YouTube announced on Friday that it is acquiring BandPage, a platform that acts as a homepage of sorts for musicians. BandPage originally designed landing tabs on Facebook for musicians but lost most of its traffic after the social site redesigned its timelines in 2012. It’s since become an independent platform that bands use to showcase themselves as well as sell concert tickets and merchandise. It’s free to use though the company does take a 15 percent cut of all transactions.
YouTube is likely acquiring the smaller company as a means of attracting both bands and new viewers to its newly-launched Red subscription service. Bands would get a larger stage to showcase their talents, thereby increasing their ticket and merchandise sales; Red subscribers will get access to more bands and YouTube gets more people to pay $10 a month for the ad-free subscription as well as potentially early or exclusive access to content. It’s a win-win-win.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, sources close to Google have indicated that the tech giant is working on a stand-alone Virtual Reality headset that will be independent of a phone, computer, or gaming console. Google is apparently ready to take on the likes of Oculus, and offerings from Sony, HTC, and Samsung with their new headset that may debut later this year. A VR headset that works independently of another system would be a first in the VR field, and possibly give Google a leg up on its competition.
“Since the beginning we’ve been about making VR available for everyone. We’ll have some more to share later in the year“
A source familiar with Google’s plans has indicated that the new headset will include a screen, high-powered processors, and outwardly facing cameras. Google will reportedly use chips from Movidius Inc. to power the headset. The chips will tap into the cameras on the headset to check the camera’s feeds and check the position of the user’s head. This would be different from other VR headsets that use an accompanying computing device, like a desktop computer or gaming console, to track the movements of users’ heads.
Nothing has been confirmed yet, and we’re only getting information from sources close to the project. This isn’t uncommon for an unreleased device. We see leaks almost every day for devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the LG G5 that have yet to see the light of day. What is different about this situation is that we’re talking about an entirely new device from Google.
Virtual Reality is an area where Google has dipped their toes in the water (Google Cardboard), but has yet to commit to go swimming. It’s entirely possible that Google begins to go down this path, and either finds it too difficult or too costly and cancels the project. It could turn out similarly to projects like Google Wave or Google Buzz that saw limited beta releases, then were shuttered.
There are also reports coming out that Google is working on an updated version of Google cardboard. The new version would be made out of plastic, and while it would continue to rely on a user’s smartphone screen, it would include computer chips and sensors. Cardboard started as an experiment for Google, but after 5 million units shipped, the project may have convinced Google that Virtual Reality is a revenue stream waiting to be tapped.
Keep your eyes peeled to Google I/O 2016 for a possible announcement.
The post Google will reportedly enter the VR fray with a stand-alone headset appeared first on AndroidGuys.
The data-minded folks over at FiveThirtyEight have teamed up with Facebook to find out what parts of the country support which candidate via an interactive map. While FiveThirtyEight stresses that this is in no way a representative sample (Facebook users skew heavily younger, low-income and female, for instance), it’s still interesting to see where candidates stack up in terms of page likes.
My backyard of Kent County in Michigan has Republican neurosurgeon Ben Carson leading the way with 30 percent of likes, Vermont Democrat Bernie Sanders with 29 percent and priapic real estate mogul Donald Trump trailing at 17 percent. But judging by the rest of the map up above, that order isn’t far off from how the rest of the country is leaning.
But if likes translated directly to votes, Sanders would likely beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nationwide by a 3:1 ratio, with Trump picking up more votes than Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio combined.
You can even further drill down and compare candidates on a same-party, state-by-state basis as well, should you so desire. Again, it’s important to note that this isn’t anywhere close to being a scientific prediction of who will win the race for our country’s top office.
FiveThirtyEight says that another factor playing into these numbers is that “only some people on Facebook have liked a presidential candidate’s page.” Meaning, just because you support a candidate, it doesn’t mean you’ve clicked the thumbs up.
Want to do some research before you like or vote? Then give our guide to the candidates a gander.
Facebook has slowly beefed up its Messenger offering over the past year, with not only the ability to send payments and hail an Uber ride, but also the addition of an AI-inspired personal assistant (or at least the promise of). Now it looks like Messenger will have a couple of other features added in the near future: the integration of SMS plus support for multiple accounts. It was first seen on Android Police but we’ve since received confirmation from Facebook that the company is indeed testing these new features.
