Instagram announces Instagram Direct: photo and video sharing to private groups

During its press event held in New York City today, Instagram announced a new sharing feature called Instagram Direct that will allow users to share images and videos to other users privately.

The new sharing model will require users to follow each other to send photos and messages privately to individuals or groups of up to 15 people. A pending requests inbox will catch photos and messages from users who are not mutually connected.

Instagram also noted its growth from 80 million users to 150 million users worldwide from the start of 2013 to today. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, boasted that over half of Instagram’s users use the service daily…

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Apple joins tech titans in calling for government spying reform and limitations

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has joined Microsoft, Twitter, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and other giants in the tech industry in calling for a reform of the NSA’s surveillance tactics. Earlier this year it was revealed that the National Security Agency was using information from these companies and more to monitor citizens across the nation without warrants.

The companies allegedly involved in the “PRISM” program denied turning over any user data to the government, but a leaked NSA slidedeck (seen above) seemed to imply the opposite.

The new collaborative campaign, called Reform Government Surveillance, cites five driving principles in its drive to curb excessive government spying:

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As predicted, Apple’s Black Friday ‘deals’ go live and are gift card only, no discounts

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As we predicted, Apple’s Black Friday deals take the form of gift cards rather than discounts. The Australian store is first to come online with the promotion.

Buy a Mac, and you get a gift card for AUS$150 ($137), an iPad gets you AUS$75 ($68) and an iPod AUS$50 ($45) – with a range of gift card values on selected accessories. It’s likely these amounts will be rounded in the USA.

There appears to be no gift card with the Retina iPad Mini (only with the non-Retina model), likely a reflection of the limited supplies available and that Apple knows it will sell well into the holiday season without incentives.

While the gift card amounts are slightly more generous than past discounts (last year Apple offered $100 discount on a Mac), the fact that you have to lay out the full amount for a credit that has to be spent later may limit appeal …

We’ve posted some answers to common questions about the deal. 

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Facebook prepares major updates to iPhone apps as top engineer returns to Apple

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Screenshots of upcoming Facebook Graph Search for iPhone update

Facebook is preparing a pair of major updates for its most popular iPhone applications, according to a source familiar with the apps. Facebook is testing an updated version of its main iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch client that integrates the social network’s powerful Graph Search tool. Graph Search is a feature that allows Facebook users to locate fellow users that have similar interests. For example, a Graph Search user can search for all friends who “Like” a certain Facebook page, musician, or movie. The upcoming app update incorporates Graph Search into the Facebook app’s main search bar.

In addition to the aforementioned update to the main Facebook for iOS application, Facebook is preparing a redesign of its Messenger app. Facebook is said to be internally testing two new versions of Messenger. The first version is said to look largely similar to the Messages application bundled into iOS. That version includes green interface elements. The second version in testing, which the source says is more likely to ship to end-users, is heavy on white space and very fitting for iOS 7′s design. It is not filled with blue interface elements like the new Facebook app. The new app has tabs for active/recent chats, contacts, and settings across the bottom…

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Sync.ME adds ‘Widgets’ to Apple’s iOS Contacts app

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Sync.ME, a third-party contacts app for iOS with over 8 million downloads, just rolled out an interesting feature that brings new functionality to Apple’s own Contacts app on iOS. As pictured above, the latest version of the Sync.ME app now adds a “Widgets” link within Apple’s Contacts app that provides quick access to social network profiles for contacts and a number of other handy functions for quickly sharing content.

They are called ‘Widgets’, but in reality they are essentially quick links to profiles on social networks and other functions of the Sync.ME app. The interesting aspect is the fact that you’ll no longer have to launch the Sync.ME app and can now access all of the “Widgets” functionality from directly within the native iOS Contacts app.

On top of links to the contact’s Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn profiles, you’ll also find the ability to place and record calls over VoIP, quickly capture a business card using your camera, jot down a note, or add a reminder to your calendar for a specific contact. Other widgets will allow you to quickly share your location or a photo over iMessage or SMS, as well as post customized greeting cards directly to a contact’s timeline.

To accomplish this, the app appears to use the AddressBook API’s in a novel way that allows the app to automatically add a URL into a custom field for contact cards. That URL opens the “Widgets” section for any particular contact within Sync.ME, but the entire experience feels rather seamless. Here’s how to set it up: Read more

Watch the full Burberry London fashion show shot entirely with an iPhone 5s (Video)

Apple announced last week that Burberry would be capturing its London fashion show that took place yesterday entirely with its new iPhone 5s, and today Burberry has posted the full video of the event. There’s no mention whether or not the full 15 minute long video above has been retouched after being shot on the iPhone, but Apple and Burberry say the entire show, including photos and video, was “shot exclusively on iPhone 5s.”

We’ve seen a few shots leak throughout the week already, but Pocket-Lint has an inside look at how Burberry’s photographers shot the show using 14 different iPhones and an interview with Burberry’s creative director Christopher Bailey: Read more