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Facebook could be readying the launch of a Snapchat competitor

Facebook - Snapchat

Facebook has been trying to acquire photo and video sharing app Snapchat for quite some time now. But since talks broke down for the possible purchase, reports are suggesting that Facebook could be looking to launch its own Snapchat competitor in the coming days. It is being said that this new app is codenamed ‘Slingshot‘ internally.

Slingshot will reportedly mirror Snapchat in terms of functionality and will be an independent app like Messenger rather than a feature built into Facebook. It is believed that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is directly overseeing this project and there’s every possibility that the project might be ditched if it doesn’t live up to the expectations. But if everything goes according to plan, the app could be launched as early as this month, according to the Financial Times.

We’re still waiting for further information on this app, so we’ll reserve judgment until there’s more to go with. But it seems very likely that Facebook would pull off such a move given its inability to close the proposed $3 billion deal with the makers of Snapchat.

Source: Financial Times

Via: Droid-Life

Facebook will soon notify users when a friend is within proximity

Facebook Nearby Friends

Facebook Nearby Friends

Facebook has now announced a new feature to its app which will notify people when their friends are nearby. This setting will be enabled with user consent of course, so people don’t have to worry about potential stalkers. This will allow users to communicate with their friends in real life having realized that they’re close by. The location will only be available for a predetermined period of time and can be seen on a map as well to get precise information on where your friends are located.

This feature called Nearby Friends will make its way to the Android and iOS versions of the Facebook app in the coming days. We’re yet to get reactions from security experts regarding this, but we don’t think they’ll be too pleased. The sole purpose of this new addition to the largest social network is to get people more involved in real life rather than living in an online bubble.

This feature will require both users to have the feature turned on in the settings, which in turn means that Facebook will be tracking your location at all times. Of course, Foursquare has been doing this for quite a long time now, so it’s not really new. So who’s excited to try out this new feature?

Source: Facebook

Via: Phone Scoop

Apps and permissions: Is Facebook Messenger spying on us?

Apple's World Wide Developers Conference Begins In San Francisco

Google Play’s app permission system is meant to inform users of how far into our data and device an application will be able to access before we install an app, or before updating an app with revised permissions. But most users are not likely to bother reading the entire thing, which means we may already be allowing some apps to eavesdrop on our conversations and track usage by accepting app permissions.

Such is the case with Facebook, which has, time and again, been accused of invading into user privacy. This concern was highlighted a few weeks back when the standalone Messenger app permissions were updated to now include access to call records, as well as access to the phone’s mic and camera and contact data. Messenger now wants to do the following and asks for blanket permission upon install or update:

  • “Record audio with the microphone … at any time without your confirmation”
  • Take videos and photos using the camera
  • Access the phone’s call log
  • Read data about contacts stored on the phone, “including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed or communicated in other ways with specific individuals”

Android Messenger app permissions

In short, the Facebook app could essentially spy on a user and keep track of mobile usage and habits, and even conversations. The issue transcends Android, actually, as Facebook’s Messenger service has been criticized of tracking data across other mobile and desktop platforms.

Facebook Messenger under fire

In a recent class action lawsuit filed in California, Facebook has been accused of tracking URLs sent or received by users in its Messenger service, which includes the standalone Messenger app and the private messaging service built into Facebook. According to the plaintiffs, Facebook is profiting from the data gleaned from supposedly private conversations.

Granted, Facebook is known to keep track of usage, content and user information in order to aid its targeted ad campaigns for advertising clients. So-called “free” services like most social networks, email providers and other cloud services today, are free because these profit from advertising and other commercial revenue arising from their ability to track and analyze user behavior. Therefore, we can expect social networks and even services like Google’s AdWords to target commercial messages based on our interests — which can be beneficial, after all, if we don’t want spammy and unrelated messages.

The problem, however, is that the claim that private messaging is “private” in the first place, which is a misrepresentation, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyer.

Representing to users that the content of Facebook messages is ‘private’ creates an especially profitable opportunity for Facebook, because users who believe they are communicating on a service free from surveillance are likely to reveal facts about themselves that they would not reveal had they known the content was being monitored.

The class action lawsuit seeks up to $10,000 in damages for each Messenger user in the US. Facebook, however, maintains that the allegations are “without merit” and it intends to “vigorously” defend itself from the lawsuit.

Cause for paranoia?

