Category Archives: Breaking News

Facebook testing new Timeline design

Facebook is testing a series of changes to the current Timeline design.

Facebook is testing a series of changes to the current Timeline design.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET)

Facebook users may be in store for some design tweaks to their Timelines.

The popular social network is testing a revamped layout for the Timeline among select users in New Zealand, a spot where Facebook typically tries out new features.

The new layout sports a single-column for all the posts and updates on your Timeline, according to a screenshot obtained by The Next Web. That by itself would be a welcome change from the current double-column layout, which has always struck me as confusing and unnecessary.

With your status updates and other posts on the right, an “About” section appears on the left with bits and pieces from your profile. The years appear all the way on a right sidebar, where you can jump to a particular year just as you’re able to now.

Another image caught by TNW shows a new feature in the form of a status update, this one from BuzzFeed.

Clicking on the link in the update opens the associated Web page, as always.

But a new “Like Page” button can take you directly to BuzzFeed’s official Facebook page. This tweak seems designed to help people more easily find the actual Facebook pages of different businesses and organizations.

There’s no word on when, or if, this new Timeline might pop up for other users. Assuming the test phase goes well in New Zealand, Facebook will undoubtedly start rolling out the Timeline tweaks to the rest of the world.

CNET contacted Facebook for comment and will update the story when the company responds.

Marc Benioff is still in a buying mood

(gigaom.com) — Salesforce.com, which hasn’t exactly been shy and retiring on the acquisition front over the years, plans to keep right on buying companies and technologies it needs to bolster its marketing and support services push.

“We need to buy more marketing companies. We want to be the company you turn to for sales, service, marketing and the platform,” CEO Marc Benioff told analysts on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call Thursday afternoon. “We want to grow organically and via acquisition.”

For its fourth quarter, the company reported a loss of $20.8 million, compared to a loss of $4.1 million for the same period last year.

Marketing technology has become a hot spot over the past few years. Salesforce.com ponied up $326 million for Radian6 (social media monitoring) in 2011 and then $800 million for Buddy Media (social marketing) to buy both mind share and market share. But rivals have also spent big — Oracle bought Eloqua a few months ago for $871 million. The working theory behind this activity, as Benioff said on the call, is the believe that at some point in the near future chief marketing officers (CMOs) will have more IT buying power than CIOs.

Asked what Salesforce should do to counter Oracle/Eloqua, Benioff returned to the acquisition trail: “I think we’ll buy small and big. We’re going to be aggressive and look at everything.”

Salesforce.com, which started out as a customer relationship management (CRM) or sales-force automation (SFA) company, now also focuses on three other businesses: marketing; help desk type services (desk.com) and “the platform.” The latter is presumably both Force.com, the company’s internal development platform and Heroku, the Platform as a Service it bought three years ago.

But it’s difficult to get any feel for how those newer businesses are faring — although Salesforce did lay off a hundred or so employees from Buddy Media and Radian last fall. . Asked about traction for its “non-SFA businesses” CFO Graham Smith didn’t get specific, referring to comments made at the company’s Dreamforce show last fall. “It’s been a pretty gradual shift. I suspect it’s close to what we said then with 55 percent [of business] SFA and 45 percent non-SFA … As our more recently acquired businesses grow at a faster rate than sales cloud we’d expect a shift away from SFA but hopefully not too fast.”

Benioff did say that social advertising — in the marketing group — is probably the company’s fastest growing business. But it would be really nice to hear what sort of new, non SFA accounts are coming buying these new services and how much overlap there is between its CRM customers and consumers of these other services.

Your guess is as good as mine, because Salesforce.com ain’t sharing.

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Gadgetwise Blog: App Smart Extra: Starry Night

Stars, galaxies, meteors and satellites were the subject of App Smart this week as I tested out astronomy apps to help identify objects in the night sky. These apps typically use your phone or tablet’s sensors to display a view of what you’re pointing your device at in the sky in real time, helping you identify planets and constellations. Here are more apps like this to try out:

Star Walk — 5 Stars Astronomy Guide is a popular iOS app, costing $3. It has the same kind of dynamic star display as other apps in its class, and it’s easy to use. It’s also jam-packed with imagery and data on the 200,000 stars and planets in its database, and has a calendar so you can keep track of interesting celestial events. I particularly like the beautiful imagery it uses to show constellations and detail on the planets.

SkySafari 3 may be useful for more experienced star gazers. It has data on 120,000 stars and 220 star clusters, nebulae and galaxies, as well as detailed information pages written by professional astronomers. The basic version costs $3 on iOS, but there’s a Plus edition for $15 that has data on 2.5 million stars and can control some wired and wireless telescopes. The Pro edition is $40 and has many more stars and features but is aimed at the serious amateur astronomer.

Alternatively, and much more simply, there’s SkEye Astronomy, available as a free Android app. It has a businesslike feel, and is slightly sparing on user interface touches like icons. But it is powerful, and essentially works in much the same way as Star Walk or SkySafari does. There’s a $9 SkEye Pro version that has more stars in its database and can help you spot satellites too. But the free edition is fine for the casual astronomer. The app is not ideal you’re a complete beginner, however, as it lacks the kind of detailed background data on stars and so on that similar apps have.

The benefit to stargazing apps like these is that they also work during the day, or in a city that’s too light-polluted to let you see more than a handful of stars. This means you can turn them on at any time to learn more about astronomy.

Quick call: The Popular instant messaging app WhatsApp has been updated to a new version for Windows Phone 8. It has better support for Windows Live Tile displays and extras like a back-up system.