app

New Facebook feature listens in to what you’re doing

facebooklistening

Soon, Facebook won’t have to ask what you’re doing; it’ll just know.

Facebook app users were in an uproar when they discovered the social media giant is releasing a new feature that activates the microphone on their smartphones to listen in on their surroundings. Essentially, the feature was created to use a sound recognition software to determine what TV show or movie a user is watching or what song they’re listening to. However, the simple fact that Facebook would be listening in was a uncomfortable thought to some users, so much so that a petition arose to halt the app from being released in the first place.

Currently, the feature is opt-in only, which means you have the ability to disable it. However, the discomfort for some users still remains.

This isn’t the first time a brand in the technology sector has had the ability to tap into your surroundings. According to Business Insider, Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect feature is always on, watching and listening. Pretty shady stuff right there.  Microsoft announced they are now selling a console without the Kinect option, making it cheaper and less Big Brother.

Of course, one of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind isn’t whether Facebook will continue with the feature. It all comes down to the blurry line of privacy with our smart devices. In an age where technology is advancing at an incredibly rapid rate, will our privacy continue to take the back seat? Will privacy become nonexistent?

What are your thoughts about the latest feature? Leave your comments below.

Advertisements

Foursquare announces new spin-off app

 

swarm logo newwww

The digital horizon looks bright for Foursquare.

The app-based social network announced May 1 that it would be splitting its product into two separate entities: Foursquare and Swarm. While Foursquare will continue to offer users a location-based discovery experience, Swarm will primarily focus on personal connections through proximity.

What does that mean?

It means that Foursquare is on its way to reinventing itself to take out the creep factor and add in the friend element. The main goal of Swarm is to show you which of your friends are in your general area and who is available to make plans with.

We built Swarm because you’ve told us how often you still have to text your friends: “where are you?” and “what are you up to later?” We wanted to build a quick way for you to know these two things for all of your friends,” Foursquare wrote in their official blog. “With Swarm, you can easily see which of your friends are out nearby, figure out who is up for grabbing a drink later, and share what you’re up to (faster and more easily than you can in Foursquare today).”

Here’s a sneak preview, as originally posted on The Verge:

swarm_group

The app will be available for iOS and Android technology toward the end of May. If you want to be notified when the app is ready to download, check out Swarm’s website.

As for Foursquare, the company says it is going through a great transformation:

In the near future, the Foursquare app is also going to go through a metamorphosis. Local search today is like the digital version of browsing through the Yellow Pages (remember those?). We believe local search should be personalized to your tastes and informed by the people you trust. The opinions of actual experts should matter, not just strangers. An app should be able answer questions like ‘give me a great date dinner spot’ and not just ‘tell me the nearest gas station.’ We’re right now putting the final touches on this new, discovery-focused version of Foursquare. It’ll be polished and ready for you later this summer.”

Are you planning on using the Swarm app? Leave us a line in the comments and we may just publish them in a future blog! 

Spritz: New App Could Change Reading Forever

Courtesy of smh.com/au

Courtesy of spritz.com

The simple act of reading a book has already been revolutionized by technology. From the invention of the printing press to audio consoles and e-readers, novels have gotten quite the face lift in recent years.

Now, reading is being re-imagined once again.

Several weeks ago, Boston-based technology company Spritz announced it has been secretly working on a new application for three years which aims to develop speed-reading habits in consumers.

Here’s how it works: According to Spritz, the human eye and brain spends 80% of its energy moving the eyeball to read a sentence. The other 20% of the energy is used to comprehend what is written. Eyes skim over a sentence, comprehending a word based on its Optimal Recognition Point (ORP). The Spritz app highlights this section of the word on the slim screen, called a redicle. The app starts out slow (typically around the average reading speed of 250 words a minute) and can be adjusted to flash words at you at a rate of up to 1,000 words a minute, all without physically moving your eye.

How fast is 1,000 words a minute? Think of it this way: that Harry Potter book sitting on your bookshelf can be finished in just over an hour. Or, you could knock out this article in 22 seconds.

“We’re reinventing the way people read by eliminating the obstacles associated with traditional reading on mobile devices,” said Co-Founder and CEO Frank Waldman in a statement. “As smart devices continue to change shape and become increasingly smaller, Spritz enables users to read comfortably and conveniently. Our technology can be used to read emails, text messages, social media streams, maps or web content and can be integrated onto any mobile device – the options are almost limitless. Reading has never been easier, more efficient or more effective.”

Not only that, but recent studies have shown stronger reading comprehension in those who used the application.

Spritz executives say the new app will be exclusively released for Samsung Galaxy technology, including the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone and Gear 2 smartwatch.

Want a taste of the app? Follow this link and select the button in the top right corner that says “Click to Spritz”.