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Google has updated Hangouts for iOS, with a new-look user interface, increased performance and more. Google has even included a refreshed dialer, which is a nice touch.
The new Hangouts for iOS app includes a new quick compose button that lets you get to new messages even quicker than before, as well as providing access to images from your iPhone gallery, camera or emoji library. This lets Hangouts for iOS users send all sorts of pictures to their friends through Hangouts.
Google has also baked in some performance improvements, the usual bug fixes, and more. The new Hangouts for iOS is available on the iTunes Store, and will be made available for Android in the very near future.
It's likely only a matter of time before mobile payment apps become more popular among consumers, and there are some people very excited: restaurant waitstaff and bartenders. Both mobile payment app providers and restaurants have noticed an uptick in tips if consumers use their smartphones to make payments for food and drinks.
Customers may need to wait for their food order to be completed, but don't have to just sit and wait to pay. In addition, some apps allow restaurant patrons to check their bill in real-time, and even split it among the number of guests.
"We do see increase at bars where people haven't been tipping," said Michelle Songy, co-founder of the Cake mobile pay app, in a statement to CNBC. "I'd like to think as we are trying to make the payment experience a bit more fun, easier or quick it leaves you with a better experience."
HBO's decision to launch a standalone streaming service to desktop and mobile users seems like it was a brilliant move, as HBO Now was the top grossing app for Apple iOS in May, the App Annie research firm found.
App Annie hasn't finalized June app figures yet, but expect HBO Now to remain near the top once again.
HBO Now, which is $14.99 per month, was able to top Spotify, Hulu, and other subscription-based streaming services. Using your iPhone, iPad, or other Apple device is the easiest way to watch premium content not attached to a cable or subscription plan.
Valve has finally updated the Steam for Android app, which has leaped from v1.1 right up to v2.0. The new Steam for Android app includes a totally revamped UI, something that Valve is calling "material".
The navigation drawer, according to Android Police, has "been completely rearranged in this update, and now includes links to your intentory, library, and additional app settings like disconnecting from the chat". Valve adds that it has fixed up background battery drain and the weird spontaneous login issues that many gamers were used to. The changelog for the app includes:
- Changing from one screen to another is faster
- Will not use battery when it is inactive
- Will not log in unexpectedly
- If possible, when resumed, the application will return to the screen it was on
- Startup screen can be set
- Chat history from other devices is available
- Chat history for offline friends is available
- Navigation menu has links to Inventory, Library, going offline for chat and logging out
- Material design, higher res images, simplified settings, faster on older devices
- Other fixes
In a move to take part of the news industry as its own, Apple has announced its iOS9 update will feature Apple News - setting out to be the 'staple' of news for Apple users, taking on Facebook, Google and Flipboard alike.
As part of this implementation, Apple has hired journalists to help manage the news that is spread personally, rather than relying on code or user-input as seen with other news feed apps, websites or programs. Judd Slivka from the University of Missouri says that "Apple is eager to have news created by human beings and not algorithms," adding that it makes sense as "it fits in with the brand statement Apple has been making."
This move is confirmed by Apple's job board, which is looking for journalists with a quick wit and the ability to sniff out big news from the get-go to sit alongside already-existing code.
Facebook Messenger continues to grow, with the social network announcing that there have been over 1 billion downloads of the Facebook Messenger for Android application from the Google Play store.
There are only a few applications with over 1 billion users, with Messenger joining the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp, Gmail, YouTube, Search and Maps. But how did Facebook Messenger get here? With instant messaging slaying SMS, Facebook Messenger slowly added VOIP calling, video calling, stickers, voice clips, peer-to-peer payments, location, the third-party app creation, Messenger is a juggernaut.
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Set for applications across Windows 10 PCs and tablets, Lenono has announced a partnership with Microsoft to extent Cortana's abilities through the Lenovo REACHit functionality.
REACHit will search for content spread "across any connected Lenovo PC or tablet device running Windows 10 and many major cloud services" as pointed out in a recent press release - further assisting the search capabilities of Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant.
The release also points out that it will only search through connected Lenovo devices that you own - for example you can ask Cortana to "find the picture I edited last week on my ThinkPad X1 Carbon" and searching will commence. However, some are worried that this may open up a hacking loophole that would enable criminals to gain access to all of your devices by only hacking a single one.
Google Android users can now download the official Periscope app from the Google Play Store. The app gives users the chance to record and stream feeds from their smartphones and tablets, and then share them with others.
Periscope on Android supports the same core functionality that has been available to Apple iOS users, including public and private broadcasts, interact with broadcasters, easy streaming, or viewing of live streams, among other features.
"I was streaming for about 11 minutes on 4G and I used up in the blink of an eye 250MB [of data]," said Kate Russell, reporter at BBC Click, when speaking of Periscope being a data hog. "If you're watching random streams for about half an hour you're going to chew through about 400MB, so if you're on a low-data plan, be aware of exactly how much data you're consuming."
Google is reportedly working on an updated Photos app, something that would provide users with more creative control over their photos, according to Android Police.
The updated Photos app will feature one big star: Assistant, which will end up being a swap for the Auto Awesome feature that already does a good job in the current version of Photos. But, it gives users more creative control, where you can create your own stories instead of waiting for Auto Awesome to do its thing.
Not only that, but we should have an updated interface, a better editing interface, new privacy friendly sharing, and pinch-to-zoom gestures for opening pictures. We should expect Google to unveil these new features at Google I/O later this week.
Some of you may have already realized this, but Google has pushed out a refreshed Hangouts Chrome app for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The new app is actually quite great, so if you're a Hangouts user, you should update.
Google's Mayur Kamat wrote on his Google+ account about the new update, saying: "New version of Hangouts Chrome App is out. Give it a try, especially if use Mac OS X". He also said that it's available for Windows, ChromeOS and Linux, too. If it hasn't already been updated, you can uninstall and reinstall the dedicated Chrome Hangouts app, which should then refresh and delight you with its new look and features.