SiliconFilter

Path 2.1 Launches With Smarter Camera, Shazam-Like Music Match & Support for Nike+

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Path, the up-and-coming private social network, had a couple of rough days last month because it uploaded its users' address books to its servers without their explicit permission. Today, however, the company is focusing squarely on its product again with the release of version 2.1 of its iOS app. This isn't a major overhaul of the service, as the version number already indicates, but the company made some pretty significant updates to the product that its users will surely appreciate.

Path now, for example, features support for Nike+, so your runs now automatically appear in Path. For those of us who aren't runners, the new version now also features a Shazam-like Music Match feature that is powered by Gracenote and a smarter camera that you adjust focus and exposure manually.

The Nike+ integration in Path is driven by the company's new API. It's worth noting, though, that Path isn't rolling this API out widely and is taking a very deliberate approach to opening its platform up to third parties. To sync the two apps, users have to very explicitly tell Path to pull the data from the Nike app by pulling a little Nike icon onto the Path icon. This ensures that you don't share this information without giving the app the permission to do so.

The Music Match feature works just like you would expect. You just click on the microphone icon and let the app listen to the music that's playing in the background for a while. You can then easily share this song with your friends on the service (though it will only play a 30-second sample, as far as I can see).

Overall, then, this isn't a revolutionary update, but it puts Path back on track after the privacy discussions of the last few weeks. It'll be interesting to see when and how the company will open its API to other developers. There is definitely a lot of potential here.



12:24 pm


Linked Pages: Bing Now Lets You Curate and Highlight Links that Are About You

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Google may have Google+, but Bing has a close relationship to an ever bigger and more important social network: Facebook. While Google now highlights your Google+ profile when people search for you, Bing has been showing Facebook profiles in its search results for quite a while now. With its new “linked pages” tool, however, Bing is now taking this concept a bit further. Bing now also lets you choose which of your social networking profiles and websites will be featured in a special box at the top of its search results pages when people search for your name. According to Bing, appropriate sites would also include your city, school or employer, for example. This feature is only available in the U.S. so far.

Given that Google has been widely criticized for putting too much emphasis on links to its own social network, it is worth noting that Bing uses your Facebook profile as its main result and then highlights the other pages you curate underneath that. Your Google+ profile, of course, can be one of these links, too.

bing_appear_001

Link to Me

Thanks to its close relationship with Facebook, it’s no surprise that Bing uses the social network as the basis for this tool. You use it to log in to Bing to customize your links, for example, and you can also post newly linked sites to your Facebook profile as well. To prevent you from spamming your friends with new links, only the first link of the day will be posted in your Facebook timeline.

The Bing team has decided to go one step further, though, and also allows others to make suggestions for sites you could be connected to. This linking isn’t automatic, though, and Bing will always ask you for permission first.

You can, of course, always remove a link as well.

linked_pages

Getting Started

Here is how all of this works in practice:

You first log in to Bing’s Linked Pages tool (using your Facebook credentials). Then, Bing will display all the pages it found about you and then lets you choose which of those links are really about you (and not about somebody you share a name with).

Similarly, you can search for your friends (assuming you are also their friend on Facebook) and then suggest sites that are linked to them.

Video

You can see the feature in action below (narrated by an oddly infomercial-sounding Stefan Weitz):

<a data-cke-saved-href="http://video.msn.com/?vid=649129a0-2e8a-40c8-87cc-4c3b003a7dbf&mkt=en-us&src=SLPl:embed::uuids" href="http://video.msn.com/?vid=649129a0-2e8a-40c8-87cc-4c3b003a7dbf&mkt=en-us&src=SLPl:embed::uuids" target="_new" title="Make a Good Search Impression with Bing’s Linked Pages">Video: Make a Good Search Impression with Bing’s Linked Pages</a>



10:15 am


How to Turn Off Google’s New Personal Results

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Google launched its new "personal results" feature yesterday that now mixes more Google+ posts from you and the people you follow on the service into your regular search results pages. There is a lot of talk about how it's anticompetitive and a sign of Google abusing its legal monopoly in search to push Google+, but the reality is, "search+" as many have come to call it, just isn't very good or useful in most instances. For the most part, it just clutters up your search results with stuff you aren't looking for. Thankfully, Google makes it easy to turn this feature off. Here is how:

The Temporary Solution

Personal results  hide toggle

If you just want to see what your regular results without search+ would look like, you can just use the toggle in the top right corner of the screen. This selection isn't sticky, however, and Google will just revert to Search+ the next time you come back to Google to search (note: you will only see this toggle once Search+ is enable for your account).

