Short takes: Mozilla Open Badges, Skype updated for iOS 7 and Android, Yahoo Social Bar sunsetted

I somehow completely missed the release of Mozilla’s Open Badges 1.0 back in March. The concept is an open, federated model for the creation and sharing of badges that represent skills or accomplishments of individuals. More than 600 partner organizations have signed up to create and award badges.

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I worked on a project with the Open University in the UK called SocialLearn a few years back, and one of the ideas we explored was the notion of verifiable credentials associated with education, much like Open Badges. In SocialLearn those would be managed in a n individual’s portfolio, which is something like the Mozilla Backpack in the case of Open Badges.

A simple use case: someone works at company X where she gets trained and certified as a technician on large scale Xerox copiers, and when she leaves to join another firm the badge — and her confirmed skills — travel along with her. I will be tracking this with that life-learning model in mind, which I think is far more interesting than the hype around gamification.

Microsoft has released an updated version of Skype for iPad and iPhone, version 4.13. This is the long-awaited iOS 7 refresh with better dialpad design, and more use of “VoiceOver” — voice interaction — during messaging.

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In related news, Microsoft also announced a redesign of Skype for Android, version 4.4, with significantly better video quality, perhaps as high as 4 time the resolution of previous versions. The release also fixes some nasty bugs, like a problem where incoming calls could make the phone reboot. This release is also available for Kindle Fire HD or Kindle Fire HDX tablets. The company says,

Tablet users will now see a new interface that puts conversations first, displaying your most recent calls and chats.


Yahoo has discontinued the Social Bar app for Facebook last Friday, after nearly zero warning for users.  The app was a way for Yahoo users to keep track of Facebook’s friends Yahoo activity while logged into Facebook. Yahoo’s email to users makes it clear they want ot focus on Yahoo experiences, not Facebook’s:

Here at Yahoo, we aspire to make the world’s daily habits more inspiring and entertaining.

More than ever, we’re focused on building products that are beautiful and meaningful for our users. Sometimes, this means we have to make tough decisions — like closing down features that we feel aren’t adding enough value to the user experience. This helps us spend more energy on creating experiences that make Yahoo the most fun way to spend your time.

With this in mind, we have decided to discontinue Yahoo Social Bar.

Yahoo Social Bar will no longer be available as of Oct. 4. This will enable us to refocus our efforts on modernizing our core Yahoo products experiences and, of course, creating new ones. All of your reading activity has been removed from our servers, and the Social Bar app will be removed from the App Center on Facebook.

To continue using your Facebook account to enhance your Yahoo experience, sign in to or sign up for a Yahoo account on this page [Yahoo login page], then visit this page [Yahoo Profile] to connect your Yahoo and Facebook accounts.

Makes sense to turn the dynamic around, but pulling your Facebook and Twitter activity into Yahoo is not the same as watching what your friends are up to. [PS I can’t seem to get the Twitter integration work, anyway.]