Facebook iOS app update allows users to choose friends to share photos with

iOS8PhotoShare650Facebook rolled out an update to its flagship application for iOS, version 8.0, and the one major change is the ability to select specific friends to share photos with, in addition to the already existing options of all friends and smart friend lists.


Exclusive TED 2014 content to be featured in Ideas section of Facebook’s Paper app

PaperTED1The Ideas section of Facebook’s Paper iPhone application will be the home to exclusive content from TED 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday through Thursday as part of a collaboration between the social network and the nonprofit conference series.


Facebook updates cover photo and News Feed ad policy, limits text to 20% of image

Facebook is changing its policy regarding text overlay on photos in pages’ cover photos and News Feed ads to limit text to no more than 20 percent of an image’s area.

Previously, Facebook restricted the use of ”calls to action” and “price and purchase information” in photos because it wanted to prevent advertisers from sharing images that looked like traditional banner ads. The policy was vague and not always followed or enforced. The new policy set to go into effect Jan. 15 is much clearer, and Facebook has told partners that it is preparing tools to help advertisers be compliant.

Ad Guidelines Section III.D now says:

“Ads and sponsored stories in News Feed may not include images with more than 20% text.”

News Feed ads may now use calls to action or purchase information in photos as long as the text makes up less than 20 percent of the image. Cover photos still have restrictions on the type of text that can be used.

Pages Terms Section III.B reads:

Covers may not include:

i.    images with more than 20% text;
ii.    price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;
iii.    contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
iv.    references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
v.    calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”
Starting Jan. 15, all images from page post ads that are eligible for News Feed will be reviewed for text overlay. The company is developing a grid-based text overlay detection tool to identify non-compliant images. A version of this tool will be available within Power Editor to help advertisers know in advance whether their images will be approved. Advertisers should keep in mind that text within logos will also count toward the 20 percent limit.
Pages are still allowed to post images with more than 20 percent text, as long as they don’t plan to pay to promote them in News Feed. These posts can be turned into page post ads that appear in the sidebar of Facebook, but they cannot be promoted in the feed unless the amount of text overlay is reduced. Even if page owners do not plan to turn their text-heavy image into an ad, they should consider how fans will respond to the post and take note of any negative feedback the image receives.

Login to Flickr with Your Facebook Account Thanks To Yahoo! Accepting OpenIDs

Flickr now allows its visitors to quickly login or create an account on the popular Yahoo!-owned photo sharing site using their Facebook account. Yahoo! became an OpenID relying partner earlier this week, and now appears to be rolling out the reduced friction new user on-boarding process to its sites. Since Flickr users can instantly share their links for their public photo uploads to Facebook, Flickr may see more referral traffic. However, Flickr may also experience decreased direct visits since users won’t have to check the site to see if friends have added new photos.

Once users have created a Flicker account using their Facebook credentials, they can visit their Flickr account settings to connect the two accounts via Yahoo! Updates. This allows users to automatically share their Flickr activity to their Facebook feed, and use their Facebook profile picture as their Yahoo! public photo.

Photos uploaded to Flickr don’t appear to be syncing to Facebook just yet, so it’s unclear exactly how they’ll appear in the news feed or in a user’s photo albums. Feed stories might look similar to the ones posted by the sync feature for sharing photos to Facebook that Flickr released in June. The ability to simultaneously post Flickr photos into your Facebook Photos albums, not just share a story about the upload, would be a much more useful tool but also one that would eliminate much of the need to browse Flickr at all.

Facebook is the world’s most popular photo sharing site thanks to its friend tagging feature. Still, many professional photographers preferred to use Flickr to display their work because it allowed high-resolution uploads while Facebook didn’t — until recently. In an effort to win over serious photographer, Facebook dramatically revamped its Photos product in September, adding high-res uploads, bulk tagging, and a light box viewing mode. It has since premiered additional new technologies, including facial recognition tagging suggestions and drag-and-drop photo and album reordering.

With Facebook touting these new features, Flickr reinforcing its connection to the social network, and photography becoming more about sharing with friends than hoarding ones memories, Flickr could have trouble proving its added value.

