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Five Things You Need to Know About the New Facebook Messages

We’re sure you haven’t been standing on the sidelines waiting for this announcement, but it will inevitably impact the way you and your friends use social networking. Since a million bajillion users have already signed on to Facebook for their daily dose of social addiction, it makes sense that they’d want to start using the site for their email correspondences, too. Let’s take a look at Facebook message features and see how (and if!) they’ll change the way we chat with our friends and family.

Real Time Correspondence

Now, all the methods of contacting your Facebook friends have been lumped together. When you message your friends, you can decide whether or not you should have a friendly chat, email or message them. So many options, so very little free time at work to decide.

Chat and messages will be weaved together into one big thread. When you open a conversation with a friend, you’ll also be able to see the past chats you’ve had with her. If you send a friend who is offline a chat message, it’ll be logged in your Message for you to refer to later.

You’ll also finally be able to have large group chats in real time, so if one friend is away but your other friend is available through chat, the friend who is idle will receive the conversation you had with the other friend about Friday night’s plans. When you’re finished, you can forward the conversations to the rest of your brood, and the weekend will have been saved!

Smart and Selective Filtering

The tiered mailbox system will allow you to focus on only the most recent and important conversations of the moment. Messages with subject lines like “I need all of your phone numbers” and “HOT DANCE PARTY AT DA CLUB” will remain at the bottom, while the more important threads will stay floating. You’ll also be able to block people, though we’re not yet sure if you’ll be able to do so for people you haven’t added on Facebook.

In addition, there will also be the option to do selective delivery, which means you’ll only receive messages that follow under your own privacy settings. So, if you’re okay with corresponding with “Friends of Friends”, then they’ll be able to invite you to their awesome keggers–or whatever it is you kids do on the Facebooks these days.
 

@Facebook.com Email

Your Facebook email address will correspond with the profile username you chose way back when. The service should prove easier to use for those who rely on the site as their main form of communication, and it’ll work with traditional email systems–that is to say, you’ll be able to use Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail in conjunction. But of course, any message you send from your Facebook email address will look and feel like the standard Facebook layout.

Perhaps the biggest kicker about Facebook email is the fact that subject lines have been–wait for it–removed entirely. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, now instead of seeing “Hey” and “What’s Up?” and “Dude” as subject lines, you’ll just see the beginning of the conversation. Facebook claims in its FAQ that this will make sending and receiving message an easier feat, but frankly, we’re just afraid our emails will end up with an identiy crisis.

If someone does send you a message with a subject line from an ever-so-antiqued email system, it’ll appear in bold font. And if the whole idea of subject-less emails really grinds your gears, you can always turn off Facebook email from the privacy settings. 

Constant Threads

Look, the last thing I want to be reminded about is that awful conversation I had a week ago, and it’s really inconvenient that Facebook didn’t even include the option to delete individual messages from a long thread. But, I can see how this is going to be helpful for friends who don’t speak too often, or who have very detail oriented conversations that involve phone numbers, addresses and the like. Just, uh, reserve the drama for text messaging.

The “Other” Folder

The “Other” subfolder will ensure that messages from mailing lists and distribution groups won’t infiltrate your inbox. Whether this will be as powerful as Gmail’s spam filter is another question entirely, but at least you can still opt out of receiving annoying messages from various Facebook apps and people you don’t know.

The new Facebook Messages isn’t yet available, so you’ll have to request an invitation from Facebook.

 

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.

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Why Facebook Didn't Take the iTunes Ping Deal

Yesterday, we reported that Apple and Twitter had entered into a partnership whereby Ping users could have their likes, updates, and purchases tweeted using their Twitter account, and users on the social micro-blogging service would be able to listen to song previews right from the Twitter web interface. But, why did Apple not choose Facebook over Twitter? After all, there are many more Facebook users than Twitter.

Apple had been eying Facebook since the beginning, but perhaps due to terms in the agreement between the two companies, that deal didn’t last.

