Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hidden Facebook App for iPad is Discovered


It’s been close to a year and a half since Apple first released its oh-so-popular iPad, and although there are tons of apps available for the device, there is still a very important app that has yet to be released for the iPad…a Facebook app. Rumors were flying around that Facebook might be kind enough to reveal an official app sometime this summer, but as we count down the last few days of July, there still has not been announcement.

However, just this weekend, TechCrunch’s MG Sielger claimed that he had discovered Facebook’s app for the iPad. He said that it was hidden within the code for the most recent version Facebook’s iPhone app (version 3.4.4). Sielger said that the app is written in HTML5, and although it is incredibly different from the iPhone app, he said that it is very good.

"In particular, the navigation system is great… the Facebook iPad app uses a left-side menu system that can be accessed by the touch of a button or the flick of the iPad screen," he writes. "The app also makes great use of the pop-overs (overlay menus) found in other iPad apps. When you flip the iPad horizontally, the list of your online friends appears and you can chat with them as you do other things on Facebook."

Sielger said that other features that are included with the app are a photo viewer that is very similar to the photo app that comes with the iPad and a map that shows the locations of your friends on Facebook Places. So far, there has not been any comment from Facebook reps about the app. Sielger, however, said that he had confirmed that the app is legit by checking with a “source who had previously seen the app."

People have been patiently waiting for an official Facebook iPad app. Since Facebook still hasn’t officially offered customers anything, there has been plenty of room for third-party developers to come in and offer their own unofficial versions of Facebook apps like Friendly and iFace. These have been some of the most popular iPad apps from the App Store.

Right now it is unclear when Facebook might offer this app, if it is indeed the real thing. Hopefully, either Facebook will release this newly discovered app or release some kind of official app because customers are definitely ready for a Facebook iPad app.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Facebook or Google+: What Will You Choose?


Social media users cannot ignore the newest direct competition to Facebook, Google+. You cannot help but look at the two platforms side by side and compare to see which would best serve your needs. There are quirks about Facebook that some people get extremely frustrated about…does Google+ solve that frustration? The two companies obviously are not the best of friends, but will one put the other out of business, or will they both coexist in peace? I believe that it all depends on how they cater to their users' needs.

Although it is still early in the game, so far, Google+ has been very well received by the social media world. Just last week, Google CEO Larry Page announced that Google+ already had 10 million users that were sharing more than a billion items on the site per day. Paul Allen, the founder of Ancestry.com, estimated that the number of users had risen to 18 million this week, and ComScore confirmed on Friday, July 22 that the number had risen to more than 20 million users.

However, is this enough progress to pose any kind of serious threat to Facebook, the reigning social media giant? Facebook has seven years, 750 million users and an Oscar-nominated film on Google+. Although recently, Facebook has been dealing with low customer satisfaction and some privacy issues, Google+ has a lot of catching up to do if they want to play with the big boys.

So, have you joined Google+ yet? Have you been able to capture a highly coveted invitation to the newest social media platform yet? Right now, the site seems to be utilized by tech folks and early adopters, but it really is growing. Numbers definitely got a nice little boost when Apple released the Google+ iOS app into the App Store. It quickly became the number one downloaded free app.

So, as more social networking sites pop up, ask yourself the question: do you really have time for yet another social network? I mean we already have Facebook and Twitter to waste plenty of our time, do we have room for another site? Do you think that users could possibly dump their Facebook account and give Google+ a try? Will some people use both? I truly do not know. All I know is, it's going to take one heck of a site to beat out Facebook!


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Social Networking Platform in the Works for Microsoft?


It’s been just a few weeks since Google launched Google+, but there are already rumors swirling around concerning the possibility that Microsoft might be creating their own social networking platform.

The rumors began the evening of Thursday, July 15 when a certain image was posted online (the image included with this article). The rumors seemed to revolve around a platform that would seek to compete with Google+ but not Facebook.

