If I were to sum up Instagram in four terms it would be selfies, food porn, hashtags, and collages. So, so many collages. Both the Play Store and App Store are chock full of apps that will put your photos together in a fancy collage, but now Instagram’s launching their own.
Layout by Instagram is a completely free application that lets the user put together a fun collection of cropped photos. The app opens to show a preview of the layouts available, but every layout can be customised to the user’s delight. You can resize, crop, rotate, and resize sections of any layout to get the perfect collage.
Layout by Instagram helps you sort through your photos easily enough too. Firstly you can choose photos right off the ‘photo reel’, so you can insert your last taken photos into Layout easily enough. But Layout by Instagram also has an interesting Faces feature that will only show photos with people in them. It sounds silly, but considering all the other stuff we take photos of these days it will probably save quite a bit of time.
Layout is, of course, free, and is out now for iOS and coming soon on Android. You can get it for the iPhone and iPad here.
All aboard the carousel! Instagram have recently updated how a user interacts with a brand and the adverts they release, by the magical power of tapping/clicking. Yep, took them long enough. But let’s give them credit for the other feature they’ve implemented which is the carousel feature. Now you might say that interstitial advertising is an old concept, but you might be missing the bigger picture.
How it works
This feature only works on the new Carousel ads platform which was launched last week. It’s stated on the Instagram for Business blog that they are ‘introducing this new format on a limited basis’. So don’t get your knickers in a twist just yet, it’s just a beta at the moment. Sadly at the moment it’s not available for user posts which kind of bugs me but hey it’s being improved. Now you might go ahead and say, ‘hey wait a minute this is like the slide-y thingy on my Facebook news feed’. Well that’s true average reader! But then again, we both know that Zuckerberg’s brainchild wasn’t meant for photo-sharing.
The way this works is that users are able to swipe right on images and at the end of the carousel they can learn more about the product or service being advertised. It seems like something really unimportant & obvious but I think most people underestimate the marriage of the visuals and the link to the key information. You’d be thinking, how have Instagram made so much cash and have implemented this just now? Well you got me there average reader.
Why am I fanboying over it?
Personally, though I’m excited for how the industry in general is opting for more interactivity and dynamism, valuing brands’ stories rather than just sales strategies. Compelling beautiful stories is the way to go for marketers and Instagram has realized that (finally). They take users on a ride as they learn not only about what they’re buying but how/where/when it was made. Long gone are the days where everything is kept behind closed doors.
The best thing about all this is that both marketers & designers will be forced to get their creative juices flowing. Brands can use it not just for the sake of redirection but also to tell better stories about themselves. Even though it might spell the end for the print industry, as one of my favourite gurus said, I can’t imagine the ROI that one can get from investing in these dynamic products.
Unfortunately, sometimes as we scroll through our Facebook feed we might come across the odd post where nothing but helplessness and agony ensue. The social media giant has been trying to combat posts that may denote suicidal thoughts since 2011 after a number of headlines dominated the presses.
What’s alarming is that most of those suicidal posts are coming from young teenagers. Now you might be saying, well these are prepubescent teens, they’re too stupid to realize that they have their whole lives ahead of them. Well, yeah, but nevertheless we need to stop them from going to these extremes.
What’s being done about this?
It was announced last Wednesday that Facebook would be updating their current cumbersome support, and would be changed to a process where a team of trained individuals would review and send notifications with resources to prevent this extremity, tools such as a connection to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline and access to trained professionals.
Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation on Facebook Messenger and thought the perfect response would be a particular meme?
I have, and here’s what I’d do: leave Facebook Messenger, open Chrome/open Google Search, search for the meme I want in Google Images, save it, then open Facebook Messenger, choose to upload an image, then look for the image in my Downloads folder – if it was there. It’s cumbersome, time consuming, and by the time you’ve actually got the image the time for it has probably passed.
Save a lot of time and effort by searching for the image through the Facebook Messenger app itself. Hit the Menu button in the top right, then hit ‘Image Search’, and search! The search is powered by Bing, but has been pretty effective for me so far.
Facebook Home: Your Phone’s About People, Not Apps
Remember those Facebook phones HTC made a while ago? Not many, and those that do don’t really remember them as being particularly good. And sure, you’ll see lots of Cha Chas around but how many of them were bought for the Facebook experience instead of it being a QWERTY Android device? Not many I’d bet. Facebook’s back and yesterday evening unveiled its latest developments to create a new home on Android, and boy do they mean business.
