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WhatsApp has a security bug that could allow encrypted messages to be intercepted from the popular messaging app that owner Facebook has said promises end-to-end encryption.

 

WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook in 2014, said last year that all communications such as text messages, videos and other files flowing the service would be encrypted. The app has become hugely popular, with more than 1 billion users.

About the time that WhatsApp announced its end-to-end encryption, cryptography and security researcher Tobias Boelter at the University of California-Berkeley contacted WhatsApp about a flaw he had found in the app. He found that undelivered messages — perhaps because the receiver of the message was offline or had changed their phone number — could be intercepted either by an attacker or WhatsApp itself, he says.

That's because WhatsApp makes new encryption keys for undelivered messages and those could be intercepted by a third party that is not WhatsApp. WhatsApp itself, since it is generating another version of the message, has it on its servers, too.

In an interview with The Guardian, Boelter said, "If WhatsApp is asked by a government agency to disclose its messaging records, it can effectively grant access due to the change in keys."

Boelter also did a presentation on the WhatsApp vulnerability earlier this year — a video is posted on Twitter— and wrote about the situation on his blog in May saying that "next time the FBI will not ask Apple but WhatsApp to ship a version of their code that will send all decrypted messages directly to the FBI."

He contacted Facebook and WhatsApp about the vulnerability in April 2016 and, in May, Facebook told him the company is not "actively working on changing" it.

A WhatsApp spokesperson told The Guardian that users can change their security settings so that they know when a contact's key or code is changed. "We know the most common reasons this happens are because someone has switched phones or reinstalled WhatsApp. This is because in many parts of the world, people frequently change devices and Sim cards. In these situations, we want to make sure people's messages are delivered, not lost in transit," the company told The Guardian.

Privacy advocates had been concerned with WhatsApp on another issue, too. In August 2016, WhatsApp said it would begin sharing data with Facebook, as a way to better serve users and fight spam. But the requirement that users opt-out of the feature led privacy groups including Electronic Privacy Information Center to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission.

EPIC called the move an "unfair and deceptive trade practice." And European Union Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Facebook "gave us incorrect or misleading information during the investigation into its acquisition of WhatsApp."

Author : Mike Snider

Source : http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/13/whatsapp-has-bug-that-could-be-exploited.html

Categorized in Social

WhatsApp might stop working for many users as the company made it public that it would end support for the popular chat app on older handsets by the end of 2016.

The company said dropping support on older devices would give it the opportunity to focus more on mobile platforms used by the vast majority of the people.

The mobile platforms that would no longer enjoy WhatsApp are Android 2.1 and Android 2.2, Windows Phone 7, iPhone 3GS and iOS 6. The reason is lack of functionality to support the upcoming features.

"While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don't offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app's features in the future," the company wrote in an official blog post last February.

For the owners of the affected devices, the only way to start using WhatsApp again is by upgrading to a newer version of Android, iPhone or Windows Phone.

The Facebook-owned company earlier said it would end support to BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10, Nokia S40 and Nokia Symbian S60, but later it said it was extending the support for the devices until 30 June, 2017.

These changes are believed to allow WhatsApp to deeply integrate encryption and other privacy features, reports the Independent.

WhatsApp might introduce more new features. The changes rumoured to be part of updates scheduled for 2017 include a feature that would allow users to edit or delete messages after they are sent.

Author: Sarmistha Acharya
Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/whatsapp-might-stop-working-for-older-android-iphones-and-windows-devices/ar-BBxOZbp

Categorized in Others

The text message is dead! And in its place, long live the more popular, more flexible, more user-friendly - and now entirely free - WhatsApp. With the annual fee having long since been knocked on the head and video calling having finally landed, there's now nothing standing between you and endless chats. That means it's time to progress beyond the basics and learn to become a WhatsApp wizard.

From dodging awkward messages without the guilt to keeping the adult stuff private, here are the WhatsApp tips and tricks that will turn you into a messaging master.

