Apps

Facebook officially launches new and simplified Messenger

There’s still no Dark Mode, yet

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The wait is over! A lot of users have been requesting a simpler Messenger app for Facebook for a long time now, and it’s finally official. The redesigned messaging app, which is officially called Messenger 4, is now being rolled out globally.

First demoed months ago, the new Facebook Messenger is now available to all compatible devices running Android and iOS. The new Messenger promises a more simplified experience that focuses on the most important features that people actually use.

Gone are the multiple tabs that crowd the interface of the old Messenger. Only three of the nine tabs remain in the new version: Chats, People, and Discover. If you love the existing features of Messenger like connecting with businesses, instant games, and the like, they’re still there hiding in the Discover tab.

Aside from the refreshing interface, Messenger 4 also introduces new personalization options. There are now color gradients for your customized chat bubbles. These colors can be changed at any time you wish.

This is how the new Facebook Messenger looks like on iPhones running iOS:

And, this is how it’ll work on Android phones:

The rollout has already started and it’ll be done in phases. The update should be available in the coming weeks. Also, Facebook will soon introduce new features including the much-awaited Dark Mode.

Source: Facebook Messenger

SEE ALSO: Facebook Lite comes to iPhones at less than 5MB

Apps

Facebook wants to acquire Dubsmash to fight TikTok

Snapchat also wanted to get in on it

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Do you remember Dubsmash? Before TikTok’s meteoric rise, Dubsmash dominated the short-form video format. The platform’s lip-syncing format prototyped TikTok’s current mashup trends. It even facilitated the rise of some celebrities like Maine Mendoza. However, TikTok eventually snatched Dubsmash’s seat atop app rankings. However, despite Dubsmash’s decline, the platform has not disappeared just yet. In particular, Facebook wants to acquire Dubsmash to fight TikTok.

According to The Information’s sources, Facebook and Snap recently expressed interest in buying Dubsmash. Apparently, discussions have already progressed far enough to reach a potential price reaching hundreds of millions of dollars.

Going against The Information’s report, Reuters has reported that Snap had already exited the acquisition talks and dropped all interest. Facebook, however, did not comment.

With TikTok facing tremendous pressure from the American government, the stage is set for a potential upheaval of the short-form video format. On one hand, Microsoft and Twitter are already considering buying out TikTok’s American operations, facilitating TikTok’s continued dominance albeit under new management. In another possibility, Facebook’s Instagram recently launched Instagram Reels, a homegrown alternative to TikTok. Now, Facebook’s interest in Dubsmash expresses a new possibility of reviving a former player to upend TikTok.

Of note, Facebook’s interest coincides with Mark Zuckerberg’s current battle against the government over alleged and proven antitrust practices, including acquiring rival companies to stifle competition.

Regardless, TikTok’s woes has busted the app industry wide open. Who will take over TikTok’s dominance on the boards? Will TikTok even survive?

SEE ALSO: TikTok has collected user information illegally

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Apps

Google turns Android into world’s largest earthquake detection system

Using technology to make a difference

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2020 is the epitome of chaos with a pandemic, fear of cyber warfare, and government incapability. Amid all the negativity, Google has some refreshing news. Android, the world’s most widely used mobile operating system, will now leverage its reach to help detect an earthquake.

Pretty much every Android phone today sports an accelerometer, a sensor that can help detect seismographic movement. When this sensor is clubbed along with the user’s GPS data, researchers can use the phone as a live seismometer.

The University of California-Berkeley, along with funding from the state of California has launched a new app called MyShake. The app can use the phone’s onboard sensors to feed data in a massive network of devices that are constantly monitoring seismographic movement across the globe.

Using this same technology, Google is taking a step forward. Instead of relying on an app, it’s incorporating Android Earthquake Alerts System on every phone running on Google Play Services. The system is being touted as “the world’s largest earthquake detection network.”

The company studied historical accelerometer readings during earthquakes and found they could give some users up to a minute of notice. Since the feature is being rolled out via Play Services, the alerting system will be available on all active phones within a few weeks. The user won’t have to depend on the software update roll-out.

“We are on a path to delivering earthquake alerts wherever there are smartphones,” said Richard Allen, director of the University of California-Berkeley’s seismological lab and visiting faculty at Google over the last year.

Proactive alerts shall be limited to California for now. Google added that “over the coming year, you can expect to see the earthquake alerts coming to more states and countries using Android’s phone-based earthquake detection.”

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Google launches virtual visiting profile called People Cards

Time to google yourself!

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Have you ever googled yourself? If not, this new feature on Google search will surely prompt you to give it a shot. The search engine wants to make it easier to find new people and has unveiled a new feature in India called People Cards.

People Cards act like your virtual visiting card. If someone’s looking for you on Google, they’ll usually come across a few social media profile links or any other online content you’re associated with. Thanks to the new card, you can directly control how much information you want to keep up front.

The feature is limited to the mobile app for now. To set up your own card, all you need is an active mobile number and a Google account. It’s also limited to India for the time being and only supports English.

To create your own card, just:

  • Open the Google app on your phone.
  • Search for “add me to Search.”
  • You’ll immediately see a prompt to set up your card and after mobile number authentication, you’re all set.

You can enter brief details about yourself, add a bio, link social media profiles, and even make it easier to connect with you by publishing your email, website, or mobile number.

While the feature makes discovering people easy, it also opens a floodgate of privacy concerns. Spammers can easily collect information from the partially open system. We advise our readers to proceed with caution and ensure they’re not divulging any personal details.

Individuals who have already created their cards can opt-out of the experience anytime. In the case of people who share the same name, Google Search will show multiple modules.

The search giant says it has a number of mechanisms to fight spam and abuse. Only one card can be created by an account and you can flag a card in case of false information or an imposter.

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