Saturday, 27 August 2011

Facebook Deals Being Shut Down, 4 Months After Launch

Facebook has announced
it is shutting down Facebook
Deals, 4 months after launching
the feature in select U.S. cities. The announcement comes just 3
days after we reported that Facebook Places,
which was closely linked to Deals, is being
shut down.

“After testing Deals for four months, we’ve decided to end our Deals
product in the coming weeks,” a company spokesperson told Reuters. “We think there is a lot of power in a
social approach to driving people into local businesses. We’ve learned a
lot from our test and we’ll continue to evaluate how to best serve
local businesses.”

Facebook initially planned to keep the feature going, with available
deals appearing in your News Feed once you tagged your location in a
status update. It seems that Facebook Deals never really took off in the
same way as other daily deals services such as Groupon and LivingSocial. However,
this could be simply a bump in the road for Facebook when it comes to
daily deals — the social network could have taken some important lessons
away from this experiment and may move back into the daily deals space
at a later date. Who knows, but right now it is closing the doors.

This is the latest in several big announcements that Facebook has
made this week. On Tuesday, the company rolled out new
tools and features to help you gain more control over how you share
content. Earlier Friday, Facebook revealed changes that are being
rolled out to its photo-sharing feature.

Discovery App Ness Recommends Local Restaurants Based On Personal Taste, Friends

It’s never easy to pick the perfect restaurant. After sorting through
the listings on Yelp or Foursquare and maybe
browsing through pictures on Foodspotting, I
usually just end up relying on a recommendation from my friends anyway.
This is perhaps why Ness’ new app is so useful.

The app is a personalized search engine catered specifically towards
discovering new restaurants. Instead of similar services that focus
primarily on reviews from every user or location-based restaurant apps
that offer up results only based on proximity, Ness tailors the results
to your specific tastes and your friends’ recommendations. You can view
restaurants nearby or restaurants from anywhere.

Ness is driven by the company’s Likeness Engine, which
pulls recommendations based on a wealth of different sources including
your taste profile, your similarity to other users, the restaurant’s
popularity, and friends’ recommendations from synced social networks.
The service then gives a “Likeness Score” between 0 percent and 100
percent that predicts how much you’ll like the restaurant. With similar
services, 10 users from the same area who look for a Mexican restaurant
will all be recommended the same restaurants. With Ness, each user
receives results that are completely unique to them: if you prefer
authentic Mexican to a chain with Mexican options, your results will
reflect that. You can select to filter out all big chains or hide the
places you’ve previously rated to garner only new results.

Ness has a couple of great features that allow for the experience to
be completely personalized. You can sync up Facebook and Foursquare
to see your friends’ check-ins and recommendations directly on Ness’
search results page. Ness also has a Newsfeed where you can keep up with
your friends’ latest food finds, and if you have a whole lot of
contacts on your social networks, you can pick which friends you
specifically want to hear from.

Ness also has location-based capabilities so you can filter
restaurants based on where you are located. The service remembers your
favorite types of food, so even if you visit a new city, all you have to
do is turn on the distance filter to find something nearby that you’ll
love. In addition, the discovery app makes it easy to find hidden gems
by searching restaurants marked as a “local favorite.”

Ness might be focused on restaurants for the time being, but they’re
planning to expand their service to include options like music,
shopping, nightlife, and entertainment.

To give the service a try, download the app from the App Store. Unfortunately, the app is not available
on Android or BlackBerry devices at
the time of this writing and only available to users in the U.S.

Google+ Adds ‘Block’ And ‘Ignore’ Features

Ever wondered how to get rid of those annoying people you didn’t want
to add on Google+
but felt obliged to? The social network has added 2 new features that
let you weed out people from your circles, notifications bar and
incoming stream without them knowing about it. This means you’re finally
free of that annoying co-worker who overshares on social networks and
your old college roommate, who for some reason, types in all caps.

