Facebook at Work to take on LinkedIn and Google Drive

Facebook may control the social graph of 1.3 billion people, but now it has ambitions to stretch deeper into the workplace, according to the Financial Times’ report on plans for “Facebook at Work”.

This isn’t about getting around corporate firewalls to ensure you can see which Frozen character your friends are, though. It’s a proper move to compete with services from Google Drive and LinkedIn to Slack, and become a serious working tool.

“The Silicon Valley company is developing a new product designed to allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents,” claimed the FT.

“The new site will look very much like Facebook – with a newsfeed and groups – but will allow users to keep their personal profile with its holiday photos, political rants and silly videos separate from their work identity.”

It might be a sensible move for Facebook, but how will workers (and bosses) feel about their data being shared and stored on the social network? Workplace collaboration in the cloud isn’t an alien concept for many businesses now, but I wonder how Facebook providing this will be received.

What do you think? The comments section is open for your thoughts.

Also on the technology radar today:

Spotify and Uber team up for in-car music

Uber is holding a press call with a “special partner guest” later today, but their identity is out: streaming music service Spotify. You’ll apparently be able to control the music played in your Uber car from your smartphone, with the tunes delivered from Spotify to the driver’s handset.

Facebook to crack down on ‘overly promotional’ page posts

If you’ve liked Facebook pages that tend to pump out contests or “please buy our thing” posts, expect to see them less in your feed from January. “Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time,” explains the social network.

Read more

The untold truth of Ina Garten

Real world use

We were able to use the Leap Motions during our last internal Hack Days which generated some interesting results. But one litmus test I have for new technology is whether my five-year old daughter can operate it. Whilst she struggled with the games that require pinpoint accuracy and poise, she adores playing with the fish and flying around the earth.

Using the Leap is a good experience as long as it is stationary and not near any very bright light sources. Once you attach it to a laptop and take it mobile, the varying light sources can make it lose track of your hand and this spoils the game or application you are working in. The ability to strain out extraneous light input is the largest challenging still facing the Leap.

The software running the device has made huge leaps (excuse the pun) forward in its reliability and functionality over the last few weeks. There are a small number of applications ready on their new Airspace app store. I have tested a few of them and the experience varies widely.

Where next?

Long term, this is the beginning of useful gesture control of computers.

In the short term the Leap proves itself to be an entertaining gadget for early adopters, and compared to other cutting edge gadgets entering the market the price is low at under £77, delivered in the UK.

I’d like to see it do well and enter the mainstream peripheral market; that jump could come if a wide number of PC manufacturers build it directly into their laptops and desktops.

Read more

Got to ‘get’: the end of free apps on Apple’s App Store – Open Thread

It’s the end of free apps for iOS! Well, sort of. Apple quietly made a design tweak to its App Store yesterday, replacing the “Free” button for apps that are free to download with “Get”.

So, no change to the actual price, but the new wording is one way of sidestepping the debate around “free” apps not actually being free if they use in-app purchases – an issue that regulators in various parts of the world have been looking into.

Now, freemium apps will have the new “Get” button, as well as a prominent “In-App Purchases” notification, to ensure that people know they’re downloading something that will, in some way, be hoping for some of their money at a later point.

Is “Get” a good choice of wording in this case? You might argue that it makes it harder to tell that an app is free to download, although iOS users will surely pick that up by noticing other apps still have prices on their download buttons.

The comments section is open for your thoughts on Apple’s change, and the rise of freemium apps in general.

What else is bubbling in the technology world this morning? Some links:

Senator Al Franken has some questions for Uber

Uber’s bad week just stepped up a notch: US senator Al Franken has written to its chief executive Travis Kalanick with some pointed questions about the company’s privacy policy, statements by senior executive Emil Michael about using private information to target journalists, and its “God View” tool for tracking users. “I would appreciate responses to these questions by December 15…”

Chrome now has 400m monthly active mobile users

Google has announced new stats for mobile usage of its Chrome web browser: 400 million monthly active users. That’s impressive growth given that it was on 300 million as recently as the company’s I/O conference in June.

DOJ: children will die due to Apple encryption

As arguments why technology companies shouldn’t introduce new encryption features go, this is pretty startling, from the US Department of Justice: “Mr. Cole offered the Apple team a gruesome prediction: At some future date, a child will die, and police will say they would have been able to rescue the child, or capture the killer, if only they could have looked inside a certain phone…”

Read more

The truth about Trader Joe’s

Ever tried Two Buck Chuck? The much beloved, and often maligned “super-value” wine, only available for sale at Trader Joe’s stores (that offer booze), has been leaving Trader Joe’s doors by the case since they began to offer the brand in 2002.

But how much do you really know about your favorite $2 bottle of vino? Fantastic rumors have swirled since Two Buck Chuck (aka Charles Shaw wines) hit the market. Speculation on how they manage to bring the wine to us at such a ridiculously low cost, urban legends about how the wine ever came to be, and mystery about Charles Shaw himself (does he exist?) make Two Buck Chuck an intriguing wine with an even more intriguing story.

I remember buying my first ever bottle of “two buck Chuck” at the brand new Trader Joe’s in NYC way back in 2005, and being slightly bummed to discover that I was actually buying three buck Chuck. I chalked it up to everything in NYC being pricey, but it turns out that the $2 price tag isn’t the standard in every Trader Joe’s location. The price of shipping, taxes, and pesky local liquor laws mean the budget price can vary from state to state, with California being the one place you can count on getting a true $2 bottle.

Read more

Uber clarifies data privacy policy as controversy rumbles

The story that broke earlier in the week about an Uber executive threatening to investigate critical journalists’ private lives rumbles on, with the company providing a couple of official responses yesterday.

First, chief executive Travis Kalanick went on a tweetstorm with 13 tweets addressing the issue, although while it concluded with a direct apology to Sarah Lacy, the journalist targeted in the original comments, as Valleywag points out, there were several questions he didn’t answer.

As time has gone by, journalists have been focusing on another aspect of the original BuzzFeed report that kicked off this debate – the claim that an Uber exec had “accessed the profile of a BuzzFeed News reporter, Johana Bhuiyan, to make points in the course of a discussion of Uber policies” without their permission.

Uber has now published a blog post which it says aims to “make very clear our policy on data privacy, which is fundamental to our commitment to both riders and drivers”. It refers to a “strict policy prohibiting all employees at every level from accessing a rider or driver’s data” except for “legitimate business purposes”.

The story that broke earlier in the week about an Uber executive threatening to investigate critical journalists’ private lives rumbles on, with the company providing a couple of official responses yesterday.

First, chief executive Travis Kalanick went on a tweetstorm with 13 tweets addressing the issue, although while it concluded with a direct apology to Sarah Lacy, the journalist targeted in the original comments, as Valleywag points out, there were several questions he didn’t answer.

As time has gone by, journalists have been focusing on another aspect of the original BuzzFeed report that kicked off this debate – the claim that an Uber exec had “accessed the profile of a BuzzFeed News reporter, Johana Bhuiyan, to make points in the course of a discussion of Uber policies” without their permission.

Uber has now published a blog post which it says aims to “make very clear our policy on data privacy, which is fundamental to our commitment to both riders and drivers”. It refers to a “strict policy prohibiting all employees at every level from accessing a rider or driver’s data” except for “legitimate business purposes”.

Read more