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.
All the Voice Over IP talk in the last day or two has focused on a certain Google property, but Hangouts isn't the first one available on Android, and certainly not the most full-featured. Seven months after being acquired by Japanese retailing giant Rakuten, mobile call and text app Viber is getting a major refresh. Version 5.0 has a new look for both phones and tablets, but the big news is that the app now supports video calling.
Google is continuing to shine a brighter light on Hangouts users who are currently online. A few months ago the company brought back the green dot that used to mark online contacts in the days of Google Talk (which was replaced with a subtle green line in Hangouts). Going forward, the messenger in the web version of Gmail will contain a new tab that puts online contacts at the top. It's still possible to message friends who are offline, they're just tucked at the bottom where they're out of the way.
Hey, Minus, are you guys alright? Because you're demonstrating the developer equivalent of multiple personality disorder. Sixteen months after Dropbox-style cloud storage app Minus shifted 180 degrees to take aim at Instagram, it has once again become a completely different service, this time with a new name. Minus is now "Meow," a randomized chat client, sort of like Omegle or Chatroulette without the video. All that's left of the latest Minus re-brand, or indeed the original storage app, is the "com.minus.android" APK name.
Now you see it, now you don't. Just like that, Blink is disappearing in the blink of an eye. Okay, not quite. Current users will gradually see the service shut down on both Android and iOS over the next few weeks, following the app's acquisition by Yahoo.
Blink was a product of Meh Labs (no, not Meth Labs), a company built by two ex-Google employees Kevin Stephens and Michelle Norgan. The app functioned similarly to Snapchat, at least in premise, by allowing users to send messages that automatically disappear.
Get this. Before now, Snapchat wasn't good for actually chatting. I know, for an app with chat in the name, you would understandably expect it to foster some form of conversations (the snappy kind, at least). But until now, users have only been able to take photos or short video clips, doodle on them, add captions, set how long the recipient could view them, and share. The app was less about communicating and more about, well, other stuff.
Minecraft Pocket Edition has had a hell of a developmentcycle. Each new point release brings a ton of new awesome stuff, though. Today, the app reaches version 0.7 and users get a whole bunch of awesome new features. Like fire. Fire is cool. Spawn eggs have also been added. You can use these items to create sheep, pigs, cows, or chickens.
The new version also includes an in-game chat function (finally!) and initial support for Minecraft Realms.
Chat clients limited to one-on-one conversation are going the way of the dodo. We've got numerous options for group messaging including: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google+ Messenger, Live Messenger, and we're even pretty sure Babel (or whatever it will be called) will join the list. Today, popular cross-platform chat app, Tango, steps up to match its competitors.
The additions to the interface are very straightforward. You can pick multiple people from your contact list to start a conversation and at any time add new people or leave the chat altogether from the participants screen.
From poorly-executed "leaks" to potential legitimate sightings, there's been a lot of hubbub about Google's supposed unified messaging service, likely called Babel. This isn't necessarily surprising. After all, if you asked most Android enthusiasts what feature they most wanted from the platform in its next iteration, you'd hear a lot about unified messaging. We've tried to stay clear of covering every flurry of Babel-related murmurings so far, but today we saw something new – Google+ user Patric Dhawaan posted a screenshot of what he says is a notification in Gmail, triggered when "pruning" his inbox.
Talkray, from the makers of the incredibly popular touch-talk app TiKL, is an ambitious app – it looks to be your one-stop shop for mobile communication on the go, communicating through text, pictures, videos, and voice all for free. Until now, though, the app has had a fatal flaw – its design. While not the worst design we've seen, Talkray had, shall we say, unfortunate looks. Inconsistent styles, gradients mixed with flat elements, and Gingerbread-style tabs abound.