The Tech News Blog

May 1, 2014

Snapchat Adds Text, Video Chats

Snapchat today introduced new text- and video-based Chat functions.

You can still send one-off, self-destructing messages, but Snapchat now includes the options to have a longer text chat, or switch to video for some face time. Just swipe to the right across a friend's name to start a conversation, which will, of course, be cleared as soon as you leave the chat screen.

The usual Snapchat workaround—taking a screenshot before closing the app—still applies, if you need to save part of a conversation to remember an address, add a task to your to-do list, or for later use in a blackmail scheme.

"Until today, we felt that Snapchat was missing an important part of conversation: presence," the Snapchat team wrote in a blog post. "There's nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you're chatting."

The app will show you when a friend is "Here," or currently online with their phone. If you're both available, press and hold the screen to share live video and chat face to face (pictured).

Check out the new Chat in action in Snapchat's video below.

April 30, 2014

Facebook Messenger Apps Get New Photo, Video Options

Facebook Messenger for Android

Just weeks after announcing plans to eliminate messaging capabilities from its main app, Facebook is now beefing up its standalone Messenger app with some new features and improvements.

Facebook Messenger version 5.0, released this week for iOS and Android, promises to help you more easily bring your messages to life with photos, videos, and the social network's emoji-like stickers. For instance, if you see something you simply must share, you can now snap a photo of it within the app and send it in one tap, without leaving the conversation. You can also now attach video from your phone's camera roll, and play any videos you receive right in the app.

"Everything's front and center, so it's easier to send photos, voice messages and more," Facebook said in its release notes for version 5.0.

Just watch out what attach to your messages. As Engadget notes, anything you choose will be sent immediately since there's no option to preview it and change your mind. This goes for photos, voice messages, and stickers.

April 24, 2014

Facebook Tops 1B Monthly Active Users

Facebook Messenger for Android

Facebook announced first quarter earnings yesterday, but also provided an update on user stats.

We'll get the big news out of the way first: Facebook has finally crossed the one billion mark for monthly active mobile users. According to the company, it's now up to 1.01 billion monthly active users on smartphones and tablets, an increase of 35 percent compared to the same time period last year.

Facebook defines a monthly user as someone who has, in the last 30 days, "logged in and visited Facebook through our website or a mobile device, used our Messenger app, or took an action to share content or activity with his or her Facebook friends or connections via a third-party website or application that is integrated with Facebook."

As for a mobile monthly active user, that consists of anyone who hit up Facebook's mobile application or good ol' (or similar sites) on a smartphone or tablet. Separately, there are more than 200 million monthly active users of Facebook's Messenger app — this quarter being the first time that Facebook has shared specific stats for the app. That figure doesn't go into Facebook's "mobile monthly active user" count.

April 13, 2014

Twopcharts: 44% of Twitter’s 947 Million Accounts Haven’t Tweeted Once

100 Twitterers-3

Twitter has a ton of users, right? Around 974 million, to be a bit more precise. However, just because a person has taken the time to make a Twitter account doesn't necessarily mean they've used it. And according to the latest stats from Twopcharts, a third-party site that monitors Twitter activity, a surprisingly high number of people have done just that: Made an account and abandoned Twitter forever.

Just how many? According to the site, approximately 44 percent of Twitter's 947 million accounts or so have never sent a single tweet. Of the number that have — approximately 550 million — just under half of these accounts are reported to have sent their last tweet more than one year ago (43%). Only 126 million have sent any kind of tweet at any point in the past 30 days.

Twitter is, of course, saying nothing about Twopcharts' data, commenting that the company doesn't talk about third-party data related to its service. Twitter representatives are fairly famous for not discussing this "dark pool" count – the number of inactive accounts that exist on the service, which includes those who have never doneanything as well as those who came, tried Twitter out, and left some time ago.

March 26, 2014

Instagram Hits 200 Million Users

Instagram Year in Review

Facebook-owned photo-sharing service Instagram on Tuesday announced it has grown to more than 200 million active users "capturing and sharing their lives every month."

The milestone comes almost exactly 13 months after Instagram announced it had reached its first 100 million users. In the last six months alone, 50 million people have signed up for Instagram, the company revealed in a blog post. To date, Instagram users have shared an impressive 20 billion photos on the service.

"Over the past six months, we've seen new communities coming together in cities and towns across the world, whether they be in Guthrie, Oklahoma, or Guatemala City," Instagram wrote. "With January's Worldwide InstaMeet 8, we saw record turnouts of communities coming together to form friendships, explore new places and celebrate creativity in all corners of the globe from New Dehli to New YorkBucharestNairobi and beyond."

March 6, 2014

Facebook Rolls Out Updated News Feed Design

Faceook News Feed updateSoon, when you head over to Facebook on your desktop, things will look a tad different.

The social network on Thursday announced plans to roll out an updated look for its News Feed, which puts a greater focus on images. The update brings the desktop version in line with Facebook's photo-centric mobile offerings. For the change-averse, this might sound like bad news, but fret not. This is more of a minor tweak than a radical overhaul.

It comes after Facebook last year began testing a complete redesign of the News Feed for desktop and mobile, complete with larger images and new ways to navigate around. After extensive testing, Facebook found that there were some problems with that version. Namely, people liked the larger photos and images, but found it more difficult to navigate the site.

"The updated design has the best of both worlds: it keeps the layout and navigation people liked, but offers bigger images and photos, as well as a new font," Facebook wrote in a blog post. The company did not make any changes to the News Feed design on mobile devices.

February 25, 2014

Facebook Ditching Email Service

Facebook logo

Facebook's long-forgotten email service is set to shut down next month, though it's unlikely anyone will notice.

Since its launch in late 2010, the "Facebook Mail" function has gone relatively unused, despite being forced upon users in the summer of 2012.

By early March, it will be nothing more than a memory. Facebook confirmed the news, telling PCMag that users will begin receiving notice that the system is changing.

When it launched its "modern messaging system" in 2010, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said the service would transcend email, SMS, and other messaging services. "We tried to make it simple, so that people don't have to think about this stuff," he said at the time.

February 11, 2014

Report: Twitter Testing Facebook-Esque Redesign

Twitter redesign

Brace yourself, Twitter. A major change to your profile page could be on its way.

The social network appears to be testing a new profile page design that takes cues from Facebook and Pinterest. First spotted by Mashable on Tuesday, the new layout (above; click for larger image) moves your profile photo and bio to the left side, making room for a larger header photo, like Facebook's Cover photo.

According to Mashable, the recommended header photo size in the new version is 1,500-by-500 pixels, with a maximum file size of 5MB. Facebook Cover photos are 851 by 315.

Underneath the large rectangular header photo on the revamped Twitter, you'll see the familiar counts for the number of tweets you have posted, people you're following, followers, favorites, and lists, along with a new category for photos and videos.

February 4, 2014

Facebook Users’ Biggest Pet Peeve? Oversharing

Facebook logo

When you're about to post a status update to Facebook, you might want to read it one more time, and ask yourself: "Do other people really need to know this?" Because you might just end up annoying all your friends.

We've all seen it before — rants about a significant others, posts about kids' potty activities, and other cringe-worthy posts. It's called oversharing, and it's one of the things people dislike most about Facebook, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

To commemorate the social network's tenth birthday today, Pew has released a new survey that discusses how people are using the site, as well as what they like — and dislike — about it. Turns out, we have a long list of gripes with the world's largest social network.

At the top of the list, 36 percent of Facebook users "strongly dislike" it when people share too much information about themselves, the survey found. Another 36 percent can't stand it when Facebook friends post their photo, or things about them, without asking for permission first.

January 27, 2014

Pinterest Gets Specific With ‘Interests’

Pinterest Interests

Gone are the days of sifting through Pinterest's generalized themes like "Animals," "Health & Fitness," or "Kids" to find new content to pin.

The social corkboard today began rolling out a new tool called Interests—a full page of specific topics curated based on your own pinned items.

Now, instead of hoping to find a knit sock needle in a "Women's Fashion" haystack, Pinterest Interests offers an entire page of hand-crafted socks to drool over.

"Before today, all the billions of Pins on Pinterest were organized into just a handful of broad categories. So if you were browsing for ideas for your yard, you had to go somewhere like 'Gardening' and sift through all the Pins," engineer Ningning Hu wrote in a blog post.