The new-look Gmail that Google accidentally told us about last week is now rolling out to all users.

The changes, officially announced in a blog post Tuesday, allow Gmail users much more control over the look of the service. You can drag sidebars around to your preferred size and width, choose from a wider selection of high-resolution background pictures, and decide whether you want lots of email on your screen or more white space between mails. (Your choice of email density is between “Comfortable,” “Cozy” and “Compact.”)

Heavy Gmail users will also be pleased to learn that there’s a new search function — that is, you can now access Advanced Search by clicking on the search bar. Conversations have been condensed, and profile pictures added.

These are more features than Google offered in its sneak peek of the new Gmail, which started in July. Here’s the video about the new features Google mistakenly made public last week:



For now, at least, the new features will be opt-in — and not all of us will be able to access them immediately. “If you like what you see, over the next few days you’ll be able to switch to the new look by clicking on Switch to the new look in the bottom-right of Gmail,” writes Google user experience designer Jason Cornwell.

So do you like what you see? Will you be switching? Or is Google messing around too much with a good thing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: gmail, Google, Top Stories, trending

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The world’s largest social network is getting nostalgic. Facebook has quietly rolled out a new feature that displays status updates you posted exactly one or two years ago.

The feature appears as a small box in the right-hand column above the advertising, either titled “On This Day in 2010″ or “On This Day in 2009.” We’ve typically found that the “On This Day” box appears while you’re browsing a photo album. This is how I found out, for example, that I had a terrible day on August 13, 2010.

You can also click the “Show More” button to see more status updates from exactly one or two years ago, if you posted multiple status updates on those days. The feature only seems to go back to 2009. That makes sense — Facebook just didn’t have a lot of users in 2008 or 2007.

Based on a search of public Facebook and Twitter status updates, we believe the feature began rolling out in a limited test on August 11. More and more users started noticing in the last twelve hours, though. This isn’t the first time Facebook has tried to help uses discover their past activity on Facebook. It also has a feature for surfacing photos from your past.

We’re not sure if Facebook thinks of these nostalgic features as just fun little additions to the product, or whether they serve a purpose. Perhaps Facebook wants to remind its users that they have invested years of their lives into their product, so perhaps they shouldn’t switch to something new. Or perhaps its just another one of Facebook’s many product engagement tools.

Has Facebook been reminding you of status updates from your past? Let us know what you’ve been seeing in the comments.

More About: facebook, On This Day In

LinkedIn has announced that it’s opening its developer platform, including its faster JavaScript APIs and customizable plugins, to all developers.

LinkedIn first released its original developer platform in 2009, complete with a set of APIs for letting third-party applications integrate aspects of LinkedIn in their apps. Still, its platform lacked certain features like OAuth 2.0 and advanced Javascript API support, something the company has been testing for the past few months.

The new LinkedIn Developer Platform and website make these APIs available to anyone who wants to use them. LinkedIn also opens its new platform for plug-ins, including the “Sign in with LinkedIn” button and the LinkedIn Share buttons you see on Mashable’s business and marketing stories. There are also plug-ins for member profiles, company profiles and a Recommend button that lets users recommend your products through their LinkedIn network.

The developer platform has also been overhauled with improvements under the hood. It includes a new Javascript framework that “loads significantly faster,” as well as support for SSL and improved support for OAuth. The website has also been simplified to make it easier to get started with LinkedIn’s APIs and plugins.

More About: api, developer, developers, javascript, linkedin, LinkedIn Developer PLatform, LinkedIn Platform, OAuth 2.0

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Uber trendy mobile photo sharing startup Instagram is fast-approaching 300,000 photo uploads per day and closing in on 2 million members. It has also just released its API in private beta, according to an announcement on the startup’s blog.

The Instagram API will give selected developers access to the startup’s data and allow them to incorporate Instagram photos within their own applications. This marks a significant move by the startup; the decision will open up photos and user data, once locked down to the iPhone, to more web and mobile services and potentially spawn a new wave of user growth.

Interestingly enough, the Instagram API news follows Picplz’s public beta release of its API just hours earlier.

“Although we’re excited by the growth we’ve seen, we feel that the first step to creating a lasting company is to work with the many talented developers out there in the world,” writes CEO Kevin Systrom on the release.

Systrom assures app users that they will maintain ownership and privacy control of their images, saying that Instragram is granting access on an invite-only basis to ensure users’ photos stay protected.