1. Hide the fact that you're ignoring someone

WhatsApp blue ticks

Disabling those giveaway double blue ticks (Settings > Account > Privacy > Read Receipts) is a great way to avoid the 'I know you've read it' message rebuttals when opting to ignore someone. Turn them off all the time, however, and suspicion might start to grow.

And yet you can hide that you've read messages on an individual basis. Before you open the questionable chat, switch your phone to airplane mode. You can now read away with no alert being sent. Now exit the message before you turn airplane mode off again, and it will remain unread - well, in the sender's eyes at least. Cue evil laugh.

2. Enjoy guilt-free message dodging by hiding your 'last seen' time 

WhatsApp Last Seen time

WhatsApp's double blue ticks are a backstabbing homing beacon for social snubbing. However, they're not the only notifier out to show up your message-dodging deceit. Your 'last seen' time is a second layer of unwanted attention when you're desperately trying to avoid an awkward conversation.

You can turn it off though. By heading to Settings > Account > Privacy > Last Seen, you can decide who, if anyone, you want to see when you've last been active. Finally, guilt-free ignoring is possible.

3. Magically recover deleted messages

WhatsApp messages

*Smiles*, *brags*, *accidentally presses delete* ...and as simple as that, the number of that pretty girl/ guy is gone. All is not lost, though, for there is a way to bring back messages from the dead. You're going to have to pre-empt your message deleting misfortunes here a little bit though.

If you've set up daily backup for your favoured chats (see tip #11), WhatsApp will, in the wee hours of the morning, save that day's messages to the cloud. Now, if you accidentally delete messages or entire chats, you can simply recover the lost content with Harry Potter-levels of wizardry by reinstalling the app. Phone numberious, returnerum!

4. Send a message with your voice

iOS 10 Siri

"Hey, Siri, stop being beyond useless." Oh, you've listened, thanks. Having moved past its infuriating "sorry, I didn't quite catch that roots," Siri has added some impressive new smarts, and now plays nice with a number of third-party apps, including the likes of WhatsApp.

That means you can get your voice involved when you want to send a message. Now, instead of dictating your messages to be sent as out dated texts, Siri lets you read out your commands to WhatsApp and enjoy some impressive hands-free messaging. All you need to do, once you've ensured you're running the latest version of WhatsApp, is bust out the correct vocal commands: "Hey, Siri. Send a WhatsApp to mum…"

5. Throw in some bold and italics to get your point across

WhatsApp Bold

WhatsApp is great for most things. Sensing tone isn't always one of them though. Fortunately there's a hidden little feature to help you better get your point across and help your friends understand the urgency of your messages. You can add bold, italics, and even strikethrough.

How? Well, sadly it's not as easy as simply clicking the corresponding button. Instead, every time you want to put a bit of emphasis on a certain word, you'll have to put the desired command shortcut around the words you want to stand out. To bold up, you need to but an asterisk on either side of the word, like *this*, while italics need an underscore on either side of a _word_, and strikethrough a tildes (those squiggly hyphens), just like ~this~. Feeling jazzy? You can even combine commands for *_bolditalics_* attention grabbing.

6. Mute group chat notifications for personal sanity

WhatsApp mute

You just wanted to know what time you were supposed to be meeting at the pub tomorrow. But that one simple question has resulted in three hours of WhatsApp-based 'banter' between your cretinous mates. Each 'your mum' joke and unwitty aside at an ex's expense is now just a movie-interrupting, sleep-preventing irritant.

Well, no more - it's time to hit the big red mute button. In a chat, simply select the name at the top to launch an in-message settings menu. From here you can toggle mute on (NB: not big or red), cutting out the bings and bongs for a range of timeframes ranging from "friend-snubbing" 8 hours to an "OK, we're done" full year.

7. Use WhatsApp on the big screen

WhatsApp Web

Just because your boss gets a bit sniffy about having your phone out in the office, doesn't mean you have to miss out on important WhatsApp messages (read inane, time-wasting chatter). The service can be switched to your desktop too.

