Social Pulse, Week of 3-30

Every week I keep tabs on what’s trending, new technology and consumer habits that impact the social web. Get these weekly POVs in your email by signing up here.

COVID-19 Links: The NYT writes “Viral Challenges Are What’s Keeping Us Occupied.” Apple launched a website and a new app dedicated to COVID-19 screening. The Guardian shared 20 learning apps for stir-crazy kids. The Office’s John Krasinski launched a YouTube channel dedicated to good news. Spotify Kids launched early. And college students are rebuilding their schools in Minecraft and hosting virtual graduations for themselves.


Local Community Help: This week Facebook made its Community Help feature available nationwide. The COVID-19 Community Help hub will allow people to request or offer help to those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, as well as donate to nonprofit fundraisers. NextDoor also recently launched a feature called “Help Map,” although it’s a bit buried in the app.


YouTube’s TikTok Killer? YouTube is working on a Shorts feature that will include a feed of brief videos posted by users and will take advantage of the video service’s catalog of licensed music, songs from which will be available to use as soundtracks for the videos created by users.


New Facebook Live Tools: The number of people in the US watching live-streams via Facebook Live has risen by 50% since January, and Facebook is introducing some new tools within the Live platform, including automatic closed captions, an audio-only options for videos, and the ability for fundraisers to generate toll-free telephone numbers within their broadcast.


Streaming Sports in the Mainstream: In the absence of live sports, streaming platforms like NBA League Pass and NFL Game Pass are being offered for free, and have full libraries of old games on demand. Fox and FS1 are going to broadcast a “season” of virtual races that include current, past, and rising NASCAR stars against each other in iRacing. Esports leagues, who had just been finding traction in IRL arena tournaments, are temporarily moving back to virtual and streamed events. Twitch has seen 31% growth. YouTube Gaming is up 15%. Pokemon Go is changing their format so you can more easily play at home. And the Minnesota State High School Drone Racing Tournament has been pivoted to virtual races.


Augmented Reality Glasses Update: This week Facebook beat out Apple on a deal with microLED provider Plessey, which is one of the few companies that’s able to provide the key components required to make functional AR glasses a reality. On the Apple Glasses front, a patent recently published by the US Patent Office suggests Apple Glasses will use touch controls rather than the motion and joystick controls found in other AR and VR devices. The rumors still suggest we could see mainstream launch of AR glasses as soon as 2022.


Insta Sticker Selfies: Instagram is testing animated selfie stickers for stories. The option is available (to those who can access it) via a new ‘Selfie’ sticker option, and the rounded, selfie stickers can be applied as many times as you like within a Stories frame.


TikTok of the Week: Check out this family quarantine PowerPoint Karaoke challenge. Maybe try your own this weekend? Here are some PPT slides to get you started.


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