Facebook’s new app attempts to lure users with pixelated, ephemeral messaging

slingshotFollowing Snapchat and Taptalk, Facebook is getting into temporary messages. The new app Slingshot is an independent app from Facebook, and if you’ve been using Taptalk, it’s going to look very familiar because Facebook also used a similar pixelated app icon for Slingshot. (more…)

DataPoint: Is Social Point the Next Big Game Developer?

AppData-DataPoints-650-x-400

The social gaming space is dominated by King and Zynga. As we recently discussed, King’s games alone take up a quarter of the Facebook app market. However, the Barcelona-based Social Point has been growing steadily, and its numbers are nothing to sneeze at.

The company’s biggest hit is Dragon City, which boasts over 24.7 million monthly active users (MAUs). This year alone, the game’s MAUs are up 65.5 percent, and its daily active users (DAUs) are up over 20 percent. Here’s a snapshot of Social Point’s top Facebook apps, courtesy of AppData:

Social Point

The developer boasts over 38.5 million MAUs on the platform, an increase of 172 percent year-over-year. DAUs are at almost 7.8 million, up 283 percent year-over-year. DAU/MAU engagement has increased almost 6 percent year-over-year, showing that more users are playing one of Social Point’s games on a daily basis.

The company recently announced a shift in strategy. In an effort to create games that have longer lasting appeal, the company has four new games in the works that will be “mobile action social strategy” games rather than “breeding” games like Dragon City. The first one, “League of Warriors,” is set to launch this spring. The company has doubled its workforce in the past year and its revenues have increased 10-fold in the past two years.

Even though Social Point’s revenues are a fraction of King and Zynga’s, the company’s growth makes it a strong contender for the next big thing in social gaming.

For more information about AppData click here, or call 415-230-2558.

Mobile apps news roundup: Most top grossing mobile games are integrated with Facebook, Puzzle & Dragons reaches 13 million users in Japan and more

facebookFacebook recaps stats about its games ecosystem from GDC 2013 – In a blog post Monday, Facebook’s director of games Sean Ryan recapped some stats about its games ecosystem that were revealed during the 2013 Game Developers Conference. Ryan says more than 250 million users are playing games on Facebook each month, and 82 percent of the top 100 grossing U.S. mobile games and 75 percent of the top 100 grossing U.S. Android mobile games are integrated with Facebook. In 2012, Facebook paid out more than to $2 billion to game developers and saw total payers increase 24 percent year-over-year from March 2012 to March 2013.

kakaotalk-logo-roundupKakaoTalk’s game platform expands into Vietnam and Indonesia – Messaging app KakaoTalk’s game platform recently expanded into Vietnam and Indonesia, where many of Kakao’s more than 80 million users come from. Indonesia, in particular, has become a hotly contested market for messaging apps. Both Tencent’s WeChat and Kakao have launched TV ad campaigns in the country.

iMessage iconMessaging apps usage surpasses SMS texts for the first time ever, Informa says – Research firm Informa told the BBC Monday that 19 billion messages were sent per day via messaging apps — such as WhatsApp, Kik and iMessenge — in 2012, compared with 17.6 million SMS texts. It’s the first time that the amount of messages send from chat apps have usurped the amount from SMS. Despite the growth of messaging apps, Informa still expects revenue from SMS to grow to $127 billion by 2016, from $115 billion last year.

rovio_logoRovio’s Angry Birds Friends launches on mobile – Finnish game developer Rovio launched Angry Birds Friends, a once Facebook-exclusive title, for iOS and Android yesterday. Angry Birds Friends plays a little differently than the mobile titles in the franchise, where in Friends users can compete against other users in weekly tournaments for the highest score.

ubm-logoUBM TechWeb cancels GDC Online, opens submissions for GDC Next, ADC – UBM TechWeb announced that it’s opened submissions for its two new conferences — Game Developers Conference Next and App Developers Conference. Both conferences will take place in Los Angeles from November 5 to 7. The two conferences replace the GDC Online conference which was held in Austin, Texas. Basically, UBM is looking for input from the game and mobile app industries as to what topics the conference should cover. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, May 29. Find out more about the submission process here and here.

puzzle-and-dragons-app-icon-roundupPuzzle & Dragons reaches 13 million downloads in Japan – According to Social Game Info, GungHo Online, which now has a market cap of $10 billion, saw its incredibly successful mobile game Puzzle & Dragons reach the 13 million downloads mark across the iOS and Android versions in Japan.

playfirst_logoPlayFirst launches Deep Sea Deli – San Francisco-based mobile game studio PlayFirst launched its latest game this week in Deep Sea Deli, a puzzle-matching arcade title for iOS. Unlike some puzzle-matching games, there’s no time limit on game sessions, meaning the title focuses more on skill.