Update: The feature now appears to be working. It took eight hours for the news feed story about my photos being posted to Flickr yesterday to appear on Facebook, but now the delay is down to just a few minutes. The feed story displays a thumbnail of one uploaded photo, with a “See More” link that reveals thumbnails of additional photos. When users click one of the thumbnails or the “Visit Flickr” action link, users are brought to the uploader’s Flickr Photostream.

Since the photos don’t appear in a user’s Facebook albums and can’t be viewed within Facebook, the integration should not be perceived as victory of Facebook Photos over Flickr.

Pixable’s Photofeed App Is the Best Way to Discover and Browse Facebook Photos

Today, startup Pixable launches its addictive photo discovery and consumption Facebook app Photofeed. It arranges all the photos shared by your Facebook friends into a highly relevant stream based on Likes, comments, and tags. Photofeed’s recommendation engine produces a more enjoyable browsing experience than Facebook’s native Photos app, and could become 2011′s breakout application.

Founded in 2009 by two MIT business school graduates, the company developed apps that let users share mosaics and video slideshows of photos before concentrating on the bigger problem of improving photo consumption. The seventeen-person, eleven engineer team has secured $2.5 million in funding from Highland Capital to turn the 60 billion photos uploaded to Facebook a year into a photo browsing destination.

Photofeed provides instant gratification by dropping the news articles present in content repurposing apps like PostPost and Flipboard, and integrating content supplied by photo sharing apps like Instagram and PicPlz. While Facebook is good at displaying the latest content, the average user has access to tens or hundreds of thousands of photos and Photofeed is the way to discover the best of them.

Pixable gracefully onboards new users by hiding deeper features and immediately showing them the most compelling photos from their network via the “Popular of the week” category, and later through categories such as “Best of 2010″. An overlaid tutorial can be brought up on command to teach users how they can scroll through photos, leave feedback, and see who’s tagged. Large arrow buttons that only appear when hovered over offer an intuitive and unobtrusive navigation system.

Once users have clicked through a few dozen photos, Pixable introduces them to its sharing feature that lets users post statistics about which of their friends have commented on, uploaded, or are tagged in the most photos. Users want to share these interesting facts that are accompanied by a link back to the app, creating a organic viral growth mechanism for Photofeed.

To bolster retention, users can follow their friends and be notified via email when they upload new photos, but to preserve the anonymous browsing experience of Facebook, users can choose whether they want that friend notified that they’re being followed. These sharing and reengagement tactics are apparently quite effective, as Photofeed’s beta reportedly grew from a few thousand to 100,000 users in two weeks, foreshadowing its potential explosion in popularity.

Pixable’s CEO and cofounder Inaki Berenguer believes the company’s biggest challenge will be maintaining the app’s swift navigation as demand surges. Berenguer says there’s no monetization model such as ads, printed products, or premium services in the roadmap. “The problem is so huge, our goal is to build a massive audience, 10 or 20 million, and then we’ll figure it out.”

Pixable Photofeed is a joy to use because it doesn’t let feature creep obscure the core value of the app. With so much industry concentration on how we take photos, it’s surprising to think no one else would translate the Pandora model into a way to consume them. By creating what is essentially a news feed dedicated to photo browsing, Pixable may be able to redirect the audience of the world’s most popular photo service.

Facebook to Use Facial Recognition to Provide Photo Tag Suggestions

Facebook has announced a new photo tag suggestions feature that utilizes facial recognition technology. When users upload photos, faces which match ones tagged in their existing photos will show a suggestion of who to tag. Similar photos are grouped for easy tagging. Users can opt out of being identified by the facial recognition software in their privacy settings.

The update, rolled out in the U.S. over the next few weeks, could lead users to be tagged in photos much more frequently. It also brings Facebook up to speed with other photo editing tools including iPhoto, which can already create Facebook tags through facial recognition.

