This week on the web, Facebook Messenger will now let you give money to your friends. Workout enthusiasts can start lobbying their gyms to purchase a Smartspot “smart mirror” that helps them perfect their form and track their reps. Also, Industry is building a network of chefs, servers, host, and bar staff, and offering a piece of the pie to the best sharer. Gmail and Facebook want you to have more fun with stickers, emojis, and other visual customizations. It got easier to make your dream pinboards a reality with a Pinterest “Buy It” button. And, Google’s driverless cars are still better drivers than humans, but Google Photo’s recognition software needed the anti-gorilla tweak.
Can you float me ten bucks?
Did you notice the new dollar sign icon on Facebook Messenger this week? Users can now send money to their Facebook friends via Messenger by registering a debit card issued by a U.S. bank. In an open Messenger conversation, click the dollar sign and enter the amount of money to be sent. The friend receiving the money will be notified, and will need to register their debit card to receive the money. Facebook is not charging any fees, and since credit cards are not currently accepted, there should be no bank fees. This sounds like a convenient way to reimburse a friend for lunch or chipping in for the office party, but could get into murkier waters when friends attempt to use it in place of a crowdfunding site that adds a layer of legitimacy, or for online yard sale type transactions. At this time, there is no hold period or dispute process. While there is buzz around people’s reluctance to link a bank account with their Facebook profile, Facebook reassures users that their card numbers are encrypted and secure, and users having the option extra security with a PIN or Touch ID.
The smarter workout partner
Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the brawniest man of all? And am I doing this shoulder fly correctly? Smartspot secured almost $2 million in funding this week as it offers pre-orders of their smart mirror. The Smartspot uses a large flat screen panel and a 3D camera to help weightlifters monitor the effectiveness of their workout. The system analyzes posture and form, displaying angle measurements that turn green when the exercise is being done most effectively and counts reps and rest time. Data and images can be shared via the internet for personal use or review by a personal trainer. The Smartspot is being marketed for use in gyms, currently priced at a hefty $4,999.
The website jointheindustry.com has been matching chefs, servers, and bar staff with employers in the San Diego market for over a year, with roughly 2,500 job seekers and 300 employers. Similar to LinkedIn, but prepared-to-order for the restaurant and hospitality industry, it allows job seekers to 86 their paper résumés and build an online profile, complete with photos of enticing entrees, and videos of their sautéing skills and pleasure-to-serve-you personalities. They are now “taking reservations” to prepare for their nationwide launch this winter. To help get the word out, they are offering up to 100,000 shares of stock to the person whose sharing of their unique link (provided by Industry) recruits the newest sign-ups.
Fun with Gmail
New emojis and themes are putting the <I:-D back in emailing. Gmail added hundreds of emoticons, as previously seen in Google Hangouts, including a wide selection of cute yellow gumdrop-shaped blobs to help Gmailers express their sentiments without the hassle of typing words. A huge selection of high-resolution background photos was also added, along with options to customize by blurring the image or adding a vignette effect. :-P
Facebook wants to have fun too.
Snapchat should feel flattered, right? Facebook released new features for their Photo Uploader on Android and iOS this week. Users can now swipe on seven different filters fashioned after the seasons. Text of any color can be applied on top of photos, as well as re-sizeable stickers including googly eyes, mustaches, and snotty noses. The interface and features are very similar to Snapchat, who Facebook unsuccessfully tried to acquire in 2013. If you can’t buy it, just make it yourself.
On Pinterest, you can buy it.
When you are having a late night Pinterest browsing session, and you feel pinspired by 22 ways to wear that beautiful turquoise scarf in the photo, and your bleary eyes cause your impulse control to weaken, you can now click the bright blue “Buy It” button. If you are the DIY type, craft supplies or recipe ingredients may be bought faster than you can put the project on your to-do list. Pinterest rolled out buyable pins on iOS this week, with promises to make it available to Android and desktop platforms soon. Without leaving the Pinterest app, purchases can be made using Apple Pay or credit card for the same price as it would be directly from the merchant’s site. Pinterest is working with commerce platforms Shopify and Demandware to power the buyable pins, and many major retailers including Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Michael’s, and Gardner’s Supply Company are already on-board. Pinterest is not charging retailers for buyable pins at this time, but the introduction of the blue button opens up great potential for Pinterest to become a major player in e-commerce.
To err is human.
When it comes to roadway safety, robots win again. Last week, we highlighted Google’s self-driving cars were joining the public roads in Mountain View, California. This week, the driverless automobiles were involved in two more accidents. Once again, humans were at fault in both very minor crashes in which the self-driving cars were hit while stopped at red lights. Google reports that in six years of testing, their driverless cars have been involved in 14 minor accidents, and human drivers were at fault in 100% of them.
Oops, wrong primate.
Google apologized this week following news that the Google Photos app, which uses photo recognition software to categorize photos, tagged photos of a black man and woman as gorillas. Google has come under fire in the past for lacking diversity in their workforce, with African American and Latino employees making up only 5%. But an algorithm can’t be racist, so this time, to err is an algorithm. Google removed the gorilla category entirely until a more sophisticated solution could be programmed. A Google engineer reported that they have also had software glitches that identify humans of all races as dogs.