3 tests show Facebook is determined to make Stories the default

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Facebook isn’t backing down from Stories despite criticism that it copied Snapchat and that Instagram Stories is enough. Instead, it’s committed to figuring out how to adapt the slideshow format into the successor to the status update. That’s why today the company is launching three significant tests that make Facebook Stories a default way to share.

“The way people share and connect is changing; it’s quickly becoming more real-time and visual. We’re testing new creative tools to bring pictures and videos to life, and introducing easier ways to find and share stories,” a Facebook spokesperson told me.

Meanwhile, Facebook has been fixing the biggest problems with its Stories: redundancy between Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Now you can set your Instagram Stories to automatically be reposted to your Facebook Story, and Stories on Facebook and Messenger sync with each other. That means you can just post to Instagram and have your Story show up on all three apps. That way if you want extra views or to include friends who aren’t Insta-addicts, you can show them your Story with no extra uploads.

It was a year ago that Facebook rolled out Stories. But Facebook has so many features that it has to make tough decisions about which to promote and which to bury. It often launches features with extra visibility at first, but forces them to grow popular on their own before giving them any additional attention.

Facebook is vulnerable to competitors if it doesn’t make Stories work, and users may eventually grow tired of the News Feed full of text updates from distant acquaintances. But Instagram Stories and WhatsApp’s version Status have both grown to more than 250 million daily users, showing there’s obviously demand for this product if Facebook can figure out how Stories fit in its app.

Hence, these tests:

  1. The Facebook status composer on mobile will immediately show an open camera window and the most recent images in your camera roll to spur Stories sharing. Given that Facebook has as many as 17 choices for status updates, from check-ins to recommendations to GIFs, the new camera and camera roll previews make Stories a much more prominent option. Facebook isn’t going so far as to launch with the camera as the home screen like Snapchat, or half the screen like it once tried, but it clearly believes it will be able to ride the trend and people will get more out of sharing if they choose Stories. This starts testing today to a small subset of users around the world.
  2. When you shoot something with the augmented reality-equipped Facebook Camera feature, the sharing page will now default to having Stories selected. Previously, users had to choose if they wanted to post to Stories, News Feed or send their creation to someone through Messenger. Facebook is now nudging users to go with Stories, seemingly confident of its existing dominance over the ranked feed and messaging spaces. This test will begin with all users in the Dominican Republic.
  3. Above the News Feed, Facebook Stories will show up with big preview tiles behind the smaller profile pictures of the people who created them. Teasing what’s inside a Story could make users a lot more likely to click to watch them. Facebook uses a similar format, but with smaller preview circles on Messenger. And while Instagram leaves more room for the main feed by just showing profile pic bubbles for Stories, if you keep scrolling you might see a call-out in the feed for Stories you haven’t watched using a big preview tile format similar to what Facebook Stories is trying. More views could encourage users to share more Stories, helping to dismantle the ghost town perception of Facebook Stories. This will also test to a small percentage of users around the world.

    One of Facebook’s new Stories tests shows big preview tiles behind people’s profile bubbles

If Facebook finds these tests prove popular, they could roll out everywhere and make Stories a much more central part of the app’s experience. Facebook will have to avoid users feeling like Stories are getting crammed down their throats. But the open camera, Stories default and bigger previews all disappear with a quick tap or swipe.

The fact is that the modern world of computing affords a very different type of social media than when Facebook launched 14 years ago. Then, you’d update your status with a line of text from your desktop computer because your phone didn’t have a good camera (or maybe even the internet), screens were small, mobile networks were slow and it was tough to compute on the go. Now with every phone equipped with a great camera, a nice screen, increasingly fast mobile networks and everyone else staring at them all the time, it makes sense to share through photos and videos you post throughout the day.

This isn’t a shift driven by Facebook, or even really Snapchat. Visual communication is an inevitable evolution. For Facebook, Stories aren’t an “if,” just a “how.”

