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WhatsApp Announces New 'Status' Feature for Sharing Videos and Photos That Expire After 24 Hours

Following in the footsteps of Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook-owned WhatsApp today announced the launch of "Status," a new feature that's designed to let users share videos, photos, and GIFs that expire each day. The Status addition to WhatsApp is essentially identical to the "Stories" feature in Instagram and Snapchat, both of which allow users to share daily life updates with friends and family that expire after 24 hours. With WhatsApp Status, WhatsApp users can use the in-app camera to share photos or videos that can be annotated with emoji, text snippets, and drawings. Status updates can be shared with all contacts, rather than just individuals or specific groups, but there are also options to choose who is able to see what. Through the new Status tab, WhatsApp users can view all of the updates that their address book contacts have shared on the app and reply privately to updates. All Status updates expire after a 24 hour period. WhatsApp is launching Status to celebrate its eighth anniversary. The new feature is rolling out to WhatsApp users starting today and should be available soon for all iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone users. WhatsApp can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Facebook Users Will Soon Be Able to Apply for a Job Within iOS App and on Web

Facebook has announced that businesses in the United States and Canada will soon be able to post job listings on their pages, and potential hires will be able to easily browse local openings through a new "Jobs" bookmark. The update is rolling out over the next few weeks for both the Facebook iOS and Android apps, and on the web. The company said that the update is aimed at small business owners who may find it more difficult than expected to hire talent for specific positions. After a job is posted, employers can review applicants, contact them on Facebook Messenger, and set up an interview date for the best candidates. The update has already begun as a small test in parts of the U.S. We’ve tested the new jobs experience in parts of the US, and while it’s still early, businesses are already filling roles. “It was great because it was easy,” says Wendy Grahn, co-owner of the Chicago-based Lakeview Kitchen and Market. “It took three minutes to fill out the information and put it out there. Then someone saw the post, we talked, and it was done.” On the applicant side of things, job posts will be visible in their News Feed, in the Jobs bookmark tab, and included along with other posts on the business' regular Facebook page. Clicking "Apply Now" pre-fills information accumulated from the user's Facebook page, and applicants can review and edit it to their liking before hitting submit. Facebook recently announced that it is building a video-focused app for the Apple TV that will allow users to watch the "same kinds of videos" as found on the Facebook app, but on a

Facebook to Launch Video-Focused Apple TV App 'Soon'

At the Code Media conference in Dana Point, California, Facebook's Vice President of Partnerships Dan Rose announced that Facebook is planning to launch an app for set-top boxes like the Apple TV in the near future. Focused on video content, the app will allow users to watch the "same kinds of video" available on Facebook's app and website, except they'll be viewable on the larger screen of a television set. The Facebook for Apple TV app will recommend videos for users to watch or will allow users to view videos previously saved on other devices. A Facebook account will be required, but at launch, the app will not include ads. News of Facebook's work on an app for set-top boxes was first shared by The Wall Street Journal in late January. The site also said Facebook is speaking with media companies about licensing long-form TV-quality "premium" programming that will presumably be available in the upcoming app. Media companies say Facebook is aiming for videos that are over 10 minutes and are created specifically for the social network, with a focus on everything from scripted TV shows to sports. Facebook plans to launch its set-top box app "soon," and it will be available on the Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV. During the Code Media conference, Facebook also made a few other announcements. Autoplay videos in the News Feed will now automatically play with the sound on unless a phone is on silent, a picture-in-picture feature is coming for watching videos while scrolling through the News Feed, and vertical video viewing is rolling

