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Facebook Will Now Track You and Force Feed You Ads Even If You Don’t Use It

Facebook Will Now Track You and Force Feed You Ads Even If You Don’t Use It

There is no escaping Facebook’s advertising reach. The social network has announced that it will now be foisting ads on to every single person who uses third-party sites that are signed up to its advertising scheme, regardless of whether the user has a Facebook account or not.

Until now, Facebook showed ads only to its members when people landed on third-party sites that were signed up to its Audience Network ad system. That meant that it only ever bothered tracking what Facebook users did, in order to learn about them and better target advertising.

Now, though, reports the Wall Street Journal, it will use the same techniques-largely plug-in and cookies, but also Like buttons too- in order to track what everyone does when visiting those web pages. Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook’s ads and business platform, explained to the Journal:

“Our buttons and plugins send over basic information about users’ browsing sessions. For non-Facebook members, previously we didn’t use it. Now we’ll use it to better understand how to target those people.”

It’s not a new model, and it’s one you’re used to already. Say you’ve spent 20 minutes browsing for a new pair of sneakers: Facebook knows you’re interested in sneakers, so plasters ads for them all over the cookery website that you’re using to look up a dinner recipe.

So it’s not innovation-but Facebook has a huge dataset of intimate personal details behind it that it can leverage to do all kinds of clever things. “Because we have a core audience of over a billion people… who we… understand,” explained Bosworth to the Journal, “we have a greater opportunity than other companies using the same type of mechanism.”

In other words, Facebook plans to square up more firmly than ever against Google in the world of online advertising. And now, there’s no way to avoid the reach of Zuck’s promotions.

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Express More Within 140 Characters With This New Twitter Update

Express More Within 140 Characters With This New Twitter Update

Twitter announced an overhaul of the micro-blogging platform yesterday, letting you squeeze more words within the 140 character limit of a tweet.

After rolling out new features like ‘poll your community’, gifs, Periscope broadcasts in the tweets, Twitter has simplified tweets by removing names and images from eating into the 140 character limit.

Now, names and media attachments will not count as characters in your tweets, letting you have more meaningful conversations in an easier and straightforward way, instead of shortening words to fit into the character limit.

Twitter has also enabled the ‘Retweet’ button on your own tweets, so you can quote your own tweets and prove your point better.

The ‘@’ convention too has been removed in order to simplify the rules around tweeting with usernames. Now you no longer have to use the ‘@’ sign and can simply type in the username you want to broadcast your tweet to.

The features are rolling out over the coming months and comes as Twitter’s endeavor to make live conversations and connections simpler and more significant.

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Five WhatsApp Hacks To Unleash Its Full Potential

Five WhatsApp Hacks To Unleash Its Full Potential

With over 1 billion people using WhatsApp actively around the world, the messaging service surely has garnered huge support. But with a population almost as large as that of India, it is also a bit crowded and cluttered with over-information. Now who doesn’t love some peace among a throng of chattering people? Stand apart from the rest of the crowd using these WhatsApp hacks, suggested by Quora users.

1. Read your messages with ‘Last Seen’ and ‘Read’ status unaltered.

If you want to avoid explaining why you haven’t replied inspite of your ‘last seen’ timestamp and ‘Read’ status updated, you can use this trick.

“Dedicate a home screen to a 4×4 WhatsApp widget. All unread messages will appear there, not only the most recent unread message from each chat. Read through all of those messages through the widget and your ‘last seen’ and ‘read’ status will remain unchanged.

2. Transfer files of any format upto 1 GB on Whatsapp.

An App called WhatsTools sits quietly inside the ‘attach’ button in the chat window (after giving permission using the accessibility service) and allows file sharing of size upto 1GB. Normally, Whatsapp allows a maximum file size of 16MB. Using this tool you can bypass the restriction. You can also pause/resume the upload/download of files and preview video files before downloading. The files are shared through an HTTPS encrypted path and gets stored in your Google Drive account.

3. Delete old WhatsApp Message Backups and clear space on your phone storage.

WhatsApp does a mandatory daily backup in the middle of the night at 02:00. These backups are stored as separate files in the storage memory of your device and with each new backup, containing the thumbnail of all the media received along with newer chats, the file size increases, sometimes to uncomfortable proportions. To delete the older backup files, go to Internal Storage-> WhatsApp -> Databases.

Also, when you are switching phones, just copy the latest backup file over to the new device and all your chats will be there.

