What's Hot in Tech - September 3
Facebook begins rolling out shared photo albums
We've all gone on family vacations or attended parties with friends only to each end up with our own photo album on Facebook, duplicate photos between friends, and a scattered showcase of what happened. Facebook aims to solve fragmented photos of experiences by releasing shared photo albums. You'll soon be able to collaborate with others to create a comprehensive album by leveraging each others' photos. Shared albums will allow up to 50 contributors, each able to upload 200 photos, and will appear on each contributor's timeline.
Twitter revamps conversations experience, not everyone happy
Twitter isn't just about broadcasting information, but also interacting with others and evolving conversations. Those conversations have always been a little difficult to track, especially for newer users who haven't been on the platform since its early days. Previously, if you saw a @reply in your Twitter stream, you had to select the tweet to open a new view revealing its context in reverse chronological order including the tweet it was in response to and any subsequent replies. To provide more information at a glance and make conversations easier to follow, @replies and up to two relative tweets will be displayed directly in your Twitter stream in chronological order.
Long-time Twitter users aren't the happiest when it comes to this change. Admittedly, it'll take time to get used to a set of chronological tweets displayed within your reverse chronological stream, but in the end more useful information is provided at a glance and it brings the conversational aspect of Twitter to light for less savvy users.
Foursquare starts providing location-based tips without opening app
Foursquare is my tool of choice when looking for interesting activities or a place to eat, especially when traveling, since it leverages where my friends and I have been to make informed recommendations. Foursquare has amassed a huge collection of data including where people have been, the patterns within, and which users are influential in providing recommendations. Soon, Foursquare will send tips to your phone without any interaction with the app required. Imagine walking into a Mexican restaurant and receiving a notification on your phone suggesting you try the fish tacos or receiving a tip on where to take the best photos while sightseeing. Foursquare is wading into this feature slowly by releasing it to just 2,000 initial users, so you may have to wait for this added intel.
Google releases Chromecast app for iOS to aid setup process, management of settings
Earlier this summer Google announced Chromecast, a device the size of a USB drive to be plugged into your TV enabling you to project what's on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The value is in the ability to watch videos on a larger screen or share the website you're looking at with others. Initially you needed an Android device or Google's Chrome browser to setup the device. With the release of Chromecast for iOS, Apple device owners can use their iPhone or iPad to setup their Chromecast and adjust settings.
Feedly news reader opens Pro tier to all users
As mentioned in last week's post, the news reader Feedly now features a paid membership tier providing extra features. The Pro tier was initially available to those who seized the $99 lifetime membership offer which sold out in just 8 hours. The Pro tier is now available to all Feedly users at the standard rate of $5 per month or $45 per year.
I'm a firm believer in financially supporting the services you use, to the point I've paid for Evernote Premium despite not taking advantage of the provided bonus features. We tend to undervalue software and web development, yet these companies need to pay their employees and ideally they do so without throwing a bunch of ads in our faces. Next time you have the chance, consider paying for the non-free version of your app to foster further development and support the team providing you a great product.
Mailbox app updates with big features including cloud search, account-specific signatures
I have both an iPhone and iPad on which I've moved from using Apple's Mail app, to Google's Gmail app, and now Mailbox. Mailbox helps you focus on taking action on each of your email messages whether it's filing it away, deleting it, or saving it for reading at a later time/date. As a result, your inbox becomes cleaner and causes less mental fatigue. While Mailbox provides a fresh focus on tackling email, it lacked a few key features common among competing email apps. Mailbox now includes cloud search for finding messages not stored on your device, account-specific signatures if you have more than one email account, and the ability to open links in your browser of choice (Safari or Google Chrome). Mailbox was acquired by Dropbox in March of this year, providing the app with more development resources to make faster improvements.
Flickr updates iOS app with filters and tools, makes Pro tools free for all
Flickr, once the the hands-down choice for storing and sharing photos, has found itself in an awfully competitive space with alternative solutions including Dropbox, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and VSCO Cam. In May, Flickr announced an all-new design along with a free terabyte of storage space in what was just the beginning of reviving the service and hopefully bringing it back to relevancy in an age of artistic filters and sharing on mobile devices.
This week Flickr continued its march forward by announcing a host of updates to its app for Apple devices. Included in the update are new filters and camera features like a grid for aligning photos, pinch to zoom, and focus and exposure locks, all features we've come to expect from camera/photo apps. Flickr also made its paid Pro features free including photo enhancing, cropping, sharpening, color adjusting, and vignettes.
As a tech enthusiast, early adopter, and avid reader, I come across a lot of gadgets, apps, websites, and more. Few things excite me more than sharing and discussing these finds with others. Follow me on Twitter where I share even more tech news and trends.