If you want to switch the default to non-personalized results, though, you have to do a tiny little bit more work.

Personal results search settings

Going Nuclear

Step 1: head to the search settings menu by clicking on the cogwheel in the top right corner of the screen and click on "search settings"

Step 2: Scroll down a bit and look for the "Personal results" section. Select "Do not use personal results."

Search Settings

Step 3: Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click on the blue "Save" button.

Search+ is now off by default, but you can still use the regular toggle to turn it on for this specific search session again.



4:24 pm


Does “Search Plus Your World” Actually Improve Your Search Results? Nope

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There's been a lot of talk in the last 24 hours about how Google may be favoring its own social network Google+ with yesterday's "Search plus Your World" update. Getting lost in this heated discussion is the simple question of whether this update is actually improving the search experience on Google. Google, in its announcement yesterday, said that it is "transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships." After testing the update, though, it feels like Google doesn't quite understand the "people and relationships" part well enough yet to make it such an important part of its flagship product.

To test the update, I decided that instead of just doing artificial searches for the sake of it, I would just go back to my search history and retry a day's worth of searches from last week and compare the personalized and regular results side-by-side.

Too Much Clutter, Too Many Irrelevant Results

Here is my general impression: for the majority of my searches, the personalization didn't really matter, as my online friends never said anything relevant about those queries. Switching between those results and the non-personalized ones yielded virtually the same links.

When the personalization kicked in, though, the search results were now too cluttered with often irrelevant status updates and other digital flotsam. Indeed, as I went through my list, I often found myself wishing that my Google+ friends had nothing to say about that topic.

The Google+ posts that appear in the results are often not really relevant to the search query. They also often include comments (and all those little avatars that go with them), which generally add very little to your search experience.

The Google+ follow suggestions in the sidebar often include people you already follow and this feature just feels like Google is trying to push Google+ a little bit too hard.

Every Google Search is Now an Ego Search

When I search on Google, I want to see new information, not what I did last weekend. The new algorithm puts too much of emphasis on content you created yourself – and especially posts on Google+, of course. When I search on Google, I'm not usually looking for my own stuff and I don't need to see my own photos, blog post or status updates clutter up my search results. Maybe Google could move this into the sidebar, but that wouldn't help its clutter problem either, of course.

Coffee  Google Search  personal

Be Careful Who You Friend

Unless you are very careful about who you friend on Google+, the relevance of Google's new "personal results" can also quickly go down the drain. When we friend people online, we don't do so to improve our search results.

Here is what it comes down to: The fact that we are somebody's "friend" online doesn't necessarily mean that we have common tastes. While there is a high chance that we have something in common that made us connect online in the first place, chances are that this only represents a very small part of our interests and we may only share very little else in common with these people. Until Google – and all the other search engines for that matter, too – are able to understand more of the nuances of our online relationships, social search efforts like personal search will inevitably remain limited and frustrating.

If you want to opt out of the new "personal results," just look for the opt-out toggle here.

 


11:00 am


New in Google+: Popular Posts, Ripples and a Creative Kit for Photo Editing

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It’s a busy day for the Google+ team. Not only did Google just open its social network to all Google Apps users, but the team also rolled out a number of interesting new features. These include the ability to see what the most talked about posts on Google+ are right now, a very cool visualization tool to see how a story was shared and discussed on the service and the Google+ Creative Kit, which adds some basic photo editing features to the service.

As always, Google is rolling these services out over the course of the next day or two, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see them in your account yet.

What’s Hot?

According to Google, over 1 billion posts are shared and received on Google+. To help users to find out what’s being shared across the whole service, Google today launched a “What’s Hot” section in your stream. This new section will appear after your regular updates and should, at least in theory, help you discover interesting posts that were shared publicly across the service. Hopefully the algorithms will be smart enough to ensure that it’s not just posts by Robert Scoble…

You can see this new feature in action here:

Ripples

This is probably the coolest of the new features Google announced today. With Ripples, you can see how a post was shared across the service. Ripples lets you browse through a post’s history in an interactive visualization that lets you replay a post’s “activity, zoom in on certain events, identify top contributors and much more.”

