Posts tagged with "facebook"

Facebook Acquires “Activity Diary” App Moves

In a blog post published on their press website, Finnish company ProtoGeo Oy has announced that Facebook has acquired their fitness and activity tracking app for iOS and Android, Moves.

Today, we’re delighted to announce that Facebook has acquired our company and the Moves app. Since we launched Moves, we’ve been focused on running a simple and clean activity diary that millions of people have enjoyed using.

Now, we’re joining Facebook’s talented team to work on building and improving their products and services with a shared mission of supporting simple, efficient tools for more than a billion people.

According to the company, Moves will continue to operate independently as a standalone app, with “no plans to change that or commingle data with Facebook”.

Moves is the latest in a series of acquisitions that have seen Facebook expanding towards established markets (messaging and WhatsApp) as well as new categories (VR and Oculus Rift). Moves used sensors on a smartphone to keep track of a user’s location during the day, building a visual log of places through a “bubble UI” that indicated for how long users stayed in a specific location and when they left. Moves was capable of associating standard GPS coordinates with relevant points of interests, and it could also guess whether a user walked, ran, or used other transportation systems to arrive at a location. With that information, Moves’ diary counted steps taken and estimated calories burned, allowing users to browse a visual timeline that also contained data about their physical activity throughout the day with the possibility of expanding the UI to show entire weeks and months.

Last year, Moves launched an API to allow third-party apps to access collected data, with a dedicated website highlighting iOS, Android, and Web clients with Moves integration. Moves also added support for Apple’s M7 co-processor for the iPhone 5s, which helped the app collect motion data with higher accuracy and lower battery consumption. Moves couldn’t automatically determine a user’s activity (such as “excercising” or “watching a movie”) based on location alone, but it featured an intuitive interface to add context and verbs to tracked locations and times.

Amid rumors of Apple looking to enter the wearable and fitness tracking space with a standalone device later this year, Moves poses an interesting acquisition for Facebook, which has built a large location database over the past several years and recently rolled out a feature to let users easily discover friends nearby.

Following today’s news, Moves is currently available on the App Store for free.

Facebook Messenger 4.1 Adds Free WiFi Calls For All Users

Previously limited to the UK, US, and Canada on iOS and selected countries on Android, Facebook’s Messenger app has today added free audio calls on WiFi (VoIP) for all users in all countries.

Free calls in Facebook Messenger can be initiated from the chat interface by tapping on a phone icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Once started, Facebook Messenger will start “ringing” another user’s device — because Messenger can’t always run in the background like Apple’s Phone app, however, the company is using standard push notifications to inform users that a call is being received. In the Facebook Messenger app, the call interface is reminiscent of Apple’s Phone app design for iOS 7.0 and iOS 7.1 with circular buttons for speaker, mute, and hide, and standard green and red targets to answer or end a call.

While there’s no shortage of free VoIP calling solutions on iOS, Facebook aims at making it easier to reach your friends by building the feature into the existing Messenger contact database, prominently featuring the button in the chat UI of the app. Facebook Messenger was updated last week to version 4.0 with group management features, and version 4.1 is available now on the App Store.

Facebook Messenger 4.0 Adds Group Creation, Message Forwarding

Facebook’s Messenger app for iPhone was updated to version 4.0 earlier today, adding support for group creation and a “Forward” feature for individual messages reminiscent of the same option in Apple’s Messages app.

Groups can be created in the dedicated Groups section of the app, which provides a separate area to list all ongoing groups as cards; group conversations are also listed in the main Recent section. Groups can be created by picking contacts and choosing a group photo, and once created in Messenger they will sync with Facebook’s Messages view on the web and other clients. A minor addition to the chat experience is the Forward button, which can be accessed by tapping & holding an individual message in a conversation.

Facebook Messenger, first launched in 2011, is the company’s standalone chat app focused on conversations and photo/location sharing. Version 4.0 is available (still only for iPhone and iPod touch) on the App Store.

Facebook’s “Tweaks” For iOS Developers

Today, Facebook spent $2 billion and open-sourced a library for iOS developers.

Tweaks, available on GitHub, provides an interface for developers to make minor adjustments and tweak parameters of an app directly inside the app, in a few seconds. Those changes can be the color of a button or the speed of an animation, and Facebook says that Tweaks helped them build Paper, the highly praised alternative Facebook app.

Here's TechCrunch's Greg Kumparak on Tweaks:

For developers, it means being able to fine-tune applications faster and with less code. As an added bonus, it lets any of their designers who might not love to code help figure out the best settings without having to pop into the source or pester the dev team for a million new builds.