Dedicated Windows and Mac OS WhatsApp apps have just launched, meaning you can seamlessly sync your smartphone-based chats to your primary computer and skive work without anyone suspecting a thing - bonus.

8. Stop dirty images showing in your camera roll

WhatsApp pictures

If you're the sort of person who sends and receives images you'd rather your friends didn't stumble across, you probably don't want them saved just two swipes from last night's party pics in your camera roll.

There's an easy way to avoid accidental image embarrassment though. In Settings > Chatsyou can toggle the Save Incoming Media tab. Now you can share smutty snaps with little fear of reprise.

9. Save your data allowance from meme-spam

WhatsApp data usage

If you've been hitting it hard on the train-based Netflix sessions this month, you probably don't want every cat snap or Game of Thrones meme you're sent further eating up your data allowance. But you can save the megabytes by setting images and videos to download only when you're connected to the Wi-Fi.

To enable these data-saving ways on iOS, all you need to do is go Settings > Data Usagewhere you'll be able to assign download methods per content type. On Android things are a little different. You're offered all the same options, but you'll have to go Settings > Chats and Calls > Media Auto-Download to find them.

10. Turn your best mate into a WhatsApp-themed app

WhatsApp

Find it hard to pick out your bezzie mates from your mass of WhatsApp chats? Well, there's a great way to give people priority, although it's one for just the Android folks - sorry Apple owners. You can cut down the search time by saving shortcuts to your favourite WhatsApp Chats direct to your handset homescreen.

A long press on the desired chat will launch a menu of options, including the 'Add chat shortcut' tab. And that's it: you can now share your selfies and oddball chatter a fraction of a second quicker. It's like having an app dedicated to your mate. Which isn't creepy at all.

11. Hide incriminating chats from prying eyes

WhatsApp

There are some instances where you might not want your partner seeing your WhatsApp messages popping up. Surprise party planning, for example. Or, erm… nope, that's it, we can't think of any more innocent reasons.

Keeping your secrets secret can be achieved by hiding your message previews though. This stops your lockscreen alerts teasing the potentially incriminating introduction to a message. 'How?' we hear you cry (with only a slight tinge of urgent panic). Just go Settings > Notifications > Show Preview, and your messages will be replaced by relationship-saving basic alerts.

12. Broadcast your private messages to the masses

WhatsApp broadcast

Just because you want to send the same message to a number of people doesn't mean you necessarily want to start a group chat where everyone can interact with each other and annoy you with endless message alerts. The solution is a 'broadcast'.

Tapping the menu button reveals the 'New broadcast' option. This will send a single message to multiple recipients, creating an individual chat for each. You don't even need to trouble yourself with endless cut and paste efforts either - it's the modern equivalent of BCCing someone into an email.

13. Make it easy to switch phones with your messages in tow

WhatsApp backup

Worried about losing your past year of mass messages? You don't have to put off upgrading your handset - just take your chats with you. It's not hard to do either. Both iPhone and Android owners have their own WhatsApp backup options thanks to iCloud and Google Drive syncing.

In Settings > Chats > Chat Backup, you can set your service to sync up with the cloud on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Now if your phone malfunctions or you move to a new handset, simply logging in to WhatsApp will bring all your past chats across.

14. Make important messages easy to locate

WhatsApp Starred Messages

We've all been there - scrolling back through 268 messages trying to find an address or meet-up time. There is an easier way though - starring your standout messages for future finding. Similar to favouriting a tweet, WhatsApp messages can be starred simply be holding down on the desired correspondence and tapping the pop-up star icon.

You can then jump straight to a list of all your starred messages direct from your WhatsApp homescreen. Hours of endless scrolling begone.

15. See exactly when your message was read

WhatsApp read times

There's always one person in a group chat who fails to commit to the communal plans - you know who they are. You can chase them up though by seeing not only who has read the message, but exactly when they read them.

Long press on a message you've sent and hit the 'info' tab when it pops up. This will break down who has read and who has received the message, with timings for both handily displayed.