Facebook Launches New Weather Forecast Section in Mobile App

Facebook has come up with another way to convince users to stay within the social networking app, recently introducing a complete weather forecast section that uses GPS location to present a detailed 24-hour and 5-day forecast, powered by Weather.com (via TechCrunch). The feature is an expansion of the previous "weather greetings" that appeared on the Facebook mobile app beginning about a year ago, which include succinct time-of-day greetings along with a stock forecast message. Now, users can tap on those greetings and jump into a full forecast of their area. Although the greetings link users to the forecast section, sometimes the prompts aren't always there when the app is opened. To manually find the forecast: open Facebook > tap the hamburger "More" tab on the bottom right of the app > tap "See More" > scroll down and tap "Weather." The heading of the section includes doodles that change depending on the weather, alongside the current temperature, high and low estimates for the day, and a one-to-three sentence summation of the present forecast. Under that, users can scroll through the next 24 hours, and look ahead to the next 5 days. If more information is required, the very bottom of Facebook's forecast section has a "see more weather info" button that launches Weather.com. To see the weather for another location, the gear icon on the top right of the screen includes a search field to find more cities. Weather greetings now launch into the new forecast section According to Facebook, the goal of adding weather forecasts was to "connect people to the

Facebook Adds New 'Discover People' Section to Mobile App

Facebook is rolling out a new section to its mobile app called "Discover People", which is designed to encourage connections between people who aren't yet Facebook friends (via TechCrunch). The new feature, which can be found at the bottom of the navigation section of the app, allows users to scroll through a list of upcoming events to see who else is going, as well as browse through lists of people in the local area or those who share the same employer. Image via TechCrunch Entering "Discover People" for the first time, users are asked to introduce themselves by updating the various sections of their public profile. Once the profile is set, a list of upcoming events appear below, featuring any events the user plans to attend, has registered an interest in, or has been invited to. Users can also check out the profiles of others similarly linked to the event. True to the feature's billing, profiles of people already befriended on Facebook don't show up in the lists, only people who don't know each other – though whether this "discovery" mechanism will sit comfortably with all users is unclear. For example, not everyone automatically wants to make their interest in an event public knowledge, and currently there's no way to control privacy settings when a user registers such interest. Facebook has tested similar features in the past, only to roll them back following users' privacy concerns – "Friends Nearby" being one example. TechCrunch suggests that with the latest attempt to connect people, Facebook is pushing back against dating apps like Tinder and Bumble,

Facebook Developing App for Set-Top Boxes Like Apple TV

Social networking site Facebook is currently working on an app for set-top boxes like the Apple TV, reports The Wall Street Journal. The new app is said to be part of a series of projects aimed at expanding Facebook's video content offerings and expanding revenue sources. Citing sources with knowledge of Facebook's plans, The Wall Street Journal says Facebook is speaking with media companies about licensing long-form TV-quality "premium" programming that would be shared in a Facebook app on set-top boxes. Media companies say Facebook is aiming for videos that are upwards of 10 minutes in length and are created specifically for the social network, with a focus on everything from sports to scripted shows.Late last year, some employees at Facebook started referring to the platform's future as a type of "mobile TV," one of the people said. The social network is hoping to cut into the time Americans spend watching live television--around four hours a day on average, according to media measurement firm Nielsen.Facebook has been delving heavily into video content in recent years, promoting both short videos and live video capabilities that allow people to broadcast content live to their friends and family. Facebook is said to be ready to move on from shorter videos and live video to longer form higher-quality videos, including original programming. There's no word on when Facebook's app designed for television sets could be released, but work on the app has been in high gear since the second half of

Facebook Hires Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra to Lead its Virtual Reality Division

Facebook has hired Xiaomi executive Hugo Barra to lead its virtual reality business, following the vice president's announcement earlier this week that he would be leaving the Chinese smartphone maker. On Monday, the former Android executive at Google said he would be returning to Silicon Valley next month to reunite with friends and family, and to take some time off before "embarking on a new adventure". His appointment at Facebook was announced on Wednesday by company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said Barra would lead all of Facebook's virtual reality efforts including the Oculus team. "I've known Hugo for a long time, starting when he helped develop the Android operating system, to the last few years he's worked at Xiaomi in Beijing bringing innovative devices to millions of people. "Hugo shares my belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform. Hugo is going to help build that future, and I'm looking forward to having him on our team."Sometimes referred to as "the Apple of China", Xiaomi announced a VR headset last year under Barra's watch. The device was certified to work with Google Cardboard apps and some of its mobile phones. In reply to Zuckerberg's welcome, Barra said he aimed to make VR a mainstream technology. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun always says that the highest calling of an engineer is to make technology breakthroughs quickly and readily available to the widest possible spectrum of humanity. That will be my mission at Facebook and I look forward to building the future of immersive technology with Mark

