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Microsoft is Not Giving up on Skype Even Though Teams Has Been Successful

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

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.

  • IANS
  • 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.




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You Will Have to Update to Zoom 5.0 by May 30 Because Video Calls Move to The New Encryption

You Will Have to Update to Zoom 5.0 by May 30 Because Video Calls Move to The New Encryption

Once the new AES 256-bit GCM encryption is active, you will see a green shield icon in your video call window to confirm that the conversation is being encrypted with the new standard.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 25, 2020, 9:26 AM IST

Zoom, the incredibly popular video meeting app, is asking all users to update to the new Zoom 5.0 version before the end of the month. In an email communication with existing users, Zoom says they must update to the Zoom 5.0 version to take advantage of the new AES 256-bit GCM encryption. This comes at a time when Zoom is seeing usage skyrocket, but concerns remain about the privacy and security issues regarding video calls and user data. Zoom has more than 300 million daily users around the world.

The GCM (Galois/Counter Mode) encryption method will be enabled for all Zoom calls from May 30 onwards, and anyone using a Zoom app version older than Zoom 5 will be unable to join. Zoom had released this update late last month. “Beginning May 30th, 2020, Zoom will be enabling GCM encryption across the entire Zoom platform, providing increased protection for meeting data,” says the email sent to Zoom users.

Till now, Zoom has been using the 128-bit AES keys and with ECB (Electronic Code Book) encryption, which is less secure. Once the new AES 256-bit GCM encryption is active, you will see a green shield icon in your video call window to confirm that the conversation is being encrypted with the new standard. “A new encryption shield appears in the upper left of your Zoom Meeting window and indicates a secure, encrypted meeting. After May 30, the shield will be green for all users, denoting enhanced GCM encryption. Clicking the icon also takes you to the Statistics page for additional encryption details,” says the company. All parties in a Zoom call need to be on the Zoom 5 version of the app for the encryption to work.

Zoom has since also received new features, including the ability to report a user who may be misusing Zoom, updated Leave Now or End Meeting options and select data center regions when scheduling a meeting. Zoom is available for PCs, web browsers, Android devices, Apple iPhone, Apple iPad and Google ChromeOS. At a time when millions around the world are working from home to stay safe from the Coronavirus pandemic, video calling apps are more relevant than ever before. Zoom is competing with the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, Houseparty and more.




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Reliance JioMart Service Officially Rolls Out Across Popular Metro Cities

Reliance JioMart Service Officially Rolls Out Across Popular Metro Cities

JioMart has been in the test run phase for the past few months serving in several areas of Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 23, 2020, 3:04 PM IST

With the recent strategic partnership with Facebook, Reliance Jio had announced JioMart, where consumers could get access to the nearest kirana and departmental stores and order online and eventually via WhatsApp. The service is said to be live in major metro cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata.

Reliance is yet to launch a dedicated app, but a dedicated website (www.jiomart.com) is live. The company is yet to confirm the list of cities, however certain pincodes in the above mentioned are marked as service-able.

JioMart is the company’s new online destination for grocery shopping powered by Reliance Retail’s Smart and Fresh stores. The website offers a variety of categories including fruits and vegetables, dairy and bakery, personal care, home care and baby care, and more. The service is charging a delivery fee of Rs 25 if a customer places an order of less than Rs 750.

JioMart has been in the test run phase for the past few months serving in several areas of Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan. JioMart had also launched a WhatsApp business account, through which customers could add a number to their contact and place an order. The WhatsApp service is limited to select pin codes. Reliance has also started signing up small kirana stores which would allow customers to order online and get groceries delivered from their neighbourhood shop.

Facebook had invested Rs 43,574 crore giving the social media giant as much as 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio. The company had said out of the total investment, Rs 14,976 crore will be retained at Jio Platforms to drive future growth, including the JioMart shopping platform on WhatsApp.

Disclaimer: News18.com is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited that also owns Reliance Jio.




