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Vine and Instagram Make It to Windows Phone

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People who are using phones with the Windows Phone smartphone platform, such as the Nokia Lumia series or the Samsung ATIV series, have been a bit behind when it comes to some of the most popular social networking applications. Though Windows Phone has been compatible with a number of the basic social networks like Facebook and Twitter, it has been missing major applications such as Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and more, until recent weeks.

Vine, Twitter’s popular video-sharing application, initially launched on the iOS platform in January and was eventually brought over to Android in June. It was finally released in early November for the Windows Phone platform, with all of the features included for the iOS and Android versions, as well as special exclusive features, such as the ability to pin favorite Vine accounts to the home screen.

Instagram’s launch on Windows Phone came about a week after Vine was launched, but it was received quite a bit more poorly than Vine. While Vine has only been around since the beginning of the year, Instagram has had three years to be working on a version for Windows Phone. Yet the application that was released appeared to be heavily limited and did not feature many of the basic functions that were available in the iOS and Android versions.

In particular, many users found themselves annoyed with the fact that Instagram cannot be used to take photos within the application, which has been one of its most primary and basic functions on the other platforms. Additionally, Instagram on Windows Phone cannot capture or share videos. Currently, Instagram on Windows Phone can only be used to share existing photos that have been taken through the phone’s basic camera application, which keeps it a long way from Instagram’s intended full functionality. At the time, the application is being referred to as a beta product, meaning it is still in the testing process.

Kids and Teens are Getting Sick of Facebook

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Back in May, the results of a survey were released, revealing that teens were starting to grow a bit tired of Facebook, finding a number of reasons to instead be drawn to other social networks such as Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Snapchat. Part of this is because of adults — including parents and grandparents — having an ever-growing presence on Facebook, which keeps Facebook from remaining ‘cool’. Other issues that were brought up included oversharing by their friends and ‘drama’ that would happen in real life because of Facebook.

Though Facebook repeatedly denied that teens’ interest in Facebook was waning, their recent quarterly financial statements have shown Facebook’s first-ever decrease in teenage daily users. Facebook continues to defend itself in regards to the fact that Facebook is still the highest-used social network by teens in the United States, but this admission led to a slight drop for Facebook in the stock market.

Apart from cyber-bullying and oversharing reasons, some news sources suggest that it could be Facebook’s mobile app that is holding it back by being so cluttered and full of options that it can be overwhelming and result in ‘decision paralysis’. When compared to simpler mobile apps that teens have been drawn to in recent years, it’s quite noticeable how much less clutter can be found on services like Instagram and Snapchat.

One of the reasons that teens appear to be drawn to Snapchat in particular is for the same reasons adults who use Facebook wouldn’t put certain information on LinkedIn. For instance, in the way that adults wouldn’t want to look like slackers by posting vacation photos on their LinkedIn profiles, kids and teens don’t want to have any of what they post permanently recorded on Facebook. Instead, they choose to share silly images and videos that are only temporary with their friends, so that their posts aren’t scrutinized and used against them at a later date.

Facebook Launches Video for Instagram

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There was quite a bit of speculation going on back in June, where a number of reports were stating that Facebook was working on launching something big. In particular, all signs were pointing to a massive update to Facebook’s subsidiary photo-sharing social network Instagram: this update would allow for video sharing on top of photo sharing, likely in response to Twitter’s exceedingly popular Vine mobile application.

The speculation turned out to be correct when Video on Instagram was launched on June 20. Instagram’s new video app allows for video clips from three to fifteen seconds long, a variety of video filters, and the ability to arrange clips together to create videos with more focus. Some media sources are saying that it’s very similar to Twitter’s Vine app, only with more features and a more intuitive interface. The application was launched simultaneously on iOS and Android, following shortly after Vine’s recent release on Android.

Knowing that Video on Instagram was on the horizon, it is unsurprising that Twitter teased new Vine features on the day that Facebook’s competing application was launched. The co-founders of Vine released some videos that showed off new features and enhancements to the user interface that will be coming soon to Vine. They intend to bring the ability to create and save drafts of videos before sharing them as well as standardized categories for videos instead of a primary focus on hashtags.

Regardless of Vine’s new and improved interface, it is likely that Video on Instagram will give them a run for their money. At the very least, it is likely that the two competing social networks will be pushed to innovate more and introduce new, interesting features that separate themselves from one another and force users to make a choice about which they think is best when it comes to instantly sharing miniature videos.

Facebook and Google Plus Appropriating Hashtags

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Hashtags are a relatively recent addition to a number of social networking platforms; the website they are most associated with would be Twitter, who have been using them since 2009. Essentially, hashtags are tags using the ‘#’ symbol that are used to more easily group similar messages and topics together. Many social networks have integrated hashtags into their interfaces in order to encourage further connectivity between users.

