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Instagram is testing a standalone messaging app because why not

Available now as part of a test in six select countries.

After starting out as a simple way for sharing photos with friends, family, and random followers, Instagram has grown into a fairly bloated app these days. Along with your regular feed, there’s the Instagram Explore Tab for finding photos the app thinks you’re interested in, a Stories feature taken straight from Snapchat, live streaming, and the ability to send direct messages to other users.

81401_Instagram-main-page_0_0 Instagram is testing a standalone messaging app because why not

According to The Verge, Instagram is playing with the idea of taking that last feature out of its main app and moving it to a standalone one by the name of “Direct.”

Direct is currently available for download as part of a test for Android and iOS in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay, and the reason for this move is to get more people using Instagram’s direct messaging service while letting the core Instagram app be a place to share your photos and videos with the entire world.

Instagram Direct opens to the camera viewfinder like Snapchat upon launching it, but you can also choose to swipe down to type out a text-based message. The page to the left is where you’ll find all of your account/app settings, and the one on right is home to your inbox of ongoing conversations. The app itself sounds pretty barebones, but the transition Instagram’s built between the two sounds incredibly sleek.

81401_Instagram-main-page_0_0 Instagram is testing a standalone messaging app because why not

The new Direct app.

When you’re in Direct on your Inbox page, starting to swipe again the left will reveal an Instagram logo, and completing this swipe will automatically open up the main Instagram app. The direct messaging feature is removed from Instagram once Direct is downloaded, but you can easily access it by swiping once again to the left in Instagram to see the Direct logo and then jump right to it.

It’s unclear if Instagram will bring Direct to other countries following its initial testing, but seeing how successful Facebook has been with Messenger after removing direct messaging from its core app, an expansion of Direct to other countries in the coming months wouldn’t be all that surprising.

Instagram adds option for ‘remixing’ photos that friends send to you

8 Best Secure And Encrypted Messaging Apps For Android & iOS

Millions of people exchange message all over the world every day. But, how many people know what happens to a message once they send it? Is it being intercepted by any third-party users? Well, the truth is, we live in an age of internet surveillance and data logging. Agencies and organizations often want access to private communication; we have had instances of CIA hacking attempts and attempts by FBI to gain unauthorized access. Such events have raised concerns among users. To tackle such issues, there has been a rise in secure messaging apps. These apps focus on keeping your privacy intact by launching end-to-end encryption services.

End-to-end encryption is when your service provider doesn’t keep copies of the messages you send on their servers, i.e., only the people you are communicating with can access the message. Nobody in between, neither the government nor the developers can access it.

So, if confidentiality is critical for your communication, then check out this list of some best encrypted messaging apps for Android and iOS platforms. These apps are safe to download and provides utmost security to your data.

Note: This list isn’t in an order of preference; it’s a compilation of the best Android encrypted messaging apps. You’re advised to choose one as per your need.

8 Best Encrypted Messaging Apps

1. Signal Private Messenger

Being one of the few apps to claim an endorsement from Edward Snowden, Signal Private Messenger has made a place among the most secure messaging apps for Android and iOS users. It uses an advanced end-to-end encryption to secure all the messages shared with other Signal users.

Signal Private Messenger is entirely free and is quite easy to use. The best thing about the app is that it is open source. Hence, the experts can freely inspect the app’s code for any flaws in its security.

3bb1e_signal 8 Best Secure And Encrypted Messaging Apps For Android & iOS

There are other features like highly encrypted voice calls, group chats, media transfer, archive functionality; and all these do not require any PIN codes or other login credentials. Also, the messages can self-destruct after a set amount of time.

Moreover, you can also use the app on your computer with its new Chrome browser plugin. The app is excellent to use and worth a try.

Download it for Android and iOS.

Also read: 15 Best Free Hacking Apps For Android Phones

2. WhatsApp

WhatsApp is one of the most popular and secure messaging apps for Android and iOS which is trusted by over 1 billion users. In 2014, the app partnered with Open Whisper Systems, to integrate the same end-to-end encrypted chat protocol as Signal. Its encryption technique ensures that only the sender and the receiver can read the messages, and nobody else, not even WhatsApp.

Also, the app comes with all kinds of amazing features like the ability to send voice messages, photos, videos, GIFs, video calls, group chats, location sharing and much more.

3bb1e_signal 8 Best Secure And Encrypted Messaging Apps For Android & iOS

It has a simple and user-friendly interface which is very easy to handle. With the “WhatsApp Web” feature, you can also send and receive messages from your computer’s browser. The app is free to download and is ad-free.

Download it for Android and iOS.

3. Telegram

Telegram connects people around the globe through a unique network of data centers. It is known to provide the best security, which never gives any third-party access to your data. When a user enables “secrets chats” function, the messages can self-destruct automatically across all the devices involved. Also, if you prefer, you can set an option for self-destructing of your account within a set time.