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WhatsApp Beta Update Brings Profile QR Codes to Let You Add Contacts Easily

WhatsApp Beta Update Brings Profile QR Codes to Let You Add Contacts Easily

The new QR Code feature is currently available on WhatsApp Beta, but there is no word on the official launch yet.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 8:07 PM IST

WhatsApp is all set to introduce a Snapchat-like feature that will now make it easier for users to add new contacts just by scanning a QR code. The QR code feature, which is assumed to have been in development for quite some time, will be rolled out to both iOS and Android devices, and will offer a unique QR code to every user to help add contacts easily.

According to WABetaInfo, the QR Code feature will appear under the Profile settings. Sharing it will allow a user to let anyone add them to their contacts list, without going through the convoluted process that is in place right now. To add contacts, there will also be an option to ‘scan code’, which will allow users to add a contact to WhatsApp directly.

The QR code contact addition feature can be particularly beneficial to WhatsApp Business users, who can quickly share their contacts to receive orders or payments. This can particularly find implementation in shops that use WhatsApp for official purposes, and may also enhance the WhatsApp Pay experience that is set to be rolled out some time in future.

As for the public launch of the QR code feature, there is no word on when might this feature roll out in the stable build. WhatsApp has had an erratic history with beta features, and while some features have made it to the stable builds quite swiftly, others, such as the much hyped Dark Mode, took rather look to come out of beta. Reports further suggest that the QR code scanning feature of WhatsApp may also allude to the multi-device account support that is expected soon, which may also be coming soon.




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Whatsapp To Get 50 People Calling Facility Via Messenger Rooms

WhatsApp will soon offer the ability to make video calls with the help of Facebook’s recently launched Messenger Rooms.

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Samsung Partners Are Going Online With WhatsApp & Facebook: Here’s What it Means

South Korean major Samsung on Thursday announced it has partnered with Facebook to train offline retailers in digital marketing and grow their businesses online across Facebook family of apps in the social distancing times.

In the first phase, Samsung and Facebook have already trained more than 800 offline retailers, with more training sessions lined up in the coming weeks. The major focus of training is on enabling offline retailers to build a digital presence across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

“Our partnership with Facebook is helping a large number of our retail partners go digital in a big way. By leveraging the Facebook training, our retail partners will be able to discover and target local consumers digitally,” said Mohandeep Singh, Senior Vice President, Mobile Business, Samsung India.

“Consumer too will benefit as they can now access product information and shop for Galaxy smartphones through social media pages of their local retailers,” Singh added. The training is helping Samsung’s offline retailers set-up their business pages and accounts on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. With the changing environment around COVID-19, people are spending more time on digital platforms. This has led brands to alter go-to-market models by adapting to changes in the value chain, rapidly digitising key journeys.

“With our industry-leading digital skilling resources, we partnered with Samsung to skill their leading offline retailers, enabling them to reach out to consumers in their natural habitat of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp seamlessly, and helping the business adapt to the new normal,” explained Prasanjeet Dutta Baruah, Vertical Head – Technology, Telecom, Automotive and New Business at Facebook India.

According to the company, retailers can engage with potential consumers to share information such as e-detailers and e-catalogues on available Samsung phones. Consumers can order their favourite Samsung smartphone via WhatsApp by contacting the local retailers on retailer’s WhatsApp Business app, who can home deliver phones, ensuring consumers don’t have to step out from the comfort of their homes.



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Is Facebook Trying to Take on Amazon With Facebook Shops? This is Where Things Stand Right Now

Facebook wants to take the next step. The largest social media network in the world, with the Facebook app, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp platforms in its arsenal, is now looking seriously at the world of online shopping. Will we know this as the evolution of e-commerce to social commerce? The new Facebook Shops platform invites businesses to sell to customers on the social media app itself. It may be a good time too, with most businesses having been forced to shift online because of the COVID pandemic. Is the beginning of Facebook vs Amazon in the online shopping space?

“Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers, says Facebook in an official statement.

What exactly are Facebook Shops?

Simply put, this will be an online store for customers that businesses can set up on the Facebook platform. Customers will be able to access these stores via the Facebook and Instagram apps. The social network also says the Facebook Shops will be available on Messenger and WhatsApp sometime soon. These stores will appear on business pages and through targeted ads.