16. Maintain your privacy in unfriendly group chats

WhatsApp Privacy

Check you out with your multiple friendship groups! Aren't we the social butterfly? But while you're strutting around like the big I am, think on: friends of friends you've never met - but share group chat standing with - are snooping on your innermost secrets. Or your personal details, at least.

While you're never going to be able to hide your phone number (probably the biggest bit of data these people can see), you can limit access to your profile photo and personal status by heading to Settings > Account > Privacy and hitting the right sub-menus though.

17. Give yourself no excuse to not reply

WhatsApp unread

OK, so you can't handle replying right now, but you don't want to be forced out of friendship by long-term blanking either. Hmmm, what to do? Well, you could simply set a visual reminder that you've got messages that need returning.

You can do this on your chat list, by swiping in from the left on your desired message thread. This will let you mark that conversation as unread. Now there's no excuse for replying later.

Source : digitalspy.com

Categorized in Social

HIGHLIGHTS

  • It's really simple to enable and get started with WhatsApp video calling
  • WhatsApp video calling works similar to voice calls within WhatsApp
  • Both parties need to have app version supporting WhatsApp video calling

WhatsApp video calling has been officially launched and the feature is now rolling out to users on Android, iPhone,and WhatsApp. The WhatsApp video calling feature was recently introduced in the beta builds of WhatsApp for Android and Windows Mobile. If you can't wait for the video calling feature to show up on your Android phone, here's how you can get started with it right away.

If you are already running the latest WhatsApp beta - or if the video calling feature is available to you after launch - it's pretty simply to start a video call with another WhatsApp user. Here's how to make a video call within WhatsApp:

  • Open WhatsApp (of course!)
  • Go to the Contacts tab
  • Find and tap the contact you want to initiate a WhatsApp video call with
  • Tap on the phone icon towards the top of the screen
  • From the popup choose Video call

That's it - you've just made your first WhatsApp video call!

Note that for WhatsApp video calling to work, both parties should be running a WhatsApp build that supports the feature. WhatsApp may also prompt you for feedback once the video call is over.

If you are already running the latest WhatsApp version, and you still don't see the video calling feature, there's a way to get it faster. To enable video calling feature in your WhatsApp instance, you will have to sign up for the WhatsApp beta program. Follow these steps to sign up for the WhatsApp beta program and enable WhatsApp video calling on Android:
  • Open Google Play and search for WhatsApp
  • Open WhatsApp's Google Play listing
  • Scroll dow towards the bottom of the page
  • In the section that says Become a beta tester tap on I'M IN
  • Confirm on the next screen and wait for a few minutes
  • Come back to WhatsApp listing page on Google Play
  • You should see an option to Update WhatsApp to beta version
  • Update the app

Congratulations, you are now running the latest WhatsApp beta for Android. This comes with support for WhatsApp video calls and other new features - to make your first WhatsApp video call, follow the steps mentioned earlier.

What do you think of WhatsApp's video calling feature? Let us know via the comments. For more tutorials, visit our How To section.

Source : gadgets.ndtv.com

Categorized in Social

string of misguided moves has led what once was considered the king of the Internet to spiral downward to the point of irrelevance.

In fact, if it weren’t for bad news (shrinking earnings, invasive hacks) Yahoo wouldn’t be in the news at all, which brings us to the recent news that the company provided and allowed U.S. intelligence agencies to read through Yahoo user emails.

Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about tracking terrorists or undesirables here. We’re talking about Yahoo handing over the right for the US and likely other friendly governments to scan all incoming emails in search of red flag phrases or keywords.

Think about this for a second. All those emails you’ve written and received with discussions about politics and people that were assumed to be private and meant as inside jokes for you and your friends were being filtered through CIA headquarters.

Kind of makes you wonder what you’ve written in the past few years, doesn’t it?

Yahoo was recently hacked exposing people's data
Yahoo was recently hacked exposing people's data

Imagine becoming a person of interest because you make a meaningless comment to your mother, brother or best friend that uses a few unintentionally scary keywords.

