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April 2014
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Hey Google Hangouts, Skype Now Offers Free Screen Sharing And Group Calls, Too

Skype is liberating group calls and screen sharing for all users, which are two powerful additions that should please businesspeople and enterprises everywhere.Group calls had long been available to Skype Premium customers on Mac, Windows and even Xbox One, but now its rolling out to anyone using those systemsfree of charge.Microsoft GM of consumer marketing Phillip Snalune said free group calls will eventually roll out to people using mobile devices and other systems, but for now, its just available for Windows, Mac and Xbox One users. Its a solid start, however, especially when you consider Microsoft was likely feeling pressure from Google Hangouts, which is also free, but doesnt need to be downloaded like Skype. Of course, Google Hangouts also works on mobile devices, which Skype is still working on.Skype also made screen sharing free for all group video calls, which is a key for businesses that collaborate remotely. So even as it looks to compete against popular consumer-oriented tools like Google Hangouts, Skype's focus on appeasing the enterprise shows that Microsoft still knows where its bread is buttered.Image by Joe Shlabotnik from Flickr via Creative Commons license

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posted at: 12:00am on 29-Apr-2014
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What Facebook May Unveil At F8

Facebook is hosting its F8 developer conference on Wednesdayits first developer conference since 2011so were expecting some big news to come out of the day-long event in San Francisco. The last F8 conference was very consumer-focused: Actor and comedian Andy Samberg made an appearance as Mark Zuckerberg, and later, the real Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Timeline, the redesigned user profiles that changed how people viewed and used the social network.Its likely this year will be a little less focused on the look and feel of Facebook's website and apps. Instead, Facebook will reportedly introduce features that appeal to those that build and implement Facebook's various tools and services across their applications.Zuckerberg probably wont take the stage and passionately yell Developers! Developers! Developers! but you can bet thats where the main focus will be at this years event.

Facebooks Ad Network

During Facebook's first quarter earnings call last week, COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company is still in very early testing for a mobile ad network. But while Sandberg might have many thinking the ad network isn't ripe yet, multiple reports say Facebook is indeed ready and prepared to unveil this new way for developers and publishers to display ads in third-party applications at F8.According to TechCrunch, the ad platform will be called the Facebook Audience Network and will utilize Facebook data to better target userseven when they arent directly using Facebooks own apps. Facebook began testing a mobile ad network earlier this year as a way for developers to monetize mobile applications. Initial tests were limited to a handful of advertisers and partners, but several months have passed since that period and it looks like Facebook is ready to release the Audience Network to the masses. Facebooks mobile ads have been hugely successful, and now account for almost 60% of the companys ad revenue. Mobile app install ads are performing particularly well; those little buttons in ads that encourage users to download apps are just one of Facebooks most lucrative ad products. A Facebook ad network will go head-to-head with Googles AdMob and Twitters MoPub networks. But Facebooks access to more personalized data would arguably give advertisers a richer targeting experience, and a more successful advertising platform. 

Building Apps For The Next One Billion

Facebooks Internet.org initiative is still a bit of a mystery. Sure, the company has outlined plans that could theoretically bring the Internet to everyone in developing countries, but theres still a disconnect between the planning and execution stages. Thats where the Facebook Innovation Lab comes in. At F8, Facebook will reportedly give developers a preview of the technologies available in the Innovation Lab to be located in Menlo Park, California, and developers can test their applications in networks that simulate the speed of connectivity in developing countries. Zuckerberg is hyper-focused on the Internet.org initiative and finding new ways to connect the next one billion people. Its likely hell outline more plans for how the social network will make it easier for developers to build and monetize apps in countries that are just now coming online, and why its so important to provide resources for connectivity in areas that currently dont have it. 

Building For All Platforms

Keen observers of how the Facebook Platform has evolved might notice some small but unmistakable changes as a result of the Parse acquisition: Facebook has become more developer friendly.Thanks to Parse, Facebook is in a unique position to help developers build apps for both mobile and Web that integrate with the social networkbut its not stopping there. Facebook is betting that virtual reality will be huge, and likely one day replace mobile devices. But its still unclear how the Oculus acquisition will fit into Facebooks overall strategy. The F8 developer conference would be a great place to shine some light on how Facebooks foray into virtual reality will appeal to mobile and game developers, and how developers can build more apps for the Facebook platform with the promise of making them easier and more accessible to the masses. 

A Day For Developers

ReadWrite will be at F8 this year updating you with all the developments as they come. Considering this is Facebooks first developer conference in almost three years, we expect plenty of news that will affect our readers efforts to build, monetize and grow their apps on Facebook. Stay tuned!Lead image courtesy of kris krg on Flickr

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posted at: 12:00am on 29-Apr-2014
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GitHub Tries Again At Transparency

Last Monday I published the least open and least transparent blog post GitHub has ever written.

Its a powerful first line from GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath in his latest official blog post.

Wanstrath elaborated on the internal issues that have plagued GitHub this past month, including the least transparent post in question, which vaguely addressed a third-party investigation into gender discrimination at the company. Developer Julie Ann Horvath alleged an environment so toxic that she quit, and former CEO Tom Preston-Werner resigned shortly afterward. 

Paired with GitHubs statement that no evidence was found of gender discrimination, users reasonably found the turnover a little strange, and perhaps less than truthful. 

Mondays followup delves into the details Wanstrath missed the first time around. On Monday, he named the independent investigator who examined the case, Rhoma Young, and noted that GitHub had never worked with her prior to this probe. Wanstrath noted that Young took full control of the investigation, interviewed 50 employees, and even reviewed internal repositories commit histories. 

Wanstrath also defined exactly why Preston-Werner resigned from the company. While the earlier post simply stated that the investigation found no legal wrongdoing, this one makes it clear that Preston-Werner wasnt exactly blameless:

The investigation found Tom Preston-Werner in his capacity as GitHubs CEO acted inappropriately, including confrontational conduct, disregard of workplace complaints, insensitivity to the impact of his spouse's presence in the workplace, and failure to enforce an agreement that his spouse should not work in the office.

Finally, Wanstrath said GitHub will be announcing new initiatives in May. We can only hope these actions are centered around bringing diversity to the company and the greater tech community.

Wanstrath noted how many GitHub employees, fans, and critics offered feedback for how GitHub could do better. Its too soon to see the general mood, but Horvath already tweeted her opinion of the new post shortly after it went live:

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posted at: 12:00am on 29-Apr-2014
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