A standout app
If you haven’t heard of Paper by Facebook yet, it’s time you do. Paper is a new application developed by a small team within Facebook that aims to totally reinvent the way you use the aging social network. By taking your News Feed and Timeline and displaying items side by side along with important stories of the day, Paper makes browsing not only your friends posts but the news of the day more fun than ever.
Paper is an iPhone only app, so if you’ve got an Android or a Windows Phone device you’re out of luck. But if you’ve got that iPhone and are a user of Facebook, you owe it to yourself to at least browse through Facebook’s official Paper homepage if not going to the App Store and downloading it now. It’s already replaced the original Facebook app on my homepage.
Don't just check in
If you fancy yourself a Foursquare fan, some good news here – Foursquare has just launched some cool new functionality that allows you to, right from your phone, order out some delicious tacos (or whatever else you’d like) from your favorite local restaurant.
The functionality stems from a partnership Foursquare has undergone with GrubHub Seamless. Just head on over to Foursquare on your iPhone, Android device, or the Foursquare web application (sorry Windows Phone users, ye not apply), find a supported restaurant, and hit that new “Order Delivery” menu. Easy peasy.
Send a photo to 15 users in private
Sometimes, you snap a photo that you really want to show a small, select group of friends, but not necessarily the entire world. Maybe it’s particularly scandalous, maybe it’s irrelevant to the greater community, a seemingly silly photo that doesn’t make much sense but that your two friends from grade school will get and laugh at heartily because of what happened that one time. That’s the market that Facebook and Instagram are trying to corner with their new Instagram Direct, a new social layer on top of Instagram that allows you to send photos in private to up to 15 friends.
Simply snap a photo as you always have, apply a filter, and choose where you want your photo to go – on the global stream where everyone can see it, or in private to up to 15 users. All moments are shared through an inbox section of the application, where requests and photos will exist outside of your larger pool of photos. You don’t even need to follow a person in order to send them a photo – but, of course, the user can chose to ignore your request to send them photos at any time.
Instagram Direct launches today with the new Instagram 5.0 update for both Android and iOS (sorry, Windows Phone beta users), so get downloading. Check out a sweet promotional video for the new feature after the break.
Now available in beta
Facebook just as pushed through a beta build of their upcoming Facebook for Android update that, among other nifty new features and enhancements, ports over an iOS 7-inspired flat design over to the company’s Android application. The new update takes multiple design cues from the iOS 7 version of the app, including the new news Feed, friend requests, updates, and notifications buttons (which now sit below the menu, which is now gradient free).
The new Android design comes following an update to Facebook’s Messenger application, which also adopted an iOS 7-ish redesign on both Android and iOS just a few weeks ago. Of course, the application is still in beta and plenty could change between now and the final version, but look – flat!
A little extreme, eh Russia?
Here’s an interesting one – according to Vasily Konov, head of Russia’s state-run R-Sport news agency, Russia will be banning accredited journalists from snapping and publishing photos of the Winter Olympic games on the popular social media site Instagram or other popular social networks. What’s more, if officials catch you even just recording any part of the games with your cell phone or tablet for just personal use, and not for wider consumption, that too is grounds for dismissal from the property.
These restrictions are reportedly only in place for journalists, so the casual Olympic game spectator will be able to Instagram until their hearts’ content, but still. This seems like an extraordinarily silly and backwards policy that, especially during a competition that’s supposed to signify worldly unity and togetherness, has absolutely no place in an event sponsored by a nation in 2013. Shame on you, Russia.
People may laugh, but Google's got numbers
Look, we get it – Google+ is kind of the joke of the social media world. I know this, you know this, the whole world knows this – whether the whole world wants to admit it or not. But despite its poor reputation, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t actually using the thing. On the contrary – Google announced some impressive numbers at their Google+ event today, confirming that Google+ currently averages around 540m active users worldwide. This comes after Google opened the service up to not one, not two, but twenty new countries in the past couple of months.
What’s more, Google announced that over 1.5 billion photos are being uploaded to Google+ every week – a fairly staggering number that proves one thing if nothing else. People may not love Google+, but people certainly love sharing photos. And apparently, a lot of people do it on Google+. Who knew?
Facebook Messenger goes iOS 7
Facebook has just launched an all new, totally redesigned version of their Facebook Messenger for iOS and Android client, bringing Facebook’s standalone messaging service and competitor to iMessage and Hangouts to the era of flat design with a whole new user interface that picks up and runs with Apple’s iOS 7 design paradigm – even on Android. That’s right, both Facebook Messenger for iOS and for Android feature the same UI designed for iOS 7, and I’ve got to admit – it looks right at home on Android, judging by some images of the app simulated running on an HTC One that the company posted today, which you can see above.
On top of the totally renewed user interface, Facebook says that their new Messenger app comes as something of a relaunch of the company’s mobile messaging efforts. Facebook says that they’ve totally rewritten the application on Android to be more native to that platform, though that comes at the price of at least one pretty big advantage Facebook Messenger for Android had over iOS – the ability to use the app to send SMS messages. Officially, Facebook told The Verge that the feature was removed due to the relative unpopularity of that particular feature, however I can’t see how it would have been hurting anyone to leave it there for those who did use it.
