching 1 billion users, and 13 years after Mark Zuckerberg first launched the platform. According to TechCrunch, Facebook leads social apps based on number of logged-in users, “above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million.” Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger each have 1.2 billion users, while its Instagram photo-sharing app recently exceeded 700 million. Continue reading Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Amazon just pulled the plug on its Unlimited Everything plan, which allowed users to keep as much as they wanted in their private Amazon cloud “locker” for a mere $60 per year. That figure is at least half of the industry standard of $10 per month for 1TB of space. Although Unlimited Everything, which launched in 2015, has come to an end, Amazon’s new offering is still relatively inexpensive, at that same $60 per year for 1TB and an extra $60 for every additional terabyte up to 30TB. Continue reading Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Instagram has taken a step to increase transparency, giving Internet celebrities on the site an easier way to let viewers know if their posts are sponsored. Users and sponsors can work together to decide whether or not to tag a post as a “paid partnership” at the top. This new feature is currently being tested with a few celebrities and businesses. If it proves successful, Instagram will launch it more widely. Parent company Facebook already uses a similar method of disclosing such paid partnerships. Continue reading Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Snap May Include AR Tech With Next-Generation Spectacles

While Snap extends availability of its $130 Spectacles into Europe, the company is reportedly developing a second generation of the photo- and video-recording glasses. The “project is closely guarded inside the company,” reports TechCrunch. Based on a recent patent application, “it seems increasingly likely that Spectacles II will ship with augmented reality features built in … Snap’s app is already primed to support such a move. It recently rolled out an augmented reality feature — called World Lenses — in April which allows users to place digital objects around them.” Snap has also been looking into other hardware possibilities, including drones and a 360-degree camera.

Continue reading Snap May Include AR Tech With Next-Generation Spectacles

Facebook’s Open-Source Telecom Project Challenges Telcos

Voyager, Facebook’s telecom infrastructure effort, is a side project, but it’s still rattling the telecom industry, which worries that revenues from its specialized products are at risk. Facebook and European telecom company Telia tested Voyager over the latter’s thousand-kilometer-telecom network, and German-based ADVA Optical Networking, which is manufacturing the device, has nine potential customers trying it out. Also testing Voyager is Paris-based Orange, working with Equinix and African telecom company MTN. Continue reading Facebook’s Open-Source Telecom Project Challenges Telcos

Google Makes Bid to Expand Revenue Sources Beyond Search

The focus for Google at its annual I/O developer conference was artificial intelligence. Google Assistant will now be available for the Apple iPhone, a way to introduce millions more people to Google’s AI capabilities. Google also revealed more about its software development kit for Google Assistant, saying it will be better integrated into TVs, let the user type requests and questions, and add skills such as payments and receipts. Third party developers plan to integrate Assistant into numerous products. Continue reading Google Makes Bid to Expand Revenue Sources Beyond Search

Instagram Rolls Out AR Selfie Lenses, Adds Location Hashtag

Again copying a Snapchat feature, Instagram introduced a face icon with eight filters, allowing users to transform themselves. Among the filters are koala bears and bunnies (perfect for kids), and flower crowns, which might be a hit with teens. Nine months ago, Instagram debuted its disappearing Stories, aping the format made popular by Snapchat. Since then, Instagram Stories has built up 200 million daily active users, compared to Snap’s 166 million. Instagram hasn’t said if it will rotate or expand the filters over time. Continue reading Instagram Rolls Out AR Selfie Lenses, Adds Location Hashtag

Facebook Benefits From Expanded Video Content, Digital Ads

Facebook reports that its Q1 profit leaped 76 percent to $3.06 billion, putting to rest concerns that video-ad performance or graphic content stymied growth. Alphabet enjoyed 29 percent growth in net profit in the same quarter, apparently undamaged by brands finding their content advertised against objectionable YouTube videos. The two tech titans currently account for 99 percent of the online ad industry’s revenue growth, says Pivotal Research, even as marketers express growing concern over fake news and live video issues. Meanwhile, Facebook continues to push new video content. Continue reading Facebook Benefits From Expanded Video Content, Digital Ads

Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

Apple is debuting a standalone video app called Apple Clips that allows users to shoot, edit and share video clips for mobile phones. Apple Clips, for iOS 10.3 or higher, features real-time captioning and facial recognition as well as giant emoji, cartoon filters and lively title screens — and the end results can be distributed to iMessage contacts. Automatic captioning, dubbed Live Titles, allows the user to choose a font and style; after hitting record, the app transcribes speech to text. But less ideal features mar the app, say critics. Continue reading Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning

In a few cities last week, Snapchat introduced a new search tool that relies on machine learning to collect text and visual metadata, enabling users to find content, even from users they do not follow. Previously, users only saw Stories from others they followed or that Snapchat served up. This is Snap Inc.’s first major change to its Snapchat software since the company went public in early March; in January, Snap added a search function allowing users to search for friends and publisher content. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning

Amazon Rolls Out Social Influencer Program to Market Goods

Amazon hopes that YouTube celebs and Instagram stars can help market brands and recommend products found on the popular e-commerce site. The company has quietly launched a beta test of its Amazon Influencer Program, which allows social media influencers to apply to participate in the initiative and earn commissions on products sold. The new program is designed to work with influencers who have significant followings and regularly post content related to shoppable content across “all tiers and categories,” according to Amazon. Continue reading Amazon Rolls Out Social Influencer Program to Market Goods

Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

Facebook has again integrated one of Snapchat’s most notable features, introducing Stories, which allows users to create photo/video montages that vanish within 24 hours. Two other camera-oriented features allow users to make the camera accessible with one rightward swipe and add filters and masks; and introduce a direct-messaging tool. All three features will be unveiled this week. Facebook has experienced a slump in posting, and is studying Snapchat as a way to zero-in on its millennial appeal. Continue reading Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

Pinterest, Targeting $500 in Revenue, Could Be Prepping IPO

Pinterest, now in its third full year earning selling ads, is targeting more than $500 million in revenue this year. The company earned $100 million in revenue in 2015 and $300 million last year. Some close to Pinterest say the company is gearing up for an eventual IPO. “The company hired its first CFO, Todd Morgenfeld, from Twitter back in October, and has Facebook’s former monetization director, Tim Kendall, overseeing all of Pinterest’s revenue efforts, among other things,” reports Recode. Those close to the company suggest that if Snap “can fetch a valuation north of $20 billion on the public markets, Pinterest is in good shape to do something similar.” Continue reading Pinterest, Targeting $500 in Revenue, Could Be Prepping IPO

Google Share of Search Ad Market to Hit 80 Percent by 2018

According to a new eMarketer report, Google’s share of the online search advertising market could exceed 80 percent by 2019, as it outpaces other search companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Yelp and AOL. Last year, Google’s share of the ad market reached 75.8 percent ($24.6 billion in revenue). The company’s share is expected to reach 80 percent by 2018 and 80.2 percent the following year. The eMarketer projections include advertising on desktop and laptop PCs, mobile phones, tablets and other Internet-connected devices. Continue reading Google Share of Search Ad Market to Hit 80 Percent by 2018

Oppo Reinvents Zoom Technology for Mobile Phone Cameras

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo has created a new tech called 5X that it claims radically improves zoomed-in photos recorded from smartphone cameras. The dual camera system was inspired by submarine periscopes; it diverts light through a custom prism onto an angled telephoto lens that subsequently provides more light and clarity to objects positioned in the frame from a distance. Zoomed images are also usually more sensitive to camera movement, so Oppo included an optical stabilization system. The company demoed its prototype at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Continue reading Oppo Reinvents Zoom Technology for Mobile Phone Cameras

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