Today, however, Fast Company is giving us some insight into why the Twitter-Ping deal worked and why Facebook may have been hesitant to accept Apple’s offers.

According to the blog, Facebook may have been hesitant to give Apple access to it’s over half-billion users. Even though iTunes users trust Apple enough to give them credit card information — something, the blog notes, no social network has been able to achieve up to this point.

Fast Company also notes that Twitter and Ping may have been the best fit for both companies, because of minimalist design of Twitter, and the fact that Twitter has yet found a good way to make money on the social networking service. With this partnership, you may soon be able to purchase songs right from your browser in Twitter, which may in turn give Twitter a cut of the iTunes purchases.

You can read more information about Fast Company’s take on the Ping deal on their website.

Facebook iOS App Hits 3.3, No iPad Version in Sight

Facebook 3.3 iOS update

Facebook held a mobile-centric event on Wednesday, where they announced a new update to their iOS and Android apps and dashed the hope of many by announcing there still isn’t an iPad-friendly version.

Facebook updated their iOS app to version 3.3 on Wednesday, following a mobile-centric media event earlier in the day where they announced that the new Groups feature would be coming to both iOS and Android, as well as improved Places tagging. The screenshot above is from the new version, with a new menu bar that allows you to easily post photos or status updates from your News Feed, or check in via Places.

The new Facebook 3.3 iOS update is live for at least those of us on the East coast, although the app’s description page currently shows an error about not being available in the U.S. store at the moment — however, the app downloads and updates just fine.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch is reporting that one of the questions posted to Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Erick Tseng today was, “Why no Facebook app for the iPad?” We all know that the full website works just fine on Mobile Safari, but with an iPhone/iPod touch app already available, it would seem to be a no-brainer to make it universal for optimal use on the iPad, right?

Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

“The iPad isn’t mobile,” Zuckerberg replied to the inquiry, which must come as a surprise to Apple and the millions of on-the-go users who already own one. Zuckerberg elaborated that Facebook loves working with Apple, but that “the iPad isn’t as mobile as a phone.”

It sounds more likely that Facebook will work on a web-based solution for all tablets, although personally we’d still like to see a universal app come down the pipeline in the future.

Meanwhile, iPhone and iPod touch users have a new update today and presumably Android users will be getting it imminently as well, which brings feature parity to the iOS version at long last.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Facebook Management Denies Apple Buyout Rumors

image via The Next Web

It was too awesome a rumor to have been true. After a week of whispered rumors, punditry and the intermittent sound of sighs and facepalms ringing out across the land, it appears that the dream of a Facebook buyout by Apple has been dashed upon the rocks of reality. According to Mashable, who broke the story last week, further information that debunked speculation that Mark Zuckerberg was ready to hand over Facebook’s reigns for a whole lotta cold hard cash is nothing but hogwash.

In a fit of social networking irony, Facebook‘s Director of Corporate Communications, Larry Yu, reached out to a number of tech journalism noticeable via Twitter today, debunking the notion that Apple company was planning on investing in Facebook or that the Cupertino-based company had offered up funding of any kind. We have to hand it to Mashable, who being as skeptical as we are of any Apple-related rumors, mention back when they broke the story that they had their doubts as to its veracity.

Does this mean doom for our hopes of Ping becoming a more useful, less frustrating experience? Absolutely not. Just because Apple and Facebook won’t be joining fiscal forces anytime soon doesn’t mean that they can’t still work together.

 

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.

 

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Everything You Need to Know About the New Facebook Features

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his team of developers have just announced several more new features for the massive social networking site, but maybe you’re like us and had a problem deciphering anything from the constant blurping during Facebook’s live streaming presentation. Either way, it’s always good to go back and do a bit of a recap, and that’s why we’re here. Because whether you’re on a PC or a Mac, there’s probably someone in the room with trolling through Facebook profiles right this second.

So, what’s this about a new Groups redesign?

