To better accommodate its users in emerging markets, many of whom only have access to 2G signal, Facebook announced a number of improvements to News Feed on Tuesday. In short, the news services has been revamped to ensure that it loads efficiently, regardless of network speed or the model of device being used. So if you’re trying to load News Feed from a flip phone on a shaky connection, the service will push fewer video posts (which wouldn’t load anyway) in favor of more status updates and link posts.
What’s more, if the system notices that your connection is slow, it will begin to download stories related to whatever you’re reading, while you’re reading it, so the next post you read will be ready when you’re done with the current one. Facebook has also implemented a progressive JPEG format that will display a lower-quality version of the image while it’s downloading. Furthermore, if you’re on a particularly terrible connection (say, a refugee camp or anywhere in Montana) News Feed will now at least show you previously-downloaded stories instead of just a blank screen. It’s better than nothing, right?
[Image Credit: Getty]
Source: Facebook News Room
Many of the people who are coming online everyday are residents in emerging markets, and much of the time, a 2G data connection is the fastest speed available in these regions. So in order to help more people become connected in an easier fashion, Facebook has developed an open-sourced Network Connection Class that will help the company determine how fast a certain user’s connection is. In turn, this will allow Facebook to determine which types of content show up in users’ News Feeds.
For example, if a phone has a slower internet connection and can’t load videos, News Feed will show you less videos and more status updates and links. And now with the new Network Connection Class, Facebook will begin retrieving more stories and photos while you’re reading your News Feed to make sure stories are always available as you keep scrolling.
The company explains:
If you are on a poor internet connection and your News Feed is loading slowly, we will first download the story you’re currently looking at, rather than download a series of News Feed stories. For example, if you are looking at a photo your friend posted or a photo from a Page you’ve liked, that isn’t fully downloaded, we prioritize that photo over loading a story below it that you aren’t currently looking at, so you can see the most important photos you’re viewing as quickly as possible.
Facebook is no stranger to making it easier for folks around the world to access their service. Last June, the company launched Facebook Lite, a lighter version of the standard Facebook app that weighs in at less than 1MB in size.
As first world markets have become saturated with smartphones, the market has started to move on to emerging markets. One of the challenges in those places is the lack of high speed connections, like 4G LTE, that many of us may take for granted. In some areas of the world, users may even be limited to 2G speeds. With more users located in regions with challenging communication infrastructures and slower speeds, app developers have to start taking that into account and optimize their apps for these challenges. Facebook has shared some of the steps they are taking to help users access their News Feed even if they are on a slow connection.
One step that Facebook is taking is the development of an open-source Network Connection Class that helps them determine they type of network a user is utilizing what speeds they are able to achieve. Using that information, Facebook does a better job of fetching stories and photos that may be lower down in the News Feed while a user is still reading something else. This makes the experience flow more smoothly as content is available to load when a user starts scrolling again. That same connection speed information may also result in the News Feed leaning more heavily on status updates and links and pulling back on posts that include videos.
Facebook’s engineers indicate the items to be downloaded on the News Feed now get prioritized more aggressively. One priority is to go ahead and download a story that a user is actually looking at rather than trying to load items further down in the stream. Another step Facebook took is to show stories from a previous session when no connection is present or the connection is particularly poor. They indicated user feedback showed users would rather have something to look at, even if it was old, rather than a blank News Feed.
Come comment on this article: Facebook improves News Feed for challenging connections
A legal framework used to justify the movement of user data across the Atlantic has just been ruled invalid by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The Safe Harbor agreement, as it’s known, let companies like Facebook and Twitter freely move your information between its centers in Europe and the US. However, following today’s judgement, they may now need to store those details locally or prove that European privacy standards designed to protect your rights are being upheld.
The case began when Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems called out Facebook’s desire to move data stored in its Irish data center over to the US following Edward Snowden’s NSA surveillance leaks. The Irish courts dismissed the action citing the Safe Habor agreement, leaving him to lodge an appeal with the European Court of Justice. While he waited for a decision, Schrems received backing from Yves Bot, Advocate General of the ECJ, who agreed that Safe Harbor was dangerous and not binding.