“Ignore,” one of the new options, blocks all of a contact’s posts and
notifications about their activities. Plus, you won’t see them in your
circles. They’ll still be able to see and comment on your updates but
you won’t be able to see their updates and Google+ does not alert users
you’ve ignored, so you can do it guilt free.

To ignore someone, all you have to do is hit the “ignore” button next
to their name in the notifications drop-down menu on the Google+ bar at
the top of the screen. You can also ignore someone on your incoming
stream by hitting the “ignore” button next to their post. If you want to
ignore more than one person at once, simply highlight all the users on
your circles page and hit “ignore.”

The “block” option is a little more severe than “ignore” — a person
will not be able to comment on any of your posts. You will be completely
invisible to them, and they will be completely invisible to you. You
can block someone directly on their profile or in any of the places the
“ignore” button is available.

If you have a change of heart, blocking and ignoring a user are not
permanent actions. You can unignore and unblock people on your circles
page under the “more actions” option. You can also unblock someone
directly from their profile and you can unignore someone by adding them
back into your circles.

Google+ recently added some other updates in addition to the “ignore”
and “block” features. On Thursday, they
gave users the ability to view all of the friends they’ve been
tagged in photos with on one page. On Wednesday, they added a feature
that allows users to share
Web pages directly to specific Google+ circles by using the +1 button.

Facebook Makes Photos Bigger And Faster, Changes Lightbox

With 250 million
photos being added each day, the photo-sharing feature is one of the
most popular on Facebook.
With that in mind, the company has just announced it will display
higher-resolution photos as part of an update it is rolling out to its
photo-sharing feature.

You can now share photos that are up to 960 pixels wide (up from 720
pixels) and photos will load twice as fast. Photos that you have already
uploaded to Facebook will be displayed at the higher resolution too.

In addition, Facebook has made some changes to its photo viewer. It
has now been streamlined with a cleaner interface as the lightbox has
been changed to a white background that places more emphasis on the

These changes have been made in the same week that Facebook rolled
out more
photo tagging controls, along with several other tools and new
features. Meanwhile, photo
filters may soon be added to Facebook photos.

This update to the photo-sharing feature will be rolled out to all
users over the next few days.

facebook photo bigger

facebook photo box

Friday, 26 August 2011

Google+ Updates Android App, Allows You To Reshare Posts [Video]

Google+ has rolled
out an updated version of its Android
app, which now allows you to reshare posts from others with your
circles. This was the most requested feature for Google+ on mobile

To reshare a post, all you have to do is tap the post in your stream
and tap the button with three dots (next to the +1 button). Once you
have tapped “Share this post,” you can choose which circles or contacts
you want to share the post with. You can also add a comment before
resharing a post.

Here’s a video which shows how the feature works:

The Android Google+ app is also now available in 38 languages and has
made notifications more reliable. There are now clearer Instant Upload
options in the initial setup dialog, along with several bug fixes,
performance fixes and user interface tweaks.

You can check out the latest version of the Google+ app by downloading it on your Android device now. The resharing feature will be
added to the iPhone and
mobile Web apps in the near future.

UberMedia’s Twitter App ‘Twidroyd’ Is Now ‘UberSocial For Android’

UberMedia has
announced that their Twitter
application Twidroyd
will become UberSocial
for Android starting
on Thursday. The newly named application will feature all of Twidroyd’s
normal functions plus new features that are specific to UberSocial

UberSocial has previously been released for BlackBerry and iPhone devices, and
according to UberMedia, the demand for a similar Android application
lead to the launch of this new product. The change will also allow
UberMedia to release updates more quickly as all applications now have
closely related features.

Because Twidroyd is a widely used application, UberMedia has decided
to let users keep the Twidroyd interface after the switch. If you’re a
fan of the way Twidroyd looks and you don’t want to switch to
UberSocial’s interface, a Twidroyd theme can be added to the

In the past UberSocial has had a rocky relationship with Twitter.
UberMedia was forced
to change the app’s name from UberTwitter to its current
incarnation because it infringed
on trademarks and broke API rules. Both UberSocial and Twidroyd
were suspended for breaking API rules until the
problem was remedied.

