Oculus VR: With Facebook we want to replace vision

06.05.2014, 9:49

There’s a stigma that comes with being acquired by Facebook and Oculus VR CEO and co-founder Brendan Iribe was quick to dispel any fears its fans might have about the social network ruining the Oculus Rift’s future.

Talking about the future.

The reason we did the deal was Mark [Zuckerberg’s] commitment to the vision that we have, doing it even faster, bigger, and better,” Iribe expounded on the main stage at TechCrunch Disrupt.

Iribe specifically noted that thanks to the new partnership Oculus VR can leverage Facebook’s network, infrastructure, and most importantly, money into hardware research and development.

While Oculus VR has created a much-improved Crystal Cove Oculus Rift, Iribe said it wants to push the envelope even further replacing our vision.

“I would say mobile is the last 2D screen based platform that will be around for a long time but it is very mature,” he said. “It’s not going to get much better from where it is now kind of like the way PC and mobile OS has plateaued.”

Beyond screens, Iribe believes Oculus VR will synthetic vision, which users can hopefully put on as a pair of sunglasses.

“This is going to be what we call the final platform, replacing vision.” he said. Unlike playing a first-person shooter, watching a curved screen or even reading a book Iribe explained that virtual reality will finally let users fully immerse themselves into an experience.

“When you look at VR and replacing vision and especially the version that really fundamentally flips the switch comfortably and puts you there, which most people haven’t seen yet but it is there,” Iribe expounded, teasing that Facebook’s CEO has seen the prototype.

Beyond games Iribe believes that VR technology can be used for far more that gaming to create face to face conversations with someone over the web. “You will believe these virtual avatars are real and you will share a virtual space with them and have conversations.”

“You’ll look at their mouth while they’re talking and their eyes, going ‘I know that’s you but you’re a cartoon or you’ve changed your hair, but really I know that’s you.'” Iribe described a virtual encounter. ” You’ll have a face to face conversation with somebody and that’s the holy grail we’ve been trying to get to and it will take 10 or 20 years before it’s realistically looking.

Oculus VR, Brendan Iribe, virtual reality, HMD, head mounted display gaming, TechCrunch Distrupt 2014, Newstrack
‘Do we want to be GameBoy or do we want to be iPhone or Android?’

Along with helping Oculus VR push the boundaries of VR, Iribe explained that the partnership will help it reach a boarder gaming audience.

“We’re very committed to gaming, but do we want to be GameBoy or do we want to be iPhone or Android?” he asked.

“For VR we want to be building a platform with a billion users or 10, 15, or 50 million, and that’s where we feel for content for games [Facebook] is going to have a lot more success shipping their content into a gaming ecosystem platform that has a billion users.”

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Yahoo has not-so-compelling excuses for abandoning Do Not Track

02.05.2014, 9:07

Yahoo has announced it’s abandoning Do Not Track in favor of forcing users to choose a more personalized experience.

Yahoo Privacy Centre

Users can still manage individual privacy settings within Yahoo’s Privacy Center, but the company’s sites and services will from now on ignore web browsers’ Do Not Track preferences.

This is the inherent problem with Do Not Track: you can check the little box in your browser, but it’s websites themselves, not browsers, that have power to choose whether or not your activities are recorded.

And companies like Facebook, Google and Yahoo have already been ignoring the setting for years.

Yahoo was moaning about Do Not Track all the way back in 2012, when Microsoft turned it on by default in Internet Explorer 10.

The company said at the time that since users didn’t choose to turn it on, the request wouldn’t be honored.

That’s the sort of thing that has ruined the whole Do Not Track initiative – what good is it if the biggest companies refuse to honor it?

Now Yahoo is trotting out essentially the same argument, about how “the best web is a personalized one,” to justify ignoring Do Not Track settings across the board.

“Here at Yahoo, we work hard to provide our users with a highly personalized experience,” the Yahoo Privacy Team wrote on the company’s policies Tumblr. “We fundamentally believe the best web is a personalized one.”

“As the first major tech company to implement Do Not Track, we’ve been at the heart of conversations surrounding how to develop the most user-friendly standard,” it continued. “However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.

“Users can still manage their privacy on Yahoo while benefiting from a personalized web experience.”

If you say so, Yahoo.

