Friday 5 — 5.16.2014


Foursquare begets Swarm, a mobile app that enables users to keep up and meet up with their connected friends. The check-in experience is largely the same, but new passive tracking allows for Neighborhood Sharing — which you can enable or disable with a swipe. Techcrunch describes the larger trend represented by Swarm and other invisible apps, as they move from a battle for the real estate...

Friday 5 — 3.28.2014


This week, Facebook acquired virtual reality purveyor Oculus Rift for $2B in cash and stock. This purchase gives the social networking company, which was only two years ago struggling to get its arms around mobile, a leg up in virtual reality hardware. What will they use it for? Gaming’s an obvious first use case, but there’s a big vision opportunity. Semil Shah penned a terrific, if...

Friday 5 — 2.7.2014


Is your app addictive enough to make money? Eric Reiss lists eighteen elements to consider when gauging your app’s ability to engage and retain users. If you’re trying to see what an addictive app looks like, you could do a lot worse than Flappy Bird. This difficult game manages somehow to infuriate and retain users, raking in $50K in revenue per day in the process. QuizUp, the...

Jelly and the visual web


Biz Stone’s new visual Q&A platform called Jelly launched this week. The mobile app lets you use images to pose brief questions to your social network, which is defined rather expansively to include friends of friends on Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly, the site is positioned more for the helpers than for those seeking to crowdsource the help. Have five minutes in line at Starbucks...

IFTTT for the future


Many people in the tech community rely on a canny service called IFTTT. Short for If This, Then That, the service automates conditional statements in our day-to-day lives. For example, if I go the the gym and check in on Foursquare via smartphone, then IFTTT records a workout on my Jawbone Up. These conditional statement “recipes”, a word I am familiar with only from binge-watching Breaking Bad...

Friday 5 — 11.01.2013


Has a Chinese language photo app become the first one to achieve global popularity? This app allows you to snap a selfie and then modify as a cartoon character. Its meteoric rise has prompted some skepticism — can an app with instructions only in Chinese be so popular in Australia, US, and Canada, or are the numbers somehow being gamed? Healthcare.gov remained in the news this week, with more...

Friday 5 — 10.18.2013


Google Ngram Viewer allows you to search and plot words appearing in books from 1800-2008 — and has just rolled out some new features. The new wildcard feature allows you to find which words appear alongside others. Above, I’ve plotted which noun appears most frequently after “social network.” From about 1990 on, the answer is “analysis” as mapping social connections...

Friday 5 — 10.11.2013


How do the words we use segment us by personality, gender, and age? An open vocabulary study of over 700 million Facebook posts by 75,000 volunteers provides a range of insights into attributes associated with language use. As the word cloud shows, men use profanity and talk about xbox far more than women on the social network. Direct messaging, long the neglected stepchild of the Twitter user...

5 apps for self-improvement in 2013


Having survived the near-miss apocalypse, today we’re all turning our calendars over to 2013. Many are pausing for a natural moment of reflection and resolution — all those things we were yesterday will henceforth cease to be, and today we begin again as our newer, better selves. At least until we remember where we hid the cookies. Here are five apps useful to those looking to track...

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