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Twitter direct messages just got more talkative. Now you can have a private conversation with a group, the social network announced Tuesday.
Until now, Twitter’s direct messaging feature has been reserved for conversations between no more than two participants. Now, you can create groups of up to 20 Twitter users at the same time, and they do not have to be following one another to join. Group direct messages will support “text, photos, links, emoji and Tweets,” according to Twitter.
The feature is expected to roll out over the next couple of days to all users.
As Twitter has gotten noisier—and while messaging competitors like Snapchat and WhatsApp grew more significant—users have demanded improvements to its lightweight direct messaging feature, the only way to speak privately on the service. But Twitter has shown anything but a steady hand on the issue. Over the past two years it has lurched back and forth between opening up and restricting new features for direct message.
Here’s a quick timeline.
Prior to October 2013, two Twitter users had follow one another to exchange direct messages. Then Twitter inserted a new option where users could explicitly opt to receive direct messages from any of their followers, whether they followed them back or not. The Verge speculated the change allowed brands to have better access to consumers.
October 2013: Twitter Removes Link Sharing From Direct Messaging
That same month, Twitter users learned that they were unable to send links inside direct messages. This might have been a side effect of opening up DMs to a wider range of users, since it would have opened the door to spammy link-based advertising.
November 2013: Twitter Direct Messages Get A Makeover
Direct messages got a new look, one similar to iMessages. The feature began suggesting followers with whom users could begin a private conversation. The move was seen as part of a larger overhaul of direct messaging in order to compete with WhatsApp.
One short month later, Twitter decided fostering conversations between unverified users who don’t follow one another was a bad idea. The company does not respond to requests for comments, but reminds reporters it is “constantly experimenting.”
December 2013: Direct Messages Allow Private Photo Sharing
In a possible response to Snapchat’s visual success, Twitter began allowing people to share photos in privately in direct messages. Simultaneously, Twitter moved the direct messaging icon to a more prominent position on the top navigation bar of the homepage.
A few months after Twitter’s experimentation craze, ReadWrite reporter Selena Larson reflected on several embarrassing direct message mishaps, known colloquially as “DM fails,” in which users blasted messages to the world that they incorrectly thought would remain private. In a world where messaging services like Snapchat and WhatsApp were king, Twitter still lacked quality messaging.
November 2014: Tweet And Link Sharing Return To Direct Messaging
One year later, Twitter revived the ability to include links in direct messages. The social network described it as a secondary feature to the much acclaimed tweet sharing function, where users could take tweets from their timeline and share them privately.
January 2015: Group Messaging Supports Up To 20 Participants
Fast forward to the present, where Twitter is doubling down on direct messaging support. Users can share links, tweets, and emojis with up to 20 other users who may or may not be following one another. The feature includes elements Twitter has backtracked on in the past.
The real question is how long it’ll stick around before Twitter does its usual about face.
Illustration by Nigel Sussman for ReadWrite
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In what is likely the fastest App Store approval in iOS history, Apple took only one hour to greenlight an app that promotes a free speech campaign for Charlie Hebdo. Of course, Apple would never have approved an actual Charlie Hebdo app had the caustic—even scabrous—French magazine ever submitted one. (Which it apparently considered back in 2010 before learning of Apple’s restrictions and telling the company to “get lost.”) Like much of Silicon Valley, Apple is far more committed to the idea of free speech than it is to its actual practice.
The “Je suis Charlie!” app supports the Je Suis Charlie free speech campaign and Charlie Hebdo, which lost 10 staffers in a terrorist attack at its Paris office last week. The order to expedite review of “Je suis Charlie!” came courtesy of Apple CEO Tim Cook, 9 to 5 Mac reports. Cook’s assistant responded to an email from Nice-Matin, the French news agency that submitted the app, 10 minutes after it was sent.
Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee
No one should begrudge “Je suis Charlie!” its fast-tracking, even though typical app review takes 10 days or longer. Prospective iOS apps connected to tragedy and the support of free speech are rare events, fortunately.
Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Mark Fiore, for instance—whose own app was famously rejected by Apple in 2009—has no problem with the speedy approval of “Je suis Charlie!” He does, however, see some tension in the fact that Apple fast-tracked an app intended to express support of cartoonists whose work would never have cleared App Store guidelines.
“I’m glad they approved this app so quickly,” Fiore told ReadWrite. “What makes my skin crawl is that most of the stuff Charlie Hebdo does, Apple wouldn’t approve.”
Fiore, whose work is comparatively tame to the majority of Charlie Hebdo’s catalog, ran up against Apple’s licensing agreement in 2009. At that time, Apple guidelines stated it would reject apps apps which “may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic or defamatory.”
According to his Apple rejection letter, the offending content on Fiore’s app included political cartoons that referenced torture and White House party crashers. It wasn’t until Fiore became the first online-only political cartoonist to win the Pulitzer in 2010 that the Apple App Store had a change of heart. In the ultimate Apple mea culpa, then-CEO Steve Jobs reportedly responded to one of the many customer complaint about Fiore’s App Store rejection. “This was a mistake that’s being fixed,” Jobs wrote from his own email account.