With all past data-sharing agreements now deemed invalid, individual regulators now have the power to decide what happens with data stored in their countries. Ireland, for example, must now “examine, with complete independence, whether the transfer of a person’s data to a third country complies with the requirements laid down by the directive.”
“Legislation permitting the public authorities to have access on a generalised basis to the content of electronic communications must be regarded as compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life,” the court adds.
What must companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter do now? It’s not yet known how this will affect the flow of data between countries, but we do know that authorities can question the need for such a process and possibly request that all user data is stored locally, rather than in the US. More than 4,000 European and American companies are affected, so it’s not a small judgement. However, the European Union and the US are in negotiations over a new agreement, one that could give Europe far more control over what companies, but also security agencies, have access to.
[Image credit: mpd01605, Flickr]
Interbrand has released its latest annual ranking of the world’s most valuable brands and for the third year running, Apple and Google have topped the list. The 2015 edition of the Best Global Brands reveals that technology brands show no sign of slowing down with six out of the top ten made up of technology companies.
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For the third year running, Apple has topped the list and Google has come second, with both companies leading the list for the third year in a row. Apple is valued at $170 billion while Google is valued at $120 billion and the consultancy derives its valuation from a company’s financials, ability to influence purchase decisions and the extend that it can support premium pricing (which explains why Apple has topped the list).
Microsoft and IBM swapped places, with the Redmond-based Windows-maker valued at $68 billion in fourth place. Korean giant Samsung stayed in seventh place with a valuation of $45 billion while Amazon (who is technically classified as a retailer), is up 29 percent to $38 billion in tenth place. Other brands in the top ten include Coca-Cola, General Electric and McDonald’s.
Elsewhere on the list outside the top 10:
- Intel rank in 14th with a 4 percent increase to $35 billion
- HP dropped 3 percent to $23 billion in 18th place
- Social giant Facebook rose 54 percent to a valuation of $22 billion in 23rd place
- Camera giant Canon dropped 4 percent to $11 billion in 40th place
- Siemens ranked 53rd ($8.5 billion)
- Sony dropped 5 percent to a valuation of $8 billion in 58th place
- Panasonic rose 2 percent to $6.4 billion in 65th place
- Huawei rose a whopping 15% percent to $5 billion in 88th place
This year’s edition also saw PayPal and Lenovo enter the list at 97th and 100th place with valuations of $4.25 billion and $4.11 billion but the list isn’t great for everyone; as might be expected, troubled Finnish company Nokia joined troubled gamer Nintendo in dropping out of the list.
What do you think of the companies on (and off) the list? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!
Facebook has made it clear that satellites will play a big role in delivering its free internet initiative to people across the globe, but talk of a rollout has been pretty limited. That changed today after the company announced it’s teamed up with French communications specialist Eutelsat to beam connectivity to more than 14 countries in the most densely populated parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Facebook and Eutelsat will work with Israeli company Spacecom to utilize the “entire broadband payload” on the AMOS-6 satellite, which is slated to launch later this year. Interestingly, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which applied to the FCC to launch its own downlink broadband satellites in June, will escort AMOS-6 to orbit using its Falcon 9 rocket.
The Internet.org project has come under fire in recent months over neutrality and transparency, especially in India. Although it’s now reaching hundreds of millions of people, the company been accused of pushing its services and controlling what they can access. To help distinguish its app from the wider Internet.org initiative, Facebook rebranded the app as “Free Basics by Facebook” and added 60 new services from developers who had signed up to the project.
Facebook hopes to begin transmissions by the second half of 2016, connecting those who are out of reach of fixed and mobile networks. However, that’s not all it has planned. It’s also building Aquila, a 140-foot solar-powered unmanned plane that can deliver internet from 60,000 to 90,000 feet. The company will test the UAV later this year but there’s no word on when (or if) it will be fully deployed.