Will you still use Facebook Messenger knowing that the app can automatically keep track of your activity by monitoring content and even turning on your phone’s mic and camera at any time without alerting you? Do you actually review each item on an app’s permissions page before installing it? And are there instances when you decided against installing an application because of the level of access it wants from you?

Sometimes, access to a device’s resources, such as the camera, mic, contact list and call log, might be necessary in ensuring a smooth user experience. For instance, Messenger can be used to make VoIP calls, after all. And the latest version matches users with your phonebook entries, so you can use the app to chat with people in your address book, but who may not yet be your friend on Facebook itself. But such unfettered access might be prone to abuse, and there’s no knowing what app developers can actually have their applications do? Add to this the ever-looming threat of the NSA eavesdropping on all our conversations.

It’s bad enough that a reputable developer such as Facebook would be accused of spying on users through its mobile application. Imagine the potential danger and damage that could be caused by a malicious developer that distributes apps that pretend to be the real thing, but are, in fact, fake. In an increasingly connected and mobile environment, is our private data safe and secure at all?

Image credits: Info Wars

Social integration: Google’s challenge for 2014


Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt admits the need for better efforts in social networking, and says Google will not make the mistake of missing out again. Will we see better Google+ integration in Google products this year?

Human beings are such social animals. Case in point: social networks are counted as among today’s most popular online destinations, both on desktop and mobile platforms. Take for instance the rise of Facebook not only as a social networking website, but also a platform for sharing content, as well as instant messaging.

Research by PEW Internet has determined that 73 percent of online adults in the US access social networking services on both desktop and mobile devices. Facebook dominates this set, with about 71 percent usage. In terms of numbers, Facebook has at least 1 billion active users. Google+ has about 300 million, while Twitter has at least 200 million.

In a recent year-end statement, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt says mobile is a clear winner for 2014, but he admits Google still has a long way to go in the social networking realm. “The biggest mistake that I made was not anticipating the rise of the social networking phenomenon,” he said, adding that it was not a mistake Google was going to commit again.

Mobile and social: a good mix

Schmidt’s opinion on social media does make sense. Google+ is not exactly a popular social network among the masses. Its usage figure is perhaps propped up by the fact that signing up for Google services would also activate Google+. In fact, YouTube users are required to sign in to Google+ in order to participate in the comment threads (something met with criticism, especially for users who want to remain anonymous).

However, Google+ is lauded for the quality of its content and participants. A study this December determined that IT managers and decision makers are most active on Google+. Additionally, Google+ has been lauded for its rich capabilities, not only as a social network, but as a platform for communications and sharing that enjoys deep integration into the various Google services.

Facebook has actually attempted to improve its capabilities as an integrated part of the mobile experience. In early 2013, it launched Facebook Home, a replacement for the Android Home Screen. While the effort was welcomed with optimism, it did not take on as well as expected. Facebook was able to redeem itself, however, when it refined its standalone Messenger application with a better interface and easier contact discovery through the phone book.

Google does have better potential in reaching a bigger mobile audience, especially with the prevalence of Android as a mobile platform. What’s left for Google to do is improve on integrating the social experience with more aspects of Android, and this goes beyond smartphones and tablets. How about wearable devices, like smart watches and connected glasses? Social networking on desktop computers can only go so far. But if a person can interface augmented reality glasses (like Google Glass) or connected smart watches (like Samsung Galaxy Gear) with one’s social network, then it could make social networking all the more seamless. The Galaxy Gear already integrates Twitter, Facebook and Gmail, for example.

It does not necessarily have to be social networking in the sense that users need to share photos, links and updates. Google already runs Google+ as an integrated part of its services (like app recommendations and authorship on Google Search), and the social network can exist on a different level. Google+ can be a service that a user won’t have to interact with actively in order to work. It can be a social network that you wear on your watch or that can feed you information in augmented reality through glasses. We can become better connected without necessarily having to spend half our day watching our Facebook News Feeds.

So if social networking is one of Google’s challenges for 2014, then it may already have won half the battle, by owning the platform that runs 80 percent of the smartphones out there and potentially a big chunk of wearable tech and household tech, too. Personally, I’m still an avid fan of Facebook, but I believe Google can pull off a social networking coup with Google+ yet.

Free Facebook: A smart way for carriers to promote data usage

Facebook logo

A big chunk of mobile usage today involves instant messaging or chat, as well as social networking. On average, users spend 65 percent of their social networking on mobile devices, according to ComScore. Facebook itself says that 78 percent of its users access the social network on mobile devices.

