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This Week In Tech – Facebook Enters The Dating Scene

Author: Jason Snyman
Date: 2018-05-08
This week in tech news, Facebook announces plans to enter the dating realm and continue its tireless pursuit of world dominance.
This week in tech news, Facebook continues its dominance of news headlines with a number of F8 conference announcements. Chief among them was the revelation that the social media giant would be delving into the dating app scene. Which doesn’t bode well for any other dating app in existence. Farewell, Tinder. Also, Facebook-owned WhatsApp announces a few changes of its own. And finally, the future of smart phones may not be what we expected.
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Facebook Announces New Dating Feature

After 14 years of people using Facebook as a dating / stalking / creeping app in anyway, the company will finally be rolling out an official dating feature. The announcement came from the CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself at the F8 developer conference keynote which took place earlier this week. The move puts Facebook in a great position to compete with Match Group, the company which owns and operates mobile dating app Tinder, as well as OkCupid. In fact, Match Group’s stock plummeted by over 17% the moment the news broke. Facebook has over 2.2 billion monthly-active users. Tinder’s user base is currently hovering around the 50 million mark. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what’s about to happen. Don’t expect more of the same, though. On stage, Zuckerberg joked that “this is going to be for building real, long-term relationships — not just for hook-ups.” The way it sounds, Facebook’s take will be a little more community focused. It will be integrating the groups and events you’re part of on Facebook itself. Zuckerberg added that the new feature will be within the main Facebook app, but that it would be entirely optional and opt-in only.
“We have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning. Your friends aren’t going to see your profile, and you’re only going to be suggested to people who are not your friends.”
Messaging will also take place in threads separate from Facebook Messenger. Facebook has allowed users to broadcast whether they’re single or in a relationship since the very beginning. Though the new dating feature is meant to appeal to single people, it will not restrict users who are already in a relationship or married. Facebook will announce further information soon, but the testing phase should roll out later this year.

WhatsApp Announces Group Video Call Feature

While we’re on the subject – WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook – also made several announcements at the annual F8 developer conference. The messaging platform will be making a number of new changes. These include adding stickers (which Facebook Messenger has also just implemented) and business-focused app features. WhatsApp has been expanding into the commerce region for some time now. It launching an Android version of WhatsApp For Business earlier this year. The app already has 3 million users worldwide. Company director, Mubarik Imam, revealed that WhatsApp now has over 450 million daily users. She said that over 2 billion minutes of audio / video calls are made through the app each and every day. The feature is obviously popular with users, so the next step seems logical. WhatsApp will also be adding group video call capability in the coming months. There aren’t too many details on how it will work yet, but word is that it will allow up to around four users to participate in a call at the same time. Instagram, also owned by Facebook, will be receiving a similar group video call feature.  

A Tablet On Your Skin

Researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University and ASU Tech have unveiled a (rather bulky) smart watch that turns your forearm into a touchscreen. The prototype LumiWatch, which is similar in theory to the Cicret Bracelet, projects an interactive surface onto the wearer’s arm. Other devices such as Haier’s Asu or Ritot also utilize built-in projectors which display information or sync with your smartphone to project notifications onto the back of your hand. The LumiWatch, though, if they can get it right, may be the very first to project a fully useable on-body interface. The future certainly seems to be now. This allows the user to swipe and tap on their skin, just like using a tablet. The video above shows how the on-body interface might work. The wearer swipes left to unlock the watch, which opens up a selection of apps on your arm. The LumiWatch projects an interface 40 square cm in size, which is about five times bigger than the interface of the average smart watch. It then uses continuous 2D finger tracking to pick up on your movements, calibrating and optimising the angle of projection in order to make the interface usable. Because nobody has flat arms. The 15 lumen scanned-laser projector uses three lasers of blue, red and green to project the image, which is bright enough to be seen outdoors. Other nitty gritty specs include:
  • A Qualcomm 1.2 Ghz quad-core CPU;
  • 768MB of RAM;
  • 4GB flash memory;
  • 740 mAh lithium ion battery;
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capability.
The watch runs on Android 5.1 and with intermittent use, the researchers predict that the battery will last all day. Of course, several obstacles still remain before practical adoption. The immediate retail cost of the prototype model is estimated to be around $600.

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