Version 2.1 of Facebook’s standalone text and photo messaging app Facebook Messenger has been released, adding support for new features: “quick voice messages” and free phone calling, the latter apparently a VoIP calling service that will use “your existing data plan,” and “rolling out over the next few weeks.”
The quick voice message feature enables voice recordings to be sent as instant messages, presenting users with a “touch and hold to talk” button that auto-sends messages once released. This feature is akin to standalone apps such as HeyTell, and already enabled. Facebook Messenger version 2.1 is free, with an interface optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch, and available now from the App Store.
Twitter has released an update to its official iOS application with a completely redesigned user interface for iPad users. Departing from the prior unique sliding panels interface, the new iPad version now uses a full-screen UI adapted from the iPhone and iPod touch, with the standard navigation buttons on the left side and a single timeline view. The new layout makes use of the additional iPad screen space by providing header photos in user profiles and photo streams on profiles and events, however it does not expand when using the iPad in landscape orientation, leaving empty space to the left and right of the timeline view. The iPhone and iPod touch user interface remains the same in this update other than minor improvements, polish and fixes. Twitter 5.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Facebook has released a major update to its iOS app focused on improving performance. In Facebook 5.0 major portions of the app have been rewritten in iOS native Objective-C code, rather than relying on the HTML5 code used for the browser-based Facebook mobile site. The result is an app that now performs significantly faster when loading and scrolling through news feeds and timelines. Several smaller user interface improvements have also been made in the new version, including the integration of Facebook Messenger features, the ability to open and close photos more quickly using upward and downward swipe gestures and a banner notification for new stories and comments, along with a few other minor cosmetic changes. Facebook 5.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Path has released an update to its iPhone personal social networking application adding support for sharing movies and books and making several improvements to capturing and enhancing photos within the app. With Path 2.5 users can now share the movies they watch and books they read complete with full previews, actor and author pages, synopses and reviews. The update also sports an improved camera mode that allows users to capture both square and landscape photos and videos and fix and improve photos with Glo, Depth, Zoom and Crop tools.
The new version also improves both invitations and notifications, allowing users to send personalized invitations to friends that can include recorded audio messages. Users can also receive newly designed and more easily accessible rich notifications from friends and take advantage of a new “For Friends” notification feature for keeping up with conversations. Additional enhancements include larger photo and video display, support for taking photos using the volume button, simplified single-tap video recording, and new friend suggestions and “nudging” features to help encourage participation. Path 2.5 requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Twitter has released an update to its official iOS app adding support for its new Expanded Tweets feature and improving notification options along with several other user interface enhancements. With Twitter 4.3 users will be able to view extended content within Tweets containing links to selected partner websites such as content previews, images, videos and more. Selected events will also now provide an enhanced experience highlighting the best Tweets and photos from specific users involved in the event.
Twitter 4.3 also provides more options for Push Notifications, allowing users to now choose to receive notifications any time someone they follow posts a tweet or retweet to their timeline and provides less intrusive “ambient notifications” in the status bar when using the app. Additional enhancements include improvements to search autocompletion for users, tappable avatars that link directly to user profiles, notification of new information on the Discover tab, Hungarian language support and numerous bug fixes and performance improvements. Twitter 4.3 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Google has released a universal update to its Google+ app for iOS devices adding a native iPad user interface, support for Google+ Events and improvements to Google+ Hangouts. Announced last month at Google’s I/O conference, the Google+ 3.0 update introduces a new user interface designed specifically for the iPad with gestural navigation, easily tappable actions and a full screen stream and media viewing experience. New Google+ Hangout features have also been added with the ability to start a Hangout with up to nine friends from within the iOS app along with support for streaming a Hangout to an Apple TV via AirPlay.
This latest version also adds support for Google+ Events, allowing users to create and manage new events directly from their iOS device along with posting comments, uploading photos and viewing guest lists and RSVP status. Users can also browse through past event invitations with all of their accompanying photos and posts. Users can also now easily attach Instant Upload photos to new posts. Google+ 3.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Tumblr has released a completely rebuilt version of its official iPhone and iPod touch app promising significant improvements to both performance the user experience. Tumblr 3.0 debuts a new, sleeker dashboard with high resolution images and easier interaction with on screen controls. The update also adds direct support for Spotify, improvements to photosets and image viewing, searching by tags, centralized notifications and new and improved posting forms. Offline support has also been introduced to allow users to post, like, reply and reblog even when no data connection is available and new gesture-based shortcuts have been added for quickly accessing the camera and creating text posts. Tumblr 3.0 requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Popular location based social network Foursquare has released a major update to its iPhone app featuring a completely redesigned user interface. Foursquare 5.0 has essentially been completely rebuilt as an almost entirely new app designed with a focus on making the Foursquare mobile experience easier, more intuitive and more in-line with how people typically use the app. The Check-in button has been moved to the top-right corner for easier access, with the bottom navigation bar simplified to contain three major categories: Friends, Explore and Profile. The new Friends screen is now more photo-centric, with huge, swipeable photos presented in the timeline alongside tips, lists and places saved by friends; users can also now quickly “like” and comment on activity directly from the timeline view.
