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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

Vinci’s standalone voice-controlled headphones put a mini-computer around your neck

Android Wear 2.0 gets its first standalone podcast app with Wear Casts

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Wear Casts is the first standalone podcast app for Android Wear

fd614_Android-Wear-2.0-6of14-840x473 Wear Casts is the first standalone podcast app for Android Wear

One of Android Wear 2.0‘s marquee features is the introduction of standalone apps. The feature lets you bypass the need for your phone to send data to your smartwatch apps and, instead, allow Android Wear apps to function on their own. One such app is Wear Casts, a recently-released Android Wear app that stands as the first standalone podcast app.

In terms of features, Wear Casts remembers the last played position for each of your podcasts, notifies you when a new episode is available, and automatically creates playlists for downloaded and in-progress podcasts. The app also responds to external audio controls and lets you manage when you want the app to sync.

Dear Google, When are you going to fix Android Wear?

Interestingly, Wear Casts brings with it a phone companion app, but it is only used to add podcasts to your Android Wear smartwatch and if you want to use it as a backup player. The latter is most useful when you want to stream your podcasts, since Wear Casts does not let you stream episodes from your wrists.

fd614_Android-Wear-2.0-6of14-840x473 Wear Casts is the first standalone podcast app for Android Wear

fd614_Android-Wear-2.0-6of14-840x473 Wear Casts is the first standalone podcast app for Android Wear

fd614_Android-Wear-2.0-6of14-840x473 Wear Casts is the first standalone podcast app for Android Wear

Overall, Wear Casts is a no-frills podcasts app for Android Wear that looks to bypass your smartphone as much as possible. I’m sure the developer will continue to optimize the app and add more features in future updates.

To that end, I’ve reached out to the developer to see what features he looks to implement in future updates, as well as what versions of Android are compatible with the app. For now, Wear Casts is available as a free download through the Google Play Store at the link below.

Signal Introduces Standalone Desktop App for Windows, Mac, Linux

Open Whisper Systems launched Signal desktop app through Chrome browser back in 2016. The company is finally bringing a standalone app for the private messaging service. “Signal Desktop is now available in a new, standalone form, and the Chrome App has been deprecated,” the company said in an announcement blog post.

The new standalone desktop version of Signal means that it will run independently of the browser. “If you’re a Firefox or Safari user, you don’t need to install Chrome to send and receive Signal messages on your computer. If you’re a Chrome user, having your browser open will no longer be synonymous with having Signal Desktop open,” explains the company in a blog post. The standalone Signal desktop app has been launched with support for platforms including Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 as well as macOS 10.9 and above. The company has also released a standalone app for Linux distributions supporting APT like Ubuntu or Debian.

Existing users of the Signal Desktop Chrome App can export their data and import it into the new Signal Desktop app through the setup process. Signal says that users can expect all old conversations and contacts to be retained, “just like before”. With the launch of the new app, the company also requests users to share their feedback on bugs and other issues on the forum.

The Signal Desktop app links with the user’s phone, which means that all incoming and outgoing messages are displayed consistently on all connected devices. Earlier this year, Signal Private Messenger added video calling feature to its Android and iOS apps.

Signal Launches Standalone Desktop Application for Windows, Mac …

Open Whisper Systems, the company behind the Signal IM service, has finally launched standalone desktop applications for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

The company has also deprecated the Chrome app that up to this point was the only way to use Signal on a laptop or desktop computer.

The new standalone desktop apps are identical to the old Chrome app, but users won’t need to install Chrome to use Signal on their desktops anymore, and nor would they need to start Chrome before they launch the Signal app.

Signal Desktop, as the apps are now named, are not universally available. For example, Signal Desktop for Windows supports only 64-bit architectures. The Windows client works only on Windows 7 or later, while the Mac client works on macOS 10.9 and higher. On Linux, the app is only available for Linux distros supporting the apt package manager. This means Ubuntu, Debian, and their offshoots.

Be aware, that despite offering a standalone desktop client, users won’t be able to use it without installing the app on their phone first. This is because they’ll have to scan a QR code and link their Signal Desktop app with a Signal account that can be created only via the mobile apps.

There’s also an option to export data from the Chrome app and import it into the new Signal Desktop apps.

Signal Launches Standalone Desktop Application for Windows, Mac, Linux

Open Whisper Systems, the company behind the Signal IM service, has finally launched standalone desktop applications for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

The company has also deprecated the Chrome app that up to this point was the only way to use Signal on a laptop or desktop computer.

The new standalone desktop apps are identical to the old Chrome app, but users won’t need to install Chrome to use Signal on their desktops anymore, and nor would they need to start Chrome before they launch the Signal app.

Signal Desktop, as the apps are now named, are not universally available. For example, Signal Desktop for Windows supports only 64-bit architectures. The Windows client works only on Windows 7 or later, while the Mac client works on macOS 10.9 and higher. On Linux, the app is only available for Linux distros supporting the apt package manager. This means Ubuntu, Debian, and their offshoots.

Be aware, that despite offering a standalone desktop client, users won’t be able to use it without installing the app on their phone first. This is because they’ll have to scan a QR code and link their Signal Desktop app with a Signal account that can be created only via the mobile apps.

There’s also an option to export data from the Chrome app and import it into the new Signal Desktop apps.

Oculus Go is a standalone VR headset coming in early 2018 for just $199

cc71b_oculus-go Oculus Go is a standalone VR headset coming in early 2018 for just $199

This article originally appeared on our sister site, VRSource.com.

The Oculus Rift VR headset is going to be joined soon by a smaller brother that will not require the use of a smartphone or PC. The Oculus Go, revealed today as part of the Oculus Connect 4 developer conference, is slated to be released in early 2018 and will cost $199.

See also: Best upcoming Oculus Rift games

The announcement was made by none other than Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook, of course, is the parent company of Oculus). The Oculus Go headset is supposed to be very light and will have a high-resolution LCD screen, along with lenses that are supposed to offer owners “a wide field of view with significantly reduced glare”. Engadget added that the displays will have a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440

Oculus Go will also come with integrated speakers but it will stil have a 3.5 mm headphone jack. While the headset is a standalone product, developers who are making apps and games for the Samsung Gear VR (which uses Oculus tech) will be able to port those apps to the Oculus Go. The company says that the best of its mobile content will be available for the Oculus Go for its launch.

At the moment, that’s all we have on this new product, but Oculus promises more information will be revealed before it is released early next year.

cc71b_oculus-go Oculus Go is a standalone VR headset coming in early 2018 for just $199

Oculus also revealed information about another next-generation standalone VR hardware product, with the codename “Santa Cruz”. It showed off two positionally tracked controllers, with infrared LEDs, that will work with the inside-out tracking on the headset. This will reportedly allow the “Santa Cruz” hardware to offer owners “natural and unrestricted movement” while playing VR games. However, it may be a while before we see an actual consumer product with this technology go on sale.




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