INFOGRAPHIC: How Sharing On Social Networks Is Expected To Grow

We share a lot on social
networks. On Facebook
alone we share 4 billion different items a day including status
updates, links and photos. The number of photos shared on Facebook is projected
to reach 100 billion by the end of summer. According to Mark Zuckerberg,
sharing grows exponentially and 2 times as many people share today as
they did a year ago. If that’s the case, how will we keep up?

This infographic by Summify, a service that creates a summary of news
from your social networks’ feeds, outlined just how much we’re expected
to share in the future and the numbers are overwhelming. By 2013, it’s
projected that we’ll share 32 billion items per day and that’s just on
Facebook. Sharing is expected to increase across the entire expanse of
the Internet.

Right now the average user follows between 0 to 49 feeds including
feeds from Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds. The median number of
Facebook friends for users is 401, the median number of accounts
followed on Twitter by
a user is 235 and the median number of followers a single user has is
187. On Twitter, a user will receive 8 times more links than on Facebook
— but that number could increase if Zuckerberg’s prediction is right.

How will you handle an increase in sharing?

Check out the infographic below and click on the image to view the
full size.

Dwolla Launches ‘Proxi’ Feature, Lets You Make Location-based Transactions

Social payments service Dwolla
has introduced a new way for you to make payments. The new Proxi
feature will allow you to send and receive money with any Dwolla user
who is close to your location.

The feature essentially allows you to become a mobile Spot where you
can send and receive payments without having to use special hardware on
your mobile device, such as near field communication (NFC) or a dongle. The idea behind
Proxi is that Dwolla believes you should be able to send and receive
payments with anyone for any reason, based on your proximity to them.

When you launch the feature, you will be able to view all the other
Dwolla users and merchants who are nearby, so that you can transact with
any user or merchant in your immediate proximity, whether they are
stationary or on the move.

Here is a video that explains Proxi in a little more detail:

Dwolla, which revealed last month that it was processing
over $1 million in daily transactions, initially added
location-based transactions through the Dwolla
Spots feature back in March. Proxi opens up the payments platform a
little more to make it even easier for you to send and receive payments
with others.

Proxi is in private beta at the time of this writing, but you can
request an invite to use the feature in the iOS app from Dwolla’s

Pixable Now Lets You Browse Photos And Videos Shared On Twitter

Pixable has announced
that you can now browse through photos and videos that people you are
following have shared on Twitter.
The service, which previously only indexed photos uploaded and videos
being shared by your Facebook
friends, now pulls media that are being shared on Twitter using
Twitter’s own
photo-sharing feature as well as TwitPic, yFrog, Instagram, YouTube and others.

After connecting your Twitter account to Pixable, you can explore the
photos and videos that are being shared by those you are following.
While you can browse through photos shared by an individual Twitter user
through the social network’s new
user galleries, Pixable brings together the media being shared by
all of the users you are following into a single hub.

Pixable, which raised
$3.6 million in funding in April, helps you to find the most
relevant media being shared by your friends and people you are

It should be noted that the Twitter integration is only available on
Pixable’s Web app at
the time of this writing. However, it will be added to its iPhone
and iPad
apps in the near future.

You Can Now Share Web Pages Directly To Google+ Using The +1 Button

Google‘s +1 button is now available
on more than 1 million websites, with the button being viewed more than 4
billion times per day. While these stats show that button is proving to
be popular since it was enabled
for websites in June, Google believes that more can be done with
it. With that in mind, Google is adding 2 new features to the button
that will help you share interesting content on Google+.