Facebook Begins Testing Ads in Messenger App

Facebook today announced that it has begun testing ads in the Messenger app. The test will be limited to users in Australia and Thailand and will allow businesses to place ads on the Messenger home screen below favorite users and most recent conversations. The company says that "no one will see an ad in a conversation without clicking on an ad experience on the Messenger home screen or starting a conversation with a brand." Facebook assures that ads will not "originate" in conversations. Facebook says businesses have told the company that they're excited to use the Messenger platform to connect to its billion users, driving sales and building brand awareness. Currently, Facebook runs ads on its News Feed that, when clicked, take users into Messenger conversations with brands. This has helped person-to-business messaging grow popular, with Facebook saying over a billion messages are sent a month between people and businesses. Messenger users will have "complete control" over their experience, and will be able to either hide or report specific ads using a dropdown menu, similar to how users can report ads on their News Feed. Additionally, advertisers are not allowed to directly message users unless the user initiates the conversation. The test will only work for a "very small group" of people in Australia and Thailand, and Facebook says the company will take its time before it considers further

Facebook Continues Copying Snapchat by Testing Out 'Stories' Update in Ireland

After copying Snapchat inside of Instagram with last year's "Instagram Stories" update, Business Insider today learned that Facebook is gearing up to launch the exact same feature in its mainline Facebook mobile app. Now called "Facebook Stories," the social media company is bringing over the same circular user interface to its main app for users in a small test in Ireland, letting them post images and videos that automatically disappear after 24 hours. Facebook Stories appear at the top of the Facebook app, similar to where Instagram Stories have received top billing in the photo-sharing app. The new feature is said to work "identically" to Instagram's update, so users can snap a picture or video, edit it with a few filter and sticker options, and friends can tap through each post within the day it gets posted. Facebook has been focusing on its photo and video features in its iOS app for a while now, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year saying that the company plans to launch a camera-first experience that changes status updates from simple written posts to dynamic photos and videos. Through selfie filter tests, holiday updates, and live-streaming add-ons, the company has already begun to make progress towards launching a fully-featured, photo-centric update to the main Facebook app. After directly becoming a competitor to Snapchat with Instagram Stories, Instagram reported the gain of 100 million users in the second half of 2016. For now, Facebook Stories remains a test of its own in Ireland, but the "new format" will be arriving in more countries in the coming

Facebook and Google Dominate 'Top Smartphone Apps of 2016' List, While Apple Music Ranks 9th

A new trend study published by Nielsen this week looks into the top smartphone apps of 2016, as well as the operating systems that the apps were downloaded on. This year within the United States, Facebook won the top spot with more than 146 million average unique users each month. The social network company also dominated the second spot with Facebook Messenger at 129 million unique users per month. Following Facebook's winning of the top spots, Google holds most of the remaining spots with YouTube (113 million), Google Maps (105 million), Google Search (103 million), Google Play (99 million), and Gmail (88 million). Another Facebook-owned app in the 8th spot, Instagram (74 million), bookends the Google apps. For Apple, the only app that appears on Nielsen's chart is Apple Music, with just over 68 million unique users each month, a growth of 20 percent from 2015. Earlier in December, it was reported that Apple's music streaming service had officially surpassed the 20 million subscriber mark. Amazon's popular shopping app rounds out the list in the 10th spot with 65 million monthly users. In the third quarter of 2016, the apps were opened on average 53 percent of the time on an Android operating system and 45 percent on iOS, according to Nielsen's data of around 9,000 panelists. Windows Phone and BlackBerry accounted for a minimal portion of the statistics at 2 percent and 1 percent,