The Explore section has also undergone a similar redesign with an emphasis on presenting information right away instead of forcing users to search and providing information on nearby friends as well as tips on deals and recommendations nearby, based on the user’s previous check-ins, friends’ check-ins and general Foursquare community activity. The app can also now adjust recommendations based on whether a user is in their normal home neighbourhood or travelling, and users can still search for and browse through popular categories to find more specific recommendations. The third Profile tab allows users to more quickly swipe through their history, look up their favourites, and discover other relevant information such as stats, tips, lists, badges, photos and more. Foursquare 5.0 requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Tapbots has released an update to Tweetbot adding a cornucopia of new features including support for finding tweets by geo-location, improvements to offline reading, mute filters based on keywords and several other UI enhancements. With Tweetbot 2.4 users can now easily find tweets posted near their current location or specify an alternate location to search from there; location-based keyword searches are now also supported for finding tweets based on location. The new update also allows users to mark tweets as favourites or add links to a Read Later service even when offline.
Mute filters can now be created based on keywords in addition to the previous options for people, hashtags and clients, with regular expressions also supported for creating advanced keyword patterns to mute; users can also now choose to mute mentions as well as posts in the main timeline. A number of other UI enhancements have also been made in this latest update, including an updated search view with a more efficient search box and a new browse section containing Trends, People and Top Tweets. In addition, double-tapping the search button now automatically takes the user to the keyword field for quicker entry and users can also now change their preferred location for viewing Trends. Several other minor user interface tweaks have also been made along with a number of bug fixes. Tweetbot 2.4 is available from the App Store in two separate versions for $3 each: Tweetbot for the iPhone and iPod touch and Tweetbot for iPad.
Facebook has released Facebook Camera, a new iPhone application designed specifically to focus on posting and viewing photos on the company’s social network. With Facebook Camera, users can take photos directly within the app and select multiple photos from the iOS camera roll for posting on their Facebook timeline. Users can also crop and apply any of 14 pre-defined filters to their photos and add the standard text, captions, location and friend tags when posting their photos as part of a status update. In addition, the app provides a simple view of the user’s news feed with only photo-related posts displayed, including photos not only from standard Facebook posts but also from third-party Facebook apps, with the user’s own camera roll photos displayed above the news feed for quick access. Facebook Camera is available from the App Store as a free download.
Bump Technologies has released an update to its popular inter-device sharing app for iOS adding the ability for users to transfer photos from an iPhone to a desktop computer. Primarily designed to allow users to share common information between mobile devices simply by bumping two devices together, this latest Bump update broadens the scope of the application by allowing photos to also be transferred to any computer that the user happens to be working at, with no additional software required on the computer side.
To bump photos to a computer, users simply open the computer’s browser to the Bump web site, choose photos in the Bump app and then lightly tap the spacebar with their iPhone. The selected photos are displayed in the web browser where users can view them and download them all to a folder on the computer, drag-and-drop them directly into other apps or get a short link for sharing them elsewhere. Bump 3.3 requires iOS 4.1 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Google has released a major update to its Google+ app for the iPhone and iPod touch with an almost completely redesigned user interface that provides a greater emphasis on photos and videos within posts while also providing a more attractive and immersive stream view. The stream is now presented in a new dark gradient style with crisper fonts, larger profile pictures and more fluid visual transitions when scrolling; the stream now appears front and centre when opening the app with the previous personal profile options now accessible from a button in the top-left corner. Photos and video thumbnails appear more naturally in the stream with a full-bleed effect with captions and other descriptive text overlaid on top of the photo. Notably, despite this major redesign for the iPhone and iPod touch, a native version for iPad users remains conspicuously absent. Google+ 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Tapbots has updated its Tweetbot apps for iOS with a new and improved tweet detail view and integration with Droplr and Storify. Tweetbot 2.3 now sports a redesigned tweet detail view that displays inline conversations and replies; the tweet detail view is accessed by swiping right to left on a tweet and users can return to the timeline by swiping left to right. The conversation view has also been updated to display both the conversation and replies in a single list. The update also adds the ability to e-mail or link to Twitter conversation threads via the Storify online social story service directly from the conversation view.
Additional enhancements in the latest update include integration with Droplr for media and link sharing, the option to turn off the display of the timeline sync bookmark icon, and general user interface and e-mail format improvements. A play icon is now displayed on video thumbnails to help distinguish them from images, and Vimeo links now also display a video thumbnail. In addition, higher resolution images can be uploaded when using a Wi-Fi connection. Tweetbot 2.3 is available from the App Store in two separate versions for $3 each: Tweetbot for the iPhone and iPod touch and Tweetbot for iPad.