Mobile – TechCrunch

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This week’s top stories: Apple’s education event & iOS 11.3, new Apple Watch design this year, a gold iPhone X, more

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In this week’s top stories: Apple unveils a new iPad and new software at its education event, the public release of iOS 11.3, rumors of a new iPhone X color and a new Apple Watch design, and more. Read below for all of this week’s top stories…



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8 Chat Stories Apps for Reading Fiction on Your Phone

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Throughout the ages, readers have had numerous options. Depending on their personal preferences, they have been able to pick up mainstream fiction, geeky non-fiction, graphic novels, and magazines, amongst others.

Chat stories are some of the latest offerings. Presented as short fictional stories delivered in a text-message format, they’re wildly popular with millennials and Generation Z. People relate to them due to growing up with text messages and using them often.

If you’re interested in reading chat stories as well we’ve picked out a handful of outstanding chat stories apps for you to install on your phone.

1. Lure

Lure Read Chat Fiction App

With a regularly updated story collection from in-house writers, this app highlights genres from horror to humor. It breaks down the chat stories into several lines that fit on your smartphone screen.

Then, you just tap the link at the bottom to load more. Users say the format promotes continual engagement by breaking the material into bite-sized chunks. There is also an estimated reading time for each story, which helps for planning purposes.

Statistics at the top of a story’s introduction screen show how many people viewed or pressed the “Love” icon for a given tale. Knowing that could help you decide which stories to read and which ones to pass on.

When reading without a subscription, there is a waiting period. It prevents tapping to immediately see the next section. A subscription removes advertisements and the need to wait.

Download: Lure: Read Chat Fiction for iOS | Android (Three-day free trial available. Subscriptions range from $ 2.99-$ 39.99, and the option to buy appears within the app.)

2. Tap by Wattpad

Tap App Stories

Instead of offering text-only chat stories, this app presents them with images, sounds, and videos. There are alternate endings, too. Explore material to suit your mood and interests.

There are also new Tap Originals released every week. They’re exclusive to the app and give you something new even if you use other chat stories platforms, as well.

Tap by Wattpad also lets people create their own chat stories. If you think you’ve got what it takes, start posting on the app and build a following. Users can digest the content on Tap in more than 10 languages.

If you have non-English-speaking friends from other countries, they might get hooked based on your recommendations. A sharing feature facilitates spreading the word about digital stories you like the best.

Download: Tap by Wattpad for iOS | Android (Free, with subscriptions ranging from $ 2.99-$ 39.99.)

3. Hooked

Hooked Chat Stories

Launched in 2015, Hooked help bring chat stories to the masses through a business concept that emphasizes how stories must evolve, as the company explained on Medium.

While appearing on iTunes charts, Hooked surpassed apps like Instagram and Snapchat in popularity. Like the other apps mentioned here, Hooked feeds you the story in a per-message format. The Hooked logo is an owl, and each message is a Hoot. If you subscribe to the app as a paying user, you become a Superhoot.

Hooked quickly pulls you into each story by showing the dialog to read right away. You don’t get back stories about the characters beforehand. However, the app chooses a story for you to read based on a genre you pick. A subscription enables self-chosen story selections. It also eliminates the waiting period Hooked enforces.

Download: Hooked for iOS | Android (Free. Optional subscription prices are $ 2.99-39.99.)

4. Eavesdrop

Eavesdrop Chat Stories

An app marketed as “your next chat fiction addiction,” Eavesdrop breaks down its stories into episodes. Think of them as chapters. It features hundreds of stories and thousands of episodes, so you’ll never lack for things to read. Eavesdrop has a rating feature, too. Give your feedback about stories and get suggestions for what to enjoy next.

One thing that sets Eavesdrop apart from some other apps is it features real-life internet live streamers. They appear as characters in some stories, giving an aspect of familiarity to the target audience. Discover new stories every week, as well.

Download: Eavesdrop for iOS | Android (One-week free trial available. Subscriptions cost $ 2.99-39.99 based on duration. Renewal happens automatically within the app.)

