Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

With an emphasis on privacy, Facebook made a series of compelling announcements at its annual F8 developer conference this week. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg detailed six core principles that will be embedded across the company’s services: private interactions, improved data encryption, interoperability, general safety, reducing permanence and secure data storage. The principles arrive following a difficult period for the social giant, as it continues to face criticism regarding privacy-related scandals while contending with increased scrutiny from global regulators. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

YouTube Expands its 7-Day Stories Feature to More Creators

YouTube expanded its Stories to more than 100,000 subscribers in its Partner Program, meaning they will appear more often in mobile users’ homepages. The trial for Stories began earlier this year with only a few channels. YouTube Stories last for seven days, appear for subscribers and non-subscribers, and allow creators to interact with fans that can leave comments or ask questions. First announced in November 2017, YouTube Stories appears to target channel promotion and community engagement rather than day-to-day updates. Continue reading YouTube Expands its 7-Day Stories Feature to More Creators

Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Instagram plans to debut a standalone Shopping app, a move that could rival Pinterest and Wish. Ahead of the move, it is adding a shopping tab to the Explore page, which will allow users to look through a dedicated feed of merchandise from a wide range of vendors. Those sellers will be able to add stickers to their Stories for the first time, letting consumers shop from the Stories feed by tapping on the product. With this feature, shoppers will let people consider possible purchases before heading to the seller’s website. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Instagram Users Can Feature Popular Music in Their Stories

Instagram Stories, which currently touts 400 million daily users, now offers a new feature that enables users to add clips of popular songs to their photos and videos. The feature is initially available to Android and iOS users in six countries (including the U.S.), with plans to roll out to additional regions soon. Facebook’s recent deals with major and indie music labels will enable Instagram users to select up to 15 seconds of music from the likes of Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Demi Lovato and Maroon 5 to create soundtracks for each post. Continue reading Instagram Users Can Feature Popular Music in Their Stories

YouTube Ups its Social Profile with the Debut of Reels Feature

YouTube has debuted Reels, a video feature similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Users will find Reels on a new tab in creators’ channels and will be able to adorn videos with filters, text and stickers. Unlike Snapchat and Instagram Stories, a single creator can make many Reels on different topics and the videos will not disappear after 24 hours. With Reels, Google hopes to make YouTube a more social environment and keep users glued to the platform. Google reportedly bid $30 billion to buy Snap last year. Continue reading YouTube Ups its Social Profile with the Debut of Reels Feature

Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Amazon’s new AR addition to its iOS app, called “AR View,” allows customers the ability to visualize products in their own home. Thousands of products are viewable across a range of categories for both the office and home. By utilizing Apple’s ARKit, the experience unfolds in real-time, allowing the customer to rotate both the object and change its perspective. By introducing the new feature, Amazon joins other retailers such as Target and IKEA that have all recently introduced augmented shopping experiences to their mobile platforms. Continue reading Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Signal’s Encryption Features Make It a Choice Messaging App

Messaging has become increasingly confusing, as users pick among Instagram, iMessage, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter and Google’s Hangouts and Allo — not to forget the basic but limited SMS. Notifications pile up and search becomes difficult if not impossible. According to Wired, all that confusion would disappear if users would simply pick a single app, Signal, which is free, has strong encryption and works on every mobile platform. Signal’s developers say they won’t add emojis, ads, stickers or web-tracking, to keep it simple to use and speedy. Continue reading Signal’s Encryption Features Make It a Choice Messaging App

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

Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

After adding a new camera to its messaging app Messenger, Facebook is now enabling group video chatting, with support for up to six different users at the same time. The move fits in with Facebook’s strategy of emphasizing videos and photos, and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s statement on the company’s November earnings call that, “soon, we believe a camera will be the main way we share.” That may be good for Messenger users, but a challenge to several video-messaging apps just receiving venture capital infusions. Continue reading Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

Twitter and Pepsi Ink Deal to Add Promoted Stickers to Photos

If you’re in the U.S., India, Russia, Canada or Mexico, the next time you want to tweet a photo, the top stickers will come from PepsiCo. The company, which has created almost 50 different stickers, is Twitter’s first partner in promoted stickers. Of those, only eight will be available to Twitter users, specific to 10 countries, including those listed above. In the U.S, Twitter users have the option of two Pepsi cans side by side, smiley emoji, a barbeque grill, and a ballet dancer’s feet clad in red pointe shoes. Continue reading Twitter and Pepsi Ink Deal to Add Promoted Stickers to Photos

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

Facebook Testing New Emoji in Ireland, Spain for Wide Release

Facebook just announced something fans have been wanting for a long time: in addition to the ubiquitous “like” button, fans will have other icons to express emotions. The new emoji, designed after months of research to find expressions that would work globally, include surprise, anger, love, laughter, sadness and a supportive cheer. Although many users have lobbied for a “dislike” button, Facebook declined to add one. The tests in Spain and Ireland are just the first of a round before the emoji are widely released. Continue reading Facebook Testing New Emoji in Ireland, Spain for Wide Release

Guggenheim Museum Testing Beacon Technology for Exhibits

The Guggenheim Museum, a premier art museum in New York City, is making its exhibits more interactive by integrating beacon technology. The beacons are small, box-like sensors that use Bluetooth technology to detect when a smartphone is in proximity. The museum will use its 20 to 30 beacons to track traffic flow through the building. In the future, the beacons may transmit informational alerts to visitors’ phones as they approach a painting or sculpture. Continue reading Guggenheim Museum Testing Beacon Technology for Exhibits