One of the most useful things about the internet is its ability to bring people together to trade and exchange. Think eBay, Play and Amazon Marketplace. But all of these are aimed at people with physical products to sell. London-based Hirejungle has come up with a platform that lets businesses and individuals hire out their goods or services.
Peer-to-peer rental, or the sharing economy, is big business according to The Economist. Whether you want to hire a car, rent a room for the night or find someone to carry out a home improvement job, technology makes it much easier to find what you need.
Facebook was never really meant to be about news. It is a social network that's about keeping in touch with people. But companies quickly cottoned onto the site as a valuable tool for reaching out to customers, delivering information about product launches, app updates and other news. Despite the fact that Facebook users are invited to update their "status", anything that is posted appears in the "News Feed" of others. Now Facebook is trying to make your News Feed more about news.
There have been endless complaints about the order in which posts are displayed in the News Feed, and the presence of ads, but this latest update has been brought in to help further separate the wheat from the chaff. Having conducted a survey, Facebook has come to the conclusion that its users are more interested in seeing high quality content than countless images of cats and bastardized Keep Calm posters.
Apple is a company that, generally speaking, likes to keep itself to itself -- but that's not to say it doesn't like to keep its finger on the pulse and learn about what others are talking about. This is demonstrated perfectly by the company's latest purchase. This time around Apple has invested a reported $200 million in Topsy Labs, a social media analytics firm that specializes in monitoring trends on Twitter.
Topsy has access to every single tweet sent since Twitter inception back in 2006, making it the most extensive database of the micro-blogging service. The information available through Topsy is the sort of data that would prove immensely useful to advertisers, but at this stage it is not clear just how Apple intends to use the information. Topsy Labs' tool can be used to monitor trends on Twitter, check the topics that are being discussed, as well as determining the success and impact of online campaigns.
More than half of Black Friday sales were conducted online this Thanksgiving according to figures collected by Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). A 10 percentage point increase means that a massive 55 percent of people who shopped for technology products on Black Friday did so online, and both online and offline, consumer electronic devices accounted for more than a third of sales. Shopping started as early as Thanksgiving Day itself with more than 39 million shoppers hitting the stores. But how many of these purchases represent good value for money?
Some 35 percent of all sales this weekend were taken up by tech devices. Of this number, tablets accounted for 29 percent of purchases, which is hardly surprising when you take into account that the likes of Microsoft are dramatically reducing the price of Surface tablets -- there are a number other outlets that have followed suit with this particular tablet as well as numerous others. In the first two days of the holiday weekend sales, 24 percent of tech sales were taken up by headphones, 21 percent by game hardware, 19 percent by smartphones and 17 percent by laptops.
***Warning! There are no spoilers ahead!***
Whether you're a fan of Family Guy or not, you can’t help but have heard that there has been a big storyline -- there was no need to seek out the news, you could just sit back, let it wash over you and absorb it by osmosis. I love Family Guy and I'll admit to getting seriously pissed off at a friend of mine who spilled the beans on Facebook. No warnings, he just straight out announced what had happened in the show. What a bastard! But he wasn't the only one.
It's an indication of the impact of social media that Twitter is now often the first place where people learn of major news stories. But that's a double-edged sword because it can be hard to know how accurate the information you're reading is.
From today Twitter is making it easier for government organizations and charities in the UK and Ireland to make timely and accurate information available via Twitter Alerts. The alerts service launched in the US, Japan and Korea in September of this year and has already been used by a number of public services to share information during emergencies involving public safety, bad weather and so on.
It would be a strange week if Google didn’t steal a few headlines, and this week saw the introduction of new quick actions to Gmail as well as the launch of a series of online tools to help with the aftermath of the Philippines typhoon. Changes were also made to attachments in Gmail so it is now possible to download files directly to Google Drive. After the launch of the Nexus 5 -- which Brian was not blown away by -- Google also started to roll out Android 4.4 to Nexus tablets -- Mihaita was on hand with a guide to manually upgrading for anyone who did not want to wait for the OTA update to arrive. The news wasn't so good for the Chromebook 11 which was taken off sale after problems with overheating chargers. Google won a court battle after a judge ruled that the scanning of books is not illegal.
This week it was revealed that while BitTorrent still accounts for a large proportion of web traffic, and usage has actually increased in Europe, in the States there has been a drop in traffic. Anyone who seeks entertainment through other channels will be pleased by the fact that Roku streaming boxes can now be used to access Disney and ESPN channels. The Netflix channel was also updated with a new look.