“At Messenger we are always trying to create new ways for people to communicate seamlessly with everyone,” said a Facebook spokesperson. “Right now, we’re testing the ability for people to easily bring all their conversations — from SMS and Messenger — to one place. It’s a really simple way to get, see and respond to all your SMS messages in just one app. By choosing to access your SMS messages in Messenger, they’re right alongside all the other enhanced features that Messenger offers.”
We should note here that SMS was actually a part of Facebook Messenger before, but it was removed a few years ago due to low adoption. But perhaps with the advent of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Google’s Hangouts, Facebook had a change of heart. From the Android Police screenshots, it looks like the SMS messages will be colored differently — purple instead of blue — and that it’s an optional feature that can be enabled or disabled in settings.
Screenshot credit: Android Police
As for multiple accounts on Messenger, Facebook had this to say: “Millions of people share phones with their family and friends. Until now, there hasn’t been an easy way for people to access their individual Messenger accounts from shared devices. To address this, we’ve launched a feature on Android to enable multiple people to log in and use Messenger from a single phone.”
We’re not quite sure why family and friends would want to share Messenger accounts on a single phone, but we can see this feature being more useful in a tablet, where it’s more likely to be a shared household device. It could also be useful if you have both a personal and a professional account. From the looks of it, you can add accounts to the Messenger app in settings and be able to switch between them as you wish. There’s no telling when these features will arrive for all Android phones, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they appeared on your device in the near future.
Source: Android Police
Indonesia’s Information and Communication Ministry spokesman Ismail Cawidu on Thursday has called on social messaging app maker Line to remove a selection of stickers depicting LGBT themes from its online store. While homosexuality isn’t technically illegal in Indonesia (outside of the Aceh province), it is a taboo subject in the socially conservative nation. The stickers’ presence generated a severe online backlash from the apps users, prompting Cawidu’s demand.
Line replied to the enjoiner via Facebook, apologizing for making users “uncomfortable” and promising to remove the offending items in short order. “At Line, we stick to the global benchmark for screening and filtering of content that is sensitive from the perspective of the local culture,” the company’s Facebook post reads. “Line appreciates all the feedback from users and other parties related to the products and features, and we realize how sensitive this matter is and will work hard to ensure that things like this do not happen again.”
The I&C Ministry in turn replied with a post on its own website praising Line’s capitulation. “We appreciate their work in addressing things that could potentially cause public unrest, especially the concerns of mothers of children on the negative influence of LGBT stickers,” it reads. Yes, please, won’t someone think of the children.
It wasn’t too long ago that some users discovered that Facebook has been playing around with a Material Design revamp of their popular messaging app. But it seems like the social sultan isn’t stopping at aesthetics. The Facebook Messenger team is playing around with several new features, but only a handful of test users are seeing the changes right now.
First off, it looks like Messenger is getting the ability to support multiple accounts in-app. This comes on the heels of Instagram, a social media service also owned by Facebook, doing the same with their app. With these changes, users who have more than one Facebook account (for whatever reason) will be able to swap back and forth between their identities with just a couple of taps.
Second, it looks like they are playing around with SMS/MMS integration. Now, long ago in the Before Times, Messenger actually had the ability to support SMS and MMS messages, but Facebook wound up ripping the feature out because nobody was really using it. However, 2016 is a very different battleground for messaging apps, with several contenders competing to be the one messaging service to rule them all.
Google Hangouts boldly integrated text messaging with their service, but it wound up not being as flexible and reliable as dedicated SMS/MMS platforms, and now it appears that they will soon be deactivating this feature. As it stands, Facebook has a pretty strong corner on the messaging market with both WhatsApp and Messenger topping global usage charts. If Messenger can effectively implement texting capabilities and pull users away from awesome dedicated apps like Textra, it might just be on its way to becoming the world’s default text communication service.
Which brings us to the Game Changer. Are you ready? Messenger may be receiving… blue Action and Status bars to replace the current ones. Boom.
