Facebook updates for iPhone, adds replying to comments and more
Version 9.0 has been released for Facebook's app for iOS, adding new features. Though a minor update, the biggest addition to the app is the ability for users to reply to comments on pages that have enabled it. Administrators can now review and review posts by group members, and all users will be able to view trending topic posts in the iPad's version of News Feed. Facebook's app for iPhone and iPad can be downloaded for free from iTunes.
Feature deploying slowly
Facebook has announced an upcoming feature for its iOS and Android apps, Nearby Friends. The function will notify users when friends are within a certain radius, giving a chance to meet up. For security purposes the feature will be off by default, only work if both parties have it enabled, and allow restricting notifications to specific groups -- close friends, for example, or a custom list.
Irish regulatory approval could be granted to Facebook within weeks
Facebook is working to provide financial services, such as allowing users to send money to each other, according to a report. The social network is said to be applying to regulators in Ireland to begin offering money storage and transmissions, something which could receive approval within weeks, and would directly place Facebook in competition with PayPal, Google Wallet, and other similar services.
US continues to ask for most user data, India most censorious
Facebook has updated its global government transparency report for the second time, covering the second half of 2013. Aside from revealing that it had 28147 requests for user data from 81 countries, up from between 25,607 and 26,607 requests from 71 countries in the previous report, Facebook is also revealing which countries are restricting or removing content from view.
Facebook reduces "Like-bait" posts, spam, repetitive content from News Feed
Facebook today announced its intention to reduce the clutter on its News Feed feature, by reducing stores that users report as spam, or dislike. According to the company's newsroom release, Facebook will focus on content considered "like-bait", when a post explicitly asks reader to like, comment or share it to gain distribution; frequently circulated content, that becomes repetitive throughout a feed; and spam links, such as when a post claims to be a photo album or other content, and upon click-through is only advertisement. Facebook's engineers claim that this content reduction will affect the small set of publishers who frequently and intentionally creating feed spam, and not the majority of publishers on Facebook.
WhatsApp must continue existing policy of not collecting user data
Social network giant Facebook said earlier today that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved the multi-billion-dollar acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp. As part of the deal, both companies must adhere to existing user privacy agreements, including a WhatsApp promise made while independent to not collect user personal data for targeted advertising.
An Ontario, Canada class-action suit now underway alleges that Facebook has been scanning user's private messages without permission from users. Allegedly, the social network was using the data to grow advertising revenue, and was stopped in 2012 when an investigation found that the practice was widespread.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg tops high-tech
Apple CEO Tim Cook pulled in $73.9 million in compensation during 2013, according to data compiled by USA Today. That included a $4.3 million salary, and $69.6 million in vested stock options Cook had been awarded several years ago. The figures were enough to rank Cook second among a list of best-paid Silicon Valley executives, but this year's payout was atypical for the Apple CEO.
eBay, Amazon, HP, Oracle near bottom of major corporations
In terms of datacenters, Apple has scored the top position on a new Greenpeace list of the most environmentally-friendly high-tech businesses. The company is the only one with a 100 percent figure on Greenpeace's "clean energy index," since its datacenters are completely free of any dependence on coal, nuclear power, or natural gas. It also has an "A" score under categories of Energy Transparency, Commitment & Siting Policy, and Deployment & Accuracy. It achieved a B in terms of Energy Efficiency & Mitigation.
Zuckerberg reveals high user counts of social network in Oculus VR conference call
Facebook has 1 billion monthly active users, an increase from 945 million in December, the company has revealed. Part of a conference call discussing yesterday's announcement of Facebook's Oculus VR acquisition, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the figures for both the social network and Instagram, which has hit 200 million monthly active accounts after reaching 150 million in September last year.
Purchase by Facebook follows 75,000 Oculus Rift orders
Facebook has announced it will be acquiring Oculus VR, makers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The agreement, worth approximately $2 billion, is split down between $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock currently worth $1.6 billion, with an extra $300 million cash and stock earn-out on top for achieving certain milestones.
Some users seeing Facebook Places info rather than Foursquare data
Facebook has started testing location information embedding, looking at integrating Facebook Places data into Instagram. Instagram currently uses Foursquare data for geotagging and attaching photo data to a location. Neither Facebook nor Foursquare have any comment on the matter, and a wholesale replacement of the photo tag data source doesn't appear to be underway in any more than a small scale test to a limited subset of users.
Research outlines strides in facial recognition through deep learning
Facebook has revealed in a research paper that it has discovered a way to match faces from two different photographs with 97.25 percent accuracy. The research has aided in the development of a software project called DeepFace, which only slightly trails the facial recognition measured average of a human by only 0.28 percent.