Describing it really doesn’t do this feature justice, so have a look at the video blow or if you are a Google+ user, have a look at what it looks like on the site (and here is a whole list of interesting Ripples):

Creative Kit

In addition to these two features, Google is also adding some photo editing tools to Google+. Right from the beginning, sharing photos was one of the main features of the service and quite a few professional photographers also embraced it to share their works. Until now, however, you couldn’t really manipulate your photos in Google+. Now, with the Google+ Creative Kit, you can apply Instagram-like filters, add text and stamps.

To get started with the Creative Kit, simply select a photo from your albums, look for the Edit menu and click “Creative Kit.”

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5:58 pm


Google+ Now Available for Google Apps Users

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Google just announced that Google+, the company’s new social network, is now available for Google Apps users as well. That means all of you who have Google Accounts through work or school (or simply because you use the free version for your own domain) can now finally access Google+.

One of the tweaks for Google Apps users is that you can’t just share content publicly and with your circles, but that you will also have the option to share with everybody in your organization. Google+ will automatically create a circle for your organization.

The administrator of your Google Apps account will have to turn Google+ on manually (unless your domain is set up to enable new services automatically), but once that’s done, you can simply sign up with your Google Apps account and get going. Google is rolling this service out slowly, so it may take a few days before you get access to Google+ for your Google Apps account.

It took Google quite a while to turn on Google+ for Apps users. Adding support was one of the most requested feature for Google+ ever since its launch. It’ll be interesting to see how businesses will use Google+ internally.

Be Careful Who You Share With…

It’s worth remembering that Steve Yegge’s infamous Google platform rant only became public because he mistakenly shared his story publicly instead of internally, so make sure you check your sharing settings before you hit that publish button…



5:28 pm


Getting Facebook to Give You All Your Data is Easy (in Europe)

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As Facebook moves to gather more and more data from its users, some people are getting rather anxious to know what Facebook really knows about them. Turns out, you can actually get Facebook to send you a CD with a PDF of all of your activities on the network – as long as you are in Europe. Europe vs. Facebook, a project started by Austrian privacy activist Mac Schrems, provides you with all the necessary steps to get access to your data. Requests for this data are routed through Facebook’s offices in Ireland, where a group of employees sifts through them, compiles these records and then sends them to the user.

data_request_facebookSadly, though, for many users, things are not quite as easy as just filling out this web form and waiting for the response. Not only do you need to know what law to cite in your request (something Facebook could easily figure out itself if it wanted to make things easy for its users), but as Schrems himself found out, even a meticulously prepared request doesn’t necessarily lead to an immediate response. As Germany news weekly Die Zeit reports, Facebook still didn’t want to give him his data. Only after an official complaint to the Irish data protection agency did the social network finally relent.

All Your Data Belongs to Us – Even the Deleted Kind…

Once Facebook sends the data over, it comes in the form of a CD with an unencrypted PDF document on it. Depending on your Facebook usage, that document can be between a few dozen and thousands of pages long (you canfind some examples here).

What’s in these documents? Mostly, it’s the kind of data you would expect (when you logged in, what’s in your “about me” section, credit card information if you use Facebook Credits, phone numbers, your likes and connections, what browser you used, location data, the messages you have sent and comments you have left, etc.). One interesting kink here is that quite a few users who requested this data also found some of their deleted posts in these documents.

How to Get Your Data

If you are in Europe, Schrems compiled a step-by-step guide for getting Facebook to give you your data. Just follow these instructions and be ready to respond to Facebook’s attempts to make you go away (chances are, says Schrem, Facebook will just tell you to log in to your account and see you data there – which, of course, doesn’t include all the metadata and deleted posts it also archives).

 

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6:41 pm


Facebook Announces Major Changes at F8: Here Are All the Announcements

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Facebook kicked off its F8 developer conference with a large number of product announcements by the company’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives and developers today. Here is a rundown of all the major announcements.

New From Facebook: Timeline, Music Apps, Lightweight Status Updates

As Zuckerberg noted at the beginning of his keynote, the early years of social networking were about getting people signed up and connecting them. According to him, the next era of social network is about social apps and other products that these connections make possible. To do so, Facebook introduced new ways to share more lightweight updates and also announced a completely redesigned profile page today. Instead of just “linking” content, Facebook is shifting more towards sharing everything you do. Apps can now automatically share everything you do in them automatically to Facebook – assuming you allow them to do so.

