Posts Tagged ‘app’

Can Apple take a bite out of Facebook?

Apple CEO Tim Cook, as seen in 2009, is leading competition against Facebook for new content consumption. (Photo: igrec/Flickr under CC)

Apple CEO Tim Cook, as seen in 2009, is leading competition against Facebook for new content consumption. (Photo: igrec/Flickr under CC)

At its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco today, Apple unveiled a new app for content from various publishers and news organizations. The app, which is to launch with iOS 9 when it launches later in the year, is to replace its newsstand app, which, according to a report from Mashable, did not fare well with users.

Yet, the most significant takeaway from the app was the method publishers have for content, as it is similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles initiative, introduced last month. Publishers are able to advertise on the app and keep the profits from the ads, while posting new content on Apple’s server. Initial organizations taking part include ESPN, The Guardian and The New York Times, and, according to a report from The Guardian, can be tailored to your location.

While it is still early days for both Apple’s news app, and indeed Facebook’s Instant Articles, as a report from Business Insider noted by the Nieman Lab indicates, as new tests begin on the initiative, one thing is clear. The competition is on for content and to host it in many new ways as possible. This has stretched beyond social media, and has become a new way to compete for content, giving new initiative for publishers.

Whether Apple can take a bite out of Facebook’s content plans remains to be seen, but today’s announcement makes one thing clear. Apple is ready to take on the social network, and it’s not going down without a fight.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also contributes to The News Hub web site. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Cautionary tale evident in latest Snapchat snafu

Snapchat logo

Snapchat’s logo

Our society is chock full of rules, some of which deserve to be broken.

But before breaking one, try reading the fine print.

That salient detail might have helped those who were victimized by a security breach that leaked 200,000 images and videos, some possibly lurid and potentially embarrassing, that belonged to users of the photo messaging application Snapchat.

For those of you unaware, Snapchat is a mobile app with a programmable timer to limit availability of the photos and recorded videos its 100 million monthly users send to each other. Recipients have just a few seconds to view shared content before it disappears forever — in theory, anyway.

The appeal of an app such as this is obvious. Some photos — snapshots of a goofy face or what you ate for lunch — deserve only a few seconds of our time, whereas incriminating photos — sexy selfies and the like — we hope will last only a few seconds.

Friday, Snapchat acknowledged that some of its content stored by a third-party application turned up on a fake photo website. The third-party application, Snapsaved, apologized and took full responsibility, saying a misconfiguration of its servers left the app’s archives vulnerable to hacking. Initially, media reports had blamed Snapchat for letting the photos leak.

The site that published the photos,, has since disappeared. What happened to its content remains uncertain. (Snapsaved’s site has been unresponsive since the breach was discovered.)

The current worry is that many of those 200,000 photos were provocative and incriminating — and now they may be everywhere. But Snapchat insists that less than a third of its content is too mature for the app’s youngest subscribers, ages 13 to 18. The other content, Snapchat says, is disposable, unmemorable.

It would be easy at this point to heap shame and insults on Snapsaved and curse it for not being more careful. But Snapsaved provided a service made possible only by Snapchat users breaking the rules they promised to uphold: In its terms-of-use policies, Snapchat prohibits users from culling and distributing content.

Of course, nobody reads terms-of-use policies, in part because the legalese used to craft them borders on unreadable. And where there are rules, there are rule breakers. Nevertheless, believe it or not, terms of use exist to protect customers’ rights, too.

This is why real blame for the photo leak rests with the Snapchat users who ignored the terms and in the process put people’s reputations —  perhaps even their own — at risk.

Videolicious is looking good to newspapers

Videolicious logoIn print journalism, video keeps elbowing into the picture. News sites once devoted to words now see film clips as essential supplements to written work.

At the same time, those sites are trimming or eliminating the staffers who shot and edited those clips, preferring instead to have reporters with smartphones take over.

But many reporters lack the knowledge or inclination to shoot video, because they either never tried or are reluctant to tackle what seems like an overwhelming new set of skills.

That’s why newspapers such as the Washington Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are trying Videolicious, an application for iPhone and iPad that simplifies and somewhat demystifies video making.

Videolicious creates video reports shot fresh with iPhone or iPad, or from clips and photos already in the device’s camera roll. Users can record a voiceover for narration with the device’s reverse-camera feature while splicing clips with just a screen tap.

The free version of Videolicious has a 1-minute video length limit, with a maximum of 20 separate shots per video, and storage at for up to 20 projects. Pricing plans for $5 and $10 per month add features like longer video, more storage, a music library and commercial branding.

Videolicious debuted in 2011 and gained popularity among real estate agents to promote their properties. This year, the Post assigned about 30 of its staff to test the product. The Post-Dispatch recently began tutoring reporters and editors on it as well. has a demonstration of Videolicious on YouTube.


David Sheets is a freelance editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.



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