Android Police has revealed a lot of works underground to bring Rich Communication Services (RCS) to Google Messenger, while the released version 2.0 sports a number of changes to cleanup the interface and prepare for better messaging experience.

The Messenger currently supports GIFs, stickers, photos, videos, and all the regular Emoji supported by Android smartphone.

The released version 2.0 has got a revamped icon, with a white message bubble inside of a dark blue circle, with several other improvements to the overall interface.

With the conversations grouped more closely together, it improves on the previous release version to allow it fell more like no space is wasted. And the group MMS feature allows you to message frequent contacts in a group, placed at the top.

And the action button and “send” arrow that's floating is a better match for the background color.

Albeit, RCS remains a messaging feature for the future, which ultimately Google is already trying to bring to the fore, as there’s a big chance that Google could work directly with the carriers to integrate RCS into the Messenger.

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PayPal, the online payments company has now integrated tools for cross-border money transfers, with the ultimate goal of becoming a larger part of users' payment processes across the board.

The new money-transfer features are made possible through Xoom, a digital money transfer or remittance provider that allows consumers to send money and pay bills within the United States and 52 other countries, including China, which PayPal acquired last year.

The company on Thursday announced the integration of Xoom's functions to its online services, allowing PayPal's over 85 million U.S. users to send money or remittances overseas.

While some new countries that PayPal users can send money to overseas, includes: Mexico, Brazil, China and India.

Albeit, these new features haven't altered PayPal's main services, rather it has beefed it up to becoming a far more vital part of mainstream payments. Even as the money transfer service is seen as an effective means for PayPal to grow its influence and make additional revenue.

Xoom have also added a feature that allow users overseas to request a remittance, bill payment or reload of mobile airtime.

The payment service will employ Xoom and PayPal's risk management, anti-fraud and anti-money laundering systems, to ensure the security of all transactions.

Meanwhile PayPal users can now use their accounts to log in to Xoom, and a beneficiary doesn't need to contact a sender every time money is transferred.

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While Google Photos latest update has been taunted to do much of the work for you as regards fixing images, finding memories, or even making animations you’ll want to share with friends. The app now notifies you about pictures that need adjustments, and enables you to fix them all at once.

Google Photos can pull moments out of your videos and turn them into an animation, which you are not able to select segments, however, as it's totally powered by AI (artificial intelligence).

The artificial intelligence also makes it easier to find past images through basic sorting, making Google Photos an excellent option for saving all of your pictures.

Google has assured on regular notifications on recent photo highlights which will have special appeal to those involved in creative works, who'll need frequent updates about all of those moments.

And all the new stuff will be coming to the app for iOS and Android, and also the Web version of Google Photos.

Albeit, enabling human-powered editing could be helpful in some cases, as Google hasn't quite ruled out its eventual implementation in subsequent updates.

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How Amazon Music blows out Spotify with the Unlimited challenge

Posted by John Onwuegbu | October 13, 2016 |

Amazon has rolled out Amazon Music, a streaming service with millions of songs, which the company tagged as "Unlimited", but with a rather complicated pricing structure.

While owners of Amazon's gadget, Echo can tune in to Music Unlimited at a far lower price; the rumored $5 subscription for Echo users is obviously incorrect, as Amazon is giving out an even bigger deal.

With Amazon Tap, Echo, and Echo Dot owners, subscription starts from a mere $4 per month, as against the regular service’s $10 standard price.

Albeit, the $4 price tag only works with a single Echo, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap, so if you wish for Amazon Music Unlimited on more than one device, you’ll need to pay a standard subscription instead.

The voice controlled smart speaker, Amazon Echo lets you speak out commands like “Alexa, play Green Day’s new song,” or “Van Halen from the 1970s” to get the party started hands-free.

And the company has overhauled its app (Amazon Music) for iOS, Android, and the web to support Music Unlimited.

The steep price slash and voice controls available for Echo is perhaps Amazon’s bait to use Music Unlimited to entice users even more deeply into it’s bevy of services, and to topple the likes of Spotify.

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Google has hinted to partners under the "Google Mobile Services" on its plan to replace Hangouts as one of the pre-installed options on future Android devices. Apparently, all devices with the Google Play Store installed are classified as “Google Mobile Services” licensees, while devices that have their own app stores are not under the Services agreement.

Albeit, the Android Open Source Project is distinct from this, enabling the Google services means agreeing to a license with Google that your device will include its bundle of apps.

The company is dropping Hangouts from the list of apps that must be bundled on upcoming Android devices, with Duo to replace it within the suite of core GMS apps, while Hangouts become GMS Optional for telephony products, according to Android Police.

What it actually means is that OEMs may opt to stop including it on smartphones released in 2017, so users would need to download it from the Play Store.

The change to the core GMS package (AKA gapps) for telephony-enabled Android devices will take effect from December 1, and Google will no longer require Hangouts to be bundled with new hardware.

Ironically, Google feels video calling is pretty important to give a push at the moment, something that's limited on most third-party apps, thus will be giving Duo a real chance of success.