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The next Oculus Rift will have you confusing virtual with reality

01.05.2014, 13:27

A new, “realistic” Oculus Rift headset is on its way, according to an Oculus VR investor, backing similar information recently revealed to TechRadar.

A lot of pranks ahead!

This means that the Crystal Cove Dev Kit 2, which will soon be available to buy, is already well behind the times in both capabilities and design.

Investor Chris Dixon said that while Crystal Cove still doesn’t quite reflect reality, “what they have in LA does.”

“Crystal Cove is 50% of what they are running in LA,” he said. The new “fancier” headset supposedly demands an entire dedicated room due to the amount of power it requires right now.

“You go into a room. It’s a special room,” Dixon told Business Insider. “In user testing it gets to a level to a level of realism where almost all people feel that it’s realistic.”

An inside source recently told TechRadar that work on the next headset had begun well before Dev Kit 2 was announced, although couldn’t divulge any of the exact specs.

Meanwhile, a separate Oculus rep said that the Rift could go on sale to consumers next year. Guess we won’t be getting it in time for Christmas 2014 after all.

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Facebook unveils “send to mobile,” “mobile like” and “message dialog” functionality

01.05.2014, 12:26

Facebook had more than a few surprises for the web during today’s F8 conference held in San Francisco. Three in particular are going to add recognizable Facebook-friendly functionality to many of your favorite apps.

Facebook’s been busy!

The first, called “send to mobile,” will allow developers to connect users who frequent the web version of their app to the reciprocal mobile app.

That sounds tricky, but hear me out. Say someone goes to Pandora.com to listen to the latest tunes. Once there they’ll be notified about the availability of Pandora’s mobile app that they may – or in most cases may not – have heard about before.

Click the button and a notification will pop up on their phone with a link to the app’s page on the iTunes or Google Play storefront. Viola! No more scouring the app store for your favorite desktop app.

“Mobile like” is a bit easier to comprehend.

In addition to sharing content like you’ve done in the past, you’ll now be able to like app content to quickly and easily share your day-to-day activity. Using Flipboard and read something cool? All you need to do is click the like button and all your friends will know how passionate you are about whatever it is you’re reading.

Unfortunately this technology’s still in beta, but according to Ime Archibong, Director of Product Partnerships at Facebook, you should start seeing mobile like functionality popping up in your apps over the coming weeks.

There’s always been a problem with Facebook’s share function. Sometimes you just don’t want every one of your high school classmates to see how much you dig TaySwift’s new single.

But maybe you know another member of the guilty pleasure club and you think they’d like to give it a listen. All you need to do is click Facebook’s new built-in messenger tool and you’ll be able to send mobile content directly to your country-loving buddy.

It’s interesting technology and should help extend Facebook’s reach in the mobile app sector…not that they needed it.

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Like or dislike, Facebook announces ‘Audience Network’ mobile ad system

01.05.2014, 11:44

During Facebook’s F8 developer conference, Deb Liu, product marketer for Facebook announced that the new mobile ad network: the “Audience Network” will be rolling out in the coming months.

Can you really fit more adds in FB?

The Audience Network is a tool for devs that allows Facebook to help with selling and targeting ads, payment and measuring engagement.

So far, 60% of the company’s revenue comes from mobile ads and $3b (£1.7b, AU$3.2b) of Facebook’s transactions come from ads alone.

The social network has dabbled with various ad platforms before and tested a newer version of the ad network earlier this year but it looks like the Audience Network is the final step and is ready for developers, meaning Facebook users will start seeing more ads in their mobile feeds soon.

Facebook
F8 debuts a new way to advertise

Liu noted that the best way to engage Facebook users involves “ads that are integrated, not disruptive.”

With Facebook’s “world class targeting system” also in play, it’s likely you won’t see ads that aren’t relevant to you. Similar to how Instagram’s photo ads work, Facebook’s system may actually not be too intrusive despite being displayed front and center in the news feed.

You can also look forward to the three different types of ad formats showing up on Facebook mobile: banner, interstitial and native.

Facebook ads
Banner, interstitial and native on the way

If more ads will just make you angry, at least Facebook is coming out with a new way to login and new mobile functions like the ability to (finally) like something on a mobile device.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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.”

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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?’

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