Apps

Messenger Rooms is Facebook’s group video chat app

Supports up to 50 people

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All over the world, people are turning to video chat apps to communicate with each otherr. Popular apps include Zoom, Houseparty, and Microsoft Teams. Not wanting to miss the party, Facebook is launching Messenger Rooms to compete with these apps.

Facebook’s Messenger Rooms is a different service from Facebook Messenger. Messenger users have been using its video chat feature with their friends for years. The only problem though is that they can only chat with their friends. Messenger doesn’t allow a direct video chat for people you haven’t yet befriended on Facebook.

Messenger Rooms allows everyone to create a room and invite people to participate in a video chat session. You can invite anyone to a room, even those who don’t have a Facebook account. Up to 50 people can participate, and there’s no time limit on each session. In the future, anyone will be able to create a room from Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, or Facebook Portal devices.

You can share rooms directly on your News Feed, Groups, or Events page. Also, you can control the visibility and other settings of the room. If you don’t want a sketchy person to crash on your friends’ intimate video chat, you can block that person. Better yet, you can lock a room so no else can just budge in and disrupt the flow.

If you get invited to a certain room, you can instantly join the chat from the website or app. Those joining from the app gain additional features like AR effects and immersive backgrounds.

Messenger Rooms is rolling out to certain countries, with general availability targeted in the coming weeks. It remains to be seen, however, if people will adopt Messenger Rooms since group video chats are already plentiful in the market. Not to mention the fact that Facebook has been dealing with privacy and security issues over the past few years.

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The US revokes Trump’s executive order that banned TikTok

A level-playing field for everyone

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President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday that sets criteria for the government to evaluate the risk of apps connected to foreign adversaries. It’s specifically meant for apps like TikTok and WeChat, which President Trump banned.

It should use an “evidence-based approach” to see if they pose a risk to US national security, said Biden. If apps are found violating fundamental laws, a ban can be imposed. The task of identifying threats has been given to the US Commerce Department.

Trump’s executive order particularly targeted TikTok and WeChat. Instead, Biden is opting for a level-playing field for everyone. Biden shares the same concerns as Trump, but their approach is vastly different.

Under the previous administration, TikTok remained in a precarious position as Trump sought to ban the app unless it sold to an American company. A proposal was produced that would have seen Oracle and Walmart owning a US entity of the service and taking responsibility for handling TikTok’s US user data and content moderation.

But there were numerous legal challenges, and before they could be ironed out, Trump lost the election. The Biden administration’s new executive order does not affect those negotiations, which are a separate process. The order also calls upon federal agencies to develop recommendations – for future executive actions or legislation — on how to protect the data of US citizens.

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SmartThings by Samsung unveils new interface

Better, more optimized

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A new generation for SmartThings is about to release. A revamped version of its mobile and Windows desktop app. The new design, which is part of SmartThings’ continued effort to simplifying the connected home experience. Additionally, it provides a simpler, more robust user journey and faster load times with a whole new interface.

The new interface makes it easier to identify connected home experiences while also maintaining a smooth transition from the previous version of SmartThings. The design that was improved for SmartThings divides the app into five sections: Favorites, Devices, Life, Automations, and Menu.

Favorites are the new home screen within SmartThings and gather the devices, scenes, and services used most for quicker access.

Devices let users monitor all devices, connecting TVs, light bulbs, appliances, and many more.

Life is a part where customers discover new services. As a matter of fact, this transforms physical objects into meaningful user experiences as they explore the expanding world of linked life. Users may learn about new features that will better their entire living experience, such as SmartThings Cooking. It is an all-in-one service that will offer seamless kitchen and meal preparation experiences.

Automations link devices, allowing them to collaborate and respond to certain situations in the home, such as a door opening and a light switching on.

Additional functions, such as Labs, Notifications, History, and Settings, will be housed in the Menu.

SmartThings

Availability

The new interface is available for Android devices starting today, and iOS will follow. This update follows SmartThings’ recent announcement of its Windows application, which offers a similar experience right from a Galaxy Book and any other Windows PC.

Samsung continues to invest in enhancing its technology, they also announced the incorporation of the Matter protocol into its ecosystem. SmartThings claims to be in the leading spot as the platform with the most flexible ways to connect devices. This includes Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Matter. 

Finally, you can see more information about SmartThings here.

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Norton bundling a cryptominer to its anti-virus software

Mine cryptocurrencies while your antivirus scans for malware

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Anti-virus and cryptominers are two words you don’t usually associate, but that is set to change soon. Norton 360 — one of the popular antivirus that comes bundled in some PCs — will soon include a cryptominer in its set of features.

A tricky proposition?

As you might have guessed, the bundled cryptominer is aptly called Norton Crypto. According to Norton, they are bundling a cryptominer to give users a safe and secure way to mine for cryptocurrency. The company goes on to explain that users have to disable their antivirus for their cryptominers to run without issues. By bundling a cryptominer, users don’t have to disable their antivirus — since it is technically built into it.

The reasoning may sound fair and square, but there are still potential issues with this. Users may not even be aware of the bundled cryptominer in the first place. Norton stressed that the cryptominer will be available to all Norton 360 consumers in the coming weeks, so it’s obvious that this feature isn’t limited to those who just wanted it.

Some users may inadvertently toggle this feature on, which may pose issues to PCs without powerful GPUs. Mining cryptocurrencies is a resource-intensive task, so PCs without the hardware to match will definitely see slowdowns.

On the other hand, this feature may be a boon to users dabbling into mining cryptocurrencies. Although it really is odd to mine cryptocurrencies with an anti-virus software, the whole thing may just work for Norton. After all, the company is already an established name when it comes to security solutions.

Norton also guarantees that all the user’s earnings will be stored safely in the cloud. The company has already indicated that Ethereum is supported at launch, with support for more reputable cryptocurrency in the future.

SEE ALSO: Basics of cryptocurrency, risks, and benefits

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