Facebook News

With Yahoo and MySpace rolling over, Facebook wins the social network war

Posted on December 5, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , , , |

By Sebastian Anthony, Download squad

First up, Yahoo rescinds almost its entire social network presence in favor of Facebook Connect. And now, the rumors that MySpace would drop their social focus and aim towards a network based on content and entertainment seem to be playing out: MySpace are linking up with Facebook Connect. There’s a lot of juicy info to be had over on the Inside Facebook article, but it seems like MySpace and Facebook could become very tightly entwined, with Facebook managing your profile and MySpace becoming the content provider — the quizzes, the games, the music, the movie trailers.

It would appear that, except for Google and their Friend Connect, social networks are bowing out from their competition with Facebook. With their recently-announced usage figures and their ever-climbing membership that recently hit 350 million, that’s probably a smart move. This was a war that never really heated up, and ultimately had a very predictable outcome. Facebook rule supreme. Microsoft own a sizable share in Facebook, incidentally.

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Facebook plans to introduce “lite” version

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad

facebooklitepreview

A large number of Facebook users received a message yesterday, telling them they’d been invited to test something called Facebook Lite. The messages turned out to be an accident, and the users who received them couldn’t sign up. Because nobody’s seen it yet, there’s still a lot of speculation about what Facebook Lite actually is.

Facebook’s recent acquisition of FriendFeed has led some people to believe that Facebook Lite is a bare-bones, status-updates-only version of Facebook, designed to compete with Twitter. Although this would make some sense, TechCrunch says it’s the wrong answer. Based on information that Facebook Lite is already being tested in India, they’re reporting that Facebook Lite is just a slimmer, low-bandwidth version of the site, targeted for users whose Internet connections are too slow to properly use the current version.

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Facebook Flips The Switch On Real-Time Search, Goes After Twitter Where It Hurts

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , , |

By Jason Kincaid, Tech crunch

Facebook

Just hours after we broke the news that Facebook had acquired FriendFeed comes Facebook’s announcement that it’s deploying its improved search product to everyone. This improved search functionality, which has been in testing since June, gives users the ability to search through shared media and status updates from their friends and the Pages they follow. And, perhaps more importantly, it lets users search through updates shared to ‘everyone’. The gloves are off — Facebook is going after Twitter where it hurts.

The new search will be a breath of fresh air to anyone who has previously tried to search Facebook for, well, anything. Under the old system, users had to browse through clunky categories to find their results, and there wasn’t a way to search though status updates or shared items at all. Now you’ll be able to simply click through different tabs on the left side of the page to jump between different categories, much as your would jump between Friends List on the Facebook News Feed. Another change is the way Facebook lets users ‘Search The Web’ — now these results are shown as a filter, rather than on their own page. And Facebook has also changed the search engine from Live.com to Bing, Microsoft’s rebranded and improved search engine.

These changes are especially important because search has long been one area where Facebook fell well behind Twitter. Twitter Search has become an amazing tool for finding the most up-to-date information on a variety of topics, including everything from breaking news to movie reviews. Facebook has slowly been making headway in this area by allowing users to share status updates with ‘everyone‘ (before that only your friends could see status updates). But until now there hasn’t been an easy way to actually search through those public updates, which made the feature useless to most people.

Now you’ll be able to jump over to Facebook search, click ”Posts By Everyone” and use it in much the same way you would use Twitter Search. You’ll see a list of matching updates from other users on Facebook, and a message at the top of the screen will update in real-time, alerting you as new updates containing your query come in.

For the time being it looks like Facebook isn’t promoting the feature too heavily — the ‘Posts By Everyone’ is the last item in the list of search filters, and I suspect that Facebook has relatively few users who are sharing their updates with the public in the first place. That will likely change soon though, as Facebook is planning to roll out a new suite of privacy options that will suggest that users begin sharing some of their data publicly.

Facebook’s 250+ million active users still dwarfs Twitter’s userbase, so even if only a small fraction of them begin using these new features, it won’t be hard for Facebook to become a serious contender in the real-time search race.

