Facebook’s 2012 experiment, while controversial, showed that what other people post on social media can alter moods. Apparently, though, that’s not the only thing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others of their ilk can do: according to a study by two European researchers, social media could also affect how satisfied people are with their lives. Fabio Sabatini from the Sapienza University in Rome and Francesco Sarracino from STATEC, the government statistics agency of Luxembourg, paired up to crunch data from a huge survey (seriously, there were 50,000 responders) conducted in Italy. That survey asked participants how satisfied they are with their current lives, how often they meet with friends, whether they trust people and what they typically do on the internet.
Based on the answers they got, the duo concluded that people tend to feel more satisfied with their lives and to be more trusting of people if they often meet with friends in person. Obviously, that’s not something you can do through the internet, so those who spend a ton of time on social networks are more inclined to be leery of other people. Sabatini and Sarracino also blame all the discrimination and hate speech online, in particular, for planting the seeds of distrust in social media users. In all, the study finds the overall effect of social networking on individuals to be “significantly negative” despite its power to keep people connected.
Source: MIT Technology Review
Facebook’s Messenger app isn’t new — it’s been around since 2011. It was up to users to decide if they wanted a separate app or if they liked exchanging messages inside the regular Facebook app. Now if users tap the message icon on Facebook, a message appears telling them to move over to Messenger. It’s no longer an option; it’s a requirement Facebook put in place to deliver “the best mobile messaging experience possible.”
This sudden shift isn’t sitting too well with users, evidenced by a 1.5-star rating in the App Store and lots of complaints on Twitter, ironically. Though I used to send messages often, it’s not important enough to warrant having another app on my phone and so I’ve parted ways with that feature. Doesn’t matter how adorable Pusheen may be. What’s your take? If you’re using Facebook regularly, have you complied with Facebook’s demand or have you given up? Head on over to our forums and let it out.
If you ever find yourself trying to remember just exactly what restaurant your friend recommended on Facebook several months ago, you might be able to do so soon with just a simple keyword search. Along with a “satire” tag and stickers in comments, it appears the social network is testing a feature that’ll let you do a keyword search on old posts from people in your network. To be clear, the search will only be on posts that are meant for you to see. In other words, posts that your friends published as private will still be banned from your curious eyes if you’re not the intended audience. Additionally, this test is apparently mobile-only. A Facebook spokesperson gave us this statement: “We’re testing an improvement to search on mobile. In this test you can use keywords to search for posts you’re in the audience for on Facebook.” It seems the test has rolled out to a limited few for now, though seeing as it seems a bit of a no-brainer for us, we won’t be surprised if this is rolled out officially some time soon.
Instagram has already revealed a bit about how Hyperlapse turns your shaky handheld footage into smooth time-lapses, but what if you really want to know what makes it tick? Don’t worry — the company will happily satisfy your curiosity with a deep dive into the app’s inner workings. Ultimately, you’re looking at a significant extension of the Cinema tech used in Instagram itself. It’s still using your phone’s gyroscope to determine the orientation of the camera and crop frames to counteract any shakiness. The biggest change is in how Hyperlapse adjusts to different time-lapse speeds. It only checks the positioning for the video frames you’ll actually see, and that crop-based smoothing effect will change as you step up the pace.
Importantly, Instagram’s approach contrasts sharply with what we saw in Microsoft’s similarly-named technique. There, Microsoft is calculating a 3D path through the scene and stitching together frames to create a seamless whole. That approach is potentially nicer-looking, but it’s a lot more computationally intensive; Instagram is taking advantage of your phone’s built-in sensors to create a similar effect without as much hard work. You don’t need to know the nitty-gritty about Hyperlapse to appreciate the effect it has on your clips, but the post is definitely worth a read if you have unanswered questions.
Source: Instagram Engineering Blog
This morning, Facebook-owned Instagram released a new, free iOS app for making time-lapse videos. It’s called Hyperlapse. Though it sounds simple, the app is anything but: it adds beautiful image-stabilization to normally shaky-cam. We’ve compiled half a dozen of the best videos we’ve seen thus far, but we’d love to add more to our collection as the day goes on. Let us know about your favorites in the comments below, on Twitter/Facebook/G+/the Engadget forums, by carrier pigeon — really, whatever means you’d like. Preferably not smoke signals
My phone buzzes. I glance at it and see a text message from my husband, who wants to know if I can pick him up from work. Later that day, my phone buzzes again. This time, it’s a Facebook Messenger notification from my mother, who wants to chat about an upcoming trip. At the same time, a friend pings me using Twitter’s Direct Messages. Next, a colleague strikes up a conversation on Google Hangouts. Realizing it would be easier to handle all of these with a computer, I flip open my laptop so I can chat with everyone simultaneously. Within the span of a few hours, I’ve chatted with four different people on four completely different messaging platforms. And the juggling doesn’t stop there.
It used to be that sending an SMS was enough. Now there’s a seemingly endless number of ways to stay in touch with someone. And it’s not just dedicated messaging apps like WhatsApp or Line either. Instagram added direct messaging this past December; Vine followed suit earlier this April; and even Pinterest joined the bandwagon recently by letting pinners chat with other pinners. And, of course, Twitter has had direct messaging for almost eight years now. While variety and choice are generally good things, all of these messaging services introduce a perplexing problem: We have too many inboxes.
Being able to send messages within different applications isn’t all bad, of course. If I think of an interesting photo or video I want to share with just my friends on Instagram, I can do so within the app easily. The same with Pinterest — I can continue the collaboration process of pinning designs and planning a home remodel, for example, without having to use another messaging service. And, of course, messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are a lot cheaper to use than traditional SMS — for US users at least, there’s no need to fork over exorbitant messaging fees every month or, if you’re on a limited plan, cough up pennies with every text.