First of all, Google is making it easier for you to share Web pages
with your circles on Google+. Any time that you click the +1 button on a
website, you will now be given the option to “Share on Google+.” If you
would like to share that content with your friends, you can do so
simply by selecting which circles you would like to share that page
with. You can also add a comment about the page before

sharing it.

google 1 sharing

When you share content using the +1 button — which was made
3 times faster last month — you will see that Google automatically
includes a link, an image from the Web page and a description of the
content in the sharebox. These details are called +snippets and Google
is now allowing website publishers to customize the content that appears
in +snippets to help kickstart a conversation around their content on
Google+. Information on how to edit this information can be found on Google’s Webmaster blog.

These features are being rolled out gradually over the next week, but
you can try them out by joining the Google+ Platform Preview. Once you have signed up,
you can visit any website that contains the +1 button (hey, Scribbal
uses the +1 button!) and +1 the page to see how it works for yourself.

Via Scribbal

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Facebook Shuts Down ‘Facebook Places,’ Adds Location Tagging To Other Features

When Facebook
announced a host
of new tools and features earlier Tuesday, the company revealed
that it would be integrating location-based data into the broader
Facebook experience. As a side effect of this, Facebook is killing off
the dedicated Places location-based feature within its mobile apps.

What this means is that you will no longer be able to simply check-in
directly to a location on Facebook. Instead, you can add your location
to a status update, while tagging any of your friends who may be with
you. You can also add your location to photos.

It seems as though Facebook has conceded defeat to Foursquare in the check-in
war. I’ve certainly seen far fewer check-ins from my Facebook friends
in recent months, compared to when Facebook Places was
first launched. On the other hand, Foursquare is growing by leaps and
bounds and now has more
than 10 million users. It raised $50
million in funding in June and has added several new features
recently that aim to get the most out of location-based data, such as events
and lists,
which both add value to the simple idea of checking-in and telling your
friends where you are.

However, given that Facebook has added location-based features
throughout its platform — and now allows you to add your location using
your computer — the social network is clearly not done with
location-based features just yet. Indeed, the company is continuing its Deals
service, where you will still be able to view available deals at a
place once you have tagged your location in a status update.

A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch that:

Once someone tags where they are on Facebook, they will
be directed to the News Feed. If the Place is offering a Check-in Deal,
the title of the deal will appear below the News Feed story. You’ll then
be able to click on the deal title and will then be taken to the claim

What do you think about Facebook killing off Places? Did you check-in

Ustream Partners With Mobile Roadie To Integrate Live Streams Into Branded Apps

Ustream has
announced a partnership with the mobile app provider Mobile Roadie that
will help keep fans even more connected to the live streams of their
favorite Ustream users.

The partnership allows Ustream users to integrate their stream into a
customized branded mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The app
allows you to make sure your viewers never miss a live stream by giving
you the ability to send push notifications the minute a stream goes
live. You can also share streams via Twitter and Facebook and measure
the effectiveness of your Ustream campaign by using Mobile Roadie’s

If you’re using Ustream as a way to generate some extra income, like
many artists who choose to have live performances over the service, you
will be able to monetize the app by charging your users for a
subscription. Choose between charging a one time, pay-per-view fee or a
monthly fee. Once your fans have access to your stream, Mobile Roadie’s
Ustream integration allows you to interact with the fans who are
watching, while they’re watching.

Ustream recently launched Pro
Broadcasting, a new feature that allows users to customize their
channels with new social networking widgets.

Social Dining App Forkly Helps You Rate And Review Food

Forkly, which allows
you to rate and review menu items at restaurants and share your reviews
with your friends, has just launched its iPhone app.

You can tell the app whether you like an item, love it, think it’s
okay or is “not for me” and you can add a short review before sharing
your rating with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Rating items will
help Forkly build a profile of what you like and what you don’t — this
will help it provide recommendations of other menu items you may like.

You can follow other users to find out what they are eating (and what
they think of their meals) and you can bookmark something you would
like to try yourself by tapping the “want it” button. Similarly, you can
bookmark a place you want to try by tapping the “want to go here”

The overall aim is to help you discover new restaurants and dishes to
try out and, when you are already at a restaurant, help you find out
which items on the menu are good before you order.

