The changes coming to Facebook

Facebook announced a series of features and updates at its annual F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, and while the news is mostly targeted for developers and app designers right now, it could eventually mean big things for Facebook users.IF

Developers can now add a Messenger button to third-party apps so

Facebook Messenger

Image: Facebook

In the future, for example, a developer could be able to add a Messenger button within a movie ticketing service app, so after a customer makes a purchase, they could share those details and movie times with a friend on Facebook.

For a glimpse at how the first batch of apps will look, click here.

Many of the early partners working with Facebook Messenger are focused on photos and entertainment. Some apps were developed specifically for the platform, while others are building Messenger in as an added feature.

Facebook Messenger Business

messenger business

Facebook unveils Messenger for Business at its F8 conference in San Francisco on March 25, 2015.

Image: Screengrab, Facebook

A noteworthy feature of the growing platform is Messenger Business, which will allow users to communicate with merchants by sending them a direct message or making a reservation and checking shipping information.

People will be able to have personal conversations with companies — specifically, customer service representatives — and be able to make requests, asks questions and get quick responses in an ongoing thread, the company said.

Spherical Videos

Facebook spherical videos

Facebook spent some stage time talking about the future of video on the site. To start, the social network will soon support “spherical videos” — immersive, 360-degree videos that work right in Newsfeed. The videos will run natively in Newsfeed and will be shot with 24 high-resolution cameras.

These videos will also work with virtual reality headsets, like the Samsung Gear VR and, of course, the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift. Conference attendees will be able to experience spherical videos in its “Teleportation Stations.”

Embeddable videos, refreshed comments

Facebook is rolling out a new social plugin that lets publishers embed native Facebook videos across the web. This means a video uploaded (and hosted) on Facebook can now be embedded on other websites.

Although you’d think Facebook’s video player would already have the ability to embed videos on other sites, the move is now a part of a larger effort to catch up with YouTube.

Facebook also pushed out another social plugin update to its Comments feature. Users will be able to log into their accounts and comment on a webpage, but now the message will be duplicated on the official Facebook-shared story, too.

Analytics for apps

The company introduced a new Analytics for Apps tool that provides a dashboard of data so developers and marketers can better understand their audience.

The Internet of Things

Facebook introduced a software developer kit (SDK) to support the growing influx of web-connected devices for the home, like smart garage door openers and refrigerators. The company will be opening its mobile app building suite, Parse, to web-connected devices to support the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things refers to products — and, well, things — that are connected to the web. This includes everything from smart thermostats and garage doors to toothbrushes, tennis racquets and even your bed. They collect data about your usage patterns and habits, and typically connect to an app that offers feedback to improve your lifestyle (or your racquet swing, for example).

It’s unclear as of now how exactly Facebook will incorporate Internet of Things technology into its platform, but perhaps dimming the lights at night or opening your garage door could one day all be possible from directly within the social network.

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Social Media Tips You’ll Wish You’d Known Sooner

For Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Foursquare

1. Turn your profile pic into an emoji you can use in chat.

Type your username sandwiched between double brackets (like this: [[zuck]]) and enter it into chat to send your personalized emoji.

2. Share something with all of your friends except one person.

Share something with all of your friends except one person.

Select “custom” in the “who to share this with” tab, then enter the name of the person you don’t want to see the post. Simple as that!

3. Clean up your News Feed in just a couple minutes.

Clean up your News Feed in just a couple minutes.

Click here while logged in to Facebook and you will be taken to a page full of friends you haven’t interacted with in a while. Click all of the ones you want to see less in your News Feed.

4. Hide your online status on chat from people you don’t feel like talking to.

Hide your online status on chat from people you don't feel like talking to.

Facebook / Via hongkiat.com

Facebook has integrated its “lists” feature with chat, so you can make lists of people to whom you do and don’t want to appear online. Learn how here.