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New Facebook iPhone App “Pretty Much Done”

Posted on August 10, 2009. Filed under: Apple, Facebook News | Tags: , , , |

By MG Siegler, Tech crunch

As one of the most popular applications on Apple’s popular iPhone platform, a lot of users are eagerly awaiting the next version of the app. And that wait is almost over. iphoneshot2

The app is pretty much done – we’re just working on translating it into a bunch of languages,” Facebook developer Joe Hewitt wrote tonight on Twitter.

That means that shortly, we’ll have access to the much-improved app which is scheduled to have features such as a News Feed that is more like the one on Facebook’s site, the ability to “like” items and a new customizable home screen. More importantly, it will also have video support for the iPhone 3GS, something which Hewitt threw-in at the last second, unexpectedly. And perhaps best of all, the app will have the ability to manage events, finally.

But don’t get too worked up just yet. We asked Hewitt if “pretty much done” meant next week perhaps. His response: “Can’t be sure – translating could take a while. I’ve been avoiding predicting an actual release date“. And of course even when the app is done, Facebook still has to submit it for approval in the App Store, and as we all know, that can be a crapshoot. We could see it next week, we could see it 6 months from now. Though, Apple does seem to do a pretty good job pushing important apps like this one through quickly. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Facebook is also finally working on an Android app. That should drop any day now.

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iTunes 9: Blu-ray And App Organization And Twitter

Posted on August 10, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News, Gadget News, Music | Tags: , , , , |

By MG Siegler, Tech crunch

This is completely a rumor, but an awesome one. Citing a “pretty reliable” source, Boy Genius Report is saying that the next version of iTunes will add a bunch of new, highly requested features. Specificially, BGR’s source says iTunes 9 features Blu-ray support, a new way to organize iPhone apps within iTunes, as well some kind of integration with Twitter, Facebook and possibly Last.fm. iTunes

Each of those features have been talked about for some time now on the web. But as BGR notes, the talk of Blu-ray does line itself up well with an AppleInsider report from yesterday that very vaguely suggested Apple has new iMacs due shortly with features that have long been on the wish-lists of Mac owners. Blu-ray is certainly on that list, and seems like a pretty good candidate, despite Steve Jobs’ calling the format a “bag of hurt” as recently as October of last year.

More compelling may be the talk of a new way to organize iPhone/iPod touch apps in iTunes. This has been badly needed ever since it became clear that people were downloading a ton of apps to use on one device. Currently, system for managing them within iTunes is quite franktly, awful. The concept video posted at the bottom of this story shows how it really should work.

BGR says the Twitter/Facebook/Last.fm stuff from its tip was more vague, but you can imagine that if such features were integrated it would involve tweeting out or updating your Facebook status with what song you are listening to. It’s possible that for Last.fm, iTunes would build-in support for logging what songs you are playing, something which Last.fm currently does through its own software.

The Twitter angle is also interesting because of the rumors of talks between the two companies a few months ago. We were unable to confirm those rumors, but perhaps the two sides did meet to talk about something like this. Obviously, that’s just speculation.

Apple has worked with Facebook in the past to get support for uploading pictures built-in to the newest version of iPhoto. The integration is pretty slick as it also allows you to tag Facebook friends in pictures, and keeps edits made on both iPhoto and Facebook in sync.

And just imagine if Apple made a feature not only to send the name of a currently playing song to Twitter and Facebook, but if it included a link to buy the song on iTunes as well. That could mean some significant sales.

While we’re speculating, I would also love to see a Genius feature for iPhone apps, something which I talked about the need for recently.

Again, these are all just rumors for now, but we could see if they’re true or not as early as next month when it’s likely that Apple will hold some kind of iPod even, just like it does every September.

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TweetDeck beats Twhirl to the punch, adds Facebook support

Posted on March 18, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News, Twitter News | Tags: , , |

By Lee Mathews

tweetdeck

If you’ve been using TweetDeck without a dual-display setup, it’s just about time for you to make a purchase. With newly-announced support for Facebook, you’re going to need some more real estate. The release comes two short days after Twhirl frontman Loic Le Meur announced that Seesmic had released a standalone Facebook app which, like TweetDeck, is built on Adobe Air.

Setup involves logging in to Facebook and the usual two or three clicks afterwards. Once completed, you’ll have a new panel showing your Facebook friends’ updates and a checkbox next to the update field to enable posting to Facebook. Curiously, TweetDeck includes the ability to email or tweet Facebook updates, something which doesn’t necessarily jive with Facebook’s TOS.