Facebook Halts Collection of WhatsApp User Data Across Europe

Facebook has temporarily halted the collection of WhatsApp user data across Europe after pressure from privacy watchdogs, according to the Financial Times. The move follows news last week that the social media company, which owns the popular chat platform, agreed to pause data collection in the U.K. while a government probe there inquired into WhatsApp's privacy policy. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner's office, which acts as Facebook's European regulatory body, confirmed to FT that the company had suspended European data collection since last week. The change in data gathering means that WhatsApp users across Europe will no longer have select information shared with Facebook, including the phone number a user verifies during the registration process and the last time a user accessed the service. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, but only began collecting data from users of the chat service in August this year. In September, German authorities ordered a halt to the practice in the country after ruling that it was an infringement of national data protection law. Last month, pan-European privacy watchdogs signed an open letter to WhatsApp saying they had serious concerns over the privacy policy change, and urged Facebook to pause data collection until appropriate legal protections could be

Facebook iOS App Will Soon Gain Prisma-Like Art Filters for Photos and Videos

In a lengthy blog post about Facebook's ten-year plan to "accelerate innovation and power new experiences with AI," chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer mentioned that one update coming to the company's mobile apps will be a "style transfer" tool that turns normal photos and videos into works of art using "high efficiency neural networks," all running directly on iOS and Android smartphones. Facebook's impending update will, according to Schroepfer, run entirely on the user's smartphone and not be dependent on the content to be sent to servers, creating long load times and frustrating users. The CTO described this as the most demanding and "technically difficult" hurdle to clear in the process of adding the feature to the company's mobile apps, but Schroepfer said the company has done just that, and the result is a deep learning platform called "Caffe2Go." Just three months ago we set out to do something nobody else had done before: ship AI-based style transfer running live, in real time, on mobile devices. This was a major engineering challenge, as we needed to design software that could run high-powered computing operations on a device with unique resource constraints in areas like power, memory and compute capability. The result is Caffe2Go, a new deep learning platform that can capture, analyze and process pixels in real time on a mobile device. We found that by condensing the size of the AI model used to process images and videos by 100x, we’re able to run deep neural networks with high efficiency on both iOS and Android. This is all happening in the

Facebook Suspends WhatsApp Data Sharing in the U.K. Following Privacy Probe

Facebook has agreed to pause data collection from WhatsApp users in the United Kingdom following a government probe into the company's privacy policy (via Engadget). Back in August, Facebook-owned WhatsApp updated its terms of service and privacy policy to reflect that it would begin sharing select data with the social media network, including the phone number a user verifies during the registration process and the last time a user accessed the service. Facebook argued that the new policy would allow it to better fight spam and abuse, deliver better friend suggestions and more relevant ads. However, the company soon came under fire from European Privacy watchdogs who cited "serious concerns" over the policy change, while the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is now eight weeks into its own probe. The U.K.'s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham explained the reasons for the probe on the ICO website: "I had concerns that consumers weren't being properly protected, and it's fair to say the enquiries my team have made haven't changed that view. I don't think users have been given enough information about what Facebook plans to do with their information, and I don't think WhatsApp has got valid consent from users to share the information. I also believe users should be given ongoing control over how their information is used, not just a 30-day window."ICO said it was "pleased" that Facebook had agreed to pause using data from U.K. WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes. As part of the inquiry, the ICO has also asked

