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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!
BlackBerry launched its messaging app on Android and Facebook about a week ago, and now the official numbers are beginning to roll in. Just 24 hours after launch, BlackBerry says that over 1 Million users installed the app to their Android and iOS devices, and that total has risen much higher than anyone expected in just a week.
Today BlackBerry announced that it's BlackBerry Messenger app has been downloaded and installed on Android and iOS over 20 million times since its launch. Unfortunately, the data is not clear on whether users are just installing the app and sharing their pin-code on Facebook or actually using the app. I believe that its more of the latter as for the time being, it is quite difficult adding friends to the service, and users must manually invite each and every friend they want to add to the service. There is no easy group invite feature, and no quick search functionality, and this is where Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp still rule king.
The PS4 is nearly here, with Sony finally confirming that its PlayStation App will be released for both iOS and Android devices in the United States on November 13, with Europeans receiving it on November 22.
The PlayStation App will have some cool functionality, such as the ability to act as a secondary screen on some PS4 games. It will also let gamers access their PSN profiles, check on friends and their trophies, send messages to people who are also running the app, or people on the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita.
Gamers can make purchases directly from the App, with the PS4 remotely downloading the game. You can also use your smartphone or tablet to turn off the PS4, or as a keyboard for typing. I think it's great that Sony has put so much effort into this application, and I look forward to testing it when the PS4 is released. What about you? Let us know in the comments.
Advertisements on Instagram are coming, you can't stop them, so the Facebook-owned company has come out and teased what the ads will look like in users' feeds. The show below, gives you a taste.
Instagram didn't go into much detail, but it has assured users that the ads would be 'natural' and 'creative' where they will fit seamlessly with others photos and videos. The shot you see above features a very distinctive 'Sponsored' label where the time stamp would usually be found. This sample ad will roll out to US Instagram users' feeds "in the coming week" to prepare people for the eventuality of ads in Instagram.
WhatsApp is continuing its meteoric growth, with the messaging app now seeing over 350 million monthly active users. WhatsApp's CEO, Jan Koum announced the milestone on stage during a keynote presentation at the Nokia World 2013 conference.
Just two months ago the messaging app was pushing just over 300 million users, so an increase of 50 million users in the space of two months is nothing short of impressive. The cross-platform abilities of WhatsApp is driving its growth, especially with these kinds of growths over a two-month span.
BlackBerry silently rolled out its BlackBerry Messenger service to Android and iOS earlier this week and today the company announced that within the first 24 hours, the app saw over 10 million downloads. The free app has been slated to arrive on both platforms for more than a year now, and has been delayed due to bugs and financial troubles.
The 10 million downloads were spread out over more than 75 countries including the US, UK and Canada, and BlackBerry is calling the launch a success and "one of the best single-day app launches to date." While we are not so sure about that claim, the fact that the app has received a 4.2 rating on Google Play means that BlackBerry may still have a product that people want to buy. Maybe the future of BlackBerry truly is in software and not hardware.