Hmmm, that likely puts just about everyone on a government “watch” list.

Everything you write, public or private, not only is now available to be held against you in a court of law – it all becomes part of your “permanent record,” that nasty electronic dossier on you that lives forever in the hands of those who watch.

Yahoo has of course been pummeled in all the headlines for what unfolded.

But Yahoo alone isn’t the problem. They didn’t create the practice of online snooping. That’s been going on just about as long as the Internet itself.

Neither did they elevate the offense. The telecommunications industry led by AT&T, Verizon, Samsung and countless others has been caught infringing on privacy rights numerous times this year.

It is well documented that millions of dollars has changed hands between the US government and large telecoms in exchange for the annual set of communication records of their customers.

Then there’s Facebook.

Facebook has been watching you
Facebook has been watching you

Facebook the 'privacy villain of the year'

Two weeks ago, the European Digital Rights (EDRi), a coalition of civil rights organizations, presented the social media giant with its “privacy villain of the year” award.

Facebook has been looking at all your content, your pictures, contacts, and words since inception. It has experimented with manipulating the content you see and the emotions you express, tracked what you’re playing on your smartphone while digitally identifying you in photos, and much more. Facebook even tracks non-members.

Gmail left the door open from the start
Gmail left the door open from the start

And what about Google?

Google claims it wants to help you in every way possible. They are a search engine, a smart thermostat, a map, a video site, a place to create content and socialize and much more.

The list goes on and on with what they do and offer based on their many acquisitions.

What they don’t tell you in any way obvious, is that they scan every slice of Google that you use. All that information . . . becomes part of your “permanent record.” They argue it’s useful in order to customize your experience.

Google is doing everything they can to subvert your right to be forgotten. They seem to know literally everything you’re doing and what the temperature in your house is.

Remember, this is the same Google that was fined millions of dollars by several different countries when they literally stole IP addresses and WiFi passwords from citizens’ homes as they drove by in their quest to map the world. By this time we are all exhausted by the mind-numbing targeted ads and content we receive. Who is that really useful to? To them of course.

While it lacked the tech back then it doesn't now
While it lacked the tech back then it doesn't now

This isn't a new thing

The real scary part is that in many instances, this was the intention from day one.

Look at the patent Google filed for Gmail in 2005. Google put its cards face up there, spelling out that while it then currently lacked the technology to scan emails and attachments, it left the door open to in the future.

Today they’ve been scanning for years. Data brokers enjoy over 1,500 pieces of data on all of us, thanks to services like Google and Facebook. And now as we’ve learned, it is Yahoo’s turn to offend.

These huge companies I prefer to call “data vacuums.” Their members are products sold to their customers – data brokers, advertisers, and as we often learn later, governments.

They willingly sacrifice their users in exchange for dollars, no matter who the customer. It gives a black eye to technology in general.

This hasn’t been lost on Silicon Valley.

Within 24 hours of the news about Yahoo, companies such as Microsoft, Twitter, and yes, Facebook and Google, quickly denied following any such practice themselves, claiming they would fight such government demands up to the Supreme Court.

While hypocritical in many ways, these tech giants are smart enough to know who butters their bread and that the perception of trust outweighs the reality of it. But isn’t it the government who ultimately ends up with the data if a company is intentionally spying on us and building a huge record about each of us?

WhatsApp is now owned by Facebook
WhatsApp is now owned by Facebook

WhatsApp is tracking you

Ah the irony of it all. A few weeks ago Facebook egregiously announced that they had changed WhatsApp’s privacy policy and are now tracking all WhatsApp members.

Facebook owns WhatsApp, by the way.

For WhatsApp users, you may want to run quickly – because you are now just another data nugget and your privacy, which was the very premise of WhatsApp, has been compromised mercilessly.

In your permanent record they now note who you are talking to, when/what time you are talking with them, and where you are when you are talking with them.

It just seems predictable that at some point some hacker is going to make public all of our permanent records. This could wreak havoc on our jobs, our relationships, our families, and so much more. It is likely – perhaps not today, but certainly in the coming years.