Other than that, the new and somewhat improved Facebook Messenger for iOS and Android is available on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store in beta to a limited number of users starting today. If you’re lucky enough to get an invite, might be worth giving that new UI a try if you find yourself chatting on Facebook fairly often.
Update 10/29/13 @ 1:43 PM EST: We had originally incorrectly reported that today’s new Facebook Messenger was available immediately to all users starting today, however we have confirmed that this is not the case. Please excuse us for this inconvenience!
Source: The Verge
You get a coffee, and you get a coffee
Look, I have a problem. I admit it. I’m a coffee fiend. And now Starbucks is making me love them all the more with their new “Tweet a Coffee” initiative, essentially bringing the sharing and love of coffee to the twenty-first century using none other than Twitter. Tweet a Coffee, which launched just this morning, lets you send $5 eGift cards to your friends and family by linking your official Starbucks account to your Twitter account. Once completed, just type in the Twitter handle of the lucky recipient of your gift of coffee, click send, and within minutes they’ll have a $5 eGift card waiting to be redeemed in the form of a tweet.
I just tried it, and it literally works like magic – within minutes, my $5 gift card was sent to my favorite coffee addict (my mother, of course) who will be undoubtedly getting into her car to buy a caramel iced coffee at her local Starbucks any second now. You’re welcome, Mom – and thanks, Tweet a Coffee. You’re a real pal.
The best joins the rest
Back in the pre-iOS 7 days (as if those days were so far ago), Tweetbot 2 used to be my go-to Twitter client. But when I moved onto using the developer preview versions of iOS 7 over the summer, something changed – I found that, housed inside the flat, stark white box that Apple had built, Tweetbot 2 lost some of its charm. I switched to Twitterrific, and despite dancing with a few other clients here and there, that’s mostly where I’ve remained since about June.
Tapbots must have realized they were quickly becoming behind the curve, and Tweetbot 3 is a clear representation of that. It’s a total 360 for the beloved Twitter client – what was once heavy, robotic, and unique has become flat, stark white, and part of the masses. It’s very much following the design trend Apple has established with iOS 7, doing very little to deviate from the masses or do its own thing. Even the sounds, which were built to sound distinct, have this time been catered towards fitting in with iOS 7.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s still the best Twitter client available today, but now it’s just joined the rest. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it makes Tweetbot usable on iOS 7 again. But everything else we know and love about Tweetbot? It’s still there. And that’s great. But if you’ve already got one of the incredible alternatives – Twitterrific in particular comes to mind – there might be a little less to get excited about this time around.
Tweetbot 3 for iOS 7 is available now on the App Store for $2.99. It’s a great price for a great application. Buy it.
At long last
It’s an unfortunate reality, but a reality it is – a modern computing platform without a native Facebook application isn’t a platform that has, unfortunately, yet to make it. That’s why it’s so critically important that Microsoft today made a big win by finally following through on their prior announcement and has just added a native Facebook application to the Windows 8.1/RT store.
The new application works mostly as you’d expect, doing a fine job of essentially bringing over Facebook’s iPad application and its look, feel, and functionality over to Windows. At first use it certainly appears to be a far superior option to using Facebook on Internet Explorer on Windows 8, especially when on a tablet device with no readily available mouse cursor.
Facebook for Windows 8.1 is now available for free on the Windows Store, so have at it.
Source: Windows Store
For those who need to know now
If you’re the type of person who’s absolutely addicted to Twitter (and I certainly wouldn’t blame you) and also happen to have a Windows Phone smartphone, you may be happy with Twitter’s latest update for their often forgotten Twitter for Windows Phone client. This go around, the design has remained mostly the same, with two big notable exceptions – a new dark theme, and lock screen tweets.
The dark theme is exactly what it sounds like – an optional skin that makes Twitter “fit in” with Windows Phone’s built in dark themes, complete with a black background and white text. This is pretty good news for those concerned about the readability of Twitter for Windows Phone in darkly lit rooms as it is, however that’s still leaving the best new feature for last – lock screen tweets.
The way it works is simple – enable lock screen tweets in the settings, and voila, like magic you’ll see your timeline scrolling before your very eyes on your smartphone’s lock screen. This is huge for people like me who want to stay connected with their timeline and be able to know what’s up at a mere glance. Curiously, there’s also a setting called “Customize Lock Screen” in the Twitter app, but that appears to be non-functional at the moment; perhaps a hint of what’s to come?
Source: Windows Store
Twitter's got your back
Twitter has become synonymous with the dissemination of information, and had quickly become the de facto standard way that a not unlarge portion of our population consume news every single day. Twitter is hoping to take this a whole other level with their new Twitter Alerts system, which will allow users to opt-in to receiving important alerts from important local, national, or global agencies.
FEMA, the World Health Organization, and local police departments are all fair game right now, and organizations must be approved by Twitter before being included in the new Alerts program. Organizations also can be subscribed to despite the user’s location, so if you want to keep up with the going ons in Santa Barbara, CA and you live in Boston, MA that shouldn’t be an issue.
Notifications will show up highlighted in your stream, and mobile applications will be allowed to alert you about important pieces of information using your smartphone or tablet’s notifications system. Twitter Alerts is now available for organizations to be enrolled starting today, with a broad launch expected soon.