Social

Apple Music adds new Friends Mix playlist

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Grab the latest update from the Play Store now.
Photo: Apple

You don’t want to be that guy who’s never heard the track all your friends are raving about. But if you use Apple Music, you don’t have to be.

The new “Friends Mix” playlist makes it easy to enjoy the songs your friends can’t get enough of. It’s updated every week, and you can enjoy it now across all devices.

Pokémon Go could finally get player battles this year

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Battling is the feature every Pokémon fan has been waiting for.
Photo: Niantic

You will finally get the chance to battle against other trainers in Pokémon Go, developer Niantic has confirmed.

The feature could be added into the game before the end of 2018. It will follow the introduction of friends lists, trading, and gifting — and should give players a big reason to keep playing.

How to see what your friends are listening to on Apple Music

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Apple Music Friends
Friends don't let friends play ukulele.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple is famously bad at social networks. Unless you count iMessage, which is easily successful and popular enough to exist as a standalone business. Or iCloud Photo Sharing, which brings families and friends closer together every day. What’s that you say? Ping? Sure, that didn’t work out, but using it as your sole representation of Apple’s social efforts is lazy at best.

Apple, then, is pretty good at social stuff. It’s just that it’s hidden. For instance, now you can hook up with friends in Apple Music, and spy on what they’re listening to. How? Let’s see.

Top-shelf writing apps, iPhone mounts and more [Week’s Best Deals]

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This week's best deals include a streamlined writing platform, a double sided iPhone mount, and more.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

With every new week come great new deals at the Cult of Mac Store. This go-round, we’ve got a simple but powerful writing platform for Mac, and a super versatile, double-sided phone mount. Also in are comprehensive lessons in social media marketing, and a powerful VPN for enhanced online privacy and security. Plus everything is discounted by at least 25 percent, and as much as 97 percent. Read on for more details.

Facebook’s new iOS app helps you find events

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Find stuff to do with Facebook Events.
Find stuff to do with Facebook Events.

Facebook is on a quest to cure your boredom with its newest standalone app that is focused solely on events.

Available only on iOS (for now), the new app dubbed Events from Facebook helps you find things to do in your area by giving you a filtered feed of what your friends are up to.

Is Apple wasting its time trying to fight Snapchat? [Friday Night Fights]

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Apple has tried to fight the social networks before.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s next big venture could be to go head-to-head with Snapchat and similar content-sharing services. The company is expected to integrate new video features into iOS that would be developed by the engineers behind Final Cut and iMovie.

Friday Night Fights bug But is this a good idea? Apple failed miserably when it tried to take on social networks before, and some would argue that many of its products already suffer as a result of its expansion into new areas.

Join us in this week’s Friday Night Fight as we battle it out over whether Apple is wasting its time trying to fight Snapchat.

Facebook videos are about to get extremely intelligent

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Facebook
Automatic tagging is coming to video.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Facebook is upping its game with video. Soon, Facebook will be able to automatically identify friends in videos and tag them. Better yet, it’ll store this information so when you want to find that moment again, you could find the video by searching for your friend’s name and then jump straight to when they appear in frame.

Twitter for Mac doesn’t suck anymore

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That didn't take too long, did it?
Photo: Twitter

Twitter finally resurrected its Mac app with just about everything its users have been asking for over the past several… well, for a really long time. The update at long last looks much like the Twitter you’re familiar with on your smartphone or desktop browser. It’s complete with highly requested features like GIF support and group direct messages with up to 50 people, plus a dark theme for power users and more.

“Don’t call it a comeback!” Twitter wrote in the update description. “Twitter for Mac is getting the update you’ve been asking for.”

Facebook adds support for Live Photos — but there’s a catch

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Your Facebook News Feed is about to liven up.
Photo: Facebook

A few months after Apple birthed Live Photos into existence with the release of the iPhone 6s, Facebook is catching on to the idea. The social network is building the feature right into its iOS app so iPhone 6s and 6s Plus owners can start uploading their animated photos and viewing others. But it’s not all good news, since there are two issues with Facebook’s implementation.

Meet the messaging app that will save your ass

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reTXT lets you edit messages or photos after you've already sent them.
Photo: reTXT
reTXT lets you edit messages or photos after you've already sent them.
reTXT lets you edit messages or photos after you’ve already sent them. Photo: reTXT

reTXT is a radical new messaging app that wants to fix everything wrong with online communication as it exists now. It landed back in April and includes a number of unique features — like being able to edit a message you already sent — all of which are currently patent pending. The app just updated today for iOS and Android with support for voice calling with end-to-end encryption as well.

Sticking out from the crowd of third-party messaging apps, I decided to take a closer look.

Twitter for Mac’s anemic update is a total slap in the face

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Twitter for Mac got an update no one asked for.
Photo: Twitter

Good news: the official Twitter app for Mac finally got some attention today for the first time in almost a year. It now supports direct messages without the 140-character limit. Bad news: that’s the only feature added in the update, rendering it so totally insignificant you’re probably considering donating a new coffee machine to the Twitter for Mac team.

