Posts with «social & online media» label

Twitter is working to stop tweets from disappearing as you read them

Twitter plans to address a longstanding complaint people have had with its mobile app. If you use the software frequently, you may have noticed tweets will sometimes disappear from view just as you’re partway through reading one. You see this happen when your timeline refreshes and it happens most often when there are a lot of people replying to a single tweet.

Let’s talk about Tweets disappearing from view mid-read when the timeline seems to auto-refresh. We know it’s a frustrating experience, so we’re working on changing it.

Over the next two months, we’ll be rolling out updates to the way we show you Tweets so they don't disappear.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) September 22, 2021

“We know it’s a frustrating experience, so we’re working on changing it,” the company said, adding that it plans to roll out a variety of updates over the next two months to address the issue. Twitter didn’t detail what those changes will look like but promised they will keep your timeline fresh while preventing tweets from disappearing as you’re reading them.

Twitter has been iterating on new features at an increased clip in recent months. For instance, the company recently said it would begin testing a tool for removing followers sometime this month. Twitter also recently began rolling its Communities feature to users.

Discord tests YouTube integration following music bot crackdown

Discord has started testing a feature called Watch Together that allows users to create playlists of YouTube videos they can then watch directly on the chat platform. First spotted by The Verge, the feature is only available to friends and family servers at the moment. However, the company reportedly plans to roll it out to the broader Discord community by the end of October. Users can add a video to the server queue either by searching directly through the included interface or pasting a link from YouTube.

Discord didn't have much to say about the test when we reached out to the company. "As a company founded in innovation, we're always experimenting and building things we believe our users will enjoy," a Discord spokesperson told Engadget. "We don't have anything more to share right now, but stay tuned."

However, the integration comes just weeks after YouTube sent cease and desist letters to Groovy Bot and Rythm, two of the most popular tools for playing music from YouTube, Spotify and other streaming services directly over Discord. The move forced both apps to shut down. As The Verge points out, the company tested a feature similar to Watch Together toward the start of the year, but ended up shelving it temporarily before bringing it back this week. The company appears to have reprioritized development on the feature following the shutdown of Groovy Bot and Rythm.

YouTube is testing video downloads on computers

There's no shortage of ways to capture YouTube videos on the web. Take your pick of dangerous websites, or just go old-school and record a video of your desktop. Now, YouTube is finally offering a simpler solution for computer users: A download button. As Android Police reports, it's currently available as an experimental feature for Premium subscribers. That's not a huge surprise, as YouTube already offers mobile video downloads for subscribers too. 

Once you've flipped it on, you'll see a download button right next to the share option below videos, or alongside the three dot menu when browsing. After downloading a video, it gets placed in your offline YouTube library. You can choose to grab videos in resolutions from 144p to 1080p — sorry, 4K fanatics. At this point, there doesn't appear to be any size limit, aside from your available storage.

From my quick tests, the feature works as advertised on Safari and Chrome. Personally, it's not something I'd use as often as mobile downloads, but it's a nice option to have for future trips.

Netflix is acquiring the rights to Roald Dahl's books

Netflix is acquiring the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC) and rights to the author's entire catalog, including classics like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, the company announced. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed (and are subject to regulatory approval), but three years ago Netflix paid "nine figures" for the rights to 16 of Dahl's works, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In any event, it likely represents one of Netflix's largest acquisitions to date. 

News of the acquisition started bubbling up yesterday following a Bloomberg report. Netflix has big plans for Dahl's works, including "the creation of a unique universe across animated and live actions films and TV, publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theater, consumer products and more," wrote Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos and RDSC managing director (and Dahl's grandson) Luke Kelly. 

Excited to announce that the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC) and Netflix are joining forces to bring some of the world's most loved stories to current and future fans in creative new ways.

“We are now about to visit the most marvellous places and see the most wonderful things.”

— Netflix (@netflix) September 22, 2021

The companies revealed that director Taika Waititi and screenwriter Phil Johnston are working on a series based on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory world. Netflix is also working with Sony and Working Title on an adaptation of Matilda The Musical

The acquisition appears to go well beyond Netflix's past content deals, in which it simply licensed content from others. It famously did so with Marvel, then ended up canceling Daredevil and other Marvel shows when it couldn't come to terms with Disney, which was planning at the time to launch rival service Disney+. 