Facebook Plans to Make Camera More Prominent in Mobile App, Akin to Snapchat

During a quarterly earnings meeting yesterday, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg briefly commented on the status of the company's mobile app experience, mentioning a belief that "a text box is still the default way we share." As reported by Bloomberg, the CEO said that the next step for Facebook on smartphones is a camera-first experience that changes status updates from simple written posts to dynamic photos and videos. As it stands, when the Facebook app is opened today users must click on "Photo" at the top of the app to begin a status update, then navigate to the Camera icon among their photos in order to take a picture or record a video. Zuckerberg's vision is one more akin to Snapchat's camera-first user interface, but on Facebook it's described as "a swipe away," hinting that it could be introduced as a new left-to-right swipe, replace the friends list currently in the menu that appears after a right-to-left swipe, or come in from the top of the screen. Facebook's Olympics update in Canada and Brazil introduced a camera-first experience "In most social apps today, a text box is still the default way we share,” Zuckerberg said. “Soon, we believe a camera will be the main way that we share.” The Facebook camera itself will be updated with new features as well, including new augmented reality filters -- like the ones that appeared on Halloween -- and "have many of the same features Snapchat has," according to AdAge. Facebook's move to put itself more in line with Snapchat has stretched into its other apps, including Instagram, and the new camera-first

Facebook Updates iOS App With Halloween Themed Reactions and Live Filters

Continuing in the tradition of changing Reactions to suit a theme or holiday, Facebook today has begun rolling out a Halloween version of the six Reaction buttons. Replacing Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry are a skeleton's hand, candy heart, witch, ghost, Frankenstein's monster, and a pumpkin. Some Reactions, including Like, change into their festive versions after being tapped Using its acquisition of MSQRD, Facebook is also introducing Halloween-themed live filter masks into its live video streaming feature. The limited-time masks are said to include a skull, an evil queen, a pumpkin, and a witch. After you start broadcasting from the "Live" button on top of the feed in the Facebook app, you can find the masks in the magic wand menu in the top left corner of the screen. The company said that a selection of masks will continue to be available after Halloween, "so you can be creative in your Live videos any time." The update is expected to stick around through Halloween, although Facebook didn't specifically confirm how long it would last. Reactions will be rolling out to people "in a select set of countries," while masks are available only to iOS users in the United States, United Kingdom, and New

MasterCard Announces Facebook Messenger Bot for Purchases and Account Management

During the Money 20/20 conference taking place in Las Vegas this week, MasterCard announced that it's creating a chatbot for Facebook Messenger that will allow customers to "transact, manage finances, and shop via messaging platforms." Like many other companies, MasterCard is getting in on the chatbot craze to boost customer loyalty and profits; according to Gartner "nearly $2 billion in online sales" will pass through an artificial intelligence bot on mobile by the end of the year. For MasterCard, the company is introducing two chatbots: MasterCard Bot for Banks and MasterCard Bot for Merchants. The distinction in the chatbots lies in their intended use on the consumer side of Facebook Messenger, where users will be able to chat with the bank bot to ask questions about their account, look at purchase history, monitor spending levels, receive assistance with financial literacy, and more. Powered by Kasisto's KAI Banking AI platform, the MasterCard bot intends to accomplish all these tasks with the conversational ease of "texting a friend." “At Mastercard, we believe that AI-driven conversations between companies and their customers can drive better customer experiences in places and platforms that consumers are already engaging in.,” said Kiki Del Valle, senior vice president, Commerce for Every Device, Mastercard. “Mastercard Labs has been testing integration of key Mastercard products and services within different messaging platforms and we’re thrilled to test Mastercard KAI on Messenger first. We will keep moving this test-and-learn approach to the

