Facebook Unveils New Video Devices and Portal for Business

With COVID-19 continuing to drive the popularity of video chatting, Facebook is doubling down with new iterations of its Portal devices that includes the battery-powered Portal Go and a new Portal+ along with the announcement of Portal for Business, a service that will make it possible for small and mid-size businesses to purchase, deploy and remotely manage Portal devices for employees. Facebook’s Portal devices, which debuted in 2018, compete with Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub products for the home. The recommitment indicates Facebook believes video calling is here to stay. Continue reading Facebook Unveils New Video Devices and Portal for Business

Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

As part of iOS 15, Apple will debut SharePlay to allow FaceTime users to stream online videos, movies and music from Apple TV or an iPad, iPhone or Mac and watch with friends while chatting — similarly to Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Houseparty. During COVID-19, the watch party feature was also adopted by Disney+, Hulu and Prime Video. SharePlay is ideally aimed at teens who are more likely to watch videos on their phones and chat. A Pew Research study showed that 59 percent of U.S. teens video-chat with friends. Continue reading Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

Facebook F8 Event Highlights Tools for Developer Community

At Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company would “refocus” on the developer community by spotlighting technologies that “enable developers and businesses to build and grow” on its platforms. The company announced, for example, that the Messenger API for Instagram is now available to all developers. It’s also adding third-party tools to its Facebook Business Suite, which was launched last year. Going forward, PyTorch will be Facebook’s default AI platform.

Continue reading Facebook F8 Event Highlights Tools for Developer Community

Sixty Percent of Instagram Users Link Accounts to Messenger

More than 60 percent of eligible Instagram users have enabled interoperability between that platform and Facebook Messenger, said Facebook vice president and head of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky, who added the rate is “beating our expectations in terms of how fast and how many people are upgrading.” “People are definitely buying into the convenience,” he noted. The cross-app communication began rolling out in September 2020. Facebook plans to add end-to-end encryption but neither app is expected to be encrypted until next year. Continue reading Sixty Percent of Instagram Users Link Accounts to Messenger

Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram. Continue reading Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

TikTok Popularity Surge Continues as U.S. Ultimatum Looms

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for more time to work out the preliminary deal to sell its U.S. operations to Oracle and Walmart. November 12 is the deadline for the deal to be completed. The company also stated it had been in discussions with the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), but “feedback had stopped” in recent weeks despite the approaching deadline. App Annie reports that TikTok’s substantial growth is expected to continue throughout 2021. Continue reading TikTok Popularity Surge Continues as U.S. Ultimatum Looms

Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

In an otherwise glum economic picture, Big Tech companies have boomed. The general economy is improving, while Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are reporting profits that suggest they may be capable of generating the kind of wealth that a single industry hasn’t seen in generations. In fact, those four companies had a quarterly net profit of $38 billion, despite regulator scrutiny and other obstacles. Amazon saw an almost 200 percent rise in profits, and Facebook had a stupendous quarter, despite the advertiser boycott. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

Facebook Unveils Business Suite Tools for Small Companies

In response to COVID-19, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg debuted the Facebook Business Suite aimed at small businesses, which are bearing much of the brunt of the pandemic. Yelp data revealed that business closures from mid-July to end of August rose 23 percent; since March, 60 percent of the business closures have been permanent. According to Facebook, the Business Suite is initially available to small businesses but will expand to larger businesses next year. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Business Suite Tools for Small Companies

Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Facebook launched Watch Together, a feature for Messenger and videoconferencing platform Messenger Rooms, to allow users to watch videos in real time with family and friends on Apple and Android mobile devices. Users choose videos to view through Facebook’s video hub, Facebook Watch. The push to promote yet more video comes at a time when, due largely to COVID-19, more people than ever are at home watching content. Facebook Messenger allows up to eight people on a video call, and Messenger Rooms tops out at 50 people. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Next Tuesday, Facebook will begin the global rollout of a new tab in its main app called Facebook Shop, which allows users to browse product catalogs and buy items directly on the social media platform. The new feature, previously in beta with a small group of U.S. users, joins a similar feature launched on Instagram last month. Prior to Facebook Shop, businesses could add catalogs to their Facebook pages, but the new feature is a dedicated marketplace for multiple retailers. Instagram’s Checkout feature will also soon be broadly available. Continue reading Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Facebook Teams With Top Publishers to Offer Music Videos

In a direct challenge to Google’s YouTube, Facebook introduced licensed music videos to its platform earlier this month. The videos are accessible by genre, artist and mood from a new section in Facebook Watch and are also available via Facebook artist pages. The social network is partnering with publishers including Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, BMG, Kobalt, Merlin and others with licensing deals similar to those already established with YouTube. Meanwhile, YouTube Music is expanding its features as Google gets ready to shut down its Play Music app. Continue reading Facebook Teams With Top Publishers to Offer Music Videos

Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Facebook debuted a major redesign of its Instagram Shop platform, which had already been accessible from a button in the Explore tab but now offers more functionality. The new version of Instagram Shop will first be available in the U.S., with a global rollout “in the coming weeks” said the company. In Shop, consumers will find special collections, a “Suggested for You” section and curated offerings from Instagram’s @Shop account. A double arrow symbol means the user can buy the product without leaving the app. The move is seen as Facebook’s stronger push into e-commerce. Continue reading Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Snap Introduces Its First Shoppable Original Show: ‘The Drop’

At Snap’s first Digital Content NewFronts presentation, VP of sales for the Americas Peter Naylor announced “The Drop,” the platform’s first “shoppable” original show, highlighting “exclusive streetwear collabs” from celebrities and designers. It also debuted the Verizon-sponsored “Fake Up,” in which make-up artists compete to create optical illusions and greenlit the second season of original series “Driven,” about custom cars. Naylor, a former Hulu executive, said his two Gen Z daughters are “big Snapchat users.” Continue reading Snap Introduces Its First Shoppable Original Show: ‘The Drop’

Facebook Papers Reveal Progress on AI Shopping Assistant

In May, Facebook debuted Shops, which allows companies to set up digital stores across Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, and also described its goal to develop an AI assistant to recommend products. The assistant would learn about a user’s preferences by analyzing images in his wardrobe and allow him to virtually try on clothing. Based on papers Facebook will present at the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition 2020, it appears the company is deep in development of this assistant. Continue reading Facebook Papers Reveal Progress on AI Shopping Assistant

Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform

Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jeff Teper wants Microsoft Teams — the company’s fastest growing business app — to overtake Windows, currently on 1+ billion active devices. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft Teams is experiencing significant growth, with 75 million daily active users as of April 29, a 70 percent leap in six weeks. In April, 200+ million participants used Teams in a single day. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still promoting Skype, which in March passed 40 million daily active users (up 70 percent from the previous year), but for a different customer base. Continue reading Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform