Facebook Rolls Out Lifestage, A New Video Social Networking App Designed For Teens

2016.08.24 07

Facebook just launched a new standalone app called Lifestage, a video-centric social media app designed for users who are 21 years-old and under.

Lifestage is specifically made for high-schoolers. Although anyone can download the app and set up a profile, a user over 21 will only be able to see their own profile and no one else’s. The main purpose of the new app is to help young people connect with their classmates. This principle is much the same with how Facebook was restricted to college students when it first launched in 2004.

“Lifestage allows people to build a profile made up entirely of ‘video fields.’ It allows them [to] show others who they are and to find out more about the people in their school community as well as meet new people,” 19-year-old Facebook product manager Michael Sayman explained.

Facebook Rolls Out Lifestage, A New Video Social Networking App Designed For Teens

As casual gamers move to mobile, Facebook eyes the hardcore crowd

Blake Soberanis

In May, Facebook announced it would release a downloadable desktop app for games—a new competitor for PC gaming platforms like Steam. And last week, Facebook said it was teaming up with Unity, a popular game development system, to make it easy for Unity developers to release games to the new platform.

If Facebook is looking to expand into the more hardcore PC gaming market while staying relevant on the web, Unity makes sense. The system’s major selling point is that a developer can use it to make one game and distribute it to multiple platforms, including PCs, Macs, consoles, mobile devices–and the web browser as well.

Upon the launch of its new app, Facebook may very well focus on casual games, but the Unity partnership indicates that larger, more traditional PC games could be on the menu as well. Games made with Unity range from simple to highly complex, and many—such as the Kerbal Space Program—have been big hits on Steam, which is the most prominent platform for PC gaming.

As casual gamers move to mobile, Facebook eyes the hardcore crowd

Instagram’s Stories Inspired by Snapchat

2016.08.07 04

Everyone has a story to tell, and Instagram on Tuesday announced Stories, a new way for users to tell theirs.

Stories allows Instagram users to string together images and videos for a dynamic slide show presentation that can be shared with friends or the entire Instagram community.

Rather than sharing pictures and videos individually with others on the platform, a user can choose to share them through a story. Someone following the story simply taps the new story icon on the Instagram interface to see the latest addition or to watch it from beginning to end.

Story content can be enhanced with a number of text and drawing tools. The content is ephemeral: It disappears in 24 hours unless a user chooses to preserve it.

Stories from people a user follows appear in a bar across the top of the app’s feed screen. When there’s something new to see, a colorful ring appears around the person’s profile photo.

For Snapchat users, Stories no doubt seems familiar.

“It has the same name as Snapchat’s stories, and it seems to be a direct copying of what someone else has done,” noted Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.

Stories meets a need for Instagram users, said Jackdaw’s Dawson.

“If you spend a day doing something, you may have a bunch of pictures you want to share, but you don’t want to ‘overgram.’ So you only post one or two pictures and you feel sad you didn’t post more,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“This allows you to post a bunch of material with people without crunching up their feed,” Dawson added.

Instagram’s Stories Inspired by Snapchat

Apple’s Switch to Squirt Gun Emoji Triggers Flood of Emotions

2016.08.07 03

Apple earlier this week announced its decision to change the gun emoji in iOS 10, to be released this fall. It plans to substitute an image of a green-and-orange squirt gun for the existing image of a black pistol.

The new version of the gun is one of more than 100 new and redesigned emoji characters that will be available in iOS 10.

The change appears to be a reflection of Apple’s stance against gun violence.

The company earlier this year led the fight to get the Unicode Consortium, which specifies the representation of text in modern software products and standards, to reject an emoji depicting a rifle.

News of Apple’s emoji change has sparked a debate.

Apple’s Switch to Squirt Gun Emoji Triggers Flood of Emotions

Facebook Lets Messenger Conversations Go Dark

2016.07.26 06

Facebook last week said it would begin testing long anticipated end-to-end encryption capabilities in its Messenger app, enabling users to have secret conversations.

The new level of security means that a message will be visible only to the sender and the recipient — Facebook won’t even be able to read it.

Users can set a timer to limit the amount of time that a message remains visible during the conversation. Facebook has employed Open Whisper Systems’ Signal Protocol technology to provide the encryption.

One major caveat is that an end-to-end encrypted conversation can not be viewed on multiple mobile systems at the same time — however, the encryption is an optional feature.

Many users want to be able to switch devices during a conversation — for example, move from a mobile phone to a tablet or desktop computer. With the current technology, secret conversations can be read only on one device.

In addition, sending rich content like GIFs or video and making payments will not be possible using the encryption.

Facebook Lets Messenger Conversations Go Dark

Twitter Lets Anyone and Everyone Apply for a Blue Badge

2016.07.25 05

Twitter on Tuesday announced it has opened up the application process for verified account status, which previously was reserved for celebrities and other high-profile users. Any user may now file an online application to have an account verified.

Twitter account verification, denoted by a blue badge icon, flags individuals and organizations as authentic, the company explained.

An account may be verified if it is determined to be of public interest, Twitter noted. Examples include accounts maintained by public figures and organizations in music, TV, film, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key areas of interest.

“We want to make it even easier for people to find creators and influencers on Twitter so it makes sense for us to let people apply for verification,” explained Tina Bhatnagar, Twitter’s vice president of user services. “We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience.”

Twitter Lets Anyone and Everyone Apply for a Blue Badge

Tinder Social Feeds More-the-Merrier Impulses

Tinder on Thursday announced the launch of Tinder Social, a new platform that helps users plan group nights out.

The new platform will help users plan double dates or larger group events, creating new opportunities for people to make connections, the company said.

Tinder took the platform for a test drive in Australia and found that users wanted a better way to add friends to their night out in real time. That led to a feature that lets users see who else in the Tinder community is headed out the same night.

Users can invite friends to join their group and match up with other groups that are going out on the same evening. Users need to act fast, though, because the newly created groups and matchups expire by noon on the following day.

Tinder Social has to be unlocked before members can use it. A user who has unlocked the platform can see friends who have unlocked Tinder Social as well.

Tinder Social Feeds More-the-Merrier Impulses

Snapchat’s Curious About-Face

Fleeting memories will be a thing of the past with a new Snapchat feature currently rolling out.

“Memories,” introduced earlier this month, allows users of the app to save photos and photo stories to their phones, as well as share them with friends.

Finding snaps or stories can be done with a simple text search.

Protecting snaps and stories on a phone is easy, too. Items can be moved in and out of “My Eyes Only” mode with a few taps.

Unlike most Snapchat content, which is supposed to be ephemeral, content stored in Memories or sent to My Eyes Only is backed up to the app’s servers automatically.

Snapchat’s Curious About-Face

Twitter Applies ‘140’ Rule to Video Seconds

2016.06.23 02

Twitter on Tuesday launched enhanced video services that will allow users to post longer videos — up to 140 seconds. It also announced a new platform for celebrities and public figures to share their stories.

Because sports, news, music and other videos increasingly are the type of content that goes viral on Twitter, the company decided to expand content parameters, noted Jeremy Rishel, head of product development for creators.

“Video is becoming increasingly central to the real-time conversations happening on Twitter video. Tweets on Twitter have increased by over 50 percent since the beginning of 2015,” he pointed out.

The new 140-second run time is a dramatic increase over the previous 30-second limit.

Twitter Applies ‘140’ Rule to Video Seconds

Twitter Users Snared in Dark Web’s Brisk Password Trade

2016.06.13 02

Data stolen from more than 32 million Twitter users has been offered for sale on the dark web for 10 bitcoin, or around US$5,800, LeakedSource reported Wednesday. LeakedSource has added the account and email information to its searchable repository of compromised credentials.

The data set came from someone called “Tessa88@exploit.im,” who has been connected to other large collections of compromised data, including the credentials for 425 million MySpace accounts. The Twitter information consists of 32,888,300 records, LeakedSource said, with each record containing such information as email addresses, usernames and passwords.

The information likely came from compromised user systems rather than from a breach of Twitter’s systems, according to LeakedSource.

The hackers were able to infect tens of millions of users’ systems with malware that collected saved username and password information from browsers like Chrome and Firefox, the firm explained.

Twitter Users Snared in Dark Web’s Brisk Password Trade