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Instagram launches new ways to reply with photos and videos in Direct

Instagram on Thursday announced new ways to reply with photos and videos in Direct that the company hopes will help users conduct fun conversation with their friends in a more visually appealing manner, including one feature that permits you to send a split-screen reply.... Read the rest of this post here

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WhatsApp gains chat pinning, comprehensive file sharing & more in latest update

As part of a broader set of capabilities recently teased for the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging platform, the app has now gained a trio of new features in the latest update. WhatsApp version 2.17.40 for iOS brings a chat pinning feature, multi-format file sharing and other improvements.

With the pinning feature, you can make it so your favorite chats remain at the top of the list, so you can quickly find them. To use this feature, just swipe right on a chat in the conversation list, then tap a Pin or Unpin option.

The app has also expanded the file sharing feature, which now allows you to share any type of file with one or more recipients. To send files of any type, open a chat, tap the plus icon at the bottom then choose the Document option.

In the popup menu, select your favorite storage provider like iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive and so forth (any app that includes an iOS Document Storage extension should be available from the menu).

And lastly, when you receive multiple photos the app now lets you tap and hold on the group of photos to quickly forward or delete all of them in one fell swoop.

Download WhatsApp for iPhone, iPad and iPod for free from App Store.

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Facebook rolling out Messenger ads globally

Ads on Facebook’s popular mobile chatting app, Messenger, are now available to advertisers globally, the company said today. Advertisers and brands will be able to add Messenger to their campaigns using existing tools and targeting options.

“A small percentage of people will begin to see ads in their Messenger Home tab towards the end of this month as we build ads inventory,” said Facebook. The social network will gradually extend Messenger ads to more people over the coming months.

Facebook company began injecting ads into people’s conversations on Messenger in the second quarter of 2016. Messenger lets brands send ads as messages to those who previously interacted with that company using the Messenger app.

Only folks who have voluntarily chatted with a business can be sent ads, for now.

When you tap an ad in Messenger’s Home tab, you’ll be sent to the destination the advertisers chose during the ad’s creation, which can be either their official website or a Messenger chat.

The suite of Messenger ads also include sponsored messages and click-to-Messenger ads.

Sponsored messages let business re-engage with people who have started a conversation with them while click-to-Messenger ads drive users to a conversation after they interact with the ad in Facebook, Instagram or Messenger.

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Facebook brings animated reactions, filters, masks and effects to Messenger calls

As part of celebrating its two billion monthly active users milestone, Facebook on Monday unveiled new video chat features for its mobile Messenger app, such as the beautifully animated reactions, interactive filters, masks and effects. “Video chats with your friends and family in Messenger just got a whole lot more fun,” said the firm.

You can use these new video features in one-on-one video calls, as well as in your group video conversations. The new capabilities let you easily share your emotions during a video call with one of the five Facebook reactions, alter your appearance (how about making your friend laugh with a bear mask?) by taking advantage of the many built-in filters and much more.

I like how reactions animate onto the screen and then disappear.

Many reactions have different versions, depending on whether your face is on or off the screen. For instance, tap the love reaction when the camera is facing you, then tap it again when the camera is facing outward to see the difference.

A variety of in-call filters are now available to Messenger users, ranging from subtle lighting tweaks to color changes, like black and white, red or yellow. Each one has a live preview so you can test it on yourself before letting others see it. Many new masks are available for video calls, too, including some with hidden effects that react to your facial movements.

From the Facebook blog:

We have also added animated effects, like falling hearts and twinkling stars, to give your video chats expressive flair. Check out what happens when you wave your arm in front of the camera while using one of those effects! Unlike reactions, masks and effects stay on the screen for the duration of the video chat (or until you take them off or switch to another one).

One of the best new in-call video features is the screenshotting ability.

During an one-on-one or group video call with one or more friends, tap the camera icon at the bottom to take a screenshot of your time together and share it with other friends via Messenger Day or other social media accounts

The image of your video conversation will be saved to your iPhone’s Camera roll. Plus, you can quickly send the screenshot to the person or group that you’re video chatting with.

Check out the new Messenger video features in Facebook’s video embedded below.

Earlier today, Microsoft started rolling out a much redesigned Skype for iPhone with a Snapchat-like Stories feature, dubbed Highlights.

Moreover, Skype for iPhone now lets you talk to Cortana and other chat bots, as well as post message and in-call reactions by adding huge emoticons, live text and photos with drawings to an overlay that appears on top of the call.

Facebook Messenger is available free on App Store.

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Skype for iPhone gains chat bots, its version of Stories, message & in-call reactions and more

Following a preview at the start of June, Microsoft today began rolling out a redesigned Skype for iPhone app with a refined user interface and new capabilities like chat bots, a Snapchat-like Highlights feature, message and in-call reactions, easier photo capture and more.

Aside from Microsoft’s own smart assistant Cortana, other chat bots now available or coming soon to Skype for iPhone include Gfycat, Giphy, MSN Weather, Bing, Polls, Expedia, Stubhub, BigOven, YouTube and Upworthy.

With in-call reactions, users can add live emoticons, live text and even real-time photos to an overlay that appears on their video and voice calls. Similarly, message reactions let you inform your chat participants how you feel by adding expressive reactions to your chats.

The new Home screen launches with your chat view, but you can now swipe left to get to the Skype camera or swipe right to show your Highlights. Speaking of which, Highlights is a new Snapchat-like feature that lets you share your day-to-day with friends and family on Skype while keeping up with what they are up to.

Your highlight is basically a collection of photos and videos that you can decorate with emojis and text. Only people who follow you on Skype can see your highlights.

You can also respond to others’ highlights by reacting with emoticons or even use them as a conversation starter. Unlike Snapchat, your published highlights remain live for a full week.

It remains to be seen if Highlights gains any traction given that every major chat app now has a similar feature of its own. Between Snapchat Stories, Facebook and Instagram Stories, I’m not sure I have the time to update my highlights for my Skype contacts on a daily basis.

Microsoft readily admits that Highlights is a Snapchat clone.

“There’s a new medium that has risen,” Amritansh Raghav, Corporate Vice President of Skype, said recently of Stories in a comment to TechCrunch. “When you think about this new way of interacting, we want that to be available also in this app.”

The new features are available in Skype for iPhone, but not in Skype for iPad. Mac and Windows computers will receive those features within the next few months.

According to Microsoft, a future version of Skype will integrate gaming features into video calls and users will have the ability to synchronize and watch streaming videos together.

Visit to learn more about the app’s latest feature additions.

Skype for iPhone and Skype for iPad are available free on App Store.

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