5. Search “randos at [the name of your workplace]” to access a list of co-workers you’re not friends with.

Search "randos at [the name of your workplace]" to access a list of co-workers you're not friends with.

6. Back up and download all of your photos plus other people’s photos you’re tagged in.

Back up and download all of your photos plus other people's photos you're tagged in.

Download the Pick&Zip app here.

7. Find out what the best time is for you to post.

Find out what the best time is for you to post.

Statigram analyzes your Instragram history to determine the exact time of day when your photos are most likely to receive the most attention. It also compiles other interesting data like your average number of likes and comments per photo.

8. Take photos without posting them.

Take photos without posting them.

Flickr: coutinhobr / Via Creative Commons

If you put your camera on airplane mode any Instagrams you take will be saved to your photo roll but not posted. Some people use this to double filter their photos. Learn more here.

9. Bust your friends for lying when they tag a photo #nofilter.

Bust your friends for lying when they tag a photo #nofilter.

All you have to do is put the link of a suspicious Instagram photo into Filter Fakers to find out if they used an Instagram filter.

10. Pin something from Facebook.

Pin something from Facebook.

11. Make as many secret boards as you like.

Make as many secret boards as you like.

Traditionally Pinterest only allowed three secret boards per user, but that was quietly changed last month to allow users unlimited secret boards.

12. Highlight text on something before hitting “Pin It” and the highlighted text will automatically appear in the description box.

Highlight text on something before hitting "Pin It" and the highlighted text will automatically appear in the description box.

This will save a lot of time when you’re pinning many things in a row.

13. Make professional, printable resumes.

Make professional, printable resumes.

With LinkedIn’s Resume Builder.

14. View someone’s profile anonymously.

View someone's profile anonymously.

Go to “Account & Settings” on the top right, then “Privacy & Settings.” Under “Privacy Controls” is this option: “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile.” If you click it, the above pop-up window will appear. Select the “You will be totally anonymous option” and no one will see when you view their profile! This will limit your ability to see who visits your profile, but you can always change it back to normal when you’re done being anonymous.

15. If you have the LinkedIn app you can search anonymously AND still see who looks at your profile.

If you have the LinkedIn app you can search anonymously AND still see who looks at your profile.

Just add the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” shortcut on the mobile app.

16. Learn who doesn’t follow you back.

Learn who doesn't follow you back.

Sign up for Friend or Follow here, which can also tell you about your followers on Instagram and Tumblr.

17. Find out who does — or doesn’t — follow one another.

Find out who does — or doesn't — follow one another.

Not sure if a couple is still dating (or if friends had a falling out)? Plug their handles into Doesfollow to see the status of their relationship. Prepare yourself for moments like: “Whoa! She unfollowed him! They’re totally splitsville!”

18. Download an archive of every tweet you’ve ever made.

Download an archive of every tweet you've ever made.

Just go to Settings and scroll down to where it says “request your archive.”

19. Create lists for people whose tweets you don’t want to miss.

Create lists for people whose tweets you don't want to miss.

The more people you follow, the easier it is to miss tweets from your favorite tweeps, but that’s not a problem if you create a list for them. Lists are also great for keeping tabs on people you don’t want to give the satisfaction of a follow (i.e., enemies and exes).

20. Search “secret menu” to see restaurants nearby with hidden menu items.

Search “secret menu” to see restaurants nearby with hidden menu items.

21. You can also search “Wi-Fi password” to gain access to free Wi-Fi around you.

You can also search "Wi-Fi password" to gain access to free Wi-Fi around you.

Netflix Goes Live In Australia And New Zealand, Its First Launches In Asia Pacific

Netflix spoke of aggressive international expansion ambitions in January, and a major step towards its two-year globalization plan was taken today when its video-on-demand service went live in Australia and New Zealand.

Those launches are notable for being Netflix’s first moves into Asia Pacific, and it is planning to follow up with an entry into Japan, which is slated for this coming fall.

