Posts tagged with "facebook"

Facebook Instant Karma

MG Siegler on Instant Articles, Facebook's initiative for native articles that was rolled out yesterday:

So rather than wait around for the web browsers to catch up, Facebook is taking action. And, by the way, they’re hardly the first to do this. Isn’t Facebook Instant essentially the same thing Flipboard and others have been doing for years? Yes, yes it is.

And again, it’s the right thing to do from a user experience perspective. Who wants to wait longer to load what they’re looking for, be it a game or an article? No one. While they’ll never admit it, even those with fears that this will lead to an end of the “open web” don’t want to wait.

As I tweeted, Instant Articles are so fast and smooth, comparing them to in-app web views isn't even funny. There's no contest – Facebook is offering a superior reading experience that, if you're used to tapping links, waiting, and then reading, is just impressive and obvious (for the vast majority of news websites).

As a publisher, Instant Articles concern me: what if there's an audience on Facebook that expects articles to be that fast and rich? What if, years down the road, each major social broadcasting service will offer a way to bundle together assets and text to produce native articles that are faster than web views? Will I still own 100% of my content? What happens to the open web and RSS feeds?

I guess there's only one way to find out.

(I plan to experiment with Instant Articles as soon as possible.)

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Facebook Introduces Instant Articles

Late yesterday Facebook launched Instant Articles, a new feature for Facebook's iPhone app that will allow select media partners including the New York Times, National Geographic and BuzzFeed to publish articles on Facebook itself. For users, the big advantage is that Instant Articles will load much quicker than an webpage and Instant Articles can also include interactive elements.

As more people get their news on mobile devices, we want to make the experience faster and richer on Facebook. People share a lot of articles on Facebook, particularly on our mobile app. To date, however, these stories take an average of eight seconds to load, by far the slowest single content type on Facebook. Instant Articles makes the reading experience as much as ten times faster than standard mobile web articles.

Along with a faster experience, Instant Articles introduces a suite of interactive features that allow publishers to bring their stories to life in new ways. Zoom in and explore high-resolution photos by tilting your phone. Watch auto-play videos come alive as you scroll through stories. Explore interactive maps, listen to audio captions, and even like and comment on individual parts of an article in-line.

The Verge has a great in-depth look at Instant Articles, including a terrific 4 minute introduction video which also features Facebook's Mike Matas.

Facebook is currently partnering with nine media organisations, but there's no doubt more will be added over time. The launch partners are: The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.

If you want to read an Instant Article yourself, just open the Facebook app on your iPhone, go to the Facebook page of one of the media partners and scroll until you see an article with a gold bookmark in the top-right corner. I've had a look at a few and they certainly load faster than a typical article would load, and they also look great, particularly with some of the new interactive elements.

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No Ecosystem Is an Island: Google, Microsoft, Facebook & Adobe’s iOS Apps

Apple doesn't make a single Android or Windows Phone app, and makes barely anything for Windows. But Apple's reluctance to develop on other platforms hasn't stopped Google and Microsoft from bringing their own apps across to iOS. That shouldn't be any surprise at all, given the different business strategies the three take. But what might be surprising is the extent to which Google and Microsoft have committed to bringing apps to iPhone and iPad users.

You are no doubt aware of the big apps from Microsoft (Word, Outlook and Minecraft) and Google (Gmail, Maps, Calendar), but the reality is that these two companies alone have over 150 apps available on the iOS App Store today. For good measure, I've also taken a look at the iOS development efforts from Adobe and Facebook, which are also significant.

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WhatsApp Adds iOS 8 Share Extension

With an update released today, WhatsApp has introduced free audio calling on iOS (previously launched on Android), improvements to how photos can be attached to conversations, and a new iOS 8 share extension to send content from other apps.

VoIP calling is still rolling out to users worldwide and I'm not a heavy user of media sharing through WhatsApp (I prefer iMessage's higher quality settings), but I often share links and images downloaded from the web with WhatsApp, and I was curious to try the new extension.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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