For now, that’s about it for functionality. You can’t, for example, send replies. With TweetDeck’s history of Twitter kung-fu there will likely be plenty of enhancements in the coming months.

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Facebook’s Real-Time Homepage Goes Live Today

Posted on March 12, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , |

By Jason Kincaid

newfbshot

Today Facebook is rolling out the update to user homepages that brings a new look, enhanced filter system, and most importantly, realtime updating. Real-time updates are Facebook’s response to Twitter, which has been able to thrive on offering users immediate updates from their friends and favorite celebrities (Facebook’s original News Feed took hours to update).

The new design also includes an emphasis on sharing media and links with friends. Before now the Facebook homepage offered a “What are you doing now?” message nestled at the top. This has now been replaced with Facebook’s ‘Publisher’ interface, which lets users share status updates, photos and links, as well as content from their Facebook Apps.

Because the real-time stream will only display items for a brief period of time (depending on how many friends you have), Facebook is using a new ‘Highlights’ sidebar to show some of the older stories that it thinks you’ll probably be interested in (it sounds similar to the old News Feed).

Facebook’s blog post on the update notes that the new homepage will be deployed over the coming days, so it may still be awhile before you can try it out for yourself.

Initial Impressions
I’m apparently among the first to have the update. So how does it work?
It feels a lot more like Twitter. The whole page focuses around conversations, which isn’t a bad thing at all (I’m noticing fewer items around photos and events)
Items may be posted in real time, but it doesn’t seem like the page updates as the items come in (I’m having to refresh to see new content)
The Highlights section doesn’t exactly do a great job at highlighting news stories. With only a narrow column to work with the stories don’t stand out. And with so little real-estate, sponsored items (which are basically just ads) are more irritating.
The ability to filter the News Feed by Friend Lists is great (I can’t believe we’ve gone this long without it) You actually could filter by Friend Lists in the old version, though the feature was less visible. You can also ‘x’ out friends you never want to see appear in your News Feed again.

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Facebook Developers Getting Antsy Over Verified Apps Program

Posted on March 12, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , |

By Michael Arrington, Techcrunch

verified

Facebook’s Verified Apps program, first announced in Summer 2008, is a way for trusted application developers to be separated from the pack. But the program is yet to launch, and perceived delays and a lack of communication by Facebook is making some developers who signed up for the program a little antsy.

The details of the program were announced in November. Developers are charged $375 to apply to the program, and must continue to pay the fee each year. I called it a protection racket.

Putting that aside, though, the program seems to be very popular with developers. Facebook hasn’t said how many applications they received but they initially estimated that at least 10% of of the 50,000+ third paryty applications on Facebook Platform would become Verified. My guess is 10% is on the low side.

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Indie Facebook Developers Pulling In Over $700,000 A Month

Posted on March 7, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , , , |

By Jason Kincaid, Techcrunch.com

facebookThe mass media may be enamored of the rags-to-riches stories of developers on Apple’s App Store, but it isn’t the only game in town for indie developers to strike it rich. We’ve gotten word from SocialMedia, a popular ad platform for social network applications, that one of the company’s clients pulled in over $700,000 in advertising revenues from their Facebook apps in December alone. Granted, this was spread over 30+ of the client’s applications, but the company only consists of a handful of (very prolific) developers.

While SocialMedia declined to name the company in question, it confirmed that it was not one of the large social application developers like Playfish, SGN, and Zynga who have raised large funding rounds and have been rumored to pull in over $1 million a month.

The news reaffirms Facebook’s position alongside the iPhone as a place to get rich quick (at least for a lucky few). SocialMedia also notes that it has several other independent clients who are making over $100,000 a month. Of course, such results are uncommon, but no more so than they are on the App Store.

Also worth noting is that these revenues are entirely based on advertising, while most of the success stories we’ve heard on the App Store have been from premium apps. Facebook isn’t likely to unveil its own premium apps any time soon, but if it ever gets around to launching the payment platform it announced last year, these success stories will probably become far more common.

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Facebook Apps Can Now Use Chat To Go Viral

Posted on March 6, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , , |

By Jason Kincaid, Techcrunch.com

fbgameshot

Facebook has just announced that applications on Facebook Platform can now be able to take advantage of the site’s built-in chat functionality, which launched last spring. Developers will now be able to present users with a list of their Facebook Chat buddies, tailoring the list to best suit their application (for example, they can choose to only present friends that already have the app installed).

