David Gelles

Ever since Facebook first rolled out its own virtual currency, developers have wondered if, when, and how the company would start encouraging the use of Credits across its enormous platform.

The answer is becoming clear, and the time is now. Facebook wants developers to start using Credits in a big way as it works to build a system similar to Apple’s iTunes, where users make lots of small purchases with a credit card kept on file.

Developers are taking the cue. CrowdStar, one of the most successful social gaming companies, just announced it will use Credits as its exclusive in-game currency for at least the next five years. Read more

David Gelles

Facebook is tangling with regulators around the world these days, and the company’s porous privacy settings have not escaped the ire of officials in Washington, DC.

So in an effort to cope with what is sure to be more international scrutiny, Facebook has hired a White House official to work with its policy team inside the Beltway.

Marne Levine, currently chief of staff at the White House National Economic Council, will join the world’s largest social network as vice president of global public policy. In her new role, she will help build and manage policy teams in Asia, the Americas and Europe. Read more

David Gelles

EBay just bought the hottest e-commerce app in the App Store.

RedLaser, which lets users scan product barcodes with their iPhone camera and then compare prices online, has been downloaded more than 2m times.

With eBay’s acquisition for an undisclosed price, it will be folded into eBay’s robust mobile portfolio and become free (it was $1.99). RedLaser technology will be incorporated into eBay’s existing shopping apps, and eBay listings will show up in RedLaser results. Read more

David Gelles

CTIA – The Wireless Association is one of those industry groups that annually descend on a marquee city with a massive trade show, flooding the streets with badge-wearing conference-goers, and hotels and local businesses with dollars.

For five of the last seven years, CTIA’s show has been in San Francisco, as it will be this October. But this year’s show will be the last one in the City by the Bay for the foreseeable future.

The group is taking its show elsewhere (along with 68,000 attendees and $80m in economic activity according to CTIA), a response to the cellphone radiation law passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Read more

David Gelles

As is custom, Apple devotees are camping out in front of Apple stores around the country to get their hands on the latest product at the first possible moment. At San Francisco’s main store, one man brought an inflatable green couch.

Early reviews suggest that the iPhone 4 is worth the wait, with everyone from Engadget to the New York  Times calling it the best smartphone yet.

David Gelles

Is the low-level radiation emitted from cellphones bad for your health?

The scientific evidence is inconclusive, but the debate is nonetheless gaining steam as more and more smartphones fly off the shelves and into people’s front pockets.

The city of San Francisco is expected to pass a law today that will require retailers to display the amount of radiation emitted by the cellphones they sell. And an app that monitors the real-time radiation level of your phone is getting blocked from Apple’s App Store. Read more

David Gelles

AOL’s fire-sale of social networking site Bebo marks another ignominious end to an overpriced deal for the company saddled with dishonour of having engineered “the worst deal of the century,” its dot-com era merger with Time Warner. But the FT’s Lex column writes that “it is at least becoming clear what AOL thinks its purpose in life ought to be.”

It is now all about content for AOL, with its mix of hyperlocal news and more focused blogs such as TMZ and engadget. “Actually making the reorganisation work will be a mean feat,” writes Lex, “but falling technology and media costs as AOL taps a network of more than 30,000 freelancers will help.” Read more

David Gelles

Apple’s new phone already seems too popular for its own good. Since becoming available for pre-order this morning, the iPhone 4 appears to be in such high demand it has all but crashed the online ordering systems of Apple and AT&T.

Like many trying to pre-order the iPhone 4, I was able to get as far as the “check eligibility” stage on Apple’s online store before getting bounced. The screen read “Please wait while we access your AT&T account information”, then delivered a message saying “Your request couldn’t be processed” and instructed me to try again later.

(Update: I was able to reserve an iPhone 4 for in-store pickup using the Apple Store app on my current iPhone.) Read more

David Gelles

Among the many upgrades included in the iPhone 4, the most intriguing is FaceTime, Apple’s mobile video calling service.

But despite its promise, video calling may not catch on with the masses.  As the FT’s Lex column writes, “consumers have hitherto been reluctant to talk face to face, even as video calling became available with the advent of 3G.” Read more

David Gelles

Two days after Facebook unveiled simplified privacy controls, the furore over its perceived missteps is not dying down.

On Friday Congressman John Conyers, head of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Facebook asking it to cooperate with federal regulators looking into its privacy policies. Mr Conyers also sent a similar letter to Google, which is facing scrutiny after it admitted collecting wifi data.

Mr Conyers’ letter followed a conference call on Thursday during which several privacy advocates who had given Facebook credit for their effort on Wednesday took a harder line against the company and called for federal regulation of social networking sites. Read more