Going forward, incidents such as this latest Yahoo fiasco thankfully increase the demand for user control and privacy as a fundamental right.

People of the world want to have their personal privacy respected, and as Pew Research has recently reported, now more than ever.

The good news is that companies can easily enough produce apps that follow privacy-by-design principles.

I know this in practice. As founder of MeWe, the next-gen social network, we protected users with an industry-exclusive Privacy Bill of Rights.

It has no dossier on users, because it was built with no tracking, no algorithm and no target ads or content.

It is possible.

So what can we learn from Yahoo’s actions?

This whole episode is yet another symptom of an overall disease concerning the lack of privacy online that has spread to all corners of the globe.

Enough is enough already. The best way to cause corporate behavioral changes is to change our behavior as consumers.

We can take action, by terminating our accounts and marching away from these data-grabbing/selling entities and realign ourselves with companies philosophically aligned with the inalienable human privilege that democracy is intended to protect, the right to personal privacy.

Source : mirror

Categorized in Internet Technology

While the app is used mostly for its basic function, i.e. messaging, you can actually engage search queries right from the app.

It's all about tricks and smartness. If you know the right tricks, you can substitute Google with WhatsApp as a search engine. Yes, you read right. This feature of WhatsApp is still unknown to many. This IM platform is loaded with secret features, you might have never heard of.

In this article, we have brought you a smart trick that will transform WhatsApp into a full-fledged search engine. All you need to do is to activate a bot. Here are the steps you need to follow.

Step 1. Add a New Contact

Step 1. Add a New Contact

To start the WhatsApp Bot services in your smartphone, first, you need to create a contact named Search Engine. And the phone number of the contact would be '8015984514'.

Step 2. Create A New Group

 

Step 2. Create A New Group

Now after you launch WhatsApp, go to settings (the three dots located in the upper right corner)> tap on 'New Group'>Name it 'Search Engine'.

Step 3. Add the Contact You Have Created

Step 3. Add the Contact You Have Created

Once the group 'Search Engine' has been created, it will ask you to add group 'Participants'. Simply add the newly created contact "Search Engine" there.

Step 4. Start Using Now!

Step 4. Start Using Now!

Once the group has been created, your WhatsApp Search Engine is ready to use. You will receive an automatic message which will share you some tips on how to use the new search engine.

-> Here Are the Codes for Searching

1. To get Wikipedia information, type Wiki

2. To join the English news channel, type <+NEWS> and to unsubscribe anytime, send <-NEWS>

3. You can know the meaning of a word by sending <+DICT WORD> to the group.

4. You can join any Football or Cricket channel by sending <+CRICKET> or <+FOOTBALL> to the group.

5. To play GK quiz, simply send <+GK>

Source : izbot.com

Categorized in Search Engine

A month ago it was announced that WhatsApp will soon share the mobile number and call information of their users with Facebook. That way it is easier for advertisers to advertise within the app. However, now you have one more day to prevent this.

 

For those who uses the messenger app daily, the deadline is today. Until then, you can ensure that a part of your data is not used by Facebook.

TO PREVENT YOUR DATA TO BE SHARED

  • Go to the heading “Settings”
  • Click on “Account” and
  • You can turn off the ‘Share my info’ option.

whatsapp information sharing with facebook

whatsapp information sharing

whatsapp opt out

WhatsApp users were given exactly 30 days’ time to do this.

However, it is not so that Facebook will now receive no WhatsApp data from you. The two companies will still share information with each other in order to “improve the infrastructure”.

Source : http://thetechnews.com/

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Google nailed e-mail with the 2004 introduction of Gmail. Now it’s the No. 1 form of electronic correspondence in the United States.

But as traditional e-mail falls out of favour with a growing sliver of the population, Google has struggled to release newer messaging tools that resonate widely.

Now Google is trying again with a new video chat application called Duo. The app works with mobile devices running Google’s Android operating system and Apple Inc.’s iOS. It runs on Wi-Fi and cellular networks, automatically switching between different types and speeds of connection and adjusting video quality.

