Press-Republican

FYI...

February 17, 2013

Slate: An app as sweet as Godiva

WASHINGTON — Everything about the online world encourages sharing — share your recent purchase on Amazon, share your dining experience on Yelp, share your thoughts about Beyoncé on Twitter. But what about the things you would rather not share with everyone in your social network, such as the cheesy pet name you call your boyfriend or the startlingly high number of romantic comedies your wife forced you to watch on Netflix last month?

There is an app for that. In the past year, several "couples apps" — with names like Duet, Avocado and Couple — have come to market, promising to "bring the romance back to one-on-one messaging" by creating a social network of two. One leader in the market, Between, launched in South Korea last year and has already been downloaded 1 million times. Anyone who has endured watching couples shamelessly canoodle on Facebook or Twitter should be relieved. These apps promise to do for digital intimacy what the automobile did for analog couples in the 20th century — create opportunities for on-the-go private interactions in an otherwise transparent world. Like the road to true love, the apps that offer to track it do not always run smoothly.

Couples apps are part of a movement away from promiscuous sharing online to sharing more exclusively. Like Glassboard, a social network for small groups that positions itself as an alternative to Facebook, couples apps emphasize privacy, intimacy and the need to humanize our digital interactions by scaling them down. In the two-person domain of the couples app, no one will stumble across pictures of ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. Sappy messages, flirty texts, and risqué pictures remain safe from the prying eyes of employers or judgmental relatives.

But reimagining the online world as an intimate space can be a tough sell, as Facebook discovered last year when it made intimate sharing compulsive by generating "couples pages" for its users. The pages, whose privacy settings can be tweaked but which cannot be deleted, display everything posted or tagged on Facebook by you and the person you have designated as your significant other. Not all users were happy to see their romantic partnerships curated by Facebook's algorithms. ("I want to vomit," one blogger wrote.)

Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014

  • Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

    If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

    July 21, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 18, 2014

  • Almost half of the world actually prefers instant coffee

    Americans' taste in coffee might be getting more high-end _with a growing fixation on perfectly roasted beans, pricier caffeinated concoctions, and artisan coffee brewers - but it turns out a surprisingly big part of the world is going in the opposite direction: toward instant coffee.

    July 17, 2014

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can plants hear? Study finds that vibrations prompt some to boost their defenses

    They have no specialized structure to perceive sound as we do, but a new study has found that plants can discern the sound of predators through tiny vibrations of their leaves - and beef up their defenses in response.

    July 12, 2014

  • wheat1.jpg Backlash has begun against gluten-free dieters

    The swelling ranks of Americans adopting gluten-free diets have given rise to another hot trend: people calling the whole thing a bunch of baloney.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140516-recalls_1357_88cb85dbc81b724b4ae9c83db4426fd8.jpg Auto recalls break single-year US record with six months to go

    With six months left in 2014, automakers have already recalled more vehicles in the United States than in any other year on record.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • The science of shyness

    Shy people have quite a bit to contend with - not least the word itself. It has a number of different meanings, none of which are flattering. To "shy away" from something implies avoidance; to "shy" can also mean to move suddenly in fright; to "be shy of" something can mean to come up short, or be insufficient.

    July 8, 2014

  • Wanna write a pop song? Here's a foolproof equation

    Pop songs (generally) stay in one key, are in 4/4 time, last between three and five minutes, are organized into chunks of four or eight bars, have a repeating chorus played two to four times, include the title sung at least three times, and feature short melodic fragments that repeat a lot to help everyone to remember them.

    July 7, 2014