Computer engineer wins 1,000 Twitter contests with Python script

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A simple Python script later, Hunter Scott was entered into 165,000 Twitter contests.
Photo: Hunter Scott

Computer engineer Hunter Scott wrote a Python script to enter virtually every Twitter contest started over the span of nine months. The bot ended up entering him in about 165,000 different “RT to win” contests and more importantly, he won close to 1,000. On average, he won four contests per day every day.

Handy new app turns Notification Center into messaging machine

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Select a pre-written message and send it straight from Notification Center.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

“I’m leaving” is a message I probably send way too often, but not as often as “I’m here.” It’s just become routine whenever I’m making plans or picking someone up. It’s not necessarily a burden, but it’d be a nice luxury to be able to quickly send friends these repeat messages automatically to save a little bit of time. You’re smart so I bet you know where I’m going with this.

Yes, Written is a new app for iPhone that lets you write out five of your most commonly used phrases and save them for easy access in Notification Center. Then when you pull down the Today view from the top, you see the Written widget with your five messages. Tap one to send it along to your favorite contacts. It works with the Messages app and even WhatsApp.

Medium comes to iPad, and the best social reading app gets even better

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Outside of reading Cult of Mac (which you’re already doing!) Medium is one of the best go-to destinations of quality writing on the Internet. A blog publishing platform co-founded by ex-Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, Medium is an effortlessly easy-to-use social journalism network that puts content — not ads — first. It’s like WordPress meets Instagram.

Medium already has a wonderful iPhone app, but sadly, universal support was missing at launch. But that’s all changed, and you can now surf Medium on your iPad as well.

Xspin Bluetooth Sensor Is Like GPS Tracking For Indoor Bicycle And Elliptical Rides [First Look]

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Image courtesy of Pafers.

 

Now that winter has hit the country, cycling has moved indoors for much of the U.S. That means straddling a stationary bike or throwing your trusty road or mountain bike up on a stand (or if you’re really brave, rollers).

That’s where the Xspin comes in. it’s a small box filled with sensors and a low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 radio that attaches to a crank arm and sends speed, distance and cadence data to an accompanying app — either one of two developed by its parent company, Pafers, or a handful of popular third-party cycling apps, like Strava or MapMyRide. It’ll also work with ellipticals (though it obviously attaches differently, since ellipticals don’t have cranks).

How to Stop Social Apps From Tracking You

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This article first appeared in the Cult of Mac Newsstand magazine

Thanks to Apple’s tireless vetting of App Store apps, it’s tricky for an app to flat-out snoop on you. Then again, the behavior of some apps could be thought of as snooping if you squint and look at them the wrong way.

Foursquare is all about location, but that’s because it knows exactly where you are. And Facebook is… Well, Facebook likes to know things about you.

But you can keep earning Mayorships and tweeting your pictures without telling everyone where you live, or letting them post your location to Facebook. Just follow our handy guide to the privacy settings of various famous apps.

In Case You Didn’t Already Get Enough Spam, Google Will Deliver Ads To Your Gmail Inbox

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I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time deleting spam messages from my inbox — despite using a junk mail filter. But the issue is about to get a whole lot worse, with Google gearing up to deliver adverts to our Gmail inboxes. The messages will appear under the new Promotions tab that was recently introduced in a Gmail update, and Google is testing them on a small number of users now.

See Exactly What Your Friends Have Planned With Wonderfully Social Calendar App UpTo [Daily Freebie]

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UpTo might be the best social calendar app ever made. I’ve never really seen anything like it; so if it isn’t the best (or really the only) social calendar app around, whatever else is out there must be perfect — because UpTo is pretty damn fantastic.

The whole point of UpTo is to create a social experience around calendars, in a way that’s at once instantly recognizable and ridiculously simple to use.

Weathermob Now Lets You Check What Other Surfers, Golfers, Hikers Are Saying About the Weather [Daily Freebie]

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Social weather iPhone app Weathermob has just seen a big, fat update, which Weathermob‘s PR people describe as “a deeper, more delightful and safer understanding of weather.”

With new activity-based (surfing, hiking, golfing, gardening) channels and additional detail added to the realtime weather trends aggregated from its users, this is social weather, and unlike anything else available at the app store.

Video-Broadcast Startup Spreecast Now Available as an iOS App [Daily Freebie]

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It’s a bit of a challenge to describe Spreecast in a nutshell — hence the clumsy headline.

Watching the service is sort of like eavesdropping on a videochat between a small group of people; only you can also interact with other viewers, and the videochatters (I hereby coin this word) themselves, through live (text) comments. Spreecast has been used by a bunch of big organizations and famous people — a few standout examples include Reese Witherspoon, The Wall Street Journal, VH1 — to broadcast conversations and interviews. Of course, peons like me (or you) can also use Spreecast to broadcast our own chatter.

Spreecast is old news, since it’s been around since late 2011; but now it’s available as an iPhone app.