You can now sign up for Messenger with your phone number, no Facebook account needed

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 24, 2015

You no longer need a Facebook account in order to exchange instant messages with your contacts through the Facebook Messenger service. By dropping the Facebook account requirement, the social network hopes to bring in even more people under the Messenger fold.

By last count, Messenger had 700 million active users, approaching the 800 million user base of WhatsApp, a wildly popular messaging service Facebook acquired for a staggering $19 billion. Read More

 

Skype for Web is now available worldwide with added Chromebook support

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 16, 2015

Microsoft-owned Skype has now made its web-based client available regardless of where you live, following its limited rollout last November.

Skype for Web runs in any web browser that supports modern web technologies, including Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox on Windows and OS X. Read More

 

You can now chat while on a call, add contacts via QR codes and more in latest Viber update

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 4, 2015

Viber, the popular VoIP and messaging platform owned by Japan’s Rakuten, hasn’t updated its iPhone app in any meaningful way for a while now. And just when you thought they’ve neglected the iOS app for good, here comes a brand new release packing a few solid improvements.

I’ve always hated Viber wouldn’t let me chat while on a VoIP or video call. This should be expected behavior as iPhones have always supported messaging during a cellular call.

In latest Viber 5.4 for iPhone update it’s now possible to minimize a VoIP call and open any other screen within the app without interrupting your conversation. Read More

 

Skype for iPhone gains link previews, Apple Watch app adds replying with dictation and more

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 2, 2015

Microsoft-owned Skype today issued an update to its free-of-charge iPhone application in the App Store, adding a few enhancements related to chatting on both your handset and the Apple Watch.

Web link previews are now available in your chat, courtesy of Skype 5.13 for iPhone. When you paste a URL into the chat window, the mobile application will now provide a preview of the website similar to Facebook.

Previews are available when you send or receive a web link and support video content, blogs, news websites and many other types of web content. Read More

 

Flow by Outlook, Microsoft’s hybrid IM/email iPhone app, inadvertently leaked

By Christian Zibreg on May 20, 2015

Microsoft has inadvertently leaked an upcoming hybrid email and messaging app via a download webpage marked “Microsoft Confidential”, ZDNet reported Wednesday.

Called ‘Flow by Outlook,’ the lightweight email app should release for the iPhone. It’s being billed as a “great way to have rapid email conversations on your phone with the people who are important to you,” as per leaked changelog. Read More

 

Free video calling in Facebook Messenger rolling out to all users worldwide

By Christian Zibreg on May 20, 2015

Facebook confirmed today that free video calling in its mobile Messenger application has begun rolling out to all users worldwide. The feature launched in select markets on April 27, 2015.

“Quick update on video calling in Messenger: we’re happy to share we’ve now rolled out the capability globally, with the exception of a few countries we’re still working on improving quality for,” David Marcus, Messaging at Facebook, wrote in a post on Facebook this morning. Read More

 

BitTorrent launches Bleep, secure peer-to-peer messaging app for iPhone and Mac

By Christian Zibreg on May 13, 2015

With ephemeral messaging growing in popularity, and given ongoing fear of government-sponsored snooping, small wonder that BitTorrent has now entered the market for secure chat apps — and in a pretty big way, too.

Bleep, their new Mac and iOS secure messaging and VoIP software, strives to ensure the privacy of your conversations by never saving them on your device or the servers. In a nutshell, Bleep uses encryption and peer-to-peer networking to establish a private, secure connection between devices.

With Bleep, you can whisper with friends on your Mac or iPhone and the messages will disappear after they are read. Read More

 

WhatsApp for iPhone rolling out VoIP calling, gains iOS 8 share extension and more

By Christian Zibreg on Apr 21, 2015

Following months of promises and multiple delays, Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which commands more than 800 million active users worldwide, on Tuesday started rolling a voice calling feature in its iPhone application.

WhatsApp Calling is a staggered release and will be rolling out “slowly over the next several weeks,” the company said, meaning it may not be available for you immediately.

In addition to calling other people for free over Wi-Fi networks, regardless of where they may live, the app has gained other enhancements, too, starting with a much welcomed app extension on iPhones running iOS 8. Sadly enough, this update hasn’t brought out support for iOS 8’s Interactive Notifications. Read More

 

Facebook updates Messenger with third-party app support

By Christian Zibreg on Mar 30, 2015

After announcing support for select third-party applications inside its Messenger service last week, Facebook on Monday issued a refresh to the mobile messaging app which officially enables third-party integration.

Now available free in the App Store, the update puts a new button in the chat interface of Facebook Messenger. Tapping it brings up a sheet where you can browse and download supported third-party apps that extend Messenger’s functionality, like apps for sending and receiving animated GIFs and more. Read More

 

Facebook readying Phone app, may turn Messenger into a platform

By Christian Zibreg on Mar 23, 2015

Facebook wants to be more than just a social network. The company has been working on a dedicated Phone mobile app and is considering moves to turn its standalone mobile Messenger service into a platform of its own, according to web reports Monday. The dedicated Phone app would show rich information about callers and automatically block calls from commonly blocked numbers.

As for enhancing Messenger, this could entail adding features beyond exchanging media and instant messages, like bringing news and way richer content sharing to the service.

We’ll know for sure next week at Facebook’s F8 conference, an annual gathering for Facebook developers where the company usually announce major platform advancements and new services. Read More

 

BBM for iPhone updated with Touch ID and landscape support, ad removal and more

By Christian Zibreg on Mar 12, 2015

The latest BBM for iPhone update is now available for iOS users in the App Store, featuring support for Touch ID-based fingerprint verification, a custom PIN feature, the ability to remove in-app advertising through an In-App Purchase and more.

The free messaging software can now at last be locked with a passcode and Touch ID to keep your messages hidden from prying eyes. You can set how long you would like BBM to remain unlocked before a password is required again. Read More

 

At last, Facebook Messenger gets native iOS 8 Share extension

By Christian Zibreg on Feb 24, 2015

Today, social networking behemoth Facebook issued a small yet important update to its mobile messaging software for the iPhone and iPad. Facebook Messenger version 22 is now available in the App Store and with it comes a much appreciated and long overdue iOS 8 extension.

With it, you can at last send pieces of content to Messenger without leaving other apps. Using iOS 8’s standard Share sheet, it’s simple to share photos, videos and links directly with Messenger contacts, without leaving context of the app you’re currently using. Read More

 

Skype for iPhone introduces new chat picker, brings back URI support and more

By Christian Zibreg on Feb 9, 2015

Microsoft today released an update to Skype for iPhone in the App Store. In addition to general improvements, Skype 5.10 for iPhone lets you quickly call people and groups straight from a new chat picker: just tap on a new chat icon and choose who to talk to.

The update enhances Skype’s dialer with a useful auto-complete feature that searches for Skype contacts as you’re entering a phone number.

Most importantly, the new version brings Skype URI support back to iPhones so third-party developers can again write apps that integrate with Skype. Read More

 

WhatsApp gains improved image chooser, new Call button and Dynamic Type support

By Christian Zibreg on Feb 5, 2015

WhatsApp for iPhone got updated Thursday with three noteworthy improvements. For starters, it now honors your preferred font size set in Settings > General > Accessibility > Larger Text so all text labels throughout the app get rendered in your chosen typeface size.

There’s also a new call button in chats. Lastly, a built-in image chooser has been redesigned so you can now quickly add recent images from your Camera Roll right after tapping on the camera icon in chats. Read More

 

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

 
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