Thursday December 12, 2013
At a press event held this morning in New York City, Instagram announced its brand new in-app private messaging feature called Instagram Direct. Photos and videos can now be sent privately to individuals or groups of friends, opening up a whole new sharing dimension to users who want to share moments only with specific groups of people.
To kick things off, CEO Kevin Systrom pointed out that Instagram was not necessarily all about beautiful photography. After showing off a few examples of certain things that he explained could only be communicated through imagery, Systrom said that more than half of Instagram's users are using the app daily basis to interact with one another, and so it's communication -- not photography -- that is actually the core of Instagram.
In a nutshell, Instagram Direct works like this: you select or take a photo through the camera tab, choose your filter, and hit "Next" like you've always done with Instagram. You'll then be taken to the familiar screen where you can enter your caption, tag people or locations, and send to our other social networks. But now at the very top of the screen, you should see a new "Direct" option.
Tapping "Direct" gives you the power to send your photo or video privately rather than posting it publicly to Instagram. When you choose "Direct," a list of your friends will appear, which you can scroll through and check off one by one so that you can privately send your message directly to whichever individual or group of up to 15 friends.
Once you've sent your photo or video, you'll be able to see who has viewed, liked or added a comment to your photo/video message in real-time. A "Reply" button is located in the top right corner so you can chat back and forth instantly.
You can watch the Instagram Direct promo video right here. Of course, you'll also be able to access your Direct inbox any time by scrolling up to the top of the feed and looking for the little mailbox icon in the top right corner next to the Instagram logo. From there, you'll be able to revisit any of your private messages any time you want.
As far as privacy goes, Instagram Direct will only allow its users to receive messages from users that they currently follow. If someone that you don't follow tries to send you a direct message, it will be thrown into your pending requests for you to approve first before you can keep sending/receiving messages from them.
Until now, everything we posted on Instagram could only be done publicly. Instagram Direct now offers us a nice way to get a lot closer with specific groups of people about specific events, without being forced to share absolutely everything with everyone all at once.
It's been a huge year for Instagram, no doubt. The once very small and insignificant startup launched personal web profiles, friend tagging, video support and now private messaging all in 2013. The launch of video on Instagram was a good competitive jab at Vine, and now Instagram Direct appears as if it could be moving in on part of Snapchat's territory -- although Instagram clearly decided to scrap the self-destructible feature that brought Snapchat its initial claim to fame.
You can get started with Instagram Direct today by updating the app for iOS or Android. Instagram version 5.0 is available now from both the App Store and Google Play. Instagram for Windows Phone is still currently in beta.
Photo © Instagram
Wednesday December 11, 2013
Facebook's Like button virtually changed the way we share things online, and pressing it was like adding your own personal stamp of approval to a piece of content, a status update, a photo, a link, or anything else. Now, Facebook may be taking its famous button a step further with one that lets users express sympathy.
Have you ever seen a friend post about something negative like a death in their family or a bad day at work, only to see that people have actually pressed the Like button on it? It's kind of awkward when that happens.
If Facebook does decide to go ahead with the idea, not everything will have a Like and Sympathize button on it. Instead, users who only tag their posts with a negative emoticon will be able to see their friends sympathizing with them as opposed to "liking" their post.
As an example, the post with a negative tag would say "two people sympathize with this" instead of the regular "two people like this" phrase.
Realistically, you'd probably be better off leaving an actual heartfelt comment or calling that person on the phone to offer real sympathy to that person. Still, it's an interesting idea that could possibly work with the right type of status update situation... maybe.
Photo © Chip Simons / Getty Images
Monday December 9, 2013
Over the weekend (Saturday to be specific), one of the biggest viral sensations in Internet history made a pretty clever comeback.
Rebecca Black seems to have made some pretty good connections with a bunch of creative and web savvy people since her music video Friday went viral back in 2011, because she just made a follow-up music video to the viral hit, which is appropriately called Saturday. It's arguably ten thousand times better than the Friday music video.
Miss Black was able to partner up with popular YouTube musician and entertainer Dave Days to make it all happen, and boy did they ever. Since the video was uploaded just barely a couple of days ago, it's already racked up 9.5 million views and should be closing in on 10 million any time now.
Black pokes fun at herself and everything awkward we remember about Friday in the new Saturday video, so she gets an A+ from me for deciding to really try and pull this off.
You can watch Saturday here, and you can even buy it on iTunes if you really like it that much. I promise I won't tell anyone.
Photo: Screenshot of YouTube.com
Thursday December 5, 2013
Foursquare just got a nice big update, now featuring a totally overhauled app design for iOS 7, and new location-aware recommendations via push notifications for both iOS and Android users.
The complete redesign of version 7.0 is nicely suited to compliment the iOS 7 look. At first glance, you should notice that the homescreen has been simplified for a more scannable look to the entire feed with new iOS 7-inspired fonts and colors, among all the other design improvements throughout the app.
Foursquare started testing smart push notifications with a group of users a few months ago, which works by automatically recognizing your current location and occasionally triggering a tip that is sent to you about a nearby venue -- like a popular meal at a restaurant, or a special deal that saves you some cash. You'll never have to manually open the app to get these notifications.
Overall, these are some nice new additions to an app that has sort of fallen off the radar lately, especially if it means that it will suck a lot less battery life out of your device. The updated versions are available now from the App Store and Google Play.
Photo © Foursquare Labs, Inc.