“People can find Facebook Shops on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. From there, you can browse the full collection, save products you’re interested in and place an order — either on the business’ website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the US.,” says Facebook.

What if I need help while shopping?

If you have a query while shopping on Facebook Shops, you will be able to message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more. “And in the future, you’ll be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct,” says Facebook.

“We’re starting to roll out Facebook Shops today, and it will be more widely available in the coming months,” says the social network. At this time, the focus is on widening the number of businesses on the Facebook Shop platform.

Instagram Shop is also coming?

Facebook is also launching Instagram Shop this summer in the US. It will be integrated in the Instagram Explore tab. “You can get inspired by collections from @shop, browse selections from your favorite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase the looks you love all in one place,” they say.

What is the business side of things?

Facebook is working with partners including Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics to provide support to smaller businesses who may need to move online. “These organizations offer powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online. Now they’ll help small businesses build and grow their Facebook Shops and use our other commerce tools,” says Facebook.

This is the evolution from ‘Like’ to ‘Buy’ that Facebook is seriously looking at. With customizable storefronts, businesses will get an option to reach an even wider demographic of potential buyers on the world’s most popular social media platform. Global rollout details are still awaited, but the Shops should be rolling out on Facebook in the US anytime now. This could be a good strategy at a time when advertising revenues may have been hit as businesses that otherwise advertise heavily on the social network, may have pulled back.

How about privacy?

Facebook says they will use the data from your activity on Facebook Shops to personalize the experience on the Facebook family of apps and vice versa—and that would largely refer to the adverts and recommendations that you will see. They do say that none of your Facebook Shops activity will be shared on the social media platform, unless you choose to do so.



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WhatsApp Dark Mode for Web: How to Get Dark Theme on WhatsApp Browser Interface

WhatsApp Dark Mode for Web: How to Get Dark Theme on WhatsApp Browser Interface

WhatsApp Web dark mode is not an officially integrated feature, but you can get it easily without disrupting other pages or installing browser plugins.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 9:18 AM IST
  • Edited by: Shouvik Das

WhatsApp dark mode can now be implemented in the WhatsApp Web browser client as well, without disrupting other browser pages or installing any plugin on to your browser. The dark mode implementation gives users the darkened theme without taking anything away from the performance of other open tabs on your browser, and it is only a simple little trick that gets the job done.

To get dark mode on WhatsApp Web, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Once the WhatsApp Web client is open, right click on the empty area outside of the chats, and click on the ‘inspect page’ tab. If you cannot see an empty area around your WhatsApp browser client, use Ctrl + ‘-‘ (minus) to zoom out.
  2. Once you click on ‘inspect’, a splitscreen view will open up to show you the coding elements of the WhatsApp Web page. On this section, towards the very top of the chart, find the line that reads body class=“web”.
  3. Double-click on this line to switch on the cursor, and change ‘web’ to ‘web dark’. Now, the line of code here should look like body class=“web dark”.

While the background of the chat windows are set to a super dark shade of olive green, the chat tabs are set to a slightly lighter shade. Received messages show up on a grey text snippet, while sent messages are encased in lighter green bubbles. Despite not being officially baked into the WhatsApp Web client’s settings, the overall dark theme looks quite appealing and professionally put together.

WhatsApp Dark Mode on Android and iOS phones were rolled out with much hype and fanfare. Through 2019, it made for the most wanted WhatsApp feature among its 2 billion-odd active users, and going forward, WhatsApp’s implementation of a system-tied dark theme has been received quite well among its audience.

 




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WhatsApp Users, Messenger Rooms is Coming Soon: Here is How to Get it on Android Right Now

Image: WABetaInfo

Image: WABetaInfo

Messenger Rooms feature lets you do group video calls with up to 50 people. This comes at a time when video calling apps are a rage and gives Facebook an advantage in terms of a potential user base as it competes with the likes of Zoom, Microsoft’s Skype and more.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 17, 2020, 9:47 AM IST

The Facebook Messenger Rooms is now available for WhatsApp for Android, well, at least those users who want to try out the latest beta of the popular instant messaging app. The latest beta incudes the Messenger Rooms feature with lets you do group video calls with up to 50 people. After it became globally available on Facebook or the Messenger app depending on which country you are in, the rollout has now started on WhatsApp as well.

