Have an international market share? Facebook wants to make sure that users in different countries can find your page. Some page admins saw this week a prompt on the top of the page management dashboard to enter in translated titles for the page.
This way, a user in Japan will see the title of the page in Japanese, and so on.
Facebook doesn’t provide the translation, allowing the page manager to input the most precise and accurate title for that language. We’ve reached out to Facebook to elaborate, and we’ll update the story when we hear back.
Page admins can input translations for their page title by going to settings, then page info and down to translated names.
For Inside Facebook, Facebook only offered 4 language options: Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic.
Readers: Have you seen the prompt lately?
Article courtesy of Inside Facebook
The popular language learning platform Duolingo today announced that it has closed a $20 million Series C round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. As Duolingo’s founder Luis von Ahn told me, the company plans to use this new funding to continue on its path to dominate the language-learning market.
Duolingo previously raised a Series A round led by Union Square Ventured in 2011 and a $15 million Series B round led by NEA in 2012. Duolingo also counts Ashton Kutcher and Tim Ferris among its investors. The company’s previous investors also joined in this new round.
Von Ahn told me Duolingo now has about 25 million registered and 12.5 million active users. That’s up from about 10 million the company reported by the end of last year. This means that more people now learn a language with Duolingo than in the U.S. public school system. Von Ahn attributes at least a part of this growth to Apple choosing Duolingo as its iPhone App of the Year, which marked the first time the company choose an education app for this honor.
As for why the company decided to raise a new round, von Ahn told me that he received quite a bit of inbound interest from venture capital firms. While he talked to a few, Kleiner Perkins felt like the ideal partner, not in the least because Duolingo will work with Kleiner partner Bing Gordon who will also join the Duolingo board as an observer.
The company also plans to use the additional funding to ramp up its hiring. Duolingo currently has 34 employees — most of them engineers and designers — but plans to get to 50 in the near future.
Duolingo will soon release a groups feature that will make it easier for teachers to use the service in their classes (and track their students’ progress). Duolingo also expects that large companies, which now often use Rosetta Stone and similar tools to train their workforce, will start using this groups feature.
Von Ahn has a track record of building successful products based on these hybrid approaches that bring together human collaboration and technology. With reCAPTCHA, which he sold to Google, he turned CAPTCHAs into something useful by combining them with OCR technology.
With Duolingo, he is building a language learning and translation tool that is based on these same principles. The service teaches you a language, but at the same time, you are also using some of the practice translations to translate real sentences for paying customers.
Last year, the company partnered with CNN and BuzzFeed, for example, to translate some of those company’s articles into Spanish, Portuguese and French. The company is working on similar deals with other publishers and both CNN and BuzzFeed have renewed their original contracts.
Going forward, this will obviously be a major source of revenue for the company, but von Ahn also expects that Duolingo will open its self-service portal for translations within the next two months.
Duolingo doesn’t have an immediate goal to break even, though. “We have revenue, and that’s good,” von Ahn told me, but his plan for now is to grow the user base Most importantly, though, von Ahn wants to increase Duolingo’s user base (and that, in return, will also strengthen the translation side of the service). “Our main goal going forward is to become the de facto way to learn a language,” he told me.
When the company asked users why they use Duolingo, many said they considered it a game that is both entertaining and useful. This isn’t something Duolingo set out to do, but based on these findings — and with Bing Gordon among its advisers now — the company plans to add more game elements to its service in the future.
One thing von Ahn says he won’t do in the future, though, is pay for advertising. It has never spent a single dollar on ads and doesn’t plan to do so anytime soon.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Just like the Android app, for example, Chrome for iOS now supports Google’s Opera Turbo-like, data-compression proxy. By having your web browsing flow through Google’s servers, the company can compress your data (and especially images) to help you save up to 50 percent of bandwidth while you are browsing. Google will not, however, use the proxy for any connections to any sites that use secure connections (HTTPS).
Users will have to explicitly enable this feature, which makes sense, given that once enabled, all your browsing will touch Google servers – something not everybody will be comfortable with.
Also new in this release is built-in support for Google Translate, a feature both Android and desktop users have long been able to access. Whenever Chrome notices that you are surfing a site that isn’t in your native language, you can just tap the translation bar in Chrome and see the translated version.
With this update, Google is also starting to push out an updated new tab page for iOS that is meant to make “searching faster and easier.” As far as I can see, this means Google will show both a prominent Google Search bar on the new tab page, as well as a list of most-visited sites and recently closed tabs. Google says this part of the update will roll out slowly and will only be available on the iPhone at first.
Google had previously announced some of the iOS updates, though apparently it took the company a bit longer than planned to release the updated version.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Learning to speak a new language with any kind of fluency is a daunting task. Not only only does it require time, patience, and a great teacher but, ultimately, there’s no “right” way to go about it. Just as language learning tends to resist a one-size-fits-all approach, today the market offers a laundry list of services, apps and startups to choose from – each with its own approach to helping you become a polyglot.