Now, you can separate your friends into finely organized categories, or “Groups”, as Facebook likes to call them. While this may hurt the feelings of junior high girls everywhere, it’s great for those who use Facebook as a means of interacting with their friends, their colleagues, their business associates, their gym buddies and their family, but want to be more selection about the kind of information they share with each group.

While Facebook Groups did exist before today’s big announcement, this is still a major update for the previously under-utilized feature. The new Groups will have selective information sharing just like many of Facebook’s other features, so, for example, your business associates don’t have to have access to your Mobile number. Facebook Groups will also come with the following features:

Group chat: You can now chat with multiple members of a group in Facebook chat, as well as selectively show certain groups if you’re online.

Shared notepad: For kids and business folks that often collaborate on assignments, Facebook has revived Google’s idea for the “wave” and created their own version of the shared notepad. Users can now collectively write and edit notes within a group.

Mailing list-style notifications: You know how Facebook sends you email after email of updates that someone has replied to a thread you left a comment on three weeks ago? Now, you can do this for the groups you’re in. Facebook has added a new way for users to subscribe to certain posts so that they’ll receive emails and notifications when someone else replies.

Unfortunately, you cannot currently convert one of your existing groups into this new design, which we find to be very odd. If you don’t see any new changes to your Facebook page just yet, that’s because Facebook is slowly rolling out these changes and it’ll hit, one-by-one, just like the new Twitter UI update…that yours truly still hasn’t seen the light of day yet.

What else does Facebook have in store for me?

As aforementioned, we’ve seen none of this yet, and Facebook’s employees will be working in overdrive to get this content out to you–the social networking addict–as soon as possible. A couple of other features that they have in store for us include:

The ability to completely download all of your profile information: Basically, expect a whole new open, portable Facebook that you can print out and stuff in your purse or laptop bag. That’s right–a new “Download Your Information” feature will enable users to hit a download button and extract everything off of their profile, including messages, wall posts and photos, all into one nifty, compressed .zip file.

A new way to check on connected apps: If you use Facebook applications for things like Flickr, Yelp, and Digg, you can now check and see how many sites and applications have access to your personal data through Facebook and Facebook Connect. It’s a wonderful way for users to impulsively connect with their favorite websites, but still have an idea about what these sites are actually doing with their information.

An entirely new site redesign–again: Yeah, it’s happening–again–and we’re all just going to have to deal with it one way, or another. We know that chat is going to the the left side of the screen, and that the entire site is going to look a little more like its Places page.

You might be freaking out at all of this change, but trust us, this is a good thing for you diehard Facebook users. The gigantic social networking platform is growing by the minute, and the new changes means that it’s morphing itself to fit with its user’s needs. Now all we have to do is wait for the update to finally hit and ignore the Negative Nancy Facebook status updates that will undoubtedly follow.

 

Follow this artlcle’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.

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Facebook Executive “Very Confident” on Ping Deal with Apple

Ping Facebook Connect
(Image courtesy of Engadget)

It’s now been a full month since Apple launched iTunes 10 with the Ping social networking service, and there’s still no sign of Facebook coming back. But at least one Facebook executive seems confident that a deal is yet to come with Cupertino after all.

AppleInsider is reporting
that Facebook’s chief technology officer is “very confident” that the social networking giant will find a way to integrate with Apple’s own music-themed social network, Ping. The comment was noted by Silicon Alley Insider during Facebook exec Bret Taylor’s dinner with the media in New York this week.

Taylor’s confidence comes on the heels of reports that Apple and Facebook negotiated for at least 18 months prior to the launch of Ping and still couldn’t come to terms. Industry insiders have painted Facebook as “abrasive” during their negotiations with other companies, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself claimed the company demanded what he called “onerous terms” for integrating Facebook into Ping.

Despite the Facebook CTO’s promising comment, Taylor “did not provide a timeframe for a deal to be struck,” according to AppleInsider.