Socl.com displayed a welcome page for a service called Tulalip. The page read, "With Tulalip you can find what you need and share what you know easier than ever." The side of the page then featured buttons for allowing users to sign in with Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Since that evening, Microsoft has replaced the friendly page that sparked all of the rumors with a boring, simple page stating, “Thanks for stopping by. Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn’t mean to, honest.”

When questioned about the possible site, Microsoft spokeswoman Jackie Lawrence simply echoed what the company posted at the site.

According to a report by Fusible.com, Microsoft purchased the domain rights to Socl.com from Marksmen. The purchase was reportedly made sometime after June 21. This means that Microsoft really only had about three weeks to work on the project; however, besides the leaked picture, there is no real evidence that Microsoft is planning to create its own social networking platform.

Andre Eisner, the director of community and content at Retrevo, said, “This is such a vague rumor, I think it's hilarious that people are jumping on it. People are jumping on it and they're already bashing Microsoft, saying it's no Google+ killer."

Eisner continues saying that he simply does not believe that Microsoft could have put together such a project in a three week timeframe.

"They can't even get copy and paste into Windows Phone 7 and you think they'll create a world-class social media site within two or three weeks? Not going to happen," Eisner stated.

"It makes more sense to integrate Bing into social media environments," Eisner said.
Microsoft’s Bing search engine (which I personally think doesn’t even compare to Google’s search engine) already offers users the option of social search capabilities via a tie-in that Microsoft worked out with Facebook. It was first introduced in 2010 and allows users who are searching through Bing to see what their Facebook friends “like.”

Just in June, Microsoft took things a step further by updating Bing Mobile to allow users to have Facebook integration involved with their Bing searches on their phones as well. Microsoft and Facebook have been partnering on projects for years.

Who knows what the picture was all about, but it is definitely uncertain as to whether or not it means that Microsoft will be providing users with a social networking platform. Maybe this was all a publicity stunt that Microsoft came up with to get people excited about the possibilities of a Microsoft platform, but maybe it wasn’t.

Unfortunately for those who are curious, Microsoft’s Lawrence says, "We have no more information at this time.”



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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Revolution of the Internet?

Rebecca MacKinnonAccording to Rebecca MacKinnon, an internet freedom activist (yes, they actually exist) who recently spoke at TED Global in Edinburgh, Scotland, the thought that "technology created by innovative companies will set us all free" is completely bogus.

MacKinnon opened her speech by contrasting the famous "1984" ad by Apple where the company asserted its role as an agent of empowerment. With Apple's recent, and controversial, removals from the company's App Store, MacKinnon stated that the internet is increasingly in need of a new system of "checks and balances".

This "need" apparently comes from the increasing power big corporations have over the internet as well as their ability to direct and shape what a person can and cannot do with their own internet lives as a result of that "power".

This problem is less prevalent in the United States but does rear its ugly head in other countries abroad like China where internet providers are rewarded with "Self-Discipline Awards" for conforming to the censorship policies set forth by the government. While this problem may seem very vast and nearly insurmountable, MacKinnon noted that it is more often Western technology that allows the government to enforce restrictions like this.

MacKinnon also points to post-revolution monitoring as well as restricted access to certain websites in countries like Tunisia and Egypt. "Even in democratic society we don't have good answers for how to balance the need for security on one hand and the protection of free speech on the other in our digital networks," MacKinnon stated.

In response to this, MacKinnon believes that the people of the internet should take a more active role in pressuring the government as well as corporations in order to preserve our digital free speech. MacKinnon added, "Each of us has a vital role to play in building a world in which the government and technology serve the world's people and not the other way around."

MacKinnon is so passionate about this topic that she even has a book out entitled "Consent of the Networked: A Citizen's Guide to the Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom" which is due to be released early 2012. What do you think? Do you think the people of the internet need to "take up arms" so to speak and rebel against the governments and corporations to free ourselves in the digital world?

Source: Mashable - Do We Need an Internet Freedom Movement?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Are You Cancelling Your Netflix Account? I Am!


Netflix announced on Tuesday, July 12 that they will no longer be offering unlimited Netflix streaming for free with their DVD rental plans. They are also introducing new pricing plans that have customers in an uproar.

