Facebook taps Uber in effort to compete with Asian all-purpose chat apps

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Messenger to let users call for an Uber soon.

Instead of the relatively simple programs that Americans use to send messages and photos to friends, popular Asian services like WeChat have become digital Swiss Army knives: People can use them to hail a car, shop for games, buy virtual stickers to send to friends and even shop for physical goods. Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it is testing a service that will allow users of its Messenger app to hail Uber rides directly from the app, without leaving a conversation or downloading the ride-hailing app.The ride sharing company revealed in a blog post that it is the first partner for the Transportation on Messenger service, which will initially be rolled out in the United States 2. But recently, Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has begun to emulate its Asian rivals, making its Messenger service — with 700 million users — more of an all-purpose platform. WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade on Wednesday, signalling faith that the US economy had largely overcome the wounds of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. 3.

WASHINGTON — A big jump in apartment construction in the US Midwest and South boosted the pace of homebuilding in November, marking a solid bounce back after tumbling in October. 5. Users can hail a ride in the latest version of Messenger by choosing “transportation” from a menu or by tapping on a car icon within a chat. “Facebook is looking at this as a way to make Messenger more attractive,” Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader of Gartner said. In a group chat, users get an alert that you’ve ordered a ride, and if you wish, you can share a map of your ride location—so your friends or coworkers are sure you’re really on your way to dinner or that crucial business meeting. LONDON — Donald Trump has denounced the Scottish government as “foolish, small minded and parochial” after the US Republican presidential front runner lost a long-running legal battle. 6. MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government to suspend Russia’s free trade zone with Ukraine from January 1, as Kiev seeks closer ties with the European Union. 7.

The new feature comes as Messenger moves deeper into its mission to morph from a mere messaging service into a platform on which other developers build their services. BERLIN — Volkswagen will suspend production at its small showcase factory in the German city of Dresden next year as the carmaker alters its model strategy to cut costs in the wake of the emissions test scandal. 8.

International expansion is planned for later. “A lot of the plans that you are making with friends and family are happening through Messenger,” David Marcus, vice president for messaging products at Facebook, said in an interview. “When people come together, there is always a need to request transportation. Still, the internet giant is playing catch up with Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd’s messaging app WeChat, which has offered similar services much earlier. Facebook first signaled its intentions when the company cut off the ability for users to message in its core app over a year ago—forcing frustrated users to download the Facebook Messenger separately. JOHANNESBURG — Thousands of marchers have demanded President Jacob Zuma step down in rallies across South Africa, blaming him for a week of financial turmoil triggered by his sacking of the finance minister. 9.

The company swiftly made moves to open Messenger to outside developers (Giphy on Messenger, anyone?) and launched Business on Messenger, which lets businesses send receipts, notify customers when packages ship, and provide basic customer service all within the app. TOKYO — Japan’s ruling coalition has endorsed an $US8 billion ($A11.13 billion) exemption in a planned sales tax hike, a move widely seen as a bid to lure voters in upper house polls next year. In March, it began allowing developers to write small apps that could be included in Messenger, although most of them are variations on emojis and selfies.

Facebook is even experimenting with an artificial intelligence-powered personal assistant called M that can address (almost any) task a Facebook user puts it up to. Over the next few days, Facebook will be updating its app so that existing Uber users can connect their accounts to Messenger and request rides from inside conversations in the app. Made by Tencent, a Chinese gaming and e-commerce conglomerate, WeChat bundles many services, including games and shopping, and new ones are being added every day. Group messages are a main attraction, as are recorded voice messages that can be sent like texts, and many companies use the service for business discussions.

Instead, their strategy has been to make the number of people who use the app as large as possible and make money on extra services, like games or stickers. More than 650 million people regularly use WeChat every month, and the service averages $7 in annual revenue per user on its network, according to estimates from the research firm Nomura. In China, consumers use WeChat to accomplish everything from booking a train ticket to getting their laundry done to, yes, ordering a car (likely from Didi Kuaidi, the biggest competitor to Uber in the country). Scott Nelson, head of North America for Viber, a chat service owned by Japanese retail giant Rakuten, said every messaging service was trying to find its own formula.

Nelson said messaging apps must find the right balance between simplicity and providing the features that users want — something that may vary by country. “You’ve got to be light and nimble,” he said. “That being said, there is a place for a few things here and there that make the end user’s life easier.” “They can add taxis, they can add banks,” he said. According to company representatives, that’s so you don’t have to re-enter it when you’re browsing other parts of Facebook, for instance, its Everlane shopping platform. For Uber’s part, the company said it’s exploring the possibility of live Uber support from real humans through Messenger, a function that’s strongly reminiscent of Facebook’s personal assistant M.

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Facebook Video Swaps Flash for HTML5

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook abandons Flash video.

“From development velocity to accessibility features, HTML5 offers a lot of benefits. Facebook has stopped using Adobe Flash technology to show videos across the social network, instead moving its support to the now widely used HTML5 technology. Moving to HTML5 best enables us to continue to innovate quickly and at scale, given Facebook’s large size and complex needs,” said the firm’s front-end engineer Daniel Baulig. “We are continuing to work together with Adobe to deliver a reliable and secure Flash experience for games on our platform, but have shipped the change for video to all browsers by default.” The move will come as quite a blow for Adobe’s Flash platform, which has been used online for over 10 years. Adobe’s Flash has been gradually phased out by many websites as a means of playing videos – with many seeing it as a security issue as bugs within the software have been exploited by cyber criminals in the past.

Flash Player, either as an app or plug-in for the browser, became an essential installation for anyone who wanted to see multimedia content or watch video online, but the need for it is slowly fading and Facebook’s decision to change could be the final nail in the coffin. In a damning indictment of the much maligned Flash, Daniel Baulig, engineer at Facebook, said: “Not only did launching the HTML5 video player make development easier, but it also improved the video experience for people on Facebook.

Google stopped supporting Flash in its Chrome browser earlier this year, while Amazon recently declared a ban on Flash in advertising content on its site. Daniel Baulig, a front-end developer at Facebook, said the switch to HTML5 had helped the social media giant speed up the development of its video-handling system.

People like, comment and share more on videos after the switch, and users have been reporting fewer bugs,” Baulig added. “People appear to be spending more time with video because of it. Like Microsoft with Windows XP, Adobe has been trying to migrate companies away from using its own tools while putting out fires left, right and centre.

For Facebook users it will be business as usual, for the most part, just a little faster and without having to worry about vulnerabilities in an ageing outdated video system.

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