My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Facebook launches Nearby Friends feature - WhatsApp VoIP and Oculus Rift VR Wearable Computing Takes flight as FB look towards the Future in the Year of the Horse

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Facebook launches Nearby Friends feature - WhatsApp VoIP and Oculus Rift VR Wearable Computing Takes flight as FB look towards the Future in the Year of the Horse

As we await news of Facebook’s Paper, a News Feed Tab that carries News from official Journalistic Sources on the Internet as described in my Geezam Blog article entitled “Facebook adds Trending Topics with Paper coming to make reading the News easier”, Facebook is casting it’s eye back into LBS (Location Based Services) FourSquare’s domain.

This time it’s with a new LBS feature for its Mobile App called Nearby Friends as described in “Facebook adds new Nearby Friends feature to engage mobile users”, published April 17, 2014 10:03 AM PDT by Richard Nieva, CNET News and “FACEBOOK WILL SOON LET YOU SHARE YOUR EXACT LOCATION WITH NEARBY FRIENDS”, published April 17, 2014 By Christian Brazil Bautista, DigitalTrends.

As should be expected Facebook does indeed plan to sell your information to advertisers for money, again a Foursquare-cloned idea, albeit the timeline for when this’ll happen isn’t clear yet as stated in “Facebook to share ads based on location history with advertisers - but won't say when”, published April 18, 2014 3:00 PM PDT, by Jennifer Van Grove, CNET News.

Nearby Friends is based on the software of a Chicago-based company Facebook had gobbled up way back in May 2012 called Glancee as stated in “Facebook acquires 'social discovery' service Glancee”, published May 5, 2012 9:29 AM PDT by Edward  Moyer, CNET News. Founded by Andrea Vacarri who stayed on to become Nearby Friends Project Manager, Glancee was bought at a time when Facebook also had purchased Instagram.

This feature tells you if any of your friends are nearby, as in physically nearby. But before stalkers delight, it’s not an app that turns your smartphone into a tracking device, albeit that’s quite easily done anyway. Instead, you and your friend will have to enable this feature on each other’s smartphones for it to work, with your friend’s location being displayed on a map.

As with all Facebook features, you can determine who can see you with very granular controls that can be set based on your friend’s lists. Your level of location awareness of your friends is also determined by the amount of information you share as well. If you refuse to share your specific location and instead opt to share only a general location i.e. the town you are in instead of exact GPS Coordinates, you'll only get that level of information in return from friends.

Thus, by having this level of granularity, it makes sure that you and the individual in your friend list are REALLY friends and they’re comfortable with giving out their physical location.  They’d naturally only share your location information based on how much you yourself are willing to share.

Friends Nearby also has the ability to find other friends, much like pinging IP addresses in a Network, alerting your friends via notifications that you are nearby. Sounds a lot like Poke in a sense as described in my blog article entitled “Facebook gets Mission Impossible serious with Poke as the Snapchat bringing “Sexting” back”.

Finally Friends Nearby can determine if your nearby friend is travelling, making it possible to stalk them...or rendezvous with them via suggesting a rendezvous point, whichever word you prefer to be comfortable.

All nice features already found in most LBS like Foursquare.

Facebook more comfortable with Mobile – Revenue is up and they are look towards the Future

Back then Facebook wasn’t so sure about Mobile Apps, instead showing a dependence on Desktop and Laptop viewers of its Social Network as pointed out in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to add Emoticons to your Facebook posts”.

This especially as they had to face off against the slowly rising Juggernaut that was Google+ Social Network, that had the advantage of biasing Searches towards its own Social Network  as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Facebook extinct as Chrome to be No. 1 Browser in 2012AD – FB rides Bed Knobs and Broomsticks Mobile Revolution against Google+”.

Bit by bit, Facebook fought back. Poke, launched in December 2012, went bust against Snapchat and the Instagram purchase backfired when they tried to monetize the website with advertising as described in my blog article entitled “Facebook gets Mission Impossible serious with Poke as the Snapchat bringing “Sexting” back”.

So too was Facebook Home launched in April 2013, an overlay that I thought was originally a Facebook based OS as opined in my blog article entitled “Facebook OS on a smartphone dubbed HTC First to debut on Thursday April 4th 2013 - Tyler Perry’s Temptation of Mobile Computing on Tablets and Smartphones is too hard to ignore”. For that reason, I never followed it up, as it seemed at the time a tad strange that I’d want to have Facebook all the time on a smartphone.

