Facebook just before Christmas released “Poke,” an iPhone app for creating messages that delete themselves.
The app joins at least two competing programs geared toward sharing content that a sender would not want his or her recipient to keep. Think “Mission: Impossible,” but without the puff of smoke emanating from your phone.
Users connect Poke to their Facebook accounts and can then send friends text messages, photos and videos which are automatically wiped from the recipient’s device after a predetermined amount of time.
The program received the most downloads of any free app last week, reaching the No. 1 spot in Apple’s App Store within a day of its release.
Temporary-messaging apps have quickly and, dare we say, discreetly, risen in notoriety in recent months.
Competitors Snapchat and Burst launched earlier this year. Like Poke, Snapchat allows users to send and receive photos and videos which disappear after a few seconds.
Where Poke and Snapchat cater more to smartphone-toting Facebookers, Burst is geared toward families by allowing its users to send photos and videos to others via standard text messaging or email.
Back in BlackBerry
Mobile phone maker Research in Motion (RIM) couldn’t manage to make waves with its BlackBerry devices in 2012, but new reports say the company is getting ready to stage a comeback effort.
Photos published on a Chinese tech news website last week showed a new BlackBerry phone, likely to be called the X10, which featured a touch-sensitive screen and physical keyboard.
Also on the horizon for the Ontario-based manufacturer is a thin touch-screen device called the Z10, which will compete with high-end iPhone and Android phones.
The new BlackBerries are likely to be unveiled in late January, when RIM will introduce a revamped version of its phone operating system.
The new BlackBerry OS will include a time-shifting camera, switchable profiles to keep work and personal data separate and a keyboard that learns how a user types to minimize errors over time, according to the BlackBerry website.
BlackBerry phones gained notoriety in the 2000s as the first smartphones hit the market, but in recent years devices with iOS and Android operating systems have surged to the forefront.
Missteps by RIM, including the release of a tablet computer in 2011 which did not have basic applications like an email client and calendar, resulted in financial losses and mass layoffs at the company.
Survey reveals best places to shop online
For the eighth year in a row, Amazon.com took the top spot in an annual poll of customer satisfaction among online vendors.
Wisconsin-based research company ForeSee collected more than 24,000 surveys of customers who shopped on the Web this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Customers polled gave Amazon high marks for the variety of its products and “a history of focusing on the customer,” ForeSee president and CEO Larry Freed said last week.
The top score for Amazon comes as the company announced two weeks ago a crackdown on fake, promotional product reviews on its website.
Other major brands found themselves losing ground with customers in this year’s poll.