5. Cliffhanger

Cliffhanger Chat Stories

You read most chat stories as if viewing someone’s messaging history. With Cliffhanger, it’s different, as you become part of the story.

As expected from the name, most of Cliffhanger’s stories are from the thriller, mystery, and horror genres. Readers can also make choices that change how a story unfolds. Additionally, there are pay-to-use aspects of the app—like images and videos—that uncover crucial clues.

Fans of the app say the stories are easy to understand and addictive to boot. They confess spending hours using Cliffhanger because it’s so engrossing. If you’re preparing for a long plane or train ride, this app could make it bearable. New stories are made available each day.

Download: Cliffhanger for iOS | Android (Free, with in-app purchases ranging from $ 2.99-$ 39.99.)

6. READIT Chat Stories

Readit Chat Stories

Expect the stories on READIT to capture your interest right away. However, keep in mind that you have to pay to read a full story. Many users start out not expecting that and end up disappointed as a result, despite their enjoyment of the material.

The available genres include romance and thrillers. However, the app selects stories for you.

Despite those caveats, READIT is one of the highest-rated iTunes apps, and it’s worth downloading to see if you understand why that’s the case.

Download: READIT Chat Stories for iOS (Free, with $ 4.99/month subscription available after one-week trial.)

7. Yarn

Yarn Chat Fiction

As reported by BookTrib, analysts say chat stories may change the publishing industry and what’s necessary to write popular content. After all, this type of writing leaves no room for wordiness or in-depth explanations.

Yarn is trying to disrupt teen culture with videos as well. This app adds new stories by the day. However, people can also watch shows in a similar short-form format.

The pictures accompanying the chat stories are essential. Be aware though, you have to pay to see them. Knowing that in advance could help you determine whether to sign up for a subscription or stop using the app after your free trial runs out.

Download: Yarn for iOS | Android (One-week trial with a weekly subscription for $ 4.99 or yearly subscription for $ 39.99.)

8. Scary Chat Stories – Addicted

Addicted Free Chat Stories

If you like reading edge-of-your-seat scary stories but can’t afford the subscriptions, try this app. Unlike the others covered here, it’s completely free.

Built-in sharing and storage tools let you insert story links into platforms, including Messenger and Google Keep. The content does not include videos and pictures, making it truly text-based. That might be advantageous on a limited data plan.

You might understandably wonder how this app works without making people pay—or even wait—for stories. And the answer is, of course, a lot of ads. However, you can skip these after several seconds.

Unfortunately, the spelling and grammar is not as good as in other apps. Which may indicate that the app’s writers are less experienced than some, which could partially explain why it’s free.

Download: Scary Chat Stories – Addicted for iOS | Android (Free)

Thinking About Subscribing?

Perhaps this was your introduction to chat stories, a genre that has taken youth culture by storm, or maybe you already knew a bit about them but haven’t actually downloaded any apps. Either way, we hope this article helped you find some brilliant chat stories.

Unfortunately, reading chat stories through apps can be an expensive hobby, so make full use of the available trials first to see which apps are worth paying for.

iPhone and iPad – MakeUseOf

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This week’s top stories: Apple’s March event, sleep tracking with Apple Watch, and more

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

In this week’s top stories: Sleep tracking with Apple Watch, expectations for Apple’s March event, WWDC wallpapers, the forgotten history of obscure Apple accessories, and much more. Read on for all of this week’s biggest stories…



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Infinite Stories app lets you create Instagram Stories with transitions, music & more

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Not only does Instagram limit your Stories to 15 seconds each, it also prevents you from using videos older than 24 hours or landscape videos without being cropped automatically…. Read the rest of this post here

Infinite Stories app lets you create Instagram Stories with transitions, music & more” is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Get the latest TC stories read to you over the phone with BrailleVoice

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For the visually impaired, there are lots of accessibility options if you want to browse the web — screen readers, podcast versions of articles and so on. But it can still be a pain to keep up with your favorite publications the way sighted app users do. BrailleVoice is a project that puts the news in a touch-tone phone interface, reading you the latest news from your favorite publications (like this one) easily from anywhere you get a signal.

