Facebook enters the fitness arena by snapping up Moves app

25.04.2014, 10:08

Virtual reality wasn’t enough to satisfy Facebook’s ambitions – the social network has just announced that it’s bought fitness-tracking app Moves.

Run, Facebook, run!

Moves logs your daily activites using your smartphone, handily keeping track of when you’ve stopped for lunch, work etc.

Facebook clearly sees that fitness is the area to get in on right now, and the team behind Moves are joining Zuckerberg in the big blue.

In a statement, Moves said that it’s moving to Facebook “to work on building and improving” products and services “with a shared mission of supporting simple, efficient tools for more than a billion people.”

We’re told that Moves will contine to operate as a standalone app. As for privacy pundits, don’t fear – Moves says that it won’t “commingle” data with Facebook.

So that’s Whatsapp, Instagram, Oculus and now Moves. Who’s next?

See related stories from techradar.com

Facebook launches FB Newswire service to woo journalists and news tweeters

25.04.2014, 9:54

Facebook wants to be everyone’s catchall provider for everything from Instagram photos to activity tracking. Next up the company is launching a digital newspaper.

FB’s take at news-making!

The social network announced it has launched FB Newswire, a regularly updated page with breaking news around the world made for journalists and news publications.

The new service is backed by the News Corp-owned Storyful, which will aggregate newsworthy content posted by Facebook users and organizations across the world. Through this process Facebook will effectively crowdsource reports from its users including photos and videos, as well as status updates from users on the ground of newsworthy events.

While Facebook is concentrated making sure every photo and updates taken from its users are verified by its editorial team, the social network did not mention anything about privacy concerns.

Instead the company is focused on making sure the FB Newswire Twitter account and page on Facebook itself is accurate and reliable for reporters.

Although Facebook might be targeting journalists specifically, Facebook already has an audience of over one billion mobile users swiping through the day’s events on their newsfeeds. So we could see how this service could easily expand allowing the social network to directly report the news to its users.

Facebook is maneuvering itself to become a source for timely public information similar to Twitter but in a much more direct approach.

Whereas Twitter has become a news resource organically with users live tweets during events such as the Boston Bombing, Facebook wants to harness all the social activity of its users for its own reports with an extra element of validity.

While Facebook is making a strong push to journalists, it seems the real-time news war is offically on between Twitter and the social network.

See related stories from techradar.com

Facebook sees movies as the next big thing for Oculus Rift

24.04.2014, 11:58

Virtual reality is destined to go well beyond gaming, and movies seem the obvious next conquest.

Better than Netflix?

According to Cory Ondrejka, Facebook’s VP of mobile engineering, Facebook sees it too.

The announcement that Facebook was buying Oculus Rift was a sign that it had wider plans for VR and, speaking during a keynote presentation at this week’s Hollywood IT Summit, Ondrejka said that he sees Oculus Rift expanding into movies.

“I am completely excited about the intersection of Hollywood and virtual reality,” he said. “I think what we’re going to see over the next coming year is going to be truly spectacular.”

According to Ondrejka, Imax and CGI-heavy films are ripe for virtual reality. “The assets that were already produced to make the movie can be re-rendered and can be reused to create new experiences,” he said.

“I would expect that Imax is going to be one of the killer experiences.”

We’ve also learned that Zuckerberg took Sony’s Project Morpheus for a spin a week before purchasing Oculus Rift.

PlayStation marketing executive Guy Longworth said during a session at this year’s Games Marketing Summit that he remembers Zuckerberg asking “Can I have a tech demo?”

Seems Zuck was sneakily weighing up the competition.

See related stories from techradar.com

Facebook to cover your News Feed with even more auto-play video ads

24.04.2014, 9:38

Facebook is plummeting further and further down the ad-driven rabbit hole, and in its most recent earnings call the social network said it wants auto-play video ads to be a common sight in your News Feed.


Facebook launched video ads in March this year. Some of those video ads – as well as some videos posted by your Facebook friends – play automatically, though the ads are currently muted by default.

“Those are going really well and I think explain some of the growth we’re seeing in our ads business,” Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said during the company’s first-quarter 2014 earnings call. “We also have been in early conversations with some clients about what would be a CPM [cost per impression] auto-play video ad.

