When Allo and Duo were announced at Google I/O, one of their pillar features was their requirement for a phone number to activate. And as most of you have noticed, this has been very controversial among users: some like the simplicity of the approach, others loathe its limitations: no multi-device support, no web/desktop clients, and a requirement for workarounds to install on tablets, especially WiFi-only ones.
With Duo's release this week, these limitations were put under the spotlight, and while some users like me were convinced by the no-fuss approach of a phone number as a means of identification, others are still moaning the lack of a tie to a Google account. Read More
We've been expecting some changes to SMS functionality in Hangouts for some time, especially after Google started pushing Messenger as an SMS alternative inside Hangouts. As of Hangouts v11, it looks like the other shoe has dropped. This version of the app removes merged conversations as an option. Read More
Hangouts is Google's unified messaging app, but there's something completely new on the way. At I/O 2016, Google just announced Allo. It's a messaging client that's connected to your phone number rather than an email (like WhatsApp). Google has included various smart prediction features, Google Assistant, and of course, stickers (yay). Read More
We got a sneak peek at an unreleased Google app called Spaces a few weeks back, and now Google has announced the official release of the app. Spaces is a group sharing app for Android, iOS, and the web that lets you create a new space for each topic to keep discussions focused. The app is rolling out today, so you can't download it just yet, but it won't be long now. Read More
Using your phone while on the road is extremely dangerous. A safer way to stay connected is to use a hands-free kit. This is great if you want to make calls, but less helpful if you're dependent on the myriad of messaging services currently in use.
Enter Drivemode, which has been kicking around the Google Play Store for some time now. At a very fundamental level, it provides a gesture interface for a number of apps and system functions, essentially allowing you to safely use your phone without even looking at the screen. It also supports the composition and sending of SMS messages through voice recognition. Read More
Bots. They're coming. They're not after world domination. They don't want to entrap mankind in order to guarantee our safety. They simply want to talk.
And they're talking, alright. They're talking on Telegram. They're coming to Skype. Google apparently has another messaging service in the works, and they're making plans to talk all over that.
Now they're ready to host conversations in Facebook Messenger. Read More
The Play Store is getting a new email client. Big deal, right? It's not as if we're suffering for lack of options. Well, MailTime, which debuted on iOS in late 2014, is anything but just another entry in a crowded category. For MailTime, emails are just messages, nothing special. You didn't ask for a bunch of metadata, you just got it. The app parses your emails to separate the actual messages from the rest of the clutter.
The primary interface is, at first glance, much like any other email client. You have a list of threads to choose from. But when you open them up, you see an SMS-esque UI that makes it loud and clear that this is not your father's mail app. Read More
It's time for text messaging to improve. Sending brief bursts of texts is fine, but appending an image turns a largely reliable form of communication into a coin toss. MMS, despite being available on traditional flip phones, is still a headache for many smartphone owners.
There's an effort to adopt a more modern standard known as Rich Communciation Services. Several months ago Google acquired Jibe, a company that prioritized implementing this technology on modern phones, and now the tech giant along with a bunch of carriers around the globe are announcing an initiative to accelerate adoption. Read More
Telecom operators in Brazil have been working for months to undermine the legality of WhatsApp, and now a judge in Sao Paulo has apparently agreed with the arguments. Starting at 9PM ET this evening, WhatsApp was blocked in Brazil, and will continue to be blocked for 48 hours. Mobile operators have said they will enforce the block (probably while high fiving each other). What will happen in 48 hours is unclear, but you can bet Facebook has multiple planeloads of lawyers on their way to Brazil. WhatsApp founder Jan Koum is certainly not amused. Read More