Tag Archives: Messaging

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

Today, Google dropped a news clusterbomb, launching Android VR, a new Google Assistant, and an Amazon Echo-like Google Home hub. Here’s all the coolest stuff from today’s keynote.

Google Assistant Finally Turns Google’s Voice Commands Into a Helpful, Intelligent Conversation

Google has excelled at voice commands for a long time, but now the voice commands are going anthropomorphic. The company announced Google Assistant, which makes voice commands much more conversational. For example, you can say “I want to see a movie” and Google will provide some suggestions. If you want to narrow it down to kid-friendly movies, you can say “We want to bring the kids.” Google will then help you order tickets automatically.


The Google Assistant will plug into a bunch of other services that can help you place a reservation at a restaurant via things like OpenTable, get a car with services like Uber, and buy movie tickets with companies like TicketMaster. You can also use the same Google voice commands you’re used to, like “How’s the weather?” or “How tall is Jeff Goldblum?”

Google Home Will Compete With Amazon Echo, Bring Google Assistant and More Into Your Home

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

Google isn’t content letting Amazon be the only one with a smart gadget sitting in your home awaiting your voice command. Today, the company announced Google Home. Much like Amazon’s Echo, Google Home is a stylish speaker and microphone combo that sits in any room in your home. It can field your voice commands from anywhere. If reception to the Echo is any indication, this could be a lot cooler than it sounds. And it already sounds pretty cool.

Google Home will also be able to connect to smart home devices like light switches and speakers to allow you to control your smart home with simple voice commands. Of course, smart homes are still pretty complex and difficult for most users to get into, so this might only help a few niche users.

Android N Still Doesn’t Have a Name, But You Can Suggest One

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

If you were hoping that Android N would finally get a name at I/O, you’re out of luck. However, Google will be asking for suggestions for the name. You can head to this site here to submit your N-flavored dessert. In terms of actual features, Google demoed several things that we already dug up like double-tapping to switch to your last app, and quick replies from notifications. Oh and Android won’t need to optimize apps after an update anymore. Brilliant. A new “beta-quality” version of Android will be rolling out soon for users in the Android Beta Program.


Allo and Duo Are Yet Another Google Attempt at Messaging, But They Look Pretty Cool

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

Google hasn’t done so well in the messaging world while trying to compete with things like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. Their new attempt is called Allo, presumably pronounced with a bad impression of a British accent. It comes with a host of smart features like suggested replies, which Inbox users might be familiar with. The new Google Assistant is also built in, helpfully suggesting things like restaurants based on the context of your conversation. You can also adjust text sizes on the fly, for when you really need to get the point across.

If all that sounds like Google’s doing quite a lot of snooping on your conversations, you’re right. So, Google added an Incognito mode that turns off all smart suggestions and scanning for a while. So you can have a conversation without worrying about Google poking in. That might come as small comfort to the more privacy-minded who are worried about the rest of the time you’re not in Incognito mode.

Duo is a separate app for video calling, reminiscent of Apple’s Facetime. You can place. The key standout feature is something Google calls “Knock-Knock” (yes really) which shows you a video feed of the person calling you before you answer. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s still pretty neat.

What Google hasn’t said is how Allo and Duo affect their other messaging strategies. Google now has Hangouts for general messaging, Messenger for SMS, Google Voice for the users who still remember what Google Voice is, and now Allo and Duo. That’s a lot of messaging apps to manage. The smart money is that Allo and Duo will eventually replace Hangouts, but Google isn’t saying right now.

Daydream Is Bringing Powerful Virtual Reality to Your Android Phone

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

As we’ve been expecting, Google is bringing VR to Android with N. Daydream (not to be confused with the Android lock screen feature of the same name) will help developers create high-quality VR applications and experiences. There will also be a set of minimum requirements for phones to determine what hardware is capable of running VR.

Google is also introducing a controller specifically designed to be used in VR, plus a new, non-cardboard headset to hold your phone, along with a number of major manufacturers already signed up to support it. Both will arrive later this fall. Notably, Google’s hardware won’t require external tracking like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive do.

Android Wear Apps Now Work Without a Phone, Smart Replies Make Responding Easy

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

Android Wear wasn’t the revolution in wearables that Google hoped it would be, but it’s still pretty cool for some people. Now, it’s getting cooler. For starters, apps can now run on the watch without being dependent on your phone, which is awesome for those times when the connection between your phone and watch is wonky.


Wear is also getting some reply improvements. On the upside, Wear devices are now getting smart replies—again, lifted from Inbox—so you can quickly reply with messages based on the context of the conversation. Google also added handwriting recognition and a full keyboard because…well, honestly I’m sure someone wants this. Still, I can’t pretend that typing on your watch will be a good experience.