With Telegram, you can easily sync your messages across various devices at once. The app carries all the essential features, such as sending media files, videos, documents of any type ( .DOC, .MP3, .ZIP, etc.), or set up bots for specific tasks.

3bb1e_signal 8 Best Secure And Encrypted Messaging Apps For Android & iOS

It has a very minimalistic interface that makes the app quite handy to use. Moreover, this encrypted text app is entirely free. It doesn’t display any ads and does not include any subscription fees.

Get it for Android and iOS.

4. Threema

With over a million downloads, Threema is one of the most trusted secure messaging app for Android, iOS, and Windows phone. The app is a paid one which costs US$ 2.99. It packs all the necessary features that are needed to keep your data out of government, corporation and hacker’s hands.

The app does not ask for an email ID or phone number while registering. Instead, it provides you a unique Threema ID. In addition to text messages, Threema allows end-to-end encryption for voice calls, group chats, files and even status messages. Messages sent from the app are immediately deleted from the servers, once they are delivered.

3bb1e_signal 8 Best Secure And Encrypted Messaging Apps For Android & iOS

Threema uses the trusted open source Networking and Cryptography library(NaCl) to protect your communication. With Threema web, you can also use the app from your desktop.

Download it for iOS and Android.

Also read: 12 Best iPhone Hacking Apps And Tools

5. Wickr Me – Private Messenger

Wickr Me is another impressive encrypted messaging app for Android as well as iOS. It encrypts every message using advanced vetted end-to-end encryption. You can send private, self-destructing messages, photos, videos, and voice messages to other Wickr users.

The app has introduced a “Shredder” feature that irreversibly deletes all your chats, shared media contents from your device. You can even set “Expiration Timer” to your messages. Wickr requires no phone number or email address while registering, and it does not store any metadata associated with your communication.

3bb1e_signal 8 Best Secure And Encrypted Messaging Apps For Android & iOS

In addition to all these trustworthy features, this secure texting app is entirely free to use, and it does not display any ads.

Get it for Android and iOS platforms.

6. Silence

Formerly known as SMS Secure, Silence is a remarkable end-to-end encrypted messaging app for your smartphone. It uses Axolotl encryption protection to provide end-to-end encryption to other Silence users.  If the other party does not have the app installed, you can still communicate with it like a regular SMS application.

3bb1e_signal 8 Best Secure And Encrypted Messaging Apps For Android & iOS

Silence work like an ordinary SMS application, so it requires no server or internet connection on your phone. You do not need to register or sign-up with any login credentials. Moreover, the app is free and is fully open source, i.e., It enables anyone to verify that its code is free of vulnerabilities or flaws.

Download it here.

7. Viber Messenger

Viber is a cross-platform encrypted messaging app which was initially launched for the iPhone. The app is similar to Skype. Viber was first seen on Android platform in 2012, followed by BlackBerry and Windows phone. In their latest encryption technology, Viber has introduced the end-to-end encryption service on all the available platforms- Mac, PC, iOS, and Android. 

The unique thing about Viber is that it uses a color-coded system to show how protected a conversation is. Grey color denotes encrypted communication. Green signifies encrypted communication with trusted contact and red means that there is an issue with the authentication key. You can also choose to hide any specific chats from your screen and access them later.

3bb1e_signal 8 Best Secure And Encrypted Messaging Apps For Android & iOS

Apart from being a highly secure messaging app, it also provides you the facility to play games, follow public accounts, share your contacts, media files, turn on location and much more. It has over 800 million users worldwide, and it is free to download.

Get it for Android and iOS.

8. Dust

This application is built with complete security in mind. The app was formerly known as Cyber-Dust. Dust conversations are heavily encrypted, and it offers end-to-end encryption to other users. Dust does not store messages in any permanent storage, and you can even set your conversations to erase immediately after the recipient reads them.

3bb1e_signal 8 Best Secure And Encrypted Messaging Apps For Android & iOS

The app has disabled the possibility of taking screenshots of your messages. It automatically detects and notifies you if somebody takes a screenshot, which makes it one of the most secure messaging apps around. Moreover, Dust is also a social media platform, and it lets you follow people, send and receive text messages, stickers, links, videos and more. It is free to download.

Download it for iOS and Android.

Apart from the above-mentioned secure texting apps, there are a few more as well. Wire is a notable application that provides end-to-end encryption for all your communications. Facebook Messenger and Apple’s iMessage too provide encryption but they’ve faced flak from the researchers in the past.

Did you like this list of best encrypted messaging apps for Android to be helpful? Share your reviews in the comments below.

