Welcome to Episode #18 of Seriously Social News for Friday, 19th April 2013.
Twitter have launched a new service for music fans called Twitter Music, Facebook rolls out Chat Heads for their messenger app, Google+ adds features to bloggers, GMail goes down for some users, LinkedIn launch a newly designed app for mobiles, WordPress websites round the round become the target of a huge botnet attack and Microsoft could be doing a U-turn in bringing back the start menu.
Seriously Social News is a short weekly round up on all that is new in the world of social media, the internet and technology. With so much happening in the world of social media and technology, it’s difficult to keep up with the latest news that affects you.
Twitter and Twitter Music
Yesterday, on Thursday 18th April, Twitter launched a new service called Twitter Music. Available on the web and iOS devices, Twitter Music is a music discovery service that allows users to find out similar music to the artists they follow as well as music that the people they follow like. The good news is that Twitter Music integrates with music apps such as Spotify, Rdio, iTunes, SoundCloud, Vevo and YouTube and will allow users to listen to the music streamed through the app. The web app at music.twitter.com was available on Thursday and the iOS app was also available in the Apple App Store for iPhones and iPads in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Twitter Music may well be useful to those Twitter users who follow a lot of celebs and people in the music business, but despite me being a musician myself, Twitter Music was unable to find any music for me. The problem is that Twitter Music is geared towards fairly mainstream music at the moment- particularly as Twitter is in the business of promoting big names. If you have more of an eclectic taste in music like myself you are likely to be out of luck. Another big disappointment is that Twitter is continuing down the iOS-only route with the apps that they develop. Although developing for one mobile platform- and in particular iPhones and iPads is far easier, it wouldn’t be too big a task for a social media giant such as Twitter to develop for more platforms, particularly since the Android market is much bigger than the Apple one. It seems Twitter are turning their backs on the huge number of Android users and to a lesser extend Blackberry and Windows Phones users- first with their video looping app Vine and now Twitter Music. I don’t want to sound too negative about Twitter Music- it’s still very early days- it will be interesting to see where Twitter is going with this and how they are going to make it work for them as a business.
Twitter have expanded their service for advertisers by introducing keyword targeting in Timelines. Keyword targeting has been around for a while, but up until now advertisers have only been able to show their promoted tweets with keyword targeting in search results. Now it is possible for advertisers to allow their tweets to be displayed on users’ timelines. I think we’re going to see a lot more of this kind of thing over the next year as Twitter tries to monetise its platform in the run up to the inevitable IPO.
- Twitter Music Is Finally Here for Normals (Gizmodo)
- Twitter #Music app helps fans discover new tracks (The Guardian)
- Twitter #Music Is Great For Artists; Less So For Fans [Hands On Review] (Read Write)
- Twitter Music Will Integrate with Spotify, Rdio, iTunes, SoundCloud, Vevo, and YouTube, Feature In-App Streaming, and More (The Next Web)
- Twitter Expands Keyword Ad Targeting To User Timelines (Marketing Land)
- Twitter #Music Hands On: A Celeb-Stalking, Music Discovery Dream (Gizmodo)
Facebook have rolled out Chat Heads for the Android messenger app as well as for Apple iPhones and iPads. I mentioned the launch of Facebook’s layer for Android devices called Facebook Home last week, and Chat Heads are one aspect of that. Facebook Chat Heads are round head shots of your friends with which you can interact with no matter which app you are using. With the new messenger app, if a friend sends you a message, their head shot will appear on top whatever app you are currently using. You can choose to interact with them or dismiss them for later. Also this week, Facebook have launched Open Graph for mobile devices which will allow mobile app developers to more easily access the huge amount of information across Facebook’s ecosystem.
Facebook are adding more features to the upgraded timeline with a new groups box- this will show which open groups the Facebook user has joined and a way to show off their interests. It won’t show closed or secret groups but even still it’s something to check as you do a regular privacy and security audit on your Facebook profile just in case you are a member of any open group that you may not want to publicise.
- Facebook Launches Open Graph Mobile, Updated iOS SDK With Improved Login And Sharing (Techcrunch)
- Chat Heads come to Facebook Messenger for Android (The Verge)
- Facebook Updates Its Messenger App for Android, Adding Chat Heads Ahead of ‘Home’ Launch (The Next Web)
- Facebook Home Starts Rolling Out Internationally (All Facebook)
- Hands On With Facebook Chat Heads for iPhone and iPad (Mashable)
- Facebook Adds Groups To Timeline (All Facebook)
- Facebook Launches Cost Per Action For Advertisers (All Facebook)
- Facebook Expands Promoted Posts Option To ‘Everyone’ (All Facebook)
Google, GMail and Google+
Google have have been expanding their social layer, Google+ to more of their services this week by adding the facility of Google+ comments to their blogging platform Blogger. Although not as popular as the likes of WordPress or Tumblr, Blogger is a very popular blogging platform. The commenting system works in a similar way to Facebook comments in that commenters will have the opportunity of their comments appearing on their Google+ posts as well as on the blog itself. Of course it is highly likely that Google are planning on launching this service to the rest of the web at some point soon, so that any website owner will be able to add the Google comments feature to their website.
