Facebook brings more robust Trending features to Android, web

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Facebook just gave a major facelift to its Trending feature. Now for U.S. users on Android and the web, Facebook users can go much deeper into trending topics.

Trending topics can be explored in five categories, Facebook explains:

  1. Articles shows you how news organizations are covering the story.
  2. In the Story shows you posts from people who are part of the story.
  3. Friends and Groups shows you what people in your network are saying.
  4. Near the Scene shows you posts from people near where the story is unfolding.
  5. Live Feed shows you a real-time stream of reactions from people around the world.

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From Messenger to Slingshot to Paper to Rooms: How successful are Facebook’s new apps?

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Facebook attracts more than a billion mobile users each month and 66 percent of its revenues come from this channel. In fact, mobile users spend 20 percent of their mobile time on Facebook!

Facebook’s success on mobile, whether from the point of view of the audience size or monetization, is unparalleled.

Instagram and WhatsApp (acquired respectively in April 2012 and February 2014) are two other social apps also with phenomenal audience success, although several notches below. They’re not profit centers yet and will not be discussed here.

What about the blue giant’s mobile diversification strategy beyond the main app and purchased successes?

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How does Facebook classify Android devices? By year

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While Android has imaginative names for their operating systems, such as Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich, that’s not how Facebook engineers classify Android devices.

In a blog post, Facebook’s Chris Marra and Daniel Weaver explains how Facebook optimizes its experience on Android by breaking up devices by year:

We call this new concept “year class” – essentially, in what year would a given device have been considered “high end” in? This allows teams around the company to segment the breadth of Android devices into a more understandable set of buckets, and as new phones are released, they’re automatically mapped into the representative year. For example, the Alcatel T-Pop I bought at a market in Mexico is immediately recognized as a 2010-class phone, despite its 2012 release. Overall, about two-thirds of the phones connected to Facebook are equivalent to something released in 2011 or earlier.

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Parse updates Android Push API

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Facebook’s Parse on Tuesday updated its Android Push API, a couple weeks after updating for iOS 8. App developers using Parse will have easier setup on Android, as well as more reliability.

Parse Software Engineer Thomas Bouldin detailed the changes in a blog post:

We’re excited to announce today that the Android Push API is getting its biggest facelift since inception. We’ve rethought the API to bring Parse Push better in line with both other Parse APIs and traditional Android development. The new API simplifies developer setup, provides better reliability, and is much more easily extended or customized to override default push behavior.

With the new API, we’ve decoupled the concepts of registration and reaction; the icon and activity which you want push to use are no longer statically bound to a channel. You can replace all calls to

PushService.subscribe(myApplicationContext, “channel”, MyActivity.class, intIconID);

with

ParsePush.subscribeInBackground(“channel”);

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Facebook vs. Google: the battle for deep linking supremacy

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Facebook and Google are in an arms race, but this time not over active user counts. Both tech giants are making big moves in the deep linking world, allowing users to go straight from one app to another. For instance, when a user clicks on an ad from Hotels.com within their Facebook News Feed, they’re led into the Hotels.com app (if they’ve got it installed) instead of a mobile browser. This process is done through a platform Facebook announced earlier this year at f8, App Links.

For Facebook, this makes mobile advertising much more valuable, as app developers don’t have to worry about a sub-standard experience when a person is led to the mobile browser site. For Google, it’s a way to evolve to meet the growing demand on mobile and bring Android to the forefront.

URX, a deep linking search engine for developers, supports both Facebook’s App Links and Google’s deep linking. URX has been one of the early and major players in the deep linking community and recently announced that it is building the first mobile app search API. We talked with URX Head of Marketing Mike Fyall to learn how Facebook and Google are competing within this space.

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Why does Facebook Messenger require so much data?

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As Facebook is unbundling its Facebook Messenger capabilities, turning off messages within the main app, reaction from users has been swift and negative.

Much of the paranoia is fueled by a Huffington Post story from November 2013, as well as a post by a radio station in Houston — both written to stoke fear within Facebook users.

While Facebook Messenger on Android does ask for several permissions that seem privacy-invasive, these actions cannot happen without manual user action. Facebook Messenger will not call people on your behalf or alter your network for Mark Zuckerberg’s benefit.

So why does it all seem so invasive? Mashable has an amazing post breaking down every single permission the Messenger app asks for, explaining why the app needs them.

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Facebook for Android: now faster, smaller, less data-hungry

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To figure out how to improve its Facebook for Android app, Facebook engineers traveled to Africa to test the app on a low-bandwidth network.

They ate through their monthly data plan in 40 minutes.

So developers worked to make Facebook for Android less reliant on data and more logical for users in countries that don’t have major data plans. The company also made the app itself smaller, taking up less room on the phone.

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Facebook tests more iOS-like design of Android app

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Facebook appears to be testing a new design for the Android app that is somewhat similar to the iOS version.

This new version — first noticed by Blink Vice President of Planning and Media Eti Suruzon on AllFacebook — has the status update, photo & check-in buttons at the bottom of the screen with a new organization for News Feed, messages and notifications.

Click below to see the design Facebook is testing for Android.

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Facebook testing new design for Android app?

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It looks like Facebook may be testing a new design for its flagship Android app, bringing home some visual elements — namely, more white — present in its Messenger app.

Inside Facebook reader Thodoris Konsoulas of Greece noticed that the Facebook for Android design is markedly different, as seen above. He is not in the Facebook for Android beta testing group, he noted.

We’ve reached out to Facebook about this and will update the story if we hear back.

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Facebook tests faster, cleaner version of Messenger for Android

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Facebook on Tuesday launched a test of a drastic redesign to its Messenger for Android app, making it faster and less data-hungry. Previous versions of Messenger have integrated texting, but it is a major feature of this update.

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