Facebook announced today a shift in privacy settings for new users. Now, when someone signs up for a profile, their default posting status is set to friends only. Previously, the default was global — allowing any Web users to see the content.
Facebook will also conduct privacy check-ups for existing users who haven’t changed their settings in a while. These changes were previously announced at a media event last month, but are now being implemented.
Facebook blogged about the shift for new users:
While some people want to post to everyone, others have told us that they are more comfortable sharing with a smaller group, like just their friends. We recognize that it is much worse for someone to accidentally share with everyone when they actually meant to share just with friends, compared with the reverse.
So, going forward, when new people join Facebook, the default audience of their first post will be set to Friends. Previously, for most people, it was set to Public.
First time posters will also see a reminder to choose an audience for their first post, and if they don’t make a choice, it will be set to Friends. People can change who they are posting to at any time, and can also change the privacy of their past posts too.
The privacy check-ups will roll out over the next few weeks, with the privacy dinosaur explaining key privacy features that users might not know about.
Many Facebook users haven’t changed their privacy settings since signing up, so this is Facebook’s way of ensuring that users are only sharing content with the people they want to. One of the biggest user complaints has been when a random, unknown person engages with a post. By prompting users to change their settings to friends (or a curated list), users can play a bigger part in their Facebook experience.
Facebook will also simplify privacy controls on both mobile and desktop, making it clear who the post is being shared with.
Article courtesy of Inside Facebook
Bored and looking for something to do with your Facebook friends? Now (for some users, at least) the site suggests games to play within the Facebook chat module.
As noticed by Inside Facebook reader Matteo Gamba, users who have the chat bar can click “Show Games,” when they click the settings button. This will then show games the user plays, as well as suggested games.
Here’s what happens when the Show Games button is clicked:
Facebook is putting an end to its @facebook.com email project, which means your life will probably go on exactly as it had been with no discernible changes whatsoever. For future reference, don’t email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, unless you want to receive no response, which is exactly what would’ve happened before this change was announced anyway.
The reason for ditching the facebook.com emails is pretty straightforward: They weren’t being used by many people at all, Facebook tells us. For those few who were, messages sent to your Facebook email will be automatically forwarded to whatever email you have on file with the social network, beginning in March when the changes go into effect. That’s on by default, by the way, so if you’re not looking forward to the prospect of receiving email from an address you may have forgotten you had, you can go into your account settings on Facebook to turn it off.
That’s like the opposite of the move Facebook made in 2012, when it hid all your emails except for your Facebook one by default under the then-new iOS 6 contact sync feature. This led many to have to manually change their settings back, just as this switch results in another requirement for manual intervention to make sure you don’t get a flood of new messages you weren’t noticing before.
This likely isn’t going to result in any teary-eyed bad feelings from general users, but some people might be pretty happy: We’d heard that some Facebook employees had to change their @Facebook.com email addresses when the change was implemented back in 2010 to free them up for users, so maybe some of those will be cleared for staff once again.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Evernote’s ongoing plan to improve its technology platform is taking another step forward today with the release of updated apps for iPhone and iPad. The new apps are promised to be faster, easier to use and more customizable, with homescreens you can adjust to fit your needs, better business card scanning, bug fixes and more.
The company has been struggling with glitches and bugs related to slipping software development – something which CEO Phil Libin admitted to following a scathing, but accurate, post by former TechCrunch writer Jason Kincaid. Since then, Evernote has been publicly working to address not only the problems themselves, but also the perception that the company’s software has become unreliable.
Evernote actually started rolling out fixes yesterday, with an update to its synchronization platform that’s now four times faster. At the time, the company said that refreshed mobile apps would arrive, too, as well as an API update.
The iOS apps arriving today seem to be taking advantage of the backend improvements, and now include a “sync status” feature that tells you how recently items have been synced. You can also choose to have this button displayed below the Settings gear, for easier viewing, says the company in a blog post detailing the new apps’ feature set.
The apps are also promised to be faster and more responsive, as you navigate and make changes. Business card scanning has been improved so you can quickly add scanned cards to your device’s contacts – handy, since LinkedIn has practically abandoned its CardMunch acquisition while focused more heavily on its newer Contacts app. (CardMunch on iOS hasn’t been updated since 2011, and we’ve been hearing rumors of its forthcoming demise).
However, after the upgrade, the most noticeable change you’ll see upon first launch of the new Evernote iOS app is the redesign. Users have been requesting the ability to better customize their Evernote experience, which the updated apps deliver via a new homescreen where you can now show or hide the sections (e.g. notes, tags, notebooks, places, etc.) you want to see, and rearrange their placement on the screen.