4. Create a WhatsApp Group with only you as a member.

With the amount of time we spend daily on WhatsApp, it would be great if we get our reminders directly within the app. Now till as long WhatsApp decides to provide this feature, here’s how to side load it. Create a group with at least contact in your list. Then remove that contact from the group. Now there is just you left in the group. Rename the group to ‘Reminders’ and use it for posting tiny tidbits for you to remember. You can also use it as a bookmarking tool, saving links to things you like on the internet to access them later.

5. Hide one image onto another.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Have some fun with your friends by hiding one image inside another. Your friend will see one photo on the thumbnail, but after opening it, the photo will be different.

Download and install the app called Image Preview Changer. In that app, open the image you want to hide and then click on the ‘Preview Image’ option and choose the image you want your friend to see first as the thumbnail. After this, select ‘Share with WhatsApp’ and you’re done.

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Google Play Awards 2016: Houzz Is The Best Android App Of The Year!

Google Play Awards 2016: Houzz Is The Best Android App Of The Year!

In the recent past, Google Play has registered tremendous growth by spreading its wings to more than 1 billion Android users in 190 countries across the globe. Now, Google took Apple’s route to recognise the contribution by the developer community. The search giant’s first-ever Google Play Awards took place at the I/O conference in Mountain View, California.

It has picked apps and games from a variety of categories, focusing on criteria that emphasize on app quality, innovation, and having a launch or major update in the last 12 months.

The overall Best Android app of the year was bagged by interior design and decorating resource Houzz, which is a true representative of beautiful design, intuitive UX, and high user appeal. The other competitors in this category were:
· BuzzFeed News
· Colorfy
· TuneIn Radio
· Yummly

In the category of Best Early Adopter of a nascent technology or platform that provided a delightful user experience, World Around Me stood out as winner amongst other contenders, which included Glide, Mechanic Escape, Minecraft: Story Mode, and Zumper.

The Best Families App award went to Thinkrolls 2, Pokemon Shuffle Mobile got the Best Go Global award for great localization and culturalisation, and subject matter appeal across multiple regions. The Best Game award went to Clash Royale, the Best Use of Google Play Game Services award was given to Table Tennis Touch, the Most Innovative award was bagged by NYT VR, the Best Use of Material Design award was won by Robinhood, the Best Standout Indie award was given to Alphabear, and Hopper secured the Best Standout Startup award.

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Android N: The Latest Features

Android N: The Latest Features

Google gave a demo of its annual iteration of the Android operating system in Google I/O yesterday and we are already excited. For the first time, Google had released a developer preview of the new Android, termed Android N (for now), a month and a half earlier, to get developers acclimatized to the new ecosystem. Yesterday, Google released a working beta available only for Nexus phones. Here’s a roundup of the best features of Android N:

1. Multi-Window Support: Multi-windows have been there for a while now, in Samsung and HTC phones, but Android has integrated the feature seamlessly inside the operating system this time. Guranteeing spikes in productivity, users can now run two apps simultaneosly. In Android tablets, the multi window will work picture-in-picture style so you can monitor tweets simultaneously with watching the latest Game Of Thrones episode. The possibilites of multi-tasking now seems endless. You can now look at your recipe on the browser and add the things on your shopping list, or take a call while watching a video, all without having to switch screens. Now we get the point of bigger screens completely.

2. Notifications Control: Notifications have received an overhaul in the new OS. Notifications have now become more interactive and visible. There’s option of bundling similar notification to appear as a single one. You can peak inside a child notification from a parent one, which will temporarily appear as a heads-up notification and view the most recent notification and the actions associated with it. You can also blacklist apps from showing notifications or silent them completely, right from the notification panel.

3. Direct Reply: Did the new quick reply option in Whatsapp surprise you? Get used to it, because Android is integrating this beautiful upgrade straight into the system and just about any app can provide the quick reply option. Now, you can directly reply to a message, right from the screen you are on, without having to open that app.

4. Doze on the go: Battery has been the single biggest headache for smartphone users and Google has been constantly putting their brains behind improving the battery life of Android devices. The latest attempt develops from Marshmallow’s Doze feature, which shuts down the apps when the phone is not in use. It has now developed further to put the apps in doze mode simply when the screen is off. Also, the memory and battery management has improved significantly, as part of Project Svelte, which stops apps from waking up as often when a change in network and connectivity occurs.

5. Data Saver: Adnroid has included a neat data saver feature, accessed from the quick settings panel as well as from the settings app. When the Data Saver feature is turned on, the system blocks background data usage and signals apps to use less data in the foreground wherever possible. Ofcourse, you can whitelist apps you want to be ignored by this feature. However, the data saver only works when connected through a metered connection, which is basically your cellular data plan or a DHCP Wi-fi connection, and your Android device will be smart enough to recognize a metered connection very well on its own.

