Inside Facebook Home and Google’s Star Trek dream: top stories you should read

Facebook Home coverfeed

Facebook Home coverfeed

So you thought Glass was a crazy ambition? Google has something else up its sleeve: it’s trying to replicate a gadget previously only glimpsed by sci fi fans. But while the tech giant has its eye on the future, Facebook is focusing on your friends and your phone, if its recent Home launch is any indication. Your friends are also important to TV networks, who want as many viewers as possible so they can bundle in ads and programming and make a serious profit. But are friends and followers a reliable metric for measuring interest levels on social media?

Confused? It’ll all make sense after you read this instalment of some of the top tech stories on the web.

The second coming of Facebook

Facebook’s renewed focus on mobile is no secret — but while users were giving their apps one star reviews and critics cried about the stock price, what was going on at Menlo Park? CNN sheds light on the social network’s decisions to kill its HTML5 apps in favour of native ones, as well as the genesis of Facebook Home and the decisions that Zuckerberg made that contradicted his own instincts.

Where no search engine has gone before

It seems Google may have a bit of a Star Trek thing. No, the Googlers aren’t just fans — they’re actually trying to build a system like dear old Captain Kirk used. It’s the ideal. Google Now, Knowledge Graph and its focus on voice-controlled search are all just steps towards creating an intelligent system that understands natural language and gives you answers, instead of links to answers. But how far has it still got to go?

More cracks undermine the citadel of TV profits

For years, it was all about bundling. You liked a song, but you had to buy the whole album. You wanted to watch a channel, so you had to cough up the cash for a bouquet option full of other rubbish you wouldn’t watch. Advertisers were charged for slots in programmes that reached people which may have included their target audience. But that’s all changing, as targeted ads and selective viewing are on the rise. In this column, the New York Times’ David Carr considers the implication this has for companies who profited off all those delightful bundled inefficiencies.

Talking heads: how a late-night hack turned into Facebook’s next big thing

Ah, chatheads. The strange little clingy circles are a major part of Facebook Home and just landed on its iOS app too, but how did they come about? The Verge chats to product designers Brandon Walkin and Joey Flynn (a.k.a. the bored employee ignoring Zuckerberg in Facebook’s latest ad) about the ideas behind the feature, and investigates Facebook’s renewed focus on messaging and tendency to copy popular apps.

Tech is letting go of the follower count

It used to be all about the likes and followers, but it seems a new metric is becoming more important: engagement. While many social media sites use a number to suggest your worth and popularity, a few are starting to move away and considering different options in the age of high numbers of fake followers and spam accounts. But if you don’t focus on followers, how do you measure interest?



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