WhatsApp Web has been available for about half a year, and in the time since its announcement, it only got some minor changes like skin tone emojis. However, the service has received a backend update that adds a lot of the mobile app's features, making it easy for you to manage your conversations from the web interface without having to grab your phone. We don't know when exactly these changes were implemented, but they seem quite new to us.
We're not sure when this behavior changed in WhatsApp — I was able to track it down as far back as version 2.12.134 but it might have been there before — but it's worth pointing out nonetheless, if only for its boost in convenience. It used to be that whenever you wanted to look for specific words in your WhatsApp chats, you first had to select the conversation where that word occurred and then perform the search.
There are a lot of Android users out there, and many of them probably use the same apps you do. AppChat is a clever app that lets you talk to them in a series of live chat rooms. This app was just released as an alpha on XDA, but it has tons of potential.
I know it seems that we have a new WhatsApp post every couple of days on Android Police lately, but it ain't our fault. The app's developers, specifically the Android team, appear to be drinking the good kind of kool-aid and kicking one new version after the other with not only bug fixes, but also lots of new goodies. So first there was the Web "client", then the saga of the voice calling feature rollout, followed by the Material design update, and now Google Drive is being implemented as a backup option inside the app.
Just because we often mention WhatsApp here on the site, it doesn't mean that we don't keep an eye on its fan-favorite competitor Telegram. Rising from its modest start, the service has been commendably quick to add new features, design guidelines, and always improve security. This latest update brings two new options that privacy advocates will appreciate and one that will make your chats even more enjoyable.
First on the security front, Telegram now lets you set up two-step verification so that you're asked about a password before signing in to your account from a new device.
Here's the news that the thousands of you who have been hovering over every update on our previous WhatsApp Calls post have been waiting for. The service's calling functionality now seems to be open, no questions asked, no invites needed, no hacks required. The only "catch" is that you seem to need version 2.12.19, which you can find hosted on APK Mirror or on WhatsApp's website.
Once you download the apk file and install it (make sure you have Unknown Sources enabled in your phone's Security Settings to be able to do so), you'll open WhatsApp and the app's UI will have switched over to the new one with the Calls functionality enabled.
If there's one thing I learned from upgrading several family members' Android devices over the past week, it's that people are really attached to their WhatsApp history. While my smartphone days kicked off in 2007 with switching to a new review unit every couple of weeks (followed by flashing a new ROM at least once a week in 2011-2012) and learning to let go of everything I couldn't bother to move around, most users aren't accustomed to losing their data. They want their new device to have exactly what their old one had: their contacts, chat history, photos, music, and so on.
WhatsApp currently offers a backup and restore function but it requires a certain level of geekery to be carried through: you have to look for the backup option, find the folder on your internal memory or SD card, figure a way to move it over to the new phone, then install WhatsApp and hope that you did everything right by the time the app launches so that it recognizes your backup and offers to restore it.
Even though Helpouts didn't last, Google is apparently committed to exploring new uses for its Hangouts chat infrastructure. For example, go search for a restaurant. You might see a new item in the info box alongside review snippets and the location. Google is testing live chat with businesses from search results. If you launch this feature, you'll be taken to a new Hangouts conversation on the web or mobile so you can ask questions or get clarification.
In ye olden days of Android, a video-sharing service by the name of Qik attracted millions of users. It grew rapidly enough to catch Skype's eye, and the larger video-based serviced acquired the smaller for a cool $150 million. It eventually shuttered the offering, and now it's bringing it back in the form of a peculiar new video messaging app.
Skype Qik draws inspiration from a number of different apps. In a way, it's a private Vine session that you only share with one or a few contacts. After users record a short video and share it, the recipient(s) is free to respond with a short clip of their own.
Recently, we took a look at Ultra Violet, a new Hangouts app for Chrome that - at the time - was still in testing. It promised floating chats similar to Facebook's Chatheads feature, but for your desktop. Today, that app is finally a reality and available for download.
The premise is simple - as the video below demonstrates, a Hangouts bubble floats on the side of your desktop, opened from Google's Chrome app launcher, and subsequent conversations float above that. Users can click and hold to drag the bubble around and manage/participate in chats just like on the web.
New messages automatically preview in a word bubble next to their respective chat, and users can hover over each chat to see the last correspondence.