Facebook Checks In with Places

Facebook Places on iPhoneFacebook officially joined the Geo-Location and Geo-Tagging race today with the unveiling of their Places product. Though the event was well attended, the news itself was hardly a surprise as rumors of the product have been doing the rounds for several months now.

Introducing the product, Michael Sharon, the product manager for Facebook Places identified the three key features they were focusing on, namely helping people share where they are, helping people see who is around them, and helping people seeing what’s going on. As part of sharing their location, users can upload pictures and tag friends who are along with them.

While this provides the opportunity for a whole new level of engagement amongst Facebook users, it also raises privacy concerns especially in view of the privacy problems that Facebook has had to deal with in the recent past. In order to address these concerns, Facebook has implemented a tighter privacy model around the new product. For example, one cannot tag a friend at a location without first checking themselves in. Users can also choose not to be tagged. Perhaps the most important of it all, the default settings allow only friends to see your visit or getting tagged at a place.

The product is currently available on the new version of the Facebook iPhone App, to be released later tonight, and on touch.facebook.com if you have a geo-location aware touch enabled device.

Leaders and Facebook’s predecessors in the geo-location arena, Foursquare and Gowalla, were not only part of the event, but also announced plans to leverage the Places API to enable tighter integration and new features.

Firefox 4 Beta just got Awesomer with Multitouch Support

The latest update of Firefox 4 Beta comes with a couple of goodies that has awesomeness written all over them.

Multi-touch

The guys at Firefox have brought HTML5 and CSS3 together to give the browser one of the coolest features to date – multi-touch capability. A new set of multi-touch events have been added to the browser, which can be leveraged by developers to build highly intuitive and fun apps and websites for touch enabled surfaces. Check out the video below for a sample of what can be done. More information here

 Javascript Enhancements

The other big enhancement is in the form of updates to JavaScript handling, which will allow for a more efficient number crunching. This too will ultimately improve the interactiveness of the browser since it is aimed at helping heavy graphic sites and applications perform better. More details can be found at Rob Sayre’s Mozilla Blog

Was Google too Quick to Pull the Plug on Wave?

Google Pulls Plug on WaveIf you can stretch your mind to a time before Twitter, before Facebook (got popular, anyways), before iPhone, to circa 2004, you will recall a then little known thing called gmail that was making the rounds on the Internet. It was from Google, which by then had already become the darling of the Internet, and so naturally sparked instant curiosity among the masses. However, many of us had to hang on to our curiosity because gmail, if you stretch your mind back again, was invite only, for what seemed to be an eternity. The point in all this, and you may relax your mind now, is that Google gave gmail ample time to grow into the great product and much-loved brand that it is today. Never did we hear anything about low usage or slow adoption. Heck, the beta tag stayed on for so long that one couldn’t help but think of gmail as the pet kid who didn’t have to grow up and go out into the real world.

Moving forward to circa 2010, we find Google Wave being shut down after barely a year. In fact, it was only a couple of months ago that Wave was opened up for the masses. Internet apps have steadily become more sophisticated since gmail was released, but even by that measure, Wave is visibly a much more complex product than gmail, not to mention it is introducing a whole new paradigm for users to learn.

It sure is surprising to know that the same company is at the heart of the two scenarios.

Things have also changed from the user’s perspective. There are so many more online products, not to mention the whole category of mobile products that didn’t even exist in 2004, that are competing for the average user’s attention. It would therefore be in the natural rhythm of things for a product that takes an hour and half video to describe, to take a while longer to get adopted.

Much has been written since the announcement last week about factors – a visible lack of marketing and promotion, an unnatural (for Google) tendency to take an already complex concept and make it sound even more complicated, not leveraging the success of other products – that contributed to the failure. However, none of those factors sound fatal. Every company and every product goes through a maturity phase, and given Google’s muscle, the above issues should have been traffic lights for the product. Not a dead end.

So, why is so much being made out of the failure anyways?  The simple, straightforward reason is that Wave is indeed a cool no, essential concept. As conversations increasingly shift to online forms, the friction involved in switching across apps is a huge nag on productivity. We all know and admit somewhere deep down within ourselves that email doesn’t quite cut it anymore, but it is a paradigm that we cannot free our minds from. It is up to products like Wave to boost us to the next step. And Google is perhaps one of the very few companies that can attempt something that ambitious. Google has repeatedly shown that it is eager and able to take up such projects. It comes as no surprise then, to see people petitioning for bringing back Wave.

Here is a parting thought: when is the last time you heard Google pulling the plug on any product? Neither can we recall.

Twitter to Insert Promoted Content in API, Share Revenues with Developers

Monetizing Twitter APITwitter is testing a new set of changes to its API whereby it can insert promoted tweets and promoted trends in search results returned to twitter clients. A promoted tweet is highlighted and displayed at the top of search results, whereas a promoted trend is a topic that is trending, but hasn’t made it to Twitter’s Trending Topics list.

As you may recall, Twitter released the Promoted Tweets feature on the Twitter.com website in April of this year and followed it up with the release of the Promoted Trends feature, also on the Twitter.com website, in June. The current move essentially brings these two forms of advertising to the Twitter API.

Twitter’s Developer Advocate, Matt Harris, broke the news in an email to the developer community. As expected, the developer community shot back a reply asking what was in it for them. In his reply, Matt Harris mentioned that Twitter would share the Ad Revenues with the developers. “We’re still working out
the exact value and will keep you informed on developments.”, he explained.

Users who make use of twitter clients seldom have a need to run searches, either for topics or users. So, it will be interesting to see the applications and features developers will come up with to make use of the revenue opportunity, and how those will change twitter usage.

Pic Courtesy:productivedreams

Google’s Multiple Account Sign-in is Here!

Facts of Life:

#1   Gmail is awesome!

#2    It is nearly impossible to have just one gmail account

#3    Having to open multiple browsers to access your different gmail accounts at the same time sucks

Well, no more. Google’s multiple account sign-in appears to have been enabled on most, if not all accounts. This new feature enables you to log into multiple Google accounts at the same time.

The feature can be enabled by logging into the Google accounts area of your main account.

The main caveat with the feature is that (as expected) it doesn’t work with all of Google’s products. Perhaps, the most noticeable exceptions are Offline Mail and Offline Calendar. Google makes this quite clear during one of the steps in enabling process.

Once enabled, you can navigate between the accounts via a simple dropdown near the top of the page

Life, it seems, just got a whole lot simpler.

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