Instagram is adding another fun feature that can connect friends and start conversations. They already had a polling feature, but they are now adding a new type of polling that works differently and uses emoji.
Emoji Slider is the new feature coming to Instagram, says Mashable. There was already a polling sticker on Instagram. However, that sticker simply let users type a question and let people respond with “yes” or “no.” This new Emoji Slider polling sticker works differently and allows for different responses.
According to Mashable, the Emoji Slider is also a sticker added to Stories. However, it gives a range of response options. When you add the sticker, you can add your own question. But instead of a yes or no question, the questions will typically start with “how,” like “How much did you love Infinity War?” or “How much do you like the new gelato place downtown?” After this, you pick which emoji you want to use on the slider. There are a lot of emoji to choose from, not just a handful of basic ones. Others will then be able to move an emoji along a slider to give their response. After responding, like with the other polling sticker, they can see how the responses are currently totaling up.
This makes polling on Instagram much more intuitive and fun. Only being able to answer “yes” or “no” was very constraining and didn’t allow for any nuance or gray area. Plus it will be fun to be able to ask questions in a different way and make the visuals more enjoyable.
Mashable notes that the Emoji Slider is available with Instagram’s version 44 update. And unlike many updates that roll out slowly to either iOS or Android users, it’s currently available to most people. To see if you have the feature, update Instagram now. If you have it, simply create a new Story, tap the Stickers button, and add the Emoji Slider from there.
If you use Facebook regularly, you probably know about some of the many different settings and features built in to the service. But because there are so many different settings, you may not know about some of the interesting and important ways you can maintain your account.
Facebook itself has a page dedicated to going over the basics when it comes to your account settings. But if you already know most of the basics and just want to go a little deeper into some of the settings that are especially important at the moment, here are just some of the features and settings you can use now.
When you’re using the Facebook app, you can choose whether the app has access to your location. You can also choose whether it keeps track of where you’ve been in the past.
In the Facebook app, simply go to your Account settings, then choose Location. Here you can decide whether Facebook is able to see your location by turning Location Services off or on. You can also disable or enable Location History, where Facebook stores information on past locations and uses the information for a number of things (including deciding which ads to show you).
Allowing certain kinds of targeted ads
Personalized ads are huge on Facebook. You can choose what kinds of ads are allowed when you’re logged in.
In your Facebook settings, click on the Ads category. There are a number of different things you can do here, including deciding which targeted ads are allowed. There are three kinds of ads you can choose to allow or block. One of them includes whether or not to let other people see whether you liked something once it shows up as an ad for them.
Hiding certain topics and removing interests
Some ads are targeted based on interests Facebook believes you have. In your Facebook settings, click on the Ads category. Here you can see your interests. You can click through the categories (like “News and entertainment” or “People”) and choose to remove certain interests that you don’t want ad choices to be based on.
You can also hide certain kinds of ads in the Hide ad topics section. You can choose to hide ads based on specific things, like alcohol, and you can even suggest other topics you’d like to hide.
Viewing information used for ads
Based on your Facebook usage, the service places you in certain categories and builds up certain information about you. You can see this information in your Settings by going to the Ads section. Clicking on the “Your information” section shows you some of what Facebook is basing their ads on. “Your categories” shows things like what kind of device you use and, perhaps most interestingly, what political category the site places you in. Clicking the ‘X’ next to a piece of information will remove it from your information.
Photo tagging based on facial recognition
When others are posting photos, Facebook can recognize your face and let people tag you—but only if you let it.
After going to your Facebook settings, simply choose the Face Recognition section. Then you can decide whether you want facial recognition enabled. When it’s on, other people can upload a photo and get a suggestion from Facebook to tag you in the photo.
Letting your friends unlock your account
If you have 3 to 5 Facebook friends you trust enough, you can set up a way to get back into your account if you’re ever locked out. In your Facebook settings, you can go to the Security and Login section to choose a handful of friends (at least 3) who can help you recover your account if needed. If you’re ever locked out of Facebook, the friends you choose can then send you a link that lets you log back in.
Using two-step authentication
Two-step authentication is one way to make logging into your account more secure. In the Security and Login section of your Facebook settings, you can turn on two-step authentication. To set it up, you can either choose to have a login code sent to your phone or to have the app work through a security app you already use. Once it’s turned on, every time you want to log in to Facebook, you’ll have to enter your password and the login code sent via text (or through your security app). This makes it more difficult for your account to be compromised.
