On Wednesday, many Twitter users may have noticed that their beloved social network has begun displaying emoji characters – those small, cartoon-like pictures – on web and desktop versions of the site. This means that the emojis typed via your mobile phone are now reflected on the web instead of those annoying hollow square boxes that were previously displayed.
This latest feature is actually one of many experiments that the team at Twitter have been working on for sometime now. The social network is aiming to simplify the platform in order to increase its reach, and the visibility of emojis on web and desktop is seen as one of the steps to achieving this.
It appears, however, that emojis are not supported in tweets that have been embedded on websites. They also appear to be of lesser quality than they are on mobile and it is unclear whether or not they are supported on Tweetdeck. These negatives do not appear to have dampened the spirits of Twitter users, however, with many taking to the social network to express their excitement.
Another point that is worth mentioning is that this update also includes existing tweets that already had emojis – check out some of the tweets you made a few weeks ago on a desktop computer and you will see that the emojis are now visible. Whilst this doesn’t really affect the way that people use Twitter, it has made the social network look a little more colourful and streamlined.
Users should note that the update is being rolled out across the world – the feature may not be available to everyone straightaway, but it is believed that it will be the norm for all users in coming days.
The announcement of this new emoji feature has also led to questions of whether Twitter will one day start to support stickers (like every other messaging app under the sun) – some people say no and others say that only time will tell.
Whilst you are probably familiar with the traditional way that Google collects images for their popular Maps function, Street View, they have brought one of their little known inventions to Australia. Known as “Trekker”, this contraption is mounted on a backpack and allows the user to collect imagery of places that are only accessible by foot.
“Trekker” is said to look like something from outer space and is comprised of 15 cameras that are five megapixels each and capture images every 2.5 seconds. The backpack weighs about 18 kilograms and its cameras are mounted about 60cms above the head of the user. Its compact size allows the user to trek to places that a car couldn’t possibly enter.
Last Tuesday, a Google employee was spotted capturing scenes along the Bondi to Bronte walk in Sydney. There are currently two Trekker devices in the city and they will be used to capture some famous icons. The collected imagery will be integrated into Street View later this year, but first the pictures have to go through special software that ‘stitches’ them together and blurs peoples’ faces.
Shane Treeves, a Google Australia spokesman, said that “we’re starting in Sydney and then looking to go across Australia…hopefully it [will] encourage more people to jump on a plane and see [the locations] in person.” He also said that they hope to allow groups (like tourism boards, non-profit organisations and universities) to borrow Trekker in the future.
The Google Maps Street View feature was launched in 2007 using cars to capture imagery. They have since expanded from five US cities to more than 3000 across 43 countries (including many in Australia). Google have also expanded their collection methods to include cameras mounted on tricycles, snowmobiles, trolleys, underwater scooters, backpacks and even boats.
We can only wonder at the famous icons that Google teams and volunteers will choose to cover in Australia.
On the 30th of January, Facebook announced that a new standalone news reader mobile app, known as ‘Paper’, would be released in the near future. Whilst it has apparently been in the works for years, the announcement came only 24 hours after Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s famous CEO, revealed that they would be releasing more standalone apps this year.
What is it?
Paper will display content from 19 different ‘sections’ (such as sports, tech, pop culture and LOL), which users can choose to subscribe to. Each of these sections features a rotating carousel of images along the top with individual cards and stories below; a user can click on cards or stories that they wish to investigate further. For now, these sections cannot be personalised.
Users will also be given the opportunity to share their own stories on Paper, with anything posted also appearing on their Facebook Newsfeed. The app enables a user to preview what their posts will look like before sharing, ensuring that they are fully satisfied with the appearance. Users will also be able to share, ‘like’ and comment on stories, the same as with traditional Facebook.
It has been revealed that Paper was created by a 15-person team employed by Facebook Creative Labs. This is a broader initiative of the social network whose sole job it is to work on these standalone apps. It has also been announced that Paper sans advertisements, even though Facebook itself has seen quite a lot of success through mobile ads (53% of their revenue last quarter).
According to reports, Paper will be officially launched on the US App Store on Monday the 3rd of February. It will only be available to iPhone users in the beginning and there are not, as of yet, any indications of when an Android or iPad version of the app will become available. Whilst many have argued that Paper could spell the death of Facebook’s traditional app, only time will tell.
On Monday, Facebook announced that posts and status updates would now be included in the results of their Graph Search. This will allow users to search for content that includes photo captions, check-ins and comments. Whilst it has only been rolled out to a small group of users to begin with, their feedback will be vital in altering Graph Search before it’s rolled out as a whole.
The basic operation of Graph Search will remain the same, however, with users only being able to see content that has been shared with them (including content from friends) and posts that have been shared publicly. Users are encouraged to use privacy shortcuts and Activity Log to review who can see the things that they share through their own accounts.
In the Newsroom post announcing the new Graph Search feature, Facebook said that users will be able to “search for topics (they’re) interested in and see what your friends are saying”, “search for posts about a city, place or from a certain time” and “search for posts that (they) want to see again”. Overall, the feature is designed to make the popular social network more enjoyable.
As feedback comes in from the small group of users who have been granted access to the new-look Graph Search feature, it is believed that it will be rolled out to more users. Facebook have also verbalized their commitment to improving the feature continuously in the future. If you would like to learn more, visit Facebook’s Help Center.
On Monday, Microsoft announced that they would be releasing two new versions of the tablets that they launched only a year ago – the Surface 2, which runs Windows RT, and the Surface Pro 2, which runs Windows 8.1. Whilst they have fixed nearly every hardware issue that users criticized with the first versions, the company still faces the issue of getting consumers to see the tablets differently.
One of the main drawbacks of the Surface Pro was that it was expensive; whilst the second version is still pretty pricey, it does have a much better battery life and can run Outlook. And, whilst the Windows app store is still missing a number of vital applications, the number of apps available has gone from 10,000 to 100,000 in only a year.
Then there’s Windows RT, which is the first version of the operating system that runs on low-power chips that are normally used for mobile phones. Whilst this was a great way for Microsoft to address the mobile market (in which they have previously struggled) and it has allowed for thinner and lighter tablet designs, it’s still not compatible with many older applications.
The biggest problem for Microsoft, however, will be getting consumers to see the new tablets as something they would like to buy. “We’re focusing on explaining the difference a little bit more,” said Julie Larson-Green, “there are two kinds of people – the ones that don’t want the complexity of a full PC and people who really need a full PC. We’ll talk more in those two dimensions.”
Image Source: smh