Facebook shutters Poke, Camera apps

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Facebook confirmed Monday that iOS apps Poke and Camera have been removed from the App Store.

Poke, launched December 2012, was thought of as a Snapchat competitor, but flopped early. Camera, which Facebook announced May 2012, had Instagram-like features. Now that Facebook owns Instagram, there’s less of a need for Camera.

A Facebook spokesperson explained to Inside Facebook why the company made the decision to pull the apps:

Since their launch in 2012, we’ve incorporated elements of each app into the Facebook for iOS and Android apps, including the photo upload flow used today. Neither app has been updated in some time and we’ve decided to officially end support by removing them from the app store.

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Facebook looking to conduct phone interviews with Poke users

Facebook is looking to conduct some user research for its latest mobile app, Poke, including phone interviews to understand how people use and feel about the service.

The social network is using Ethn.io to recuit participants through Facebook ads that lead to a short questionnaire. Users will receive $75 Amazon gift card if they are selected to be interviewed over Skype or GoToMeeting. Facebook is requesting that participants have a webcam. [Update 1/10/13 1:19 p.m. PST - Facebook is also using SurveyMonkey to recruit participants for interviews at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, Calif. The SurveyMonkey form asks users additional questions, including what type of phone they have and an example of how they use Poke if at all.]

Poke is a standalone app for iPhone that allows users to send messages, photos or video to their friends for a designated period of time. After a few seconds, the content is removed from the app. The app, which is largely a clone of the popular Snapchat application, was reportedly built in 12 days. It launched on Dec. 21, 2012, hit No. 1 on the App Store’s free apps list, but has since slid to No. 343. Snapchat, on the other hand, has sat between No. 3 and No. 9 for the past month. Today it’s No. 6.
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Facebook roundup: Instagram, Poke, New Year’s and more

Instagram hit with lawsuit after proposed policy changes – A class action lawsuit was filed against Instagram last Friday over breach of contract and other claims related to its proposed terms of service change. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco federal court, says users who cancel their profile forfeit rights to photos they had previously shared on the service. ”We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously,” Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook files for Poke trademarks - Facebook filed for three trademarks related to its new Poke application this week. It is seeking trademarks for ‘Poke’, ‘Facebook Poke’ and the logo for the app. The company had previously held a trademark for Poke in 2006, but abandoned it in July last year.

Facebook working on security fix for Poke – Facebook says it is working on a fix for a loophole that lets users save videos that are shared through its new Poke app. The premise of the app is that messages and content are deleted within seconds of being viewed, but BuzzFeed found a way to replay and save videos by connecting an iPhone to a computer and browsing the app’s files. Facebook told the site, “We are addressing this issue now. We should have a fix pushed shortly.”

Facebook offers special New Year’s message delivery – Through its Facebook Stories website, the social network is offering “New Year’s Midnight Delivery.” Users can write messages to their friends in advance and have them delivered at midnight on New Year’s. The recipient’s time zone will be taken into account so messages appear just as a user is ringing in the new year.

Zuckerberg sister’s friends-only photo shared on Twitter – Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Mark, got some unwanted attention this week after a Twitter user publicly shared a photo meant for friends only on Facebook. The photo showed the Zuckerberg family playing with the new Poke app. Many outlets picked up on the story as a Facebook privacy blunder. Later Randi Zuckerberg tweeted, “Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend’s photo publicly. It’s not about privacy settings, it’s about human decency.”

Too close for missiles, Facebook switches to guns and has some fun with Poke

Facebook’s new Poke app seems in many ways like a departure for the company.

While most of Facebook’s products are meant to preserve memories and save interactions, communications in Poke disappear after a few seconds. Facebook emphasizes functionality over flair and tends to put a lot of structure to how and what users share, but Poke lets users doodle over their photos with different colors and send virtual pokes to their friends. Most of all, Poke is playful while the rest of Facebook is very much a utility. If you haven’t tried Poke, you can get a quick sense of this by listening to the app’s silly notification soundreportedly recorded by Mark Zuckerberg himself.

Although some aspects of Poke might seem out of character for the Facebook most of us know now, it’s actually a fitting addition to the platform with roots in Facebook’s past.

People who work at Facebook often talk about building products to reflect how people behave and communicate in person. Messenger lets users know when the recipient has viewed a message or when a user is typing because in face-to-face conversations, there are cues that let people know they’re being heard or that someone isn’t finished talking. Timeline strives to depict your life story, starting at birth and including milestones along the way. The new Poke app, though seemingly inane at first, actually adds a new layer of reality to Facebook. It represents those moments that only otherwise happen in person. People can make a funny face or put on a goofy voice without worrying that the rest of the world might see it, or even that a friend will see it more than once.

While Facebook pages represent millions of public figures, businesses, products and entities in the world, Places maps the locations around us, and Open Graph defines the actions we take, Poke gets to be the fun we have in the moment. And that element of fun is something that had started to fall by the wayside in recent years.

Facebook has always had a fairly plain aesthetic and practical approach to features, but as it evolved from student social network to global platform, this approach became even more critical to its success. Facebook stripped away its college-specific character and eliminated some of the more juvenile aspects of the site. “Flyers” became “social ads” and “Sponsored Stories.” The virtual gift shop was closed. The “looking for random play” and “whatever I can get” options were removed from the profile. Random movie quotes like “I don’t even know what a quail looks like” and “Too close for missiles, I’m switching to guns” no longer appear below search results. We don’t even write on “walls” anymore. We have Timelines and life events.
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Facebook releases standalone Poke app for iPhone with Snapchat-like features

Facebook today released Poke, a standalone app for iPhone that allows users to use its famous Poke feature or send messages, photos or video to their friends for a designated period of time.

Messages expire after a specific time users set, either 1, 3, 5 or 10 seconds. After that, the content is removed from the app. This feature is similar to Snapchat, a popular mobile app that lets users communicate with photos and videos that disappear after being viewed. Also like Snapchat, users can add text and doodle on photos before they send them.

Users can send pokes and messages to one or multiple friends. They can also include their current location. Pokes and messages do not show up anywhere in Facebook’s desktop version or main mobile app. Poke also notifies users when the recipient tries to take a screenshot of the sender’s photo — another feature of Snapchat.

The fleeting nature of messages in Poke is a sharp contrast to the rest of Facebook’s product. Facebook Messenger saves users’ entire chat and message history in a single thread. Timeline makes it easy for anyone to look at someone’s past. Friendship pages show all of users’ interactions with another person. Poke is the opposite: content is meant to self-destruct. It’s for this reason that Snapchat has been maligned as an app for “sexting,” and Facebook will surely face similar critiques. The app does include an option to report or block users.

The “poke” is a feature that has been on Facebook since 2004. CEO Mark Zuckerberg once said of the poke, “We thought it would be fun to make a feature that has no specific purpose.”

But Poke the app definitely has a purpose, and that’s to appeal to younger users who are increasingly turning to Snapchat and other mobile apps to communicate in new, fun ways. Facebook, on the other hand, is something their parents and teachers use. The social network needs to continue to evolve its offering to be the dominant way people connect with their friends. The younger audience on Instagram was likely a large reason Facebook acquired the photo-sharing service.

Impressively, Poke was built in 12 days by a small team at Facebook. It’s this kind of speed that could help keep Facebook on the cusp of trends in mobile communication and maintain dominance across demographics.

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