Facebook has long been the most popular photo sharing service in the world, and it is this core app which drives time on-site and growth. Facebook began highlighting faces to assist tagging in July, while third-party apps sought to help users find untagged photos of themselves through facial recognition software. The Photos product received a major upgrade in September, with the additions of high resolution photo uploads, an in-line light box viewing mode, and bulk tagging.

When users upload photos, they are brought to a Tag Your Friends page. Here, users see a dialogue which explains that their photos have been grouped and names of friends have been suggested. Grouping photos which look similar and therefore likely contain the same friends makes it easier to tag multiple photos.

Photo tag suggestions appear in a blue box beneath the recognized photo. It appears that users must opt out of suggested tags, which allows for quick saving of tags if a user thinks they are accurate.

Users who receive the new feature will also see a new “Suggest photos of me to friends” privacy setting within the “Customize settings” link. When disabled, users won’t appear in suggestions, which will lower the chances of them being tagged.

Facebook explains that the update means “you’re more likely to know right away when friends post photos.” Really, this will reduce the likelihood that a user could be identified in a photo of them which they never knew about since they weren’t tagged and notified. Most importantly, photo tag suggestions may significantly increase the number of photos users get tagged in, increasing interconnections, and further cementing Facebook as the keeper of our memories.

How the Redesigned Profile’s Recently Tagged Photos Panel Can Be Abused

An emergent behavior is demonstrating the unprecedented power users have over the profiles of friends who’ve opted into the new redesign. The five photos a user was most recently tagged in are displayed in a panel at the top of the profile. A user’s friends can therefore tag them in a sequence of photos to display a large message across the top of their profile.

Due to the opt-out nature of photo tags, single tagged photos or a photo sequence will be displayed to the profile’s visitors until the user hides the photos from this panel by clicking the ‘x’ button or detags themselves. Depending on a user’s privacy settings, these photos may be visible to people who aren’t their friends.

Facebook users have complained in the past about the potential negative impact of being tagged in photos without their consent. Some conclude that a user should simply defriend those who abuse the feature, but that can be a drastic sanction against someone who was just playing a practical joke or didn’t mean to offend them by tagging an embarrassing or objectionable photo.

The impact of unwanted photo tagging was previously limited, though, as users could only affect things on a friend’s wall or buried within the friend’s tagged photos. The profile redesign creates a highly visible section which can be manipulated by others.

Users can of course upload photos and tag themselves to use the trick to display their own message as a joke, for self-promotion, or to draw attention to a desired cause or interest. However, unless Facebook changes its opt-out tagged photo policy or creates special settings for the Recently Tagged Photos panel, expect to see these photo sequences pushed to people’s profiles without their consent, both as pranks and maliciously.

Facebook for iPhone Update Adds Quick Links to Account, Privacy Settings

The latest update to the Facebook for iPhone app includes links to a user’s Account Settings, Privacy Settings, and the Help Center. The links open these areas of the Facebook web interface through the app’s internal web browser, and allow users to alter all of their sharing, security, and other settings. Having easy access a one’s mobile settings, such as the hours of the day during which you receive text messages from Facebook, will be important as users begin having their Facebook Messages routed to SMS.

Facebook released a significant upgrade to its iPhone app last week, which included Groups, Deals, and enhanced Places functionality, but which prevented users from uploading photos to a specific album. Version 3.3.2 fixes this bug, allowing users to click an ‘+’ button while viewing an existing album to add a photo to it.

Earlier this year, Facebook added a lock icon to the iPhone app’s status composer, allowing users to set the distribution parameter for that update. However, until now users had to access rudimentary privacy controls via m.facebook.com, or manually navigate to Facebook’s web interface using a mobile browser to alter the distribution of new or existing photos, change what parts of their profile are visible to who, or edit block lists. When Facebook updated its privacy controls in May, we said that offering these controls to mobile users was a crucial next step.

Now, where users previously saw a logout button in the top left of the app’s home page, they’ll see an “Account” button which reveals options to logout, or visit Account Settings, Privacy Settings, or the Help Center. Access to privacy controls should encourage users to share more frequently by restricting content to fewer people. Notification settings access will make it easier to quiet Facebook if a user is receiving unwanted mobile or email alerts.