With Roald Dahl's catalog, it promises to "bring these timeless tales to more audiences in new formats... [while] maintaining their unique spirit and their universal themes of surprise and kindness," Sarandos and Dahl wrote. "These stories and their messages of the power and possibility of young people have never felt more pertinent." Last year, the company issued an apology on its website for Dahl's history of antisemitic statements, as Bloomberg noted.  

'Beat Saber' gets a $13 Billie Eilish track pack with 'Bad Guy' and 'Bury a Friend'

Facebook has just released a Billie Eilish pack for Beat Saber. Priced at $13 for the entire collection, the pack features 10 songs, including fan-favorites like “Bury a Friend” and “Bad Guy.” It also comes with a new environment inspired by Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” music video. If you want to buy specific tracks, you can do so for $2 per song. The DLC is available on Oculus Quest, Rift, PSVR and SteamVR headsets. 

If you own an Oculus headset, you can also look forward to watching the singer’s upcoming Governors Ball performance when it’s livestreamed through the platform’s Venues app on September 24th. Facebook acquired Beat Saber creator Beat Games in 2019. Since then, the company has used its robust music licensing deals to bring paid content from all sorts of artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Linkin Park and others. 

Facebook has a new policy for fighting 'coordinated social harm'

Facebook has announced a new policy that allows it to take out networks of accounts engaging in “coordinated social harm.” The company said the change could help the platform fight harmful behavior it wouldn’t otherwise be able to fully address under its existing rules.

Unlike “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” which is Facebook’s policy for dealing with harm that comes from networks of fake accounts, coordinated social harm gives the company a framework to address harmful actions from legitimate accounts. During a call with reporters, the company’s head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher said the policy is necessary because bad actors are increasingly trying to “blur the lines” between authentic and inauthentic behavior.

“We are seeing groups that pose a risk of significant social harm, that also engage in violations on our platform, but don't necessarily rise to the level for either of those where we’d enforce against for inauthenticity under CIB [coordinated inauthentic behavior] or under our dangerous organizations policy,” Gleicher said. “So this protocol is designed to capture these groups that are sort of in between spaces.”

Gleicher added that the new protocols could help Facebook address networks of accounts spreading anti-vaccine misinformation or groups trying to organize political violence. In announcing the change, Facebook said it took down a small network of accounts in Germany that were linked to the “Querdenken” movement, which has spread conspiracy theories about the country COVID-19 restrictions and has been “linked to off-platform violence.”

Facebook said it could take “a range of actions” in enforcing its new rules around coordinated social harm. That could include banning accounts — as it did with the “Querdenken” movement — or throttling their reach to prevent content from spreading as widely.

The issue of how to handle groups that break Facebook’s rules in a coordinated way has been a difficult one for the company, which up until now has primarily focused on taking down networks that rely on fake accounts to manipulate its platform. The issue came up earlier this year following the January 6th insurrection as Facebook investigated the “Stop the Steal” movement. According to an internal report obtained by BuzzFeed News, Facebook employees suggested its existing policies weren’t equipped to handle “inherently harmful” coordination by legitimate accounts, which prevented it from realizing “Stop the Steal” was a “cohesive movement” until it was too late.

During a press call, Gleicher said that the “work on this policy started well before January 6th.” But he added that the company’s work against high-profile groups had informed their decision making. “If you think about our enforcement against QAnon-related actors, if you think about our enforcement against ‘Stop the Steal,’ if you think about our enforcement against other groups — we learned from all of them.”

Instagram is internally testing a feature that'll show some people higher in its feed

Instagram is working on a tool that could give people more control over its famously obtuse feed algorithm. Mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi recently shared screenshots of an in-development feature called Favorites. Those images suggest the tool will allow you to add friends, family members and creators to a list of accounts you want the software to prioritize when you’re scrolling through your feed.

#Instagram is working on "Favorites" 👀

ℹ️ Posts from your favorites are shown higher in feed.

— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) September 9, 2021

Since Instagram switched from a chronological feed to an algorithmic one back in 2016, people have consistently complained the app doesn’t do an adequate job of showing them the images and videos they want to see the most. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tried to speak to those concerns recently when he wrote a blog post about how the platform's various algorithms work. Currently, the feed algorithm tends to look at the popularity of a post, in addition to your recent activity and history of interacting with someone, when deciding how to prioritize the content it shows you.

It’s unclear if Favorites will become an official feature within Instagram. A spokesperson for Instagram told Engadget the company is currently testing the tool internally but offered no further details on when we might see an external test, if at all.