As you share your opinions about food and drinks, you can gain
influence points and see which other Forkly users you are influencing.
You can become the Top Influencer for both venues and menu items, which
somewhat gamefies the app.

forkly1  forkly2

Forkly is also trying to solve the initial problem of not having
anyone to follow as you sign up using your Twitter account — you will
need to have a Twitter account to use the app. You will then start to
follow all Forkly users you are also following on Twitter. However, I’m
not sure how effective this will be, since we don’t always follow people
on Twitter who live locally. Perhaps Facebook integration would have
been better here.

At launch, Forkly is also including some tools to help restaurants, brands and bloggers get the
most out of the app, so it seems that it may already have monetization
in mind.

At first glance, Forkly — which was developed by Martin May and Brady
Becker, 2 of the co-founders of Brightkite — is a nice looking app that could
provide a lot of value for people like me, who like to check out new
restaurants and try different dishes. It feels similar to Foodspotting, but is
actually more like Yelp in
that it focuses more on reviews — albeit reviews of specific dishes
rather than restaurants. Offering personalized recommendations is a nice
touch and the gamification should lead to a good level of engagement.

You can check out Forkly for yourself now by downloading the app on
iPhone. Forkly is not available on the Android or BlackBerry platforms at
the time of this writing.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Google+ Now Lets You Start A Hangout From YouTube

Google has rolled out a
cool little feature that allows you to start a Google+ hangout
that contains a YouTube
video directly from the video-sharing service. To do so, simply click on
the “Share” button under any video on YouTube and then “Start a Google+
Hangout” on the right. You can then choose who you would like to add to
your hangout and then start watching the video with those people.

Google+ has allowed you to watch YouTube videos inside Hangouts since
its launch and it added the option to watch
live-streaming videos with your friends inside Hangouts earlier
this month.

The launch of this little feature, which was revealed by YouTube Product Manager Brian Glick,
suggests that Google is starting to integrate Google+ features into more
of its properties.

youtube hangout

[Via The Next Web]

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Electronic Arts (EA) Presents "The Sims Social" on Facebook

Electronic Arts
(EA) has opened up access to its Facebook version of “The Sims,” meaning that
anyone can now play “The
Sims Social.”

The game, which was announced
back in June, lets you interact with Sims belonging to your
Facebook friends as you guide your Sim through their life. You can share
your activity within the game with your Facebook friends and keep
everyone up to date on what is happening with your Sim. The game is free
to play, but you can pay for virtual goods such as clothes and items to
decorate your home.

“The Sims Social” underlines the fact that EA is focusing more on
social gaming. Indeed, the company has acquired PopCap Games, one of the
biggest social gaming developers around, for a sum
that could rise to $1.3 billion.

I would guess that “The Sims Social” will prove to be hugely popular
among Facebook users as “The Sims” is one of the biggest gaming
franchises in history. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a home to build.

You can check out “The Sims Social” for yourself by installing
the Facebook app

the sims social screen

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

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Monday, 15 August 2011

Google To Buy Motorola

Google has bought Motorola Mobility, for $12.5bn --
about £7.6bn. Mobility is the part of Motorola that makes phones. Google
says the acquisition will "supercharge" Android.

is certainly no stranger to Google's mobile OS. It's the company behind
devices such as the Motorola Milestone and the first Honeycomb
tablet, the Motorola Xoom. So the purchase does make a
degree of sense.

Breaking the news in a blog post, Google CEO
Larry Page said, "Together, we will create amazing user experiences that
supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers,
partners and developers everywhere."

Sounds adorable. But Motorola has never actually made a truly
must-have Android gadget -- could there be another reason behind Google
buying Motorola Mobility?

Patent palava 

Google's Android
operating system has recently come under attack from other companies such as
Apple, which claims the robot-powered OS infringes on its patents. As
Page notes in his blog post, in acquiring Motorola, Google will add a
whole slew of patents to its roster, giving it legal ammunition in the
fight against Android's enemies.