Meeting scheduled for 4PM, no specific attendees known
President Obama is slated to meet with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and undisclosed tech company executives later today, according to the White House schedule. On the agenda are further discussions with the executives about recent NSA revelations, and a continuation of the president's "dialogue with them on the issues of privacy, technology, and intelligence."
Chief defends Facebook initiatives to protect users from surveillance
Facebook's Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan claims that the alleged NSA ability to intercept traffic to and from the social network and masquerade as an official Facebook server is "not viable." The executive pointed to the company's shift to SSL data encryption for all Facebook traffic last summer as the primary method of defense against intelligence-gathering agency surveillance.
Facebook iOS apps add speed, new photo-sharing options for iPad, iPhone
Only a month after Facebook issued version 7.0 of its eponymous iOS app, the company has jumped to version 8.0, offering an updated design for iPad users that makes it easier to post and share on the tablet, and adding a simpler way of sharing photo albums and choosing who gets to see them. In addition, the company says the new version contains improvements for reliability and speed.
SmartSound Software announces new soundtrack creation plug-in for Final Cut Pro X
SmartSound Software has announced a new plug-in for Final Cut Pro X, offering custom music creation like soundtracks. Designed to take advantage of Final Cut Pro X's new Generator technology, Sonicfire Pro 5's new direct access to the Final Cut timeline, providing an efficient workflow. Users can drag a SmartSound Music Placeholder from the Generators section onto the FCPX timeline where music needs to be added, and extend it to the desired length.
Messaging app could offer voice calling in future update
WhatsApp, the messaging client being acquired by Facebook for $19 billion, could soon add voice calling to its features list, according to reportedly leaked screenshots. The images of the apparent VoIP interface comes at the same time as a video surfaces, seemingly demonstrating an updated version of the client for Windows Phone that is claimed to still be in beta.
NSA denies claims of far-reaching blanket spyware installation
As news has spread of the possibility that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was using wide-scale malware in its intelligence-gathering efforts, so have the responses. Over the last two days, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has penned a harshly-worded response, including making a call to President Barack Obama. Additionally, the NSA has refuted the claim, saying that all it is doing is supporting "lawful and appropriate foreign intelligence operations" in accordance with US law.
Opera Mini 8 for Java-running phones and BlackBerry OS updated
Mobile web browser Opera Mini has been updated with the release of Opera Mini 8. Custom made for the Java platform on basic ("feature") cellphones, Opera Mini 8 has a revamped appearance that includes an improved Speed Dial start page with redesigned tiles. Featuring a new night mode, users can dim the browser's screen and utilize darker colors for viewing in low-light conditions. Opera Mini 8 supports private tabs that do not save information once the open tab is closed, and settings for minimizing data usage have been improved. Opera Mini 8 can be downloaded for free with one's existing browser on any Java-based basic mobile phone.
Large conference Facebook's first major show since September 2011
During a Facebook briefing at the SXSW festival, head of developer products Ilya Sukhar revealed that the company is holding a large F8 Developer Conference for the social media powerhouse on April 30. The developers-only conference will be held on April 30, and is likely to have over 1,500 coders in attendance.
Rapid Deployment Data Center concept features modular piece design
Facebook announced that it will be using its Rapid Deployment Data Center (RDDC) concept that was created through the Open Compute Project (OCP) for its latest build in as part of a second building at the existing Luleå, Sweden data center location. The design was displayed at the Open Compute Summit in January, showing the strides the company has made in data center construction and development since the official launch of their first center in Prineville, Oregon in 2011.
Social network introduces new rules for posts concerning regulated goods
Facebook is attempting to curb online sales of guns by updating its policy on user posts and pages on its social network. A number of "educational and enforcement efforts" were introduced by the company on Wednesday to both Facebook and Instagram, which will cover not only firearms but also discussions relating to other regulated item sales or services.
Vudu adding support for Google Chromecast to mobile apps, website
Vudu has revealed it will be adding support for the Google Chromecast to the streaming service in the future. Both the mobile apps for iOS and Android will gain the extra ability, including offering remote control through the app itself, with casting through the Chrome browser for Mac and PC also touted as part of the release. Though Vudu has yet to reveal a date, it is accepting registrations for beta testing.
Voting window appears when searching Google for American Idol terms
FremantleMedia, 19 Entertainment/CORE Media Group, and the Fox broadcasting network today announced partnerships with search powerhouse Google and social networking giant Facebook, designed to give fans new interactive on-air and online experiences with the series of American Idol XIII live shows and attendant fan voting.
