The Tech News Blog

May 21, 2014

Facebook Adds Shazam-Like Music, TV Identification

Facebook Song and TV Identification

Facebook today announced a new feature that will identify the song, TV show, or movie that's playing while you're writing a status update.

Similar to Shazam, Facebook's new optional identification feature will listen to your surroundings as you type in a new update, and give you the option to add to your status that you're listening to Beyoncé or watching Game of Thrones, for example.

The feature is still rolling out, so it's not yet available on all devices. But when it's live, you'll see an audio icon moving on the screen as you write a status update. It will use your phone's microphone to see if anything is playing nearby, and will serve up an answer if it makes a match. You can then select to include that info in your status update.

May 18, 2014

Rumor: Facebook Working on New Snapchat-Like App, ‘Slingshot’


Facebook might have killed off its Poke app for iOS, but that doesn't mean it's done trying to beat rival Snapchat at its own messaging game.

For those who never themselves poked, the iOS app allowed a person to send a message, photo, or video to a Facebook friend. Only, doing so came with a time limit — a ten-second countdown before said message disappeared into the digital ether forever.

If that sounds like a pretty basic clone of Snapchat's core services, you'd be correct. It's unclear just how many people ended up using Facebook Poke, but it didn't last that long on the App Store's top-25 list. Snapchat, in comparison, claims that its users send over 700 million different pieces of content each day.

Facebook officially pulled the app from the App Store earlier this month, but that doesn't mean that it's done with its adventures in timed-deletion messaging. A new report from the Financial Times indicates that Facebook has been working on a video messaging app called "Slingshot" for a number of months. The app appears to do for videos what Snapchat has done for pictures… and videos too, of course.

May 12, 2014

Is Someone Being Annoying on Twitter? Now You Can Mute Them!

Twitter Censored

Have you ever seen an annoying tweet in your feed and wished there was a way to shut that person up without having to take the drastic measure of completely unfollowing them? Now there's a way!

Twitter on Monday announced it is rolling out an oft-requested "mute" option for the Web and for its iOS and Android mobile apps. The new feature will be making its way to all Twitter users over the coming weeks.

"In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a Tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you'd like to hear from less," Twitter said on its official blog. "Muting a user on Twitter means their Tweets and Retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user."

Muting lets you have all the benefits of following someone without actually having to see what they say. The muted user will, for instance, still be able to favorite, reply to, and retweet your tweets, you just won't see any of that activity in your own timeline. You won't be completely left out in the cold, however, as any @ replies and @ mentions from muted users will still show up in your Notifications tab. Muted users you follow will also still be able to send you direct messages.

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.