messaging

Hangouts on the Web gets faster, simpler to use

Hangouts on the Web gets faster, simpler to use

Last August, Google introduced a new way to communicate on the Web via your browser. It re-launched Hangouts as a dedicated website in its own right, taking advantage of the full space that the browser window offers instead of a simple popup menu or browser plugin. Less than three months later, Google is pushing what could be the biggest update to Hangouts on the web yet. As you can expect, it has improvements all around, starting with its performance all the way to the user interface.

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Signal secure messaging lands on Android, endorsed by Snowden

Signal secure messaging lands on Android, endorsed by Snowden

When it comes to staying away from the prying eyes and eavesdropping ears of spies and hackers, perhaps no one knows better than Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who has spilled it all and is now also trying to stay away from said people's reach. So when he openly endorses on Twitter (yes, he is on Twitter, of all places) WhisperSystem's Signal app, now on Android, then you know, with a bit of confidence but perhaps also a grain of salt, that your text messages and voice calls will be secure and private.

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Tor’s new Messenger app promises privacy over familiar networks

Tor’s new Messenger app promises privacy over familiar networks

Tor, whose name amusingly once stood for The Onion Network, has become the software of choice when keeping your identity on the Internet anonymous and protected. As such, it has also become the bane of those, like some government agencies, who would prefer to have everyone's private comings and goings within their grasp. Adding to the project's arsenal of tools, which already includes a web browser, is Tor Messenger, an instant messaging software that tries to offer both convenience and privacy over an established network protocol like XMPP.

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Line messaging app updated with end-to-end encryption

Line messaging app updated with end-to-end encryption

Line, the dominant mobile messaging app in many parts of Asia, has just announced that it's updating its service on all platforms to take advantage of end-to-end encryption. This protects the privacy of conversations between two users, and brings Line up to speed with other popular messaging services, including Apple's iMessage and the Facebook-owned WhatsApp. The new security feature, which Line has dubbed "Letter Sealing," is now available on its updated iOS and Android apps.

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BlackBerry BBM app comes to Apple Watch

BlackBerry BBM app comes to Apple Watch

More and more iOS apps these are adding Apple Watch support, with many coming from the email and other communication categories. When it comes to direct messaging, however, the big apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are still missing in action. Fortunately for fans of BlackBerry's BBM messaging service, they can now look forward to their Apple Watch being compatible. The BBM app for iOS has been updated, and is available now from the App Store.

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Skype for Android updated with support for Android Wear

Skype for Android updated with support for Android Wear

Following a similar update to its iOS app that added Apple Watch support, Skype has just released an update for its Android version that introduces features for Android Wear devices. Version 6.4 of Skype is available now from the Google Play Store, and introduces the recently announced Skype Mojis, as well as the ability to respond to messages and accept or decline calls from an Android Wear smartwatch.

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New Firefox update adds built-in instant messaging

New Firefox update adds built-in instant messaging

Mozilla has announced the release of an update to its Firefox browser, now version 41, for both desktop platforms and Android. The biggest addition is that an instant messaging feature is now built right in, thanks to Mozilla's own Firefox Hello. The feature is currently limited to the desktop version of the browser, including Windows, Mac, and Linux, and lets users start chatting during a Hello video call. Even better is that once Chrome and Opera are updated to support WebRTC, Firefox users can chat with others cross-browser.

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WhatsApp tops 900 million monthly active users

WhatsApp tops 900 million monthly active users

While other mobile messaging apps continue to grow in popularity, it seems none can push the Facebook-owned WhatsApp from its throne. Founder Jan Koum revealed that the app now has an incredible 900 million monthly active users. The news was shared by Koum in a Facebook post, and means that WhatsApp has gained an additional 100 million new users in just under five months, and achieved a 50% growth rate over the last year.

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Instagram Direct upgrades to corner messaging market

Instagram Direct upgrades to corner messaging market

Instagram has revamped its Direct feature, aiming to turn the photo messaging system into a real alternative to Twitter DMs and even dedicated IM apps. The new Instagram Direct - available in v7.5 of the app for both iOS and Android - supports threaded messages, a much-requested feature for common conversations, in addition to renaming support for group chat.

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Direct Messenger lets you use Twitter DMs and nothing else

Direct Messenger lets you use Twitter DMs and nothing else

While Twitter has been revamping its Direct Messages feature recently, including the elimination of the 140-character limit, letting users message people not following them, and supporting pictures & URLs, its official apps still heavily focus on the rest of the social network's uses. For those who've been wanting to just use Twitter's Direct Messages as a stand-alone chat app, now there's the unofficial app Direct Messenger for iOS.

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Facebook M assistant helps shopping in Messenger

Facebook M assistant helps shopping in Messenger

Facebook is launching its own personal digital assistant, M, with a beta of the chat-based artificial intelligence rolling out today for select Messenger users. Unlike Apple's Siri, M delivers its assistance via text discussion rather than spoken interactions; it's also more focused on shopping, with Facebook positioning it as a way to buy products, have gifts ordered and delivered, and arrange travel.

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WhatsApp’s desktop client now supports iOS

WhatsApp’s desktop client now supports iOS

The desktop web app for WhatsApp now finally supports iOS, roughly seven month after it debuted on Chrome and Android. While the name of the feature is a tad confusing, it's the option to continue using the messaging client on a desktop browser through the web.whatsapp.com portal. But in order to "login," users must already have the mobile app installed on their device, open it, and scan a QR screen that is displayed in the desktop browser.

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