Their “new home in Android” is in fact your homescreen only without widgets and with status updates and ads loading in the background. Yes, ads. They won’t be there at launch but Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to that particular question was “Yup!” Statuses will be displayed on top of each poster’s cover photo and your display picture is always visible at the bottom just above the controls. Personalisation’s the key here, with each phone offering a Facebook experience tailored on the user.
Facebook isn’t trying to bury Android under itself a lá Amazon, but coexists peacefully with the mobile OS and gives you access to all of Google’s services. Google Now, Google+, Twitter, whatever you want – it’s there. Of course some apps do get some special treatment on Facebook Home devices (actual “Facebook” phones, more on that later) like Instagram. It isn’t exactly surprising.
If you’ve already got Facebook and Facebook Messenger installed on your phone you’ll get an update sometime around the 12th of April and next time you try to get to your homescreen you’ll be asked for to choose your default homescreen, Facebook Home or the stock launcher (or whatever you were previously using). If you don’t have those apps already and like the service, then go get them right now!
I’ll be playing with it ASAP and you can expect a full review after a couple of weeks of good use.
Ah yes, the phone. This isn’t what Facebook’s event was about really, and the HTC First isn’t anything particularly special, but it serves to showcase the full potential of Facebook Home. Facebook’s partnered with a number of OEMs such as Samsung and Lenovo.
The specs are bog standard for a mid-range Android phone and include:
A 720p 4.3″ screen
A dual core Snapdragon 400 CPU
5MP camera round back, 1MP camera up front
Nothing to write home about to be honest, but it’s all about the software here. Check out Facebook’s page for Home after the gallery!
Allow me to present to you your new Facebook News Feed: bigger pictures, bigger stories. With competitors moving towards “a more beautiful web*” Facebook’s design decisions make sense and the company’s borrowed heavily from it’s mobile apps to create a unified experience across all platforms.
Photos and albums are brought up front with posts displaying bigger, higher resolution images while articles have grown to include a greater summary of the content as well as including the publication’s logo. If more than one of your friends has shared the same article or link their profile icons will appear besides the post and hovering over these will show you what each friend said about the content posted.
The News Feed’s also been split into different feeds to keep you from drowning in a deluge of spam, annoying links, cat photos, and sloths. Categories are as follows:
I’m curious to see how all this will filter down to Facebook’s mobile apps. While the design may be the same, the UX is not, and the need for a cleaner and categorised news feed is far greater on the phone.
So the last question remaining is, when will I get it? From Facebook’s blog post on the matter:
We’ll be rolling out the new design slowly over the coming weeks on web and mobile. If you’d like to get it early, visit www.facebook.com/newsfeed and add yourself to the waiting list. These design updates will be available on your iPhone and iPad in the coming weeks and to Android soon after.
The official post on Facebook’s blog can be found here.
* Quoting Microsoft in an Internet Explorer commercial.
For months now I’ve been complaining on Twitter about how bad the Facebook app for Android is. Really, it’s horrid. It’s a memory hog, slows down my otherwise still-spritely Galaxy Nexus, takes ages to open and load, and is just downright horrible to use. Fortunately, the great Zuck was listening, and today we’re being treated to Facebook for Android, version 2.0.
The biggest changes are all under the hood, so to speak. It’s being said that Facebook’s engineers rebuilt the app from scratch, and I believe them. It’s no longer laggy, load times are greatly reduced and the experience is just that much better. Facebook says the app is now “twice as fast”. We’ll see about that in a review later on, I suppose. More after the break. …
On HTC Germany’s Facebook page HTC officially denied rumours of the Deluxe DLX coming to Europe. In response to tech blogger Igo Hochheim HTC said
Hi Ingo, the Deluxe will unfortunately not come to Europe. Kind regards, Dennis
So, what’s going to happen? My two cents are that we will still see a DNA variant with the same specs but perhaps repackaged into something different. A Note 2 competitor perhaps? Or a DLX by a different name. That could work. Can HTC really afford to miss out on an opportunity like this?
Check out my first post on the DLX here, and the actual Facebook post here.