If you’re unsure what your profile really looks like to the public, you can use the View As feature. You may have noticed this before but never clicked on it. Using View As makes it easier to see whether you’ve accidentally made public posts that give away too much personal information or make you look unprofessional. You can find the View As feature by going to your profile. In the Facebook app, there is an icon underneath your profile photo. On desktop, clicking the button with the three dots next to “View Activity Log” gives you the View As option.
Keep in mind…
These are just a few of the settings and features available on Facebook. For more, look around Facebook’s Help Center.
Instagram has been in the news very recently for their newest updates and for a recent announcement. Instagram users will now be able to use some new features, and they’ll also soon be able to download copies of their entire data history.
Reuters reports that Instagram, which is part of Facebook Inc, will soon let its users download their data. This announcement comes while Facebook is dealing with the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal (which you can learn more about in my recent articles “Third-Party Data on Social Media” and “Facebook and Its Data Scandal”). Because of the mishandling of their data, Facebook users (and users of many different social media platforms) have become much more concerned with how their data is being used. This has led to many updates from Facebook on how third-party apps and user data will be handled. And now Instagram has joined in with their plans.
Reuters reports that Instagram users will be able to download data like photos, videos, and messages. There’s currently no word on when this tool will be made available.
Meanwhile, Instagram has added some new features. According to TechCrunch, Instagram’s new update includes a new filter called Focus. Focus is a portrait mode that can be used in Instagram’s camera to take both photos and videos. It blurs the background of a portrait photo, making the subject of the photo stand out more sharply. This style was previously available in other apps and on certain phones. With Instagram’s Focus feature, though, more people will be able to take portrait photos.
They’ve also added stickers for mentions, says TechCrunch. This feature is currently rolling out for people using iOS. Instead of simply tagging someone using text, you’ll now be able to tag them using a sticker. This makes Instagram posts a little more customizable and fun. It’s not clear when everyone will gain access to these stickers.
Instagram is now planning to make users’ feeds arrange a little differently than they have been. Instagram announced in a blog post that they’ll be changing a couple different aspects of peoples’ feeds.
The social media and photo app has made quite a few changes to their service over the past months. One major change that Instagram implemented back in December focused on what kinds of posts would be shown in feeds. As I wrote in my article, recommended posts were added to Instagram. These recommended posts are displayed in feeds based on whether a user’s friend has liked them. This was a pretty huge change for some people, since it allowed unfamiliar content to show up in feeds.
Now Instagram is working on changing feeds to improve them and address other user concerns. In their blog post, these upcoming changes are explained. One major change to Instagram feeds will be the emphasis on newer posts. Right now, posts are fairly mixed up. Older posts (from days ago) can be mixed in with posts from just minutes earlier. With Instagram’s planned change, though, newer posts would be more likely to show up at the top of someone’s feed. Though Instagram isn’t announcing a completely chronological feed, this change will be a welcome step to having posts feel more current.
They also note another change to feeds: no more forced automatic refreshing. Currently, users might open the app and have the page suddenly refresh without any way to stop it. So if you see a post you’re interested in, you might suddenly be taken away from it. Instagram is going to address this by adding a “New Posts” button. This will give users the option to refresh if they want to. If you use the button you’ll jump up to the top of your feed.
The “New Posts” button is testing now, according to Instagram, and they currently plan to continue to improve how feeds work.
Snapchat is adding a feature to its app. The new feature being added to Snapchat, called Map Explore, brings an interesting new way to keep up with (and locate) your friends.
The Verge is reporting that Map Explore has now been introduced. Map Explore, according to The Verge, lets users find out where their friends are, see where some breaking news is happening, and more.
Snap Map, the maps feature on Snapchat, was introduced last summer. With Snap Map, people could move around and see Snaps that were being posted in various locations. This included being able to see your friends’ Snaps on the map. Though Snap Map is a popular feature, it’s important to point out that users can choose to hide their location. So if you’re someone with privacy concerns (and who might not have gotten around to noticing Snap Map yet), no worries—location sharing is optional with Snapchat’s map feature.
If you don’t mind sharing your location and checking out where other people are, Map Explore could improve your Snapchat experience. With Map Explore, The Verge explains, you can be alerted to what’s happening on the Snap Map. Snap is quoted as saying that this update was introduced because users previously had to search around to find things. This update will make it easier to find interesting Snaps instead of wondering where to look. Alerts about updates will be based on your friends doing something (posting a Snap or a Story, for instance) with location turned on. After 8 hours of inactivity, their location won’t be shown on the map anymore.
