Snapchat rolls out Discover feature that highlights curated stories and videos

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 27, 2015

Tuesday, Snapchat announced a new feature called Discover which highlights curated stories from Snapchat’s different editorial teams.

Snapchat is moving to become a media platform so they’ve partnered with some of the major names in media like the ESPN, Vice and CNN to build a storytelling format which puts the narrative first.

“This is not social media” nor is it aboutwhat’s most new and trending, remarked the firm in a blog post. No, sir — Snapchat believes in curation and high-quality content so “We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.” Read More

 

BlackBerry calls upon US government to force Apple to port iMessage to its smartphones

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 22, 2015

Disregarding for a moment the fact that Apple has never actually made any promises regarding bringing iMessage to other platforms (unlike FaceTime, but that’s a topic for another story), the embattled smartphone maker BlackBerry wants Apple’s messaging platform on its smartphones so badly that it’s calling on the United States government to intervene and do something about it.

It’s not a joke: BlackBerry CEO John Chen penned a post over at the company blog proposing just that.

In a nutshell, rather than let the market dictate what any company should do, he’s demanding that the Cupertino firm make iMessage cross-platform. Read More

 

You can now use WhatsApp in Google Chrome, support for more browsers coming soon

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 21, 2015

Facebook-owned WhatsApp, the world’s most popular messaging app with more than 700 million monthly active users, can now be used in a web browser. As first noted by Dutch website Droidapp.nl, the WhatsApp web app can be accessed at web.whatsapp.com.

At the moment, the web application works on Windows PCs and Android devices, but not in mobile or desktop Safari. However, it can be accessed on desktop Macs using Google’s Chrome browser, but not on iPhones and iPads running Chrome.

Support for more browsers is “coming soon,” says a notice on the website. Read More

 

Facebook testing voice transcription feature in Messenger ahead of official rollout

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 18, 2015

Facebook has begun testing a new feature in its mobile Messenger software that can read transcripts of received voice messages in case you don’t want to listen to them.

The company is currently testing the feature with a tiny subset of Messenger’s more than 500 million users ahead of a forthcoming launch in the near future.

In addition to Messenger’s voice transcription capability, the firm announced buying a successful boutique design firm which has created popular mobile applications and online services, including the read-later app Readability and the rising blogging platform Medium. Read More

 

Google Hangouts gains smart location sharing, statuses, deeper Voice integration and more

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 6, 2015

Google on Tuesday added new features to its Hangouts app for the iPhone and iPad, namely deeper integration with its Voice telephony service, a pretty smart way to share your location with others, the ability to tell your friends what you’re up to via status messages and more.

Today’s refresh follows last month’s Android app update which introduced a similar set of enhancements. These newly introduced features are available on iOS right now so go ahead and download Hangouts free in the App Store and take the app for a spin. Read More

 

BBM updated with stickers in group chats, iPhone 6 and iOS 8 compatibility improvements and more

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 30, 2014

Following last month’s preview of a major new update to its BBM for iPhone messaging software, BlackBerry today released BBM 2.6.1.31 featuring an improved support for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus alongside additional iOS 8 compatibility updates and other enhancements.

There’s a new timer option and you’ll also notice certain improvements for the message retraction feature and refinements to timed pictures and messages. Read More

 

Facebook Messenger gains read receipts, fresh holiday content and a huge speed boost

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 19, 2014

Facebook-owned WhatsApp quietly introduced blue-ticked read confirmations in its mobile iPhone app a month and a half ago and now the social networking behemoth has refreshed its backend to bring read receipts to Messenger for iOS and Android.

And with Christmas around the corner, the company is helping us celebrate the upcoming festivities by adding holiday-themed content to Messenger like fresh sticker packs, a new festive frame and more.

As if that wasn’t enough, Facebook’s engineers have done a lot of work under the hood to make the app more fluid and responsive than ever before. Read More

 

Facebook launches Stickered, a Messenger companion app

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 19, 2014

There’s a brand new app from Facebook in town and it’s hitting iOS real soon. Having launched on Android today, Stickered is a companion app for Messenger which allows you to add some fun stickers to a photo before sending it to a friend on Messenger.

The first companion app for Messenger, the lightweight Stickered app should make it easy and fun to pick a photo and then resize and slap a sticker on top. Read More

 

Slingshot adds swiping between selfie and frontie and more

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 17, 2014

Slingshot, Facebook’s weird ephemeral messaging app, is actually getting better and more useful with each update.

After releasing a major 2.0 version rebuilt from the ground up and enriched with such new features as private reactions, photo filters, drawings, emojis and notifications on a per-contact basis.

Today’s update keeps smoothing out the remaining few rough edges.

For instance, you can now switch smoothly between your iPhone’s front-facing FaceTime camera for ‘selfies’ and the iSight camera out the back for ‘fronties’ by swiping left and right. Read More

 

Skype’s Qik gets optimized for iPhone 6, adds new video menu and holiday surprise

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 17, 2014

Qik, an ephemeral video messaging app for the iPhone by Microsoft-owned Skype, has received a refresh Wednesday. For starters, it takes full advantage of 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus screens while adding a new video menu.