This makes sense. After all, social networking inherently involves sharing personal updates and checking on feeds at one’s convenience. You don’t carry around a laptop everywhere you go, do you? Even tablets are not as portable as smartphones. This is one reason why Facebook is working with carriers around the world to provide cheap, if not free, access to the social network. This started with emerging markets, as part of Facebook’s initiative. For instance, in certain countries in Asia and Africa, carriers are offering zero-rate access to Facebook services from both smartphones and data-enabled feature phones.

In the US, this seems to be the trend also. Take for instance T-Mobile’s MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) GoSmart, which will offer free access to Facebook from the Facebook app, Facebook Messenger and Facebook mobile site. “Facebook is the most important online communication tool we’ve seen come around,” said Gavin Dillon, T-Mobile’s vice president of partner brands.

Facebook itself is constantly optimizing its app for mobile usage and has implemented code that enables the free access when a user is on these networks (another example is Globe Telecom in the Philippines). With free access, users can actually chat using Facebook Messenger without spending a dime on data charges. Prepaid users can even access Facebook without mobile credits.

It’s free, but is there a catch?

The catch here, of course, is that the free data applies only from within Facebook, which includes content and other elements like photos and videos. Step out of Facebook’s bounds, and you will need to consume data from your regular allocation. Here is where mobile providers can expect to attract users in using more data. Of course, depending on market, smartphone users are likely to be subscribed to a data plan anyway, but this does not apply to everyone.

On GoSmart, plans start at $25 monthly for unlimited talk, plus $5 for unlimited texting, and then another $35 monthly for low-speed data access (3G requires an additional $10 on top of the data plan). This is reasonable enough for light usage, especially considering the no-contract requirement. GoSmart is not alone in offering no-contract prepaid plans for smartphones, however. You can take your pick from other prepaid providers, although the free Facebook offer is currently available on GoSmart.

The Facebook app will actually warn users if clicking links will require data access outside of Facebook, as this will incur charges outside of the free zone. Here’s where mobile carriers can potentially encourage users to access more content from their smartphones, tablets and mobile devices. Go outside of Facebook’s walled garden, and you will need to be subscribed to a data plan. And here’s the rub: most smartphones will consume data in the background anyway, for both push notifications and pull-based updates.

Watch out for data leakage

Here’s where Android has an advantage over iOS, actually. Android users have better, more granular, control over data access than iOS, which means that there is less data leakage, translating to lower costs outside of the free Facebook usage (unless Apple has finally found a way to plug data leakage issues in iCloud, push notification services and other possible sources). Either way, it’s a win-win situation for the user, carrier and Facebook. Users get to enjoy free access to the social network, including even free instant messaging. Networks get to encourage data usage (even if this might eat into SMS revenues because of the free Facebook messaging). Facebook gets to encourage users to use the mobile apps more actively.

This seems to be the trend nowadays: free stuff can encourage bigger consumption or usage, which can then encourage the purchase of premium items or services. It looks like Facebook has found a good strategy for mobile.

Will Twitter be the next big thing in mobile chat?

twitter logo chat

Instant messaging seems to be the killer app for smartphone developers these days. With hundreds of millions of users, apps like LINE, WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber and the like are making a killing. These have actually gone beyond simple instant messaging. Rather, these companies have built whole content ecosystems around their chat apps: gaming, stickers, social networking, photo sharing, filters. Name it, they probably have it.

Chat apps have great potential

It therefore comes as no surprise how apps like LINE are earning tens of millions of dollars monthly from premium sticker sales alone. It helps that its main target audience — Asia Pacific countries — is quite gaga for stickers, those cartoon packs you can use to send cute or interesting images to friends. But extend this to other potential sources of revenue, and you can easily monetize a big network.

Even Facebook has recognized the potential of an IM network. Its earlier launch of Messenger did not do so well to capitalize on being a standalone messaging app. But the latest release of Messenger for iOS and Android brings the app to a whole new level of usability, with mobile number syncing and the ability to reach other Messenger users through mobile number lookup. Facebook has also partnered with certain carriers around the world to offer cheap or free Messenger access, especially in emerging markets.

Twitter, in its latest release for iOS and Android has made a big change with respect to how it presents direct messaging. Instead of the DM button being buried deep under the “Me” tab, it now has its dedicated tab  on both Android and iOS apps. No more digging deep when sending private messages.

It’s a step in the right direction. Post IPO, Twitter is certainly trying to attract more regular users, but the challenge is in keeping users active. Microblogging is certainly a great way to keep track of trending news and to share the occasional update. But a private chat service is stickier, in my opinion. Once you have a network of friends already chatting on a platform, they are likely to use your app several times every single day.