Facebook's first smart glasses are the Ray-Ban Stories

Facebook's first foray into the world of smart glasses is here. Confusingly dubbed Ray-Ban Stories, they start at $299 and bring together much of the technology we've already seen in smart eyewear. They'll let you take first-person photos and videos on the go, like Snap's Spectacles. And, similar to Bose and Amazon's speaker-equipped glasses, you'll be able to listen to media, as well as take calls.

But what's most impressive is that Facebook and Ray-Ban owner Luxottica have crammed the hardware components into frames that look and feel almost exactly like a pair of typical designer glasses. The only difference is that the pair of cameras mounted along the corners. 

The Ray-Ban Stories in the iconic Wayfarer style — those chunky '50s-era frames that still look fashionable today — weigh just five grams more than the standard version. And that's including its dual 5-megapixel cameras, Snapdragon processor, touchpad, speakers, three-microphone array and other hardware. I'll be honest, I was a bit shocked when I learned how much they weighed. We're used to smart glasses being thick and heavy, even when they're coming from major brands like Bose. The Ray-Ban Stories look, well, normal.

I suppose that shouldn't be too surprising, though, as both Facebook and Ray-Ban ultimately want to normalize smart frames to the point where they're as common as wireless earbuds. That also helps the companies avoid the mistake Google made with Glass: Those things looked so alien and Borg-like that they were almost instantly reviled. 

Ray-Ban and Facebook

Privacy remains a concern with all smart glasses, though. The Ray-Ban Stories have a bright LED that lights up when you're taking photos and video, but I could see many people taking issue with the subtle camera placement. We're all used to people capturing everything with their smartphones these days, but doing so still requires more effort than tapping your glasses or issuing a voice command to an all-seeing social network. 

If Facebook can successfully deliver the first smart glasses that don't make the wearer feel like a joke, and which the general public doesn't want to throw in a fire, it could gain a serious foothold in the augmented reality market. And, well, we know how much Mark Zuckerberg wants to transform it into a "metaverse company." 

In addition to the Wayfarer style, Ray-Ban Stories will be available in the brand's Round and Meteor frames, five different colors, and your typical array of lenses: Clear, sun, prescription, transition and polarized. I'm surprised Ray-Ban isn't offering polarized sunglass lenses by default though, which can reduce glare far better than lenses that are just tinted dark. As for battery life, Facebook claims the Ray-Ban Stories will last for around a day of use (around three hours of audio streaming), while the bundled charging case adds another three days of use.

As ambitious as they may seem, Ray-Ban Stories are also yet another example of how Facebook seemingly can't help but imitate Snapchat, which has been dabbling in smart glasses since 2016. Even their name hearkens back to the social story format that Snap kicked off and was later copied by Facebook, Instagram and pretty much every other social media outfit. But at this point, I don't think Facebook cares if everyone calls them copycats if it ultimately leads to more engagement.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

After testing out the Ray-Ban Stories for a few days, I found them far more compelling than any smart glasses today. They don't look as goofy as the Snap Spectacles, and they're far more comfortable to wear than Bose and Amazon's Frames. I could only use the Stories in limited situations though, since I need prescription lenses to actually see well.

Video quality is surprisingly good, very stable even when I’m moving around. The best use case is being able to record your kids without picking up a phone

— Devindra Hardawar (@Devindra) September 9, 2021

Still, I was surprised by how smooth video footage looked; it reminded me of YouTube professionals like J. Kenji Lopez-Alt who use head-mounted GoPros. It was also nice to have both hands free to capture fleeting moments of play with my daughter. I was less impressed with the Stories' photo quality, but I suppose it could be useful if you wanted to take a pic without pulling out your phone. You can import your photos and videos from the smart glasses into Facebook View, a new app that lets you quickly edit your media and share it to practically every social media site (yes, even Snapchat!).

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

While I didn't expect much when it comes to audio playback, the Stories surprised me with sound that was good enough for listening to light tunes or podcasts. I could see them being particularly useful while jogging or biking outdoors, where you want to maintain situational awareness. During the day, I'm never too far from my wireless earbuds, but being able to get a bit of audio from my glasses in a pinch could be genuinely useful.

To control the Ray-Ban Stories, you can either invoke the Facebook assistant by saying "Hey Facebook" or by tapping the button on the right arm, or swiping on the side touchpad. Personally, I never want to be caught in public talking to Facebook, so I mostly relied on touch controls. But the voice controls worked just fine during the few occasions when nobody could hear my shame.

