StumbleUpon’s 5by Relaunches As An App For Chatting About Online Videos With Friends
5by, the video recommendation startup that became StumbleUpon’s first acquisition last fall, is relaunching its mobile apps for iOS and Android with a slightly different focus: instead of only helping users find online videos that match their mood, 5by’s new apps are meant to encourage users to seek out videos for themselves, get a head’s up about the next viral videos before they go big, and, most importantly, chat with friends about the videos they’re watching in real-time.
This shift to become more of a social app mirrors that of 5by’s parent StumbleUpon’s recent efforts with its own mobile application. Earlier this month, the company relaunched the StumbleUpon iOS app with new features designed around starting conversations with other StumbleUpon users and friends. That is, instead of just recommending content, StumbleUpon wants to become the place where users socially chat about that content with friends.
Users can either share videos privately one-to-one, or can create group chat with up to 12 friends. After sharing, you can engage in real-time, text-based conversations in 5by in a format that’s similar in style to the new StumbleUpon app.
Of course, as with any social app, the challenge is in gaining a critical mass of users. Today, you may have few (if any) friends actually on 5by to chat with, so users will still likely turn to SMS to chat about videos as need be. But as more users turn to mobile devices to network with friends and be entertained, 5by hopes to establish itself as “the ultimate entertainment inbox, a one-stop shop for all things online video.” (via TechCrunch)
What Twitter Fabric Means for Developers
In its earlier days, the social network encouraged third-party developers to build their own apps and services on top of the platform. But the company later began to roll out its own competing features (the most notable example of this is when Twitter created its own image sharing service, frustrating companies like Twitpic and Yfrog).
But Twitter made its biggest appeal yet to developers on Wednesday at Flight, the company's first mobile developer conference. There CEO Dick Costolo unveiled Fabric, the company's ambitious plan to win back developers.
Fabric, its new development platform, consists of three buckets of software development kits that developers can use within their own apps: Mopub, which helps developers build native ads; Crashlytics, a debugging tool to aid stability; and Twitter, a distribution tool that allows developers to take advantage of twitter sign-ins, native tweet embeds, and Digits, the new phone number-based login.
Digits, which allows developers to create phone number based logins separate from Twitter or other social identities, seemed to generate the most excitement on the conference floor and around the web. (via Mashable)
Tumblr Bets on Video, Updates Its Player With New Features
Tumblr rolled out a series of improvements to its video player, including infinite looping and the ability to watch clips off to the side of a page while still staying in a stream to look at new content.
The popular blogging site is looking for ways to enhance its user engagement. This latest news comes just days after owner Yahoo reported that Tumblr grew its audience 40% (from 300 million to 420 million users) since it acquired the site in 2013. Tumblr could bring in $100 million in ad revenue in 2015.
Other improvements to the Tumblr player include the ability to change video to HD quality and auto play, which automatically plays videos when you see them on the site. The latter feature works both on the web and via mobile (though only if connected to Wi-Fi on a mobile device).
Videos uploaded to the Tumblr player, as well as those from Vine and Instagram, will now repeat on a loop. While infinite looping is an attractive feature for those who miss a clip and want to see it again, the company is still mum on whether it will be converting the outdated GIF format to a modern MP4 video format. Sites such as Reddit, Imgur and Gfycat have made that move because an MP4 file is significantly smaller, and loads faster with less buffering. (via Mashable)
Mint’s Aaron Patzer Launches Beta Version Of An On-Demand Answers
Aaron Patzer, the founder and former CEO of Mint, a personal financial management service, is placing his next bet with the on-demand info space. He and co-founder Jean Sini (another former Minter) are launching the beta of Fountain, an app that gives you advice from a curated set of experts. The app is currently focusing on the home improvement space and in alpha testing phase with a bunch of friends and family.
The app allows use of voice, video or texting. The app allows you to draw on the pictures you take to point out specific things you are concerned about or to show the person on the other end exactly what you are getting at. The experts are available 24/7 in theory and the whole thing should take about 5 minutes, according to what it says on the app.
You can ask about that weird hum in the fridge, how to fix a toilet, or why all your terrarium plants seem to die on you. Categories are all focused on home improvements for now, though Patzer does plan to expand to more categories as the app grows in user numbers. (via TechCrunch)
Ello Raises $5.5 Million, Legally Files As Public Benefit Corp. Meaning No Ads Ever
Ello.co, the ad-free social media network which blew up last month, has nabbed $5.5 million in venture capital funding even as it plants a legal flag in the ground that the company will never make money from selling ads or user data and that no acquirer can do so either.
The company filed in Delaware as a Public Benefit Corp., which Ello says makes it legally impossible under US law for investors to require Ello to show ads, sell data, or sell the company to any buyer who would violate those conditions.
Given its commitment to an ad-free business model, the company says it will look to generate revenue by selling personalized features and other services at small prices through an online store “inspired by the Apple app store” according to a press release. (via TechCrunch)