Facebook’s new Messages product delivers email, Facebook Messages, Facebook Chat, and text messages to whichever channel a user is currently using, including their phone via SMS messages. However, it’s possible that users who’ve connected their mobile phone number to their Facebook account won’t be aware of the volume of SMS they’ll begin to receive, or the charges associated with these messages. Therefore, giving iPhone users quick access to their Account Settings->Mobile where they can turn off SMS from Facebook, alter which actions trigger SMS messages, or set a daily limit will be helpful for mitigating any ill will against Facebook stemming from the charges.

While the settings panels are only linked to and not full integrated into the application, they make Facebook for iPhone practically a standalone version of the site. For those who don’t often sit down with a computer to access Facebook, the update should lead to a safer, more customized experience.

Now Showing: Friends’ Photo Albums Module on the News Feed and More

Facebook is now showing a right sidebar module called “Friends’ Photo Albums” which displays photos uploaded by the friends a user interacts with most. However, unlike many of Facebook’s modules such as Unread Messages or Photo Memories, Friends’ Photo Albums appears on a user’s news feed, as well as other in-house apps such as Events, photos, and Groups.

Facebook appears to be using the module to get users to click away from their home page and get deeper into the site’s other features.

Some in-house app modules Facebook has tried in the last few months include Recent Checkins and Related Photos. The Friends’ Popular Places module was tested on the home page, and a Questions module now permanently resides in the center of the home pag right sidebar. Facebook also displays app specific modules such as Event Invitations while browsing Events, or Deals while browsing Places pages.

Facebook’s rapid development, testing, and deprecation of these modules suggests the site is searching for the most effective ways of getting users to navigate across different in-house apps, which likely reduces exhaustion and increases time-on-site.

Users will now see the module while browsing the news feed, Photos, Groups, Events, Friends, Notes, and Applications. It seems that page real estate is being shifted away from People You May Know, an early sidebar module which is helpful for new users, but which provides less utility to veteran users who’ve already found most of their friends.

Typically the module shows two sets of two photos, accompanied by the uploader’s and album’s names. However, when seen while browsing Applications, the module can show up to five sets.

Clicking through the photos does not bring up the lightbox view which is designed to keep a user’s place within Facebook while they view photos, and instead navigates users to the old photo browser. This indicates that the goal of the module may be to give users a compelling transition to Photos instead of them leaving the site when they’re done using an in-house app.

[Thanks to Eti Suruzon for the tip]

Facebook Releases Details on the High Resolution Photos API

Facebook has released read and write APIs for its new high-resolution photos, which all users can see and download, but only some can upload. All photos now include a “images” field containing height, width, and source information about all available sizes. Facebook plans on rolling out the ability to upload to all users soon, but until then, any high resolution photos uploaded through the API on the behalf of those without upload access will be sized down to 720 pixels.

At the end of September, high resolutions photos, flash uploading, bulk tagging, and a lightbox view were integrated into Facebook photos, the world’s most popular photo sharing product. Since, Facebook has also added drag-and-drop photo and album reordering, and the ability to receive a copy of all your Facebook photos using the Download Your Information product.

This high resolution photos API allows developers to create applications which upload high resolution photos to multiple sharing services, let users edit their existing high res Facebook photos, create high res prints, and more.

In an an answer to a Quora question asking whether Facebook would release a high-resolution photos API, Facebook photos team engineer Nathaniel Roman explained the particulars of the API. “If a user is in the group with access to high res photos, developers do not need to do anything special.” Uploads of high resolution photos “take significantly longer”, so developers should arrange some kind of content to be shown while the user waits, or carry out the upload in the background.

Roman also said that image details would be available through the Facebook Query Language, which allows for access to the Graph API with support for “batching multiple queries into a single call.”

The lack of high resolution photo capabilities was a significant deficiency of Facebook photos, but now the option is also open to Facebook’s thriving third-party developer ecosystem. Combined with the ability to download one’s Facebook photos later, the API and native user interface will decrease the need for users to keep bulky photo files on their computers once they’ve uploaded them.

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