Friday Five: Social media for purists and interactive adverts

Each week Zone's Letty Key handpicks the five best stories on new trends and technologies...

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1) Social goes back to basics 

If you long for the days before Facebook started tweaking its algorithms, spouting fake news and forcing sponsored posts down your throat, this one's for you. With no ads and a strictly chronological timeline, Vero is social media for purists.

The platform is no spring chicken, having launched in 2015, but a backlash against current social media titans has seen users flock to Vero in their droves. The unexpected popularity has all but crushed its servers, as well as highlighting flaws in the interface and woeful UX design. It topped App Store download charts this week, but whether Vero can stand the test of time is another question entirely.


2) A glimpse into the future of mobile

Proving that the world's biggest tech shows are like buses, Mobile World Congress touched down in Barcelona this week, barely a month after CES wrapped in Las Vegas. All the big players in mobile were out in force to flaunt their latest wares, with one notable exception (here's lookin' at you, Apple). 

Announcements came thick and fast, including a brace of flagship phones from Samsung (hello AR emojis), the tantalising prospect of 5G and a healthy dose of Nokia nostalgia. Oh, and while Apple may have been conspicuous by its absence, it turns out other mobile phone manufacturers really like the iPhone X's 'notch' that houses its camera.


3) Google makes AR a reality for developers 

As part of its mission to make smartphone cameras even smarter, Google has announced that augmented reality tool ARCore 1.0 is now available, along with several updates to Google Lens, inviting developers to get well and truly stuck in. 

Intelligent photo analysis and apps that are able to understand your environment and place information within it are some of the key possibilities being touted, but let's not beat around the bush here: the main thing we're all waiting for is the Ghostbusters AR game. After all, Pokémon Go is so 2016.


4) Taking the numbers out of Twitter

Imagine a world where you didn't measure your own self-worth by the number of retweets and likes your latest selfie pulled in. Sounds utopian, right? Well that's exactly the kind of world one artist and assistant professor is attempting to create with his Twitter Demetricator.

Users have reported an 'eerie calm' when the numbers disappear, as it prevents us from subconsciously judging any content we see purely on its popularity. It's an interesting study into whether our obsession with metrics has led to insecurity and I guess that, like any addiction, once you get over the first couple of days you've done the hardest part. Want to join the revolution? Go on, treat yourself


5) Emirates talks travel in interactive ads

Emirates has ripped up the rulebook for boring old display adverts and added a pinch of AI to the mix in the form of a chatbot, enabling would-be holidaymakers to get answers to basic questions about potential trips within the ad itself.

And it turns out the airline could be on to something, as after a trial in December it revealed an 87% increase in engagement. It's a win-win situation really, as users get a fluid experience that doesn't direct them away from the content they were viewing and, in return, the advertiser gets a boost in interaction.

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