Early last year, Facebook promised that it would create a unified backend for all of its messaging platforms. Messenger, Instagram direct messages, and WhatsApp are all supposed to be interoperable, so you wouldn't have to worry about which Facebook app to use with which of your contacts. It looks like the company is getting ready to make these cross-platform chats a reality, as it has started distributing a popup on Instagram that advertises a Messenger integration.
Early last year, we got word that Facebook was considering cross-platform chats between WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, running on a unified, encrypted backend. After the first small steps towards compatibility in the form of Messenger Rooms in WhatsApp, we now see this cross-app integration taking shape. According to WABetaInfo, a few hints have appeared in Facebook Messenger that reveal how the company is working on a way to contact WhatsApp users through the app.
No matter how much we slam Apple for its closed ecosystem, many of us often find ourselves raving about how well coordinated the iPhone and Mac are. Then we turn to Android, which just can't do all those tricks, leaving us feeling a little peeved— at least until Microsoft came into the picture. Microsoft has all but adopted Google’s mobile OS after its own phone business crumbled, and it has increasing sought to bridge the deep divide between Windows 10 and Android with the Your Phone app.
The Your Phone app from Microsoft is a powerful productivity tool that bridges the gap between Windows and Android for cross-platform interaction. While the basic suite is open to most Android handsets, Microsoft tends to favor Samsung phones with newer features, and such was the case with RCS messaging and screen mirroring. Your Phone is now adding drag and drop for files, which, you guessed it, will again be available exclusively on a handful of Galaxy models.
Microsoft’s love for Android has only grown over the last few months as the Your Phone app has gotten better and more functional with a bevy of cross-platform capabilities. The Windows maker’s deep partnership with Samsung meant that many of these features came first, and in some cases exclusively, to the latter’s high-end handsets, much like the support for RCS messages announced yesterday. Now, Your Phone will soon add a cross-device copy and paste option, which will only work if you own one of the 2020 Samsung flagships.
Niantic has revealed today that a new multiplayer feature tentatively titled Buddy Adventure should be coming to Pokémon GO sometime soon. This new feature will offer a shared augmented reality experience where players will interact with their friend's Pokémon via the AR camera. These friends can watch in real-time as you pet their Pokémon, and cross-platform support is expected, which means iOS and Android users can enjoy the upcoming Buddy Adventure mode together.
With the launch of Stadia, cloud gaming has received a ton of public attention, and many other companies working on game streaming have benefitted from the curiosity, too. In fact, Steam has had Remote Play, its own local-machine-based streaming service, for a long time already, and now a neat addition to it has left its beta tag behind. It's Remote Play Together, and as the name suggests, it lets you share local multiplayer games online with up to four players.
Google's been teasing Flutter—its cross-platform iOS and Android app-development framework—since 2015. Earlier this year it hit beta at MWC, with a final third production-ready beta landing at this year's I/O developer conference. As of yesterday, Flutter has hit Release Preview 1, marking further increased confidence in the quality and stability of the framework.
For most of us, this week is likely to be important because of Google's I/O developer conference, which starts tomorrow. But Microsoft is also desperately trying to push its own relevance on the Android platform at the company's Build 2018 developer conference, which began today and is scheduled to overlap with I/O. Details are sparse, but Microsoft has revealed that it is planning on updating its Android launcher to support the Timeline feature from Windows 10 for enhanced workflow, and it will also be rolling out a new "Your Phone" app for notification mirroring and file sharing.
Smartphone tech has come a long way over the last ten years, but a few commonly requested features are still lacking. Battery life can't be measured in weeks yet, Android still doesn't have a decent iMessage competitor, and there aren't any first-party cross-platform notification mirroring services. Some of our desires might not be reasonable, but others are. And, at least in the case of notification synchronization, there are plenty of third-party services that can fill the gap. Do you use one?