Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

At its annual Zoomtopia event, Zoom announced the debut of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for free accounts in four stages. The first phase, which launches next week, will be a 30-day technical preview to gather feedback. Chief executive Eric Yuan stated the company will improve its integration of “office chatroom products” from Slack Technologies and Microsoft and also introduced its Zapps platform that allows users to bring third-party apps into video calls and a new integrated platform for classes and events. Continue reading Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

Hulu Launches Watch Party Feature to Enable Social Viewing

Hulu is the first major streaming platform to launch a built-in Watch Party feature that allows its subscribers to watch a show in a group chat room. During COVID-19 shutdowns, watch parties have become increasingly popular, although most are enabled by third-party apps and services rather than built-in social viewing features. The Hulu Watch Party feature is now available to web users who subscribe to the platform’s ad-free plan. Plex also launched a Watch Together feature that works with the user’s own media and the company’s on-demand content. Continue reading Hulu Launches Watch Party Feature to Enable Social Viewing

Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

As more companies ask employees to work from home due to the global spread of the coronavirus, Google, Microsoft and Zoom have responded by providing their workplace software for free. Microsoft’s Teams saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls and conference usage in China since the end of January, and demand is rising in the U.S. as work-from-home policies are instituted. Many Microsoft employees have been instructed to work from home and, last week, their Teams chat volume rose 50 percent, with video/audio meetings up 37 percent from a week earlier. Continue reading Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Microsoft started internal demos of its dual-screen Surface hardware, codenamed Centaurus, including an “all-hands” event for its device team, said sources. The company allowed employees to get up close to the prototype hardware, and also showed a sizzle reel. Centaurus, in development for about two years, is intended to be the showpiece of the company’s upcoming assortment of dual-screen tablet/laptop hybrids. Sources also said that Centaurus is more similar to the Courier tablet than the prior Andromeda project. Continue reading Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook Messenger Tests ‘Watch Videos Together’ Feature

Whether it involves movies, sports events or in-the-moment activities — sharing the experience with friends can make it more enjoyable. This is what Facebook is reportedly testing with its “Watch Videos Together” feature. This feature includes the ability to watch a video within a Messenger group chat while simultaneously commenting, discussing and joking about it. Earlier this year, Facebook launched its Watch Party. Facebook is now potentially expanding its concept of the Watch Party to Messenger, the popular instant messaging app and platform. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Tests ‘Watch Videos Together’ Feature

Snap Chief Exec Outlines a New Plan for Profitability, Growth

In a 15-page letter on September 26, Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel told employees his plan to achieve full-year profitability in 2019 and refocus the company around new strategies. He admitted that the company’s redesign created many problems and “lost the core of what made Snapchat the fastest way to communicate.” That widely criticized redesign led to Snapchat’s first-ever decline in daily active users last quarter. Spiegel now wants the company to focus on adults, not teens, and messaging, not stories. Continue reading Snap Chief Exec Outlines a New Plan for Profitability, Growth

Facebook Notifying Over 800,000 Users About Blocking Bug

Facebook announced yesterday that it was notifying more than 800,000 users about a bug in Facebook and Messenger that unblocked some of the people that those users had previously blocked. The bug was active between May 29th and June 5th. “It did not reinstate any friend connections that had been severed,” according to Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan. “83 percent of people affected by the bug had only one person they had blocked temporarily unblocked, and someone who was unblocked might have been able to contact people on Messenger who had blocked them.” Continue reading Facebook Notifying Over 800,000 Users About Blocking Bug

Facebook Portrays Its Many Platforms as Safe for Consumers

When the European Parliament grilled Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg about his company’s many missteps, one of their concerns was that it has become a monopoly. The reference was to Facebook owning the world’s two largest chat applications, Messenger and WhatsApp, and their suggestion was that Facebook spin off those and the photo app Instagram. Facebook has countered with the argument that, by controlling so much of the world’s communications, it helps keep consumers safe across all these services. Continue reading Facebook Portrays Its Many Platforms as Safe for Consumers

In Response to User Outcry, Snap Retreats on Chat Redesign

Snapchat fans have loudly complained about the company’s redesign of its app, with more than 1.25 million people signing a Change.org petition and Kylie Jenner tweeting that the changes were “sad.” Parent company Snap announced that it would redesign the redesign (at least part of it), in response to the complaints and slowed business. The company reported a 54 percent revenue increase to $231 million and a rise in daily users to 191 million, both below analyst expectations, causing stock to fall more than 15 percent. Continue reading In Response to User Outcry, Snap Retreats on Chat Redesign

Facebook Is Testing Playable Ad Format With Game Previews

At F8 2018 on May 1, Facebook plans to reveal more details of a new playable ad format that it just started testing with a few game developers. The ad allows players to preview a game before installing it, with the goal of driving more “high-intent” installs. Later this year, Facebook plans to roll out the new ad format across its News Feed, and to all advertisers. Facebook is also testing Premiere, which lets content creators debut pre-recorded videos, with real-time chats, as Facebook Live moments. Continue reading Facebook Is Testing Playable Ad Format With Game Previews

Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Google is at work creating consensus among every major global cellphone carrier to replace SMS with “Chat,” based on a standard dubbed the Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services. Chat is the consumer name for RCS (Rich Communication Services) and is not actually a new texting app but rather a new set of features inside an app (Android Messages) already installed on most Android phones. Google is leading development to ensure interoperability of Chat on every carrier’s service. Continue reading Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Snapchat Releasing New Tools: Group Video Chats, Mentions

Snapchat is making moves to become more conversational, more “sticky,” and to keep users engaged for longer periods of time, according to Variety. The social sharing company announced a new chat feature that allows up to 16 users to video chat through its app, and added mentions to its Snapchat Stories, allowing users to easily tag others (much like they would via Twitter). The chat feature will roll out across the globe this week and will come with filters and the ability to join by audio only as desired. Users can also reply via text messages.

Continue reading Snapchat Releasing New Tools: Group Video Chats, Mentions

Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Apple is preparing for a major iPhone operating system update, iOS 11.3, and it will include some important new features. Chief among those is Business Chat, which lets users communicate directly with businesses via the iMessage app. At launch, Business Chat will allow communications with a select group of companies including Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Hilton and Discover. Also new with iOS 11.3 is version 1.5 of the company’s virtual reality developers’ kit ARKit, four Animoji, and new features that display battery health. Continue reading Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Snapchat Redesign Aims to Curb Fake News, Boost Revenue

Snap Inc. just unveiled a remake of Snapchat that, thus far, has been identifiable for its posts that disappear after 24 hours, smaller social circles and human editing and curation. In its new incarnation, Snapchat separates the social and media into two parts. On the left side of the app, users will see chats and stories shared with friends. On the right side, they’ll find content from DIY creators, publishers, celebrities and Snap-curated content. Part of the reason for the redo is Snap’s disappointing user and revenue numbers. Continue reading Snapchat Redesign Aims to Curb Fake News, Boost Revenue

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