Judging from today’s announcements, Facebook really, really wants you to share everything you do – and by making more and more of these updates automatic (like the songs you listen to on Spotify), it will soon be aggregating far more information about its users than ever before. It remains to be seen how its users will react to this.
[list]

  • Timeline: Timeline is, according to Zuckerberg, “the story of your life.” Timeline is basically a wider, more visual version of your old profile. It will give users access to all of their apps, stories and a better way to express “who you are.” Split into multiple columns, the timeline basically shows all of your updates in one place and on an endlessly scrolling page. Timeline will also be available for mobile devices. Timeline will be in beta for a while. Developers will get access today and everybody else can sign up for it today. Facebook hopes to roll it out to all users over the “next few weeks.”

    For Facebook, the timelines is all about giving people a way to tell “the story of their lives.” It’s somewhat similar to the old wall, but with a stronger focus on all the important things you did in the past. As you go back in time, Facebook will summarize more of your events, though it’s not quite clear how the company decides which events were really important to you in the past.More from Zuckerberg: “People feel an intense ownership over their profile. Millions of people have spent a ton of time telling the story of their life on their profile. Timeline is an important next step in telling the story of your life.”
  • Reports: instead of just showing you everything you have done, these new reports will summarize how you use apps over time (think reports for your RunKeep updates).
  • Next Version of OpenGraph and a New Class of Apps: “Connect to anything in any way you want.” With the new lightweight sharing feature, Facebook wants to give its users the ability to share more things without annoying their friends by putting all of these updates in their newsfeed. All your media, news and book updates from web and mobile apps will go into the recently launched ticker feature but not into the newsfeed. This new class of apps will also automatically share your updates to the ticker without prompting you to share things every time it does so.
    • Music/Movies: Facebook has partnered with a number of music and online video companies to allow users to listen to music and watch movies together on Facebook. Among these are Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, Rhapsody, turntable.fm, MOG and others. Thanks to the new lightweight updates, you can now see what your friends are watching or listening to right now.
      The fundamental shift  these updates really show best is the move from just “liking” things to participating in events together.
    • Social News Apps: besides these media companies, Facebook also partnered with publishers like the Guardian, digg, The Daily, Slate, TPM, Yahoo, Flipboard and others to allow their users to easily share everything they read in their respective Facebook apps. One interesting announcement here is that The Daily, which until now was an iPad-only publication, is bringing its app to Facebook.
    • Social Games: Unsurprisingly, Facebook game developers will also be able to hook into these lightweight updates that will automatically push content to the ticker.
    • Lifestyle Apps: Facebook worked with companies like AirBnB, Byliner, Color, Foodspotting and others to bring lifestyle updates to the ticker as well. This means you can now share every recipe you cooked from your favorite recipe app automatically to Facebook and then see everything you cooked in your Timeline and the new reports feature later on.[/list]


4:56 pm


iStatus+: Post to Google+, Facebook and Twitter With Just One Click

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As of now, Google isn’t making it easy for developers to create apps that can write status updates to the service, but that didn’t stop Nadan Gergeo from building iSatus+, a little iPhone app ($0.99) that lets you post to Google+, Facebook and Twitter at the same time. I’m a big fan of simple apps that only do a few things, but do those right. iStatus+ is exactly that kind of app. You enter your account information for any of the networks you want to use – and if you are in the market for this kind of app, you’ll probably put in all three anyway – and start posting. It really couldn’t be any easier.

Istatus iphone update google plus

Given that Google+ isn’t actually giving developers the ability to post status updates directly yet, Gergeo had to hack his own way to do this, but it works perfectly fine. You can even choose which circles you want to post your updates to. Because of this, tough, you are currently also relegated to just posting text updates. The app doesn’t support any media uploads (yet).

As it also supports Twitter, the app is probably best suited for short updates under 140 characters, but you can easily exclude Twitter from longer updates by just tapping its icon above the keyboard.

One additional small caveats: the app doesn’t handle links very elegantly. On Google+, likely due to the nature of how it’s accessing the service, links won’t show up as snippets and there is no auto-shortening of Twitter links either (so they count as part of your 140-character limit).

