Amazon Glow on a Mission to Help Families Stay Connected

Following last year’s “invitation only” rollout, Amazon has released the Glow projector for kids in the U.S. The touch-sensitive 19-inch Glow image can be used for gameplay, arts, storytime and more. It also has an 8-inch LCD screen for video calls, making it a way “for little ones to enjoy hands-on activities while adults simultaneously — and remotely — join in the fun” using a free app for smartphones and tablets. The $300 price includes a 1-year Amazon Kids+ subscription featuring thousands of books, games and the ability to chat with popular Disney characters. Continue reading Amazon Glow on a Mission to Help Families Stay Connected

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

Facebook Creating Companion Messaging App to Instagram

Facebook is looking to take on Snapchat with a new messaging app the social giant is developing as a companion to Instagram. The Threads app reportedly intends to encourage constant sharing between “close friends” by automatically sharing data such as location, speed and battery life in addition to the usual messages comprised of video, images and text. Instagram previously had a standalone messaging app called Direct, but users were frustrated when they had to move between the two apps to send messages. A new messaging app built around a user’s close friends list could provide a viable alternative.  Continue reading Facebook Creating Companion Messaging App to Instagram

Rabbit Updates Features for More Versatile Social TV Viewing

Rabbit, which lets users watch online videos with friends, is updating its features, adding real-time and delayed viewing among others to the mobile/web platform. Company chief executive Amanda Richardson noted that Rabbit’s ability to “let you watch any video content with anyone, anywhere in the world, at the same time, is unmatched.” The 30-employer Rabbit, launched in 2015, now has 3.6 million monthly active viewers and has experienced a two-time to three-time growth year over year. Continue reading Rabbit Updates Features for More Versatile Social TV Viewing

Anytime: Amazon May Be Developing a New Messaging App

Amazon may be developing a standalone messaging app called Anytime that would allow people to connect without the need to include phone numbers, which is how other messaging apps such as Viber and WhatsApp typically connect. The company has reportedly been running a survey to gather feedback about a service “for smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart watches designed to let people chat with text and video, send each other fun photos with filters, play games and engage with other Amazon services,” reports TechCrunch. Earlier this year, AWS launched a communication service called Chime for enterprise customers. Continue reading Anytime: Amazon May Be Developing a New Messaging App

Facebook Offers Tips for Effective Video Ads in a Mobile Era

In a blog post this week, Facebook VP of core ads Mark Rabkin discusses “Video Advertising in the Mobile Age” and includes some interesting trends in television and social media consumption. While TV remains a powerful medium, people commonly turn to mobile feeds, apps, websites and texting when television no longer holds their attention. Facebook conducted a small study of TV viewers who watched the season premiere of a popular show last fall and found, not surprisingly, that use of Facebook increased during commercial breaks. The post shares tips for creating more effective ads for this audience. Continue reading Facebook Offers Tips for Effective Video Ads in a Mobile Era

HTC Vive Ships in April, Pricier Than Facebook’s Oculus Rift

HTC announced shipping and price details of its highly anticipated Vive virtual reality headset during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. In conjunction with Valve, HTC will begin shipping the VR headset in early April. At $799, Vive will be $200 more than its rival Oculus Rift. Pre-orders for the goggle-like headset, two wireless controllers, and two room scale movement sensors will begin on February 29 on HTC’s website. The pre-order bundle also comes with two games: “Fantastic Contraption” and “Job Simulator.” Continue reading HTC Vive Ships in April, Pricier Than Facebook’s Oculus Rift

Facebook Three Times as Popular as Twitter with Adult Users

According to the new “Mobile Messaging and Social Media” report from the Pew Research Center, Facebook is now more than three times as popular as Twitter among adults in the U.S. The report notes that 72 percent of adult Internet users are on Facebook, while 31 percent use Pinterest, 28 percent use Facebook-owned Instagram, 25 percent use LinkedIn, and about 23 percent use Twitter. The figures represent slight increases over 2014 for Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest; no change for Twitter from the previous year; and a 3 percent decrease for LinkedIn. Continue reading Facebook Three Times as Popular as Twitter with Adult Users

WhatsApp Continues its Momentum, Now at 800 Million Users

Jan Koum, CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp, announced on Friday that the popular mobile messaging app now has 800 million monthly active users. Acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $22 billion, WhatsApp has the potential to reach one billion users this year. Since last August, the app has added 100 million active users about every four months. It now has more users than Facebook Messenger and competing apps. For many global users, the app has become an alternative to text messaging, and it recently added a feature for taking calls. Continue reading WhatsApp Continues its Momentum, Now at 800 Million Users

Twilio Helps Developers Integrate Video into Software and Apps

Cloud communications company Twilio provides developers with the tools they need to integrate texting, voice calls, photo messaging, and now videos into their applications. Video capabilities would make it easier to video chat with customer service representatives on service apps, for example, or interact with other players on gaming apps. Twilio’s video service is a more affordable and easier option for developers to incorporate communication functions into a variety of different software. Continue reading Twilio Helps Developers Integrate Video into Software and Apps

Meerkat App on Twitter: Disappearing Videos a New Sensation

Disappointed with the direction of his video startup Yevvo, Ben Rubin replaced it with a simplified iOS app for sharing live video via Twitter. Launched in February, Meerkat grabbed 28,000 users in its first week. In less than two weeks, that number had surpassed 100,000. Now the app is being used for everything from office tours and church services to skateboard videos and live event coverage. Meerkat, which reportedly took Rubin a mere eight weeks to build, has become a social sensation and the latest in the push for ephemeral apps. Continue reading Meerkat App on Twitter: Disappearing Videos a New Sensation

Facebook Messenger Will Roll Out Voice-to-Text Capabilities

Facebook will continue to improve its Messenger app this year. The standalone app already has more than 500 million monthly users, but the company is hoping to get to a billion users by the end of the year. One attractive new feature will be the voice-to-text transcription. A release date has yet to be announced, but the company is already testing it. Also, Facebook will experiment with ways to generate revenue and give people a way to communicate with businesses on the Messenger app. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Will Roll Out Voice-to-Text Capabilities

Facebook Messenger Growing Rapidly with 500 Million Users

Just three months after Facebook cut off the messaging capabilities from its mobile app, the company’s standalone messaging app, Facebook Messenger, now has 500 million monthly active users. That’s a 150 percent increase over last year. Much of the success is thanks to David Marcus, the former CEO of PayPal that took over the Messenger operation. In the future, Marcus and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plan to integrate payments and possibly advertising into the Messenger app. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Growing Rapidly with 500 Million Users

EFF Designs a Scorecard to Help Measure Secure Messaging

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has developed a rubric designed to assess which social and communication apps and tools are best at keeping our messages secure. In an era of growing concern regarding our digital privacy, the EFF believes everyone is entitled to a practical and secure way to communicate via the Internet and mobile phones. This assessment of security, or scorecard for each app and tool, is the initial step of an ongoing campaign to educate and inspire. Continue reading EFF Designs a Scorecard to Help Measure Secure Messaging

Gamification: Samsung App Rewards Drivers for Not Texting

A new app from Samsung was developed with the intention of keeping drivers off their phones while behind the wheel. Startling statistics indicate that text messaging while driving makes you 23 times more likely to get in an accident. More startling yet is that more than 77 percent of young American adults believe they’re able to text while safely driving. To combat that, Samsung’s new Android app, “Eyes on the Road,” turns not texting into a game with tangible rewards for safe driving. Continue reading Gamification: Samsung App Rewards Drivers for Not Texting