Early users of iTunes 10 may recall that Facebook was indeed integrated into the new Ping service at launch, and it was also featured during the media event where the social network was first introduced on September 1. Despite an agreement, Apple included a Facebook Connect login interface, but the social network apparently wasn’t happy about that and blocked Ping from using its API, which then prompted Apple to remove Facebook connectivity entirely — and it has yet to return after a month.

The often-maligned Ping appears to be slowly getting its footing — last weekend brought iTunes 10.0.1, which provided deeper integration between the social network and a user’s music library, as well as the ability to “Like” or “Post” about your own songs, provided that they were part of Apple’s huge catalog to begin with.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Rotten Tomatoes Coming To A Facebook Near You

facebooktomatoes

(Image courtesy of comicbookmovie.com)

In an idea that you knew probably had to happen sooner or later, it appears the social network everyone loves to hate (or hates to love?) is planning on integrating with Rotten Tomatoes.  You’ll now be able to see the reviews most relevant to you, search for friends, and the like, according to the Facebook Blog.

Once you’re logged into Facebook, Rotten Tomatoes will wind up becoming personalized upon your jumping to the site.  With instant personalization, you get to see your pals’ reviews right away, in addition to the movies that they’ve recently liked or wouldn’t mind seeing, as well as some recommended viewing based on the movies that you’ve liked or reviewed through the web.  You’ll now get to see reviews from both professional critics and your friends all in the same spot.

For those wondering about those rascally privacy issues, you only bring the public parts of your profile to Rotten Tomatoes so that they can set up the experience for you. 

If you’re interested in possibly learning more about what’s to come, check out the video here.

Follow this article’s author, Matthew Tilmann on Twitter

 

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Facebook May Have Blocked API Access from Ping

It appears the mystery as to why Facebook Connect was available, and then not available, has a little something to do with blocked API access. According to sources at All Things D, Facebook denied Apple’s Ping access to the application programming interface that would allow users to search for their friends, which left them with only a few friends willing to respond to their emailed Ping requests. Normally, this kind of API access is open and doesn’t require any kind of permission, but when it’s being accessed numerous times at a very rapid rate (like, say, 160 million at a time), it’s natural for Facebook to put a screeching halt to the requests and focus on protecting their users data.

Other sources added that Apple went and allowed access to the Facebook APIs anyway, and that made Facebook block it because that kind of access violated its terms of service. The same TOS that holds on to our precious photos and embarrassing wall posts.

Earlier today, Facebook said that it ” believes in connecting people with their interests and we’ve partnered with innovative developers around the world who share this vision. Facebook and Apple have cooperated successfully in the past to offer people great social experiences and we look forward to doing so in the future.”

It’s all hearsay at this moment in time. Apple still included the ability to find Facebook friends in its demo at the music event, but even though our emails are teasing that Facebook Connect is possible, it’s just not happening. We’ll keep you updated as this story progresses.

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Ping.

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iPhone Spam Strikes Facebook and Ping

Facebook iPhone spam security message
(Image courtesy of 9to5Mac)

They may not be bosom buddies at the moment, but Facebook and Ping are together in feeling the pain of spam — in this case, the kind that touts supposedly “free” iPhones, as if there could ever be such a thing.

9to5Mac is reporting
on the spamming attack that struck Facebook last weekend and is currently hitting Apple’s new Ping service, launched on Wednesday. Both services appear to be lucrative targets for spammers to rein in new victims, in this case by offering a “free” iPhone for those foolish enough to get trapped. (Spoiler: There is no such thing as a “free” iPhone.)

“For a few hours on Sunday, there was a spamming incident on Facebook,” reads the message posted for affected users by the site’s security team. “During this time, photos (mostly of supposedly “free” iPhones) were posted to some people’s Walls, including yours. We’ve removed the photo from your Wall and fixed the issue that allowed spammers to do this. We’re sorry about the photo, but can assure you that did this did not affect the security of your account in any way.”

Be that as it may, it doesn’t resolve the question of how the spam wound up there to begin with, according to Internet security firm Sophos. Apparently “thousands of users” had their Facebook Walls affected by the iPhone spam, and now Apple’s Ping appears to be the next target in their sights.