Customers in Oceania can pay A$8.99 (US$7) per month for standard access to its catalog. HD and 4K quality streams are charged at A$11.99 (US$9.40) and A$14.99 ($11.77) respectively.

Those in Australia will suffer from a somewhat streamlined selection of content, initially at least. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian/New Zealand service offers 220 TV series and 900 movies, compared to 940 TV series and 6,170 movies in the U.S. That’s down to Netflix’s efforts to secure release rights in Australia, which are still in their early stages. There are, however, “several hundred” titles that are unique to the region, and the company has said that it is working to beef up the selection for Australians and New Zealanders.

Asia looks like it will be a major focus for Netflix as it embarks on a quest to reach 200 countries worldwide by 2017. It won’t be without competition in the region, as 2015 has already seen two new video-on-demand companies surface. Operator Singtel partnered with Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers to launch HOOQ in Southeast Asia, while iflix is another newly created competitor with regional aspirations.

Nostalgia Overload With Facebook’s Newest Feature

Facebook is reportedly testing a standalone app for phone calls

Facebook-call

Facebook may be trying to take over your phone app.

The social network is testing a voice-calling app that can screen your calls and show you information about who is calling, according to an image obtained by Android Police.

The app, called “Phone,” will display information about those who call you —presumably based on their Facebook profiles — and automatically block calls that come from numbers that have been previously identified as spam, according to the description in the screenshot. Facebook is known to test new features with small groups of users first, but the leaked image suggests the testing for this app may be limited to internal tests at the moment as it has an “FB-Only” note.

A Facebook spokesperson told Mashable “we are always testing things,” but declined to comment specifically on the Phone app.

nexus2cee_screenshot_2015-03-20-14-28-432_thumb1

This isn’t the first time Facebook has experimented with voice calling. The company introduced voice calls to Messenger a few years ago and has been testing the feature on the Android version of WhatsApp, both of which rely on either a Wi-Fi or a data connection.

It’s not clear whether the Phone app would be an expansion of these existing voice-calling features or a standalone service, but the description suggests it would work for all voice calls, not just those made over a Wi-Fi or data connection.

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Save Your Time With 10 Underused Google Features

Here are ten time-saving features in Google products we shouldn’t do without.

A Checklist of Google Tasks

Google Tasks

Google Tasks has often brought me back when my brain had gone for a walk. It could be one of the more underused tools to create actionable tasks from your emails.

Matt Cutts, the well-known Google engineer thinks so. He uses Google Tasks to manage his to-do list and supercharges it with extensions like New Tab to Tasks and Better Google Tasks. The latter gives the utilitarian Google Tasks a more pleasing face. You can also try out Improvements for Google Tasks which gives you labels and keywords to highlight the important stuff in your task list.

As long as it is around, you can also use these five methods to use Google Tasks on your desktop.

Remember the Video Meeting

Add a link to a Google+ Hangout to any Calendar event in one click. It’s a little setting that saves a mail or two. Often, I have sent a separate mail to tell someone about a Google Hangouts meeting. Or the video meeting has slipped my mind till the last instant (an emergency if you have to declutter the room viewable by the web cam).

Add Video Call to Google Calendar

Set up a future Hangout in three simple steps:

  • Go to Google Calendar. Click Create.
  • Enter the details for your event.
  • Click Add video call. With all information in place, click Save.

Others can also add a video meeting to an event if the calendar is shared between the participant.

Inbox Zero with Archive & Quick links

I think we worry too much about Inbox Zero. Gmail has two handy (and often underused) features that can shovel all messages behind the curtain while not losing track of them.

The Archive button on top banishes all emails from your sight while keeping them intact in the All Mail folder. But how do you keep track of the important ones you need to come back for later?

Quick Links is the little hero in Gmail Labs. Quick Links helps you save any messages you want to read for later.

Quick Links from Gmail Labs

Enable Quick Links from Gmail Labs. If you don’t see it on the left sidebar, click on the three little dots (Gadgets). Open any email you want to read for later. Next, click Add Quick Link in the bottom left of the screen. Give a descriptive name in the box that pops up with the link to the email.