If you use GMail or Google Apps, you may have noticed another outage on Wednesday- although according to Google apparently less than 0.008% of users were unable to access their email. Amongst the services that were disrupted were GMail, Google Drive and Google Docs. If you or your business relies on these services, do you have a backup plan and use an offline service for storing your email such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple or Windows Mail or an office suite such as Microsoft Office? Although I am a fan of the cloud, I still like to keep my feet on the ground and work on applications on my computer. How about you?
- Google+ Comments Arrive on Blogger To Compete Against Facebook (The Next Web)
- Google Launches Google+ Commenting System For Blogger, Coming To The Rest Of The Web Soon? (Techcrunch)
- Gmail goes down for small number of users, usual panic follows (Ars Technica)
Yesterday, on Thursday, April 18th, LinkedIn launched a new look for their app for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone as well as an updated mobile website. The new design is cleaner and easier to navigate and gives more room for bigger news stories. Like Facebook and Google+, big images are definitely the next “in thing” at the moment! LinkedIn have also finally made it possible to tag people in posts and comments, in fact it is fairly unbelievable that up until now this hasn’t been possible!
- LinkedIn releases redesigned iPhone and Android app with big, bright news stories (The Verge)
- LinkedIn Finally lets users tag each other in posts and comments (The Verge)
WordPress Botnet Attack
WordPress blogs around the world have been targeted this week by hackers. The attack was made possible by a botnet of over 90,000 web servers A botnet is a group of computers or servers that have been taken over and are grouped together- effectively becoming the slaves of the hackers. In this case they were grouped together to guess the passwords of WordPress websites round the world by rapidly trying random passwords in quick succession- what is known as a brute force attack. Many servers and websites were affected- slowing down or crashing and it even made one of the WordPress founders, Matthew Mullenweg, speak out about security. If you do have a WordPress website then do make sure you have a very secure password, but there are many other things you can do. My top recommendations are to limit the number of incorrect attempts to login which will reduce the effectiveness of a brute force attack and to hide the wp-admin folder of your WordPress website. There are quite a few plugins that offer either or both of these facilities, but the one that I recommend is called Better WP Security. If you really want to go all out you can even add a plugin to give you 2 step authentication.
- CloudFlare Blocks 60 Million Brute Force WordPress Attacks in 1 Hour (The Next Web)
- Brute Force Attacks Build WordPress Botnet (Krebs on Security)
- Massive botnet using brute force attack to target WordPress sites (The Verge)
- Hackers Attack 90,000 WordPress Blogs (Mashable)
- Better WP Security Plugin
Microsoft and Windows
I mentioned last week that Microsoft were working on launching two step authentication to secure their services, well it is being launched right now. I’d highly recommend adding this facility if you use any Microsoft accounts such as Outlook, Hotmail or Windows Sky Drive.
There have been more rumours and leaks on Microsoft’s upgrade to Windows 8 which was codenamed Windows Blue and now called Windows 8.1. Despite Microsoft being adamant that the Windows Start Menu had been banished for ever, there are rumours that it could return and also have an option to boot straight to desktop- bypassing the Modern UI or Metro screen. If this is true it would be quite a U-turn and an admission that Windows 8 has not been all that Microsoft hoped for. Having played with Windows 8 for some time now I’m actually fairly pleased with it- it is faster and more responsive. I have added extra functionality with the addition of a 3rd party start menu app and an app that allows the full screen Modern UI apps to run in windows, so whether I could cope solely with the new Modern UI interface I really don’t know.
- Windows 8.1 May Include a ‘Boot to Desktop’ Option (Mashable)
- Windows 8.1 will include boot to desktop option to bypass ‘Metro’ interface (The Verge)
- Windows Blue could restore the Start button, boot straight to the desktop (Ars Technica)
- Outlook.com app for Android overhauled with new UI and features (The Verge)
- New Windows 8.1 leak includes ‘Metro’ file explorer and improved multitasking (The Verge)
- Microsoft Will Finally Offer Two-Step Verification For Your Entire Account (Gizmodo)