It happened to me. Yes, I once uploaded a pic of my friend to Facebook from my phone, forgot to change the setting from “Public” to “Friends” and had the friend get told that day by a random person: “Hey I just saw a picture of you on Alexia from TechCrunch’s wall!” So now I’m circumspect.
Apparently this social media disaster was happening to more people, because Facebook just fixed it — at least on iOS. Android has apparently had the new feature for over a week.
Now iPhone users too are able to easily edit Facebook’s photo privacy settings — by selecting the drop-down arrow on the status update and selecting “Edit Privacy.” Though you still can’t edit the update text or any comments themselves from your iPhone, this is pretty useful. The last time I messed up on a photo privacy setting, I had to access Facebook’s Mobile Web page on a foreign connection to fix it. Not pretty.
In addition to this nod to paranoid people, Facebook iOS Version 6.2 allows users to post the emotion and action updates they’ve come to know and love on the web, including Happy, Sad, Wonderful and, my favorite, Loved.
You can also now start a new conversation with a photo sent to you in messages in Version 6.2, though I don’t think this feature will be remembered enough to see that much traction, unless teenagers are exhibiting some novel group photosharing behaviors on Facebook Message that I don’t know about.
And speaking of Facebook Message, let me take this post about an app update to let you know that a standalone Messenger for iPad is likely not happening, though a trial app was in the works when we reported on it. Basically Messenger was not seeing the growth Facebook hoped for (turns out people don’t want a messenger app PLUS a Facebook app) after Facebook’s primary app became less buggy and slow. So, nixed.
PSA: Update your apps periodically, people.
Second-screen TV app startup GetGlue just keeps on trucking. Originally launched as an app for checking in to your favorite TV shows and collecting stickers, the company has been steadily expanding its business to include content discovery for shows on the iPad or on your TV. Now it’s hoping to better monetize its mobile and tablet apps, and has hired long-time digital media exec Evan Krauss as president to help with that.
Krauss has spent the last 18 years at a variety of entertainment companies, including Yahoo!, AOL, Excite, JumpTap, Looksmart, and Agency.com. His last big position was as EVP of ad sales for Shazam where he helped build out that company’s second screen ad business.
In addition to Krauss, GetGlue also recently hired Shelby Houston Haro as its EVP of sales, coming from Fandango and Flixster. In an email, GetGlue CEO Alex Iskold wrote, “Evan is joining us a President to lead all the aspects of the business, particularly focusing on revenue… With these two hires, we are now serious about building out and scaling our business.”
The hiring of its new sales leaders follows an attempted — and failed — merger between GetGlue and rewards-based TV companion app Viggle. The deal was first announced last November but called off earlier this spring.
Since then, GetGlue has continued to operate independently, trying to boost monetization along the way. No doubt the startup hopes that its new president Krauss will be able to expand its own business with advertisers. The company has been making a bigger push on that front with recent updates to its mobile apps.
That includes the introduction of a new advertising product for brands, networks, and studios called Promoted Entries. That enables networks and advertisers to highlight their products and shows in users’ Guides. Launched with Pepsi during the Super Bowl, the Promoted Entries offering is designed to boost engagement with viewers who are using the app while watching TV. It allows users to share promoted products with friends who also use the app, as well as on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
GetGlue now says it has 4 million registered users, and has accrued more than 800 million data points about what they’re tuning into. The company has worked with more than 75 TV networks and 10 movie studios to promote their content. It’s raised about $24 million since being founded in 2007, with investors including Union Square Ventures, RRE Ventures, Time Warner Investments, and Rho Ventures, among others.
FiftyThree, the startup behind the wildly popular drawing app Paper, has closed a Series A round of financing led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Highline Ventures, Thrive Capital, SV Angels, and Jack Dorsey. The investment was led by Chris Dixon, and could help the company to expand its suite of creative tools for mobile and tablet users.
With the funding, FiftyThree is hoping to expand its current product, launch more apps, and look into hardware, all of which is the continuation of a journey it embarked on a few years ago. After working on projects such as Office, Kinect, Sonos, and the Xbox, as well Microsoft’s own early tablet prototype, Courier, the team came together to create Paper. In doing so, it set out to build a set of tools that would change the way people used the iPad.
The app provided a new outlet for creativity on the tablet. While most initial iPad users thought about it as a tool for content consumption, Paper gave users the ability to be more creative. Since then, the app has been downloaded more than 8 million times and has had more than 80 million projects built on it.