"This acquisition is primarily about acquiring Motorola's
sizeable patent portfolio," reckons Nick Dillon, devices and platforms
analyst at Ovum.

"The move raises concerns for Android handset manufacturers,"
Dillons adds, "as the acquisition will mean that Google will move from
becoming a software provider to becoming a hardware vendor."

Android rift?

That means Google will likely be pushing
out products that are in direct competition with its Android partners --
companies such as Samsung and LG. "If Google provides preferential
access to the Android code to its own hardware division, this would
place other vendors at a disadvantage and may lead them to question
their commitment to the platform, potentially pushing some towards other
platforms," Dillon said.

In other words, if Motorola is seen to get too much special
treatment from Google, it could cause a rift among companies that build
Android devices.

Google has gone as far as collecting
quotes from the CEOs of Android-lovin' companies to show that
there's no ill feeling harboured. HTC CEO Peter Chou said the
acquisition "demonstrates that Google is deeply committed to defending
Android, its partners, and the entire ecosystem". Big cheeses from other
companies echoed the sentiment.

The purchase, which is likely to
be completed by the end of 2011 or early 2012, means we may see
Google-branded Android phones and tablets built by Motorola coming out
before too long. That has happened before -- the Google Nexus One was built by HTC, and the Nexus S was constructed by Samsung.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Zynga Launches ‘The Pioneer Trail,’ New Chapter For ‘FrontierVille’

fans, grab your 10-gallon hat, pull on your boots and hop on your horse
as a whole new chapter is coming to the Facebook game. Zynga has announced that “The
Pioneer Trail” is launching Friday on the social network.

In “The Pioneer Trail,” you will work your way across 3 distinct maps
— Beaver Valley, High Plains and Avalanche Pass — in order to reach the
safety of Fort Courage. To help you get to Fort Courage, you can select
3 of your Facebook friends to form your Trail Crew. You can designate
those friends as your crew’s doctor, carpenter and hunter, each of whom
have their own special abilities. This gives an interesting twist to the
game, as the more active your friends are on “The Pioneer Trail,” the
faster you will progress.

While working your way towards Fort Courage, you will be faced with
several choices in a story that is filled with plot twists, creatures
and other characters. Soon after setting off on your journey, you will
learn of a kidnapping that has been carried out. The story then plays
out as you discover clues to solve the mystery.

“The Pioneer Trail” is around 5 times the size of other Zynga games
and it is the first game from the company that lets you progress across
different maps and through changing environments. There are also several
ways to work through the story. The choices that you make will
determine how well you do as you travel across unfamiliar territory.
After you successfully play through a map, you can play it again and
possibly end up with a different outcome.

pioneer trial avalanche

The game also contains a points system, where you can earn points
while traveling to Fort Courage and see how your score ranks against
your friends and other players.

If you are new to “FrontierVille,” you will be able to set out on
“The Pioneer Trail” after building your homestead. If you already have a
homestead, you can find it at the bottom of the screen while playing
“The Pioneer Trail” and you can switch back and forth between the main
“FrontierVille” game and “The Pioneer Trail.”

It appears that Zynga is experimenting with new social gaming
mechanics in “The Pioneer Trail.” Limiting your crew to just 3 friends
adds a strategy element of which friends to choose, while a closed story
mode (as opposed to the open-ended format of other Zynga games) should
add an extra dimension of gameplay to “FrontierVille.”

Of course, this is not the first time that Zynga has launched a
game-within-a-game. The company created
“GagaVille” within “FarmVille”
to promote Lady Gaga‘s
latest album. The company has launched several other new games in recent
months, including “Hanging
With Friends” and “CityVille
Hometown,” while it
has brought its popular “Words With Friends”
mobile game to Facebook. Meanwhile, “FrontierVille” was used
to promote the animated movie “Rango” earlier this year.

You can check out “The Pioneer Trail” for yourself by visiting “FrontierVille.”

pioneer trial high plains