You can also turn on or off the ability to show the recently viewed items for your Notes, Notebooks, Shortcuts and Tags sections. And you can change the look-and-feel of the app, by choosing from one of three color themes: light, dark or Evernote’s classic green.
Meanwhile, Evernote’s “New Note” buttons are now at the top of the screen where they’re larger and more easier to tap.
Perhaps more importantly, Evernote promises that bugs have been stomped in this release, including the issue that was corrupting audio notes which Kincaid was often running into, as described in his post.
New apps are one of many improvements the company has in store, some of which – like its upgraded infrastructure – have only started to arrive over the last few weeks. As Libin recently explained, the original Evernote infrastructure was designed for a few thousand single-device users, but has had to scale over the years to support tens of millions and a range of devices. Of course, upgrading a service’s underpinning while continuing to support a large and growing number of users is no easy task – just ask Twitter.
But it can be done. Plus, though Evernote may have been buggy, it still has a significantly sized user base – and, apparently, a loyal one too. Instead of complaining about the glitches, people suffering, like Kincaid was, could have easily just switched apps. But instead, they’ve been voicing their concerns. That’s a good sign – after all, the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The new apps are available here in iTunes, and they only work with iOS 7 or later.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Google’s AdWords now sports a much-needed update that brings its design up to par with most of the company’s other web apps.
Most of Google’s services, including Gmail, Drive and Analytics, now sport the company’s new, flat look. Even after a few years of going through this process, however, some apps still look just like they did back in 2011. Both AdSense and AdWords, the publisher and advertiser back ends to the company’s most important revenue sources, were among the services that were left behind in the first waves of the redesign.
With today’s change, AdWords’ interface now looks more like Gmail and also sports the same gear icon you find in most of Google’s consumer apps to get to the settings menu. Of course, it will also feature the same colors and other design elements that are now part of Google’s design language for web apps.
If you’ve spent some time in Google Analytics, this new look will feel pretty familiar (though Analytics still uses Google’s old menu bar). Google says this change is also meant to provide more real estate to the most important tools in AdWords and for the charts and tables most users rely on to track their ad campaigns.
As part of this update, Google has also made it easier to see who else is currently signed into your account.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Google is today making a change to Gmail that will further bake in Google+ to its webmail product in a way that’s actually somewhat practical, though also potentially invasive. Going forward, you’ll now be able to directly email your Google+ contacts from Gmail, even if you don’t know their email address. And by default, anyone on Google+ will be able to email you as well, thanks to this new option, if you don’t adjust your settings.
This feature appears as you begin typing your contact’s name in the “To” field of an email message. Matching contacts display first at the top of the list of suggestions provided by Gmail’s autocomplete, while your Google+ connections appear below.
Because of the privacy implications of this feature — and the possibility of overwhelming the inboxes of more public figures — Google has at least put controls in place that allow you to specify who can send you emails.
You can choose from “No one” to continue on as normally, or open things up a bit wider by choosing from “Circles,” “Extended Circles,” or even “Anyone on Google+.” And of course, because Google+ is now the default platform for YouTube commenting, and required for things like setting up a new Gmail account, the “Anyone on Google+” option is much larger today than in earlier years. Many people are technically “on Google+,” even if they aren’t active on the Google+ destination site itself.
In addition, Google explains that not only are you able to specify who can send you emails, your email address isn’t visible to a Google+ connection until you send that person an email, nor is their email visible to you, unless they send you an email.
The feature also takes advantage of Gmail’s previously introduced tabbed interface, which breaks the Gmail inbox into sections like “Primary,” “Social,” Promotions,” and more. Going forward, emails from those in your Google+ Circles will appear in the “Primary” section, while those you don’t have in your Circles will be filtered over to the “Social” tab instead. Those users will only be able to start a conversation with you if you respond to them or add them to your Google+ Circles – something you can do right from the email header (which fortunately offers a visible “Report Spam or Abuse” link, as well).
This new feature is an expansion on the Google+ integrations the company first introduced back in late 2011 which originally brought Google+ to the Gmail inbox and Contacts section. The addition allowed users to automatically update their address book with a contact’s most recent information, making Google+ a more practical service than before. Also at the time, Google added a widget to the Gmail sidebar for viewing a contact’s most recent Google+ post, allowing you to add them to your Google+ Circles.
Like before, the newer integrations are practical and useful when you need them as a sender, but could be disruptive to you as a recipient of emails — much like email itself, if you think about it. For those who still use the “Priority Inbox” interface instead of tabs, the additional emails could become cumbersome. But Google is making the setting available to users before the feature launches, so they’ll be able to at least adjust their settings before a deluge occurs. (Unless, of course, they get so much email that they miss the note from Google.)