It also improves how invitations by SMS are handled and includes a special holiday surprise in the form of a cool Easter egg which lets you shake your iPhone to enable snowflakes that fall down the screen. Read More

 

BBM gains iOS 8 and iPhone 6 support, stickers in group chats and more

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 15, 2014

BlackBerry is rolling out a new version of BBM for iOS with support for Apple’s latest iOS 8 mobile operating system, native display support for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screen sizes, the ability to send stickers in a group chat and more.

“You can’t help but notice the sleek and modern design updates like a flat UI and attractive transparencies,“ boasted Canada’s embattled company. The overhaul makes the app look sharp across supported Apple devices. Read More

 

Viber introduces support for Viber Games, adds Sticker Menu

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 15, 2014

Viber, the popular messaging platform second only to WhatsApp, today refreshed its iOS application with support for downloadable mobile games while introducing a new Sticker Menu to make finding sticker packs easier.

Viber Games, the headline new feature in Viber 5.2 for iOS and Android, allows users to play select mobile games with Viber characters Violet and Legcat and see how many coins they can earn. Read More

 

Snapchat opens up Geofilters feature to everyone

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 2, 2014

Back this summer, Snapchat introduced Geofilters, a set of custom image filters that only work on photos taken in specific geographic locations. Up until now, only Snapchat devs have been able to create these. Tuesday, the company has opened up Geofilters to the community at large.

Now everyone can create interesting images and share them with friends who will be able to see them when they’re in a specific location.

Once shared, your little pieces of art will be also available through the newly set up Community Geofilter website. Read More

 

Viber rolls out Public Chats with the ability to ‘like’ messages, photos, videos, links and more

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 25, 2014

After receiving an iOS 8 focused update earlier this month bringing a nice Share menu extension, Interactive Notifications and other improvements, Viber on Tuesday pushed a small update adding the Public Chats feature.

With Public Chats, Viber users can finally follow group conversations for specific topics that they’re into. Once you start following a group chat, you can then like any piece of content in the group chat, including messages, photos, videos, links and more. Read More

 

You can now privately share tweets in DMs

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 20, 2014

After previewing future platform enhancements and features during its Analyst’s Day event, the popular social service Twitter on Thursday began rolling out one of the mentioned new features: the ability to private share a tweet through Twitter’s direct messaging function.

Think about sharing tweets privately with any of your followers in terms of discussing public content in private conversations, the micro-blogging platform suggested.

To do this from Twitter’s main iPhone client, long-press the tweet in your timeline and choose the new “Share via Direct Message” option. The person you share a tweet with will get a push notification, said the company.

Moreover, the tweet will display directly in the conversation. Read More

 

You can now adjust focus and lighting of photos in Facebook Messenger

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 20, 2014

Facebook on Thursday issued a small update to its Messenger app for the iPhone and iPad, bringing out additional features to touch up the photos you take within the software using the built-in camera feature.

Now available in the App Store at no cost, Facebook Messenger 16.0 fixed an issue with sending messages while introducing a pair of new controls to adjust the focus and lighting of photos you take in the app. Read More

 

WhatsApp starts encrypting instant messages on Android, iOS and other platforms coming soon

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 19, 2014

WhatsApp, the most popular instant-messaging platform with more than 600 million users which Facebook snapped up for $16 billions earlier this year, has started to protect data with end-to-end encryption, The Wall Street Journal reports.

For the time being, text messages exchanged between Android users of WhatsApp are being encrypted by default.

It shouldn’t be too long until the company adds encryption to the iOS app and other mobile platforms. Encryption protects users’ communications from governments and hackers alike by making the data unreadable as it travels between servers. Read More

 

Microsoft launches Skype for Web beta

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 14, 2014

In a pretty significant move Microsoft on Friday announced Skype for Web, an upcoming web application that lets the popular instant messaging and VoIP service run directly in a desktop browser, no plug-in needed, making Skype readily available across desktop, mobile and on the web.

Supported browsers include Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10, Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox or Apple’s Safari 6.

Unfortunately, Chrome for Windows is the only supported version of Chrome so Mac users on Google’s browser (and Chromebook owners) are left out in the cold for the time being. Chatting and video/voice messaging don’t require a browser plug-in. “With WebRTC, there won’t be any downloads or installs – you can just get straight to your conversation”, the software giant said. Read More

 

Facebook Messenger passes half a billion users

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 10, 2014

Facebook‘s dedicated instant messaging application for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, Facebook Messenger, is now used by more than 500 million people around the world each month, said the social networking giant Monday.

That’s a massive number, but still half of what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said constitutes a platform in the truest sense.

By comparison, WhatsApp, which Facebook acquired in February 2014 for $19 billion, currently has more than 600 million active users. Instagram, another Facebook property, counts more than 200 million users. Read More

 

WhatsApp now indicates if your message has been read

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 5, 2014

As we patiently await an update to make WhatsApp support native display sizes of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the tremendously popular Facebook-owned messaging service on Wednesday enabled a new check mark in the chat UI indicating that the recipient has read your message.

Now when you’re chatting with someone, pay attention to read receipts in the form of blue check marks, as discovered by designer, Dutch translator at Twitter and jailbreak developer Timon Olsthoorn (and many others on Twitter).

This is an over-the-air update so those with WhatsApp installed on their iPhone can start using this feature immediately, without the need to update the app manually.

WhatsApp, which has more than 600 million active users, is free in the App Store. Read More

 
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