App developers are always looking for ways to better their products. It seems as if we hear about a new feature or policy change every day. How do we know what changes are out there and how will they affect our everyday computing? We will take a look at the most recent policy changes among popular apps, as well as how you can use them to your advantage.
Whenever there is a policy change on Facebook, it always seems to be accompanied by a maelstrom of controversy. In 2012, social media users created a fracas when they discovered (erroneously) that Facebook was copyrighting their personal information.
There are, however, some recent changes you should know about, and they have nothing to do with stealing your privacy:
- Profile Videos: According to the social media giant, you will soon be able to replace your boring old profile picture with a video loop that lasts up to seven seconds.
- Temporary Profile Pictures: With this new feature, you can set a profile picture temporarily to capture a moment in time and it will automatically revert to your regular picture. For example, if you want to commemorate an anniversary, you can set a wedding shot as your profile picture for the day. Why are they providing these new profile options? According to their press release, “…people use their profile picture to show who they are— even if it’s just for a moment in time. … [Profile pictures] represent what is going on in your life right now and what is important to you, and we want to give people the tools to better express themselves in this way.”
- Mobile Profile Improvements: According to the Pew Research Center, Facebook has more users than any other social networking site in the world, and 60% of those users are on mobile. As a response to this kind of usage, Facebook is integrating a more responsive design to their mobile app. Centering profile pictures and video is currently in beta with some users.
Twitter usage has been stagnant according to the 2015 report of social media usage from Pew Research Center. The site is most popular among millennials, with 30% of internet users under the age of 50 engaged in activity. In response to this, Twitter is deviating from its characteristic 140 character formula. While there is some debate about the wisdom of this move, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has expressed on multiple occasions how important it is for Twitter to appeal to the mainstream.
Since Dorsey took the helm, the struggling social media site has attempted to implement several changes, none to great effect. For example, in April the company attempted to loosen the strict 140 character limit with an option to “retweet with comment.” In June, they excluded private messaging from the limit.
The real question is if adding a long form option will actually work to combat Twitter’s lagging usage. Facebook and LinkedIn already have domain in this area, so it is uncertain if it would actually be advantageous for Twitter to pursue this avenue. As of this writing, there is no official unveiling date for long form communication.
Twitter also announced it would be unveiling a new feature it calls “Moments.” It is essentially a tab that will be available via your homepage, and when clicked, will draw you to the top stories of the day. Not unlike Facebook’s “trending” feature, an editorial team will be able to track in real time which tweets are going viral and will curate a collection of the best to show viewers. Unlike Facebook’s feature, however, Twitter will take a magazine-style aesthetic to their Moments page. News will be divided by politics, world events, business, and personal interest stories. And instead of linking you to articles, you will be linked to tweets that sum up the information for you.
Stories can be favorited or re-tweeted, or you can follow conversations by using hashtags. The Twitter team hopes this foray into the media realm will encourage more users to join the tweet-o-verse without having to learn the eccentricities that keep Twitter from the mainstream.
The forum-based website has come under fire recently for its reputation in spreading hate. The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement in March that it breeds content more vile than that of a website started by an Alabama Klan leader. Critics of the site have commented that it has become a safe haven for misogynists and racists, and this reputation is having a drastic effect on Reddit’s business. In response, the website launched a new, comment-free site they call Upvoted.
The new project, launched in October 2015 is much like Buzzfeed, who currently gets much of its content from Reddit. Unlike its predecessor, however, Upvoted does not allow commenting on its stories. This is in response to the public outcry launched this summer. The Silicon Valley tech firm hopes that this move will heal Reddit’s ailing reputation.
Last Summer, the internet’s most popular photo entity recently announced that it would be thinking outside the box – the square box, that is.
In fact Instagram then proceeded with offering support to landscape and portrait designs. One of the reasons for breaking the mold from its iconic square design has to do with Instagram’s video capabilities, which are fairly new. While filters used to be separate for photo and video, now you can apply all filters to every type of media.
Instagram celebrated its 5th anniversary with 400 million users positioned around the globe. Since its inception, Instagram has grown to be the second most popular social media site, trailing only its parent company, Facebook. Since its purchase in 2012, growth of the photo site has doubled. With this move, Instagram hopes to elicit more followers who have been holding back because of its square limitations.
Instagram is also planning on making some improvements to its Instagram Direct platform, which is akin to Facebook messenger. Users will still be able to share moments with individuals or small groups privately but with better ease of use. Instead of creating a new conversation for every share, users will be able to create threaded conversations with friends and family to create longer conversations with sharable moments. They have also added emoji functions for when, according a press release of theirs, “there are just no words.”
Despite these changes, Instagram says their privacy settings are remaining the same. Per usual, the photos and videos you send via Direct will only be visible to those you choose. The improvements made to Direct are only meant to make the conversation more fluid and make it easier to connect to those you share with frequently.
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in the intersection between UX and UI Design, then consider to take the online course UI Design Patterns for Successful Software and alternatively Design Thinking: The Beginner’s Guide. If, on the other hand, you want to brush up on the basics of UX and Usability, you might take the online course on User Experience (or another design topic). Good luck on your learning journey!
(Lead image: Depositphotos)