Ray-Ban and Facebook

While they're not exactly perfect, the Ray-Ban Stories are the first smart glasses I'd recommend to someone looking for a pair. But the Facebook of it all is still concerning. While the company says the glasses will only collect basic information to be functional — things like the battery level, your Facebook login and Wi-Fi details — who knows how that'll change as its future smart glasses become more fully featured. Perhaps that's why there's no Facebook branding on the Ray-Ban Stories case and frames: It's probably better if people forget these are also Facebook-powered products.

You'll be able to buy Ray-Ban Stories today in 20 different styles in the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy and the UK. Even though the Ray-Ban Stories may seem to have limited availability right now, Facebook and Luxottica have a multi-year partnership that will result in even more products. It's likely that true AR glasses, which can display information on your lenses, aren't far off. And you can be sure of that, since Snapchat has already shown off its own AR Spectacles

Twitter tests four new emoji Tweet reactions alongside 'Like'

Other than some developer tests, Twitter has only ever offered you one way to react to tweets: the classic heart "Like" emoji and prior to 2015, the "Favorite" star button. Now, the social media network might be finally expanding that range as it's testing a new feature called "Reactions" with additional emoji over the coming days. 

In Turkey only for a limited time, the company is testing four new emojis on top of the heart icon: 😂, 🤔, 👏 and 😢, aka "tears of joy," "thinking face," "clapping hands" and "crying face." Back in 2015, Twitter tested a wider variety including the the "100," "heart eyes" and other emoji. However, this time it wanted to "find emoji that are universally recognizable and represent what people want to express about Tweets," the company said.


Twitter narrowed it down to those additional four after conducting surveys and researching what the most common words and emoji are in Tweets. It found that the most popular one is the laughing emoji, and that people want to express reactions centered around "funny," "support/cheer," "agreement" and "awesome." It also identified "entertained" and "curious" as the top emotions people feel when reading tweets.

Its surveys also revealed that "frustration" and "anger" were common emotions experienced by users. While some people wanted to express disagreement with Tweets, the company decided not to incorporate that. Rather, it's trying to see if the new, more positive emoji will drive "healthy public conversations." It's also likely related to the high levels of polarization and toxicity on the site, something that Twitter has been keen to reduce over the past several years.

More specifically, Twitter said that reactions will help people better show how they feel in conversations "while also giving those Tweeting a better understanding of how their Tweets are received." The new reactions will be available in Turkey only for a limited time on Twitter for iOS, Android and the web over the coming days. However, it added that "based on this test, we may expand the availability of the Reactions experiment to other regions."

Twitter starts rolling out Communities, it's dedicated space for groups

After 15 years, Twitter is getting dedicated features for groups. The company is now starting to test Communities, “a more intimate space for conversations” on the platform.

Communities, which the company first teased back in February, are sort of like Twitter’s version of a subreddit or a public-facing group on Facebook. Communities are dedicated to specific topics, and members can post tweets to a dedicated group timeline. Each community has its own moderators who set rules for the group, and users must be invited by an existing member or moderator to participate.

The feature is meant to address what’s been a long-running issue for the platform: that it can be incredibly difficult for new users to wade through the noise and find the corner of Twitter that speaks to their interests. The company has tried to address this with Topics, which injects tweets into your timeline based on your interests, but Communities takes the idea a step further.


Twitter notes that some of its first Communities will focus on popular topics like skincare, astrology, sneakers and dogs, but that over time it expects the groups to reflect the more “niche discussions” that happen on the platform. For now, Twitter is starting with just a handful of Communities, though moderators and members are able to invite anyone to join. The company says it plans to open up the feature for more users to create Communities in the “coming months.”

Notably, Twitter seems to be trying to avoid some of the issues that have plagued Facebook’s Groups. All Communities are publicly accessible and viewable by anyone on the platform —there’s no such thing as a private or “secret” Community — though only members can participate in the discussion directly. Like Reddit and Facebook, Twitter will also rely on admins and moderators to steer the day-to-day conversations and keep members in check. The company is also working on new reporting and detection features to weed out “potentially problematic” groups that may spring up.

Though the company is calling the feature a test, Twitter seems to be quite serious about its potential. Communities is getting its own tab in the center of Twitter’s app, between explore and notifications, which suggests the company plans for Communities to be a prominent feature of its platform for the long term.