But Facebook pressed ahead in their bid to continue to promote Open Graph by encouraging Facebook members to interact and share more. They finally rolled out the Open Graph Search feature in January 2013 they’d promised that would make it possible to search Facebook contextually as stated in my Geezam blog article entitled “Facebook to introduce #Hashtags with emoticons, monetizing FB and making Open Graph Search Practical”.

 To this end, they removed the Who can look up your Timeline by Name” feature by October 2013, making it possible for anyone on Facebook, matter their privacy settings as stated in my blog article entitledFacebook removes Who can look up your Timeline by name feature - Facebook Pages vs Facebook Profiles as the Power of Privacy is in YOUR Hands”.

Later on, they also gave Teenagers (ages 13 to 17) the power to join and post, thereby making parents panic but putting the ultimate trust in the hands of the young who’ve already shown that they adept enough to know who to trust as advised in my blog article entitledFacebook now gives Teenagers the power to make Public Posts - How making everything Public on Facebook improves their Advertising Revenue”.

Second Quarter 2013 results indicated that for the first time, about 41% of their Advertising revenue was coming from it Mobile Social App as pointed out in my blog article entitledFacebook continues to grow despite challenges from Mobile Social Network - Facebook is Growing Strong like House Tyrell in Game of Thrones” and my Geezam blog article entitled “Facebook is Growing Strong with 1.15 Billion Active users in the Second Quarter of 2013”.

By November 2013, it was clear that Facebook ideas were working, but slowly as the Mobile Social Network revolution was upon them as I’d concluded in my blog article entitled “Facebook is Trailing Behind WhatsApp in Social Messaging - Teenagers and Millennials wooed by Mobile Social Networks on smartphones and Tablets that have Snapchat-esque Privacy Controls”.

Also they had bigger problems in the form of Google+, which based on growth projections by a smattering of analyst is slated to overtake Big Blue by 2016 as stated in my blog article entitled “Google+ is expanding rapidly and is set to beat Facebook by 2016 - Batman the Dark Knight Rises as the new Social Network King”.

Facebook’s response has been quite positive; they’ve allowed Google+ to use FBX (Facebook Exchange) their Browser click-metrics platform that allows advertisers to place ads based on users Cookie based Browser activity as explained in the article “Say what? Google will now sell Facebook ads”, published October 18, 2013 2:38 PM PDT by Desiree Everts DeNunzio, CNET News.

Makes sense; if they gonna beat you in the future, then it’s only fitting to make money by betting on their success as argued in my Geezam blog article entitled “Winter is Coming as Google+ is on a collision course to beat Facebook by 2016”.

Facebook in the Year of the Horse – VoIP Video Calling and VR as Wearable Computing Takes flight

Boosted by these results, Facebook seems more confident in this the Year of the Horse. They’ve made their first prize catch with WhatsApp, their Mobile Social Network Nemesis as reported in my blog article entitled “Facebook acquires WhatsApp for US$19 Billion - CEO Jan Koum Revelry will fade once faced with BBM and Google+, Guardians of the Galaxy of Mobile Social Networks”.

WhatsApp plans to become a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) by the end of the Second Quarter of 2014 with VoIP over 3G/4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) Wireless Broadband Internet that most high-end smartphones now use as stated in my blog article entitled “WhatsApp VoIP Calling in Second Quarter of 2014 - WhatsApp kills International Calling at the Advent of Facetime-eqsue Premium Video VoIP Calling on smartphones”.

Then as if on a roll, they’ve also purchase VR (Virtual Reality) headset maker Oculus Rift, firmly booking their seat in VR Gaming as well as with a plan to repurpose it to deliver other content that's more Social Network centric by 2015 as stated in my blog article entitled “Facebook buys Oculus Rift for US$2 billion - Facebook Social Virtual Reality Future as Smartwatches and smartglasses herald the death of the smartphone in 2015”.

The plan is clear. Wearable Computing is the coming future and the next evolutionary step of smartphones. They’ll also use their Wearable computing devices i.e. Smartglasses synched to smartwatches, to get news displayed in a HUD (Heads Up Display) while they go about their business.

This is effectively a VR (Virtual Reality) and in some cases AR (Augmented Reality) overlay on reality way of delivering engaging News content which 30% of Facebook users read according to Pew Research as concluded in my Geezam blog article entitled “Pew Research posits 3 in 10 get their News via Facebook as Paper set to go live”.

This Glancee-esque feature Nearby Friends merely ties in the last bit of the Wearable Computing revolution that’s coming; LBS, which has been ignored for some time now. Foursquare is sure to get some buzz from this for sure! 

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