Duo uses phone numbers, rather than a Google account, making it easier to call friends, family and other people already stored on smartphone contact lists. The company’s existing video calling and messaging app, Hangouts, requires a Google account. That limited adoption, especially in emerging markets. Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp and Messenger, Skype – now owned by Microsoft Corp. – and Apple’s FaceTime used phone numbers to grow faster.

A confusing array of communication options has held Google back. It has two e-mail services – Gmail, which is the top e-mail service in the United States based on unique visitors, according to ComScore, and Inbox; three text offerings, Hangouts, Messenger and the upcoming Allo; and now two video chat services, Duo and Hangouts (which offers texting and video calls).

This scattershot approach, and Google’s late start, is becoming more costly for the Alphabet Inc. division as messaging evolves from a simple way to communicate quickly into one of the next big technology platforms supporting digital commerce, advertising and new services powered by artificial-intelligence.

“Google missed it because of the requirement that you needed a Google ID to communicate with others,” said Ankit Jain, a former Googler and executive at SimilarWeb Inc., which measures website and mobile app usage.

Hangouts ranked 84th among Android apps in the United States in July, based on installs and usage, according to SimilarWeb. That lagged behind Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat.

Nick Fox, a 13-year Google veteran, was tasked by Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai 18 months ago with fixing the sprawl. Soon after, his new team formulated a strategy and started building Duo and Allo.

“Google sees communication as this essential human need, whether that’s through text, a picture, calling someone or doing a video call.” Mr. Fox said in a recent interview.

This insight is a decade old and has guided Facebook’s strategy since its creation in 2004. Asian companies, such as Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and Line, have grown into tech powerhouses by connecting people through communication apps and offering related services on top of their networks. Skype, founded in 2003, became a leading video chat app on a similar foundation.

So how is Mr. Fox going to catch up? Job number one is clearing up the bloated smorgasbord of Google communications services.

Hangouts will be a workplace service, offering group video conferencing mostly via desktop computers and office laptops, Fox said. It will be integrated more with Google’s work software, such as Docs, Sheets and Slides, which will be easier to share.

Duo is a mobile app and only allows one-to-one video calling, limiting it as a consumer offering. Allo, a messaging service coming out later this year, will also target consumers, Fox said. Google’s Messenger is a basic text system, part of a group of services provided to wireless carriers that work closely with Android.

The second tactic: Bringing what Mr. Fox says is better technology to the new services to catch up with rivals.

Duo constantly performs “bandwidth estimation” to understand how much video can be delivered. If Wi-Fi weakens, it switches to a phone’s cellular network. If a cellular signal drops as low as 2G, Duo will automatically cut video and maintain audio.

Allo will use Google’s expertise in AI to automatically understand texts and provide useful suggestions. Google will also let third-party developers create chatbots that will interact with Allo users through messages. That’s already being tried by other companies such as Facebook and Microsoft, but Google has been working hard on AI for about a decade, so it may be more advanced.

“First build a great product,” Mr. Fox said, repeating a common Google mantra. “Once you get people to love it, they will share it with friends and co-workers and it grows.”

Google was late in other technology and caught up, Fox noted. Gmail started in 2004, more than six years after Yahoo Mail, but Google’s offer of mountains of free storage won over hundreds of millions of users. Google’s Chrome emerged in 2008 – over a decade after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer – and is now the most popular web browser partly because of speed and frequent updates.

Better technology may not be enough to catch up, Mr. Jain said. WhatsApp and Snapchat offered something useful enough to persuade many people to switch away from their existing communication service where all their friends already were.

Duo’s promise of video calling for everyone on Android and iOS is something that Hangouts already offers, but that didn’t move the needle enough, he noted.

“It’s worth another shot, but having better tech can’t be the only thing,” Mr. Jain said.

Source : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/knock-knock-google-duo-video-call-is-here/article31426625/

Categorized in Internet Technology
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