Facebook App Integrates Food and Ticket Ordering Into Brand Pages

In the consistently updated Facebook app for iOS, the social media company is today introducing a slew of new features focused on event discovery and streamlined interaction with brands. Notably, now in the company's mobile app users will be able to purchase tickets to movies and concerts, buy food, or book an appointment without leaving Facebook. For food and ticket orders, the feature is fueled by Facebook's partnership with services like Delivery.com, Slice, Ticketmaster, Fandango, and Eventbrite. Local businesses will need to be on board to support the appointment booking feature, but if they do users can simply request a specific time from the business' Facebook page after looking at their list of services. A response confirmation will be sent through Facebook Messenger when the appointment is decided upon. To generate more personalized interactions, there's also a new Recommendations feature in the app that aims to make it easier to get advice from friends and family on places to see and things to do in a user's hometown, or while traveling in a new city. Recommendations are represented as a new status option, so users can post about wanting to check out new restaurants, for example, and their friends can comment back with suggestions to try in the area. People come to Facebook every day to connect and share experiences with friends and family. We share the great places we go and we ask our friends for advice when we need help getting things done. Today we’re starting to introduce a variety of new features that help you use those connections to discover

Facebook's Snapchat Clone 'Messenger Day' Expanding Slowly Across the Globe

Following the launch of "Instagram Stories" in August, Facebook is now preparing to ape Snapchat in its own Messenger app, with a feature called "Messenger Day." Originally launched to users in Poland, Messenger Day is now expanding and gaining attention with Facebook users in Australia (via Mashable). With the new feature in the Facebook Messenger iOS and Android apps, Messenger Day lets users post ephemeral updates to their friends, which last 24 hours before expiring, with the ability to doodle and add stickers to posts. Friend updates can be found atop the normal Facebook Messenger home page, and the interface is visually similar to the layout of Instagram Stories with a horizontal row of reverse-chronological updates. "We know that people come to Messenger to share everyday moments with friends and family. In Poland we are running a small test of new ways for people to share those updates visually," a Messenger spokesperson told Mashable at the time. For those who have used Messenger Day, the user interface and features have yet to impress, with one user mentioning that "(The user interface) is really poor, on every level — nothing like Instagram Stories." Most of the criticism so far seems to be focused on the simple fact that as companies introduce more of the same features into their mobile apps, it leaves users to choose only one service, which is still Snapchat for most, and ignore the rest. Snapchat's growing popularity has resulted in other social networks (namely Facebook, which owns Instagram) attempting to combat its 24-hour posts with similar

Facebook iOS Gains 'Initial View' For 360-Degree Photos, Data Saver Coming to Messenger

Facebook recently announced that users are now able to select the "initial view" for 360-degree photos when uploading pictures to the iOS, Android, and Chrome for Desktop Facebook apps. Prior to the update, Facebook would randomly choose a section of the 360-degree photo to showcase on the service, so now users can personally select the best section to show their friends and family (via The Next Web). To do this, before posting users simply have to drag around the photo on mobile, or select "Edit" on desktop, to find the area of the picture they want to be the initial viewpoint for anyone scrolling through their Facebook feed. Whenever the initial view is clicked on, the full 360-degree photo will be showcased with more detail. "In the coming weeks," the company will also rollout album support for 360-degree photos, as well as the ability to post them into multimedia status updates, "i.e. when you want to post a combination of 360 photos, regular photos, 360 videos and regular videos at once." We've heard you loud and clear and we're excited to roll out the ability to set the initial field of view on your 360 photo on iOS, Android and Chrome for desktop. To change the view, simply upload a 360 photo, then, before posting, move your photo around by dragging with your finger or select Edit on desktop and move the mouse until you've reached the desired view. Your friends will now see this angle of your photo when you post to Facebook. Please note, we have not enabled zoom with this feature. Additionally, it was recently reported that the social network is running a

Facebook App Gains Video Streaming Support for Apple TV

Facebook yesterday announced an update to its flagship app that lets users stream video from their iOS device directly to an Apple TV. Now, when a video is selected in the app's news feed or from the Saved tab, a small button appears in the top right corner which, when tapped, offers to send the video to an Apple TV on the same wireless network. If you’re streaming a Facebook Live video to your TV, you can see real-time reactions and comments on the screen, and you can join in the conversation yourself by reacting or commenting.The new feature – which also supports Chromecast – continues to stream the video to the TV while allowing the user to browse other parts of Facebook on their iPhone or iPad. Facebook is free download on the App Store for iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link