editors-choice

Top Apps for Staying Close When Apart

There’s little pleasure to be forced apart, even temporarily. But today’s technology works wonders, and, to make your departure easier, you can easily connect via the web that took over the world. Here are the best apps we selected for that.

Six Apps to Bring You Together from Afar

We have found six popular apps that will help you see, hear, read and even feel each other at any distance. Some of them are extremely popular; others are kind of exotic. But all of them can help you stay close when apart.

Skype

Skype screen

It’s the classical app for voice and video calls, now owned by Microsoft and included into Microsoft Office (in its business version). What makes Skype a good option for lovers? First of all, it’s voice and video calls, providing a sort of presence with its HD video and HQ voice. Second, it’s is subscription. Even when one of you is overseas, Skype lets you make calls to regular landline or mobile phone numbers when your partner is offline. It only takes an Office 365 subscription. Even the basic option includes 60 mines of Skype Out.

Instagram

Instagram app

We all know, it’s the app for publishing your pics, polishing them with filters, and then exposing them to the whole world, right? It’s also owned by Facebook, so it’s popular and subject to strict censorship. But Insta is much more than this. First of all, there are Stories, the ephemeral chronicles of your days. You can charge them with meanings and messages only someone special can understand. Second, it has a private message system, so you can send each other the pictures not meant for publishing. 

And, in addition, it’s so sweet to tell the world something meant just for one person, so others will only understand how close you are to each other to read otherwise unreadable. Anyway, Instagram is for showing off your happiness, so show off your love… as much as it doesn’t touch the very heart you save for the two of you.

WhatsApp

Whatsup app

And another app by Facebook hurries to the rescue when you’re half a world away. It brings you free unlimited texting, voice and video calls, and it’s not too sensible for connection quality. So even one of you is somewhere in the wild, where the Internet is a luxury, you won’t need much of it to send a message, a picture, a short video, or your location. It’s strange to recommend this app as it’s already one of the most popular in the world; it’s rather a reminder to keep in touch.

Spokeo

Spokeo screen

This app should have been named first, as it’s a great investigation tool. You only need to enter the phone number into the special field, and the service reports you everything about public activities of the phone’s owner.

No doubt this service only uses open source data and works legally, otherwise, it wouldn’t be available. It can seem immoral to spy over your partner like this; well, then don’t. But you may need to know. Or at least warn each other that you’ll mutually spy over Spokeo, to feel like you’re doing all these activities side by side. Alas, Spokeo is little help (or none at all), when one of the two temporarily (or constantly) lives outside the US.

SnapChat

Snapchat screen

The greatest thing about Snapchat when it comes to relationship is its privacy. Send each other your photos and don’t be afraid they may leak out. Just don’t forget about self-destruction timer.

We don’t mean only explicit pics, though we understand how much they can matter when physical touch is impossible. These little stupid pics or videos with Snapchat filters and masks can be much more compromising. And this makes Snapchat a sort of test: if you both really enjoy these stupid moments with dog ears and noses, crowns and clowns, and your faces mutually swapped, then you really fit each other.

Telegram

Telegram app

It’s a good messenger, but most of its messaging features copy those of WhatsApp, and the unique ones (like public channels and advanced encryption) seem to have nothing in common with our subject … Oh yes, they suddenly have. Encryption, you say! Yes, that’s what makes chatting in Telegram feel more secure, so you can share your deepest feelings and thoughts. 

What Telegram cannot do is video calls, and the developers say they don’t have the slightest intention to implement them. But you can have Skype or WhatsApp for your regular video calls, and Snapchat to make them really crazy with filters and stickers.

Keep Closer!

Well, there are other ways, in addition to these above. If both of you have Apple Watch, then you can even send touches to each other, with haptic responses, and use an online walkie-talkie. And if you know each other’s offline addresses (and why not?), then use the traditional postal delivery to send each other physical gifts and paper letters. Because nothing digital gets as personal than a handwritten paper letter. Even if you write an email with your own hand and a hi-tech stylus on your touchscreen, it shares the same handwriting and signature but not the warmth.

We left uncovered services like iMessage or Facebook Messenger, partly because they are bound to hardware (no iPhone – no iMessage), partly because they just duplicate the other apps. And if you feel your conversations lack visual emotions, you can connect one of the third-party emoji packs to heart, kiss, pair, dance, moon, and sun each other, or whatever you feel special about. But remember: your love and feelings are primary, and the apps just help it.

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WhatsApp Alternatives: Our Top Picks

So, you decided to find an alternative for WhatsApp. Maybe you’re too worried about Facebook’s privacy policy. Or you just don’t like the way it works. Or you drop it for your own reasons.

Here are the alternative apps you can have on your phone for communicating. All of them are cross-platform and compatible with your PC as well as with iPhone or Android devices. So, select what’s the most attractive to you.

And remember: even the best messenger is no good if your contacts aren’t in. So, you better check several alternatives and see what your contact list looks like in each.