Netflix has decided to introduce plans that allow users to choose to separate their DVD rentals from the Watch Instantly streaming. As of today, new Netflix members can get unlimited streaming or unlimited DVDs one at a time for $7.99. If customers want both unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs one at a time, they will be shelling out $15.98. Just yesterday this exact same plan only cost $9.99.

There are plenty of other plans that Netflix is now offering with its new spiked prices as well. Unlimited streaming plus two DVDs out at a time is $19.98 per month, unlimited streaming with three DVDs is $23.98 and streaming with four DVDs is now $29.98 per month. If you aren’t interested in the instant streaming, there is also an option to only rent two DVDs at a time without streaming for $11.99 per month.

Customers are outraged by the huge jump in Netflix’s prices. Protests are breaking out across social media networks. Threats of cancelled subscriptions and switching to Blockbuster’s DVD mailing rental services are being hurled across the web. The company is getting rammed for a 60 percent price hike, but doesn’t it seem reasonable for customers to be upset about something so outrageously ridiculous?

The announcement about the new rental plans was posted on the company’s Facebook page a mere ten hours ago, and in that time close to 19,000 people have expressed their at times brightly colored opinions about the company.

Here is just a snippet of what customers are saying:

“60% increase in price -- but, no positive change in service?? Insane!”

“Wow... I've been a member since 2003. When I got the email, my first thought was CANCEL. Yep, canceling.”

“Bye Bye Netflix! I will find another way to spend my money, rather than pay your price increases for decreased service.”

“Good news! I just saved a bunch of money by canceling my account.”

“Netflix just saved Blockbuster from bankruptcy.”

Netflix’s Facebook page has gotten plenty of “likes” today. That may seem like it doesn’t fit with all of the protests against the company. Well, see, the issue is that to comment on the Netflix page, you must first “like” the company. I went right ahead and liked the company so that I could get a few words in myself. Many people claim that Netflix has deleted their comments about the new plan, but even with the alleged deletes, anyone can see that customers are clearly not happy.

Facebook users are also going as far as creating new anti-Netflix community pages with group names such as “Cancel Netflix,” “I Unlike Netflix Today” and “I used to love Netflix until they decided to rip me off.” Many of the pages are encouraging users to join in the mass cancellation day on September 1. This is the day that the new rental plan changes take place for people who were members before the announcement.

Facebook is not the only site that is blowing up with disgust for Netflix. Twitter is being bombarded with “Dear Netflix” tweets highlighting users rage over the recent changes.

Users are saying that it is impossible to get through on the phone to talk to a Netflix customer service representative due to the overflow of enraged callers expressing their opinions about the announcement today.

Clearly Netflix has a huge problem on their hands. They will be losing plenty of customers over a stunt like this. It’s sad because I used to like Netflix so much. It was so convenient for me, but now I am forced to look elsewhere. Blockbuster, here I come!


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Monday, July 11, 2011

What Does Facebook Think About Google+?


If you haven’t noticed, Google+ has been popping up all over the place. At first I was very confused about what this new Google+ was, but when I looked into it a little bit more, I was intrigued. I honestly don’t know exactly how well it will do, but Google was right to give it a try. The chief executive of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg said at the launch of Facebook’s video-calling partnership with Skype that he thinks Google’s social strategy is a validation of everything that he has been saying all along.

The Facebook video calls were launched Wednesday, June 6 at an event in Palo Alto, California at Facebook’s headquarters. Last week, Zuckerberg said that Facebook had “something awesome” planned, but unfortunately for Zuckerberg, sources close to Facebook leaked details about the Skype partnership to the Web site TechCrunch.

Facebook is definitely at the very top of the social networking ladder, but Google is hoping to maybe make a dent with their newly released social network Google+. Recently, Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook has more than 750 million users. He said that the most important thing when it comes to the growth of a social network is the amount of information and data that can be shared. He added that each and every year the growth is increasing exponentially.

