Facebook

Hannah Kuchler

It’s #ThrowbackThursday, where the internet celebrates all things Michael Jackson and dodgy haircut-related. For Facebook, it is a chance to announce a retro app called Rooms from its Creative Labs team, the engineers and designers who play around with creating different kinds of social apps that may not be every Facebook users’ cup of tea.

According to the blogpost that accompanied its launch on Thursday, Rooms is a throwback to the “early days of the web” when it was about “connecting to people who you would never encounter otherwise in your daily life”. 

There is something peculiarly impressive about the video below of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, talking in Mandarin to students at Tsinghua University in Beijing. If nothing else, it shows a dedication to the country’s customs that very few foreign business leaders can match.

Mr Zuckerberg clearly has business motives for making the effort, in addition to his personal connections – Priscilla Chan, his wife, comes from a Chinese family and her mother speaks mostly Mandarin. Facebook is blocked in mainland China, along with other US internet companies, and wants restrictions to be loosened. 

Hannah Kuchler

  Twitter users may notice a change to their timelines today, as the company that likes to boast of its real-time qualities makes its product a little less chronological.

Before this, the timeline was, as they say, one thing after another. But now, in the “spirit of experimentation and evolution”, Twitter will show users popular tweets they may have missed and even some tweets from people they don’t follow. 

Tim Bradshaw

Oculus is closing in on the consumer release of its Rift virtual reality headset, accelerated by a huge hiring spree since its sale to Facebook in March.

It showed off its new ‘Crescent Bay’ prototype at the Oculus Connect developer conference in Los Angeles on Saturday. 

At a conference this April, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, got chatting to Cherie Blair, a lawyer and philanthropist who is the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair.

Fast forward five months, and the pair are now unveiling Facebook’s first partnership to promote entrepreneurship, among women who run businesses in the developing world. “I think this is the way women work – we wanted to see if we could cooperate to use Facebook and its technology to help women,” Mrs Blair said in a conversation with the FT.

 

Hannah Kuchler

Instagram takes pride in being more than just a corner of Facebook. The pretty photo-sharing app that Facebook bought in 2012 has maintained much of its independence while picking and choosing from the strategies that have served Facebook well.

Now, with the launch of super-fast video app Hyperlapse, it is becoming clear that Instagram will follow in Facebook’s lead and create its own suite of apps, or as it is becoming known in social media world, a multi-app strategy. 

Robert Cookson

Facebook has created a new “missed call” product for advertisers in India, marking the first time that the social network has designed a special ad format for a single country.

When a mobile phone user clicks on one of the ads, it calls the advertiser and immediately hangs up. The advertiser returns the call with pre-recorded entertainment content and a marketing message – enabling the consumer to avoid paying data charges.

Facebook’s creation of a special ad product in India, where the company has more than 100m users, is part of a broader push to develop customised solutions across emerging markets

Hannah Kuchler

The news that Facebook manipulated its news feed to analyse the impact on users’ emotional expressions has angered many who believe they should have been told they were part of a psychology experiment.

The study of more than 689,000 Facebook users, conducted over a week in 2012, found those who were exposed to fewer positive stories in the feed were more likely to write negative posts and vice versa. People felt worried the billion plus social network was trying to manipulate their emotions, coming as it does after years of conflicts over privacy with the social network. 

goog3

Smart watches, TVs and cars featured prominently on Wednesday as Google laid out its plans for pushing its Android smartphone software into new fields. At its annual I/O developer event in San Francisco, “wearables” had pride of place, with news that the first smartwatches based on Android Wear are now on sale – before Apple unveils its much-anticipated iWatch. With Android TV and Android Auto, on the other hand, Google was playing catch up with Apple. The event pointed to how the battle for the next big tech markets beyond the smartphone will be fought. Richard Waters and Tim Bradshaw were at the Moscone Center for this round. 

Hannah Kuchler

Facebook has finally launched its latest answer to Snapchat, releasing Slingshot after Poke, its previous attempt at ephemeral messaging was withdrawn from the app store in May.

The world’s largest social network is trying to plug any hole in its dominance – it bought Instagram to shore up its place in photo-sharing, WhatsApp to expand its messaging and it attempted to buy Snapchat late last year.

When that project to buy the hottest new thing for teenagers failed, and its own usage amongst younger teens began to decline, it turned to its Creative Labs team to try to make its own at home.