Breaking news and other interesting happenings will also be easier to find. Users will be able to get updates about Our Story content. This means you’ll be able to find out quickly when interesting things are happening anywhere in the world (as long as someone is Snapping it).
The Verge mentions that the new update will be arriving for people through the coming weeks. So if you don’t have the update yet, don’t panic—it will be coming soon.
Instagram users may soon be able to do something they’ve long wanted: share other peoples’ posts.
Instagram Stories have gone through some changes recently, including making changes to their ads, as well as letting users post text updates and add stickers. Now Instagram is testing a feature that will change how Stories work even more. Users testing this feature can add other peoples’ posts to their own Stories.
Users wanting to share other peoples’ posts have, in the past, had to look to other apps for help. One popular app has been Regram, which lets people download and share other posts while still giving credit to the actual owner. Other apps and sites have also offered a similar service. Unfortunately, this does mean people have had to connect with a third-party app or website that isn’t associated with Instagram. Doing this can be risky, and it’s just not ideal.
Instagram’s official “regram”-style feature is currently only being tested with a small number of people, according to TechCrunch. When sharing the public post to your Story, notes The Verge, you can make certain changes to the post. For instance, you can make basic changes, like resizing and rotating, plus you can choose between two display formats.
It’s not clear when this feature will roll out to everyone, but it’s an interesting change to Instagram’s format. Instagram has built its app around the idea of sharing original photos and videos from a user’s own life. This helps promote more creation. But this new sharing option is, at least, just a small change, since it will only share to Stories and won’t share posts to a user’s Instagram feed.
Also, users can choose to keep their posts a little more private by not allowing other users to share to their Stories. If your account is public, you can go to your Instagram Settings and turn off the option that allows resharing. So if you don’t want other people adding your content to their Stories, you just have to switch off one option.
To see how the resharing feature works, check out TechCrunch’s video of the process. Or just wait and see what you think once it rolls out to more users.
Good news for Android users! Now Android devices have access to augmented reality stickers through the Motion Stills app.
For those who are not yet familiar with the feature, AR stickers are moving stickers that can be recorded and photographed in front of whatever your camera is pointing at, essentially inserting them into the scene. Depending on what device you have and what apps you use, you may have seen AR stickers before. Last year, Google Pixel and Pixel 2 owners had AR stickers rolled out to them for use in their phone’s camera. And the concept is similar to what you’ve probably already spotted if you use Snapchat regularly—Snap’s augmented reality Bitmoji stickers. These stickers in the Snapchat app let you insert your animated Bitmoji character into whatever scene your camera is capturing, taking photos and videos.
Now Google is giving more users the chance to use their AR stickers, instead of keeping them just for Pixel owners. However, the stickers available to everyone don’t work the same way they do on Pixel devices. The AR stickers for the Pixel use Google’s ARCore, their augmented reality tech. ARCore, according to Google, uses three main technologies for their AR: motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation. This is, of course, just a basic view of ARCore—there’s a lot more that goes into its tech. But what’s most important to note is that the AR stickers on Pixel devices are perhaps higher tech and more realistically integrated than the AR stickers coming out for everyone.
The AR stickers in the Motion Stills app use some more old school tech—your phone’s gyroscope and accelerometer. You can set one of these stickers on a horizontal surface and then do things like take photos and videos, as well as make GIFs, then share them with your friends. Some of the stickers currently available to use include a dinosaur, alien, and robot. To check them out for yourself, download the Motion Stills app from the Play store!
If you’ve ever wished you could create your own filter on Snapchat, your time has come. Snapchat will now let you pay to make your own Snapchat lenses.
If you’ve used Snapchat, you’ve certainly used some of their lenses. Lenses have given Snapchat users cat ears, large and sparkly eyes, and of course, the infamous puppy ears and flower crowns. Now you can customize your own for any occasion. Using either their website or the iOS app, you can choose from one of the many premade lenses and customize it. Customization mostly focuses on the displayed text. You can choose what the text says, and you can choose from many different fonts and colors.
You then further your customization by setting up how long the lens will last and where the lens will be active. Your location can be set in a certain area, and you can drag the edges of the active area to make the area as large as you want. The larger the active area and the longer the lens is available, the more it costs. For instance, making your lens available for just one day in an extremely small area could only cost $5. As you expand the “fence” for your lens, you can watch the price go up on the screen, making it easier to stay within a budget.
