MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Facebook is rearranging the notification panel on its mobile apps in an effort to broaden the audience creating, watching and reacting to live video on its social network.
The shift announced Wednesday is part of Facebook’s effort to turn its live video feature into a marquee attraction as more people use their smartphones to record and share snippets of their lives.
Initially introduced as a tool for celebrities eight months ago, Facebook’s live video option is now available in 60 countries.
To help promote it, Facebook is moving the button for its Messenger service so that the new video option can be highlighted on the notification panel. When pressed, the video button will show a directory of live streams from a user’s friends, as well as segments available to anyone on the world’s largest social network.
Messenger notifications will move to the top of Facebook’s mobile apps near the search box.
The app update for Apple and Android devices will be rolled out in phases and take several weeks to complete.
Facebook also is adding filters to live video and making it possible to express more emotions during a presentation by pressing on “love,” ”haha,” ”wow,” ”sad” or “angry” emojis. Those are the same options that supplement Facebook’s “like” button for photo and text posts. During a live video, the reactions will float across the screen to provide more dynamic feedback to the video.
The update underscores Facebook’s commitment to live video as it vies against Periscope, a similar service owned by its smaller rival, Twitter. Live video also could help Facebook fend off an emerging threat from the rapidly growing message service Snapchat, which says its 100 million users watch about 8 billion video clips per day.
Facebook’s 1.6 billion users collectively watch about 100 million hours of video per day, most of which isn’t being shown live. The company is now trying to push live video to the forefront of how people share their lives and whatever else they find interesting.
“We think of this as the power to broadcast from a smartphone to anyone in the world,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a live video presentation Wednesday. “It’s like having a TV camera in your pocket all the time.”
Zuckerberg gave a spontaneous demonstration of live video’s unpredictability when he abruptly ended his broadcast a few minutes after it began, leaving hundreds of thousands of viewers to wonder if something had gone awry.
The mystery remained unresolved until about an hour later when Zuckerberg appeared in another live video. Instead sitting on a couch in an office by himself as he had been in the first take, Zuckerberg was standing in a room filled with the engineering team that worked on the changes to live video.
Facebook Inc. isn’t showing ads in or near live video feeds, but the Menlo Park, California, company isn’t ruling out that option to fuel its revenue growth.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — WhatsApp says it’s now using a powerful form of encryption to protect the security of photos, videos, group chats and voice calls in addition to the text messages sent by its more than a billion users around the globe.
The popular service owned by Facebook began applying “end-to-end” encryption to standard messages sent on Android smartphones in 2014. After gradually expanding to other formats, WhatsApp confirmed Tuesday that its encryption now works with all forms of communication on its app for Android phones, Apple’s iPhones and other devices.
Encryption has become a hotly debated subject, with some U.S. authorities warning that criminals and violent extremists can use it to hide their tracks. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, who grew up in the Soviet Union, says he believes consumers should have easy-to-use encryption as protection against hackers and identity thieves, as well as “rogue” governments that spy on their own citizens.
WhatsApp’s use of encryption has already caused friction in Brazil, where authorities recently arrested and then released a Facebook Inc. executive after the company said it was unable to unscramble a user’s encrypted messages. That’s because end-to-end encryption automatically encodes each message with an algorithm that can only be unlocked by the sender and recipient.
A handful of less-popular services, including Signal, Wickr and Telegram, use end-to-end encryption, while others don’t use encryption at all. Google, Facebook and Yahoo use less extensive encryption to protect emails and messages while they’re in transit, to prevent outsiders from eavesdropping. But those companies retain the ability to scan messages at certain points and can unlock them under a court order.
Apple uses end-to-end encryption for its iMessage service, but some experts say WhatsApp’s method may be more secure because it provides a security code that senders and recipients can use to verify a message came from someone they know — and not from a hacker posing as a friend.
WhatsApp uses encryption technology from Open Whisper Systems, a San Francisco group that developed its software with private funding and government grants, including a State Department program that encouraged encryption as a defense against repressive regimes.
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Roku is looking to outshine its rivals by adding a headphone-listening option to the latest version of its thumb-sized stick for streaming Internet video.
The headphone option works with Roku’s next-generation streaming stick and its updated smartphone application unveiled Tuesday. The stick and app sync together so a viewer can hear the audio of an Internet video though headphones plugged into a smartphone’s jack.
Roku built the feature in response to the popularity of its recent line of video-streaming boxes that can be heard through headphones plugged into the remote control.
The new streaming stick is also equipped with a more powerful chip that gives it eight times more processing power than its predecessor.
Roku is still pricing the stick at $50, the same as its predecessor.