Facebook released an update for its iOS app today with a number of small changes and improvements, including faster loading for events and a way for users to easily save photos from Facebook to their phone.
Events was one of the sections that hadn’t yet been completely rebuilt for speed like the News Feed, photos, messages and other areas have. Now, the main events page and individual events themselves seem to load much quicker. This could lead to more RSVPs and interactions on the event page from mobile now that the product is not so slow.
Now when viewing a photo fullscreen, there’s a new ellipsis icon with options to save the photo, share it or report it. This makes these functions more accessible for users. Previously, a user had to take a screenshot of their phone to save an image, or leave fullscreen view to share or report it.
Facebook has started to roll out support for emoji in all posts and comments on desktop and mobile, a company spokesperson tells us.
Previously, emoji — a standardized set of emoticons and picture characters – were available for Facebook Messenger, but not within status updates, comments or other posts. Facebook started offering some chat emoticons in comments on desktop last year, but this wasn’t the full emoji set. Now, users have more flexibility in sharing smileys and other icons across Facebook, whether it’s a check-in, photo caption, group post or some other message or comment.
The social network has made a number of moves recently to bring more ways for users to express themselves through small pictures. There are the new structured status updates where users can share what they’re feeling, eating, drinking, watching, reading or listening to. And the new stickers for mobile messages.
These features, along with emoji, help users communicate in new ways or say things that might be difficult otherwise. They can also add a bit more fun into the service, which at points has been seen as a cold or sterile platform compared to the flash and flexibility of other social networks. When Facebook released the Poke app, which was sillier than its typically utilitarian features, we wondered if it was a sign of more to come. So far this year it seems that Facebook is lightening up and giving users new options that are popular in other apps.
The latest emoji support for posts and comments was built at a Facebook hackathon last week and began rolling out to users on Tuesday. To create emoji characters, a user must enable the emoji keyboard on their phone and in their web browser. For example, ShowMeEmoji is a useful extension for Chrome users.
Facebook released a new version of Messenger for iOS on Monday, bringing its latest stickers feature from the main app to the standalone chat application.
Stickers are now available in Facebook for iOS, Messenger for iOS and Messenger for Android. Facebook also released a new set of stickers available for free in the “sticker store” within Messenger and the main Facebook app. Some chat apps sell stickers, but so far Facebook has made all eight of its sticker sets free. The newest set is called “Skullington.”
Facebook plans to announce its 2013 first quarter earnings tomorrow after the stock market closes.
Analysts expect earnings of 13 cents per share on revenue of $1.44 billion during the period of Jan. 1 to March 31. In Q4 2012, which included the holiday season, Facebook had earnings of 17 cents per share on revenue of $1.585 billion.
Here we’ll review the changes Facebook made in the first quarter across each of its areas of monetization.
Last year advertising made up 84 percent of Facebook’s overall revenue. In the first quarter of this year, the social network introduced new targeting capabilities and made a number of adjustments to the look and performance of its ads. The company also continued to ramp up the amount of ads in News Feed and on mobile, adding a three-in-one “Pages You May Like” unit and a new type of Page-Like ads to the mobile feed.
Partnerships with data vendors Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom and BlueKai opened up the opportunities for advertisers to reach new audiences based on third-party data, such as offline purchase behavior. This feature was in limited beta during Q1, but rolled out more widely as “partner categories” earlier this month.
Lookalike Audiences, which help advertisers target users similar to those in their Custom Audience databases, was another exciting new beta feature for advertisers last quarter. Facebook launched it globally in March.
A tool that was available for most advertisers throughout the quarter was conversion tracking. This allows advertisers to measure and optimize their ads leading off-Facebook. It’s particularly important to direct response advertisers and app developers.
Facebook has added a new icon to News Feed posts to indicate whether the user is available to chat.
If a user is online, a green dot will appear next to their name along with their post. Users can click the green dot to open up a chat window and start a conversation. This could encourage users to start private messages with friends after they see one of their posts in the feed.
For now the feature applies to News Feed posts but not those on a user’s Timeline.
Facebook is putting increasing emphasis on its chat and messaging system. The new mobile Chat Heads feature in Facebook Home and Messenger makes it easier for users to read and respond to messages even when they’re in the middle of other tasks on their phone. This latest desktop feature also deeper integrates chat into another popular activity: browsing News Feed.
Facebook today announced updates for its iOS apps, which bring new messaging features to iPhone and the new News Feed design to both the iPad and iPhone.
Facebook will begin offering “stickers,” which are larger emoji that are popular in Asian messaging apps like Line, KakaoTalk and WeChat. Stickers are a key source of revenue for these and other third-party apps. Facebook announced a “sticker store,” but for now, the stickers are free to download.
The HTC First, a smartphone preloaded with Facebook Home, is now for sale from AT&T. Facebook also updated Messenger for Android to include support for Chat Heads, the feature debuted with Home last week. Home is expected to be available from the Google Play store later today.
Home is an Android homescreen experience that more deeply integrates the social network’s features into Android devices. It essentially eliminates the “lockscreen” as most people know it. Instead of displaying the time and perhaps some notifications, the screen fills with photos and updates from a user’s Facebook friends. Facebook calls this Cover Feed. Users can watch updates pan by slowly or quickly swipe through them manually. It’s possible to Like or comment on posts from this view.
We’ve been using Facebook Home for the past few days, and Cover Feed definitely feels like a better way to browse the latest posts from friends and pages. Switching back to the standard vertical scrolling feed with small images and text in the main Facebook app ends up being disappointing.
Facebook names UCSF chancellor to board – Facebook this week named UC San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann to its board of directors. Desmond-Hellmann was previously president of product development at Genentech, where Facebook CFO David Ebersman previously served as chief financial officer. Desmond-Hellmann is also on the board at Procter & Gamble, a major advertiser on the social network. Desmond-Hellmann will receive an annual retainer fee of $50,000 and 20,000 restricted stock units, which will vest over four years. Facebook’s other board members are Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Marc Andreessen, Erskine Bowles, James Breyer, Don Graham, Reed Hastings and Peter Thiel.
Facebook brings free calling to some Android users – An update to Messenger for Android this week includes free voice calling for users in Canada. The feature is available to iOS users in several territories, but this is the first instance of it in the Android app. Users can call their friends who also have the latest version of Messenger and talk for free over Wi-Fi or using their existing data plan.
Facebook today announced partnerships with mobile operators around the world to provide free or discounted data access when subscribers use Facebook messaging.
The social network has arrangements with 18 mobile operators in 14 countries to provide special pricing for usage of Messenger for Android, Messenger for iOS and Facebook for Every Phone. Facebook recently updated its feature phone application to be optimized for chat and added a number of new features to Messenger, including voice messaging and the ability to create a Messenger account without a Facebook profile.
The social network is making a big global push for its messaging service this year. As the company seeks its next billion users, messaging is going to be a key feature that draws people in. With so many alternatives — from SMS and email to apps like WhatsApp or WeChat — Facebook has a lot to compete against. Now, it’s hoping that subsidizing usage by partnering with mobile providers will give it an edge in emerging markets.
Facebook today released an update for its main iOS application, which includes voice messaging and video recording, as well as a more efficient way to hide ads and mark posts as spam directly from News Feed.
Voice messages are a new feature of Facebook’s standalone Messenger app that has been brought to the main app now, as it did on Android little over a week ago. This allows users to send asynchronous voice messages up to 60-seconds long. The free voice calling feature, which is still limited to only certain regions, has not been added to the main app. It is only available via Messenger for iOS.