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A catchy name is everything in the mobile app world. After all, there were hundreds of photo filter apps like Instagram; they did the same thing but never caught on. As a result of its popularity, Instagram has seen parts of its name used in dozens of third-party applications that in some form or another tie into the Instagram Service, and this unauthorized use of its name has the Facebook-owned company in an uproar.
According to a report released today by TechCrunch, Instagram has began sending cease-and-desist emails to companies that feature the "Insta" or "gram" wording in their applications. The first to receive the hit is the app Luxogram, an application that allows you to use Instagram via a web browser.
As TechCrunch points out, while the Instagram name has always been protected by trademark as well as the company's API guidelines, the use of the terms "insta" and "gram" have not. Until very recently, the use of those terms were actually encouraged in the Instagram API documentation. Apparently, Facebook has decided that allowing third parties to use either of these terms is unacceptable and could damage the Instagram name.
Today, Google is showing off the first round of integration between its Maps for mobile service and the recently acquired Waze traffic data startup. Now in both the Google Maps for Android and iOS, users can select the traffic tab and see notifications of accidents, construction, road closures, and other incidents reported by Waze users. This includes the reporting of roadblocks as well as locations of police patrol cars.
On the flipside, the Waze app now supports Google Search, and Google has granted access to Street View and satellite imagery. With Waze users reporting over 1 million accidents and blockages per month, the addition of Waze incident reports to Google Maps is a substantial improvement to the service. "I think it will have a pretty big impact," said Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps. "A big fraction of GMM users will see these."
"We are cross-pollinating as much as possible," McClendon said of his team and the Waze U.S. unit, which moved to Mountain View a couple weeks ago while the company's engineering group remains in Tel Aviv. "We're learning a lot both ways; it's a very strong meeting of the minds."
This morning, Syfy has announced that it has relaunched its Syfy for iPhone app under the new name of Syfy Now. The new app focuses on streaming full episodes of the network's original series the day after they air for the first time on cable TV.
Unfortunately, you will have to be subscribed to a cable TV or satellite package that includes the Syfy channel. At launch, only customers on Armstrong, AT&T U-Verse, Cablevision's Optimum TV service, Charter, Comcast's Xfinity TV, DISH, Mediacom, Suddenlink, Verizon FiOS, and Wide Open West (WOW) will have access to the app's features. Syfy does say that other networks are coming soon.
Google has just added some more goodness to Translate, which now includes some very important languages. The two new languages can be used for handwriting recognition, with the Mountain View-based company adding Hindi and Thai.
These languages are important for Google, and its users, as they include a non-Roman character set that is hard to use on a standard keyboard layout. The latest update to Translate includes a beef-up of Google Translate's "camera input" abilities, which now reads languages that you capture from physical objects with your smartphone's camera, to Afrikaans, Greek, Hebrew and Serbian.
Today, Google rolled out a major update to its Google+ application for Android. Some of the updated features include the ability to easily switch between multiple Google+ accounts with just a couple of taps from your fingers. This is similar to how account switching works in Gmail for Android. Google has also built in Google Apps for Business, which will allow users to share content if their apps administrator has enable Google+.
Google Drive photos and videos are now also accessible from within the Google+ app and will allow users the option to view and/or share them straight from Google+. The company says that Drive photos in particular will get enhanced and Awesome'd automatically now. Additionally, Google has improved location sharing by adding even more controls that allow you to share your pinpoint or city-level location with others on a circle-by-circle basis.
Finally, Google announced that Messenger is going away for good and that Hangouts will now become the de facto Google messaging service. At first, you will see messenger disappear on Android, with iOS soon following. Beginning later today, Google will allow all users to download the entirety of their messenger conversations--including text and photos--from Google Takeout. The refresh also includes other updates like pull-to-refresh and several other UI and backend enhancements. Google said that they will leave it up to us to figure out what those are.
Ah, Facebook, you just never stop, do you? The social network's latest addition to its mobile platform includes a slew of new features that will help make your life just that much more convenient.
Facebook users will soon be able to reserve a table at their favorite restaurant (of course, this depends on the city/restaurant/country) through Facebook Pages, find a movie showing time through Pages, and enjoy full hashtag support. Facebook has partnered up with real-time reservation service OpenTable, which works in over 20,000 restaurants.
Normally, a would-be restaurant customer would use the OpenTable app or reserve their table through OpenTable's website, but now Facebook users can do it all within the participating restaurants' Facebook page.
SwiftKey has updated its SwiftKey Cloud app, which fixes up a bunch of problems that the first release had. It is now sitting on version 220.127.116.11, which includes some big improvements.
These improvements include the ability to personalize with multiple Gmail accounts, remove Android's own backup service if Cloud is enabled and removing redundant SwiftKey account entries in the Android settings menu. Gmail personlization is said to not crash with the latest beta, Flow predictions are reportedly more responsive, Cloud preferences crashes have been fixed and emoji input Handcent has been fixed.
You can grab the latest beta version of SwiftKey Cloud, here.
While Samsung's Wallet app has been available in the US in beta form for several months now, the company has just launched the full version of the app on the Google Play Store for select Galaxy devices. Unlike Google's Wallet app, Samsung's version allows users to store items such as plane tickets, membership cards, coupons, and other important items.
At the moment, the app is limited to Samsung devices and will only run on the Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4, Note, and Note II. Additionally, the app is only currently supported by Walgreens, Major League Baseball, Expedia.com, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Lufthansa.
Today, Microsoft announced that has released an update for Skype for Windows Phone 8 that incorporates feedback the company has been receiving from users. Improvements have been made to the way contacts are managed and a new refreshed home screen layout has been added.
The new features include Skype contacts being split out in the Skype people list, which was something Skype users requested Microsoft change. Microsoft added the people list filter so that you can see all your contacts or only available contacts. Home screen changes include the ability to put it through Functions as well as smaller favorite contact tiles that now are able to fit three across the screen instead of the two users were able to fit previously.
This morning, Nokia Asha owners have one more reason to use the phone today. Nokia has announced that the popular professional networking site LinkedIn has just released an app for the full-touch versions of its Asha smartphones, making it even easier to stay in touch with colleagues and coworkers.
"LinkedIn for Nokia Asha essentially brings the most popular features of LinkedIn to an app built specifically for Asha touch devices," said LinkedIn's Giovanni Iachello, responsible for international product management. It's made up of four main features:
- Update Stream: Keep up to date with your network and access information about your industry. You can like, comment and share updates to stay in the loop with what's going on.
- Inbox: Accept connection requests and communicate with your contacts.
- Search: Search through the global network of over 225 million LinkedIn members. There's also a People You May Know feature, which suggests professionals you may know and want to connect with, based on your current contacts.
- Profile: Check out your own profile, and see who's been viewing you. You can reach out to them with a message or an invitation to connect.