Facebook continues to ‘borrow’ Snapchat features as it tests swipeable filters, stickers & text overlays in iOS app

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Facebook has rather a long history of finding inspiration in the Snapchat app, from Poke back in 2012 (which was pulled last month) to SlingshotTechCrunch reports that the company is now testing three new features in its iOS app, all of which mimic functions available in Snapchat.

The new photo uploader adds:

  • swipeable filters, allowing you to instantly preview the effects
  • the ability to paste Facebook stickers on top of photos
  • the option to overlay text on a photo

Facebook appears to have rolled-out the new version of the app to a limited number of users so far. Most of the photo filters are based on the seasons …  Read more

Apple’s ‘Proactive’ to take on Google Now with deep iOS 9 search, Augmented Reality Maps, Siri API

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After several years of quiet development, Apple is readying a major new iOS initiative codenamed “Proactive,” which will leverage Siri, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps to create a viable competitor to Google Now for Android devices. Like Google Now, Proactive will automatically provide timely information based on the user’s data and device usage patterns, but will respect the user’s privacy preferences, according to sources familiar with Apple’s plans.

As an evolution of iOS’s Spotlight search feature, Proactive is the fruit of a long-term initiative that involved the acquisition of small app developers, and integration of core iOS apps. It will also work with Apple’s Maps application to display personally relevant points of interest using an augmented reality interface, and integrate with a third-party Siri API codenamed “Breadcrumbs”…

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Review: Dotti & Notti, fun (if pointless) ways to receive notifications

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My conclusion in my Skeptic’s Apple Watch diary series was that the device didn’t really have a unique selling-point to me, but was a slightly more convenient way to receive notifications. Ultimately, though, I kept it because it was a cool gadget.

The same argument, I think, would have to be deployed to justify what are really a couple of fun toys that happen to alert you to notifications: Dotti and Notti …  Read more

New Greenpeace report praises Apple for aggressively leading in renewable energy initiatives

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Greenpeace today released an update to its “Clicking Clean: A Guide to Building the Green Internet” report, showing that Apple continues to lead among tech companies when it comes to renewable energy efforts. The report notes that Apple has been “most aggressive” with its renewable energy projects including a number of new initiatives and continuing to maintain “its claim of a 100% renewably powered cloud for another year.” Read more

iPhone slightly increases lead as most popular smartphone in US – comScore

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Apple has further increased its lead as the top smartphone manufacturer in the US, the iPhone increasing its market share by one point from 41.6% in Dec 2014 to 42.6% in March 2015, according to comScore. There was no change in the rankings, with Samsung in second place at 28.3% – a fall of 1.4% – followed by LG, Motorola and HTC.

Android remained the most popular platform, with 52.4% of the market against iOS at 42.6%. Windows, Blackberry and Symbian were all also-rans, totalling just 5% between them.

comScore also reported the top 15 smartphone apps …  Read more

Facebook Messenger for iOS adds cross-platform video chat support

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Facebook continues to add new capabilities to its Messenger app today with the launch of a new video calling feature. A new video icon at the top of conversation threads will initiate a call, allowing participants to communicate across platforms over Wi-Fi or LTE connections.

The addition puts Facebook in competition with Apple’s FaceTime, Microsoft’s Skype, and other similar services. Interestingly, web-based video chat has been available on the desktop for some time, and was previously powered by Skype.

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Apple releases iOS 8.4 beta 2 to developers with revamped Music app

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A couple of weeks following the first beta, Apple today released iOS 8.4 beta 2 to developers for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. iOS 8.4 beta 2 is available via Software Update for those running the first beta, and it should be available for download soon via the Apple Developer Website. Apple has also released the iOS 8.4 Public Beta 1, which corresponds to this second developer seed, and Xcode 6.4 beta 2.

As we first reported, iOS 8.4 brings a revamped Music app to iOS with a new design, a Mini-Player feature, improved search, and a larger focus on album artwork. At WWDC, Apple will announce the new Music app and its integration with a new Beats-based streaming music service. We’ll update this post live as new features in the second beta are discovered.

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First look: Clear, the iOS app that vets your social media history for indiscretions

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Going for a sensitive job, or just friended your new romantic interest on Facebook, and want to make sure your drunken post from six months ago isn’t going to come back to bite you? That’s the experience Hipster co-founder Ethan Czahor had when he was hired as Jeb Bush’s chief technology officer. Journalists went digging and found some extremely embarrassing posts that led to his resignation.

He’s now put that experience to good use, though, beta-launching Clear, an app which aims to vet your social media history for offensive or insulting posts and offer you the ability to delete them (not to be confused with the to-do list app of the same name). I decided to take it for a quick spin …  Read more