In the wake of his Pulitzer win, Fiore said, “I received this Deep Throat-sort of phone call from Apple.” The voice the other side of the phone told him, “you might want to reconsider resubmitting this app and give us a call when you do.” Which he did.
Speed When It Counts (For Apple)
The speediness with which Fiore’s second submission hit the App Store illustrates how quickly a giant company can make things happen once publicity is involved. Fiore made the call to let Apple know. Within two keystrokes Fiore overheard on the phone, his app hit the App Store. “It was pretty much an instantaneous thing,” he said.
The bad PR led to an update of Apple’s rules, which now allow for political content and lampooning public figures, but still reflect some subjective sensitivity concerning satire. Time reported in 2013 that Apple yanked the iOS game Sweatshop from the App Store. The developer describes as “lighthearted” but also “based upon very present realities that many workers around the world contend with each day.”
“It’s the idea that a game intended both as educational and intelligently satirical could wind up banned that’s dangerous,” Time’s Matt Peckham wrote.
Apple isn’t the only Silicon Valley behemoth to embrace Charlie Hebdo in the abstract. Twitter’s French unit displayed a #JeSuisCharlie banner on its Twitter profile, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a tribute post that “different voices—even if they’re sometimes offensive—can make the world a better and more interesting place.” Both social networks, of course, have a documented history of censorship. It’s the price of building a business in countries where free speech is not a priority.
Google, too, is getting headlines for contributing $300,000 toward 1 million copies of Tuesday’s Charlie Hebdo edition. But that cash isn’t coming from the goodness of Google’s heart, or even its couch cushions. It’s part of a $70 million fund Google agreed to set up for French publishers two years ago as part of a settlement with the government over advertising loss. “It’s good that (Charlie Hebdo) got the money, but it’s good PR for Google, too,” Fiore says.
As for Apple, Fiore says, “They show their support, ‘We’re all for free speech!’ But would you run these cartoons? Uh, no.”
Apple did not return ReadWrite’s request for comment.
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Microsoft’s search engine now displays carousel of New York Times best-selling books when searching for specific book genres.
The post Bing’s New Best-Sellers Carousel Helps Readers Find Just The Right Book appeared first on Search Engine Land.
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Content marketing without the actual act of marketing is just creating content – it’s simply contributing more noise to the Web. How can you use SEO techniques to market your content?
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A new study from Yahoo shows that more and more mobile searches are happening in the home, where PCs or laptops are also available. How can marketers take advantage of this?
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You won’t need a cable package (or your parent’s HBO Go login) to watch the next season of HBO’s most popular original series. The cable channel plans to launch its long-anticipated streaming only service in April, according to an internal memo published by Fortune, the same month Game of Thrones returns for its fifth season.
CEO Richard Plepler said in October that HBO is finally ready to take the money of the 10-million broadband-only homes that don’t subscribe to cable, but he didn’t mention a cost or time frame. Now, because of a memo explaining HBO’s decision move to an outside contractor for streaming service, we know to expect the cord cutting in April, though cost is still up in the air. If you remember those HBO Go streaming outages during Game of Thrones and True Detective episodes, or saw the Twitter meltdowns as they were happening, you get a pretty good idea of why.
For viewers however, the big news isn’t that HBO is likely contracting MLB Advanced, which provides streaming for the WWE Network, according to Fortune. It’s that there’s a date on the calendar when HBO Go will be free of its cable package. For entertainment junkies, this is the biggest news since earlier this year, when some of HBO’s original programing became available through Amazon’s streaming service.
Plepler said in October that the stand-alone HBO Go offering will appeal to viewers who aren’t interested in the full cable package, or even a TV connection at all. CBS All Access currently offers 6,500 episodes on demand as well as live TV for $6 a month. As viewership on mobile devices increases and Netflix and Amazon continue to produce popular programming, more legacy TV outlets feel the pressure to finally cut the cord.
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Android Studio improves on Eclipse, the previous Android software tool, in some significant ways—in part by offering simpler startup, a intelligent code editing and more options for “building” apps from the underlying code. The new environment is built on a popular Java tool, the IntelliJ IDEA (Community Edition) Java development environment, and offers both cosmetic and analytical improvements over its predecessor.
Google launched a preview version of Android Studio last year at its I/O summer conference. The software-making and testing tools were hailed as a leap forward for Android development at the time, so the the full, stable release ought to give app makers plenty to work with.
Features include a first-run setup wizard, sample importing and code templates, emulators and a “User Interface Design,” which lets developers preview Android Layouts in various screen sizes, languages and API versions (see our API explainer).
In the announcement, Android product manager Jamal Eason wrote:
Similar to the Chrome release channels, Android Studio will continue to receive updates on four different release channels: Stable, Beta, Dev, Canary. Canary builds are at the bleeding edge of development, while the stable release is fully tested. With this range of release channels you can choose how quickly you want to get the latest features for Android Studio.
If you used the developer preview, note that this release offers several bug fixes and improvements, among them version 1.0 of the Gradle plugin for app building. “The communication between Android Studio and the Gradle plugin is now stable,” added Eason, “and updating one will not require updating the other.”
For more details or to download Android Studio, visit the developer portal.
Lead photo by Ash Kyd
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