“And in terms of the expectations for that, we really want to see auto-play video ads be something that’s pretty common in the News Feed experience, based on consumer usage, before we push very hard in the ads business.”

Facebook’s current forays into advertising, like the mobile ad network the company is testing, are admittedly somewhat exploratory.

But there can be no doubt that Facebook will “push very hard” into advertising soon, and that apparently means users will see even more auto-play ads.

“Video represents a really big opportunity, really driven by consumer behavior. Smartphones are getting better and faster, and more people have phones that can provide a great video experience,” Sandberg said.

She continued, “There’s also a lot more video going through the feed that consumers are putting in, and that creates an opportunity for us both on the consumer side and on the ad side.”

In a post-call email blast Facebook referred to its forays into “premium video ads” as an area of “long-term investments and thoughtful roll outs, as we’re focused on the user experience first and foremost.” It included Instagram ads and the mobile ad network in the same category.

Overall Facebook’s revenue from ads grew 82% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2014, with a 72% increase in revenue overall. It was the company’s strongest year-to-year ads growth rate in almost three years.

In addition Facebook reported that 59% of its ad revenue now comes from mobile users.

“Our goal is to make News Feed as engaging as possible,” Sandberg said. “I’m sure your friends love seeing your kids play basketball [in videos on their News Feeds]. I think they’d probably like to see more of those.

“And when and if we deliver a really great ad experience, an ad that you love, something you’re interested in, I think they’re going to like that just as much.”

See related stories from techradar.com

Twitter’s pretty, yet strangely familiar profile pages are now available to all

23.04.2014, 10:23

Twitter is through testing its redesigned profile pages and is now offering them up to all users.

Twitter’s new profile

The revamped profiles, which some users have had access to for a couple of months, feature larger profile and header photos much like those on Facebook and Google+ pages.

Like Facebook’s love-it-or-loathe-it Timeline profiles, Twitter has also adopted a well-defined, mosaic style approach to displaying tweets, biography details, trends and photos.

While the firm has said it is in the process of rolling the profiles out to all users, anyone can skip the queue by firing up this link.

As well as the enlarged photographic identifiers. users can also pick a particular tweet they wish to pin to the top of their feed to “amplify your awesomeness,” as Twitter puts it.

Interestingly, tweets that have more interactions will appear larger within the feed than those that were largely ignored by your peers.

Twitter is also offering a new toolbar that brings quick access to all of the tweets containing photos and videos, as well as one-click access to all of the tweets they’ve favourited down the years.

Finally those adopting the new profiles can choose to view their tweets in one seamless timeline or complete with all of the replies your popular and chatty self garners.

What are your thoughts on the new profiles? It’s definitely growing on us, but is it too similar to Facebook for your liking? Share your thoughts below.

Opinion: Gary Marshall asks ‘what’s the point of Facebook if it’s just like Twitter?’

See related stories from techradar.com

WhatsApp gains 50m users since Facebook buyout as it surges past half a billion

23.04.2014, 9:42

Facebook’s recently-acquired WhatsApp messaging service can now boast an active user-base of half a billion people, little over five years after its inception.

Facebook and Twitter

Since the blockbusting $19 billion (£11.2bn, AU$20.2bn) acquisition in February, which was the second largest in tech history, the app has gained an additional 50m users.

In a blog post on Tuesday the firm said a whopping 700 photos and 100m users are now being shared every day, while international growth is at its highest in territories like Russia, Brazil, Mexico and India.

“We could go on,” the firm boasted, “but for now, it’s more important that we get back to work – because here at WhatsApp, we’re just getting started.

Ironically, WhatsApp has proved such a phenomenon that it has been able to reach the landmark before its new masters, which took six years to reel in as many members.

If growth continues at this pace, not only will WhatsApp fulfil Zuckerberg’s billion user prophecy, but it will do so fast than Facebook.

The rumoured addition of voice calling should spur further adoption, while WhatsApp is central to Zuck’s Internet.org plans to bring connectivity to the billions around the world without access.

Could we someday see an eventuality where WhatsApp has more users than Facebook?

See related stories from techradar.com

Facebook’s mobile ad network to finally move beyond testing phase?

22.04.2014, 11:19

Facebook’s long been brewing its very own mobile ad network, and word is the company is about to finally spill the contents of its cauldron.

