SiliconFilter

Google+ Gets More Useful Notifications, Multi-Admin Support for Pages and Noise Control for Circles

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The Google+ is ending the year with a massive number of updates and new features. Besides giving users greater control over what appears in their main stream, the Google+ team also launched support for multiple administrators for Google+ Pages and more useful notifications that provide users with what Google calls "sneak peaks" at updates from your stream. In addition, Google+ now also features a redesigned lightbox for photos, which have quickly become a central feature on the site.

All of these updates are rolling out now and will be be available to all users within the next few days.

Noise Control

Ever since the launch of Google+, its users have asked for better ways to control what appears in their streams. With today's update, Google introduces a slider for each of your circles that allows you to fine-tune how posts from this circle appear in your stream. As Robert Scoble, one of the site's most prolific users points out, Google+ users now finally have a "first form of noise control this morning. Good first step. Now we need Gmail-style filtering on top of this."

New Lightbox

Ever since its launch, photos have been a significant part of the Google+ experience. The new Lightbox, which Google introduced today, has been redesigned to enhance navigation, comment legibility and "better overall utility."Google also launched a new tagging experience that it calls "fun and fluid."

Finally: Useful Notifications

Also new today are a set of improvements to the notifications that Google prominently displays in its redesigned Google bar. Until now, there was very little information in these notifications. Now, instead of saying "Mr. X and 3 others commented on your post," you will actually see the comment right in the notifications window, for example.

Multiple Administrators for Google+ Pages

For businesses and publishers who manage Google+ Pages, today's updates also finally introduce support for multiple administrators (up to 50). In addition, these administrators will now also get access to a new notifications flow and an "aggregated count of users that have engaged with your page, either by +1’ing it or by adding it to a circle."

Support for multiple administrators was probably the most-requested feature when Google launched these brand pages. Indeed, it came as quite a surprise for many when they couldn't add additional managers to their new pages. It's good to see that Google has quickly added this feature, though I can't help but wonder why this feature wasn't available at launch.

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3:19 pm


5 Million Downloads Later, Fotopedia Launches “Wild Friends”

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Fotopedia has made a name for itself as one of the premier iOS publishers for photo-based books on iOS. Founded by Jean-Marie Hullot, the former CTO of NeXT and Apple’s Applications Division, the company has now seen over 5 million downloads of its free and paid apps. Today, Fotopedia is launching its newest app, Wild Friends, in cooperation with Wild Wonders of Europe, the largest photography-based conservation communication initiative in the world. Available for free, Wild Friends features Fotopedia’s trademark high-quality photos and slideshows. In total, the app features over 2,400 photographs from sixty-nine photographers.

As the name implies, the app features images of “arctic foxes, chamois,dolphins, humpback whales, imperial eagles, monk seals, puffins – as well as less familiar creatures such as the wisent, the saiga antelope and the ghost shark.”

Fotopedia seal ipad

Normally, though, a digital coffee table book like this (and the company’s earlier apps) would be relatively static object. With this newest app, though, Fotopedia is introducing a new feature called Visual Stories, which will present a new story from one of the photographers (with accompanying photos, of course), every day.

While some of Fotopedia’s other apps are paid apps and others, including the beautiful Fotopedia Japan app, are available for free and are monetized through relatively unintrusive ads, Wild Friends doesn’t feature any third-party ads, though it does advertise the company’s other products at times.



4:47 pm


Trover: The Best Location-Based Discovery App You’re Not Using (Yet)

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We all got our fair share of laughs out of the failed launch of the over-hyped photo-sharing/social networking service Color. While the idea behind the service was smart, the execution was abysmally bad. Trover, which quietly launched earlier this month, takes some of Color’s most basic ideas and puts them into an easy to use free iOS app (iTunes link). The app is based around the idea that you want to share photos of cool places around you with the rest of the world. There is also a location-based social networking aspect to the app, but you could easily ignore this aspect of the service without losing it’s basic functionality.

