If you don’t think Hangouts calls on your phone are passing muster, don’t worry — relief might be in sight. The latest version of Hangouts for Android is telling users that it’ll boost audio and video quality on future calls by making peer-to-peer connections “when possible.” In other words, it’ll bypass Google’s servers if both ends of the conversation can establish a direct link. The exact criteria for this isn’t listed, but it’s safe to say that this will at least work between two people using the latest Android software. You likely won’t notice much of a difference unless many of your friends upgrade, but don’t be surprised if your face-to-face and VoIP chats get that much clearer.
If you lived in the ’90s and tried to run multiplayer Quake across a 56K modem, you may have fond memories (or not) of MPlayer. The ’90s PC gaming service is coming back after being defunct for 15 years, thanks to a company called MPlayer Entertainment. To refresh your memory, MPlayer was a free, ad-supported online community that hosted up to 20 million visitors a month. It ran between 1996 and 2001, and offered over 100 free games, including Quake, Mech Commander and Rogue Spear. It also popularized the idea of VoIP chat between gamers. The ad-supported service was never profitable, however, and was eventually sold to GameSpy, which took it offline in 2001.
MPlayer entertainment said it “rewrote the entire system to revive this once-beloved service… (to bring) custom game launching capabilities for private and public matches, tournaments and more.” It’ll also offer chat lobbies “tailored for gamers, filmmakers and music producers.” Other than that, it’s being cagey about which services it’s offering, though. And while MPlayer spurred the growth of multiplayer gaming and VoIP, we’re not exactly sure what they can bring to a world that now abounds in those things. ’90s nostalgia, maybe? Either way, we’ll find out at its November 14th launch.
Source: MPlayer Entertainment
Price is high on the list of considerations when it comes to choosing a new mobile provider, but not so much with FreedomPop. The UK’s newest MVNO has launched today, and as promised, offers a completely free SIM-only tariff with 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200MB of 4G data per month (courtesy of Three’s network) — well, it’s free after you pay the £7 for SIM delivery and activation, anyway. That might sound a little too good to be true, but FreedomPop has tried and tested its freemium model in the US, with the UK being its first target for international expansion. The company is still in the business of making money, of course, which is where its paid mobile plans and value-added services come in.
Should the free “Basic 200” plan be a little light on allowances, there’s always the £9 per month tariff with 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and 1GB of data, or the £12 per month option with 2GB of data and unlimited minutes and texts. (By the way, the first month of the £9 plan is free for the first 10,000 sign-ups, but you’ll be charged on a rolling basis if you don’t cancel before the introductory period is over.) In addition to the premium tariffs, the provider offers bolt-on services that may tease a few more quid out of free and paid users alike, such as rollover data up to a 20GB limit (for £1.49 per month), international calling, visual voice mail, and usage alerts that tell you when your allowances are thinning out.
But why would you need usage alerts exactly? Well, because FreedomPop also makes money through overage charges: 1.5 pence per MB on the free tariff and 1 pence per MB on either paid plan. You’ll notice there’s no pricing for additional minutes and texts, but they aren’t needed, since FreedomPop is effectively a data-only service. All calls and texts are handled by FreedomPop’s Android and iOS apps, which may sound a tad unappealing. But, there are certain benefits to this, such as being able to add virtual numbers from other countries (£1.99 per month per number) so friends and family from out of town can call you at their local rate. Interestingly, there are also ways to earn more megabytes, no cash required. Users can complete surveys, download coupons, register for free trials and such to boost their monthly data allowances, and if they’re feeling particularly flush, can even gift some of that data to another FreedomPop subscriber.
Needless to say, FreedomPop is far from a traditional mobile provider, and there’s no arguing with the free “Basic 200” plan, as long as you keep within the allowances. And those 200 free megabytes could be the solution to an Instagram emergency come the end of the month, when you’ve munched through all the data afforded by your primary contract. For now, the free SIM-only plan is FreedomPop’s pièce de résistance, but the provider hopes to begin selling subsidized handsets before the end of the year, and bring more “compelling plans and services” to the UK in due course.
[Image credit: Shutterstock]
It might be safe to stay signed in to Skype these days, but that doesn’t mean you want to. Do you really want a video call from your parents when you’re out on the town? If not, you’ll be glad to hear that Skype is making it much easier to sign in and out. The Android app’s 5.5 update now remembers your login details after you log out, so hopping online again is just a matter of tapping a button. If you’re worried that someone will snoop on your conversations, you can still ask Skype to require your password whenever you back to business. Grab the new app today if you often find yourself eager for some quiet time.