And Facebook, on the project's page:

Occasionally, it's perfect the first try. Sometimes, the idea doesn't work at all. But often, it just needs a few minor adjustments. That last case is where Tweaks fits in. Tweaks makes those small adjustments easy: with no code changes and no computer, you can try out different options and decide which works best.

Some of the most useful parameters to adjust are animation timings, velocity thresholds, colors, and physics constants. At Facebook, we also use tweaks to temporarily disable new features during development. That way, the designers and engineers involved can enable it on just their devices, without getting in the way of others testing the app.

Tweaks looks like a handy solution for developers, designers, and, to an extent, even testers of apps. It's available here.


WhatsApp: The Inside Story

From an excerpt of David Rowan's profile of WhatsApp, which was acquired today by Facebook:

We're the most atypical Silicon Valley company you'll come across,“ says Acton, a clean-cut, red-faced 42-year-old from Michigan, whose appearance contrasts markedly with Koum's 188cm-tall, dark, unshaven look. "We were founded by thirtysomethings; we focused on business sustainability and revenue rather than getting big fast; we've been incognito almost all the time; we're mobile first; and we're global first.” He and Koum, he adds, are “the yin and yang – I'm the naïve optimist, he's more paranoid. I pay attention to bills and taxes, he pays attention to our product. He's CEO. I just make sure stuff gets done.

One of the reasons WhatsApp worked was its simplicity. There was no "bloat”, as the WhatsApp co-founders told Wired. That's not a concept that's usually associated with Facebook.


How to Optimize Your Settings in Paper by Facebook

Facebook’s new Paper app is the best excuse yet to ditch the social network’s older offering. But while the re-imagined mobile experience adds beautiful fullscreen images and new, intuitive swipes to the mix, it also comes with a few limitations. So before you banish that blue and white standby to the netherworld of discarded apps, you probably want to make a few quick changes.

Roberto Baldwin for Wired writes about how toggling a few switches can make Paper by Facebook better and turn off some annoyances, like videos that automatically play.


Facebook Paper

Today, Facebook has announced Paper, a dedicated iPhone app to “explore and share stories” through Facebook. The app is coming out on February 3, and it takes a photo-centric approach at, essentially, displaying updates from your News Feed alongside “stories” (i.e. links and photos) recommended by a new curation team inside Facebook. The app uses full-screen, edge-to-edge layouts, relies on gestures for navigation, and it’s highly reminiscent of Flipboard for iPhone, both in terms of basic principles (status updates intermixed with news content) and the gesture to open and close “stories” (watch the promo video, and you’ll see).

I’ll save thoughts on the motivation and execution for the future, but, today, I’m skeptical. Facebook has a history of standalone apps that provided better, more elegant functionality than the main iPhone client (like Facebook Camera) which haven’t received enough attention. Aside from the name (this isn’t going to be awkward at all) and Flipboard-esque layout, I feel a disconnect. This app looks too beautiful for the kind of content that is shared on Facebook. Looking through my News Feed on a daily basis, what I see isn’t the hip mix of beautiful landscapes and inspiring moments that Facebook is advertising, but a chaotic mess of drunk selfies, memes, clubbing photos, and low-quality pictures of dinners or other family events. There is the occasional gorgeous photos, but does that justify a standalone, magazine-like approach to News Feed content?

What I’ve seen so far reminds me a lot of the beautiful News Feed that Facebook announced and never really shipped to users. A great idea in theory…which most people’s News Feeds don’t deserve. Of course, this time it may be different: Paper’s team includes Mike Matas (you can see some Push Pop Press influences in the video) and, according to The Verge, Loren Brichter contributed to the development. Facebook’s mobile numbers are growing, and perhaps the company needs to give its teams the ability to try new things that will eventually trickle down to the main experience (case in point: features of Facebook Camera later ported to the Facebook app).

I’m curious because a) I want to study the design/interaction approach taken by Matas and team and b) it appears you’ll be able to ignore status updates and browse only headlines by sources you follow or recommended by Facebook. Curation matters, and it’ll be interesting to see if and how Facebook will mix top publications with smaller independent authors. The focus on tackling “storytelling” by many companies lately is also a trend to keep an eye on, although I wonder if Paper can really become “Facebook 2.0” or “a reimagination of Facebook”.


Facebook 6.6

Out today on the App Store, you can now edit comments and posts from the new version of Facebook for iOS (for posts that contain photos or locations from Instagram, you can only edit the text part of the status update). When leaving comments, you can also attach photos from your device (a feature that was added to the website a while back); at last, Facebook is providing easier access to privacy settings from mobile devices (tap the More tab on iPhone, then tap the lock icon next to your name).

You can download Facebook 6.6 here.