Facebook has announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire the popular photo-sharing app Instagram. According to the company, Facebook will pay roughly $1 billion in cash and shares of Facebook for San Francisco-based Instagram, with the transaction expected to close later this quarter, subject to customary closing conditions. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has issued a statement on the matter, which appears below.
“I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.
For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.
We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.
That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.
We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.
These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.
This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.
We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.”
Tapbots has released an update to Tweetbot adding Retina Display graphics in preparation for the impending release of the new third-generation iPad as well as live streaming and several other smaller improvements. Tweetbot 2.1 now allows users to optionally stream tweets live over Wi-Fi instead of relying on a manual or timed refresh; the new tweet notification also now only sounds for mentions, direct messages, and new tweets that appear following a manual refresh. The update also improves Tweetmarker service integration and fixes a number of additional bugs related to direct messages and other issues. Tweetbot 2.1 for iPad requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $3.
Path has released an update to its iOS social sharing application adding integration with the Nike+GPS app, a new music matching feature and several other improvements. With Path 2.1 users of the Nike+ GPS app can now automatically journal all of their runs in their Path simply by connecting the two apps. A note will be added to the user’s Path when starting a run to allow friends to comment or cheer and when the run is finished, a map will be added showing the user’s route.
Path 2.1 also incorporates a new Music Match feature that allows users to share songs they’re listening to using their device’s microphone to identify what’s currently playing rather than having to enter the name of the song. Additional improvements inlaced the ability to adjust the camera’s focus and exposure points separately when taking photos and the addition of a new comic book effect camera lens for iPhone 4S users. The update also adds several other smaller UI and filter improvements and bug fixes. Path 2.1 requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. Nike+ GPS 3.4 or later is also required to post runs to Path.
Twitter has released an update to its official iOS application adding some new features and UI improvements for the iPhone and iPod touch. Twitter 4.1 brings back several previously available features that were omitted from the major 4.0 redesign released in December including the ability to choose a custom font size, copy and paste the text of Tweets and user profiles, mark all Direct Messages as read and swipe on an individual Tweet to access a list of quick options. With the swipe gesture users can quickly reply to, retweet, favourite, share, or view the user’s profile without leaving the main timeline. The update also adds a notification to the “Find Friends” feature to advise users that the app will access and upload contact e-mail addresses and phone numbers from the iOS address book and quick options for sharing, copying or e-mailing individual links within Tweets. Additional changes include improved image quality in Tweet details, performance improvements, accessibility improvements, TUrkish language support and numerous bug fixes. Twitter 4.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Bump Technologies has released Bump 3.0, a major overhaul of its popular inter-device sharing app for the iOS and Android platforms. Designed to simplify sharing of common information between mobile users, Bump allows iOS and Android device users to share information such as contacts and photos with each other simply by bumping the two devices together. With Bump 3.0, the company has undertaken a major redesign of the application and platform with the goal of making in-person device-to-device interactions faster, simpler and more powerful. The new version is now tightly focused on sharing contact information in social settings and sharing of photos with close friends and family, with many of the less-used information types such as calendar appointments, music and apps having been removed from the app to make it simpler, faster and more intuitive.
Bump 3.0 introduces a completely redesigned navigation system, replacing the old iOS home screen styled layout with a simplified swipe-able layer that allows users to quickly switch between different functions while remaining ready to bump with no additional activation steps required. The new version also emphasizes the mutual friend discovery feature introduced in version 2.0 by automatically showing a list of all mutual friends in address books and on social networks each time a user bumps with someone new, helping to highlight previously unknown social connections. Bump 3.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Foursquare has updated its iPhone and iPod touch application adding support for the service’s new Explore feature. The latest version of Foursquare now allows iPhone users to access personalized recommendations for new places right from their device while on the go. Explore implements a smart search algorithm that provides results based on time of day, places that friends have been to or recommended, places on the user’s own lists and more data based on prior Foursquare check-ins. The new feature also allows users to easily choose to find recommendations for a different location simply by panning the on-screen map or entering a neighbourhood, city or address, to in on a specific highlighted area. The app also adds access to menu and pricing information provided by SinglePlatform for over 250,000 restaurants in major U.S. cities. Foursquare is available from the App Store as a free download.
Google has released an update to Google+ for the iPhone and iPod touch adding support for Instant Upload. First introduced with Google+ for Android, Instant Upload allows users to enable automatic uploading of new photos and videos from their camera roll to a private Google+ album from which they can be viewed and shared. Users will be prompted to enable Instant Upload when first starting the app, and can choose to enable transfers exclusively over Wi-Fi or over either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection; per standard iOS background app limitations, Google+ will only upload photos and videos when the Google+ app is open and continue for a brief time after the app is closed.
The latest version of Google+ for iOS also adds a few other small enhancements including the ability to see who +1’ed a post, access to the What’s Hot stream and the ability to shake the iPhone to bring up a Send Feedback page. The “Incoming” stream has also now been removed from the app, in line with Google’s overall removal of this feature from the Google+ service last month. Google+ requires iOS 4.0 and is available from the App Store as a free download.