Android Instant Apps Will Let You Download Just the Part of Apps You Need

Google’s tired of making everyone download entire apps just to use single links. Before the end of the year, Google’s planning to release Android Instant Apps, which will allow users to open just the parts of an Android app that they need.

As an example, Google showed a user opening up a B&H product page. Android downloaded just the product page instance, without having to install the B&H app. This looks like a really cool way to deal with apps that you might want to use once in a while, but don’t necessarily want to keep on your phone all the time. Google hasn’t said when this will roll out specifically, but they’re aiming for this to arrive over the next year.

QuickReply Brings Android N-Style Quick Reply to Older Versions of Android

QuickReply Brings Android N-Style Quick Reply to Older Versions of Android

Android (5.0+): With Android N, you can finally reply to notifications directly from the shade, but most users don’t have N yet. For those on Lollipop or above, QuickReply emulates that same feature for most notifications.

The QuickReply apps uses Android’s notification monitoring service to detect when a message comes in, and then adds its own buttons labeled “Reply” and “Direct.” The first allows you to type a response to the received message directly, while Direct lets you choose from a selection of canned responses to send.

QuickReply’s description on the Play Store lists the messaging apps that should be supported, but it may also work with apps that aren’t on the list. Support may also vary by phone, since most phones add custom skins to Android.

QuickReply | Google Play Store via Android Police

WhatsApp Releases Desktop Apps For Windows and Mac

WhatsApp Releases Desktop Apps For Windows and Mac

Windows/OS X: WhatsApp is working hard to become your go-to messenger. Now that it’s free for everyone, you can use WhatsApp on your computer with the new desktop apps.

When you first login to WhatsApp on the desktop, you’ll be prompted to scan a code from the mobile WhatsApp app on your phone. You can insert your own Yo Dawg joke here. To scan the code from your phone, press the menu button in WhatsApp and tap WhatsApp Web. Here you can scan the QR code on your computer. Later, you can also view a list of all desktop or web clients that are logged into your account from this menu.

The desktop app works much like WhatsApp Web. You can send messages, attachments, record voice messages, send pictures, and manage your message history. It might be missing a couple features from the phone version (I can’t find a way to change a conversation wallpaper from the desktop version, for example) but it should be mostly the same experience you’re used to.

Introducing WhatsApp’s desktop app | WhatsApp

Other for iPhone Quickly Sends Canned Messages to One Other Person

Other for iPhone Quickly Sends Canned Messages to One Other Person

iPhone: If you have one person you tend to message with a lot, Other is a very simple little app that makes sending a canned message to them a ton easier.

Other is kind of like a launcher for messaging a single person. You can set it up with predefined messages, so it’s super easy to instantly send a message through the normal Messages app to them. If you have a iPhone 6s, you can even send those messages from a 3D Touch shortcut on the home screen. There’s also a share extension so you can easily send something like a URL in Safari to that person with just a couple taps. If you tend to send the same type of message to one person a lot, like that you’re on your way home, stuck in traffic, or whatever else, Other makes it just a little bit easier.

Other (Free) | iTunes App Store via The Daily App

Charge Mobile Data Offers Data-Only Plans for Your Smartphone or Tablet

Charge Mobile Data Offers Data-Only Plans for Your Smartphone or Tablet

If you want a data plan on your smartphone, you normally have to get a voice plan and text message plan packaged with it. Not anymore. Charge Mobile Data, which launched today, offers pay-as-you go data plans for most LTE-capable devices.

Charge’s network is built around Sprint’s LTE network, and there are no contracts, no monthly plans, and your data never expires. When you sign up, you get a SIM card and your chosen data allotment that will work in any compatible phone or tablet. Obviously, you won’t be able to make traditional voice calls or send SMS text messages, but you can still use VOIP calling, video calling, data messaging, and even tethering. Data costs $15 per GB, but if you buy 3 GB or more, it will only cost you $13 per GB. When you run out, you just buy more and you’re good to go. You can learn more at the link below.


Charge Mobile Data | via The Verge

Facebook Messenger Now Supports Multiple Accounts On One Device

Facebook Messenger Now Supports Multiple Accounts On One Device

Android: If you’re sharing a phone or tablet (or just have multiple Messenger accounts), using Messenger just got a lot easier. Now, on Android, you can add multiple accounts to Facebook Messenger.

