Snapchat Launches Snap Map, a Location Sharing Feature

After being reported to acquire social map app Zenly, photo-sharing app Snapchat has introduced location sharing feature Snap Map on its platform.

The feature that lets you share your current location, which appears to friends on a map and updates when you open Snapchat, was rolled out on Wednesday to all iOS and Android users globally, TechCrunch reported.

“We have built a whole new way to explore the world! See what is happening, find your friends and get inspired to go on an adventure!,” said Snapchat in its blog.

Once you have access to the feature in the app, you can choose to share your location with all your friends, a few friends you select, or you can disappear from the map at any time by going into “Ghost Mode” or not opening Snapchat for a few hours.

Snapchat Launches Snap Map, a Location Sharing FeatureTo access the Snap Map, you pinch on your Snapchat camera home screen. From there you can scroll around to see where friends are in your city or around the world.

Outside of the location-sharing element, Snap Map also gives users an alternative way to discover Story content beyond the well-worn Stories feed and the powerful “Story Search” feature.

Users can see “heat” colors on the Snap Map to see where lots of Snaps are being uploaded, which might indicate a concert or big event from which you’d want to explore Snap Stories.

Snap Map would compete with Facebook Messenger’s “Live Location” feature. But because Snap Map only updates when you open the app, it’s more geared toward privacy and saving battery life.

Google Allo Can Now Make Duo Calls Within a Chat

Google this week rolled out an update to its messaging app Allo that enables users make a Duo video call directly within the chat window.

To be able to use the feature, both Allo and Google’s video calling app Duo need to be installed on both ends, the company said in a statement.

“So when you’re at the mall and are finding it difficult to pick the perfect pair of shoes, quickly starting a Duo video call with your friend makes it so much easier than typing a description of those great-looking runners,” the statement added.

A Duo icon in the upper-right corner of the chat screen immediately launches a Duo call by tapping it.

With the Allo update, users can also add stickers to their photos before sending them in a chat. The latest Allo update is available for both Android and iOS platforms.

Earlier this month, Google rolled out the v12 update of Allo, bringing the big Selfie Clips feature, along with other changes like a redesigned compose bar.

Google Allo Can Now Make Duo Calls Within a ChatSelfie Clips essentially lets you use the front camera to make GIF loops of yourself or anything in the front camera view, and send them in chat conversations. Earlier, to send GIFs, you’d have to use third-party material, and a tool to create one was not available in-app. With this update, Allo adds the ability for iPhone and Android users in-app. This feature was announced by Allo team head Amit Fulay. Furthermore, the selfie sticker feature that was only launched for Android first, has now been made available to iPhone users as well.

The new compose bar was also mentioned by Fulay and it basically gets rid of the ‘+’ icon that hid all the compose buttons, and shows them all above the message bar itself. This makes them more accessible than before, as earlier they were hidden behind the ‘+’ button, and could only be seen when the button was pressed.

Apple Music Now Has a Rs. 1,200 Annual Subscription; Android App Updated

Apple Music now has an annual subscription option at Rs. 1,200 in India, and $99 in the US. You’ll have to work a bit to get it, though. It seems Apple doesn’t want everyone to know about it, given the lack of an announcement despite it being available since a few months. Separately, the Android app has also been updated with performance improvements.

It’ll help you save Rs. 240/ $20 per year on the monthly individual subscription, so it’s worth the hassle if you’re committed to Apple Music. It’s also not available at first sign-up, so you’ll have to be an existing subscriber to follow these steps. Here’s how: open the App Store, scroll down to the bottom and click on your Apple ID.

Apple Music Now Has a Rs. 1,200 Annual Subscription; Android App UpdatedThen, you should see a total of four options: Individual (1 Month), Family (1 Month), Individual (1 Year), and Student (1 Month). The third option – Individual (1 Year) – is the new option, which should reflect Rs. 1,200 if you live in India. Unfortunately, there’s no annual plan for family or student memberships yet. Hopefully, that’s on its way soon.

Meanwhile, the Apple Music app on Android has received a minor update, which brings some “performance improvements”, according to the changelog on the Google Play listing. It follows the big April update that (finally) brought it in line with the iOS 10 redesign that hit iPhone and iPad all the way back in September 2016.

Mobile Gamers Play Less Often, but Spend More Time and Money per Game: Flurry

Mobile users are playing games less often, but are spending more time and money per game, according to a new report.

Over the last year, mobile gaming has seen a 10 percent year-on-year decline in the number of sessions, analytics firm Flurry has revealed, which tracks more than 940,000 apps that are installed on over 2.1 billion devices. At the same time, the average time spent in gaming apps has shot up by 44 seconds, and revenue has seen a 53 percent year-on-year growth.

Though the overall number of sessions has fallen, there is a clear divide between the categories. Games in board and strategy, racing, and sports have seen upticks of 29, 26 and 9 percent year-on-year, while those in role playing, casual, music, and arcade have all significantly declined. According to Flurry, three of those latter four drove more than half of all mobile gaming sessions three years ago.