Canadian maker BlackBerry is expanding the reach of its BBM service through the latest update for the iOS app, that now includes support for non-cellular Apple-branded devices. As a result, Wi-Fi iPad and iPod users can also communicate with their BBM-using friends, as the app no longer limits access only to iPhones and 3G/4G iPads.
BlackBerry has yet to bestow non-cellular Android devices with the same ability, as BBM is still listed as being incompatible with tablets like the Wi-Fi 2013 Google Nexus 7 even in the latest version of the app that arrived yesterday. Now let's take a look at what (else) the Android and iOS updates for BBM add.
After a long wait Vine is now available on Windows Phone 8, officially bringing its popular six-second videos outside of Android and iOS. The app arrives in Store with a respectable feature set, including free and unlimited clip uploads and social network integration with Facebook and Twitter.
Vine takes advantage of built-in Windows Phone features, such as live tiles and camera lenses, as the app allows users to pin the Vine camera and their favorite accounts and channels on the homescreen and trigger the Vine recording mode from the built-in camera app (or third-party camera apps that support lenses, like Nokia Camera).
I tell BetaNews writers that when assessing anything ask: Who benefits? Then: Who benefits first? Both questions are top of mind as I absorb yesterday's stunning YouTube changes: Integration with Google+ comments.
Commenting is an ongoing debate in our newsroom. I have long advocated that we eliminate anonymous responses to stories. I'm identified. Why shouldn't commenters claiming I "pull ideas out of a monkey's ass" also be identified? I stand naked in the light, while they cower in darkness. But in wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden's stunning disclosures about NSA spying and corporate giants seeking more information about us -- yes, I wash both hands after peeing, thank you very much -- my views about anonymity are changing. I can't control the NSA but can exercise limited restraint with Google. I begin by asking about YouTube identified commenting: Who benefits first?
[Updated] Twitter starts trading on NYSE -- company valued at $18.2bn, shares rocket from $26 to $45
Today Twitter makes its debut on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In typical Twitter style, the company announced its share price via tweet, ending weeks of speculation about the price point that would be decided upon.
Rather than the anticipated $15 to $20, the IPO (Initial Public Offering) of 70 million shares are up for grabs priced at $26 each -- effectively valuing the company at $18.2 billion.
Digg once ranked as a top site on the web when it came to finding the latest and biggest stories. Things went a bit downhill in recent times, but the company has been working on a phoenix-like resurrection, pulling itself from the ashes. The social news site has launched its Google Reader-replacement, in the form of Digg Reader, fresh on the heels of the shuttering of the once-popular RSS web app.
Now Digg goes all-in on video, stating "we're proud to announce that we've launched Digg Video, a section of Digg solely dedicated to collecting and promoting the best and most interesting video content on the Internet. It’s the Digg you already know and love, just in video form".
Four months ago, I embarked on a grand adventure. I boarded train Google+ and departed from station RSS. I left behind Feedly and my list of carefully curated subscriptions. Google Reader's demise set this new travel plan into motion. The search and information giant's social network would be my major -- really only -- source of news. Hey, other people rely on Twitter! I put Plus first.
I live the Google lifestyle, as many of us do everyday, but more than most people, by using Androids and Chromebook Pixel as my computing devices. But strange thing happened during my travels. Rather than find a broad, eclectic group of people, I increasingly encountered Google fanboys, which I am not. Rather than expand my horizons, Google+ shrinks them.
In mid-August 2012 Google decided to give a select number of users custom URLs for their Google+ profiles. My colleague Joe Wilcox is one of the lucky few who received one. The change would make profiles easier to link to and share as the address is simpler to remember, read and write, with the Plusser's name replacing the string of numbers usually associated with it.
Late-yesterday, Google announced that all Google+ users will be able to take advantage of custom URLs for their profiles. The option is rolling out "throughout the week", to those who meet the search giant's permissive eligibility criteria.
Very little fanfare is being made about it, but Twitter is changing the way photos and videos are displayed in timelines. When someone you follow tweets a picture or video, there's no longer any need to click a link to see what the tweet is referring to -- previews are displayed right there in the timeline. To see a larger version, you'll still need to click or tap through, but at least you'll be able to get an idea of whether it is worth doing so ahead of time.
In a blog post entitled "Picture this: More visual Tweets", the new feature is explained, and a Vine video shows it in action. The video also shows how mobile users benefit from the addition of easily accessible replay, favorite and retweet options.