Fcaebook in mobile phones

The social network’s plans for mobile ads will be fully revealed at its F8 developer conference in San Francisco at the end of April, according to Re/code, which reportedly spoke with “multiple sources familiar with the matter.”

Like Google does with its ad network, Facebook will allow developers to use the site’s vast stores of user data to more effectively target users.

The Facebook ad network will extend beyond Facebook’s own apps, potentially making other developers happy and Mark Zuckerberg even happier.

The social network began testing its mobile ad network in January, when it said it would “[work] directly with a small number of advertisers and publishers, rather than an outside ad-serving platform.”

Facebook struggled with monetizing its own mobile ads initially, but as of the second quarter of 2013 had grown mobile ads to 41 percent of all its advertising revenue.

During the final quarter of the year Facebook’s mobile ads generated $1.24 billion (about £7.38b, AU$1.32b).

Facebook has been experimenting with its ads more than ever recently, including a partnership with Google, and sponsored Instagram photos, and much-loathed Facebook News Feed video ads.

See related stories from techradar.com

Does Facebook want to be the new Paypal?

15.04.2014, 10:26

Facebook could be badgering you to send your friends money in the next few weeks as rumour has it that the social network is planning to launch a Paypal-like service.

Trusting FB with your CC?

The Financial Times reports that the company is “weeks” away from getting the go-ahead from the authorities in Ireland to allow it to hold money and send it between Facebookers.

The paper also says that three British firms that run money transfer apps have been in talks with the ‘Book, suggesting it’s going after mobile payments too.

All of this points to a possible European money transfer service, but whether it will extend to the US and beyond is another story.

Would you trust Facebook with your money? Let us know in the comments below.

See related stories from techradar.com

Never miss a retweet with real-time Twitter web notifications

11.04.2014, 10:19

We don’t know about you, but we’ve certainly missed a retweet or favorite here and there when using twitter.com. Thankfully (or annoyingly), Twitter is introducing a remedy to this vexing need-to-know problem.

Worry no longer!

Over the coming weeks, Twitter is rolling out pop-up notifications on its website. Users will start to see bubbles of real-time info whenever someone is engaging with their 140-character-or-less blasts.

Every reply, favorite or retweet will appear as they interact normally with twitter.com. There’s also a way to set up notifications for direct messages and new followers.

Unlike Facebook real-time notifications, which redirect you to another page where you can comment or like or whatever, Twitter’s will let users reply, favorite, retweet and follow from within the bubble.

There is some choice in what notifications you receive, and heading into Settings on twitter.com will prompt you to tick or untick the types you don’t want to receive.

It appears nicely specific; there’s an option to choose whom you see retweet, favorite, reply to and mention you in a tweet.

See related stories from techradar.com

Facebook looks to cut spammy posts from your News Feed

11.04.2014, 8:36

Facebook is on the hunt for spam, introducing three measures today to combat the irrelevant content that clogs many users’ News Feeds.

No more bait!

The first targets what Facebook calls “like-baiting,” or posts that straight-up ask News Feed browsers to like, comment or share a post in order to circulate it more widely than it would normally.

Call-to-actions typically work, thus thrusting like-baiting posts to the top of the News Feed spotlight. However, that doesn’t change their spam status, and users reportedly find these types of stories 15% less relevant than other posts with a similar number of likes, comments and shares.

Facebook’s like-baiting solution will supposedly better detect these stories and keep them from appearing in prominent places on the News Feed. Pages “genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans” won’t be affected, and the initial implementation will focus on Pages that frequently ask for likes, comments and shares.

The second area Facebook is looking to improve is frequently circulated content, or photos and videos that are uploaded ad naseum.

Repetition doesn’t always equate to relevancy, so in that vein Facebook is moving to de-emphasize these Pages that frequently post the same photos and videos.

Finally, Facebook has set its sights on spammy links in misleading posts, such as those that claim to lead to a photo album but really take clickers to a website full of ads.

Facebook’s method to address the problem is pretty nuanced; it can detect spammy links by measuring how frequently people who visit a link choose to like the original post or share it.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has tinkered with its News Feed algorithm, and it certainly won’t be the last. Hopefully with today’s changes, we see more like/comment/share-worthy posts and less spam stream through our Feeds.

See related stories from techradar.com