Twitter is not alone in mixing microblogging updates with chat. Imo, which is a cross-platform and cross-device chat app (meaning it works across different protocols like Google Talk, Facebook chat and Yahoo Messenger), also offers a “Broadcast” feature. Both LINE and WeChat offer timelines and home pages for both users and chat groups. The big difference, of course, is that these are primarily chat apps, with the social aspect coming as secondary features.

A standalone messenger app could add value

Perhaps Twitter should go beyond simply highlighting its DM service through the new “Messages” tab. It could launch a standalone messaging app that focuses sole on the DM functionality of Twitter — something like Facebook has done with Messenger. And like Facebook, Twitter would be launching with an advantage here. It already has at least 230 million active users.

As it stands, Twitter cannot afford to sit on its laurels. A growth slowdown could be problematic for its value, especially now that it’s a publicly-traded company. Meanwhile, launching a standalone chat app — or perhaps even acquiring an existing one, as Twitter was once rumored to have plans for MessageMe — might be the best way to jumpstart user count and engagement once more.

Have you updated Twitter yet? Check out Twitter on Google Play.

KitKat Problems: Cases of Failed 4.4.2 Update Rampant, Google Mum on it

Since the roll-out of the latest update for Android 4.4 KitKat, it appears that more and more users are experiencing problems with Nexus 4, 5 and 7 users seemingly being the most affected.  Most report that the new update has triggered many issues that were initially not present which is a shame considering that this was the first major update to the OS since its release a couple of weeks ago.

Android KitKat 4.4

Google began rolling out the latest update for Nexus devices which upgrades the devices’ system to 4.4.2 earlier this week and barely a day later complaints of errors while downloading where an attempt to download the update displays a download progress briefly only to be cut short by an error pop up before the download is complete.

The reason this is a big deal is because Google released Android 4.4 KitKat for Nexus devices with bugs, which it admitted, and users were very hopeful that the next update would fix them.  However, the KitKat 4.4.1 update failed to address all the issues, even causing more bugs, some of which Google admitted.  The biggest problem that has been persistent in Android 4.4 KitKat is an annoying exchange bug that is the cause of Nexus’ common massive battery drain issue.

If you have a Nexus device and cannot download Android 4.4 KitKat, you are not alone.  The Android 4.4.1 update for Nexus devices was aimed at eliminating the bugs in the original release and was rolled out last week.  This is nothing new though as each Nexus OS update seems to plague users into problems with bugs despite them being official Google updates.

Google’s product forums are laden with complaints and cries of help at the moment as users search for answers to the issues the latest update was supposed to fix.  At the moment, there seems to be no definitive solution to this problem but Google should come out and address it soon.

If you have managed to download the update, what other issues does it have?  Any advice to other users on downloading the update?  Let us know in the comments section below.


FCC Shutdown: Tweet Your Anger

fcc-logoWith the shutdown of the United States Federal Government, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency that tests and approves those mobile devices we are all so fond of is temporarily and indefinitely closed. About 1,700 full time FCC employees are going on forced leave without pay until the US Congress can agree on a budget. The FCC prudently did prepare a shutdown contingency plan.

How exactly does this affect the mobile phone market? Well, for one, the shutdown will also affect companies with products pending approval for release to consumers. Given that we are approaching the Christmas season, I can imagine there are a fair number of new smartphones and tablets awaiting approval from the FCC. The delay in the release of these new products will probably have adverse effects on the companies that make them, and their employees, not only in the USA, but around the world.

The FCC may not be the most important agency whose operations have grounded to a halt. Other functions like food safety inspections,  and protecting the environment are certainly more important. As pointed out by The Verge, the seasonal flu vaccine won’t during the shutdown.  Moreover, the number of FCC employees is a small part of 800.000 government employees affected. But you have to love your own. This is a tech site, and those 1,700-strong FCC employees are part of this community. It is the second day of the shutdown, and that is already two days too long. So, pick up your favorite mobile device, email your Congressman, Tweet your disdain, post your thoughts on Facebook. Do something. All this mobile technology we are so fond of now makes it easy for everyone to be heard. So get to it. Eight hundred thousand people do not know when they are getting their next paycheck.


Phonebloks is a new smartphone made of detachable blocks



Two days ago, Dave Hakkens, a designer from the Netherlands, posted a video on YouTube and a crowd-speaking campaign on Thunderclap, showing a new idea on how to make smartphones reusable and sustainable, similar to how users upgrade a PC.