“We’ve taken a close look at how to best protect your images and data while enabling developers to build cool stuff,” says Systrom. “We’d like to make sure that the people we do let in create quality apps that increase the aggregate utility of the ecosystem.”

With nearly simultaneous API releases, Instagram and Picplz have created a new battlefield and are now fighting for developer attention. Instagram’s API remains private while Picplz’s is public, which gives the Mixed Media Labs startup a marked advantage over the competition.

More About: api, developers, instagram, mobile photo sharing, picplz, trending

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When Swedish ad agencies Grey Stockholm and Ogilvy Stockholm made plans to merge, they decided to add a social media component to get fans involved.

The two agencies asked fans to participate by signing into Facebook to see the new name. Every time new people logged on to the dedicated site, the logo added their profile picture. With every picture, the logo got a little bigger, until 2,890 fans’ photos composed the full name, Ingo, over a four-hour period.

Ingo’s not the only one, of course, to attempt a collage of Facebook photos. Here at Mashable, we’re planning to outfit our New York City headquarters with the world’s largest real-life Facebook wall. That effort is set for March 1.

[Via TNW]

More About: advertising, Faceboo, trending

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Google will be holding a press event next Wednesday, February 2, at its Mountain View headquarters to show off Android Honeycomb, the company’s tablet-optimized OS.

The invitation, which just landed in our inboxes, asks us to join the search giant “for an in-depth look at Honeycomb, Android ecosystem news and hands-on demos.” The stage presentations will begin at 10:00 a.m. PT. Google is calling it the event “A Taste of What’s New from Android.”

Google is also sharing the Android love with the rest of world; the event will be live streamed at YouTube.com/Android.

Honeycomb, Android 3.0, is the first Google OS built specifically for the tablet form factor. It features a revamped interface, faster plane switching, deeper multimedia integration and a slew of redesigned Android applications. We’ve had the chance to play with Android Honeycomb during our Motorola Xoom demo, even sneaking in some time to play with some of its yet-to-be-announced features.

We’ll be at Google’s event next Wednesday to bring you all the Android news live. In the meantime, check out the demo video, and in the comments, let us know what you think this Android press event might reveal.

More About: android, android 3.0, Android Honeycomb, Google, honeycomb, youtube




The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken new steps to open up the “white space” wireless spectrum, a move that could lead to the development of next-generation Wi-Fi.

The FCC has given nine companies permission to manage and administrate the white space wireless spectrum, an unused spectrum used previously as a buffer between TV channels. With the transition to digital TV, buffer space has become unnecessary.

“While the operation of multiple database administrators may present some coordination challenges, we find it is in the public interest to have multiple parties developing business models for this new mechanism,” the FCC said in its order. “The value of this exercise extends beyond databases for the TV bands, as the Commission is also considering employing similar database approaches in other spectrum bands.”

Companies like Google hope to turn the white space spectrum into a form of “super Wi-Fi.” White space spectrum has a longer wavelength, further reach and better penetration than traditional Wi-Fi signals.

In its order, the FCC gave permission to Google, Comsearch, Frequency Finder, KB Enterprises, LS Telecom, Key Bridge, Neustar, Spectrum Bridge, Telcordia Technology and WSdb to access, build and manage databases of white spectrum. It’s the first step towards offering the spectrum publicly.

“Just last fall the Commission adopted final technical rules on white spaces – the unused, public airwaves that we believe will lead to the next generation of wireless technologies,” Google said in a response to the FCC’s announcement. “Before inventors can start to introduce new products and services on these airwaves, the FCC must certify the white spaces databases, which will ensure that different wireless signals don’t interfere with each other.”

However, Google’s appointment as a caretaker of the white space databases did not occur without protest. Key Bridge Global, the Coalition of Wireless Microphone Users, the National Association of Broadcasters and others filed critical comments, doubting Google’s ability to be impartial.

The possibilities of white space Wi-Fi have yet to be fully realized, but many, including Google, believe that it could be turned into a nationwide Wi-Fi network. Devices could be built to be compatible with the unused spectrum to send and receive Internet data.

More About: FFC, Google, Neustar, super wi-fi, White Space, wi-fi

Tumblr has finally gotten its own “fail whale.”

Inspired by the blogging service’s occasional downtime spells as of late (something both Twitter and Foursquare struggled with in earlier days), Oatmeal comic artist Matthew Inman decided to create a special image for its “Tumblr is down page” — which founder David Karp has gratefully agreed to use.