Certain locations are obviously Instagram photo magnets, like the Golden Gate Bridge or Times Square. Have you wondered which locations are actually the most popular, though? Busbud has done some legwork to find out. The tourism site recently published an interactive map that shows the most popular locations on Instagram in each US state and Canadian province… and they’re not necessarily the ones you’re expecting. It makes sense that Disneyland would be a hotspot for Californians, for example, but you might not know that Dollywood gets the most attention in Tennessee — sorry, Elvis.
The data also reveals which location types lure the most shutterbugs. It won’t shock you to hear that parks top the list in the US, but you probably didn’t expect wineries and vineyards to be close behind. Also, North Americans don’t share the same tastes — Canadians are fonder of landmarks and historic sites. Yes, this info is a not-so-subtle plug for Busbud’s ticket-finding service, but it might prove helpful if you’re wondering what to visit when you’re in unfamiliar territory.
There’s a reason why the #freethenipple campaign blew up on Instagram: the photo-sharing website is typically quick to pull down posts showing women’s nipples, even if there’s nothing pornographic about the photos. Why? Well, according to Business Insider, the app’s cofounder puts the blame on Apple. Instagram CEO Kevyn Systrom explained his Facebook-owned company’s side during a talk in London, claiming that its guidelines can’t be changed due to Apple’s age rating. Since IG wants to retain its current 12+ rating in order to have a wider audience — only rated 17+ apps are allowed to feature explicit content — it has to continue taking down posts that showcase nudity.
It’s worth noting, however, that photos showing men’s nipples don’t get deleted, and a quick search on the app using the right keywords will surface truly pornographic posts. Mic also pointed out that Twitter’s full of porn accounts and posts despite its 4+-year-old rating, but Apple hasn’t kicked it off the App Store yet. A number of celebrities helped the #freethenipple campaign take off on Instagram, some even posting topless photos of themselves. They include comedian/host Chelsea Handler, pop star Miley Cyrus and models Chrissy Teigen and Naomi Campbell, whose magazine photo with fully visible nipples stayed up for 20 hours before the app pulled it down.
[Image credit: PhotoObjects.net/Getty]
Microsoft is giving Outlook on the web a couple of familiar social media-flavored features. First, it’s adding a thumbs up on every email, which you can click on the reading pane. That gives you a way to publicly “Like” or show ideas support, particularly for school/work group messages — if someone else likes the email you sent, you’ll get a notification. The other one is obviously inspired by Twitter’s @mentions: when you want to call someone’s attention in the body of an email, simply type @ to open up your directory and list of frequent contacts. If the person wasn’t originally in the group message, his email address will automatically be added in the To: box.
You can enjoy both features soon if you have an Office 365 commercial subscription that comes with Outlook on the web. Office 365 First Release customers will get the Like feature sometime today and @mentions by mid-October. Everybody else, on the other hand, will have to wait until late October to see a thumbs up icon in their emails and until mid-November to @mention somebody in a group message.
Source: Microsoft Office
Fed of up boring profile pictures? Well, Facebook will soon allow all of its users to stick up a short looping video in place of a regular motion-less profile picture.
Along with the new short video clips, Facebook will also be updating its social network to support temporary profile pictures that will revert back to a default after a set period of time. Facebook envisages users temporarily changing their picture for special events, such as birthdays or a vacation, to show support for sports teams or simply to reflect your mood.
This update aims to offer users a lot more choice over how their profile looks and Facebook is also adding in a new customizable space at the top of your profile. This space can be filled with details about your location, education or place of work and can also be accompanied by a selection of up to five of your favourite photos.
Finally, mobile profiles will be receiving a layout tweak which moves the profile photo or video right into the centre of the page and also makes them slightly larger. Photos and friends are also moved closer to the top of the page, which Facebook says will help people get to know each other a little easier.
This update is only available for a small number of iPhone users living in the UK and California at the moment, but it will be rolling out to every Facebook user in the near future.