There are currently over a hundred different lenses to choose from. They’re sorted into five categories right now: Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, Weddings, Celebration, and Greatest Hits. The Valentine’s Day special category features a lot of hearts and pink tones. In the Greatest Hits section, you can find popular past lenses, like the dancing grandma, various different flower crowns, and colorful sunglasses. And under the Weddings category, you can find some past lenses with tweaks like hanging lights across the top and birdcage veils attached to flower crowns.
Being able to customize aspects of Snapchat isn’t a new concept—you can already create your own custom filters, which works in a similar way. You can choose from borders and text, as well as add Bitmoji characters, then set up when and where the filter will work.
Customizing lenses, though, gives Snapchat users even more freedom to take personalized Snaps during special occasions. Lenses are an incredibly popular part of Snapchat, so it only makes sense to give users the opportunity to customize them for a fee.
Mashable points out that you should make sure to buy your lens at least three hours before an event. This way it will be sure to be ready in time. If you have an event coming up, take a look at Snapchat’s website or try out lens customization in iOS!
(Featured image: Snapchat)
Welcome to this week’s Tech Spotlight! Each week, I’m sharing some fun and cool tech-related products you can find on Amazon. This week’s Spotlight features a wireless controller, a smartphone camera kit, and a photo printer. Take a look at what I’ve found this week, then go on over to Amazon to add some new tech to your cart!
The Myo Gesture Control Armband is a wireless controller that makes it easy to control your tech. While wearing the armband, you can make gestures and motions to perform certain tasks with your devices. The armband works by reading muscle activity and through the use of downloadable apps in Myo’s store (the Myo Market).
Using this armband, you can control many different things. Its product description mentions its use for gaming, as well as for things like controlling presentation slides and even flying your drone. You can also use the Keyboard Mapper to connect the armband to your keyboard. There are more than a hundred apps in the Myo Market, so there’s quite a bit you can play around with.
The Myo armband is designed to be convenient. It won’t weigh your arm down—it’s light (the description says it’s lighter than most watches). The battery is rechargeable and works throughout the day. And it’s compatible with many devices, including those using Windows 7 and up, as well as many Android, Mac, and iOS devices.
The Myo Gesture Control Armband is a convenient way to control your devices from a distance with just the motion of your arm. Head over to Amazon to find out more about what it can do!
This camera photo kit from ARORY offers a way to take photos from your phone in a new, fun way. Though many phone cameras do offer a lot more customization and options on their own, this telephoto lens kit gives smartphone photographers more choices for their shots.
The telephoto lens kit comes with 10 items designed to make photographing with your smartphone easier and a little more engaging. It does, of course, come with several attachable camera lenses. There’s a telephoto lens that offers 12x optical magnification, meaning photos can be zoomed in 12x further without the photos suffering from a loss of quality. There’s also a macro lens for close-up shots, a wide-angle lens for larger shots, and a fisheye lens for curved shots.
These are not the only items that come with this kit. There’s also a mini tripod with an attachable phone holder, so you can place your phone in the holder and take photos without worrying about a shaky hand or take a photo of yourself that’s not a selfie. To make this even easier, there’s also a Bluetooth remote shutter. Using this small device, you can take photos from a distance without having to touch your phone. There are also clips to hold the different lenses in place, and there’s a cleaning cloth to help keep the lenses clear of any dust or specks.
Many current smartphone cameras offer reasonably high-quality images, and many people rely solely on their phones to take pictures. This kit can improve the smartphone photo-taking experience!
The Prynt Pocket is a small, portable photo printer for use with iPhone. While you’re on the go, you can print previously taken photos or take new ones to print right away. All you have to do is place your iPhone in the printer and you’re on your way to printing photos anywhere.
The Prynt Pocket works with many different iPhones, from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone X. It uses ZINK Sticker Paper, which is an ink-free paper with a sticker backing (so you can also stick your photos anywhere). The photos print within 30 seconds, so there’s not a long wait for your photos. Oh, and if you like your tech to be pretty, there are several colors to choose from—graphite and white both look fairly clean and standard, but there’s also lavender and mint green.
The Prynt app also allows you to do some fun things with your photos. For instance, after you take a photo with the Prynt app, you can also record a short video to go with it. Then when others point their Prynt app at the photo, they can watch the matching video! You can also use the app to tweak your photos with things like filters and text.
If you take many photos with your iPhone (and if you have an iPhone, I’m confident you do), the Prynt Pocket will make a nice new addition to your accessories!