As of today, you no longer need a relatively pricey PC to chat on Skype when you’d rather not break out your phone — a cheap-and-cheerful Chromebook will do the trick. In addition to expanding the Skype web beta worldwide, Microsoft has introduced instant messaging for both Chrome OS and Linux users. It’s not the video or voice calling you’re looking for, but it means that you can stay in touch with Skype-obsessed family members without having to switch devices or services. The messaging platform is based on the open, video-capable WebRTC standard, so don’t be surprised if you’re eventually holding face-to-face Skype conversations on that Chrome machine.
Via: The Next Web
If you need any further proof that Microsoft is backing away from touch-centric interfaces in Windows 10, you just got it. The Skype team has revealed that it’s planning to ditch the “modern” Windows (read: Windows 8-only) version of its messaging app on PCs as of July 7th. After that, the next update to the app will kick you over to the desktop release. Skype says that it’s “simplifying” its experience around a single program that you can use with both a touchscreen and a mouse and keyboard. That’s certainly true, although it’s also an acknowledgment that people prefer the desktop app more — it’s easier to navigate without scrolling, and there are more features (such as screen sharing) that might convince you to stay. This shift won’t affect Windows RT or the Skype features woven into Windows 10, but there’s no doubt that the conventional desktop software is the big star going forward.
In order for Chrome OS to succeed, Google needs all the support it can get from developers. Hardware companies are certainly doing their part, namely by offering Chromebooks to people at affordable prices. That’s why it’s important when a popular service such as Viber launches on the platform, like today. Now users can start using the app to communicate with friends or family directly from their Chromebook, just as they would on iOS, Android or Windows Phone. Not only can you send text and picture messages, but also make phone and video calls to your contacts. It’s free too, which comes in handy if you’re trying talk to people across different countries.
Source: Chrome Web Store
Like anything in an open market, competition allows for changes to be made rapidly in a market space. Recently many chat applications have been adding VOIP calling as a standard feature. Apps like Google Hangouts, WeChat, and Viber allow, mostly, free calls to users over the internet. Recently the team at WhatsApp has entered the fray. According to Reddit user Pradnesh07, this feature was enabled on his device by someone else calling him. Click here to check out a video of screenshots he took of VOIP enabled in WhatsApp. In short, a user with the VOIP feature enabled called Pradnesh07 lighting it up for him. Reportedly, this feature will work on any Android device with WhatsApp build number 2.11.508. Right now, due to its lack of presence in Google Play, side-loading the app is the only option for installation.
The video released by Pradnesh07 shows clearly that the app is segmented into three parts: calls, chats, and contacts. All the standard internet phone features are there like speakerphone, instant messaging, and mute. You can even send IMs while in a call. Since this is a huge feature not officially released by the team at WhatsApp, it seem like it has rolled out to a small group of test users.
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Many users have been anticipating WhatsApp to finally bring voice calling to its application sometime in 2015, and it looks like the feature is beginning to roll out to some users. The calling, like WhatsApp messaging, uses an internet connection to place a phone call instead of relying exclusively on a carrier’s network to handle the call.
The updated calling interface isn’t available to everyone, but according to some Reddit users, if you already have the update you can get another person in on the voice calling action by placing a call to them, forcing the interface update. WhatsApp hasn’t made anything official just yet, so this is all pure speculation and trial and error.
Regardless, if you’ve been wanting voice calling through the app, you shouldn’t have to wait too much longer. If some users are seeing it, we can probably expect a massive launch for everyone in the near future.
Come comment on this article: Voice calling finally starting to appear for some WhatsApp users
When Verizon launched its “Advanced Calling 1.0″ feature earlier this month (read: voice over LTE), it only worked with two phones: The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G2. Now the company can add the iPhone to that list, well, at least the iPhone 6. Verizon customers who upgraded to Cupertino’s latest handset are reporting that VoLTE is working on both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. A user on the MacRumors forum said he had to activate the feature in his phone’s cellular menu first, but afterwards was able to make calls freely. It’s also notable that he called a landline — previously, the feature was only said to work between compatible Verizon phones. Is it working for you? Fire up your new handset (if you’re into that brand), and let us know in the comments.