For this, you need to download the WhatsApp for Android beta 2.20.163 on your Android phone. This comes from the ever-reliable folks over at WABetaInfo. This feature is still being activated globally, and you may not initially get it. But have patience, it will happen. If Messenger Rooms is available for you, it will show up as Rooms in the chat sheet in any chat window—the same menu that allows you to share documents, location, contacts and access the gallery on the phone to share photos and videos.

Secondly, if you go to the Calls tab in WhatsApp for Android beta, you will see the Create a Room option when you tap on the calling button to add or dial contacts.

From what we can figure out about the current implementation of Messenger Rooms in WhatsApp, you will still be directed to the Messenger app to continue using the group calling feature. This could be a very smart way of driving more downloads of Facebook’s Messenger app. The requirements of end-to-end encryption could perhaps be the main reason, which is why Facebook has been looking to get all its apps under one encryption family to allow seamless interoperability.

Initially, Messenger Rooms’ that allows up to 50 people in one group video chat, could be accessed via Facebook or Messenger apps and desktop versions and remains free of charge to use. Globally, users can create new Rooms via the Messenger app for the time being, while users in the US can create a room from Facebook. Now, WhatsApp is set to get this feature as well.

It is expected that the WhatsApp beta for the iPhone should also soon get the Messenger Rooms feature, which would mean we are one step closer to the final release for all users globally.

The integration with WhatsApp, which has more than 2 billion users worldwide, gives Facebook an advantage in terms of a potential user base as it competes with apps such as Zoom, Microsoft’s Skype, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Houseparty and more.




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WhatsApp Faces Investigation in India for Bundling Payments with Messaging

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is reviewing a complaint filed in mid-March alleging that WhatsApp was bundling its digital payment facility within its messaging app, allowing it to abuse its market position and penetrate India’s booming digital payments market, the sources said.

WhatsApp and Facebook did not immediately respond to repeated requests for comment. The CCI also did not respond. Two of the sources told Reuters the complainant in the case was a lawyer but declined to divulge the identity of the person. Reuters could not independently ascertain who filed the case. The complaint, which has previously not been reported, comes at a critical time for WhatsApp, which is aggressively working to fully launch its payments platform in India, where it has been beta testing it with 1 million users since 2018.

Lack of regulatory clearances have meant WhatsApp has struggled to offer the service to its around 400 million users in India, its biggest market worldwide. The CCI can order its investigations arm to conduct a wider probe into the allegations or throw out the case if it finds no merit in it. “The case is in initial stages .. senior members of CCI are reviewing it but a final decision hasn’t been reached,” said the first of the three sources, all of whom declined to be identified as the case details were private.

The antitrust complaint alleges that WhatsApp’s large user base meant it was dominant in the messaging app market, and the company was forcing its payments feature on to its existing users. The two products – WhatsApp’s messenger service and its payments feature – are bundled, which could harm competition and violate the country’s antitrust laws, the second source said while detailing the allegations.

WhatsApp’s payment service will allow users to do inter-bank fund transfers from within the messaging app. It will compete with payment apps of Alphabet Inc’s Google and Softbank-backed Paytm, which already have tens of millions of users across India. While the antitrust case has been filed against both Facebook and WhatsApp, the complainant has urged the watchdog to investigate only WhatsApp, the second source said.

It was possible WhatsApp could escape a wider investigation as the extent of any market abuse will be clearer only when it fully launches the service, the source added. The antitrust complaint is the latest setback for WhatsApp in India. An Indian legal think-tank last month filed a case in the Supreme Court saying WhatsApp should not be allowed to expand its payments service as it was violating data storage rules.

WhatsApp told the court it will comply with necessary laws before it moves ahead, according to a May 13 court order that also asked Indian regulators to submit its views on the case. In April, Facebook said it will spend $5.7 billion to buy a 9.99% stake in India’s Reliance Industries’ digital arm, as it looks to roll out services for grocers and small businesses by capitalizing on WhatsApp’s extensive reach.



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