It’s from SpaceNext, AKA Shan, who has a variety of useful little apps he’s developed over the years on his page — John wrote up one back in 2011. Several of them have an accessibility aspect to them, something that always piques my interest.

“Visually challenged users will find it difficult to navigate using apps,” he wrote in an email. “I thought with text to speech readily available… they would be able to make a call to a toll free number to listen to latest news from any site.”

All you do is dial 1-888-666-4013, then listen to the options on the menu. TechCrunch is the first outlet listed, so hit 1# and it’ll read out the headlines. Select one (of mine) and it’ll jump right in. That’s it! There are a couple of dozen sites listed right now, from LifeHacker (hit 15#) to the Times of India (hit 26#). You can also suggest new sites to add, presumably as long as they have some kind of RSS feed. (This should be a reminder why you should keep your website or news service accessible in some like manner.)

“More importantly,” he continued, “this works even without internet even in the remotest of places. You can listen to your favorite news site without having to spend a dime or worry about internet.”

Assuming you can get a voice signal and you’ve got minutes, anyway. I quite like the idea of someone walking into the nearest town, pulling out their old Nokia, dialing this up and keeping up to date with the most news-addicted of us.

The text to speech engine is pretty rudimentary, but it’s better than what we all had a few years back, and it’ll only get better as improved engines like Google’s and Apple’s trickle down for general purpose use. I’m going to ask them about that, actually.

It’s quite a basic service, but what more does it need to have, really? Shan is planning to integrate voice controls into the likes of Google Home and Alexa, so there’s that. But as is it may be enough to provide plenty of utility to the vision-impaired. Check out TextOnly too. I could use that for desktop.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Instagram Stories gets ‘quote tweet’-style feed post resharing

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Instagram’s next big Stories feature could let you compliment or trash talk other people’s feed posts, or embed a “see post” button to promote your own. A TechCrunch reader sent us these screenshots of the new feature, which Instagram confirmed to us is appearing to a small subset of users. “We’re always testing ways to make it easier to share any moment with friends on Instagram” a spokesperson wrote. Now those moments can include dunking on people. 

Instagram has never had a true “regram” feature with the feed, just slews of unofficial and sometimes scammy apps, but this is perhaps the closest thing. Users often screenshot feed posts and share them in Stories with overlaid commentary, but this limited the cropping and commentary options. Making an official “reshare could unlock all sorts of new user behaviors, from meme curation to burn book shade throwing to social stars teasing their feed posts in their Stories. Brands might love it for using their Stories to cross-promote a big ad campaign. Employing Stories to drive extra Likes and comments to permanent posts could help them gain more visibility in Instagram’s feed ranking algorithm.

Here’s how the feed post to Instagram Stories sharing feature works. You pick any public, permanent Instagram post and tap a button to embed it in your Story. You can tap to change the design to highlight or downplay the post’s author, move and resize it within your Story post, and add commentary or imagery using Instagram’s creative tools. When people view the story, they can tap on the post embed to bring up a “see post” button which opens the permanent feed post.

Users who don’t want their posts to be “quote-Storied” can turn off the option in their settings, and only public posts can be reshared. Facebook says it doesn’t have details about a wider potential rollout beyond the small percentage of users currently with access. But given the popularity of apps like Repost For Instagram, I expect the feature to be popular and eventually open to everyone.

Quote-Storying could help keep the feed relevant as more users spend their time sharing to the little bubbles that sit above it. And it offers a powerful viral discover mechanism for creators who can now ask fans to quickly reshare their post rather than having to awkwardly screenshot and upload them.

While both Instagram and Snapchat have let people privately send other people’s posts to friends as private messages, Snapchat lacks a way to embed other Stories or Discover content in your Story. Snapchat may have pioneered the Stories format, but Instagram has been rapidly iterating with features like Super Zoom and Highlights to extend its user count lead over the app it cloned.

