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Instagram introduces new layout for desktop

Plus a way to schedule posts

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Instagram is one of the biggest apps on the planet. That said, practically no one uses the platform mainly on the desktop. For larger screens, the photo-sharing app does not offer a friendly user interface, resorting to almost copying the entire design straight from mobile. Finally, Instagram is turning its attention to large screen formats.

In a video tweeted by Adam Mosseri, Instagram is introducing a new layout for its actual website. Instead of just copying the mobile layout, the new desktop layout will use more of the screen’s available space. For example, the layout moves the entire main menu bar on top to the left, mimicking how its Meta sibling Facebook has tabs on the left.

With the new layout, Mosseri hopes to entice more users who prefer consuming all their content on a desktop. However, given Instagram’s desktop reputation now, it might take a while before the new desktop layout will make waves. Instagram is slowly rolling the feature out to users now.

In other news, Instagram is also introducing a new feature for creators. Now, creators on the platform can schedule posts in advance. The feature is accessible through the advanced options tab while making a new post. For now, the platform is reserving the feature for creators, a market which will likely benefit the most from scheduling content.

SEE ALSO: Instagram will start to put ads on a user’s profile

Apps

Apple Music is getting a karaoke feature

Sometime this month

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Though karaoke machines are ubiquitous now, what happens if a night out lacks one? One trick is to just search for karaoke versions of your favorite songs on YouTube. However, if you have Apple Music, you’ll have another option. Apple’s music streaming service is getting a karaoke feature.

Announced officially by Apple, the service is introducing Apple Music Sing, a way to sing karaoke style straight from the app. The feature includes adjustable vocals which softens or loudens a song’s vocals depending on the user’s preference. Users can sing completely solo or accompanying the original singer.

As with every karaoke machine, the feature will display the lyrics in real time so users can follow along. Duet songs are also getting some love. Apple Music will split the screen in half for two different singers to sing along to a track.

To help users get started, the feature will introduce 50 companion playlists featuring all the different songs that’s “compelling people all around the world to sing”. That said, one can hope that the karaoke library is extensive. While 50 playlists are plenty, the service has a wide variety of songs that can easily trump any karaoke machine today.

Apple will start rolling out the new feature for Apple Music subscribers worldwide later this month — just in time for the holiday season. It will be available on iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV 4K.

SEE ALSO: Replay! Apple Music launches new year-end experience

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Google introduces encrypted group chats

Using RCS

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It’s easy to send messages from one Apple device to another through iMessage. However, for all the system’s pomp and circumstance, iMessage ignores the entire Android population, leaving an entire swath of the smartphone-using world without accessibility and end-to-end security. For months, Google has tried convincing Apple to switch messaging systems and work together. Now, in a new push to bring equality, Google has launched its own RCS group chatting system with end-to-end encryption.

Rolling out in open beta during the next few weeks, the new system will allow Android users to chat with a group of other Android users. Using RCS technology, messaging is free, secure, and easy to use.

For accessibility, users can send high-quality media, react using emojis, and see any typing in real time. It works much like other messaging services these days. One advantage, however, is that the new feature will come automatically with Google Messages, an app already baked into a lot of Android devices. Users might not need to download another app — and that also plays into security.

Speaking of security, end-to-end encryption will ensure that only the users can see what the conversation is about. Neither the user’s network nor Google itself can snoop in and gather data.

Unfortunately, the system does have a massive caveat: It won’t work between Android to Apple conversations. Because Apple uses a different system, it’s currently impossible for cross-platform conversations to have the same level of security and convenience.

In the feature’s announcement, Google even calls Apple’s texting “stuck in the 1990s,” renewing its call to get Apple to convert. The company then names several global companies who have already switched to RCS messaging, including Globe.

SEE ALSO: Google is bringing its VPN to PC and Mac

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Netflix might ask more users to watch films before they premiere

An exclusive group

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Watching a movie before it comes out thrusts viewers into an exclusive sweet spot beyond normal moviegoers. Not everyone gets into this club, though. Usually, the privilege of an advanced screening goes to people involved in the moviemaking industry. However, with the current zeitgeist revolving around streaming services like Netflix, it’s easier to catch a movie before anyone else can.

Offering more users a chance to enter this club, Netflix is expanding its pool of preview viewers starting next year. First reported by Wall Street Journal, the platform will reportedly include tens of thousands of viewers — a gigantic climb from its current base of around 2,000 users.

Members of this group will have access to unreleased movies and series over a period of six months. After which, users will answer surveys to help Netflix determine which movies are worth seeing or skipping. It works like a focus group but automated by Netflix’s system.

If the program does expand next year, the company has not confirmed how it will do so or who is eligible to join. If anything, they have been asking subscribers their interest in taking part in the program.

Focus groups and advanced screenings are a common part of Netflix’s content cycle. Besides asking users for feedback before releasing content, the platform also releases content in other formats prior to a streaming launch. For example, the upcoming sequel to Knives Out, Glass Onion, premiered in select theaters for a week before its streaming release on December 23.

SEE ALSO: IN PHOTOS: Dubbing with Netflix, HIT Productions

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