So how does Google’s Google+ Hangouts compare to Facebook’s new video chat feature? Well, it all just kind of depends on your personal preferences. Zuckerberg and Tony Bates, the chief executive of Skype, have been advertising the new video calling feature at Facebook as extremely easy to use. On the other hand, Google’s Hangouts seems rather complex. There are multiple messaging options and the ability to group chat with as many as 10 users.

Although it may be more complex, Susan Etlinger, an industry analyst for the Altimeter Group, seems to think that the options Google+’s Hangouts offers are a plus for users. "Google has an advantage because Hangouts is a lot more robust," she said.

"Now Skype is part of Microsoft, and we have an even more longstanding relationship with Microsoft," Zuckerberg said. "But I wouldn't undersell the importance of what we announced today. The vast majority of video chat is one-to-one chat, and this is going to be rolled out to everyone on the Web, and I think that is super awesome." Zuckerberg also commented on Google+ saying that it shows the constant evolution of social networking and how all of the companies scramble to keep up with one another.

"I'm not going to say a lot about Google+, as I've only spent a little bit of time on the service," Zuckerberg said. "But in terms of the narrative, as I was saying earlier, where the last five years have been about connecting people, and now that you have the social infrastructure in place a lot of the next five years will be about building these apps. You're going to see a lot of companies who haven't traditionally looked at social networking, not just companies like Google...but there's going to be a lot of apps, lot of companies out there, Netflix is a good example."

Zuckerberg continued saying that although Netflix has added a social aspect to the company, they didn’t really do it well. Companies are now looking to social networking sites to see how they can become a part of the social networking world. "I view a lot of this as validation as this is the way the next five years are going to play out," Zuckerberg added. "Every app is going to be social, and I think our job is to stay focused and to build the best value in the world, and if we don't do it, someone else will do it."



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Sunday, July 03, 2011

200 Million Tweets a Day On Twitter


Do you tweet? If so, how many times a day do you tweet? Once? Twice? Maybe a dozen times? You may not be part of the group of Twitter users that are taking major advantage of the mico-blogging site, but someone out there definitely is because Twitter announced on Thursday, June 30 that the site is now handling 200 million tweets per day.

According to Twitter’s blog post, these numbers have skyrocketed since 2009. In January 2009, Twitter was dealing with about 2 million tweets a day. In June 2010, that number had jumped to 65 million, and now those numbers have exploded to 200 million per day.

"For perspective, every day, the world writes the equivalent of a 10 million-page book in Tweets or 8,163 copies of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace," the company wrote. "Reading this much text would take more than 31 years and stacking this many copies of War and Peace would reach the height of about 1,470 feet, nearly the ground-to-roof height of Taiwan's Taipei 101, the second tallest building in the world." Now that is a lot of writing!

In March Twitter celebrated its five year anniversary. At that time, there was an average of about 140 million tweets going out each and every day. Twitter also revealed at that time that it took their site three years, two months and one day to get to its first billionth tweet. Now Twitter says that a billion tweets is nothing. Twitter users now send one billion tweets every five days.

So what is it that people find to talk about so much on Twitter, you might ask? The most popular trends of 2011 so far in terms of world news have been AH1N1 (the swine flu), while in the pop culture world Rebecca Black of “Friday” was the most talked about pop culture figure.

Some of the most popular news-related trending topics so far this year have surrounded the uprisings in the Middle East and the earthquake in Japan. After AH1N1, the top five most popular terms were Mubarak, Easter, Cairo and #prayforjapan. To finish up the top ten of the year were Chernobyl, Libia/Libya, Fukishima, William & Kate and Gadafi.

Some of the trends in the pop culture world included topics such as Britney Spears and Charlie Sheen. Spears’ latest album titled “Femme Fatale” was the second most popular trending topic, while good old Charlie Sheen came in third. Sheen’s #tigerblood catchphrase came in fourth, while Rapper Nate Dog, who passed away in March, fell into the number five spot. There were also a mix of other things that made the list including Brazilian mixed martial arts artist Anderson Silvia, Tom & Jerry, British band Mumford & Sons, “Bieber alert” and “Queen Gaga.”