Google just released its annual Year in Search, in which it ranked the top 10 trending searches in 2014 that got the biggest boost in search traffic this year compared to last year. (The actual “most popular” list would be pretty boring, Google says, because it wouldn’t change much: We search for generic stuff like “weather” and “Google” year after year, although I’m convinced that this list is more interesting than the search engine is letting on).
This year’s top 10 trending searches is both predictable, and fascinating, offering up a snapshot of our national psyche; it’s a shorthand for the people, places and things that captivated our attention and left us wanting to learn more.
The list is a mixed bag, ranging from serious crises, to big events, to Internet and entertainment trends. No. 1, however, is poignantly predictable: Robin Williams. The actor and comedian took his own life in August, and his passing unleashed an outpouring of searches.
From there, we have a major global event (the World Cup, at No. 2), troubling international news topics (Ebola, at No. 3, Malaysia Airlines, No. 4, ISIS, No. 7, and Ukraine, rounding out the list at No. 10) as well as domestic protests (Ferguson, 8), and a viral charity campaign that took the Internet by storm, raising millions for Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, 6).
But two items on the list strike a considerably less serious tone: Disney’s out-of-the-ballpark animated hit Frozen, which tells the tale of two sisters, nabbed the No. 9 spot (not a surprise, if you have kids or know kids or know of anyone who has kids).
Meanwhile, ringing in at No. 5 on the trending search topics this year we have…Flappy Bird.
Flappy Bird? Seriously? Yes, the ridiculously difficult mobile game was a cultural sensation, coming out of seemingly nowhere and quickly flapping its way to the top of the app charts, but did the game really leave such an impact on our collective curiosity? Apparently, yes, yes it absolutely did.
Check out the full list below:
1. Robin Williams
2. World Cup
4. Malaysia Airlines
5. Flappy Bird
6. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Instagram is working on a new messaging app
Rivaling Snapchat, Threads will enable users to automatically share their location, movements, and battery life with their IG ‘close friends’ list
Now Facebook is a wasteland for your racist aunt and high school friends’ wedding photos, the platform is determined to maintain its social media stronghold via Instagram and WhatsApp (sorry, ‘Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook’). Its latest venture? A new messaging app called Threads.
As reported by The Verge, Threads will be a companion app to Instagram, promoting constant sharing between users and their IG ‘close friends’ list. The app will enable people to automatically share their location, movements, and battery life with each other, as well as send text, photo, and video messages.
The development could be seen as another attempt to rival Snapchat – which already lets users share their location – following Instagram’s introduction of Stories three years ago.
Instagram has been trying to develop the messaging side of its app since late 2017 when the company started working on Direct, a standalone camera-first app exclusively for DMs. The platform ceased work in May this year after research revealed users found it frustrating to switch apps when they wanted to send a message – although this is exactly what happened with Facebook Messenger in 2016.
Screenshots acquired by The Verge show that users have the option to switch on automatic sharing, but are also able to update their statuses manually. Although Threads encourages friends to share their location with one another, it will reportedly show updates like ‘on the move’, rather than a real-time location.
The app’s main feed will show all messages, as well as friends’ updates and active status, and will allow users to watch their close friends’ IG stories as opposed to having to go back to Instagram to view them.
This announcement comes after a number of updates to the platform, including the removal of likes, an anti-bullying feature, and a tool to report fake news. Although, there’s currently no launch date for Threads, and given Instagram’s history with fucked-up trials, it may never even materialise.
Massive change coming to WhatsApp with introduction of ads
WhatsApp will see a massive change by 2020 with the introduction of adverts into the instant messaging app.
It’s been rumoured for a while and now WhatsApp looks set to finally bring adverts to its popular messaging app.
The Facebook-owned firm revealed the news during its annual Marking Summit in the Netherlands, with a rollout expected next year.
Photos of the way these new adverts will look have even been posted online with attendee Olivier Ponteville, giving fans a closer look at what’s to come.
The image, which can be seen on Twitter, shows how ads currently appear on Facebook and Instagram with a WhatsApp screenshot then revealed with a full-screen advert.
According to technology website BGR, once the message appears users will be able to “swipe up when an ad appears for more information about the product or service being advertised.”
Adverts in WhatsApp have been spoken about for a while but this is the first evidence that things are changing within the popular service.
How fans react is yet to been seen but it’s unlikely to go down well with its billions of users.
The bad news is that it seems there’s nothing that can be done to stop this new feature from arriving within the app.
It seems almost certain that there will be no way to switch them off or hide these paid-for messages which may prove to be hugely irritating.
Facebook Messenger finally adds quoted replies
Today Facebook Messenger has added a sorely missing feature – quoted replies. This allows you to reply to a specific message in a conversation, and is incredibly helpful when you’re engaged in chats that have a big range of topics. Using the new feature, the people you’re talking to will now know exactly what you were replying to with that “LOL”, for example.
This has been a feature in WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook, for a very long time, and it’s always been sort of a baffling omission in Messenger. So it’s good to finally see it there too.
In order to quote a specific message, long tap on it and you’ll see a new Reply button to the right of the reaction emojis. Tap that, write your reply, and, just like in WhatsApp, the message you’re replying to will appear above your reply. Easy. This potentially means you’ll have less misunderstandings with your friends as to which message was referencing what.
The feature is rolling out now on both iOS and Android.
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