Twitter’s made serious efforts to turn itself into more than just a social network: it wants to be the go-to tool for journalists searching for breaking news. Naturally, it makes sense for Facebook to follow suit as the two continue to play feature tag. Newswire is Zuckerberg & co.’s answer to Dataminr for News. It aggregates shared stories, photos and status updates that might be of interest to journalists and news organizations.
This isn’t just some haphazard collection of BuzzFeed lists and conspiracy blogs ,though. The service is powered by Storyful, a company that specializes in filtering out the noise and delivering “valuable content” through a social newswire service.
In its current incarnation, Newswire is a little bare-bones. There’s a Facebook page and a Twitter account that simply collect popular stories and spit them out in chronological order. Put more simply: journalists are expected to follow this Facebook page and check it regularly for new content.
Even though it’s being pitched at those in the news industry, the page seems like it would be of more interest to the casual news reader. It’s not about getting stories to reporters before they become viral sensations, it’s about highlighting the best stories out there — whether they come from a news organization, a personality (such as the president) or a person who just happened to be at the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time). News simply isn’t as new by the time it reaches that scale.
This isn’t just some half-assed, reactionary response to Twitter’s own tool. Facebook has been making efforts to improve its news delivery and offer services to journalists for some time. It’s been fine honing its Newsfeed for the last couple of years in an effort to surface better content that’s relevant to its users. The company’s also offered news organizations ways to tap into public conversations taking place on the social network to bring context to their reporting.
It’s not hard to imagine that all these efforts will eventually become unified under a single umbrella. Obviously Facebook isn’t saying anything right now, but imagine a day where a customized Newsfeed is delivered to you through a mix of machine learning and hands-on editorial guidance from a human being. It would bring news not just to the casual visitor, but to journalists too who would be able to quickly hop into public discussions to pull quotes for their own articles. Of course, we want to keep our jobs, so let’s hope the future doesn’t come too soon.
Facebook may already be tracking your usage to serve you ads, but how would you feel if it was able to log your movement? That’s exactly what could be on the cards after the company confirmed it’s bought Moves, the always-on fitness-tracking app that automatically records your daily activities using your smartphone’s sensors. Moves’ mission? It says it’s joining Facebook 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.” Zuckerberg and co. intend to keep the iOS and Android apps independent, and the Moves team says there are currently no plans to “commingle data with Facebook.” The social network employs a similar policy with Instagram and Whatsapp, which is no surprise given their huge user numbers and combined $20 billion price tag.
It’s clear that when Facebook said it was going to be a mobile-first company back in 2013, it meant it. It’s now surpassed 1 billion active mobile users a month, which is about a 34 percent increase compared to a year ago. Sure, a lot has happened in the land of likes in the early part of 2014 — it spent close to $19 billion for WhatsApp and another $2 billion for Oculus VR — but its primary source of income for the year still comes from good ol’ advertising on its core product: Facebook. Specifically mobile advertising.
Out of the $2.5 billion it made in Q1 this year, $2.27 billion was from advertising and a little over $1.3 billion — that’s around 59 percent — was from mobile ads alone. That’s quite a jump from the 30% it made from mobile ads in the same quarter last year.
That, more than anything, is what is driving the social network to invest heavily in a multi-app strategy. Zuckerberg said on the earnings call that the company plans to give people new apps for sharing different kinds of content with different audiences. The push for Messenger as a standalone app is part of this, and it’s also the thinking behind Paper, a Facebook app that offers a more creative and nuanced look at the traditional news feed. In an interview with the New York Times earlier this year, Zuckerberg said “there’s a big premium on creating single-purpose first-class experiences,” which essentially means unbundling what he calls “the big, blue app.”
He reiterated in the call that around a billion people use that big, blue app, so they clearly won’t be giving up on it just yet. But he was also excited about the growth of Messenger and Instagram which he says have around 200 million users each (Instagram only had about 30 million users pre-acquisition). He’s also very pleased by the early reaction to Paper and expects that to be a good test case for the multi-app strategy going forward. However, the primary goal for all of these apps right now is to focus on gaining more users. Even Whatsapp, which just reported nearly 500 million active users, has room for growth. According to Zuckerberg, he’d like Paper to reach 100 million users before trying to make it sustainable and for the rest to reach around a billion before he worries about monetization.
Still, that’s clearly where the company is headed. It’s already started displaying ads on Instagram and is moving toward more experimental forms of advertising like autoplay video commercials. There’s also rumblings that Facebook plans to reveal a mobile ad network so that those targeted ads can appear in apps that are not its own.
As rivals like Twitter begin to experiment with advertising, it’s time for Facebook to focus on those smaller, more focused projects, not just the big, blue one.
We’re not sure there was ever much doubt, but the US government has given the thumbs up to Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of Oculus VR. The Federal Trade Commission examined the deal and found that it would not violate American antitrust laws. Now with most of the regulatory hurdles cleared, the focus can shift to the practical implications of the deal. Joining the Facebook family clearly puts a vast amount of resources at the disposal of Oculus founders like Palmer Luckey. But many in the development community are worried that the move represents something of a loss of innocence. Notch, the man behind Minecraft, in particular is apparently creeped out by Facebook and what it’s business model and culture could mean for the future of the Rift. We can’t pretend to know what’s coming — we’re not even sure that Mark Zuckerberg or Oculus are sure what the future holds yet. All we can say is that we really hope a VR version of Facebook isn’t in the cards.