Grovemade introduces walnut and maple cases for iPhone and iPad, iPhone docks
Accessories designer Grovemade has introduced new walnut and maple wood cases for iPhone and iPad today, as well as wooden iPhone docks. Each wooden iPhone case is milled from a solid block, and features a reinforced interior for durability. Cases for iPad Air and Mini feature three standing positions for reading, typing and viewing content, and Grovemade's iPhone Dock combines a wooden top with a solid three pound steel base for sturdy, one-handed operating. Walnut and maple cases and docks retail at $100.
Memorialized profiles to be remembered as-is
After a recent public call for Facebook to allow a family access to a deceased family member's "Look Back" video, the company has decided to re-evaluate how it deals with profiles left behind after death. In a statement from the company, new policy changes are outlined on how profiles are handled in their memorializing process. Accounts will now be left as-is instead of being restricted to a friends-only status.
WhatsApp to remain independent despite Facebook acquisition
Facebook has announced it will acquire messaging service WhatsApp for $16 billion. The deal, surfacing in an SEC filing, will see Facebook part with $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in shares for the messaging app, though there is an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units for WhatsApp founders and employees that will vest four years after the deal has closed.
Companies want easier time recouping legal fees
A collection of companies -- including Apple, Google, Yahoo, Intel, Cisco, and Facebook -- are asking the US Supreme Court for measures to help deter frivolous patent lawsuits, Bloomberg reports. In particular, the companies are seeking to change the language used to determine when a defendant can claim coverage of legal fees from a plaintiff. The current standard allows coverage only if a suit is ruled "objectively baseless" and filed in bad faith.
All users receive unique minute-long recap of Facebook lifetime
Facebook is celebrating ten years of operation, by providing its users a video-based compilation. The "Look Back" video is just over a minute long and is unique to each Facebook account, containing an assortment of most-liked photographs, status updates, and other events that are popular with friends, family, and acquaintances of the user.
FISA requests detailed in agreement with US government
A group of tech companies have released more information about government requests from the NSA and other agencies for user information, as part of their transparency reporting programs. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Microsoft have all posted more statistics online for these Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests, following an agreement between the companies and the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
Adopts Flipboard-style approach to Facebook and regular news content
Facebook has unveiled Paper, the first app to come out of the social network's new Creative Labs division. The title is launching for the iPhone on February 3rd, and is mainly a Flipboard-style news reader, combining a person's News Feed with articles "from emerging voices and well-known publications," all divided into over a dozen themed categories. People will be able to customize which categories they track.
Column appears alongside News Feed
Facebook has introduced a new Trending feature that enables users to view topics that are currently surging in popularity. The discovery tool is said to be personalized, combining notable topics from across the social network and conversations that are relevant to each specific user.
Facebook news reader app for mobile allegedly close to completion
Facebook could be launching its Flipboard-style news aggregating app this month, according to a report. The app, known as "Paper" and rumored a number of times in recent months, will be a mobile-based news reader in a magazine format that is set to be separate from the usual Facebook News Feed, though it apparently shares a number of traits with that part of the social network.
Creators of Potluck iOS app rumored to be bought for $15M
Facebook has acquired a social networking startup backed by the creators of Twitter. The nine-person team behind Branch Media, creators of the Branch conversation service and the iOS link-sharing app Potluck, has confirmed the acquisition and will form a new Facebook Conversations group, though the entire team will remain in New York City instead of relocating to Facebook's headquarters in California.
Facebook user claims not to have endorsed company, seeks $750
Facebook is being sued over apparent false "likes" being used in advertising on the social network. Anthony Ditirro has filed a class-action suit against Facebook in San Jose, for allegedly showing that users are endorsing products on the service to friends and acquaintances linked to the user, even if the claimed endorser did not actually "like" the associated Facebook page.
Weekly, monthly views let users change app's scope
Sunrise has released a major update of Sunrise Calendar, its popular iOS app. The title lets people merge iCloud, Facebook, and Google Calendar events into a single feed, as well as get notifications, weather forecasts, LinkedIn profiles, and Google Maps directions. Version 2.1 is the first to include a native iPad interface, and takes advantage of the extra screen space through new Week and Month views. The Week view is also accessible to iPhone users.
Judge rules Hulu must face privacy lawsuit
Hulu will have to face a class action lawsuit from users angered by the television streaming service's sharing of viewing histories with Facebook and business metrics company comScore. Reuters reported on Monday that U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler rejected Hulu's argument last week that the complainants in the case had suffered no actual wrong due to Hulu's actions. Instead of the case being dismissed, Hulu will now have to face the plaintiffs in court, with the case potentially resulting in damages of at least $2,500 per violation in addition to punitive damages.