Inman (whom we interviewed Monday) posted a letter asking Tumblr to “please oh please” use his image, which features three (rather) cute green monsters eating Tumblr’s servers. “We may have forgotten to feed the TumblrBeasts who live in our server closet, which often results in unexpected downtime due to gnawing and/or mutiny,” it reads. (Tumblr has since modified the text to “Tumbeasts.”)

Approximately four hours after tweeting the message to @tumblr, Inman said he received an e-mail from Tumblr’s founder agreeing to use the artwork.

Welcome, Tumebeasts, to your new home. May you grow hungry and mutiny on Tumblr’s servers none too often.

(P.S. They’re on Twitter.)

[via RWW]

More About: david-karp, matthew inman, The Oatmeal, tumblr

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Facebook is rolling out Sponsored Stories, a new ad format that turns your friends’ actions into promoted content.

Sponsored Stories is “a way for marketers to sponsor activities that happen throughout the News Feed,” Facebook Product Marketing Lead Jim Squires told Mashable. Companies can choose to take certain user actions — such as checkins or actions within Facebook apps — and feature them in the column on the right side of the News Feed.

For example, if you’re Whole Foods and you’re looking to increase your exposure on Facebook, you can pay to have a percentage of all checkins to Whole Foods featured in a Sponsored Stories slot in the right-side column. Your content wouldn’t be shown directly, but the actions of a user’s friends would appear. Users seeing their friends “liking” or checking in to Whole Foods will drive increased trust and increased traffic.

“The advertiser is not controlling the message; it’s about actions,” Squires said.

Here’s an example of an action that could potentially be sponsored:

And here’s what it might look like as a Sponsored Story:

Starting today, four specific types of user actions can be turned into featured stories: likes, checkins, actions within custom applications and Page posts. If a company has a custom app (e.g. Starbucks Card or even FarmVille), it can promote the actions users take within them. The same is true of users posting on the walls of their favorite brands.

Facebook’s roster of launch partners includes Coke, Levi’s, Anheuser Busch and Playfish. Also, the social network is partnering with a slew of nonprofits for Sponsored Stories, including Donors Choose, Girl Up!, Malaria No More, Amnesty International, Women for Women, Autism Speaks, (RED), Alzheimer’s Association and UNICEF. However, anybody will be able to bid on Sponsored Story slots (by a per-impression and/or a per-click basis) starting January 25.

We haven’t seen Facebook play with new ad formats for a while — most of its revenue comes from the targeted advertising that appears on most Facebook pages. It has been timid about new ad formats after the spectacular failure of Beacon. Sponsored Stories seems like a simple and logical way to introduce new forms of advertising into Facebook’s system, though.

Sponsored Stories has a lot of similarities to Twitter Promoted Tweets. Both are trying to use content from within their networks and turn them into advertising dollars. There is one key difference between Sponsored Stories and Promoted Tweets, though: The user defines the advertised content in Facebook’s format, not the advertiser.

It’s that one little difference Facebook hopes will turn into big bucks.

More About: advertising, facebook, MARKETING, Promoted Tweets, Sponsored Stories, twitter




Apple has launched @AppStore, a new Twitter account for its popular iOS and Mac App Store.

The new @AppStore Twitter account only made its debut a few hours ago, but it has already amassed more than 35,000 Twitter followers as of this writing. For comparison, its sister account, @iTunesMusic, has more than 680,000 followers.

As the accounts first tweet explains, @AppStore will feature new apps in Apple’s iOS and Mac App Stores and provide exclusive offers for Twitter users. For example, the account’s second tweet provided a quick pitch and a link to Nike’s Training Club app.

Creating a Twitter account for the App Store seems like a simple and effective way to generate more buzz and more downloads about featured apps. It’s essentially the same thing Apple has been doing with its App Store Facebook Page, which has nearly 1 million fans. Apple also has five popular iTunes Twitter accounts tweeting about new films, music and TV shows.

Still, Apple is known for its lack of engagement in social media. The company doesn’t have official Facebook or Twitter accounts. While the @AppStore account is a refreshing addition to Apple’s social media roster, don’t expect Steve Jobs, Tim Cook or Apple, Inc. to be tweeting anytime soon.

More About: app store, apple, iOS, iOS App Store, iphone app store, itunes, mac app store, twitter