There is a divide between phones and tablets in terms of average time spent, as well. Gamers on tablets spend about 4 minutes longer per session than those on phones, with the average session length coming in at 10 minutes on tablets, and 6 minutes 29 seconds on phones.

Mobile Gamers Play Less Often, but Spend More Time and Money per Game: FlurryThe revenue data comes from research undertaken by SensorTower, with the report noting that the combined revenue on Android and iOS increased from $7.8 billion (Rs. 50,374 crores) in Q1 2016 to $11.9 billion (Rs. 76,853 crores) in Q1 2017, which equals a 53 percent rise.

As for share across countries, the US is the still top mobile gaming market at 20 percent of all gaming sessions, followed by India at 13 percent. Every other country has a single-digit share. Flurry noted that the average US mobile user spends 33 minutes per day playing games.

And unlike the console gaming market, which leans towards young men worldwide, heavy mobile gaming users (defined as more than 5 hours per week) in North America are 52 percent female, and 38.6 years old.

Flurry’s report also states that tablet gaming sees a steady peak in the morning, followed by phone gaming during commute, and then back to tablet use in the evening.

Instagram Stories Gets Live Video Replay as It Hits 250 Million Daily Active Users

Photo-sharing app Instagram has announced it will introduce an option to share a replay of a user’s Live video to ‘Stories’ feature for 24 hours. The feature comes with the v10.26 update available on the App Store and Google Play for iOS and Android respectively.

“We’re also celebrating 250 million daily users on Instagram ‘Stories’, up from 200 million announced in April,” the company said in a statement.

Previously, all Live broadcasts disappeared once finished. That made them feel raw, spontaneous and urgent to watch.

Starting June 21, “we’re introducing the option to share a replay of your Live video to Instagram ‘Stories’. Now, more of your friends and followers can catch up on what they missed”, Instagram said.

Instagram Stories Gets Live Video Replay as It Hits 250 Million Daily Active UsersWhen your broadcast has ended, you’ll be able to tap “Share” at the bottom of the screen to add your replay to Instagram ‘Stories’ for 24 hours.

You can also tap the toggle and choose “Discard” and your Live video will disappear from the app as usual.

When someone you follow shares a replay, you’ll see a play button under their profile photo in the stories bar. Tap it to watch the video and see comments and likes from the original broadcast. You can also tap the right or left side of the screen to go forward or back 15 seconds, or tap “Send Message” to reply.

Unicode 10 Launched With 56 New Emojis, Including Bitcoin Symbol

The Unicode Consortium on Tuesday announced the launch of Unicode 10 that brings a bunch of new emojis, a new Bitcoin sign, and a set of Typicon symbols. With the Unicode 10, 56 new emojis have been released along with a major addition of 8,518 characters bringing the total number of characters to 136,690. Originally unveiled in March this year, the new emoji characters are likely to debut with the iOS 11 slated to roll out later this year.

The new Unicode 10 includes a plethora under the hood updates and improvements such as some new scripts that add support for lesser-used languages, integration of core specification and data files under the same date, and some Unicode Line Breaking Algorithm & UAX modifications, in addition to new emojis. The new 56 new emoji figures include some of the highly demanded emojis like Hijab, Zombie, ‘Colbert Emoji’, Scarf among others. A new Bitcoin symbol and Typicon characters are the notable ones in the new update. The entire list of 56 new emojis is available on Unicode’s own emoji chart and Emojipedia.

Unicode 10 Launched With 56 New Emojis, Including Bitcoin Symbol“The Unicode Standard is the foundation for all modern software and communications around the world, including all modern operating systems, browsers, laptops, and smartphones-plus the Internet and Web (URLs, HTML, XML, CSS, JSON, etc.),” notes Unicode Consortium’s blog post, emphasising on the future availability of Unicode 10 on Internet browsers as well as other supported platforms and devices.

As we said, the Unicode 10’s new emoji set is reportedly expected to roll out with iOS 11 this fall – however, Apple may choose to push it to a smaller update like iOS 11.1 or so, reports 9to5Mac. Having said that, there is no information available as of now for other major platforms like Android and Windows.

Sega Forever Brings Retro Games to Android and iOS

Sega is re-releasing some of its most popular retro titles on Android and iOS, under a new service banner called Sega Forever. Five Sega Genesis games are available at launch: Altered Beast, Comix Zone, Kid Chameleon, Phantasy Star II, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Each title is free of cost, though players can pay Rs. 160 ($1.99 in the US) to get rid of ads.

Sonic has been available on the App Store for years, but it’s now part of Sega Forever. Every game will be available as a standalone app on its own; Sega Forever is just the name of the service, it’s not an app on its own.

