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.
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
On the 17th of September, Microsoft announced that they would be rolling out a range of new features for their search engine, Bing – some of these features will be cosmetic and some will be structural. Microsoft says that the purpose of these changes is to deliver information more quickly and in more helpful ways. They are trying to make Bing more than just a search engine.
The new Snapshot section will actually combine Bing’s old Snapshot bar with the Social Sidebar, resulting in a more prominent right column. The new Snapshot section is wider than the old one (it’s almost half the page width) and is shaded to separate it from the main results.
- Page Zero
This is the name given to deep links that provide shortcuts to common information objectives. Essentially, the idea is to enable the quick discovery of information. It can be operated from the homepage and from the search results equally.
- Pole Position
This is an answer that Bing will prominently display when it is confident in regards to the user’s intent. “When we know that someone wants images of a celebrity…we now provide a much larger answer beautifully integrated with the top of the page” Microsoft said.
The whole design of Bing has changed so that results will display slightly differently across all screens. “Our new layout…will adjust both to the size of the screen and the context of the user so we present the right experience at the right time” Microsoft said.
In a statement released by Microsoft, they said that all of these changes are part of the evolution of Bing and their way of further including them within the larger family of Microsoft products. They also announced that they would be rolling out these changes over the next few days, although it is uncertain whether they will be available to all users immediately.