Also read: 12 Best WiFi Hacking Apps For Android Smartphones

Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown]

Android Messages is Google’s official RCS client and has also been adopted by several manufacturers. Version 2.7 is rolling out and a teardown reveals work on Rich Communication Service features like Business Messaging for interactive messaging, as well as dual-SIM support. Meanwhile, the app is preparing payments through Google Wallet and Duo integration.


dd365_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown]

Nintendo Switch

About APK Teardowns: In this ‘APK teardown,’ we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that was uploaded to the Play Store. When an app (or an APK, to be specific, in the case of Android apps) is decompiled, we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. With that in mind, read on.

Business Messaging

Besides numerous benefits for regular users, RCS adds a number of powerful features for businesses. “Business Messaging” allows for rich media, interactivity, branding, and better analytics. For example, airlines could send rich flight status updates with suggested replies and actions for changing your seat and calling the airline.

In version 2.7 of Android Messages, several more strings detail the call shortcut, ability to email the sender, and open a URL.

string name=”business_action_call_full_content_description” formatted=”false”Call %s (%s)/string
string name=”business_action_call_short_content_description”Call/string

string name=”business_action_email_full_content_description” formatted=”false”Send email to %s (%s)/string
string name=”business_action_email_short_content_description”Send email/string

string name=”business_action_website_full_content_description” formatted=”false”Open website %s (%s)/string
string name=”business_action_website_short_content_description”Open website/string

We’ve been able to activate a “rich card” showing a rough example of this Business Messaging feature in action:

dd365_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown] dd365_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown]

RCS and Dual-SIM support

With dual-SIM support spotted on the most recent Google Phone app, it’s not too surprising that references have also been found in Android Messages. The strings specifically note “multi_sim” and the ability to activate RCS’s “enhanced messaging features” on specific SIMs.

string name=”conversation_list_rcs_promo_subtitle_multi_sim”Turn on enhanced messaging features on ”%1$s” (SIM %2$d)/string

string name=”rcs_success_popup_body”Use ”%1$s” (SIM %2$d) to send messages over Wi-Fi, see when friends are typing, and more./string

string name=”rcs_success_popup_title”SIM %1$d now has enhanced features/string

Sending/requesting cash with Google Wallet

Google Wallet integration that allows users to send and receive cash has been in the works for quite a while now. This version adds new strings, as well as the Wallet icon and a new graphic for the upcoming feature.

string name=”c2o_money_only_one_allowed””Can’t add another money attachment”/string

string name=”c2o_money_request_message_text” formatted=”false””Here’s a request for %1s. Use this link to send me the money: %2s”/string

string name=”c2o_money_send_message_text” formatted=”false””Here’s %1s. Use this link to accept the money: %2s”/string

dd365_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown] dd365_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown]

Update: As spotted by AP, this feature now live. Tapping the the plus icon in a conversation adds a new option to either send or request cash. After completing the process, Google uses the graphic we found above as an image that notes how much you’re requesting/sending:

dd365_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown] dd365_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown] dd365_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown] dd365_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Messages 2.7 preps RCS Business Messaging, dual-SIM support, Wallet integration, more [APK Teardown]

Google Duo integration

Android Messages is working on Duo integration with strings suggesting a button. If Google Allo is any example, it’s likely a shortcut in the action bar of conversations that appears if contacts have Duo.

enable_video_calling_button

Dylan contributed to this article


Check out 9to5Google on YouTube for more news:

Telstra unlocks next-gen SMS messaging on newer Android handsets

There’s competition brewing in the messaging world, with Australia’s largest telco announcing the launch of Telstra Messaging, a service that uses the Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging standard.

RCS is Google’s answer to Apple’s feature-rich iMessage, which adds various dynamic features like group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, read receipts and typing indicators to the native Android message app.

This service will now allow Telstra’s Android customers to send and receive these richer formats along with basic text messages from within the same inbox, much like how the current SMS and MMS services work.

Not every phone is lucky

However, not every Android phone on Telstra’s network will be able to use the new messaging service. Telstra Messaging is currently available for only a handful of premium devices, namely the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, and the previous generation of Samsung Galaxy 7 and 7 Edge.

There is no word yet on other handset compatibility, but we will keep you updated when we know more.

How it works

If you’re a Telstra customer who owns one of the aforementioned handsets, Telstra Messaging will automatically get activated on your device, becoming the native texting app.

If you’re not a Telstra customer, however, and want to jump on the Telstra Messaging bandwagon, you’ll need to switch providers and get yourself either a postpaid or prepaid Telstra SIM card on one of the compatible Samsung devices. 

Once set up, there are no additional fees to use the service, but data usage charges will apply, unless the phone is hooked up to a Wi-Fi connection.