The move by Instagram further ties together the three parts of its app: the permanent feed, ephemeral Stories, and private Direct messaging. You can imagine someone finding a post in the feed, resharing it their story, then joking about it with friends over Direct. It’s this multi-modal social media usage that turns casual users into loyal, ad revenue-generating ‘Grammers.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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A free anthology collects stories from 2017’s new sci-fi and fantasy writers

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Each year, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer honors a new writer in the science fiction and fantasy field: an author who has professionally published a short story or novel in the past two years. Last year, Too Like The Lightning author Ada Palmer took home the award.

Last year, author Jake Kerr compiled The Event Horizon 2017 anthology, a massive two-volume, 400,000 word ebook which collected stories from 75 authors. This year’s anthology contains 59 stories, and like last year’s edition, it’s free for the taking in ePub, MOBI, or PDF formats, while you can pick up a print edition for $ 15 on Amazon. Both editions will only be available through July 15th, 2018.

Image: Jake Kerr

In his introduction to…

Continue reading…

The Verge – All Posts

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Here are the New York Times and Observer stories that pushed Facebook to suspend Trump’s data analytics company

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Cambridge Analytica had profile information for some 50 million Facebook users, according to reports.

Now we know what prompted Facebook to suspend Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm the Trump campaign used during the 2016 election: The company was trying to get ahead of big stories about Cambridge in both The New York Times and the Observer.

Both stories hit Saturday morning, and claim that Cambridge Analytica had amassed a data trove with information from more than 50 million Facebook users it collected without their permission.

That’s a much larger number than Facebook reported last night, when it said that just 270,000 people “gave their consent” to hand over data to a third party researcher and University of Cambridge professor named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan.

How does that work? Back in 2015, Kogan, who also worked at a company called Global Science Research, created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” which used Facebook’s login feature that lets people join a third party app with their Facebook account, instead of creating a new app-specific account. Some 270,000 people logged into the app that way, granting Kogan permission under Facebook’s rules to scrape some of their profile data, including their identity and things that they’ve “liked.”

But that permission also gave Kogan access to data about the friend networks of these 270,000 people, which amounted to tens of millions of Facebook users, according to The Times. Kogan then shared that data with Cambridge Analytica, which was “building psychographic profiles” on American voters in order to target them with ads.

Here’s a key graph from the Times’s story:

“[Kogan] ultimately provided over 50 million raw profiles to the firm, Mr. Wylie said, a number confirmed by a company email and a former colleague. Of those, roughly 30 million contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles. Only about 270,000 users — those who participated in the survey — had consented to having their data harvested.”

Kogan and Cambridge Analytica both certified to Facebook that it had destroyed this data back in 2015, but “copies of the data still remain beyond Facebook’s control,” The New York Times is reporting.

Cambridge Analytica claims that the data has been deleted, and that it had no idea it was collected in ways that violated Facebook’s terms of service.

“When it subsequently became clear that the data had not been obtained by GSR in line with Facebook’s terms of service, Cambridge Analytica deleted all data received from GSR,” a company spokesperson said in a statement sent to Recode. “We worked with Facebook over this period to ensure that they were satisfied that we had not knowingly breached any of Facebook’s terms of service and also provided a signed statement to confirm that all Facebook data and their derivatives had been deleted.”

“No data from GSR was used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign,” the statement added.

Facebook, for its part, is adamant that the company did nothing wrong — the data was collected appropriately under its terms of service, it was then abused by the collector. Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said it bluntly on Twitter Saturday morning: “[Kogan] lied to those users and he lied to Facebook about what he was using the data for.”

It’s an illuminating look at how Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign “won” Facebook during the campaign — Trump’s Facebook strategy has been identified as a key factor in his surprising victory.

But the stories also leave a number of unanswered questions:

  • How helpful was the data in targeting U.S. voters? How much of a difference did it make?
  • Will Facebook change its policies to further limit the data that third parties can collect from its users?
  • How much of the data is still out there online, and is it being used by the Trump campaign today?

Recode – All

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