Friday 5: Amazon Chime, Facebook, Flipboard, Musical.ly's Ping Pong, and Signal

In this week's Friday 5, Amazon unleashes a Skype competitor, Facebook integrates real-time weather info, Flipboard gets an overhaul, Musical.ly introduces a video messenger called Ping Pong, and encrypted messenger Signal gets support (in beta) for video calls.

Amazon Chime

Amazon surprised us this week with Chime (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac), an online meeting platform like Skype that uses the Amazon Web Services cloud to connect users. Like Skype, Chime has videoconferencing, teleconferencing, direct... Read More »

Topics: Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Friday 5 , video , Facebook , iPhone apps , Android apps , Amazon

Top software trends of 2016

Well, that was an odd year. We got a very public lesson in why it's important to keep online communications secure; we went outside to toss Poke Balls at augmented-reality pocket monsters; and we asked inanimate objects in our homes for assistance. Here are the software trends of 2016 that we found intriguing, important, or entertaining.

Streaming services put cable TV on notice

Cutting the cord keeps getting easier and more attractive. When PlayStation Vue launched in March... Read More »

Topics: Windows Software , Mac Software , Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Messaging , Apple , apps , Google , Facebook , streaming , app

Facebook Messenger goes retro with Instant Games

Facebook just introduced Instant Games to Facebook Messenger, so now you can play a variety of games inside conversations on newer Android and iOS devices. In addition to current games, you'll find retro arcade favorites like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Galaga, Track & Field 100M, Arkanoid, and Bust-a-Move Blitz. While the games look a lot like they did decades ago, you now control the gameplay with swipes and taps.

What makes the games instant? They're built... Read More »

Topics: Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Messaging , Facebook , games , game

Facebook Messenger unveils Secret Conversations

Facebook Messenger is gradually introducing end-to-end encryption in the form of Secret Conversations to its roughly 900 million active monthly users. This new security feature relies on a protocol called Signal (already used in the standalone Signal app, Facebook's WhatsApp, and Google's Allo). If you're one of the lucky ones who's received the Secret Conversations update, then your Messenger chats will be private.

You'll know if you have it, thanks to an alert that sits atop Facebook Messenger's home screen. ... Read More »

Topics: Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Messaging , Facebook , Chat

Get Facebook Moments or lose your Synced photos

Remember when Facebook quit letting you chat in app and made you download Messenger? Now the same thing is happening to your Synced photos on iOS. You must download and log in to Moments before July 7 if you don't want Facebook to delete those images. (Don't worry about your other photos and albums on Facebook: Nothing will happen to them.)

Synced (called Synced From Phone on the desktop) was a private Facebook album of pictures copied from your... Read More »

Topics: Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Facebook , photography , photo

20 questions for Facebook M

Facebook is bullish on bots. At its F8 developers conference in April, Facebook had lots to say about making Messenger a platform for third-party chatbots, so you can do things like order food or book tickets right in Messenger, without opening another app or a browser. But the company didn't have an update on Facebook M, its own free, Messenger-based personal assistant, named after James Bond's boss.

That's because M is still in training. According to... Read More »

Topics: Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Facebook , instant messenger

Facebook maps its future at F8

At today's F8 keynote, Mark Zuckerberg announced a 10-year roadmap for Facebook, including plans for Messenger, Oculus Rift, and augmented-reality eyeglasses reminiscent of Google Glass. Facebook's annual developer conference gets its name from eight-hour hackathons in the company's early days. Though Facebook has grown from being just a social media site, it's still clearly focusing on helping its 1.6 billion users communicate.

Facebook Live Video

Facebook says that Live Video, its alternative to Periscope (iOS, Android)... Read More »

Topics: Windows Software , Mac Software , Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Facebook

Facebook Reactions: like or dislike?

Facebook users have long asked for a Dislike button, or options other than Like. On February 24, Facebook answered with Reactions, emoji representing Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry. You can add one by long-pressing the Like button in the mobile app or hovering over the Like button on desktop to see the animated options.

5 alternatives to Like

Reactions' global rollout is one of the most significant changes ever to hit Facebook, because the Like function is so widely used.... Read More »

Topics: Windows Software , Mac Software , Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Facebook , social networking

How to protect your privacy on Facebook

Facebook encourages you to share your life. But you don't want an employer to see your crazy drunken selfie, and there are probably things you don't want all your friends to see either. Facebook offers a slew of privacy features to help keep you and your data safe from prying eyes, but it's up to you to take advantage of them. Here's how to control what friends, strangers, apps, and advertisers can see and share.

Restrict your... Read More »

Topics: Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Security Center , Guides , security , Facebook , Windows software

Star Apps: Sharon Needles

Scare queen Sharon Needles has long regarded Facebook as a necessary evil. On the one hand, it's "nothing but a bunch of teenage f--- brats, seeing who they can piss off the most." But on the other hand, the popular social media site is a way for the "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 4 winner to connect with fans and share album releases and tour dates. Now that Facebook is forcing users to use their legal names... Read More »

Topics: Mac Software , Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: Android , Star Apps , Facebook , Windows software