If you want to give the app a try, just head over to iTunes.

 



9:26 pm


Share and Share Alike – Where Is the Google+ Etiquette Manual?

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Anyone who has used Google+ for more than a few hours has, no doubt, discovered a very high level of engagement. Users are sharing great content and are eager to share opinions on just about any topic, and there are many ways to share and connect. One can share, re-share, comment, +1, tag others, and even comment on comments and re-share re-shares. How, then, does one effectively participate? Are there established rules of etiquette for all of this communication?

The short answer is no. What follows is not intended to read like rules. It is simply a collection of my opinions based on what I’ve learned over more than twenty years communicating with others online. Feel free to tell me where I’m wrong, but please be nice.


This guest post was written by Bill Soistman. Bill is a programmer, educator, and trouble maker who has been sharing his opinions online since 1995.

He has more than twenty-five years experience solving real world problems and turning ideas into websites, mobile applications, and actionable strategies. He lives in Delaware with his lovely wife and two brilliant children. He cares far too much about baseball and blogs about faith, family, freedom, and fun. He currently spends a lot of time hanging out on Google+.


Sharing “Your” Content

If you have something original to share, share it. If you discovered something great online, share it. Sounds easy, right? So, what about the noise? With whom should one share and how often? I can’t answer those questions. I have a much better handle on what to do with content posted by others, but the same standard should apply to original content. That standard is added value. In the end, quality should always win out over quantity.

Comments

Comments should be reserved for real commentary, but the value of a comment is relative to the nature, tone, and intended audience of the post. A well thought out opinion on an important social issue is much more valuable when followed by carefully articulated consenting and dissenting opinions.

A thousand comments of mere agreement or raging hate do not add real value to the discussion. A political rant shared with a circle of like-minded people, on the other hand, may warrant a barrage of comments reading “amen” or “you go girl!” Same goes for the pic you buddy posts of his world record waterski jump or new Lamborghini, and your friends posts about graduations, promotions, engagements, anniversaries, births, etc. Go ahead and say “Congratulations!”

What About +1?

Giving a post a +1 may be preferred to posting a very short comment simply to express agreement, disagreement, or amusement.

I tend to draw the line based on the nature of my relationship with the author of the post. If that water ski jump record was set by a close personal friend, I will +1 but I am more inclined to also add a comment. A casual acquaintance of mine posts the same thing and I will +1 and leave my commentary out of it, even though I am just as impressed. On the other hand, if a complete stranger is proud of his accomplishment and I have reason to believe that he cares about my two cents, I’ll comment. It all comes down to added value to others. If I find I’m commenting for my own benefit, I probably shouldn’t.

Re-Sharing

Another way to participate in the discussion is to re-share content posted by others. This is widely regarded as a favorite feature by users because it spreads content to new circles and invites others to participate in the discussion. The benefits seem obvious, but there are questions to consider before indiscriminately re-sharing everything.

In my experience, re-sharing is the biggest contributor of noise. Some in my circles have proposed an arbitrary limit to the number of re-shares as a solution to the added noise. If you see something in your stream five or more times, for example, perhaps it is best not to share it again. I disagree. I think Google could mitigate the noise with an option to hide redundant posts (though I haven’t thought of solutions to the open questions this raises). I think the consideration, once again, is one of adding value for my friends. If I have something to add to the discussion or a qualifying remark, then I’ll re-share. Otherwise, +1 is the way to go. Simply hitting the share button because I like something is not, in my opinion, the best approach.

One must also consider fragmentation before re-sharing. Inviting others to participate in a discussion is great, but if the new comments are posted on the re-shared thread, the discussion is now fragmented. Sometimes that’s fine. Re-sharing is an excellent way to take the discussion in a different direction, but what about cases where fragmentation distracts? Should there be some protocol for requesting comments be added to the original post? Should Google implement some method of comment aggregation (or have they already done so)? The best course of action, for now, is to simply consider these questions before re-sharing and act accordingly.

Finally, privacy is at issue here. If something was shared publicly, it stands to reason that it is open for re-sharing, but one should think carefully about re-sharing something that was shared in a limited context. One of the favorite features among users is the ability to selectively share content with others by using circles, but that value may be diminished when posts are re-shared. There are restrictions and polite reminders in place for re-sharing non-public content and I think Google is working on more in this regard, but the best approach is careful consideration before you re-share.