Nah, I’m just kidding. Although it’s true that blue bars appear to be in the works, the big news here was the SMS integration, of course. Currently, only select users are seeing these changes, and there’s no way to toggle them on or off. Facebook appears to be field-testing all of these features to gauge user experience before they finalize any changes.
What are your thoughts regarding these potential upcoming alterations to Messenger? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
It’s no secret that Facebook makes truck loads of money from its video advertising. Truck loads upon trucks loads, actually: around $17 billion in 2015. So it stands to reason that the world’s largest social networking site wants to make sure that the more than one and a half billion monthly active users don’t simply scroll past ads as easily as we have become accustomed to doing. Facebook is now rolling out a new captioned video captioning tool for marketers that will make those embedded ads almost impossible to ignore.
The announcement came on the Facebook for Business portal, with a daunting headline of “capture attention with updated features for video ads”. While most of us are probably perfectly happy being relatively immune to advertising in our stream, this doesn’t suit Facebook’s real clientele so well: advertisers. When the advertisers aren’t happy, Facebook isn’t happy.
The post tells marketers: “With people’s growing control over what content they watch and for how long, the faster you communicate your message in a video ad and capture viewers’ attention, the better.” It goes on to outline the new tools being made available over the coming weeks including automated video captioning.
Our new automated captioning tool generates captions for video ads and delivers them to the advertiser within the ad creation tool to review, edit and save to their video ad.
As Facebook notes, captioned videos increases view time by an average of 12%, with a testimony from A&W reporting a 25% increase with a captioned video ad. It’s not clear if Facebook is providing the service to advertisers for free to help the platform make more advertising dollars or whether advertisers will have to pay to use the service. Either way, with 12-25% greater view time you know you’re going to start seeing more captioned videos ads in the near future.
Advertising on Facebook has exploded recently, with 57% ad revenue growth YoY in just Q4, 2015. In that quarter, ad revenue represented 96% of Facebook’s total revenue and of that astronomical ad revenue, 80% came from mobile.
You can see the split between mobile (blue) and desktop (red) in the graph below. The green and pink lines represent percentage growth. Whatever Facebook is doing is working well, and the introduction of captioned video ads is sure to see that figure continue to spike just as hard.
In case you’re curious, the Facebook post gives some advertising examples of successful video ads as well as providing some tips to advertisers, which actually makes for some interesting reading. I’m not saying it will make you any more able to ignore this new breed of super-ad, but knowing how the enemy thinks can’t hurt. Be warned though, there are video ads on the page…
How do you cope with video ads?
As often as Facebook likes to push video ads, they’ve been relatively easy to ignore. The sound is usually off until you click, so you can scroll by to whatever you really meant to look at. However, it might be tough to completely gloss over them in the near future — Facebook is rolling out a tool that automatically captions video ads. Whether or not they appear is up to the advertiser, but the hope is that you’ll stop (if ever so briefly) to read what a promo is saying instead of skipping to the next post.
If you’re cringing at the thought, you can at least take consolation in knowing that these captions won’t arrive in earnest for a while. The tool is reaching marketers over the course of the weeks ahead, and only in US English for now. You’ll be safe for a while, folks. As it stands, captions might have an upside (other than allowing the hearing impaired to access what’s going on, if they choose): they could reduce the temptation for advertisers to use more distracting custom text in a desperate bid to catch your eye.
Source: Facebook for Business
Venture capitalist (and Facebook board member) Marc Andreessen is known for being outspoken on tech issues, but he’s learning the hard way that he went one step too far. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has chastised Andreessen for claiming that India’s valuation of net neutrality (such as the rejection of Facebook’s Free Basics service) was part of an “anti-colonialism” mindset that had hindered the country “for decades” after it declared independence in 1947. Yes, the implication was that the country should harken back to the days of British colonial rule and accept outside influence. Not surprisingly, Zuck finds this idea “deeply unsettling” — whatever Facebook wants, it has to respect India’s culture, history and values.
For his part, Andreessen has deleted the offending Twitter post and apologized for writing it in the first place. He claims that he’s “100% in favor” of independence for any country. Even so, the incident isn’t exactly going to ease tensions between Facebook and India over Free Basics. While Facebook has gone some distance toward empathizing with India, this only reinforces views of Facebook as an outsider trying to impose its views.
Source: Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)