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 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 text messages, and chat rooms. If you use the free version, conferencing is limited to two people, and you can't share your screen. For sharing, you need Chime Plus for $2.50 per month per user. The next step up is Chime Pro for $15 per month per user, which allows up to 100 conference attendees. Skype and Google Hangouts max out at 25 users.
Facebook's weather forecasts
An app's success is partly determined by the sheer amount of time you spend in it, and getting real-time weather info is a common activity on mobile devices, so Facebook's integration of a weather forecast (iOS-only, for now) makes good business sense. Facebook (iOS, Android) uses Weather.com for its data, just like iOS's built-in weather app and Google's News and Weather app. Tap on the More button in the bottom right, and then scroll down to Weather and tap on it to get a forecast for the next several days.
This digital magazine-style news aggregator has introduced a lot of changes in Flipboard 4.0 (iOS, Android). Content used to be highly curated by Flipboard staffers, and the news categories were broad. Now you can get extremely specific about your topics, down to individual people, political leanings, and publications. The interface has also been refreshed with new fonts, smoother animations, and a more consistent design language.
Musical.ly's Ping Pong video messenger
Musical.ly, the social video platform that's hugely popular with teens, just launched Ping Pong (iOS, Android), which lets you send your videos to specific people instead of broadcasting them to anyone who's following you. Though Ping Pong is a separate app, you can log in to with your Musical.ly username and password. Ping Pong is currently available only for iOS devices.
Signal's video calling beta
Signal (iOS, Android) is an increasingly popular encrypted messaging app, and video calling will probably accelerate its spread. To enable video calling (it's disabled by default), go to the app's settings, tap Advanced, and tap the slider next to "Video calling beta." Now when you make a phone call using Signal, there will be a camera icon next to the volume and microphone icons. Tap it and your front camera will activate and show you a feed of what it's capturing in a corner of the screen. If the person on the other end enables their camera, you will get their feed in a video stream that takes up most of your screen.