Sadly, for now it appears that Ping users will have to grin and bear it. “Ping implements no spam or URL filtering,” explains Sophos, who claims that the service — less than 48 hours old — is “drowning in scams and spams.”

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Marketing your iPhone application after development

We’ve put together some invaluable marketing and advertising tips for your iPhone/iPad application.

Social Networks

Twitter

Create a Twitter account for your publishing name or applications.  There are many different tools you can use to help you with this, see twitter tools.  (n.b. recent stats show Twitter gets around 18 billion searches a month, there must be some of those people with iPhones, right?!)

You must BE ACTIVE on Twitter, communicate with your fans and you will see your followers grow and grow.

Facebook

Create a Facebook fanpage and get your friends to join.  Update your fan page with screenshots of your apps and post updates/competitions on your feed/wall.

The Web

Blogging

Create a small marketing website/blog for your application, make sure you submit the URL for the website in with your App Store submission.  You could use wordpress.com for this (free) or tumblr.com (also free)

Forums

Spread the word on iPhone/iPad related forums.  This takes time but it’s free!

YouTube

Post videos of your app in use on YouTube.  It’s a great way to give your reviews a visual experience of your application and has an insane amount of traffic (approx. 200 million videos watched per day).

Get Beta Testers

Put your application on a beta tester website (such as iBetaTest.com), release the application to a small group of beta testers to generate some interest in your app.  The testers just might tell their friends or kindly post a link on their Twitter/Facebook feed.

Submit your app to review sites

Many sites will review your application for free, try a google search for “iPhone Review” and try a few of them.  You could even offer them a promo code.

Pay up $$££

Pay for your app to be featured on high traffic websites such as http://www.iphonedevsdk.com, it’s usually quite inexpensive to get featured on these websites.

Other

Lite versions

Offer a lite (free) version of your app with limited functionality (restrict the levels/information/usage) and advertise the benefits of upgrading throughout your application.

Competitions

Create competitions with prizes (iTunes vouchers etc) and advertise within your Applications (it could be posting a video on YouTube using your app, signing up to your newsletter or achieving a high score).

Use your friends (if you have any)

Get your friends to submit reviews for your application.  Ask them nicely/bribe with beer to post a link to your website/app store page on their Twitter/Facebook feed.

Open Days

Make your application free for a day or maybe for the weekend.  The app might just get people talking!  It might be a good idea to contact blog owners/review websites and ask nicely for a review, while the app is free.

Eye candy

Make your app icon as attractive/eyecatching as possible.  This is the ONLY visual you will get when potential customers are scrolling through the app store on their iPhone/iPod Touch.

Use the best visuals you can on you app store description page (remember to upload the worst ones first and leave the best ones until last – for some reason the order they appear on the app store after uploading is reversed).

Promotion codes

Offer promotion codes to review websites in exchange for a review (this will only work on US accounts).  You can create promotion codes using iTunes Connect.

Be descriptive

Be sure to tag your app with useful keywords and list the unique selling points of your application in the app store description.

Play with your pricing

Review your competitors apps and get a feel for the price range to sell your app at. Traditionally, posting your app at a £0.59 starting price was a decent tactic but due to the number of apps within the App Store, the chances of getting spotted are minimum.  Don’t be afraid to sell your app for more than your competitors, your description should list all of the unique features to add weight to your app.

Aim for under 20mb

The maximum size of an application that can be downloaded through a 3G connection is currently 20mb (this may change in OS 4.0).  If you try to keep your application under 20mb (could be difficult, depending on your app) you will have a larger target audience.  If you app is over 10mb and the user only has a 3G connection, they will see a message asking them to buy the app later when on a Wifi connection.

Target the lowest platform

Make your app compatible with OS 2.0 if possible.  Recent reports show they many iPhones in the wild are STILL using version 2 of the iPhone OS.