Facebook tests mobile profile redesign

Facebook is making it a little easier to stalk people through its mobile applications.
The company announced today that it’s testing a redesign of mobile profiles in the United Kingdom and California. Facebook users involved with the test will gain more control over the information shown to prospective friends, the ability to set temporary profile pictures, and other features restricted to the small test group.
Perhaps the most interesting change is a renewed focus on images. Facebook users trying to learn more about someone they just met — or, let’s be honest, stalk people with whom they’ve lost touch over the years — will be tasked with scrolling through walls of photos after they pass larger versions of the profile and background images.



Users will also be able to choose up to five photos they wish to highlight underneath their biographical information. Profiles used to be dominated by text, given their focus on showing users’ most recent status updates, but now they’re going to place much more emphasis on allowing Facebook users to view each others’ photographs.
“People love seeing photos and mutual friends when viewing the profiles of friends or someone they’ve just met, so those are easier to see now on profile,” Facebook said in its announcement. “Photos and friends are right at the top, making getting to know someone and seeing the world through your friends’ eyes as easy as scrolling.”
Facebook will also give its users the ability to “film a short, looping video clip that will play for anyone who visits your profile.” These are basically animated GIFs that promise to let you “show a part of yourself you couldn’t before” and “add a new dimension to your profile.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s new Live Photos, which are based on a similar concept, were converted for use as these profile videos.
Many of these changes introduce a customizability that didn’t exist on Facebook before. It’s not quite as noticeable as the custom backgrounds and music playlists that used to be tied to people’s MySpace accounts (let’s all agree not to discuss the bad choices we might have made back in those days) but it’s freer than before.
Facebook explained some of the reasoning behind these changes in its blog post. “People visit Facebook profiles more than four billion times per day,” the company said, “and we’re continually looking for ways to make profiles the best place for people to curate their online identities and connect with others.” The profile, which became an afterthought when the News Feed debuted, could now be relevant again.
It’s not clear when this update will be available to the public — Facebook said only that it’s testing the new features with a small number of users, and it will be “rolling them out to more people soon.” Given how big this change is, it’s hard to blame the company for waiting to roll this out instead of quickly giving it to a billion people.

Secret tries to save itself by imitating Yik Yak

Secret’s “dramatic” app update (which I foreshadowed earlier this month) has arrived. The Verge has published an in-depth look at the confessional app’s attempt to relaunch itself after user downloads and app engagement plummeted.

Secret now looks and operates a whole lot more like its rising competitor Yik Yak. Images no longer dominate the feed. Instead, it’s primarily text-based, with the pictures appearing as thumbnails. It has turned away from the media emphasis of its nemesis Whisper and has abolished the website that curated the popular Secrets.

Power Secret users (if there are any left) will cheer about the new addition of one-to-one messaging. In the first version of Secret, users wanted a chatting tool so badly they turned en masse to alternative service Anonyfish, which was created to address the hole in the Secret product. But now when someone posts a Secret, others can directly chat them, keeping their anonymity.

The biggest change in Secret’s relaunch is that users’ feeds will be divided into “friends” and “nearby” instead of “friends” and “explore.” The nearby function shows posts from anyone within set locations, like cities or universities. “It’s more important what is said than who said it,” Secret CEO David Byttow told The Verge. “Our goal is to facilitate conversation — either in a physical location, or socially, with your friends.”

That’s a total ripoff of Yik Yak’s core function, but before you scoff at the move you should know Secret isn’t the only one doing so. Twitter previewed a nearly identical feature itself during its recent earnings call and is reportedly working with Foursquare to power it. Take a look at the three product comparisons: Yik Yak first, Twitter second, and Secret third. See some similarities?

Screenshots of Yik Yak's location based post tool

Screenshots of Yik Yak’s location-based post tool

Twitter's location curated timelines

Twitter’s location curated timelines

Screenshot of Secret's new feed, via The Verge

Screenshot of Secret’s new feed, via The Verge

Yik Yak clearly has these other social apps on the run, lest they get overtaken by a newcomer. Since Yik Yak’s appearance, it has skyrocketed through the app download charts, gone viral in college communities (much the way [company]Facebook[/company] did), and raised $62 million from WhatsApp backer Sequoia in late November. Its location-feed premise is by no means proven, but it has shown enough traction to worry far bigger companies.

When I wrote a feature on Yik Yak in October, I asked “Could Yik Yak be the real winner among anonymity apps?” It looks as if the answer may be yes.

Twitter now supports GIFs on the web, iPhone and Android

After years of not supporting GIFs within the stream, Twitter (s twtr) has finally had a change of heart. On Wednesday, the company announced that users will now be able to share GIFs in the stream on the web platform as well as iPhone (s aapl) and Android (s goog). It’s important to note that GIFs won’t play live in the stream — users will be able to access the animation by pressing a “play” button. In any case, be prepared for a boatload more of animated cats.

LinkedIn rolls out new profile design and Premium Spotlight subscription for newbies

It is now early June, which means a fresh crop of college graduates are eagerly entering the workforce — and likely have very little clue how to get the job they want. LinkedIn is capitalizing on the times in an announcement Wednesday, which highlights the company’s latest profile redesign, premium features, and a new pricing tier catered to newcomers. Premium members will gain early access to the new layout, font and custom background elements of LinkedIn profiles, as well as suggestions to improve profiles, a fuller look at all people who viewed profiles, and the option to “open” a profile to all LinkedIn users. But the big draw for new grads will be Premium Spotlight, a low-cost, entry-level Premium tier designed to convert jobseekers into power users.

New Twitter profiles now available to all users

After allowing users to opt in early, Twitter (s twtr) announced Wednesday that its new media-rich user profiles are available to all of its users. The new profile page, which includes a larger personal photos and a high-resolution background image, allows users to pin tweets to the top of the feed and incorporates larger into the stream itself. Users will see more tweets taking up more real estate in the stream, similar to Facebook’s (s fb) Timeline “Highlights.” As of this point, the new profile is still an opt-in feature — users can choose to keep their old profile as it is.

How to prepare your iOS 6 device for Apple’s iOS 7 update

Updating your iOS device can be a simple and easy process, provided you take certain precautions up front. These simple steps can minimize your opportunity to lose data and will maximize your chances for a successful iOS update.

iTunes 10.5 now available ahead of iOS 5 launch

Apple has pushed iTunes 10.5, the latest version of its media management software, live for users to download via its official website. The latest version of iTunes brings support for iOS 5 and iCloud, as well as some small changes to the user interface.

Google+ for iOS gets iPad, iPod touch and iOS 5 support

Google released a relatively small update to its Google+ app for iOS on Monday. It doesn’t introduce any extraordinary new features, but does add compatibility with the iPad and iPod touch, and fixes bugs in iOS 5. There are also some additions to the Huddle feature.

Facebook iPad app looks to give us what we want

Facebook’s iPad app is no longer mere rumor and speculation, since a Twitter user found the full version hiding in the latest Facebook for iPhone update. It took them awhile, but it looks like Facebook will soon set things right for its iPad-toting users.