morningbuzz

VR, London Mass Transit, Qatar Airport, More: Friday Buzz, June 10, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

This should be interesting: Valve has released a new tool to make VR “destinations”. “Valve is releasing a new tool to let designers create and share VR ‘destinations’ on Steam. The software will be available under the gaming platform’s Early Access scheme from June 9th, and supports both the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. It allows designers to create VR locations, either stitched together from real-life photographs (a technique known as photogrammetry) or 3D models. Users can add sound and interactive elements to the locations, but the resulting locations are still quite basic, with more in common with Google Street View than full VR game environments.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Twitter and Transport for London are teaming up to make it easy to get mass transit alerts. “To opt in, customers just need to visit the website and select the lines for which they would like information. They can also tailor their notifications by selecting the time periods that they would like to receive alerts, meaning they can avoid unnecessary alerts outside of commuting hours or at weekends if they don’t need them.”

Is it just me or is Google Street View doing more airports all of a sudden? “Hamad International Airport (HIA) announced the launch of Google’s 360-degree street view imagery of Qatar’s state-of-the-art airport as part of its digital strategy…. Today, anyone with an internet connection can explore the airport’s facilities within its 600,000 square meter terminal including Qatar Duty Free, its premium shopping emporium, the iconic Lamp Bear and various other art installations in the airport and all services offered within its five concourses.”

Google is apparently changing its revenue sharing with Android developers. “So earlier we reported that Apple has plans to improve revenue sharing with developers through a subscription model, where developers who successfully get users to subscribe for a year will see revenue sharing improve from 30/70 to 15/85. Now according to a report from Recode, it looks like Google has similar plans as well.”

Is Facebook testing a design that would drop right rail ads? “…these right-rail ads aren’t super-important to Facebook’s business, considering that they’re desktop-only and Facebook’s audience and business is mobile-heavy. In the first quarter of 2016, Facebook’s desktop ad revenue grew by five percent year over year to $936.2 million, but its contribution to Facebook’s overall ad revenue dropped to 18 percent — a result of fewer total desktop ad impressions being served in the quarter — with the remaining 82 percent of its ad revenue coming from mobile ads.”

The Twitter app for Android has gotten an update. Rather unusually, it’s being rolled out to everyone at once.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Want to know why I keep making noises about nontransparent search algorithms and the problems they might cause? Here ya go. “A simple Google image search highlighted on Twitter has been said to highlight the pervasiveness of racial bias and media profiling. ‘Three black teenagers’ was a trending search on Google on Thursday after a US high school student pointed out the stark difference in results for ‘three black teenagers’ and ‘three white teenagers’.”

The very small country of Guyana has created its own version of Facebook Free Basics — without Facebook being involved! “Last week a local mobile operator, GTT, announced it would let users with data plans access Facebook and WhatsApp at no cost. This treatment of the data, known as ‘zero rating,’ would be accompanied by free access for any GTT user, even those without data plans, to 20 websites selected by the operator. The plan’s name? ‘Free Basic 4G Services.'”

Zuck will host his own Facebook Live next week. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will take advantage of his social network’s new tool — Facebook Live — to interact with users next week. It will be the first time Zuckerberg has used Facebook Live to host one of his regular town hall sessions.”

Twitter is getting yet another head of product. “[Jeff] Seibert was the fourth person to run Twitter’s core product since early 2014. He took over the day-to-day consumer product responsibilities from then-VP of Product Kevin Weil, who would later move on to take the same role at Instagram as part of a massive executive exodus from Twitter in January. Seibert’s appointment was the first major restructuring move by CEO Jack Dorsey, who was still technically ‘interim’ CEO at the time.”

Awww. I don’t think the Google car looks like an ugly potato.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

It looks like there’s been a leak of Twitter passwords — but not because Twitter was hacked. “Based on information in the data (including the fact that many of the passwords are displayed in plaintext), LeakedSource believes that the user credentials were collected by malware infecting browsers like Firefox or Chrome rather than stolen directly from Twitter. Many of the affected users appear to be in Russia—six of the top 10 email domains represented in the database are Russian, including mail.ru and yandex.ru.” Good morning, Internet…

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