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Facebook's Android app is usually hit and miss on whether an update will be amazing and fix tons of issues or will just inject more bugs into the user experience. It appears that Facebook realizes this and has now opened a new beta testing program that all Android users are invited to join.
Facebook says that the creation of this beta tester pool is because of the sheer vastness and diversity of hardware and OS software in the Android ecosystem. This makes it very difficult for the software developers to find every bug and every issue that only appears on a specific device or version. This new program is organized by Google's new "Group for Beta Testers" service that was announced at Google I/O earlier this month.
To join the group, all you have to do is click the link at source #2 below, join the group, except the permissions, and head to the Android market and re-download the Facebook app. Facebook has created its own group (source #3) in which users can join and leave feedback, but that is not a requirement. Reporting bugs found in the application is as easy as clicking a new "report bug" button icon in the settings menu.
We know that Apple's iTunes Store and Google's Play Store are the dominant forces in digital offerings, but how are Microsoft doing in this front? The OS giant have unveiled that they're close to 100,000 apps, something they expressed at their BUILD 2013 conference this week.
Microsoft are hoping to break through 100,000 apps on the Windows Store sometime next month, and by the beginning of 2014 they hope to have around 175,000 apps available. Microsoft have told Engadget that "hundreds of millions" of apps have been downloaded, but no exact number was provided.
I'm a huge fan of Google Now, using it on the daily, but the app has just been updated with some fresh features. Google have introduced a live TV feature and Google Offers to Google Now.
The TV cards work with Internet-connected TV's, where they'll display more information about what is currently playing on your TV. Users need to connect their Android-powered device to the same network that the TV is on, and then tap "Listen for a TV Show" in Google Now. This feature will show things like factoids about the show and profiles of the actors within the show.
The second feature Google Now received was Google Offers, which will keep track of your saved offers. If you're near a store where you've got an offer available, the Offers Card will pop up with a notification alerting you of the nearby savings to be had.
Security firm Lookout have a new report which is pretty damning for US-based Android users, where they report that over one million Americans have download adware-infected Android applications, most of them without even knowing so.
Worse than that, is that 6.5% of free applications on the Google Play Store are infected with adware in some form. Lookout have noted that the most prevalent app-based mobile threat in the world today is adware, as it can take user privacy away and take things like personal information such as e-mail, location data and address lists, all without proper notification and modifying phone settings without users' consent.
Adware is a grey area of the market to explain, as there's no defined set of rules of what adware is exactly. What Lookout did instead, was provide some guidelines that they use to differentiate an innocent ad from an adware one. Lookout classify an app that is infected with adware if it displays advertising that's outside of the normal experience, if it contains unusual indentifiable information, or if it performs unexpected actions as a response to ad clicks.
Microsoft has announced a discount to its Windows Phone developer program. Microsoft is offering developers a discount on the fee normally paid to join the developer program. Instead of the yearly $99 fee, Microsoft is currently offering it for just $19. In the blog post detailing the discount, Microsoft also provided some interesting statistics regarding the Windows Phone platform.
These numbers are, of course, the good numbers as Microsoft would be unlikely to report the bad numbers. One of the most interesting and often tracked numbers is how many apps the platform has. In the blog post, Microsoft reported that the total number of apps on the Windows Platform is 160,000. Furthermore, Microsoft said that those apps drive 200 million app downloads each month.
For comparison, iOS has surpassed the 50 billion download mark. Windows 8 has around 100,000 apps available in its app store. Windows Phone also experienced the greatest year-over-year increase in marketshare, doubling its market penetration. To read the whole blog post, head over to Microsoft's site.
Instagram CEO: Windows Phone and BlackBerry app not coming 'anytime soon', Google Glass app sometime after that
It looks as though it could still be a long time before Instagram finds its way onto the Windows Phone and BlackBerry platforms. This fact comes courtesy of Instagram's CEO, who noted during an interview that Google Glass is towards the bottom of their list for new platforms. This is because Instagram considers where its users are and where the growth is.
Shortly after explaining that a Glass app is towards the bottom of their list, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom warned that BlackBerry and Windows Phone apps may not be coming anytime soon. "I'm just saying that in order of priority, the way we evaluate where to expand to is really simply where our users are, and where the growth is," the executive explained. "It took us a very long time to get to Android."
We're actually quite surprised that Instagram hasn't brought an app to the other mobile platforms as of yet. Instagram is owned by Facebook, a massive company that could easily afford to port the application to the other platforms. If you're planning on using Instagram on Google Glass just be warned that it could be a very long time until an app is released for the platform.
When Square launched a few years ago, they changed the mobile payments market overnight with their little white plastic device that you to plug in your smartphone or tablet. Now Square is setting its sights on the online marketplace as well and is attempting to compete with Etsy, Amazon, and eBay by launching its own online marketplace called Square Market.
While the step from a mobile payment gateway to a online marketplace may seem a bit odd to some, this is actually part of Square's push for the company to deliver a product that answers each aspect of online commerce. At the moment, the company has a mobile wallet for consumers, a payment app for businesses, a $300 stand that turns your iPad into a point-of-sale system and it even has a project in the works that will compete with PayPal known as Square Cash.
"Creating an online marketplace is our next step in making commerce easy for everyone," said Ajit Varma, Square's director of discovery, in a statement. "The idea behind Square Market is to make local businesses accessible to Square users nationwide. Creating a storefront on Square Market is free, and sellers can manage list items, add product photos, manage inventory and create an online profile for their businesses that the company hopes will essentially eliminate the need for sellers to have standalone websites."
The online storefront itself is free, but transactions aren't. Square will take a 2.75 percent cut of revenue off each item sold, which is much less than what Amazon or eBay charges. It is even less than the $0.20 Etsy charges to list an item.
This morning, Twitch.tv is pushing out an update to their Android app that will finally allow users to log into their accounts which will give them much easier access to their personal favorite streams. Unfortunately, the list is still limited to the top 300 live streaming channels.
A search feature and a chat function are both still missing from the app, but community manager Jared Rea has mentioned that chat and search features for the app are in the works and will be released at some point in the future. While that sounds promising, you need to keep in mind that until three months ago, the app went an entire year without an update. However, the recent launch of the OUYA is being seen as "another incentive" to push development forward on the app.
Snapchat isn't just popular among teens and kids. According to Nielsen data, the app saw around eight million unique US users over the age of 18 during May. Furthermore, these weren't just one-off users. According to the same data, each user accessed the app an average of 34 times during the month of May, indicating that many users used the app more than once per day.
Of course, Snapchat won't share user numbers but instead prefers to share engagement numbers. On that front, Snapchat has seen the number of daily snaps go from around 60 million in February to around 200 million. Perhaps this wide popularity among both teens and adults explains why investors were willing to provide the company with $60 million and a valuation of $800 million, despite the company having no revenue.
This morning, Google launched its new Google+ photos app for the Chromebook Pixel. Some of you may remember seeing this back when the Pixel was first launched. The app integrates with your Google+ account and will automatically upload photos from any SD card plugged into the device. This is similar to how Google+'s app works on Android phones and tablets.
The new photo app allows users to upload photos at full resolution or at Google's de facto 2048px wide resolution. The app is available via the Chromebook Pixel owner's portal, and for the moment, only those with Chromebook pixels are allowed to play. Google did allude to the app becoming available on other devices in the future but did not specify timeline for when that would happen.
The app appears to provide a seamless way to browse the photos uploaded to your Google+ account and I am betting that the amazing screen on the Chromebook Pixel really shows off the photos like no other device before it. The app also offers up basic editing tools that work in conjunction with Google+'s built in image editing software.