Gmail Quick Links

Now, you can recall that email from anywhere in your inbox with just a click. How difficult is Inbox Zero with Archive, Labels, Quick Links, and the powerful Gmail Search at your beck and call?

Read Email Faster with Gmail Auto Advance

There’s no running count of how many times the Gmail Labs “Undo” feature has saved my bacon. This feature is a face-saver. There’s also an Auto-Advance Lab feature which is a time saver. It’s recommended for people with hefty inboxes.

Gmail’s behavior is to return you back to the inbox whenever you delete, archive, or mute a conversation. Enabling Auto-Advance takes you straight to the next (or previous) email whenever you delete or archive a message. The little seconds saved do add up when you wading through hundreds of messages.

Gmail Auto-Advance

Enable it from Gmail Labs (Gear icon > Settings > Labs). Definitely enable it if you are on an inbox springcleaning spree.

Don’t Mind the Dots

You didn’t get the email ID you wanted and had to tweak it with a dot or two. Try spelling that out over the phone with a lot of background noise. Gmail aliases nix that annoyance and prevent misdirected emails.

If your email address is janedoe.work@gmail.com, that’s the same as janedoework@gmail.com.

Go with the latter when giving it to someone over the phone. The “dot-less” version of your email ID makes it easy for everyone.

Save Tabs for Later

Too many tabs are resource hogs and add to the clutter. They are also a worry if you have to close them without losing their whereabouts. Tab management extensions like Layout Manager address this problem. But then here’s a simpler workaround that doesn’t involve bloating your Chrome with another extension. The secret lies in the humble bookmarks folder.

Add a new bookmarks folder to your bookmarks (either the bookmarks bar or the menu). I named mine “All Saved Tabs”.

When you want to save all your open tabs for later, right-click on any tab in your browser and select Bookmark All Tabs… You can also use the shortcut — Ctrl-Shift-D.

Bookmark All Tabs

Select the created bookmark folder as the location. Give your tab group a specific name — this creates a new folder within your “All Saved Tabs” folder. You can save your tabs with the same method in Firefox.

To restore your tabs, simply right-click on the group (folder) that you want to restore and click on “Open All Bookmarks.” This workaround is also helpful if you sync your bookmarks across devices.

Auto-generate Passwords in Chrome

Auto-generate passwords in Chrome

There are many ways to set up secure passwords. Throw this experimental Chrome feature into the mix for some quick sign-ups. The Lastpass “competitor” saw light of day back in 2012 and it’s still not certain as a permanent fixture. Dive into Chrome’s secret settings and enable it for some quick and secure passwords. The random method is no different than the one created by apps like LastPass.

It’s a simple and just has three steps.

  1. Launch Google Chrome. Type about:flags in the Omnibox. Note: about:flags or chrome://flags is a URL in Chrome that reveals hidden settings and allows you to try new features in Chrome while they are experimental.
  2. Scroll down the list till you find the field Enable password generation. Click the drop down menu and select Enabled.Enable Chrome Password
  3. Relaunch the Chrome browser. Every time you register for a new account, you should see a key icon on the password field. Clicking the icon creates an automatic password. You can also save the password in Chrome.

Delegate Your Email

You wouldn’t trust your Gmail to someone else. I hear that having a real-life Jeeves is a luxury, but a virtual assistant can be a huge time saver. In the collaborative economy, any help is welcome to manage your inbox overload. If you are concerned about security, setting up a second email identity to handle specific emails could be useful. Permissions can be revoked anytime.

Gmail allows you to delegate your email and calendar tasks to ten people. Google Apps users can specify 25 users. Google shows you the steps to set up email delegation and the restrictions that are in place. A similar approach works for Google Calendar.