GREEGREE updates NFL Shuffle with new ‘Talents’ feature – Mobile-social gaming giant GREE updated its card-based game NFL Shuffle with a new feature called ‘Talents’ that is aimed at increasing the game’s competitiveness. Users can now utilize an NFL players Talent, a game-changing boost, to increase a card’s scoring potential. Talents come in the form of gameplay enhancements such as additional swaps, and shuffles, offense and defense team bonuses, and Silver and Gold Football Bonuses.

Facebook announces new mobile platform features to give app developers better tools

mobile devFacebook today announced a number of changes meant to improve the experience and increase the possibilities for mobile developers building apps that integrate with the social network. This includes new Open Graph APIs, a standard mobile share dialog, faster login and a Technology Partners program to help developers find third-party solutions that suit their needs.

One of the most significant developments announced today is the Object API, which allows mobile developers to create Open Graph objects without having to host corresponding webpages. Previously, applications had to serve data into Open Graph through web endpoints, so native iOS and Android apps weren’t able to build the same types of experiences or gain the same opportunities for distribution and discovery as web-basedd apps, unless they have the resources to build a web backend. Now this won’t be necessary and mobile or web apps can use the Object API for easier object creation.

Facebook is also introducing an object privacy model to allow objects that have custom or non-public privacy settings. This is especially important for some of the user generated content that comes from mobile apps. Web-hosted objects, on the other hand, have always had to be public. To help developers manage all their objects now, Facebook created a new “object browser” interface — seen below — that aims to organize developers’ objects in a more visual and intuitive way.

object_browser_hirez
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Trim down your social media feeds with Slim

photo (8)Slim is a new iOS app from Slim Labs, Inc. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases. It’s currently highlighted in the “New” section of the store’s Productivity category. A Web-based version is also available, and a native Android version is set to follow soon.

Slim is a social media app that aims to allow users to trim all the irrelevant, useless content out of their various feeds in order to focus on the important updates. At present, the service only supports Facebook and LinkedIn accounts — a Facebook account is required to sign in at all, so those who only use LinkedIn are out of luck — but support for Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Salesforce and Yammer are apparently set for implementation in a future update.

Rather than taking a feed-based approach as with most social media apps, Slim displays a single update at a time and allows users to “swipe” between them. Users may mark the updates they would like to see more or fewer of by using some Last.fm-style “star” and “reject” buttons — from these, Slim apparently learns the user’s preferences and displays more relevant content over time, but it’s clear that there’s already some fairly heavy-duty filtering going on as soon as the app starts, as the vast majority of posts from my Facebook friends were nowhere to be seen. It would perhaps be better for the feed to start from an unfiltered view and allow the user to whittle it down to what they want rather than starting from an already heavily-sanitized position.

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Facebook Home-coming day: HTC First hits stores; Android Messenger gets Chat Heads

home-in-handThe HTC First, a smartphone preloaded with Facebook Home, is now for sale from AT&T. Facebook also updated Messenger for Android to include support for Chat Heads, the feature debuted with Home last week. Home is expected to be available from the Google Play store later today.

Home is an Android homescreen experience that more deeply integrates the social network’s features into Android devices. It essentially eliminates the “lockscreen” as most people know it. Instead of displaying the time and perhaps some notifications, the screen fills with photos and updates from a user’s Facebook friends. Facebook calls this Cover Feed. Users can watch updates pan by slowly or quickly swipe through them manually. It’s possible to Like or comment on posts from this view.

We’ve been using Facebook Home for the past few days, and Cover Feed definitely feels like a better way to browse the latest posts from friends and pages. Switching back to the standard vertical scrolling feed with small images and text in the main Facebook app ends up being disappointing.

facebook-home-cover-feed

Continue reading on Inside Facebook.

Keep your friends close with Socialite

IMG_2353Socialite for Facebook is a new iOS app from independent developer Bryce Satterfield. It’s available now as a free download from the Apple App Store, and also has an optional, separately-sold Pro version available that removes ads.

Socialite’s core concept is to provide an app that allows users to reconnect with one another based on their location as listed on Facebook. In order to use the app, the user must first provide their “home” location via GPS and optionally their phone number, then connect with Facebook. Once this is done, the user is then able to browse their list of friends according to geographical proximity and then interact with them accordingly.