Re-Sharing Re-Shared Posts

When one re-shares content that was re-shared already, the new post will look as though it were re-shared from the original post. This takes care of proper attribution for the original author, but does the re-sharer deserve some credit? Some users have begun to add something similar to the “hat tip” or “via so and so” that many bloggers use when they comment on news stories and such. I tend to think this is the best approach for now and may be one of the better ways to use tagging.

Where Does It End?

What should one do about commenting on something that was re-shared? Is one obligated to comment on the original post? Is it appropriate to leave a “thanks for sharing” comment on the re-share, or does that add too much noise? When is it appropriate to tag someone by name? Is it necessary to return the favor when one is tagged by someone else? Is it always inappropriate to tag those who are popular simply to get the attention of the attention getters? What about the etiquette of adding people to circles? If I create a circle for the express purpose of avoiding people while leading them to believe I am “following” them, does that make me a bad person?

Bottom Line

Don’t let anyone tell you how you should or should not participate. When I first started using Twitter in 2006 there were a lot of opinions, including mine, about the wrong way to use it. Many of those opinions, including some of mine, lost in the free marketplace of ideas. Like other communities before it, Google+ will evolve based on the behavior of users. We should all stop to think about how our behavior changes the experience for others, and we should, in my opinion, adjust our behavior for the benefit of the community.

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4:00 pm


How Many Users Does Google+ Really Have? 9,460,000

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Google has been rather coy about sharing exact user numbers for its new social network Google+. Answer.com’s Paul Allen has been using an interesting statistical model to estimate the number of current users based on an analysis of the percentage of uncommon surnames he has found on the service. In his estimate, there should be about 10 million users on the service today. Now, it looks like there could be an easier way to discern the number of Google+ users, though. Jonathan Nelson, the founder of Google+ community site GooglePlusAnswers.com, argues that a simple Google search query could give us a pretty accurate user count without having to resort to complicated statistical models. (more…)



1:09 am


Katango: Organizing Your Facebook Friends Has Never Been Easier

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Google+ was developed around the concept of Circles – groups of people you organize according to your interests and relationship with them (tech bloggers, family members, etc.). While Google was working on Circles for its new social network, though, another company – Katango (formerly known as Cafébots) – was also working on a similar concept for organizing your friends. While Google makes you organize your groups manually, though, Katango developed a set of very smart algorithms that can automatically organize your Facebook friends into groups. Today, the company – which was funded by Kleiner Perkins’ sFund – is releasing its first product that uses this system: a group messaging app for the iPhone.

screen02This app, which is also called Katango (iTunes link), takes a look at who you are friends with on Facebook (the company plans to start working with other networks in the near future) and then organizes them into groups and lets you share content with them.

Using an Algorithm to Organize Your Friends

Unless the algorithms work very well, this kind of approach is obviously prone to being more of a hassle than just manually setting up groups, but luckily, the app actually works very well. The company’s VP of product Yee Lee gave me a demo of the service’s abilities earlier last week. Seconds after I gave it my Facebook credentials, Katango had organized my friends into instantly recognizable groups. The service, for example, recognized all my old work contacts from my last job at ReadWriteWeb and put them into one group. It also set up groups for all of my friends in Germany, as well as for my family members. I don’t have a massive amount of friends on Facebook, but according to Lee, other users with more contacts will also see groups based on where they live, who they play sports with or go to church with and share other interests with.

In the iOS app, users will also be able to add their contacts to groups. None of this data is ever made public, so while the service gets a pretty intimate look at who your friends are, none of this data is ever shared with anybody.

Having groups, of course, only makes sense if you can do something with them, so Katango focuses on sharing photos and other content with your friends. If your contacts are on Facebook but don’t use the app, they will see your content on Facebook. If they use neither, they will get an email.

Feature or Product?

To some degree, of course, Katango is really more of a feature than a standalone service and I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody like Twitter, Google or Facebook would take an interest in buying the company. Lists, after all, are now a central part of all major social networking services and being able to automate this process is something most of these companies are likely looking at.

As for acquisitions or partnerships, Lee was obviously tight-lipped, but he did note that the company has talked to the “big two” players in the social networking space (I take this to mean Twitter and Facebook).



