We're all trying to feel more connected online these days — the loneliness is strong. Sometimes the group chats and video calls aren't enough, and you wish you could just sit back and watch videos with your friends. Luckily for you, Facebook is continuing its trend of personal connection updates with the launch of Watch Together, a feature that will allow you to view videos simultaneously with a group.
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.
With much of the world having to isolate for an extended period, video conferencing has become ever more popular as people find new ways to stay connected with their family and friends. To keep up with demand, services like Messenger and Google Meet have needed to roll out new features to compete. Facebook added rooms to its messaging platform earlier this year, as well as screen sharing when on the web. As of today, you'll be able to share your mobile screen too.
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.
Microsoft has been offering a free, restricted version of Microsoft Teams since 2018, but it never really felt like a tool you'd use to organize your family or personal events — it was mainly targeted at freelancers and small teams. After a year worth of work and an announcement during its big Microsoft 365 reveal, the Redmond company is now ready to unleash a preview version of Microsoft Teams on consumers. As soon as it's rolled out, anyone can sign up for it, but you'll only be able to take full advantage of the service when you're a Microsoft 365 subscriber.
With Chat Heads, Facebook Messenger found a nifty way to let you juggle multiple conversations without having to jump back and forth between apps. Since their introduction in 2013 (yep, those bubbles are that old), Facebook has so far relied on a custom overlay solution. But with the latest beta, Messenger is switching to Android 11’s native Bubbles API, though not a whole lot is going to change for end-users.
Demand for video conferencing tools has skyrocketed in recent months, and Facebook has played a relatively minor role in that space despite owning two leadingmessaging apps. Taking steps to mend that, the social media giant introduced Messenger Rooms last month for a more casual video chat experience with small groups. After expanding the service to a worldwide audience, Facebook is now rolling out its integration in WhatsApp, starting in the newest beta.
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.
The internet in China is different from the internet in the rest of the world. Services are heavily censored by the state, making it impossible to discuss unsanctioned political topics on the web openly. WeChat, in particular, is known to monitor and censor its platform in China. However, an investigation by The Citizen Lab shows that WeChat doesn't only monitor Chinese citizens, but also extends this activity to people all over the world using the app. It does that to feed its censorship algorithms, which helps filter out certain content proactively. WeChat essentially crowd-sources international users' data.