Users first have to update the latest WhatsApp Web version in order to create a room shortcut. However, the feature is not available on the mobile app yet.
The move bolsters Facebook’s efforts to grab a share of the coronavirus-driven boom in demand for video conferencing services which has turned Zoom Video Communications Inc into a household name.
- Last Updated: July 24, 2020, 11:15 AM IST
Facebook Inc said on Thursday it was rolling out a feature that would allow users to broadcast live a video call with up to 50 people. Users can invite people to join “Messenger Rooms”, including those who do not have a Facebook account, for group video calls and then broadcast the room live on any profile, page or group on the platform, the company said.
The move bolsters Facebook’s efforts to grab a share of the coronavirus-driven boom in demand for video conferencing services, which has turned Zoom Video Communications Inc into a household name. Other technology companies have rolled out similar features to attract users, with Alphabet Inc’s Google allowing users to host free video conferences on Meet.
Facebook said it was rolling out the feature in some countries on its platform and Messenger web starting Thursday and would soon expand to all countries where Messenger Rooms was available. Live broadcasts from Facebook pages doubled in June compared with a year earlier due to a jump in live streams since March, when several countries began imposing lockdowns and social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Facebook has given the Messenger app a new set of privacy tools as part of its latest update for the app for the Apple iPhone and the iPad. This includes an app lock that will require fingerprint or face authentication to unlock the app as well as a new Privacy settings section that makes it easier to access certain settings and options. The update is now rolling out for the iPhone and the iPad, and Facebook says Messenger for Android will get similar features in the next few months. Facebook also confirms it is working on Instagram-like controls for inbox and calls for Facebook Messenger as well, the testing for which is expected to start soon.
App Lock uses your iPhone’s or iPad’s privacy settings such as Touch ID for fingerprint authentication or Face ID for face authentication to unlock the Messenger app. Facebook insists that your fingerprint or facial recognition data is never transmitted to them or stored by the app. “The Privacy section makes it easy to access settings and features like the audience for your stories, muted stories and blocked people. App Lock and the Privacy section let you tailor your experience and choose settings that work best for you,” says Facebook.
Facebook also says they are working on more controls for inbox and calls on Messenger, which would allow users to pick who can call them or message them directly. This will, in many ways, be similar to the message control features that Instagram already has. The testing for these features will start soon, and the rollout should be expected sometime in the next few months.
From April through June-end, Zoom was downloaded from App Store 94 million times more than TikTok’s previous record of 67 million downloads.
- Last Updated: July 21, 2020, 2:14 PM IST
US-based Video meet app Zoom app has broken Chinese short video making app TikTok’s record of most downloaded app on Apple App Store. From April through June-end, Zoom was downloaded from App Store 94 million times ’40 per cent more than TikTok’s previous record of 67 million downloads, reveals data from analytics firm Sensor Tower.
YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Google Meet, Messenger, WhatsApp, Netflix and Microsoft Teams rounded out the top 10 for the App Store. Overall, Zoom was downloaded 303 million times during Q2 on both App Store and Google Play Store. According to Sensor Tower data, the spread of COVID-19 made a dramatic impact on the app landscape.
Worldwide app downloads reached an all-time high of 37.8 billion in the second quarter – an increase of 31.7 per cent year-over-year. App Store installs grew 22.6 per cent to 9.1 billion, while Google Play saw 34.9 per cent growth, reaching 28.7 billion.
Worldwide app downloads reached an all-time high of 37.8 billion in Q2 2020, an increase of 31.7 per cent year-over-year. App Store installs grew 22.6 per cent to 9.1 billion, while Google Play saw 34.9 per cent growth, reaching 28.7 billion. Zoom in June announced that its revenue surged 169 per cent to $328.2 million in Q1 from a year earlier.
In addition to screen sharing on mobile and web, screen sharing is also available in Messenger Rooms with up to 16 people on web and desktop, Facebook said.
WhatsApp may be testing a way to bring back the direct camera shortcut in its latest WhatsApp for Android beta versions 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206. The camera shortcut was a ubiquitous presence in the shortcut menu of WhatsApp chat attachments, and was removed subsequently in previous versions. Now, on June 26, WABetaInfo reported that the camera shortcut was brought back to the application in the Android version of WhatsApp beta, which would have allowed users to directly access the camera from the slide-out attachment menu. Unfortunately, the same appears to have been removed in a following beta update, 220.127.116.11, dated yesterday, June 27.
At the moment, tapping on the attachment clip beside the chat window opens up a menu, from where users can add documents, upload photos from gallery, make payments (via UPI, for eligible users/regions), attach pre-recorded audio clips, share contacts as well as live location. The camera shortcut appeared to have been removed after WhatsApp integrated its parent company Facebook’s latest video conferencing service, Messenger Rooms, into the attachments menu. The intermittent reappearance of the camera feature may suggest that WhatsApp may not have completely gotten rid of a direct camera shortcut already, but is working on how best to integrate the new features into one attachments pane.
WhatsApp’s beta software is typically a great indication of features expected in the stable version of the app in the coming days. This year, WhatsApp’s big new feature is expected to be support for running one WhatsApp account on multiple devices, particularly phones. WhatsApp may also be soon adding the ability to search for messages by date, which can be a very useful feature for those who use the service at workplaces. Among ancillary features, while WhatsApp beta for Android appears to have removed the camera shortcut yet again, it will be interesting to see what strategy does WhatsApp adopt in the long run. At the time of writing, WhatsApp for Android in India has neither the camera option, and nor the option for video conferencing via Messenger Rooms.