11:34 pm


A Day With Google+: They Finally Got it Right

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Yesterday was a big day for Google. The company launched a wave of new and updated products, but the focus was clearly on the (unexpected) launch of Google+. Until now, Google forays into social networking were generally lackluster (except for in Brazil, where Orkut continues to be popular). After the failure of Buzz, Google+ is the company’s most ambitious social networking play yet. After spending a day with the product, it’s clear that Google’s teams learned from the mistakes they made with Buzz and finally put together a social networking service that can compete.

Google put a massive amount of effort behind this tool, but many of its parts still remain unconnected and scattered across Google’s various properties (the +1 buttons, for example, aren’t connected to your stream yet). Google+, however, gives us a first glimpse at what a lot of these parts could look like once they become integrated into one cohesive unit. What exactly this final product will look like still remains to be seen, but the basic building blocks are now in place. (more…)



5:43 pm


Now that Google Has Launched a New Social Network, What Will Happen to Buzz?

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Google announced its new social network Google+ earlier this morning. Given that the company now has two competing social networks – Google+ and Google Buzz (or three, if you count Orkut as well) – it’s hard not to wonder what will happen to Buzz in the long run. Google launched Buzz with a lot of fanfare and clearly thought it would be a major hit. Buzz, however, never recovered from the negative publicity around the privacy flaws in its earliest incarnation, though it continues to live on in virtually every Gmail user’s inbox.

Is Buzz’s Fate Sealed?

It’s hard to make any predictions about the success of Google+ yet, but I think the future of Buzz is sealed at this point. Google+ doesn’t even offer any connections between Buzz and Google+. The two products completely separate entities, even though they share the same ideals in many ways.

google_buzzBuzz has been lingering in limbo for a while now anyway and even though Google pushed it out to millions of users, it’s mostly a wasteland today. There actually haven’t been any meaningful updates to Buzz for months and the whole project feels dormant at this stage. I assume this is partly due to the fact that most of the current Buzz team worked on new Google+ features instead of focusing on the old network.

Shutting Buzz down would affect relatively few users – especially if Google decides to make it easy to transition links and contacts between the two (that’s a bit “if”, though).

As Wired notes, Buzz’s failure clearly became obvious to the top brass at Google and the company started the project that has now become Google+ (and was apparently called “Emerald Sea” in an earlier incarnation) just months after the launch of Buzz.

Google has clearly learned from the failure of Buzz (launching it as a limited “field test” instead of an open beta is one example of this) and Google+ clearly represents the next step in the company’s evolution to become more social. Buzz itself, however, has served its purpose at this point and I assume we will hear about the its fate pretty soon.



6:54 pm


Google Announces Google+: Its Most Ambitious Social Networking Project Yet

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It’s easy to feel a bit cynical when Google announces a new social networking project and my first thoughts when I heard about Google+ were probably similar to those of many others: “Haven’t we seen this (fail) before?” There more I look into Google+, though, the more I wonder if the company isn’t finally on the right track.

So what is Google+ anyway? It’s not just a basic Facebook clone but  a new Google-powered social network that focuses on sharing content with the right people. To do so, you can organize your friends into groups (or +Circles as Google calls it). By doing this, you can then choose who you want to share content with and keep this information as private and public as you would like it to be.

For the time being, Google is calling this project a “field test” and not a beta. It’s by invitation only. You can get on the invitation list here.

Circles and Sparks: The Friends and Content You Care About

While +Circles is definitely the core feature of the service, Google wisely went beyond this and added plenty of other features to the service. +Sparks, for example, lets you discover new content on the Web based on your interests and then share those stories and sites with your friends on Google+.

Video and Mobile

A few other tools that Google has also included in its new social network show how ambitious this project really is. The company, for example, included a group video chat feature called Hangouts, where you can chat with up to 10 of your friends.

On the Mobile side, Google is focusing on instant photo uploads, location sharing and a group texting service called +Huddle (the Android app is out now and an iPhone app is coming soon).

Google+ is clearly Google’s most ambitious project in the social space yet. I’m still waiting for my invitation to give it a try myself, though, and as with so many other previous Google projects (I’m looking at you, Buzz), the details of how exactly it works and how easy to use it is could make or brake Google+ as well.

We’ll have a lot more about Google+ in the next few days. Until then, take the interactive tour here to learn more about the service and also take a look at Wired’s in-depth story about the people and philosophy behind the project.



6:02 pm