When browsing the app’s “Friends Near Me” list, the user may view their friends either in a list sorted by proximity or on a map showing their current (or last checked-into) location. From either the list or the map, the user may tap on a friend to view a summary of their profile, which includes their Facebook profile picture, their name and their current location. From this page, it’s possible to view the friend’s Facebook profile (an option which switches to the dedicated Facebook app rather than viewing it within the Socialite app), send them a message either via Socialite (if the friend has it installed) or their Facebook profile, call them (if they have signed up to Socialite and provided their phone number) or “nudge” them. “Nudging” Socialite users provides an immediate notification; “nudging” non-Socialite users sends them a Timeline post informing them that you are in the area.

The app can be set up to automatically notify the user when their friends are within a certain distance of them. This facility can be customized — by default, the user must be 100 miles or more away from their defined “home area” before they will receive notifications of friends being nearby, and notifications will be received if friends are within a 50-mile radius. These distances may be relatively “small” for larger countries such as the U.S., but in smaller countries with smaller urban areas (such as the U.K.) the minimum distance of 50 miles is actually a significant way away — by several towns or cities in many cases. It would perhaps be more practical to have had the facility to see when other users are in the same town, or within 5-10 miles rather than 50.

This issue aside, Socialite has the potential to be mildly useful. Because it’s based on Facebook check-ins and location information rather than third-party services such as Foursquare, it’s a good means of easily keeping tabs on friends in the area. The fact it uses Facebook also means that it isn’t reliant on its own proprietary network — in fact, it’s not really all that clear why Socialite even has its own proprietary network, since all the features the app offers (sending messages, calling, nudging/poking) are already present in Facebook.

The app is free but ad-supported, with inconspicuous banner ads on the app’s main menu. The aforementioned “pro” version removes ads for $1.99 and claims to offer “additional perks,” but doesn’t elaborate on what these might be in the App Store description. At present, the ads are unobtrusive enough and the app isn’t fully-featured enough to justify a $1.99 price point. The developer should perhaps consider implementing the removal of ads via in-app purchase rather than an unnecessary separate download.

Socialite has some potential but doesn’t really do very much at present. This is fine for the free incarnation, but those paying for the app will probably expect a little more for their money. The app itself is certainly well-presented and intuitive to use — it’s just a little limited for now.

You can follow Socialite’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

Rovio brings Angry Birds Friends to mobile

AB FRIENDS

Finnish mobile game developer Rovio today announced it’s bringing the Facebook version of its flagship title, Angry Birds Friends, to mobile.

Angry Birds Friends is different from the other mobile versions in the franchise in how it monetizes and its social hooks. Whereas in the mobile versions a single lifetime purchase of $0.99 unlocks all of the game’s levels and powerups, players of Angry Birds Friends can only purchase a limited number of powerups that range from 20 uses for $1 to 1000 uses for $20. The Facebook version of the game also includes exclusive levels and items. Rovio has also expanded the game’s social features for Facebook, integrating Open Graph so users can add the app to Timeline, creating a more visible leaderboard that stays on the right side of the screen and allowing players to send and receive gifts. Players can also collect bonuses for playing every day and competing in weekly tournaments.

Rovio, presumably, hopes to drive up engagement by offering all of these social features and monetization methods to mobile players.

Angry Birds Friends peaked after it officially launched in May 2012 with 24.1 million monthly active users. It has been losing users steadily since, but seems to have platued in December 2012. Today AppData has Angry Birds Friends at an estimated 10.8 million MAU, placing it in the No. 38 spot of thr most popular Facebook games by MAU (right behind FreshPlanet’s SongPop and ahead of Zynga’s CityVille).

angrybirdschart

 

Facebook to drop mobile bookmarks for all apps except cross-platform games

mobile-bookmarksFacebook will no longer display mobile bookmarks for apps unless they are games that function on both mobile devices and the desktop canvas, according to a post on the company’s developer blog. The change goes into effect June 5.

Bookmarks were likely not driving much traffic to most mobile apps so it wasn’t necessary to keep them around. However, Facebook wants to promote cross-platform game development so it will give them the benefit of mobile bookmarks. With fewer apps being included in the bookmarks menu, the few cross-platform games that do appear there could see more traffic than they were before.
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‘Silent updates’ for Android download latest version of Facebook without Google Play

android-developmentFacebook is testing a new way for Android users to receive app updates without going through the Google Play store.

Some Android users are now receiving “silent updates,” which download in the background while a user is connected over Wi-Fi. Instead of users receiving a notification about a new app version through Google Play, the Facebook app downloads its update automatically and then prompts users to install it. A number of users report that the prompts are persistent and a user’s phone will beep or buzz until the update is installed.

Facebook says the silent updates are a way to “make sure everyone is using the best version of our app.”

Read the rest on our sister site, Inside Facebook.

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