And just like how Apple’s Messages app has an indication of whether a contact can receive an iMessage or not, the message composing window in Telstra’s new service will label messages either as a ‘chat’ or an ‘SMS’ – with chats colour-coded green and SMSes coloured yellow – to let users know if the recipient is using Telstra Messaging or not.

In case the contact doesn’t have Telstra Messaging on their handset or belongs to another network, the message will reach them the usual way – as an SMS or MMS.

Telstra isn’t forcing customers to use the new RCS-based service – Telstra Messaging can be blocked by deactivating Rich Communications found within the device’s Settings.

For more information on Telstra Messaging, head over to the telco’s CrowdSupport page for a detailed FAQ.

On this week’s Vergecast, we rant about Android Messaging, Apple’s hype cycle, and Windows phone dying again

We’ve got a bloggy Vergecast today. In between review weeks, a few things popped up in the news that Nilay, Dieter, and Paul needed to talk about. Google is integrating video chat into a phone but still not text; you can now watch all the movies you’ve purchased online in one place; Apple is on a “hype cycle” talking about AR; and Windows Phone died again.

But that’s not all. There’s a whole lot in between that — like the segment Paul does every week, “You know Dan, the duck face is no longer cool” — so listen to it all and you’ll get it all.

07:28 – Android Messaging rant

18:49 – Hollywood studios join Disney to launch Movies Anywhere digital locker service

26:07 – Google will “permanently remove” Home Mini feature that led to constant recording

32:21 – Apple hype cycle

38:02 – Oculus announces new $199 self-contained VR headset called Oculus Go

49:59 – Windows Phone is dead

58:17 – Paul’s weekly segment “You know Dan, the duck face is no longer cool

1:01:50 – Amazon finally makes a waterproof Kindle, after 10 years of Kindles

If you enjoyed this podcast and want to hear more audio from The Verge, well here you go. We have a new show coming out next week Why’d You Push That Button, hosted by Kaitlyn Tiffany and Ashley Carman, which you can subscribe to right now!

You might also want to check out Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, and Too Embarrassed to Ask hosted by The Verge’s Lauren Goode! You can find them all in iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and anywhere you get your podcasts.

Facebook Messenger is striving to be the default messaging app on iPhone and Android

29250_fb%2520messenger Facebook Messenger is striving to be the default messaging app on iPhone and AndroidBI Intelligence

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29250_fb%2520messenger Facebook Messenger is striving to be the default messaging app on iPhone and Android

29250_fb%2520messenger Facebook Messenger is striving to be the default messaging app on iPhone and Android

29250_fb%2520messenger Facebook Messenger is striving to be the default messaging app on iPhone and Android

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Facebook Messenger wants to become the default messaging app on iPhone and Android, Messenger VP David Marcus told CNBC Wednesday.

The chat app has integrated a slew of features over the past 18 months aimed at creating a messaging experience superior to those offered by rival apps and native services, such as Apple’s iMessage and Android Messenger. 

A big part of Messenger’s strategy is leveraging AI and in-app automation to offer a more personalized, tailored experience for each user. Here are some examples: 

  • Messenger’s virtual assistant M can now suggest automated responses, GIFs, and movie tickets, all within a conversation in Messenger. These suggestions add convenience and value to the user experience while broadening the chat platform’s functionalities. 
  • Facebook acquired AI startup Ozlo to augment the capabilities of M. Ozlo’s iOS app helped users find local restaurants in a conversational manner.Messenger bought the app in July 2017; it’ll help M better understand users’ conversations, and provide more intuitive suggestions.
  • Facebook launched Messenger Platform 2.1 with new tools and features. The updated platform emphasizes built-in support for AI offerings like natural language processing, a payments software developer kit (SDK), and a seamless way to switch between chatbots and humans.

The goal is not only to upend the way friends converse, but also to replace the 1-800 number for businesses. The app already has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users — as more users join, businesses will follow as they attempt to reach consumers where they’re spending their time. Messenger introduced Objectives on Tuesday, a tool to help businesses initiate conversations with users through the app.

Still, Messenger faces an uphill battle against native messaging services, which remain at the heart of the smartphone experience. That’s because native messaging services are becoming more like chat apps. For example, RCS, Android’s next-gen messaging service, is aimed at enhancing current SMS capabilities with many of the same features that instant messaging and native messaging apps provide to a smartphone. Adding RCS to Android devices, and specifically to Android Messaging, could help Google push back against Facebook’s evolution into a quasi OS that competes with Google services.

Laurie Beaver, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has written a report on the end of apps that assesses the evolving app landscape, examines how the existing app model is threatened by the decline of broad app usage, profiles the promising new tech in the space across Apple, Facebook, and Google, and explores barriers standing in the way of user adoption.

To get the full report, subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you’ll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. Learn More Now

You can also purchase and download the full report from our research store.




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