Today’s Tech News: YouTube starts its own social network, Adblock Plus starts selling acceptable ads, Amazon Prime adds Audible Channels, Google launches a Chromecast Preview Program, and the iPhone 7 commercial from Hell.
YouTube Builds Its Own Social Network
YouTube is adding new social networking features to the video site. Called YouTube Community, these social networking features enable creators and viewers to interact and engage without leaving YouTube for Facebook or Twitter. The idea is to keep people on YouTube for longer.
A handful of channels have been testing YouTube Community for a few months, and it has now launched in public beta. The social networking features are all bundled under a Community tab initially available on a select few channels, including Vlogbrothers, AsapSCIENCE, The Kloons, The Key of Awesome, Sam Tsui, and Vsauce3.
The Community tab allows YouTube creators to run their own mini social networks of sorts. They can use it to update their fans about new videos and events, post photos, GIFs, and links, and generally interact with their audiences in a way which is practically impossible with the current commenting system.
For Google, which has historically struggled to understand social networking, this represents a change of direction. Rather than trying to build a Facebook competitor in the form of Google+, the company is using the popular platforms it already owns. YouTube Community will remain in beta for some time, with a broader rollout planned for the future.
Adblock Plus Starts Selling Advertising
In a move that’s sure to annoy users, publishers, and other ad-tech companies, Adblock Plus is launching its own advertising platform. Adblock Plus started out as a means of blocking ads entirely, but now Adblock Plus will show ads to its users, but only if the company deems them “acceptable”.
AdBlock Plus HQ:
"Yeah so guys, we have an idea. You know our successful app that blocks adverts for people?"
— TwiddlyMcTwiddleface (@twiddlemeister) September 13, 2016
Adblock Plus is launching what it calls the Acceptable Ads Platform. This will allow publishers to display certain ads to its visitors, even if they have Adblock Plus installed. These will be “pre-whitelisted ads” that meet Adblock Plus’ own criteria, which governs the placement, distinctiveness, and size of ads, amongst other things.
The kicker here is, of course, that all of the various companies in the chain will make some money from it. Including Eyeo, the German company behind Adblock Plus. So, the same company that is helping to dismantle the web as we know it by blocking ads, and therefore preventing websites from making money, is now hoping to make money from online advertising. Oh, the irony!
Amazon Prime Adds Audible Channels
Amazon has added another benefit to the already generous roster of benefits for Amazon Prime subscribers. Paying for Amazon Prime now grants you access to Audible Channels, a collection of audiobooks, podcasts, and original content that would normally cost you $5-a-month.
Audible Channels includes shows from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Onion, and others, as well as curated playlists of podcasts, and a constantly rotating selection of 50 audiobooks. Which is a lot of content being added for free and without users demanding it.
Don Katz, Audible founder and CEO, said:
“The ultimate mission of Audible Channels is to invent new ways to unleash the power of well-composed and artfully spoken words.
As millions of people every year discover the joy and utility of quality listening, Audible Channels will be the place where superior short-form audio information and entertainment captures and conveys a compelling sense of the world for daily consumption in fast-twitch time.”
Amazon Prime subscribers can access Audible Channels for Prime by downloading the Audible app for iOS, Android, or Windows 10.
Google Launches a Chromecast Preview Program
Google has launched a new Chromecast Preview Program allowing interested parties to test new Chromecast features before they go live. Once you have signed up to be a part of the program, you’ll receive the latest Chromecast firmware updates before the rest of the population.
— Google Cast (@googlecast) September 13, 2016
The Chromecast Preview Program is purely opt-in, so if you’re not interested everything will remain as is. If you are interested just open the Google Cast app on your smartphone, tap the menu button next to the name of your Chromecast, and click Join Program.
Apple’s iPhone 7 Ad Scares Small Children
And finally, Apple really doesn’t need to advertise the iPhone 7. Apple fans are so dedicated they’ll happily queue up for days just to get their hands on one. Which is a good job really, as Apple’s new ad for the iPhone 7 looks and feels more like an esoteric horror film than a TV spot for a new gadget.
It’s dark, it’s mysterious, and even a little scary. So much so I wouldn’t want any young children watching it for fear there’s a malevolent message buried with it. And maybe that’s the point. With this ad, Apple isn’t just selling the iPhone 7, it’s selling the cult that is Apple itself. Now that’s scary.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Will you be making use of YouTube’s new Community features? What do you think of Adblock Plus selling ads? Are you keen to try Amazon’s Audible Channels? Will you be signing up to try new Chromecast features? What do you think of the new iPhone 7 commercial?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. We pare the biggest technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.
Image Credit: Rego Korosi via Flickr