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I admit it: I used to be a huge Facebook Messenger user, but I've converted over to Hangouts for most of my chat now. I still use Messenger for chatting with people I can't chat with on Hangouts, but Messenger has just received a new update, and it looks swish.
It was previously only made available for a limited number of users, but now it has rolled out to the public, with an all-new design and fresh new features. We have a nice white and light blue design, as well as improved performance, and new chat features. The new chat features include the ability to message people with just their phone number, which is a nice touch.
You can grab the latest version of Facebook Messenger from the Google Play Store, if your device hasn't auto-updated already.
Nokia's Refocus app may be one of the most highly anticipated apps of the year, and since its unveiling, every Lumia owner out there has been chomping at the bits to get their hands on it. Today their wait was ended when Nokia launched the app at the Finnish conference known as Slush.
The App allows users to tweak their previously taken images by adjusting focus points, as well as selectively removing or replacing colors. Additionally the app lets users friends play with their photos as well. "It gives more context of the story you want to tell," said Samuli Hänninen, vice president of software program management for Nokia's Smart Devices business. "It makes the images come alive, and you can combine it with different colors and make it as artistic as you want." Users who own a Lumia PureView device can download the app at the source link below.
The PlayStation 4 has some awesome sharing abilities, where PS4 gamers can share screenshots and videos directly to Facebook. Unfortunately, this won't be done through a dedicated Facebook app on the PS4.
Facebook engineer, Colin Creitz, when talking with Polygon, explained why Facebook will rely on built-in browsers: "One of the things that came out of our experience with the previous generation of consoles is that we found that maintaining the native apps was a relatively high maintenance burden, and didn't really lead to a high fidelity experience."
Gamers can establish their real identity using their Facebook login, with Crietz explaining: "One way you can establish your real identity is by using your Facebook login," Crietz said. "It'll bring in your Facebook profile picture and you have the opportunity to manage whether people are looking at your PSN avatar or your Facebook profile picture, [which is displayed] on a per-other user basis."
Everyone's favorite six second video sharing app, Vine, has finally made its way onto Microsoft's Windows Phone. The Twitter-owned app was first released back in January of this year on iOS, and made its way to Android a few months later. Now those who subscribe to the Microsoft way of life will be able to create short videos as well.
Vine on Windows Phone will have all of the same functionality that the app does on Android and iOS as well as a few other features. Windows Phone users will have the ability to pin favorite accounts to the home screen, and pivot to flip through the apps quickly. Back in August, Vine announced that it had over 40 million users, and that number is expected to grow by several percent now that Lumia users around the globe have access to the service!
BlackBerry is pretty much a sunken battleship right now, waiting for the pirates to circle and collect all of its loot. But, is it the end? Not yet, especially not if BlackBerry 10's latest update on its way is any indication.
The next update to the BlackBerry OS would see it natively run the Google Play Store app, which would be quite the swing in a totally different direction. CrackBerry is posting images of a BlackBerry Z10 smartphone running Google Play, which is a nice touch. Remember: it's possible to side-load Android apps onto BB10-based devices, but it isn't simple.
If these images are a tease, then the world of BlackBerry could get a little better in the coming weeks.
Google is now pushing out a new version of Hangouts, the one that we reported that would be capable of sending and receiving SMS with. The update to Hangouts makes it equal to the one that ships with the Nexus 5 smartphone, which is the default SMS app on the device.
Once you've received the updated Hangouts app, you'll be asked to enable SMS support - something you can decline - but if you turn it on, you'll do all of your text messaging through Hangouts from now on. This is great for those who don't already use a third-party SMS client, as it keeps all of your messaging in one place, up in the cloud, and on your device. The update is going out gradually, but here in Australia, I'm not enjoying the new app yet unfortunately.
If you didn't already know, Google just unveiled its new superstar smartphone, the Nexus 5. Alongside it, it unleashed Android 4.4 KitKat, which seems like a much bigger upgrade than we're used to, which is great.
One of the killer features of KitKat is that Hangouts has been updated and features proper SMS and MMS integration - which is great! Google says you'll even be able to import existing conversations into Hangouts, another nice touch.
Animated GIFs make an appearance, as well as the Auto Awesome animated photos feature which is found in Google+. These new features will hit the refreshed Hangouts app which will come preinstalled on Nexus 5 devices, and be made available through the Play Store in the coming weeks.
Pandora Internet Radio is the first new app to officially come to Google's Chromecast since its release and was not something many expected to be honest. Many thought that we would see an Amazon Prime, Spotify, or Plex app for Chromecast release by now, but I guess Pandora will suffice for the time being.
Pandora will be updating their app for Android and iOS to include the "Cast" button which users can press to "Cast" their Pandora station to their Chromecast connected TV. "By integrating Google Cast technology into our mobile apps, users now have another easy access point to a better listening experience from the biggest screen in their living room," said Tom Conrad, Pandora's chief technical officer.
I reviewed Google's Chromecast and since then, I use it almost every day. I am still holding out for a Plex, and am hopeful that Spotify will release an app soon as I have not logged into Pandora in quite some time. Another big name I would like to see come to the Chromecast is Audible, as I would enjoy listening to my library without the need for headphones or smartphone audio.
If you're like me, you'll use Google Hangouts for messaging friends who don't use Facebook - I'm looking at you, bro (who is anti-social networks) - but the Mountain View-based giant is looking to make Hangouts a more powerful messaging platform with some new additions that will soon be introduced.
The biggest of which is direct SMS integration, as well as the ability for users to create their own GIF files, as well as share their location. There's some new photography-based additions and auto enhancement tools that we'll see, as well as new effects for saved videos or live Hangouts feeds. The Auto Awesome automatic enhancement and editing tools will be rolled out to video, but most of the new features will be centered around photos.
The video editing tools will make editing video easier, but is a great feature to have on mobile.
Facebook has just launched a new version of its Messenger app for Android and iOS. The newly update app has been completely redesigned from the ground up and appears to have removed many of the stylings it shares with Facebook itself. The new Messenger (note that its not Facebook Messenger anymore) app features a much lighter color pallet and the chat screens are less like the messenger used in the Facebook App.
The new styling is intentional and is part of Facebook's master plan to infiltrate the every growing market of instant messaging apps. At the moment, the messaging ecosystem is dominated by WhatsApp and iMessenger, but it appears that Facebook is looking to hit them head on and the newly updated app proves that by adding in a host of new features. One of the most prevalent new features is that the Messenger app now has the capabilities of identifying users based on their phone numbers, something WhatsApp has been doing since the beginning.
Facebook is testing the new version of Messenger with select users on Android and iOS and will be rolling out the new update over the course of the next few weeks. Have you gotten the update yet? If so, post some images and your thoughts on our Facebook page as we would love to see and hear them!