Instagram's revamped Explore section includes Stories

Stories are an increasingly important part of Instagram, and the social network wants to be sure you see more of them. It just unveiled a revamped Explore tab that will feature personalized Stories recommendations. You won’t have to track down a specific person (or rely on the carousel on your home feed) to watch ephemeral videos. The feature will roll out in the “coming weeks,” Instagram said, so don’t worry if you don’t see Stories right away.

The updated Explore also brings a new navigation bar with fast access to common features and tasks, including “more immersive” IGTV and Shop sections. Tap the IGTV section and you’ll get a customized feed of recommended videos, while Shop now has category filters to limit your focus to goods like clothing or home decor. This update should arrive in the US starting today.

It’s not surprising that Instagram would push Stories and other services in Explore — it remains an important component of the app. More than half of Instagram users visit Explore every month, making it a showcase for Instagram’s offerings. Don’t be surprised if there’s a surge of interest in Stories, IGTV and shopping, if just because they’ll reach more eyeballs.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Jon has been hooked on tech ever since he tried a Compaq PC clone when he was five. He’s big on mobile and is one of those precious few people who wears his smartwatch with pride. He’s also an unapologetic Canadian: Don’t be surprised if you get an earful about poutine or the headaches with Canadian carriers.


Shares

Share

Tweet

Share

Save




Comments

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Instagram is killing its dedicated Direct messaging app

Sponsored Links


Instagram

It looks like Instagram is killing its standalone Direct messaging app and laying it to rest very soon. Social media consultant Matt Navarra and a few reviewers on the application’s Google Play page have reported getting a notification that says Instagram will no longer support the Direct app “in the coming month.” It didn’t mention an exact date for Direct’s demise, only that your conversations will automatically be transferred to the main Instagram app — the move won’t actually delete your DMs with friends.

The Facebook-owned platform first launched Direct in a handful of countries December 2017. Since then, it rolled out a bunch of features, including Giphy GIFs, and even a web version for your desktop. The app never became quite as popular as the main application, though, and it never got to roll out to most regions. It remained in beta — and we wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never even heard of it before.

It’s not clear if the platform is killing the standalone app because it never truly gained traction, if it’s not worth the effort anymore seeing as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are both a lot more popular, or if it there’s another reason behind the decision. We’ve reached out to Instagram for confirmation and will update this post when we hear back.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Oculus Quest will have Bigscreen's VR theater on launch

Sponsored Links


Bigscreen

You can use the Oculus Quest standalone and the Rift S tethered headsets to watch movies and play games on a massive virtual screen as soon as they become available. Bigscreen, the popular VR movie theater, has confirmed that it’s one of the the devices’ official launch titles — simply put, you can enjoy it on the Facebook-owned company’s new headsets as soon as they come out on May 21st.

The free software gives you a way to enjoy your media on a big screen in various virtual environments, such as campfires and movie theaters. And since it’s also a social VR platform, you can hang out with friends to watch shows or play video games by using its desktop screensharing feature — multiplayer rooms support up to 12 users.

Your friends don’t even need to have the same device, thanks to Bigscreen’s cross-platform support for all the devices it’s compatible with, including the Samsung Gear VR, all SteamVR and all Windows Mixed Reality headsets. In addition, Bigscreen will also be one of the launch titles for the Valve Index, which will start shipping on June 15th.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Parents may be able to spot ear infections with a paper cone and an app

Sponsored Links


Dennis Wise/University of Washington

Researchers are working on a smartphone app that could help diagnose ear infections. As NPR reports, the app uses the phone’s microphone, its speaker and a small paper cone. In its current form, the app sends short, sound pulses through a funnel and into the ear canal. It then measures the echo of that sound, and an algorithm uses the reading to predict if there’s fluid behind the eardrum, one of the common symptoms of infection.

The team of researchers — from the University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute — released their initial findings in Science Translational Medicine today. In their study, about 50 children had their ears checked with the app, and the tool was correct about 85 percent of the time, which is comparable to technology used in clinical settings. But as NPR reports, the app is still in development, and it will need FDA approval before it hits the market.

The researchers hope this might help parents diagnose ear infections, but specialists point out that not all fluid behind the eardrum indicates an infection. Not long ago, the Apple Watch heart monitor, which can warn of irregular heart rhythms, faced similar concerns. Some initially feared that its results could be false positives, but a recent study by Stanford University suggests otherwise. Of course, health-based apps have become increasingly popular, and the FDA has approved products like a personal ECG device, an app-connected inhaler and a contraceptive app, all of which might help pave the way for this product.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Google's experimental Rivet app helps kids learn to read

Sponsored Links


Google

Far too many kids struggle to read at an age-appropriate level, but Google is betting that technology could help them get up to speed. The company’s experimental Area 120 unit has released Rivet, an app for Android and iOS that aims to make reading practice both accessible and rewarding. It offers more than 2,000 books ranked by difficulty, and uses speech technology to coach kids on their pronunciation. Rivet can read words or whole pages, highlighting words as it goes along, but it can also listen to a child’s own reading and offer feedback on the words they didn’t get right.

The app also relies on game mechanics to spur young readers. Kids earn points and badge, and it customizes the whole affair with avatars, recommended books and themes. Area 120 also promises “energizing games” and “surprises” to keep readers on their toes.

Privacy is unsurprisingly important. All that speech tech is strictly on-device, and the app requires parental consent. Data is only used to improve the reading experience inside the app.

The app works on phones, tablets and Android-friendly Chromebooks, although it’s only available in English in 11 countries (including the US, Canada, Australia, India and South Africa) as we write this. You can expect Rivet to expand, however. The developers vow to add more content, support more regions and better integrate Rivet into classroom situations. While this comes from an experimental division, there’s a chance it could become a go-to app for reading in schools.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source