You may have heard recently about Google’s big new Facebook competitor, Google+, and how it looks to take everything you currently do on Facebook and make it even more social by connecting you with all your Gmail/Google account friends.
With new features like Circles (creating groups out of all your friends for easier organizing and communicating like say family, classmates or friends from camp. Now you can post updates for just certain people to see instead of your whole Friend’s list), Huddle (think of this like Group Text on the T-Mobile Samsung Sidekick 4G and myTouch 4G Slide— its group texting to your Circles from your phone or computer that should make figuring out what you’re all doing later a lot easier), and most importantly, Hangouts, Google+ looks to be the first real rival to Facebook. Hangouts is the real big thing here and allows for video chats with specific friends or Circles right from your phone/computer— something we all know has been badly missing from Facebook over the last few years.
And while Google+ is right now only in a very limited beta (or testing, not yet ready for everyone) stage, it looks really good and could finally be something that really threatens Facebook for your social networking attention. Facebook of course isn’t taking this new threat without a fight back and has sent out invites for an event next Wednesday, July 6th, where they promise they’ll be launching something “awesome.” And what is this rumored new “awesome” feature? Well if these latest rumors are to be believed (and we believe them) then next week we’ll finally see Facebook video chat thanks to a partnership with Skype.
To us this all makes perfect sense. Facebook needs to steal some of the buzz around Google+ before it grows any larger and what better way to do that then by partnering with one the largest providers of video chat in the world in Skype (oh, and Microsoft– who also is a big rival of Google– is a big investor in Facebook and just so happens to now own Skype).
Again, Facebook hasn’t said exactly what they’ll be announcing next week (some rumors are it’ll be an iPad app or some better photo uploading from phones), but we wanna know: what do you want to see from Facebook next week? Would you use a new Facebook/Skype video chat over iChat, Google Talk, ooVoo or whatever other video chat app you use? Let us know in the comments.
We all love Facebook and use it for hours daily to share so much of our lives with our friends and other people we know. And while just like everything else on the internet there are risks to all this sharing, it’s our choice and we can control what information we share, who we share it with and can stop it at any time.
As you’ve probably heard, from time to time Facebook the company has had some interesting “ideas” (for lack of a better word) on how to use all the information we put onto their site to run their business (just think about The Social Network movie for an idea on the sketchy story on how Facebook was created). Obviously, when you build your business on others info, your biggest issue is how you handle privacy, and by that I mean how do they make money without selling out all of our information to advertisers and other companies. Thankfully, privacy on Facebook has been greatly improved over the years with some much better privacy controls (such as filters for exactly who can see particular posts, better controls on how people can find you and what they see if they’re not your Friend etc.), but now some possibly much more dangerous news has come out– if you added your address or phone number to Facebook they can now share that information with advertisers.
An example of a Facebook app that plans to get your phone number and address from Facebook
According to the Facebook developer blog this type of “sharing” will only be used in applications (such as playing a Facebook game or logging onto Facebook from a Facebook Share button on a different site to post something directly to your wall), and these apps will need to explicitly ask your permission to get access to this info (see pic above. Note: these apps only have access to your info and not any of your Friends’ phone numbers or addresses). Of course when you think of how many times we all just click “I agree” or “Allow” to something– the legal thing that comes up every time you want to create an account on a website or install a program like Word or iTunes on your computer– without reading the full fine print its easy to see this move causing a lot of unexpected trouble for people.
We’re not gonna go into all the possible legal trouble in all this (for example what goes on with the info for all the Facebook users under 18) but you can fix this in a pretty simple way— go to your Facebook page and remove this and all other info you don’t want out there for the whole world to see (and yeah, we know this may make it harder for you to stay in contact with your friends– but you could always Facebook Chat them your info). Otherwise, don’t be surprised if sometime in the future you start getting calls or letters from a “Nigerian price” asking for your credit card info so he can send you a free iPad all because he found you on Facebook.
And I think this part goes without saying, but be careful what you share online.
More info: Huffington Post.
File this one under strange but strange enough that it probably could happen. Rumors are swirling around the internet today of Facebook developing their own cell phone. Yes you read that right, not an app like those found on iPhone, Android or BlackBerry– but a full-out phone. This rumor comes courtesy of TechCrunch (who was the first to report the rumors of Google making their own phone, what later became the Nexus One). What this Facebook phone looks like, when it will come out, or even how much it will cost are still unknown, but what is known is that this project is (well, was) super top-secret that was hidden from even Facebook employees.
Though all the talk is of this being a teen marketed phone, which makes sense as we use Facebook more than any other demographic by a long shot. The phone is said to be a full OS focused around Facebook, including deep contact integration (so all your Facebook contacts are automatically synced to your phone. This is something already done by the iPhone app, so we wonder how this would be better), and I’m sure easy access to common Facebook uses like updating your status, uploading and viewing pix, and commenting and liking friends status’.
Now Facebook’s status (pun fully intended) on all this is the as expected “no,” telling the site Mashable “The story, which originated in Techcrunch, is not accurate. Facebook is not building a phone. Our approach has always been to make phones and apps more social… building phones is just not what we do” (emphasis ours).
Here’s what we want to know though– how important is having great Facebook access to you when your picking a new phone? Is it up there with the “must haves” like sleek design, a good camera and great texting? Or would you rather get a phone with a Facebook app (and pretty much every new phone now has some sort of Facebook app)? Me? I’m more than happy with the Facebook iPhone app, and really wouldn’t see why I’d want a Facebook focused phone (I mean, isn’t that kinda of what the now dead Microsoft KIN phones try to do?).
The Motorola Cliq
We all know of T-Mobile’s love of all things Android (I mean, they were the first to launch a device with the software– and currently sell the only 2 phones in the US with it, the G1 and myTouch 3G), so it’s not much of a big surprise when this past week they teamed up with Motorola to launch Motorola’s first Android phone– the Motorola Cliq. Think of this as a G1 and myTouch 3G mix, just one that looks and promises to be much better. What are we talking about here? Well, there’s only one way to find out.