The new feature allows you to add multiple Messenger accounts to your device and easily switch between them. You don’t need to have a Facebook account to create a Messenger account. When you’re logged into one account, you’ll only see the unread message count for other accounts. No messages will be seen by anyone else. You can choose whether to require a password each time you change accounts.

Making It Easier For Your Whole Family to Use Messenger | Facebook via Android Police

Ending Text Messages With Periods Can Make Them Seem Insincere

Ending Text Messages With Periods Can Make Them Seem Insincere

Ending a text message with a period might make it grammatically correct, but a recent study suggests it can also make it seem cold and insincere.

The study, led by Celia Klin of Binghamton University, and published in Computers in Human Behavior, suggests ending your text messages with a period makes them seem less sincere to the receiver. Participants in the study read short exchanges with responses that either did or did not contain messages that ended with a period. When the messages were in text message form, as opposed to handwritten notes, the messages that ended with a period were generally rated as being less sincere than messages that didn’t end in a period. Klin explains why in a statement to EurekaAlert!:

Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations. When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses, and so on. People obviously can’t use these mechanisms when they are texting. Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them — emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation.

It’s no surprise that communication is evolving as texting gradually becomes the dominating method of communication, and it’s easy to spot these social cues in everyday correspondence. For example, the messages “Yeah it’s fine” or “Yeah it’s fine!” seem a lot less intense than “Yeah it’s fine.” The period in the second example makes the message seem less relaxed and a lot more final. Whatever platform you choose to send text messages on, you might want to consider how your messages will be received. You can find the complete study at the link below.


Texting insincerely: The role of the period in text messaging | Computers in Human Behavior via Washington Post

Photo by micadew.

You Can Now Back Up Your WhatsApp Messages to Google Drive

You Can Now Back Up Your WhatsApp Messages to Google Drive

If you’re one of the hundreds of millions of people in the world who use WhatsApp for your messaging, you might want to save your message history from time to time. Now, you can automatically back it up to Google Drive.

The new feature allows you to automatically create a backup of your messages to a Google Drive account you specify. You can also set the interval at which your messages back up: daily, weekly, or monthly. This backup can even include any videos you’ve shared. You can then restore that backup on another device, or the same one after a reset.

WhatsApp’s Google Drive Backup Finally Becomes Official [APK Download] | Android Police

Kaboom Gives You Self-Destructing Messages You Can Share Anywhere

Android/iOS: “Self-destructing messages” are mostly BS. There’s no way to ensure the message is ever really gone, and most apps require all your friends to sign up just to share messages. Kaboom solves at least the latter problem, by letting you share those timed messages anywhere, with anyone.

Once installed, you can craft your text or photo message, and tell the app when you want the message to “expire,” or self-destruct. You can tell the message to vanish in as little as a few minutes (the clock starts after the message is opened by the recipient) or in months or years; it’s entirely up to you. Then, instead of only being able to share the message with other Kaboom users, you can share your message using any social network or messaging service you want. Twitter and Facebook work, or you could use WhatsApp or Hangouts. You could even use plain old email or SMS, or copy a direct link to your clipboard to send manually however you want.

The big feature is that you get the whole self-destructing message thing without forcing all your friends to use the same service you do to take advantage of it. Plus, it doesn’t require Kaboom be super-popular just to be useful.

Kaboom is by the same folks behind the freemium VPN Hotspot Shield, which I mention not as a nod to its security, but just to explain that it’s a mature product. Like any self-destructing message service, you have no guarantee that your message is really gone, or that the person you sent it to hasn’t downloaded it, saved it, screenshotted it, or whatever. Kaboom doesn’t talk about encryption or security, or promise the message isn’t stored somewhere on their servers. Keep that in mind, and use apps like this for fun—not for truly secure communications.


You Can Now Use Facebook Messenger without a Facebook Account

You Can Now Use Facebook Messenger without a Facebook Account

A lot of people feel the standalone Facebook Messenger app was unnecessary, but there’s actually a lot of useful features and functionality built into it. Today, Facebook made Messenger even more useful by allowing anyone to use it, with or without a Facebook account.

If you’re in the United States, Canada, Peru, or Venezuela, all you need now is a phone number to use Messenger. Download the Facebook Messenger app, select the “Not on Facebook?” option, and enter your phone number and name. That’s it. You can upload and send photos, videos, start group chats, and use voice and video calling without ever having to sign up for a Facebook account. Of course, having a Facebook account still has some benefits, like being able to message Facebook friends, view past Facebook messages, and have access to mutli-device messaging. You can download Facebook Messenger for free on iOS in the App Store and on Android in the Google Play Store.

Sign Up for Messenger, Without a Facebook Account | Facebook Newsroom