FiftyThree has also received a massive amount of critical acclaim for Paper, winning a number of awards since being launched. Among other things, it’s been honored with Apple’s App Of The Year Award and the Apple Design Award, and even won a Crunchie. It’s also been featured on iPads in Apple Stores as just one of the many apps that are available to prospective owners.
With the latest update to the Paper app, FiftyThree added a “Made With Paper” stream to provide new users and creators with inspiration for the types of projects they can embark upon. But there’s more to do, the team believes. Paper is just the first in what is likely a series of applications and tools that the startup plans to make available.
In a blog post announcing the funding, the team said it wanted to enable more social collaboration for creators which could enable them to work on projects together. It also hopes to build tools that go beyond just expressing oneself on the iPad or other tablets. That includes building hardware to create more physical tools for creation.
“With their partnership we’ll be able to expand our software, service, and hardware teams to take on bigger questions around collaboration and physical creation,” the team wrote.
In a conversation with TechCrunch TV earlier this year (embedded below), the company discussed other creative tools that it could come to market with in the future. One idea is a stylus, which could provide a new type of hardware input for its creators.
While FiftyThree doesn’t need to raise money, according to a blog post by investor Chris Dixon, the company plans to use the funding to accelerate its growth and to go after new opportunities. With the investment from Andreessen Horowitz and others, the company will be expanding its engineering team in New York and Seattle.
There is no shortage of apps on the market to help users find new, interesting videos to watch and enjoy. But video discovery startup Squrl still thinks there’s work to be done. The company just released a new version of its iPhone and iPad app that provides new ways to share with friends and find content that is more personally relevant to them.
The new version of Squrl comes with a big redesign that breaks down the design and puts the content or categories that are most important on the front page of the app. There are now nine options available on the home screen, highlighting Featured videos and What’s Hot, as well as Channels, Recommendations and what users have liked, watched or added to their queues.
The typography has gotten bigger and there are simpler icons to click on. And once users have clicked on a certain icon, that icon changes dynamically to highlight content that viewers will see in that section. That gives a little bit of a preview into what’s available to users.
Those cosmetic changes are designed to simplify navigation throughout the app, but Squrl has done a lot more under the hood to improve recommendations and provide more relevant videos. The app combines the search and customize options so that users can customize the channels from within that screen.
There’s also been a big upgrade to its recommendations engine, which uses collaborative filtering and interest-based matching to serve up videos based on what its users have already watched. The app needs users to watch about four or five videos to get started, but once that’s happened, it creates a stream of videos that should interest viewers.
With the update, Squrl has also made its app more social. While it has always been easy for users to share with their friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, they can now share content and communicate with others within the app, as well. It’s improved the Find Friends feature inside the app, and enabled private messages so that users can share videos and chat privately with each other.
Squrl provides access to videos from a whole bunch of on-demand and live aggregators, including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, TED, Vimeo, Aol, and Blip.tv. Users who want to download the newest version of the app can get it here.
Skype has just announced that the previously beta video messaging feature it’s been testing is now a proper release feature of its Skype applications for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry. Video messaging on Skype simply allows users to record a message for a contact to be viewed later, sort of like a video voicemail, instead of requiring that any real-time communication shenanigans happen.
Asynchronous video is arguably the older form of communication – I can still remember using the parents’ old VHS camcorder to make tapes that we’d later show grandma and grandpa, for instance. But Skype has been slow to integrate it, and it’s possible that the advent of recent startups including Glide, and to some extent Twitter’s Vine, which are focused specifically on time-delayed video broadcasts, have lit a fire under the Microsoft-owned company, lest they get disrupted. Other competing apps like Viber and various messaging platforms have also previously offered the feature.
The video messaging feature had previously been available as a beta feature since February, with a cap on the number of messages in place, and free unlimited use relegated to those with premium subscriptions. Luckily Skype seems not to have seen much value in locking this feature behind a pay wall, unlike its screen sharing option, which is good news for all.
Video messaging scratches an itch that was previously one of the major limitations of video communication, which is, what do you do when the other party isn’t available? All that intent gets lost as you run up against the wall, and consumers are bound to be less inclined to use a service like that should they encounter disappointment. At the very least video messaging offers a way to act on that impulse to connect via video, even if real-time communication isn’t possible or practical.
Skype entering the fray and offering multi-platform support out of the starting gate may put a damper on startups in this space, but we’ll have to see how users respond to this addition to the Skype platform, and whether people think Skype’s implementation is strong enough to replace more feature-rich offerings from Glide and the like.