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If you are a Google+ fan (we are!) then things got really exciting for you today. Google launched many new features for the service today including the ability for Android users to back up the full sized photos taken by their phone.
While Google+ has always allowed users to backup their Android phone generated photos, the size was capped around 4 megapixels. Today's update removes that constraint and allows any size image to be uploaded. The caveat being that free storage is limited to 5GB with additional storage space being available for purchase.
This new backup feature is no doubt partially the result of Android 4.2's new "Photo Spheres" feature which creates 360 degree panorama's. This update allows users to share these extra large images on their Google+ photo stream.
This time of the year, everyone likes to take a moment and reflect on the highlights of the past 12 months and Facebook just made that much easier. Today Facebook released a personal Year In Review to each of its one billion users. Users are able to view your top 20 moments of the past 12 month this simply by visiting facebook.com/yearinreview.
We are still unsure on how Facebook is deciding what constitutes a "Top Moment", but we are sure that it involves likes, comments, and shares. We have seen some reports of users top moments just being random unimportant post that got a fair number of likes or shares. A personal example was when my Alma mater lost a football game to a rival school. It was not that big of a deal to me, but Facebook deemed it as one of my top 20 moments of 2012.
Sources contacted Facebook and asked about the personalized Year In Review, and Facebook responded: the idea is to "give people an interactive experience to look back at 2012. People will notice stories they have forgotten about it, which makes it more nostalgic."
You may have noticed this already, but photo-sharing service Instagram has halted all Instagram and stored gallery Cards from Twitter. At first it was reported as a temporary problem, but has been confirmed to be here to stay.
Instagram has officially stopped all photo integration with Twitter, so now your links to photos will work like normal, but there is no way to quickly preview them through Twitter.
Just a few days ago Twitter removed Card support from the social networking site, but today's move is a little more drastic. I guess this is what happens when the bigger social network buys you out, they don't want you flirting with the competitor at all, huh?
Quick, close the Facebook tab that you have open on your browser, remove the Facebook app on your phone and get into Microsoft's latest social network, Socl. Socl has just launched, and is a social networking project from Microsoft's FUSE research group.
There was a beta up until its launch that was limited to a handful of people, but now anyone who sports a Facebook or Microsoft account can sign up for free. Not that most people really care, as Facebook has (for most of us) become such an integral part of our everyday lives. I think Microsoft, and even Google, will find it next to impossible to combat this without some fundamental changes in their respective social networks.
Socl looks nice, but I'm so invested in Facebook it's hard to switch. Who knows how much longer Socl will be here for, but since it has an official launch, and it's Microsoft, you can probably place bets that it'll be around for a little while longer yet.
No matter how many times we'll hear of users attempting to rise up against Facebook due to its ongoing issues with its users' privacy, it's still a destination that is quite popular with the majority of the Internet according to a study conducted by San Francisco's Morrison & Foerster.
On average, Facebook users use the service a whopping 6.75 hours a month with around 29% of those users browsing Facebook while watching television. Other popular social media services like Tumblr and Pinterest had users averaging 1.5 hours of use per month, while Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ didn't even break the 30 minute mark, with Google+ doing the absolute worst at 3 minutes of use per month on average.
One feature of Google+ that I enjoyed when I was a heavy user of the service was its application's ability to automatically upload photos I took from my phone without needing me to manually upload them to the service. Taking a shot of something and later seeing it available on Google+ awaiting my approval to publish it saved me a lot of trouble, and it looks like Facebook is working on something similar as it has started testing an auto-upload feature that plans to offer the same experience as Google+.
As of now, the feature is only available to a limited number of Facebook users who will be able to have their photos auto-magically uploaded to a private folder marked "Synched from Phone" which will be located inside the user's Photos page.
I've been using HTTPS to access Facebook ever since the social network offered it, but with over one billion users - having it by default is a much better way of keeping your users' data more secure.
Facebook has used HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) to protect users when they submit their username and password to login - which prevents someone from diving in and accessing your username or password when typing it. But, in January of 2011, the social network starting offering users to opt in for all of their Facebook browsing to fall under the more secure HTTPS umbrella, at the time warning "Encrypted pages take longer to load, so you may notice that Facebook is slower using HTTPS."
Facebook also said that "We hope to offer HTTPS as a default whenever you are using Facebook sometime in the future." We're finally here, and they're about to press the GO button on this more secure way of browsing. A few days ago, a Facebook Developer Blog post hinted that "this week, we're starting to roll out HTTPS for all North America users and will be soon rolling out to the rest of the world".
In the land of the free, the United States, the department of Homeland Security has just approved a one-year contract which will see them investigate the effectiveness of using social networks to look for instances of bioterrorism, pandemics and other health and security risks.
The department of Homeland Security are paying Accenture Federal Services $3 million the scan the social networks for keywords in real-time, where they'll monitor if growing threats or health trends can be identified. An example would be if an individual talks of their nasty cough or cold on a Facebook status update, the software would be looking to see if key medical terminology is repeated in connected groups, or from other individuals from the same locale.
Managing director for Accenture's public safety department, John Matchette, has said that "this is big data analytics", and has admitted that the technique hasn't been proven yet, adding:
In theory, social media analytics would have shown timely indicators for multiple past biological and health-related events.
Facebook don't ever sleep, they don't ever rest, and are continuously tuning their social network, day and night. Today brings a change in terms of the visual look of its Friendship Pages, which highlights the time you've spent with a family member, partner or friend.
They've now auto-created a perfect Timeline-like profile page for couples, which gets filled with events, photos, likes, mutual friends and statuses that the two have shared. Friendship Pages works between you and any friend, not just for those with a significant other, but if you're in a relationship, Facebook.com/Us will automatically direct you to a Friendship Page of your and your partner. I just tried it and it directed me to a page about my wife and I.
The new update is rolling out today, but I have yet to have received the new-look page unfortunately. There's an included button on the page that lets you "Share Friendship", which is nice.
I'm sure you've already heard, but if you haven't, Barack Obama has just won the 2012 US presidential elections, entering his second term as Commander-in-Chief. But, there was something else at play here, as he tweeted his victory on social networking site Twitter, breaking records.
His tweet "four more years" is now the most retweeted tweet ever, which - at the time of writing - has reached an astonishing 570,123 retweets. Over half a million retweets is phenomenal and it will surely pass 1 million in the coming 24 hours or so. Twitter only recently removed their retweet counter from '50+', so this is not only a record breaker, but it will set a very high record to be broken.
Obama's tweet being retweeted only counts the social network's built-in retweet function, so there are probably thousands upon thousands of manual retweets.