Previously limited to the UK, US, and Canada on iOS and selected countries on Android, Facebook’s Messenger app has today added free audio calls on WiFi (VoIP) for all users in all countries.
Free calls in Facebook Messenger can be initiated from the chat interface by tapping on a phone icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Once started, Facebook Messenger will start “ringing” another user’s device — because Messenger can’t always run in the background like Apple’s Phone app, however, the company is using standard push notifications to inform users that a call is being received. In the Facebook Messenger app, the call interface is reminiscent of Apple’s Phone app design for iOS 7.0 and iOS 7.1 with circular buttons for speaker, mute, and hide, and standard green and red targets to answer or end a call.
While there’s no shortage of free VoIP calling solutions on iOS, Facebook aims at making it easier to reach your friends by building the feature into the existing Messenger contact database, prominently featuring the button in the chat UI of the app. Facebook Messenger was updated last week to version 4.0 with group management features, and version 4.1 is available now on the App Store.
Facebook’s Messenger app for iPhone was updated to version 4.0 earlier today, adding support for group creation and a “Forward” feature for individual messages reminiscent of the same option in Apple’s Messages app.
Groups can be created in the dedicated Groups section of the app, which provides a separate area to list all ongoing groups as cards; group conversations are also listed in the main Recent section. Groups can be created by picking contacts and choosing a group photo, and once created in Messenger they will sync with Facebook’s Messages view on the web and other clients. A minor addition to the chat experience is the Forward button, which can be accessed by tapping & holding an individual message in a conversation.
Facebook Messenger, first launched in 2011, is the company’s standalone chat app focused on conversations and photo/location sharing. Version 4.0 is available (still only for iPhone and iPod touch) on the App Store.
Tweaks, available on GitHub, provides an interface for developers to make minor adjustments and tweak parameters of an app directly inside the app, in a few seconds. Those changes can be the color of a button or the speed of an animation, and Facebook says that Tweaks helped them build Paper, the highly praised alternative Facebook app.
For developers, it means being able to fine-tune applications faster and with less code. As an added bonus, it lets any of their designers who might not love to code help figure out the best settings without having to pop into the source or pester the dev team for a million new builds.
And Facebook, on the project's page:
Occasionally, it's perfect the first try. Sometimes, the idea doesn't work at all. But often, it just needs a few minor adjustments. That last case is where Tweaks fits in. Tweaks makes those small adjustments easy: with no code changes and no computer, you can try out different options and decide which works best.
Some of the most useful parameters to adjust are animation timings, velocity thresholds, colors, and physics constants. At Facebook, we also use tweaks to temporarily disable new features during development. That way, the designers and engineers involved can enable it on just their devices, without getting in the way of others testing the app.
Tweaks looks like a handy solution for developers, designers, and, to an extent, even testers of apps. It's available here.
We're the most atypical Silicon Valley company you'll come across,“ says Acton, a clean-cut, red-faced 42-year-old from Michigan, whose appearance contrasts markedly with Koum's 188cm-tall, dark, unshaven look. "We were founded by thirtysomethings; we focused on business sustainability and revenue rather than getting big fast; we've been incognito almost all the time; we're mobile first; and we're global first.” He and Koum, he adds, are “the yin and yang – I'm the naïve optimist, he's more paranoid. I pay attention to bills and taxes, he pays attention to our product. He's CEO. I just make sure stuff gets done.
One of the reasons WhatsApp worked was its simplicity. There was no "bloat”, as the WhatsApp co-founders told Wired. That's not a concept that's usually associated with Facebook.
Facebook’s new Paper app is the best excuse yet to ditch the social network’s older offering. But while the re-imagined mobile experience adds beautiful fullscreen images and new, intuitive swipes to the mix, it also comes with a few limitations. So before you banish that blue and white standby to the netherworld of discarded apps, you probably want to make a few quick changes.
Paper by Facebook has been out for a day now and the reviews are, for the most part, quite divided. I haven’t been an avid Facebook user for some time, but the design and attention to detail on Paper is unmatched, and is worth sharing with other designers.
Today, Facebook has announced Paper, a dedicated iPhone app to “explore and share stories” through Facebook. The app is coming out on February 3, and it takes a photo-centric approach at, essentially, displaying updates from your News Feed alongside “stories” (i.e. links and photos) recommended by a new curation team inside Facebook. The app uses full-screen, edge-to-edge layouts, relies on gestures for navigation, and it’s highly reminiscent of Flipboard for iPhone, both in terms of basic principles (status updates intermixed with news content) and the gesture to open and close “stories” (watch the promo video, and you’ll see).
I’ll save thoughts on the motivation and execution for the future, but, today, I’m skeptical. Facebook has a history of standalone apps that provided better, more elegant functionality than the main iPhone client (like Facebook Camera) which haven’t received enough attention. Aside from the name (this isn’t going to be awkward at all) and Flipboard-esque layout, I feel a disconnect. This app looks too beautiful for the kind of content that is shared on Facebook. Looking through my News Feed on a daily basis, what I see isn’t the hip mix of beautiful landscapes and inspiring moments that Facebook is advertising, but a chaotic mess of drunk selfies, memes, clubbing photos, and low-quality pictures of dinners or other family events. There is the occasional gorgeous photos, but does that justify a standalone, magazine-like approach to News Feed content?
What I’ve seen so far reminds me a lot of the beautiful News Feed that Facebook announced and never really shipped to users. A great idea in theory…which most people’s News Feeds don’t deserve. Of course, this time it may be different: Paper’s team includes Mike Matas (you can see some Push Pop Press influences in the video) and, according to The Verge, Loren Brichter contributed to the development. Facebook’s mobile numbers are growing, and perhaps the company needs to give its teams the ability to try new things that will eventually trickle down to the main experience (case in point: features of Facebook Camera later ported to the Facebook app).
I’m curious because a) I want to study the design/interaction approach taken by Matas and team and b) it appears you’ll be able to ignore status updates and browse only headlines by sources you follow or recommended by Facebook. Curation matters, and it’ll be interesting to see if and how Facebook will mix top publications with smaller independent authors. The focus on tackling “storytelling” bymanycompanies lately is also a trend to keep an eye on, although I wonder if Paper can really become “Facebook 2.0” or “a reimagination of Facebook”.
Out today on the App Store, you can now edit comments and posts from the new version of Facebook for iOS (for posts that contain photos or locations from Instagram, you can only edit the text part of the status update). When leaving comments, you can also attach photos from your device (a feature that was added to the website a while back); at last, Facebook is providing easier access to privacy settings from mobile devices (tap the More tab on iPhone, then tap the lock icon next to your name).
Yesterday saw the release of thousands of apps optimized, enhanced, or, in some cases, completely redesigned for iOS 7. At MacStories, we highlighted several apps that were ready for the OS’ rollout such as Pocket, OmniFocus 2, or Instacast 4, and then we fired up iTunes – or simply waited for automatic updates to do their magic on iOS 7 – and checked out all the other apps that were also released yesterday. In this post, I thought I could offer a quick overview of iOS 7 updates from four big-name companies: Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google. (more…)