Facebook users have been able to use Chat and their Facebook apps simultaneously since Chat launched (one of its biggest selling points is that it remains open at the bottom of the screen, no matter where on the site you go). But until now applications didn’t really have a way to tap into the power of Facebook Chat to help make their applications more social.

Aside from adding an enhanced social element to applications, the new feature could also help apps go viral much more quickly than they would using the standard Email invite system most Facebook apps employ. Developers can now present users with a list their friends who are online (even those that don’t necessarily have their apps installed), who they can then send invites via chat messages. Invites sent over chat have a greater sense of urgency and intimacy, so it’s likely that they’ll be more effective than invites sent through the site’s Email system.

Of course, integration with Chat gives apps on Facebook yet another way to try to spam you. In the dark ages of Platform, when every app seemed to spam users with reckless abandon, I might have been more concerned about this, but I suspect Facebook already has some measures in place to prevent abuse. And even if they don’t, you can always just sign out of Chat if things get bad.

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Facebook’s Response To Twitter

Posted on March 5, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News, Twitter News | Tags: , |

By Erick Schonfeld – Techcrunch.com

fb-homepage

Facebook made a number of announcements today about changes to its home page, profile pages, and activity streams. Taken together, these represent a concerted response to the rise of Twitter as a real-time message broadcasting system that goes beyond members’ personal circle of friends.

One of the biggest changes is that Facebook is getting rid of the distinction between private profiles and public pages. The 5,000-friend limit will be dropped from the public pages. Facebook doesn’t want Twitter to become the way large companies and public figures connect to fans. Up until now, Facebook Pages haven’t really been the place fans go to connect with their favorite celebrities or brands. For that, they’ve started going to Twitter, where they can get updates in real time.

Facebook is also speeding up the updates that populate the news feeds on everyone’s personal page. Before, these would be updated every 10 minutes or so. Facebook’s introduction of real-time updates and a one-sided follow system mimics Twitter’s functionality. While it may be a little late to this part of the game, its user base of 175 million dwarf’s Twitter’s. Explains CEO Mark Zuckerberg:

What we’re talking about today, is that there’s a philosophical change in that we want to converge these public figures (which are one way) and friends (two way connections).

Throughout the press conference Facebook emphasized the importance of the activity stream along with the social graph (which is the map of social connections between members). Chris Cox, Facebook’s director of product development, put it this way:

The stream is what is happening. We think it is as core as the graph. The graph is the connections, the stream is what is happening.

These changes will become evident front-and-center on the homepage. Says Zuckerberg:

With the new homepage, that will reflect a much faster flow of information.

The redesigned homepage will allow users to sort through and filter their feed more easily. Updates will be able to be filtered by groups, specific friends, family, or by applications. A new publishing box for sharing updates will incorporate the ability to add not just status notes, but also links, photos, and videos. A new widget will highlight items from friends and other connections members interact with the most. In this way, Facebook is trying to strike a balance between its traditional strength as a private communication system and the increasingly public connections being made on the service as well.

On the surface these may seem like evolutionary changes, but the stakes are high. Facebook is trying to shore itself up as the foundation for a living, rapid-fire Web where the line between private messages and public content is blurred. Under no cisrcumstances does it want to cede the thought stream of its users to Twitter. Instead of asking, “What are you doing right now?”, the new status update box asks, “What’s on your mind?” Mix in Facebook Connect, and these thought streams can be collected from all over the Web.

Despite its already considerable size, Facebook is showing how adept it can be in responding to new threats. If Facebook cannot buy Twitter, it will try to beat it instead.

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Screen Shots: The New Facebook Home Page

Posted on March 5, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , |

By Michael Arrington – Techcrunch.com

fbhome

Here’s a clean look at the upcoming Facebook homepage redesign that will go live next week. The new design will give users the ability to easily feed the news stream by friend type and network, and gives users a much easier way to post links, photos and videos. The news feed will also begin updating in real time without page refreshes. See more here. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also wrote a blog post summarizing the changes here.

More screenshots below. The third one shows the new home page compared to the existing version.

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