Though hashtags are most commonly associated with Twitter, there are many other major social networking websites and other websites that also use hashtags frequently. Instagram users often include heavy amounts of hashtags on their pictures, as they are not restricted to 140 characters like they would be with Twitter, allowing for people to use a much larger number of hashtags than would be possible on Twitter posts. Though some people believe that too many hashtags can be excessive, this hasn’t stopped other social networks from hopping on the hashtag bandwagon.

Google Plus has offered the usage of hashtags for quite some time now, though they are evolving into what have been referred to as ‘smart hashtags,’ as they are automatically assigned to posts based on recognition of the words and images that were used in the post. These features have recently been added to the Android and iOS apps for Google Plus and may offer a glimpse towards the future of hashtags.

Of course, Google Plus is not the only major social network hoping to be a part of the future of hashtags. Facebook, not wanting to be left behind, is also rumored to be toying with the inclusion of hashtags on their social network, likely aping the model that has been previously established by networks like Twitter and Instagram. Facebook is looking at hashtags from a marketing standpoint, as they believe that there are additional ways that hashtags can be used to promote business pages on their social network.

Instagram Reaches 100 Million Monthly Active Users

A recenPicture 3-5-2013t announcement stated that popular social networking site Instagram had recently reached 100 million monthly active users. For those not in the know, Instagram is a photo-sharing social networking website launched in 2010 that allows users to take pictures, apply special digital filters to them, and distribute them through other social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The app has often been lauded as the digital equivalent to using now-extinct Polaroid cameras.

In early 2012, only a year and a half after the initial release of Instagram, the company was purchased by Facebook for a whopping $1 billion. Some suggested that this purchase was made because Instagram was succeeding in the photo-sharing business in a way that Facebook had attempted and ultimately failed at. By making this purchase and allowing Instagram to be an integral part of Facebook (though not fusing the two social networks together), Facebook and Instagram have enjoyed a nominal amount of success together.

Though it may be surprising to some that a social network is able to take off into having 100 million users in a matter of two years, this is simply the fast-paced technological world that we now live in. In fact, looking at previous major social networking websites such as Myspace and Facebook, it usually took roughly two years to report these sorts of numbers in regards to their user base. In fact, Facebook hit its first million users – and this was years before easily-accessible mobile apps and the overall popularity of social networking – in roughly ten months.

With Instagram continuing to grow, and under the wing of Facebook at that, it has clearly made itself a name as one of the most popular and resonant social networking websites of all time. Though there were recently some troubles regarding an update to the website’s terms of service, in that it was mistakenly implied that the company would be able to sell images uploaded to Instagram to outside parties, that trouble does not seem to have majorly hindered the growth of the social network. In years to come, it is likely that Instagram will see an even larger base. Unless some hot new social network knocks it out of the water like Facebook did to Myspace, that is.

Vine: Twitter’s Entry into Video Social Networking

An odd trend iPicture 1-30-2013n recent years with social networks is to base new social networking ideas off of existing ones. For instance, when MySpace relaunched as Myspace, it was immediately compared to other social networks, referred to as LinkedIn for musicians with a layout resembling Pinterest. With the large amount of major social networks that are prevalent in this day and age, it’s tough not compare new services to the old ones, especially considering how often multiple social networks do the same thing (see Facebook and Google Plus or Facebook Poke and Snapchat, as have been discussed in previous blog posts).

The newest popular venture into social networking is Vine, which of course is already being referred to as ‘the Instagram of video’. The new social network was launched by Twitter last Thursday and it allows its users to post six-second video clips without sound that operate similarly to animated GIFs. The social network has simple connectivity to smartphones and the Vine mobile app operates quite easily; all one has to do is touch the screen to record and let go to stop.

This isn’t the first time that something has been pitched as ‘the Instagram of video,’ as networks such as Viddy, Color, Socialcam, and Cinegram – which was seeing a recent surge in popularity until Vine was launched – have tried to do the same thing. Yet tech critics are skeptical that Vine is going to become the same kind of social phenomenon that Instagram has become. For one, part of the appeal of Instagram is its ability to shift pictures into looking more interesting, as if a photo taken with a cameraphone was taken by someone with an actual camera and photography skills. Vine simply records video, removes the sound, and makes it easy to share.

The fact that Vine has Twitter behind it is going to be positive for it in the long run, but that’s only if Vine actually manages to catch on in the first place. One common problem with these video social networks – and a similar one that Snapchat and other networks have faced recently – is the posting of lewd and pornographic content. Because of the enormous amount of user-generated pornographic content that has already been posted on Vine, the mobile app was recently removed from the ‘Editor’s Choice’ section in the iPhone App Store.

Vine’s removal from the metaphorical front page of the iPhone does not bode well for it and neither does the fact that many offensive comments are already being posted in response to video posts on the service. Vine is already doing what it can to reduce pornographic content labeled with obvious hashtags, but posts about violence, urination, and other potentially offensive material are often harder to track down, and if they aren’t technically violating the terms of use, it’s hard to say what the moderators of Vine can even do about it. The ‘Instagram of video’? Maybe not so much.