Precise Selections with Caret Browsing

Maybe you are a keyboard ninja. Or just don’t want to rely on the mouse too much. Turn on Caret Browsing which is an advanced accessibility feature in Chrome. The caret is a moveable cursor to select text. Use the arrow keys to move through webpage just like a word processing document.

To activate Caret Browsing install this accessibility extension. Toggle it on and off with F7. Use arrow keys to move through the page. Press Shift + arrows to select text. Open URLs with the Enter key when the caret is on the links.

Caret Browsing

With practice, text selection is more precise if you do a lot of copy and paste. I am not a virtuoso on a laptop track pad, so I turn it on for better productivity on small screens.

Your Own Google-Powered Search Engine

A custom search engine is a sniper rifle. A custom search engine that targets a bunch of your favorite sites is like a multi-barrel rocket launcher. Google Custom Search can be created for your own blog or bookmarked as a public URL. CSE comes in two flavors – paid and free with limitations. The free version limits you to 100 search results, but for individual needs it should be enough.

Google Custom Search

Create a simpler free version that has a public URL. Save it as a bookmark and share it with others on your team. A custom search engine is a timesaving shortcut when you search a few select sites regularly. Searching by recent date and relevancy helps narrow down to the topics you are looking for.

How to Geek has an in-depth tutorial that shows you the simple in’s and out’s.

The Seconds Add Up

The “underused” bit is relative. But often, shiny new apps sidetrack our attention while the solution could be hidden in plain sight. Even a little setting change to increase the number of search results to 100 per page ends up saving time. The best productivity tool is the one that just works for you. Do these work well enough?

Tell us about the tip or feature that changed how you negotiate your life with Google tools. Which is the Google service that you would love to know more about?

By Saikat Basu

Twitch: Loads of personal data at risk

amazon, gaming, passwords, compromised, twitch, hack, hacker

Popular video game streaming service Twitch on Monday issued a notice on its blog stating that there may have recently been unauthorized access to some user account information.

The company has reset all passwords and stream keys in addition to disconnecting accounts from Twitter and YouTube. Because of this, all users will need to create a new password the next time they log into Twitch. The Amazon-owned company said it’s also a good idea for users to change their passwords at any other site in which they use the same or even a similar password.

Twitch said it would reach out directly to impacted users with additional details. In one such e-mail obtained by Venture Beat, Twitch said credentials that may have been affected include usernames, e-mail addresses, passwords (which were cryptographically protected), the last IP address a user logged in from and any optional information that a user may have provided.

The latter includes first and last name, phone number, physical address and date of birth. Worse yet, limited credit card information (card type, truncated card number and expiration date) may also have been compromised. Twitch said it does not store or process full credit or debit card information so at least the card number is safe (but not much else it seems).

In addition to creating a new password, applicable users will need to reconnect their accounts with Twitter and YouTube. Twitch isn’t saying much more about the attack as of this writing but we’ll keep our ears open for any additional information on the matter.

Locate your phone on Android Wear

google, android, android device manager, android wear, find my phone

Google is always looking at ways to expand upon the functionality in Android Wear, which explains why the company has recently launched a new feature that will help you locate your phone in the event that it goes missing.

The functionality is provided through the Android Device Manager, which helps users secure and also locate their smartphones. Previously, users would have to use a computer or another smartphone to access the find my phone feature, but an update to Android Wear is making the whole process much easier.

By saying “Ok, Google. Start. Find my phone” to your Android Wear device, or by tapping on the Find My Phone option in the launcher, your phone will begin ringing at full volume. As it will begin ringing even if your phone is set to silent mode, you’ll be able to locate it if you’re reasonably close by.

Google says that the feature will be rolling out to all Android Wear devices over the next few weeks, and it won’t require you to download an app or enable anything in the settings menu.

Unfortunately Google hasn’t been able to harness Bluetooth signal strength to pinpoint the location of your phone without ringing it. Having a virtual radar on your wrist would be cool, but for now we’ll have to make do with Google’s audio-based find my phone solution.

By