Cellular data access to Facebook free to users without data plan
T-Mobile will be offering users of its GoSmart Mobile prepaid wireless service free cellular data to access Facebook. The low-cost carrier is updating its plans in January, allowing all account types to access both Facebook and Facebook Messenger at no charge, regardless of whether or not there is inclusive data on the user's price plan.
Video ads on Facebook will automatically play silently
Facebook will be rolling out video advertisements to the News Feed of its users this week. A statement from the social network about the new ads effectively confirms an earlier report from the Wall Street Journal, with both desktop users and mobile device owners expected to see the new advertising units with automatically-playing video on their screens in the coming days.
Facebook app for iOS autoplays videos in news feed
Facebook has updated its iOS app to automatically play videos that appear in a user's news feed. Version 6.8 of the app does have the videos set as muted by default, reports TUAW, and though there is no option to turn off the autoplay aspect of the videos, there are settings to allow it to work just on Wi-Fi connections rather than cellular. Both videos from users and advertising will be affected by the change, though it is not known when it will appear in versions on other software platforms.
Amazon updates Cloud Drive Photos for iOS with video support
The Amazon Cloud Drive Photos app for iOS has received an update, bringing support for videos. Appearing on iOS months after Android, TechCrunch reports that the app allows for videos up to 2GB or 20 minutes in length to be uploaded, with the Cloud Photos Auto-Save also updated to allow existing videos on an iPhone or iPad to be automatically uploaded to the service. Other tweaks include a "large upload mode" that disables the iOS lock screen to let uploads finish, and an indicator in the Settings screen showing the usage of Cloud Drive by media.
Agents infiltrate World of Warcraft
Eight tech giants, including industry competitors Apple, Google and Microsoft, have joined forces to demand reforms to the US government's surveillance tactics. In an open letter sent to President Barack Obama and members of Congress, the companies argue that current surveillance practices, as detailed in ongoing leaks from former National Security Agency staffer Edward Snowden, have created an imbalance "too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual-rights that are enshrined in our Constitution."
Mac mini arrays used for iOS app testing, general computing
Social media giant Facebook isn't generally known for its Apple technology use, but a new report suggests that it may have thousands of Mac minis in its data centers. According to ex-Apple engineer and current Facebook employee Christian Legnitto, the Facebook data centers in Prineville, OR and Forest City, NC both have "racks and racks" loaded with the diminutive computer performing "hundreds of thousands of tests every couple of hours" on iOS software in development.
Social network testing new list feature
Facebook is reportedly testing a new "Save For Later Reading" feature that enables users to compile content that appears in their News Feed. Mobile screenshot images posted by MyTechSkool and referenced by AllThingsD show an iBooks-style bookmark button next to news items, which can be later accessed via a new "Saved" category within the existing Apps menu.
Sandberg says teenage use stays stable
Facebook chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg said this week that the tech media has exaggerated the company's problems with teenagers, and that reports of declining engagement among younger users are overblown. Pulse 2.0 carried a report of Sandberg's most recent comments, which came in the midst of Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference event. Asked about Facebook CFO David Ebersman's comments on teen use during the company's last earnings call, Sandberg said that those comments had been misinterpreted.
Facebook Messenger updated for iOS 7, adds SMS
Facebook Messenger, a chat app for Facebook users, has received an update for iOS 7. Facebook Messenger allows users to read messages without opening Facebook, send photos privately, make free calls and more. Version 3.0 features a completely new design, optimized for iOS 7. Central to the update is that users can now message people that are not their Facebook friends, using SMS. Available for free, Facebook Messenger can be downloaded on iTunes.
Facebook offered three Instagrams for Snapchat
Popular image sharing app Snapchat reportedly turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Sources familiar with the matter claim that the world's largest social network offered three times the price it paid when acquiring Instagram for Snapchat, which allows users to send picture messages that expire soon after they are viewed. Those same sources say that the $3 billion offer was not Facebook's first attempt to court the image sharing service.
Profile outage follows similar incident on October 21st
A large number of Facebook users have reported that profiles and pages on the service had a few hours of downtime earlier today. The issue, affecting profiles from approximately 10:30am Eastern Standard Time until 1pm, prevented page content from loading, and instead showed the error "Sorry, but this page didn't load properly. Please try again."
Bug bounty offers up to $5,000 for vulnerabilities in server software
Microsoft is teaming up with Facebook to offer more bounties for bugs and flaws in software used to by a vast majority of websites. The Internet bug bounty, HackerOne, sees the two companies paying cash prizes of between $300 and $5,000 in exchange for details for vulnerabilities in server-based software and frameworks such as PHP, Ruby, Rails, OpenSSL, and Apache httpd.