To help it stand out from the pack and take on the Rosetta Stones of the world, Verbling has put a new, yet familiar spin on language learning. To help immerse students in a new language (and learn more effectively), Verbling uses frictionless, in-browser video chat to connect its learners with native speakers, live, in 3-D. What’s more, unlike many of its cohorts, the Y Combinator-backed education startup is focused on the Web, not mobile, and native apps, if they do come, are still a ways off.
From the outset, Verbling focused on building a network of native speakers in a few core languages so that it could instantly connect users with someone who’s fluent in the language they’re trying to learn. However, when we checked in with Verbling late last year, the company had begun to expand its scope – both by adding new languages and by moving beyond its original one-on-one video immersion model. The update saw Verbling add support for nine new languages and bring one-to-many, Google Hangouts-powered “classes” to its platform, with instruction led by an official, TEFL-certified Verbling teacher.
Today, Verbling Classes are group language lessons taught by trained teachers over live video chat in the browser. The startup limits class rosters to nine students per class, which allows it to keep class size manageable as well as offer language learning courses every hour, 24-hours a day, on-demand – with no advance reservation required. Since launching, Classes are now offered in a total of four languages and have quickly become the most popular feature on Verbling, says co-founder Jake Jolis.
Again, while Verbling’s focus on building a Web-sans-mobile product (at least for the time being) may make it seem behind the times, it allows it to offer on-demand, around-the-clock service no matter what time zone students are connecting from. While remaining hyper-focused can also be limiting, Jolis says that this always-on availability has come to be one of its most appealing features and a point of differentiation in a crowded space.
“It’s not uncommon to find people from 10 different countries in one single Verbling class,” he says, and this language-focused, cross-cultural experience can be a powerful tool not only for learning and engagement. After all, students can participate in these classes from the comfort of their living room couch.
Building on the success of its live classes, Verbling has continued to round out its language learning platform. This started with the addition of “Verbling Groups,” a free feature which allows anybody to start or join a Group video chat with up to 10 participants sharing the same target language. And, today, the startup is taking the next logical step with the addition of a new tutoring service.
Verbling’s new tutoring platform will enable language students anywhere to easily book live, hour-long private tutoring sessions with their teacher of choice. The new service is designed to have a premium feel and is aimed at the most dedicated students, Jolis says, while simultaneously allowing Verbling teachers to leverage their following and increase their income.
Whereas class prices are fixed at $3 for one class, 10 classes for $19/month and unlimited classes for $45/month, Verbling’s new tutoring platform allows teachers to set their own price and accept payments via Stripe and PayPal. Tutoring will be available in the same four languages that Verbling Classes are offered in and will be available on-demand.
Beyond increasing the language learning options for its students and signaling its gradual expansion into a services platform, Verbling Tutoring also represents another potentially key revenue channel. Though the startup remains a lean operation and is still just five full-time employees three years in, if Classes are any indication, the team has reason for optimism.
Even though students can now watch classes without registering (or paying), students are still willing to pay for unlimited access, which Jolis tells us has become the startup’s most popular pricing plan. (And it also happens to be the most expensive.)
For this reason, Verbling has been able to maintain double-digit month-over-month revenue growth since it began accepting payments for classes eight months ago. Monthly revenues now stand in the “five figure range and growing,” Jolis adds, and Verbling’s monthly active users are now at over “six figures.” All in all, while that means Verbling is still relatively small compared to some others of its ilk, things definitely seem to be moving in the right direction.
As a result of its recent revenue growth, Verbling has also been able to raise an additional round of seed capital from Sam Altman and Hydrazine Capital, with contributions from Learn Capital, FundersClub, Rothenberg Ventures and Kevin Moore.
This follows on the $20K Verbling received when it graduated from Y Combinator in 2011 and the $1 million in seed funding it raised in the months following from DFJ, Learn Capital, SV Angel, Start Fund, Ace & Company, Meck Investments and Inspovation, among others.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Here is a small but cool update to Google Search: Google’s dictionary definitions — which you can invoke by using a query like “define crunch ” — now feature significantly more information about virtually every word in its catalog. The update, Google says, is meant to “give you more information about these words beyond just their definition.”
The dictionary box recently began showing sentences that contain the words, as well as their synonyms, for example. In addition, it’ll show a word’s etymology (sometimes as a flow chart and sometimes as regular text), as well as how often a word was used over time. Google gets the usage data from its Ngram Viewer for Google Books.
While most people will still likely type their queries into the search bar, you can also use voice queries like “What’s the definition of fortuitous?” and “What are synonyms for fortuitous?” to have Google speak its answers back to you.
Just like before, you can still tap the microphone button to hear how to pronounce a word.
These new definitions are now available on desktop and mobile. As is so often the case, all of these new features will first launch in the U.S. and in English. It’s not clear when Google plans to bring it to other countries and languages.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch