Posts tagged with "facebook"

Facebook Messenger’s “Optimized” Approach and App Discovery

Over at Fast Company, Sarah Kessler has a good summary of Facebook's Messenger announcements from today's F8 developer conference:

Facebook wants to turn its Messenger app into more than just a messaging app. At its F8 conference in San Francisco Wednesday, the company announced details on its much-rumored plans to integrate Messenger with purchases made on other sites, and to allow third-party developers to build apps that work within it.

Messenger users will soon be able to select from a list of services inside of the app. At launch, most of these apps help users create new content, like singing telegram app Ditty, GIF app Giphy, and voice app FlipLip Voice Changer. There’s also a fun special effects app available from J.J. Abrams and an ESPN app that provides users with sports GIFs. Facebook says 40 apps will be available today or in the days to come.

I was curious about Facebook's plans for Messenger Platform, and the addition of an API immediately caught my interest. I tweeted:

After reading more about how Messenger Platform works with third-party apps, though, I realized that my tweets from earlier today don't exactly apply to what Facebook is doing.

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Origami 2.0 and Origami Live

Facebook's mobile prototyping tool, Origami, has been updated to version 2.0 with plenty of new features that include code export, Sketch integration, and an iOS app. Called Origami Live and available for free on the App Store, Origami Live lets designers try prototypes in real time on iOS devices with interactions and animations.

Facebook's Brandon Walkin writes on Medium:

Origami Live has changed how we design products at Facebook. It lets us interact with our prototypes on an iPhone or iPad while we edit them live. We can quickly try new ideas — using multitouch, device sensors, etc. — and fine-tune them with ease, without writing any code. Then we hand over our device to team members or users and have them try out a high-fidelity prototype that looks and feels like a final product.

And about the new presentation mode in Origami 2.0:

You’re able to go into full screen, show off your prototype in a phone with a hand and a touch point in front of beautiful backgrounds — like a mountain top, subway station, or even a Beyoncé concert. Personally, I’m fond of the one where you’re using your phone on a canoe (but somehow also paddling?). This gets presented all while you’re controlling the prototype with an iPhone or iPad running Origami Live or with your trackpad. If you want to show someone a multitouch or phone rotation interaction, they can use it on the device and the screen will be mirrored live on the TV to the rest of the room so others can see what’s going on.

You can check out Origami here and browse the new examples here.


Facebook Launches Dedicated Groups App

Dieter Bohn, reporting for The Verge about Facebook's latest standalone app for iOS and Android, Groups:

We've been using the app for a few days now and found it to be fast, fluid, intuitive, and surprisingly fun. That's not a huge surprise – it comes in part from Facebook's Creative Labs, which has been responsible for other polished Facebook apps like Paper and Slingshot. Animation on both Android and iOS is fluid and fast, the overall app layout is simple and direct, and functionality (including privacy settings) is easy to intuit just by poking around a bit. It's a great app.

Groups joins Messenger in the list of dedicated utilities for specific Facebook features, but, unlike Messenger, users won't be forced to use it and Groups will still be available in the main Facebook app (for now?). Like most recent standalone experiments by Facebook, I'm skeptical that this will take off in the real world.

Anecdotally speaking, I have a lot of friends who use groups to coordinate events and chat together – on WhatsApp. I have seen WhatsApp groups that go back years, with my friends using photos uploaded to a group as essentially another camera roll for shared photos.

I wish that I could say the same about iMessage group threads, but that would only be a sad joke.


Facebook Launches Safety Check

Great idea by Facebook: an easy way to let people update their News Feed to tell friends and family they're safe after a disaster.

In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates. It is in these moments that communication is most critical both for people in the affected areas and for their friends and families anxious for news.

We want to provide a helpful tool that people can use when major disasters strike, so we’ve created Safety Check – a simple and easy way to say you’re safe and check on others.

On iOS, Safety Check will be a push notification that takes you to a page where you can confirm whether you're safe or not in the area monitored by Facebook. This is a good example of how data gathered by Facebook can be useful and important on a practical standpoint. I have seen friends using Facebook to reconnect after a natural disaster, and Safety Check makes perfect sense.

As Mark Zuckerberg puts it:

Over the last few years there have been many disasters and crises where people have turned to the Internet for help. Each time, we see people use Facebook to check on their loved ones and see if they're safe. Connecting with people is always valuable, but these are the moments when it matters most.

Safety Check is our way of helping our community during natural disasters and gives you an easy and simple way to say you’re safe and check on all your friends and family in one place.


Facebook Launches Slingshot

Today, Facebook has launched Slingshot, a new messaging app that mixes ephemeral photos with “pay to play” mechanics. Like Snapchat, photos you share with your friends disappear after you close them, but there's a catch: you can only view messages shared with you if you send a photo (or video) back. If you don't share, you won't “unlock” messages, which will accumulate in the app showing a numeric count and a pixelated preview.

Slingshot was developed by Facebook Creative Labs, the same team behind Paper. From their announcement:

With Slingshot, we wanted to build something where everybody is a creator and nobody is just a spectator. When everyone participates, there’s less pressure, more creativity and even the little things in life can turn into awesome shared experiences. This is what Slingshot is all about.

The Slingshot team mentions Snapchat but notes that they wanted to do “something new and different” with shortcuts to share with all your contacts at once:

We’ve enjoyed using Snapchat to send each other ephemeral messages and expect there to be a variety of apps that explore this new way of sharing. With Slingshot, we saw an opportunity to create something new and different: a space where you can share everyday moments with lots of people at once.

In his overview at TechCrunch, Josh Constine highlights the fact that Slingshot could be seen as a gimmick or an advantage over established messaging apps:

The reply-to-unlock mechanic could create the right incentive to share back, feeding on our natural curiosity. It’s gamified sharing. The satisfaction of revealing hidden content could be enough to entice people to find something worth capturing. Perfect pics could end up on Facebook and Instagram, especially intimate ones could go to Snapchat, and Slingshot could pull in our day-to-day moments

Alternatively, reply-to-unlock could be seen as an annoying gimmick, introducing too much friction. Why make a friend work for your photo when you could just text them? The chore could leave Slingshot wasting away in some folder on your screen.

Over at The Verge, Ellis Hamburger reviews Slingshot, with a focus on notifications and sharing options:

But because you have to respond to a shot before you can see it, these notifications act as nags instead of notifiers. If you tap on a new notification, “Shot from Adam,” you won’t be able to view it — until you send a shot of what you’re doing back to Adam. Thus, shots feel less urgent than messages, since there’s no expectation that you’ll be able to open them immediately. The app feels far more like a News Feed with push notifications than anything else — except this News Feed requires you to share a post before you can view it, so there’s its no place for lurkers.

Slingshot is free on the App Store, and requires your phone number to sign up.


Facebook Adding Audio Recognition Feature

Ellis Hamburger, writing for The Verge about Facebook's “audio recognition”, an upcoming feature to tag music and TV shows when posting to the service with the Facebook app:

Facebook’s implementation, in fact, only works in the US for now, can recognize only 160 TV channels, struggles to recognize music in commercials (which are a big part of Shazam’s business), and only recognizes a few million songs so far. In most cases Shazam works seamlessly, an important part of the company’s secret sauce, but Facebook isn’t exactly competing with Shazam here. Facebook’s audio recognition is designed not to help you figure out what’s playing, but to make it as easy as possible to update your friends about what you’re listening to or watching.

An interesting experiment to drive traffic to Facebook pages for artists and TV shows, but far from a Shazam or SoundHound competitor. Much of the appeal of those apps is that you don't need to post your discoveries anywhere, whereas Facebook is simply building a feature for the Post interface.


Facebook Pulls Poke and Camera Apps From The App Store

Ellis Hamburger:

To Facebook, Poke was always “more of a joke” than anything else — so why did the company leave it in the App Store for more than a year after its troubled debut? We may never know, but today, Facebook finally put an end to Poke. If you check the App Store for Facebook's famed Snapchat clone, you won't find it. Facebook also took the opportunity, seemingly, to remove Camera, its photo uploading app. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the removals to The Verge, but provided no further comment.

Poke was indeed a joke, but Facebook Camera was a solid app with lots of clever details. From our original coverage in 2012:

Animations throughout Facebook Camera are fluid, the app is fast, and there's a lot of clever interaction to take advantage of throughout the interface — clearly Facebook's acquired talents have been hard at work in making the app to not just feel like a boring extension of Facebook, but rather a necessary addition that belongs, no, deserves to be on a Facebook user's smartphone. Facebook has made an incredibly bold statement with Facebook Camera — they've stepped up to the plate to deliver a solid application that doesn't feel tacked on or only done for the sake of their platform. It's a serious release. Just look at their landing page.

In fact, the way uploads and editing were handled in Facebook Camera were so good, Facebook eventually integrated them into the main Facebook app, making Facebook Camera essentially useless. The app never received an iOS 7 update and I'm surprised it stuck around this long.


Facebook Open-Sources Pop, The Animation Engine Behind Paper

Facebook has open-sourced Pop, the animation engine behind the company’s alternative client for iPhone, Paper. Used to power transitions and animations inspired by real-life physics and interactions, Pop has allowed Facebook to build Paper’s popular gestural controls, which have become one of the app’s marquee features. In Paper, many of Facebook’s functionalities are only available through gestures, as the app focuses on content and stories while removing chrome and other standard UI elements in its reimagination of the classic news feed.

Writing on the Facebook Engineering blog, Kimon Tsinteris (co-founder of Push Pop Press, which Facebook acquired in 2011) has explained the motivation behind Pop and the kind of animations it offers to developers willing to implement the framework in their apps:

When I co-founded Push Pop Press in 2010, our goal was to create a realistic, physics-everywhere experience. We wanted a solution that would allow us to evoke the same delightful experience of UIScrollView throughout the whole application. Pop is the latest manifestation of that vision, allowing us to keep the familiar and powerful programming model of Core Animation while also capturing a gesture’s velocity and better reflecting user intent. Paper has given us the opportunity to further refine both the vision and the animation engine behind it.

“Spring” and “decay” are dynamic animations that help bring Paper to life. “Spring” gives Paper elements their attractive bounce. “Decay” brings movement to an eventual slow halt. Both take velocity as an input and are good candidates for realistically responding to user gestures.

According to Tapity’s Jeremy Olson, Pop can be used to “revolutionize the way you think about animation in your app”; Olson has been testing Pop to create animations for Tapity’s upcoming iPhone app, Hours.

Two weeks ago, members of Facebook’s Paper team shared details on the making of Paper and some of the interface, framework, and user experience decisions behind the app in a developer event available on YouTube (embedded above). Facebook will also integrate Pop in Origami, the free design prototyping toolkit used by the Facebook design team to create interactive mockups without programming.

Pop is the latest entry in Facebook’s library of open-source projects, joining KVOController, Shimmer, and Tweaks. Pop is available now on GitHub.