The campaign, called Phonebloks, is designed to make every part of the smartphone visible on the back of the phone and completely detachable. This allows users to go in and change a part once it becomes broken or if they want to upgrade.

All parts are detachable and the user is able to create the phone that is right for them. Essentially parts can be bigger the more the user wants them, if they want a 41MP camera, they add it in but have to change the rest of the parts to reflect the large sensor.

We are not sure how integrated this DIY idea will be if Phonebloks actually succeeds, but the general idea is the user can go onto the Phonebloks website, purchase a certain piece and then it is shipped and the user can unscrew the back of the phone and place the part.

Obviously for people who do not want to tamper with the open smartphone, Phonebloks will provide ways to send the phone back and get it redone, we are guessing. The idea is to make electronic waste smaller and make a phone last for longer than two years.

The idea is one of the most forward thinking we have seen in recent years, but unlike the Ubuntu Edge, another great concept that failed to meet its goal, Phonebloks has already surpassed its social media exposure goal and will begin to find partners and investors.

The end plan is to have different manufacturers work with Phonebloks to create pieces designed for the smartphone board. Phonebloks will issue phones out through the website and users will be able to pay per part, not pay to get the phone repaired or upgrade to a new device.

If you would like to have your say, check here!

How to Prevent Your Smartphone Battery from Exploding

The past few years have seen an increase in a number of smartphones exploding and unexpectedly catching fire. Some such cases just to mention a few include the Dubai incident where a Samsung smartphone owner reported their phone exploding, the incidents in Switzerland and Abu Dhabi where smartphone owners reported their phones catching fire and most recently the incident in Hong Kong where a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone user reported his phone catching fire and subsequently burning down his whole apartment.

Exploded Smartphone

While similar stories continue to mount globally and Samsung vigorously persist in their investigations this article takes a quick look in to the reasons why phone batteries may flame or explode and offers insightful tips on to how to avoid such an incident occurring with your mobile phone device.

To begin with, it is important for Smartphone users to keep in mind that the chances of any electronic device exploding or catching fire, be it a smartphone, clock radio or tablet are very slim and typically only occur in events where there are serious flaws in product assembly or in the even more unlikely scenario that there is a product design flaw.  As a matter of fact, even in the unusual incidents where phones do explode or unexpectedly flame up, it is often not a product assembly or product design issue that causes the event but rather a combination of factors that cumulate (for instance the use of unoriginal product support devices or accessories) to triggering the incident.

Mobile phone batteries which are commonly made from lithium typically suffer from a little problem referred to as thermal runaway whereby extra heat generates even more surplus heat and so on. It is such reactions that sometimes lead to incidents like those discussed above particularly in case where batteries are not well equipped with systems that prevent the perilous reactions of chemicals enclosed within and systems that offers protection against overcharging.

It is a widely believed misconception that even inexpensive batteries manufactured by unknown companies are just as reliable as those produced by original leading market brands. However this is not true. As mobile phone batteries progressively become thinner to accommodate the ever changing slim design needs of smartphones, the space in the battery available to keep the negative and positive plate’s apart similarly simultaneously decreases. What this means is that, if batteries are not made up to standard and something happens to come between the two plates which are typically separated by an increasingly thin separator, then chances of battery explosions or flame ups basically increase when such batteries are put under high levels of stress via overcharging.

Manufactures that follow all the right guidelines and procedures in their battery production process generally produce safe long lasting products; however some manufactures opt to cut corners with the aim of cutting costs, undercutting completion and making higher profits – an action that obviously leads to dangerous outcomes.

The best way to avoid unexpected incidents of battery combustion is by:

1. Always going for original manufacturer battery brands and phone accessories or in case where unavailable, well know replacement brands

2. Not leaving your Android device in a hot place particularly when it is charging since doing so only contributes to making overheating issues worse; and

3. Ensuring you charge and use your device in a well-ventilated area if using while it charges.

Even Before Official Release, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Root Already Out

Barely a week after we got a glimpse of the next installment of the Android smartphone and tablet OS 4.3 Jelly Bean, some folks at XDA developers have been working on it and now an elite developer known as +Chainfire says he has managed to root it.  Google has not rolled out Android 4.3 Jelly Bean yet – in fact the only phone with this operating system is the Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4.  On a side note, you can install the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean system on your Samsung Galaxy S4 as I wrote in this guide, but there is no guarantee it will work though.