Microsoft has announced it has discontinued its game streaming service Mixer from July 22. In a statement, the tech giant said that it plans to move over to Facebook Gaming and also encouraged people who watch and create content to move there as well. It is worth noting that Microsoft acquired the Seattle-based video game live streaming platform Beam in 2016 and renamed the platform to Mixer in 2017.
“It became clear that the time needed to grow our own live streaming community to scale was out of measure with the vision and experiences that Microsoft and Xbox want to deliver for gamers now, so we’ve decided to close the operations side of Mixer and help the community transition to a new platform,” Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, said in
a blog post.
To recall, Facebook’s first foray into gaming was in 2016 when it launched Instant Gaming services that allowed developers to build mobile-friendly games using HTML5 that would work on both Facebook and Messenger. Two years later, the tech giant launched Facebook Gaming, to take on its rival Twitch, making it possible for users to find and follow gaming content and live stream their gameplay on the social network. Microsoft claims that gamers will be encouraged to switch to Facebook Gaming that sees the participation of over 700 million people every month.
“The Facebook Gaming team and Creators will help expand the vision that Mixer has always held around the community and building a platform that is inclusive and supportive of each other. For Mixer’s streamers, this opens up the opportunity to reach the vast audience of one of the world’s fastest-growing streaming platforms,” Spencer added.
“Imagine a scenario where people can instantly move from watching a Facebook Gaming creator’s live stream to jumping in and playing the game with their closest friends, all in one click,” Vivek Sharma, head of Facebook Gaming, wrote in a blog post.
Microsoft recently revealed that Skype usage was up 70 per cent (month-over-month), while Skype to Skype calling minutes was up 220 per cent in the Covid-19 times.
- Last Updated: May 26, 2020, 10:17 AM IST
Despite its video conferencing app Teams breaking all records in the social distancing times, Microsoft said it would continue to invest in Skype that has crossed 40 million daily active users. Purchased in 2011 for $8.5 billion, Skype communication tool has failed to keep up with other messaging rivals to date, while Teams has seen a meteoric rise as millions of people work from home.
“We’re continuing to invest in Skype. It’s growing through all this. You’ll see some new features. You’ll see Skype and Teams interoperate,” Jeff Teper, CVP for Microsoft 365, told VentureBeat. Microsoft Teams registered a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in a single day on March 31 – 200 per cent increase from 900 million on March 16.
The number of weekly Teams mobile users grew more than 300 per cent from early February to March. “As Teams lands with consumers and does more things, I think people will pick Teams. But we’re not going to be heavy-handed about this. People love Skype. And so, we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves here,” Teper was quoted as saying.
Microsoft recently revealed that Skype usage was up 70 per cent (month-over-month), while Skype to Skype calling minutes was up 220 per cent in the Covid-19 times. The tech giant said it plans to continue adding new features to Skype. “Facebook, for example, has multiple tools with Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Those all continue to grow. They did work to interoperate with them. They’re not forcing a migration from one of their consumer tools to another,” said Teper.
“Teams has a very different flavour to it than Skype. It does overlap in the same need, just like Messenger and WhatsApp do from Facebook. And so, we’ll have them interoperate, but we’re going to continue to show love to the Skype customer base,” he was quoted as saying. At its ‘Build 2020′ virtual conference last week, Microsoft introduced several new capabilities in its video meet app Teams which has become a hub for teamwork combining meetings, calls, chat, and collaboration into a single tool.
The new safety feature educates people under the age of 18 to be cautious when interacting with an adult they may not know or spoken before.
- Last Updated: May 25, 2020, 2:08 PM IST
In a bid to make Messenger safer, Facebook has introduced a new feature that will help millions of people, especially minors, avoid potentially harmful interactions and possible scams without compromising their privacy. The Messenger users will now see safety notices popping up in a chat and provide tips to help them spot suspicious activity and take action to block or ignore someone when something doesn’t seem right.
Facebook started rolling this feature out on Android in March and would bring this to more people around the world on iOS this week. “Privacy, safety and security are fundamental to Messenger. We work hard to ensure Messenger is a safe place to connect with the people who matter most while also protecting their privacy,” according to By Jay Sullivan, Director of Product Management, Messenger Privacy and Safety.
As Facebook Messenger moves to end-to-end encryption, it is investing in privacy-preserving tools to keep people safe without accessing message content. “We developed these safety tips with machine learning that looks at behavioural signals like an adult sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18,” informed Sullivan. Facebook said that keeping minors safe on its platforms is one of the greatest responsibilities. Messenger already has special protections in place for minors that limit contact from adults they aren’t connected to and uses machine learning to detect and disable the accounts of adults who are engaging in inappropriate interactions with children.
The new safety feature educates people under the age of 18 to be cautious when interacting with an adult they may not know and empowers them to take action before responding to a message. “These features show a great integration of the technical tools that will help curb bad behaviour on the platform, while also reminding people of their own control over their account,” said Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute.
Too often people interact with someone online they think they know or trust when it’s really a scammer or imposter. The new safety notices in Messenger also help educate people on ways to spot scams or imposters and help them take action to prevent a costly interaction. “As Messenger becomes end-to-end encrypted by default, we will continue to build innovative features that deliver on safety while leading on privacy,” said the company.