Location-based social networking based on photo sharing sounds like a complete buzzword overload, but oddly enough, it actually works out very well in Trover. In some ways, it’s the kind of app you would expect Flickr to make if Flickr still had an ounce of innovation left in it.

trover_screenshots

How it Works

The idea behind Trover is very simple: it allows you to publicly share geotagged images with anybody else on the service. That is, admittedly, nothing too original, but it’s very well implemented. The main view of the app shows you all of the images around you, organized by distance. By default, you will see all the images around you, but you can also filter this down to seeing just the images of the people in your social network on Trover (you sign in with your Facebook account, but the app won’t automatically add your Facebook friends to your network).

Share Your Discoveries – Whatever They May Be

Because of the app’s open approach, you can virtually share anything you want. The people around me have shared anything from photos of restaurant menus and food to pictures of local sights, interesting stores and weird stuff they found while walking down the street (no dearth of that here in Portland). Of course, this also means that some people just take pictures of the food they made at home, but so far, I’ve seen surprisingly little of this.

Trover’s Currency: A Simple ‘Thank You’

Unlike other apps like Foursquare and Gowalla, where the focus is more on amassing virtual badges and collecting digital flotsam, the currency on Trover is a simple ‘thank you.’ To thank others, you don’t have to be part of their social network. This makes it easy to thank other and it’s surprisingly rewarding to be thanked by others.

For the most part, the service has been flying under the radar. Hopefully this will change soon. You can download the app here.



10:29 am


What's the Point of Color?

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The minds behind Lala, the ingenious online music service that Apple bought and immediately shut down, just launched their newest project  tonight: Color.

Color is a photo-sharing app for iOS (iTunes link) and Android with $41 million in backing from major venture capital firms. Forbes calls it “a new photo app that could change the way you interact with people,” but leaving aside the question why an app like this needs $41 million, my main problem with the service is that I can’t quite figure out why I would want to use it.

What Color Does

color_screensHere is what Colors does: Unlike apps like Instagram, picplz or Path, every picture you take is public and there is no option to make it private. More importantly, the app groups together both the photos that were taken at the same location and the people that took them. To do this, the service uses some admittedly smart algorithms that look at where your phone was pointing, the ambient noise around you and other factors to determine that these pictures were indeed taken in the same place. The service then organizes you into an “elastic” social network with all the people around you who took picture at the same place. It basically creates the social network for you as you use the app (and dissolves your “friendships” automatically if you don’t take pictures close to each other for a while).

Why Would You Want to Use It?

Overall, this sounds like a smart idea, but I have a hard time imagining why I would want to use this app. If I’m already in a certain place – say a tourist sight – I don’t need to see the pictures that others took there. I’m already there to see things myself after all.

Maybe this will be useful in a restaurant, where you can then see a dish before you order it, but that assumes that there are actually enough people out there who would want to use the app. Even today, if you are outside of the tech bubble, you can still find plenty of places where nobody has ever checked in on Foursquare.

take-photos-togetherSupposedly, grouping these pictures will help you meet new people and make new friends. I just have a hard time imagining this in the real world where you probably don’t want to talk to a stranger just because he/she frequented the same restaurant one night or went to the same concert.

As Tom Foremski notes in his piece about the app, “I say hello to my neighbors but that’s about the most interaction I want with them. […] If I wanted to get to know my neighbors better I would try to make friends with them, but I don’t and they don’t.” I think that’s the social problem Color faces and one that I don’t think it is one that can be easily overcome.

Sadly, the app also itself does little to explain what it actually does, which will likely turn first-time users away rather quickly. There are no help menus and the only indication of what the app does is the opening screen which tells you to “take photos together.” The app’s homepage on the Web also does little to explain its functionality (“Simultaneously use multiple iPhones and Androids to capture photos, videos, and conversations into a group album. There’s no attaching, uploading, or friending to do. “).

Maybe I’m missing something important here – or the huge hype around the app is just making me grumpy – but while I admire the idea behind Color, I just don’t see the point of it.



9:12 pm