SGS4 4.3 Jelly Bean

Back to the story, Chainfire says that he has managed to adapt his SuperSU root application for Android 4.2 and has worked flawlessly on the Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 which runs Android version 4.3 (JWR66N.S005.130625) that leaked a couple of days ago.  In a detailed explanation on Google+, Chainfire posts that the ‘protections’ on Android the phone’s system may be Samsung’s or plainly Android’s, but to root the system it takes ‘quite a few mods to the SuperSU’.

It remains to be seen if all of the protections that have been circumvented have been Samsung’s doing (as is normal for Samsung pre-release leaked firmwares), or if some of them are actually normal for Android 4.3.

For example, Android processes have their binding set of capabilities 0’d out. I’ve not personally seen that before on other firmwares, so I’m not sure if that’s Samsung’s doing or something 4.3. It prevents processes from performing certain actions – evenif the process manages to execute code as root user – like mounting the system read/write. Just to be clear, this root does not suffer from this issue.

If all the features in the rooted Android 4.3 Jelly Bean are fully operational, users with any Samsung Galaxy S4 could install the leaked Android 4.3 Jelly Bean ROM on their devices and have it running with no hitches.

Note that if you are going to install the ROM, you must understand that results re never guaranteed.  You will void your warranty and you could brick your phone even if you do everything right.  Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is not yet official and from the look of things, Google may not make a lot of fuss about it especially since it has only a handful of improvements from Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.  Rumor has it that Google may be releasing Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie as early as August this year and it is expected to put an end to Android’s fragmentation.

Source: +Chainfire Google+ Via  AndroidSpin

Google Reader is Dead; But You can Still get Your Data Till July 15

Google reader is officially dead; If you were a fan, you should know this.  However, what you may no know is that your data is still available for download if you are one of the many users who chose to ignore Google’s warning that started over a month ago about the discontinuation of the reader.  Google is determined to make your transition to the many available readers as easy and painless as possible and one way is by making the data available for download for a limited time.

Google Reader

You have until noon July 15th PT to download a copy of your Google reader data through Google Takeout.  The company bade farewell to its Google reader users on July 1st after 8 years in an informative blog post you should definitely read.  Starting July 2nd, Google reader has been officially dead and all subscription data including starred items, notes and people or blogs followed will be deleted from Google’s servers on July 15th.  After this date, Google will not be able to recover any Google Reader data, so if you have anything important you have two weeks to get it.

Another move meant to ease transition to other readers in the market is Google’s provision of alternative readers including Feedly, NewsBlur, Flipboard, Reeder, Digg reader and The Old Reader.  There are many other Google Reader alternatives that have come up over the last month following Google’s announcement of their imminent discontinuation of the popular reader.  You can have a look at some of the best Google Reader alternatives in a list compiled by Joel here.

Which reader have you chosen to go for?  Let us know how you find it and whether you recommend it to other users orphaned by Google Reader in the comments section below.

Source: Google

Facebook developing Flipboard-style RSS news reader



We recently reported Facebook is developing their own RSS reader and it was set for June 20 release, this date never brought any reader from Facebook, instead Instagram got video features to rival Vine.

The reader project may not be false, with WSJ reporting Facebook is developing a Flipboard style reader and has been working on the project for over a year, pushing before Google Reader announced it was closing. The magazine based format may be what Facebook want to get into and this will be a mobile first app, with no mention of a web application.

Facebook has not bee great at replicating other applications, we look at Poke, the app developed as a Snapchat clone, which has been one of the most unsuccessful ventures for Facebook. They have worked extensively on this project it seems and the social integration with Facebook may prove incredibly valuable for the Flipboard reader.

Via: The Verge

Source: WSJ

Snapchat looking for $80 million funding for $800 million valuation



Snapchat has recently been looking for a second round of funding and reports now state the company has gained $80 million in funding from Institutional Venture Partners. This funding would put Snapchat at an $800 million valuation, a little lower than previously expected.

While Snapchat may not be a $1 billion company just yet, they have been making strides with the user-base. While we do not have exact figures on the userbase, reports claim there could be around 5 – 10 million active users on the app. Snapchat is very popular with younger audiences and there are over 150 million photos shared daily.

Snapchat seems to be going out on its own stride at the moment, with the second round of funding showing they do not want to be bought out by a larger Internet company. There has not been a huge amount of speculation about Snapchat’s buyout, although Facebook was seen for a time to be a potential candidate.

Source: TechCrunch