While the games are being run with the help of emulation, they’ll also offer modern amenities such as cloud saves, global leaderboard, Bluetooth controller support, and offline play. In addition to the five aforementioned games, Sega will release new titles every two weeks going forward. This will include games from every Sega era, from the Master System to the Dreamcast.

Sega Forever Brings Retro Games to Android and iOSIn an interview with The Verge, Mike Evans, Sega’s chief marketing officer and development lead on Sega Forever, said that Dreamcast titles are slightly more complicated. “It’s more expensive to build the ports versus the emulations,” he said. “It’s more time-consuming.”

Sega will look to the community for future game requests, while others will be tied to “historical events”, such as the anniversary of a retro game. The bigger aim with Sega Forever, Evans noted, is to create a “Netfix of retro gaming”, which could grow out of mobile to get on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

On iOS 10, players will also get accompanying iMessage sticker packs, featuring characters, objects and game logo, all rendered in the 16-bit style of old. You can still play the Sega Forever games if you’re on an older version of iOS, with the games supporting every update north of iOS 8. As for Android, you’ll need Android 4.4 or newer versions.

Facebook Reactions Now Available in Comments as Well

Facebook took its own sweet time before it introduced Reaction emojis to the social networking site, and then some more time to bring them to Messenger, but the company has now expanded Reactions to the comments section. Notably, before this update, users only had the option to like the comment of other users and not react with the new emojis.

This means that you can now use Reaction emojis including “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “angry,” and “sad,” to react to comments while earlier you could only use these emojis to react to posts on the platform. The support for emojis in the comment section has been added on Android, iOS, and even the Web version of Facebook.

Facebook Reactions Now Available in Comments as Well“We’ve heard from people they’d like more ways to show their reaction in conversations on Facebook, so we’re rolling out the ability to react to comments,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, as per a report by Mashable.

Again, just like everything else in this world right now, the reaction emojis aren’t everybody cup of tea and some people even find them annoying more than anything else. However, irrespective of how you feel about this feature, you can expect it to be rolling out to you if it hasn’t already been made available.

Last month, Facebook added support for Message Reactions to Messenger. The Reactions feature allows users to react to individual messages with emojis. Apart from the usual set of emojis, what stood out from this update was that users could also react to messages using a ‘thumbs down’ emoji. As users have been requesting Facebook for a dislike button for years, this thumbs down emoji was a surprise from the social giant.

Google Photos Gets Archive Feature on Android, iOS, and Web

Google Photos, with its latest version 2.15 update, has finally received a feature that should probably have been present in the first place. Google has now added an ‘Archive’ feature to its Photos app that allows users to take out certain pictures from their image feed and place in a separate section inside the app.

In order to archive any image, users simply need to select the image and tap the three dots option present on the top-right of the screen. On tapping, users will get the option to archive their image. The archived images can then be found in the slide-out menu on the left side of the screen. Notably, the archived items will still show up in albums and search results despite being archived. One of the major advantages that come with this feature is that the image would be taken out from the main image feed. If you happen to hand your phones out to other people, this feature might save you from accidentally exposing private images.

Google Photos Gets Archive Feature on Android, iOS, and WebThe archive feature, spotted first by 9To5Google, has already been made available for Android, iOS, and Web version of the app. While this feature is not a substantial addition, it does bring a basic functionality to the app that should have been there from the very start.

Earlier this week, Instagram was spotted testing its own ‘Archive’ feature that allows users to temporarily hide their posts from the public. These pictures can then be brought back later or be permanently deleted as well. An Instagram spokesperson was quoted as saying that the company “will expand the availability of the archive option over the next few months as it continues to iterate on it.” We were only able to see the Instagram Archive feature on the beta for Android.

Microsoft Planner Collaboration Tool Launched for Android and iOS

Microsoft Planner that was first only available on the Web, but it has now arrived on mobile as well. The Microsoft Planner app for Android and iOS has also been launched, making managing tasks and planning teamwork activities easier on the go.

The Redmond giant had launched Planner last year in June as part of its productivity suit of apps for Office 365 business and school users. Planner is a collaboration tool aimed at organising team activities, and works similar to apps like Trello and Asana. It is bundled along with the Office 365 suite for free, and allows management of projects, teams, workflows, assign tasks, chat with members, and much more.

Microsoft Planner Collaboration Tool Launched for Android and iOSNow, the apps are available as a free download as well for all eligible Office 365 users. The app however doesn’t bring all the features that are available on the Web. On its blog, Microsoft explains, “Current Planner users can use this companion app to view and update their plans on the go, addressing feedback we’ve heard since the launch of the Planner Web app. For people who are new to Planner, you can first get started by visiting tasks.office.com. Once you’ve created your plans in the Web app, you can view and update those plans in the mobile experience.”

The Microsoft Planner app is fairly easy to use and lets you see all your tasks in one place. It lets you update the board when plans change by just dragging and dropping tasks between columns, and chat with members on the go. The app works currently only for Office 365 work or school subscription users only, and if you’re eligible, you can download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store for free.