This story was originally published and last updated .
While Zoom may be the defacto video calling and conferencing app of 2020, many of us are probably using it more out of convenience than anything else. And while video calling and conferencing are two distinctly different things—a set time and place call-in meeting versus a often on-the-fly call-out chat—the lines between the two are increasingly blurred with so many of us working from home.
If you're looking to get out of the Zoom bubble for your smaller work meetings or social calls with friends and family, Google Duo is actually a pretty awesome option, and we'll break down just why that is in this post.
Video calls have become an important way to stay in touch with friends and family during this time of isolation. There's already plenty to choose from, but now Facebook is giving us something new to consider as Messenger Rooms rolls out across the globe.
Consent. We've heard everyone talk a lot more about it these days, but it doesn't just apply to people, it should also be required in the tech world. Specifically, from our apps and the services we use. If I like a certain service but don't want to give it all the freedom to do everything it wants, I should be able to limit it. Take for example WhatsApp's groups. For years, anyone could add you to a group, without asking you or even knowing you, and WhatsApp let them do it. You just get a notification that you've been added to a group; you can leave it, sure, but you were already added.
Google's Messages app came out with a brand new update this week, and while it's sporting a major new version number, the changes are fairly moderate. It's now possible to give custom names to your group chats, and there's a tweak to the UI that makes Messages look a lot more like Google's Contacts and Phone apps. There are also several things to discuss in a teardown, particularly with regards to RCS.
If there's one thing we don't have enough of in this world, it's messaging apps. Thankfully, Yahoo's latest creation is exactly that, and it's designed to simplify group communication between friends, family, and colleagues. You may have read about the invite-only Yahoo Squirrel app a few months back — well now it's out of testing and open to everyone.
Chat apps are all the rage these days. Just ask Google, it can't seem to get enough. And it looks like Yahoo is the latest to jump on the bandwagon with its new organized group chat app named "Squirrel," which mysteriously appeared on the Play Store just earlier today.
A new version of Allo hit this morning, but that's not nearly as important as the features that were remotely activated by Google in the last day or two. Two features we've been expecting have gone live: Web Stickers and @mentions in group chats. But just as those teardown topics make the transition into live features, the latest update does bring some new things to look out for in the future, including group management and permanent bans, plus a new way to record selfies.
Not all updates have to introduce a big feature to make a big difference. The latest version of Android Messages demonstrates just that. It includes a couple of relatively small changes to the way group messaging is set up and should be a little faster for most people, and might remove some confusion for a few.
The screen for creating a new conversation in earlier versions was geared in favor of group chats. To be more specific, tapping on a contact would put them into a list of recipients and allowed users to keep adding more people until the user pressed a button to finalize the list and begin typing messages.
Earlier this year Google's VP of Communications, Nick Fox, declared Hangouts would be refocused on the enterprise market where it had found much more adoption. Ironically, the couple of updates since that statement haven't exactly screamed professionalism, or even added much of anything particularly relevant to the workplace. That changes with v14, which cleans up and improves various aspects of group chats. This version also enables app shortcuts (formerly Launcher Shortcuts) for use on Android 7.1 and makes a few other tweaks, as well.