Facebook today announced a number of new features for Facebook Groups. Group admins, for example, can now pre-approve members and Groups now also feature a Q&A and photo-sharing section. More importantly, though, Facebook also introduced a new new button that publishers can put on their site: the Send button. This button is a close relative to the Like button, but with the added twist that it allows users to selectively share a webpage with one of their Facebook Groups or email it to their friends.
Cord cutting, that is cancelling your cable or satellite contract in favor of going Internet TV-only, isn’t as hard as it sounds. Chances are, unless you are a real TV addict, you can easily live without cable these days and switch over to an affordable set-top box from Roku or Boxee with a subscription to Hulu Plus and Netflix.
Google just launched it's +1 button this morning, which allows its users to like sites and ads right on the search results page and which will soon also come to a site near you in the form of a Facebook-like "-1" button. Quite a few pundits are already proclaiming this as a Facebook competitor, but I have my doubts. For now, the benefits of clicking the +1 button simply aren't there for users to bother clicking on them
Last night, Color, the photo-sharing app with $41 million backing from major Valley VC firms, launched to much hype and an even greater backlash. There is no point in rehashing the discussion about it, but my personal opinion is pretty clear: the app’s concept may do well at conferences and other events (and hence I’m surprised it wasn’t launched at SXSW), but the current user experience is bad and the concept just doesn’t sound appealing to a mainstream audience. Now, however, Color’s CEO Bill Nguyen has told Mashable that “his team has heard the criticism loud and clear, and is moving fast to make changes to the app to fix its biggest problem: that people feel lonely when they use the app all by themselves.”
Color, the new photo sharing app from the brains behind the online music service Lala, launched last night. There are some ingenious algorithms behind the app, and while I wrote a rather scathing review of the app last night, I think the app’s reception could have been very different if it had launched at a different time and in a different place.
It took the New York Times almost two years and close to $40 million dollars to come up with its paywall scheme and the results neither reflect this huge investment in manpower nor money. It's a mess that was designed by committee. I actually believe that most people would be more than willing to pay a reasonable amount for access to the NYTimes' generally excellent reporting. The problem is, it almost feels as if the paywall was designed to scare away just those readers who would be willing to pay.
Twitter celebrates its 5th anniversary today. While the company has recently taken to annoying its users with the #dickbar and is working hard on alienating its developers, Twitter decided to mark its birthday with a celebrity-studded video featuring Piers Morgan, Snoop Dogg, Hilary Clinton and Serena Williams, among many others. In it, Snoop Dogg tells us why he follows Martha Stewart, Piers Morgan explains that his show prep largely consists of checking out what his guests are saying on Twitter (which explains a lot, I think) and a musician named Julian Perretta says that he uses Twitter as a way of "learning what [he] should do" (which also explains a lot).
I just got back from Austin yesterday and after a day of recuperation, here are my thoughts about this year's event. Quite a bit has been written about it already, so the fact that it's getting bigger (maybe too big), very commercial and without any real news value doesn't come as a surprise, even to those who weren't there this year. But none of these things are what SXSW is about - it's about the people, the networking, and the new friendships forged in hallways and over free ice cream at Club de Ville.
Twitter today launched an update to its iOS apps that brings lots of welcome new features (automatic shortening of links, autocomplete for usernames and easier photo uploads) but also puts far too much emphasis on trending topics in the iPhone app. Every time you scroll to the top of your stream on the iPhone, Twitter will now show you a trending topic at the top.
After a lot of confusion earlier this year, Apple today finally clarified its rules for in-app subscriptions for magazines, newspapers, video and music. The rules are very straightforward: Publishers can continue to sell digital subscriptions on their own websites and give free access to existing subscribers. Apple will not take a cut from these transactions. Publishers who offer out-of-app subscriptions, though, also have to offer in-app subscriptions and the price has to be the same or lower than for subscriptions processed outside of the app. Apple will take a 30% cut from these in-app transactions.
Saturday's are usually slow days in the tech news world, but thanks to a new survey (PDF) from online research firm uSamp that argues that 44% of Verizon Android users and 26% of AT&T iPhone users will wait in line to get a Verizon iPhone on the first day it goes on sale, we have something fun to chat about.
Groupon is the hottest thing on the Internet today. It doesn't come as a surprise that Google is preparing to launch a Groupon clone of its own now after an unsuccessful attempt to buy the company outright. But maybe it should come as a surprise. After all, the daily deal market is already full of competitors in every possible niche and Google is only a few months late to the party. There was a time where Google was launching innovative products - now it's just launching clones - and some of them, like Buzz, aren't even able to make much of a dent in their market.
Remember Google's Knol? The company's answer to Wikipedia? If you don't, you are not alone. Indeed, it's questionable whether Google itself remembers Knol. As the intrepid Google-watchers at the Google Operating System pointed out yesterday, not only does the site seem to suffer from major performance issues, but its software hasn't been updated for over a year now.
I'm a jaded tech blogger, but Microsoft's HoloLens project is without doubt the most exciting project to come out of Redmond in years. After years of talk about augmented reality, this may be the first project that actually lives up to the hype.