Some companies lose their following after an acquisition, but not Whatsapp — apparently, its userbase just continued to grow after Facebook bought it for $19 billion. The FB-owned entity has revealed that it now has 500 million active users, up 50 million from the time the social network snapped it up. According to Whatsapp CEO Jan Kuom, the app has seen the fastest growth in Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia in recent months. Kuom didn’t mention whether the buyout helped boost Whatsapp’s influence in those regions, but it’s worth noting that Brazil, India and Mexico had some of the biggest Facebook user numbers in 2013, according to a statistics analyst. He also mentioned that people have been sharing over 700 million photos and 100 million videos per day over the app.
With growth like this, we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true that providers everywhere have collectively lost out on $33 billion due to the popular messaging app. Unfortunately, the CEO didn’t have anything to share about the VoIP feature for iOS, so the Whatsapp faithful will have to wait a bit more.
Welcome to Weekends with Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines from the past seven days — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. For even more action, subscribe to our Flipboard magazine!
Microsoft’s mobile OS just got a whole lot better. Complete with keyboard swipe gestures, a notification center and Cortana, the virtual assistant, version 8.1 brings Windows Phone into adulthood.
Ten years ago, adjusting the temperature of your home from a smartphone might have seemed like something from a science fiction movie. But in this age of hyper-connectivity, it’s easier to get wrapped up in the quantifiable aspects of life than you might think. Just ask our own Joseph Volpe.
The Xperia Z2 is just as waterproof as the original Z1 and it packs a slightly larger display and better battery life — not to mention it’s several grams lighter. But at 5.2-inches, Sony’s curveless flagship might be too big for
its your britches.
You can say almost anything you want on the internet, often without consequence. But are there advantages to being truly anonymous? Our own Nicole Lee spent some time with an app called Secret to find out.
Samsung’s next gen smartwatch, the Gear 2, is indeed an improvement over its predecessor. It sports a slimmer design and a much longer battery life, though it’s $50 more than the original. Add in a skimpy app selection, and it still might not be worth investing in Samsung’s wrist-worn platform.
We’ve all heard the rumors, but BGR claims it’s gotten hold of Amazon’s first phone — and it has six cameras. The 4.7-inch handset (shown above) might not appear very sleek or attractive. But don’t worry, that’s just an enclosure.
Pioneer’s NEX line of five in-dash entertainment systems will get Apple’s CarPlay support through a firmware update set to arrive this summer. Owners with an iPhone 5, 5c or 5s will be able to take advantage of Apple Maps, Siri and more!
Earlier this week, Google agreed to buy Titan Aerospace, a solar-powered drone manufacturer that had previously been in talks with Facebook. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company plans to use the high-flying aircraft in collaboration with its Project Loon.
Thin, light and simple: MSI’s latest gaming laptop is all of those things and more. Dubbed the GS60 Ghost, this slim aluminum machine has a bright 15.3-inch display and ultrabook-esque buttonless trackpad. All in all, the Ghost is a great choice for serious gamers, provided they can endure its less-than-average battery life.
In a recent blog post, Sony announced it’s preparing a 1.70 firmware update for the PS4 that will include a brand new video editor (called SHAREfactory) and pre-game loading functionality. Exactly when it will be released, however, is still to be known.
Odds are that you weren’t riveted by Beats Music when it first arrived, but the streaming service has just delivered a pair of big updates that may give you a good excuse to tune in. For the iOS app, the biggest improvement is visible when you’re signing up — you can now subscribe from within the software rather than heading to the web. The move makes it that much easier to keep the music flowing after your trial is over, and may just help Beats grow its fledgling customer base.
Not that Beats is neglecting its Android app by any means; you get a “brand spanking new widget” for your home screen if you’re running Google’s mobile platform. Both the Android and iOS releases also share some common improvements, including the ability to find Facebook friends who use Beats, better social network linking and thousands of new tracks in the Sentence playlist generator. There’s no guarantee that either refresh will have you rethinking that Rdio or Spotify subscription, but it’s hard to knock upgrades that make it easy to start listening.
Here’s a shocker: Facebook’s first major update to Paper, its socially-augmented news-reading app, makes it more social. Specifically, the app’s 1.1 update now allows users to comment on posts using photos, added birthday and event notifications and tacked on an unread-message counter to help users keep track of Group activity. Facebook hasn’t fiddled with the user interface much, but content from Bloomberg, Mashable, Popular Science and six other news sources have been gussied up with new, custom article covers. Oh, and the company says its made the app run a little faster, too. It’s not a game changing update, but anything’s better than forgetting your spouse’s birthday — assuming Facebook’s main app didn’t already remind you. Has Paper found its way to your home screen? We’re running a quick poll: skip past the break to drop in a vote or leave us a note.
Filed under: Internet
Facebook on Thursday announced a new feature that will allow mobile device users to share locations with friends. Called Nearby Friends, it’s an opt-in feature that lets people share their exact location with other users for determinate amounts of time. Users can choose to share with one friend, close friends, or a set list of people.
When Nearby Friends is on, you can see when your friends are traveling if they’re also using this feature and sharing with you. You’ll be able to see the city or neighborhood they are in, including on their profile.
Rolling out to Android and iOS apps in the coming weeks, Nearby Friends is designed to help users meet up with others, coordinate plans, share recommendations, and more.