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Facebook Messenger introduces Instant Video, an answer to Google Duo

In a Google Duo world, do you really want to fire up an old-fashioned video chat? Facebook figures your answer is 'prolly not,' so it's simplifying the experience inside of Messenger. This change is called Instant Video.

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WhatsApp updates Terms of Service and Privacy Policy to add sharing information with Facebook

WhatsApp today has updated its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for the first time in four years, to reflect changes made in the app since that time. Perhaps the most important changes regard information sharing with Facebook and the 'Facebook family of companies,' and updates concerning WhatsApp Calling, which launched over a year ago now.

The changes regarding Facebook mean that some information on a WhatsApp account can be shared with Facebook to help improve the company's products and services. This should allow for better spam fighting and abuse, as well as seeing "better friend recommendations and more relevant ads on Facebook."

So what information is actually being shared from WhatsApp to Facebook?

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Instagram reaches 1 billion installs on the Play Store, the 19th app to do so

The latest app to join the rather exclusive 1 billion club on Google Play is... drumroll please... Instagram. This is quite surprising when estimates only put the number of accounts at 500 million, but I guess the downloads counter doesn't differentiate between unique installs or not. Either way, it scares me that Facebook owns the two biggest social networks in the world.

After the Facebook app, then WhatsApp, then Messenger, Instagram is the fourth of Facebook's apps to get 1 billion installs. Again, scary. Getting 1 billion installs is no easy feat - especially since at the last count Android only had 1.4 billion users.

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[Update: Rolling out] Facebook Messenger "Secret Conversation" encryption appears in beta app

A few months after WhatsApp started encrypting all conversations by default, and a few weeks after Facebook announced encryption was coming to Messenger too, Facebook has turned on the security feature, with 'Secret Conversations' available to beta testers of the app.

Secret Conversations do have a few caveats users should probably be aware of. They are not turned on by default, and neither is end-to-end encryption. A normal Messenger conversation can be made secret by a toggle - more on that in a minute - and these conversations will be encrypted.

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Facebook Messenger has reached 1 Billion monthly active users

In the elite club of internet services with enough penetration to reach about 1/7th of the earth's population, members are few and far between. But now Facebook Messenger can say that it has earned the badge that gives it access to this exclusive circle. After getting to 1 Billion installs on the Play Store a year ago, Messenger is now boasting, for real, 1 Billion monthly active users.

Whatsapp, the other Facebook-owned chat service, got to 1 Billion monthly active users several months ago, in February, so Messenger is still playing catch-up with its in-house rival, but I'm sure Facebook is not crying over the friendly competition going on between these two.

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Facebook's Android app can now save offline videos

Approximately 98% of the videos posted on Facebook are ripped YouTube clips with annoying, aspect ratio-destroying text on the top and bottom, stolen and reposted by some radio station in Ohio that's desperate for social media "engagement." Even so, if you really want to save those videos, the Android app now lets you do so. Kinda. One of our readers spotted the new user interface features and the "Saved" video section in the app, but that word doesn't mean the same thing to Facebook as it does to other folks.

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Facebook is testing secret conversations with end-to-end encryption in Messenger

Facebook isn't the first company you think of when privacy comes to mind. Nor is it second, third, or anywhere near the top dozen. It's lucky if it's anywhere on the list at all. But the company does own WhatsApp, the widely used instant messenger that started encrypting all messages earlier this year. Now Facebook is testing out that same encryption in Messenger.

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Facebook Messenger's homescreen is about to get a total overhaul

Facebook announced an all-new layout for its Messenger app today (presumably for Android and iOS, though only iOS screenshots were provided). The new "home" area in Messenger is designed to make the app more than just a dumb message hub, and much more of a "Facebook people I care about" hub. Instead of simply being a list of chats, Messenger will now show you your favorite contacts, upcoming birthdays (because Facebook), and who's online now. Recent chats will still sit at the top of the "home" area in the app, there just won't be as many living there anymore.

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Facebook Adds 360-Degree Photos On Android, Videos In Comments Too

We're probably all used to the panorama or photospheres we can take on our phones these days - compared to a normal photo, both are just so much more immersive. Facebook's obviously picked up on this, and is rolling out support for 360 photos on the web, Android, and iOS via its 'Facebook 360' initiative.

Looking at the 360 photo of the Supreme Court from The New York Times, the viewing experience is really good - tilting the phone alters the viewpoint of the picture, moving it smoothly and cleanly on my Nexus 6P. Functionally, they appear to be the same as what you'd see in the Google Photos app or on the web, but there's something about having the feature on Facebook that just makes it seem more real, more mainstream.

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SMS Returns In Latest Facebook Messenger Beta

A few months ago, it appeared SMS support was being tested in the Facebook Messenger app, with some sporadically seeing SMS show up in the settings, allowing them to turn it on. It seemingly disappeared, though, with no trace left for many people. Now, however, it's back in the latest beta for Messenger.

The implementation is a little different compared to before. To enable SMS, you don't go through Messenger's settings but Android's settings (I assume the process will be different on anything less than Marshmallow, but I don't know how). Head over to Settings > Apps > Advanced (the little cog in the top right) > SMS app and enable it there.

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