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This morning, Instagram unveiled a newly added feature to its service that will allow users to directly share images and videos with specific friends via Facebook messaging and text messaging. Dubbed Instagram Direct, the new feature allows users to share images with friends directly in real-time and see likes, and comments instantly.
Instagram Direct has a few safety measures in place as well, with the most prevalent being a notification when someone you are not following sends you an image or video. The app will let you chose if you want to see this image or video, and if you decide not to, then you simply decline and the invitation goes away.
"As we've grown, Instagram has evolved not only into a community of photographers, but also into a means of visual communication. From a photo of your daily coffee to a sunrise shared from the top of a mountain hike, every Instagram moment contains something you find special-something you broadcast to your followers when you tap share," Instagram said in its official release. "There are, however, moments in our lives that we want to share, but that will be the most relevant only to a smaller group of people-an inside joke between friends captured on the go, a special family moment or even just one more photo of your new puppy. Instagram Direct helps you share these moments."
If you're a fan of PopCap and Electronic Arts' Plants vs. Zombies 2, then you'll want to make sure you've received the new, and massive, 215MB update to the mobile game. The update includes:
- There's loads of cool stuff in our latest update! We have a new map, fun new features and we introduce a new foe!
- We've upgraded the map to make game progression quicker and easier.
- It's simpler to know how much you've done, where you're going, and what loot you'll get along the way.
- You can invite your friends and send 'em gifts.
- Use the Turbo button to speed up your planting - and speed up the zombies.
- Be warned: when we were upgrading the map, somebody let in the Gargantuars.
Today Codeacademy launched a new app for iOS users that allows them to continue their coding education even when on the go. The new app features lessons that are designed to take less than an hour each to complete and gradually teach the users the basics of coding.
Codeacademy timed the launch with Computer Science Education week, and hopes that the app can play a role in helping 10 million students to participate in one hour of coding. At the moment the app only features one lesson, but the company's CEO says that it will eventually become a stand-along code learning platform much like its website is now. No word was mentioned on when we might see an Android version of the app released.
Today Pandora added new functionality to its app for iOS in the form of a new alarm feature. The new Alarm Clock will let users wake up to their favorite Pandora station, and are no longer limited to their iPhones stock alarm sounds. When the alarm triggers, the Pandora app will begin playing from a user-selected station and album art will scroll in the background.
Users can snooze the alarm to 5,10,15 or 20 minutes by simply tapping the screen. Additionally, the alarm can be quickly turned off by tapping the song title or artist name. This alarm works perfectly with Pandora's other recently added feature that turns off the music feed after a preset length of time, allowing the user to fall asleep to their favorite station.
iBeacon is part of Apple's iOS 7, which works with low-power Bluetooth transmitters and the Apple Store app, which together track your location within a retail store, providing relevant information to your iPhone.
For example, if you were standing next to the iPhone table, with everything iBeacon requires from you enabled, it would pop a message up onto your iPhone asking if you'd like to upgrade. It would also tell you if you were eligible for getting some money back for trading in your old iPhone. It could also send push notifications to customers alerting them to when their order is ready to be picked up.
iBeacon isn't just limited to Apple Stores, either, as it has rolled out into retailers like Macy's, J.C. Penney and more.
It looks like Spotify could be unleashing a free mobile version of its streaming music service, something that The Wall Street Journal is reporting. The free version would be an ad-supported app, focusing around playing personalized radio.
Users would be allowed to play a certain amount of songs on demand, which isn't bad considering it would be pushed out as a free app. At the moment, Spotify's on-demand mobile service is only available to paying consumers through its Premium service, with the free service limited to PCs. The Journal is reporting that the music streaming outfit has inked deals with Sony, Universal, and Warner for the free service.
The issues weighing in on the deal were the rates that the company would pay the label, as well as the level of on-demand control that users would have. We should hear more details on the service at the Spotify event being held in New York City next week.
No mobile platform or software package is without its bugs, and Apple's devices are no exception. Recently reports have began to come in that show that some Apple users can not access iTunes or the App Store on the iPhones, iPods or iPads. When attempting to log-in the users are met with an error that reads: "FATAL::Unable to process your request. Please try again."
Additionally, Apple users trying to access the services from their Mac devices have been met with the same error, and it appears that the issue reaches to the iBookstore as well. Apple has not acknowledged the error on any of its Status pages, and no official statement has been made. The issue does appear to be fairly widespread, and I am guessing that an authentication server somewhere may be broken.
Google's Wallet app for iOS has just received its first update since its release back in September. The new Google Wallet 2.0 brings forth a few new features that will make using the money service much easier for iPhone users. The update adds a new feature that lets users add credit cards to their wallet by simply snapping a photo of the card and more.
Single Sign-on is also now supported, and users who use other Single Sign-On compatible apps from Google can switch to the wallet app and sign in automatically. Additionally, the physical Google Wallet Card can now be used to withdraw funds from user's iOS Wallet account at ATMS, or any location that accepts MasterCard.
Android tablet owners in the UK will be happy to hear that today, Sky TV launched its Sky Go app for Android. While the service has been available on Android-based smartphones for a while now, but today marks the firs time it has been available to the public on Android Tablets.
Unfortunately, not all Android tablets are supported by Sky Go at the moment. For the app to work on your device, the tablet must be at least in the 7-inch class or higher, and Android 4.0 or higher is required. This means that the vast majority of tablets released in the last two years are compatible and all the modern t-inch or larger tablets will work. A 3G/4G or Wi-Fi connection is also required, but that is almost a given at this point.
Over the last 18 months or so, we have watched Beats by Dre work to get a Spotify-like music streaming service off the ground, and it appears that it just may happen come January 2014. According to Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers, the company is prepared to launch next month, and while he did not mention any specific date, many suspect it to happen during CES.
"Beats Music is real. We're in an internal, private beta with people who know and love music (including a few of my personal heroes). We're providing a few artists and other influencers access to familiarize them with the service and get their early feedback," said Rogers. "We're making improvements based on that feedback. We can't wait to share it with the world, and are set to launch in the US in January."
Rogers also announced that the Beats Music has partnered with AT&T which could see the service pre-installed on iOS and Android phones sold by the carrier. Beats also announced that users can head over to Beatsmusic.com and register their user name now to ensure they get something unique and personally identifying.