Google says the new feature is rolling out over the next couple of days to everyone who uses Gmail and Google+. Users will be alerted by way of a link to the setting when the feature is available to them.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Snapchat busted out an update to its app today just before the holidays. The new version of the ephemeral messaging app includes several color filters, a new ‘special text’ font and a few other additions.
The main update is the ‘visual filters’ that will add juiced up color effects to your images. If you’re stumped at how to activate them it is likely because you are not a teen. It took me 10 minutes to figure out that you have to swipe from right to left to trigger the filters. You’ve got 3 filters including two color and one black & white to choose from.
Bizarrely, the update also adds 3 ‘smart filters’ which overlay the time your image was taken, the temperature when it was taken and — get this — how fast you were going when you shot it, in MPH. I foresee a whole new sport being made of snaps being sent at the highest possible speeds.
There’s also now a larger Helvetica font to choose from. You can activate this — also obscurely — by tapping again on the text entry box when you’re typing out a message.
There’s a front-facing flash option now as well, which flashes white on the screen while you shoot, lightening up those selfies. You can now also choose up to 7 best friends if you choose. All of these options are enabled under the Settings>Additional Services>Manage section and none of them add a single additional indicating UI element to the interface.
There’s also a Replay option, which lets you re-view snaps once a day if you have it enabled. This seems to go against some of the major point of Snapchat, which is that messages are once-only briefs that are ‘gone forever’ once you’ve seen them. You can only replay the most recent image or video in your stream — but it’s opt-in by the recipient, not the sender. So if you get sent a snap you can now view it up to twice whether the sender wants you to or not.
Still, it’s a limited use option — you can only do it once per day. And this could help if your finger was covering an important bit in the image or if you missed a video clip because you thought it was a still image.
Snapchat has been experimenting with less and less ephemeral content with its ‘Stories’ feature, which lets people see your images as many times as they want for a 24 hour period. Our writer Josh Constine has more analysis on how Replay kills off some of Snapchat’s ephemerality.
Snapchat continues to have some of the worst feature discoverability and user experience in any consumer app that I use regularly — but maybe that’s sort of the point? And perhaps because these functions are experimental maybe the UI will get a bit of polish once they’re ‘real’ features. The app is still a lot of fun, but I wish the design held up a bit better under use. Anyhow, snappers should have some more options over their winter break.
For more on Snapchat’s big update, read Snapchat Sacrifices Ephemerality With New Replay Feature
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Amazon today added support for video uploads in the new iOS version of its Cloud Drive Photos app, which also now natively supports iPad and iPad mini. The update comes over a year and a half after Amazon first introduced the capability to store videos in its Cloud Drive Photos service via the app’s Android counterpart. Its slow progress to introduce the feature on Apple devices goes to show how much Amazon values its iOS customer base. (Or rather, how it doesn’t).
The company quietly released the updated app this afternoon, which, like the Android version, now supports the ability to upload videos up to 2 GB in size or 20 minutes in length. That’s long enough for the majority of personal videos, and still slightly longer than YouTube’s default setting of 15 minutes (ahead of account verification).
Also like the Android app, those who have turned on Cloud Photos’ Auto-Save functionality in the iOS version will now see support for video uploads, too. That means that both new and existing videos and photos from the iPhone or iPad will be automatically uploaded to Amazon Cloud Drive when the device is connected to Wi-Fi (or Wi-Fi and cellular, if you choose).
It’s handy that Amazon will retroactively upload your media collection when you switch this feature on, as that’s not always the case. For example, when Flickr rolled out an auto-upload feature of its own earlier this fall, it would only begin auto-uploads from that point forward, making it troublesome for new or lapsed users wanting to move their entire photo collections over to Yahoo’s photo-sharing site.
Amazon has a few other tricks up its sleeve, too. For example, a “large upload mode” setting lets you disable the iOS device’s lockscreen in order to allow large uploads (like all your videos) to complete. And you can switch on an “Auto Save” option which allows progress to continue in the background.
In addition, the Settings screen shows an indicator of how much Cloud Drive storage you’ve used, with separate colors for files, photos and now videos.
Still, the app feels very basic compared with competition from Flickr or Google, for example, or other popular mobile photo-sharing apps. You can’t organize your photos or videos in any real way, tag them, search through them, or edit them using built-in tools. It’s merely an interface that connects the phone or iPad to Amazon’s online storage. Still, with 5 GB of free storage available, it’s worth it to back up your content to the cloud, if you haven’t already done so using another service, like Google, Facebook, or Apple’s iCloud.
Now with video support across both iOS and Android platforms, Amazon may need to rethink the name of this app, since Cloud Drive Photos is no longer quite right.
The updated version of the iOS app is here on iTunes.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Twitter is in full on experimentation mode with its latest app update. We’ve talked before about how Twitter is using data to push out big changes to small amounts of people and then make judgment calls about whether to implement those updates on a larger scale.
Its latest update adds several features to everyone’s version of Twitter, but depending on which experimental bucket you’re in you might see any number of ‘versions’ of Twitter once you update your app today.
First, the changes to the app that we’ll all get to take advantage of. The release notes cover a few tweaks, including the fact that your search results can now be filtered using a variety of media types including photos, video, news and people.
The filtering can also allow you to see ‘all’ tweets rather than just ‘top’ tweets. This is great for people that use Twitter for research, not just trend hunting. Top tweets are often older, and ‘all’ tweets will give you a much more current set of results right off the bat.
You can now search for local content as well, rather than stuff from ‘everywhere’. The local content being surfaced is a good touch, as that’s part of what could get people outside of the ‘technorati’ to see value in Twitter. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a neighborhood commotion and tried to search Twitter to see what happened. Locally trending tweets could make the power of Twitter’s ‘global’ news hounding work for you on a local level. It’s great to see this come to the app.
You can also now see trending TV stuff and local content in the Discover tab.The TV trends are kind of buried, and will show up after you’ve scrolled through the list of other content under the ‘Trending’ section. That makes it three levels down. This is a far cry from the aggressive TV experiments we had heard about before, and indicate some trimming back was done for this release. Which is fine, I guess, as that’s why you run experiments like Twitter does.
— Matthew Cassinelli (@mattcassinelli) November 20, 2013
The new compose view will ask you if you are near a location, likely to encourage you to attach location metadata to your tweet. Otherwise you’d have to tap on the location button proactively.
Swipe gestures on a ‘per cel’ basis appear to be gone as well. This means that you can’t swipe from left to right on a tweet to bring up actions any more. This could be due to the fact that every tweet has a full suite of permanent action buttons in the timeline now – or Twitter could be planning on using those swipes for other experiments in the future.
Some users, for instance, are saying that swipe gestures are now allowing them to jump left-to-right between the timeline, Discover and Connect tabs.
There is also a great new addition to the direct messages section: suggested users. Based on what appears to be a variety of factors including DM frequency, interaction frequency and other relevant stuff, Twitter gives you a quick list of possible conversation starters. So instead of searching for people by user name, you get a ‘recents’ list. This is quicker and another sign that Twitter is paying more attention to DMs. The icons on the DM screen have also been redesigned and look much nicer in my opinion.
Actually, most of the icons in the app have been redesigned. They’re a bit smaller and the profile images are slightly more detailed ‘people’ now. Twitter also appears to have implemented iOS 7′s dynamic type to set the font size within the app using the system-wide setting found in your Settings app.
Then, there are the experiments that Twitter is using to play with the app. I threw out a quick query on Twitter about the possibility that people could be seeing ‘new things’ and got back a bunch of responses. These new variations of Twitter are going to be visible to about 1% of users, depending on which ‘test bucket’ they’re in at the moment. Most of these won’t be implemented, depending on what the data says about them after testing, but some of them could become permanent additions to Twitter.
One of the experiments I’m seeing personally is this pretty sweet in-app popup when a tweet is favd or retweeted:
This provides context and a feeling of ‘life’ when you’re in the app sitting on the timeline view. It encourages you to to take a look at your connections tab too, which could lead to follows or more interactions. Tapping on the bar pops up a list of people who have favd your tweet in ‘avatar’ form.
There are some new transitions between areas of the app like the main timeline and individual tweets as well.
Another experiment is this one seen by Justin Williams, which provides a completely different type of compose experience. Not sure how to feel about this one myself:
— Justin Williams (@justin) November 20, 2013
Here’s a light tab bar from user Bas van der Ploeg:
One very interesting permutation, especially given the rumors about Twitter’s experiments with improving direct messages, is this one via Owen Williams that places a ‘Messages’ tab right into the bar. It also plays with the naming conventions a bit too (Explore vs. Discover, etc):
And it isn’t likely that the experiments will end here. A list of graphics assets inside the latest app, uncovered by developer Ryan Orbuch, point to more trending topic attention given to arenas like sports too. And curious behavior exhibited by pulling down on a profile page intimates more to come.
Image Credit: Lisa Cee
Article courtesy of TechCrunch