But the problem is all of these messaging services and apps are siloed experiences. Messages can’t be shared outside of their respective ecosystems. Worse still, I have an obligation to use all of them because different people in my social circle use different apps. When I travelled to Malaysia earlier this year, WhatsApp was the app of choice amongst my friends. A couple of my other pals use Snapchat, so I have that installed on my phone too. A few other early adopter friends (most of whom are admittedly tech writers like myself) use Slingshot, Facebook’s Snapchat alternative, so I’ve got that as well. I also installed Path’s Talk app and Line to chat with a few people, though they were mostly to exchange fun stickers. I even downloaded that silly Yo app, even if I only ever use it in jest.
Forrester researcher Thomas Husson said in a report on messaging apps entitled “Messaging Apps: Mobile Becomes The New Face Of Social” that the “fragmented nature of the social media ecosystem is inherent to the fact that individuals have multiple identities.” Basically, people use different apps and networks for different reasons. For example, people tend to use LinkedIn to talk with potential business partners, while they might use Facebook Messenger only with friends or family. Further, some messaging apps tend to be more popular in certain parts of the world — Line, for example, has a stronger following in Asia — which, if you have friends all over the globe, would mean you’re constantly switching between services.
What’s the big deal, you might ask? Our smartphones and computers are certainly more than capable of handling these disparate systems, and besides, it’s not that difficult to switch between apps, right? Well, sure, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. I shouldn’t have to have a dozen different messaging apps on my phone to talk with all the people in my life. Chris Heuer, a longtime social media user and CEO of Alynd, a social business startup, expresses the same frustration over too many apps: “I think what’s missing in this whole discussion on messaging now is that the messaging is now often done within the context, instead of messaging being the context.” It’s the reason why he dislikes the fragmentation of Facebook Messenger away from the core Facebook app. “Now I have another app I have to open and that will waste more time I don’t have … I’ve got enough apps. I want less, not more.”
Several years ago, there was a similar problem with too many instant-messaging protocols. I used all of them — AOL, Yahoo, MSN, GChat and, yes, even ICQ. I remember installing all of these apps on my computer and keeping them all logged in at the same time because, for some reason, my friends and coworkers just couldn’t agree on the same IM platform. Then, something wonderful happened. All-in-one apps like Trillian and Adium came along to unite most of the disparate IM services under one program. At last, I could launch just one app to chat with everyone.
What we need, then, is an equivalent universal inbox for messaging. No, not just for all your email and text messages. For everything. We need a smart inbox that’ll sort messages by service, label them appropriately and will let you continue conversations within just one app.
There are a few solutions out there that come close to solving the problem. The Hangouts app for Android, for example, is able to handle both Google’s IM system and text messages. If you’re a loyal BlackBerry fan, you already know that the OS from Waterloo has a unified inbox that can house emails, texts and messages from Facebook and Twitter in one place. Disa.im is an Android app currently in alpha that promises to combine SMS, WhatsApp, Hangouts and Facebook messaging in one place as well. There’s also an app called Messages+ that promises to do the same thing, though it seems to fall short — it doesn’t support incoming messages for WhatsApp and we weren’t able to use it to send a message on Facebook.
Still, none of these really live up to the dream of that one, true universal inbox for everything. Which is, sad to say, probably more fantasy than reality. Not only because most of these apps are walled gardens, but also because some, like Snapchat and Slingshot, are based around messages that are meant to disappear after you’ve read them. Further, new messaging features and apps crop up all the time, making it tough to keep something like a universal inbox up-to-date.
The alternate solution, of course, is to insist on just one communication method for people to contact you. You probably won’t be able to keep in touch with as many people in your life, and it might be harder for people to reach you. But, perhaps, that’s the price to pay for sanity.
Hold on, my phone’s buzzing again.
Source: Facebook Newsroom
If you’re an iPhone user, you may want to be cautious about opening messages that contain phone numbers in the near future; they may cost you a lot of money. Developer Andrei Neculaesei notes that maliciously coded links in some apps will abuse the “tel” web handler (which covers dialing) to automatically make a phone call the moment you view a message. Potentially, an evildoer could force you to call an expensive toll number before you’ve had a chance to hang up. The exploit isn’t limited to any one app or developer, either. Facebook Messenger, Gmail and Google+ all fall prey to the attack, and it’s likely that other, less recognizable apps exhibit similar behavior. Apple’s Safari browser will ask you before starting a call, but FaceTime’s behavior lets you pull a similar (though not directly related) stunt.
In many cases, it’s the developers who are to blame. They’re supposed to put tighter controls on what happens when a number comes in, such as giving you a warning. However, Apple could theoretically mitigate the issue by requiring prompts for all phone links. You may not have to worry about a spam flood in practice, but let’s hope app writers act quickly — as Android users have already learned, “tel” exploits can cause a lot of grief if left unchecked.
Facebook has a storied history of shelling out bounties to whomever manages to unearth bugs in its systems, and according to The Verge now it’s willing to pay out cash to folks to find who do the same for Oculus VR’s code. Interested? You’ll stand to make a minimum of $500 for your efforts, and just how high that reward goes depends on the complexity and severity of the issue you dig up. This sort of bug hunting has the potential to become an awfully lucrative hobby – after all, Facebook didn’t shell out billions of dollars to invest in the future of communication only to skimp when it comes to patching potentially critical problems. Here’s the thing, though: you probably won’t be ferreting out bugs in the Oculus hardware just yet. Facebook product security engineer Neal Poole told The Verge that most of the issues facing Oculus aren’t found in the face-mounted VR goggles; instead, they lay dormant on Oculus’ website and in the messaging system developers use to keep tabs on each other. Yeah, we know, sort of bummer – just know that Poole didn’t completely close the door on more involved bug hunts down the road.
Via: The Verge