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Amazon has been on the march to get its virtual assistant "Alexa" into as many homes as possible, while harping on the power of its voice-controlled cloud interface, along side its smart speaker, Echo.

Amazon Echo, a smart speaker developed by, is capable of voice interaction, making to-do lists and setting up reminders, with streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other realtime information.

The device which also comes with a manually and voice-activated remote control can be used in lieu of the wake word, Alexa, albeit this "wake word" can be changed by the user to either "Amazon" or "Echo".

It's voice recognition capability is based on Amazon Web Services and the Amazon common voice platform from Yap, Evi, and IVONA (a Polish-based specialist in voice technologies acquired by Amazon).

Echo performs pretty 'good' in low latency Internet connection which minimizes processing time due to communication round trips, streaming response time and Geo-distributed service endpoints.

While the project has been in development within its Lab126 offices in Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Massachusetts since at least 2010, now it's widely available in the United States.

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What's new in G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work)?

Posted by John Onwuegbu | October 03, 2016 |

Google over the weekend announced a name change for its hugely popular cloud-based productivity tool, Google Apps, which going forward is to be known as G Suite. It comprises a set of intelligent apps: Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, and more — with real-time collaboration for easy sharing and communication among business employees.

While Google claims the new name better reflects its mission to help people everywhere work and innovate together, so businesses can move faster and go bigger.

With G Suite, information can flow freely between devices, apps, people and teams, so great ideas never get left in the margins, according to Google.

Albeit, the company has made it clear to potential enterprise users that G Suite is a unified collection of tools and not just a set of individual offerings.

Google has tapped into its expansive machine learning architecture, which is already working in a variety of other products, including Smart Reply, instant translation, and photo recognition, to enhance the new G Suite’s products.

Starting with Google Drive, the company will be bringing machine intelligence to more services.

With Quick Access in Drive on Android which offers 50% improvement from the average time taken to get to the right file, by eliminating the need to search for it.

Other improvements which have benefited from machine learning include: Google Calendar’s Smart Scheduling feature and Explore feature in Google Sheets.

Google is also introducing a new product called Team Drives, a Google Drive offering that focuses on content management: ownership and sharing at a team level, with new roles that allow for more control over the content.

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App Launcher: Windows Mobile Office 365 UI Start menu clone

Posted by John Onwuegbu | September 29, 2016 |

Microsoft has announced a new version of the Office 365 App Launcher, which will provide improved discoverability for new and recently-used apps, with additional customization options and search across all the services and applications used in the Cloud.

The new App Launcher provides a Windows 10-like interface for corporate users of Office 365, the software-by-subscription program.

It allow users access to various Office 365 applications and services, while the launcher is a square grid of identically-sized icons, and accessible with only a click away at the upper left of the user's Office 365 page.

With the app or service icons, dubbed "tiles" - which can be moved, resized and/or pinned in place.

Albeit, the company-specific apps added by IT will no longer be segregated to a secondary screen, as the tiles can be placed in front and center if required.

Microsoft plans to add access to recently-retrieved documents to the App Launcher, and working to enable greater control for Office 365 administrators.

The organizations that have registered with the Office 365 First Release track will receive the update later this month, while others will be getting the new updated user interface (UI) in October as Microsoft rolls it out in stages.

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Barely six weeks left to the U.S. presidential election, Google is assisting millions of users to the ballot box with its Monday doodle. And depending on your state, you can register to vote online, by mail or in person.

Google's doodle turns letters into voters, mailboxes and computers, and leads you to a page with instructions on how to register based on your state of residence.

With comprehensive guide outlining voting requirements and registration deadlines, Google is reminding Americans to register to vote.

The Doodle was created to celebrate National Voter Registration Day, which falls on the fourth Tuesday of every September.

While the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump are the leading favorites, voters can also vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein and the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson.

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How Google's AI-driven chat app, Allo is a Privacy trade-off

Posted by John Onwuegbu | September 22, 2016 |

Google's new AI-driven chat app, Allo brings the full power of Google Assistant, incorporating Google Now to provide a rather give-and-take offering of automatic generated responses called Smart Replies and other computer-generated suggestions, but ironically, it's all at your privacy trade-off.

Google believes that its AI-driven chat app, Allo can do a better job, thereby leaving it up to users to delete their own messages.

And as you may already know, Google Assistant isn't quite a big believer in privacy, been that the app is tied to your Android phone, it request for the usually expected permissions: the ability to access your contacts, and more.

Which data will be kept by them indefinitely, or at least until you manually delete them, instead of keeping it on their servers for only a brief period of time.

The company initially considered keeping messages in a "transient" mode, but testing Allo revealed that the Smart Reply technology worked better if it had a history of user messages to learn from.

Albeit, Allo provides an Incognito Mode, which offers end-to-end encryption, meaning data remain scrambled and unreadable when they pass through the company servers, but it has to be enabled by a user.

Facebook owned WhatsApp, and Apple's iMessage, have taken a different approach, and doesn't leave it up to users to delete messages or choose to enable encryption, as messages are encrypted end-to-end by default.

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