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NASA’s Kepler probe discovers over 1,200 new planets

NASA’s Kepler probe discovers over 1,200 new planets

Washington, NASA’s Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets – the single largest finding of planets to date – giving fresh hopes to astronomers to discover another Earth reverberating with life.

Scientists from Princeton University and NASA confirmed that 1,284 objects observed outside Earth’s solar system are indeed planets.

“This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler so far to more than 2,300,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at the NASA headquarters in Washington.

“This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth,” he added.

The discovery hinges on a technique developed at Princeton that allows scientists to efficiently analyse thousands of signals Kepler has identified to determine which are most likely to be caused by planets and which are caused by non-planetary objects such as stars.

This automated technique — implemented in a publicly available custom software package called Vespa — computes the chances that the signal is in fact caused by a planet.

The researchers used Vespa to compute the reliability values for over 7,000 signals identified in the latest Kepler catalogue, and verified the 1,284 planets with 99 percent certainty.

They also independently verified more than 700 additional planet signals that had already been confirmed as planets by other methods.

In addition, the researchers identified 428 candidates as likely “false positives” or signals generated by something other than a planet.

Lead researcher Timothy Morton from Princeton developed Vespa because the vast amount of data Kepler has gathered since its 2009 launch has made the traditional method of confirming planets by direct ground-based follow-up observation untenable.

“Vespa is a culmination of a change in attitude about how we deal with these large-data surveys,” Morton said in a paper appeared in the Astrophysical Journal.

Kepler, which ended data collection for its primary mission in 2013, operated by precisely measuring the brightness of many stars simultaneously.

The satellite looked for stars that exhibited subtle and regular dimming, which indicates that an orbiting planet is passing in front of, or transiting, that star.

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Is This a Police SUV Disguised as a Google Street View Vehicle?

Is This a Police SUV Disguised as a Google Street View Vehicle?

Photo by Matt Blaze (Twitter)
Earlier today, security researcher Matt Blaze tweeted out this photo of what’s allegedly a Pennsylvania State Police SUV. It looks like it’s outfitted with a license plate reader. Blaze contends that not only is this a police vehicle, but it’s disguised as a Google Street View truck. Wait, what?

At first glance it almost looks like someone photoshopped that Google Maps logo on the side of the SUV. But one indication that it’s probably not a Photoshop job is that you can see the bubbles on the vinyl sticker:

It’s entirely possible that some prankster put the sticker there, though it seems like getting one printed would be a lot of effort for a silly joke. There’s also the possibility that this isn’t a vehicle operated by the Pennsylvania State Police. We have a call into the PA Police and will update this post when we hear back.

If it is the police, it’s a pretty dumb plan. As Blaze points out in a later tweet, it’s a terrible disguise and would no doubt just attract more attention to the SUV and it’s clandestine activities. Have you ever been looking at Google Street View and noticed how many people stare directly into the camera? The police may as well have put a sign on the side that said “free ice cream, nothing to see here.”

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This is How Facebook Messenger Plans To Make Mother’s Day Special

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”

This Jewish proverb is known to most of us. Mother’s Day, which is a time to honor mothers, mother’s mother, and mother’s mother’s mother for their contribution to family and society, is observed across the globe on the second Sunday of May.

This year too, preparations to make ‘Mother’s Day’ special are in full swing. And Facebook is also in the race to make the day memorable for moms. The social networking giant has introduced a special feature on its messenger for you to send flowers to your mom, your friends who are moms, and all the other mother-like figures who make your life great.

This special feature will be available from May 7 to May 9 in 82 countries, including India. According to a Facebook post, “You’ll see a new purple flower icon in Messenger. Tap on the flower to decorate your messages — text, photos, GIFs, and more – with colorful blooms. The person you’re sending the message to will see the flowers on their end, too.”

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Twitter Kills Its Wonderful Recommendation Bot and Replaces It With an Annoying Feature

@MagicRecs is now a deleted relic of an older Twitter, before disappointing quarterly reports became a constant storm cloud over the once promising social network. It was a bot-an actually competent one -that would send users DMs alerting them to popular accounts and tweets among people you follow. Unfortunately, it’s dead now.
Twitter gave a statement to TechCrunch saying that @MagicRecs essentially lives on its smartphone push notifications, which aligns with Twitter’s continuing desperate maneuvers to get people using Twitter again. Unfortunately, the new recommendation bot is much more annoying than the old delightful MagicRecs.