Signal: The Safest

Signal app screen

Signal is an open-source cross-platform messenger, developed by a group of enthusiasts and distributed for non-profit reasons. Its source code is always published on GitHub, so everyone competent enough can check it and report bugs, vulnerabilities or backdoors if any of them is found.

The killer feature of Signal is security. Its encryption system is rated as the most secure of all the messengers available. 

As for features, Signal has exactly what a modern messenger should have. Its primary identifier is your phone number. After confirmation and authentication, you can make voice and video calls and send messages and files to other Signal contacts. Exactly like you do in WhatsApp.

Is it that perfect substitute? In fact, not, unless you persuade all your contacts to switch to Signal, or at least install it as a second messenger. For that you can just send invitations from Signal as regular SMS.

Pro: secure.
Con: not so popular.

Viber: The Richest in Stickers

Viber screen

If you mostly communicate informally and emotionally, you probably like sending and receiving all those graphic smiles, kisses, flowers, thumbs up, and the big stickers showing that regular emoji aren’t expressive enough. Then here comes Viber by Rakuten.

In fact, this messenger has all the features of WhatsApp. It supports unlimited texting, sending pictures and locations, video and voice calls, group chats, and even built-in games. And it’s quite popular: there are few countries listing it as #1, but almost all over the world it’s in the Top 5. 

But the most distinct feature of Viber is its treasury of stickers and emoji. You can select pets, cartoon characters, popular mascots, and characters invented on purpose, to express your emotions. Even paid ones can be available for free if sponsored, or as a reward for active communication.

Pro: the most emotional messenger.
Con: but once you get locked into a serious sticker collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

Telegram: The Most Social… and The Most Controversial

Telegram screen

In fact, Telegram is more than a messenger: it’s a text-centric messaging and blogging app, two-in-one. The messaging part of Telegram is familiar, with one useful exception: you can send messages to yourself as well. A useful feature when you need to transfer a picture or some text between your devices. On the other hand, Telegram has no video calls and no plans for that.

As for the blogging part, you can create a public channel with your account and post anything you want. So far your posts can only be read, but the team is working on implementing comments. The rumor has it that Telegram is to introduce its own cryptocurrency soon.

Security features include end-to-end encryption and possibility to hide your phone number; but still those who have it will see it connected to your account.

Pro: secure and social.
Con: no video calls.

GroupMe: For More Than Two

GroupMe screen

Of course, this app by Microsoft can be used for private communication, but rather it’s a tool for creating group chats (just like it says on the tin). It also supports sending pictures, locations, links and all the types of data regularly shared in groups.

You can use your Microsoft or Facebook accounts to log in or create an independent account with your email. Still, it needs to access your phone book and fetch the contacts from there. 

Pro: great for group chats at work and at your party.
Con: it can’t replace your WhatsApp experience.

LINE: Orientally Oriented

LINE screen

If you want something resembling WhatsApp up to the color of the logo, here comes LINE. It’s a messenger with functionality very similar to all the messengers like WhatsApp. It also needs your phone number as an ID and your phone book as the base to fetch your LINE contacts.

Though LINE is mostly popular in East Asia (Japan, South Korea), but also it has its fans in America and Middle East. If you communicate with friends or colleagues from these Asian countries, you’ll access them easier, and they’ll appreciate.

Pro: all the features of a modern messenger, useful for contacts with Asia.
Con: not as popular in the rest of the world.

The Ones Behind

There are other messaging apps (or rather services) also worth attention, at least in one sentence. Some of them are only popular locally; say, WeChat is mostly used in China, IMO in Central Asia, and KakaoTalk in South Korea. Google Hangouts, formally sharing the same functionality, didn’t get as popular; as for iMessage, it only works with Apple devices.
We skipped Facebook Messenger too, because, being too an obvious alternative, it shares one thing with WhatsApp: it’s controlled by Facebook. As far as we know, concerns about Facebook’s privacy policy is one of the main reasons why people give up WhatsApp.

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Cool WhatsApp hacks everybody needs to know

One billion users send and receive messages with WhatsApp every day! All of them carry over 55 billion messages daily. Apparently, WhatsApp is one of the most widely used messaging apps in the world. It is mostly preferred in Malaysia, Germany, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico. Worth noting that in some countries it is even #1 source of news for its users.

Sending texts, making voice and video calls, delivering images and videos are only an apparent WhatsApp potential. Using it daily, you may have noticed some of its hidden hacks. With their help, you can make your smartphone even smarter. Follow the next tips and tricks and turn your phone into a more productive piece of tech. We decided to divide them into three groups for your convenience.

1. Useful hacks.

  • Use Whatsapp with no hands

This trick is needed when you’re busy, and manual text entry is impossible. Or sometimes you’re just too bored to type. All you need to do is just say “Hey Siri” or “Ok Google”. Then you can dictate the message you want to send, and your virtual assistant will take care of it. Apple users have one more cool benefit — Siri can read their latest unread messages as well.

  • Listen to voice messages unnoticeably

There are so many situations when you get a voice message, and you just can’t listen to it. You can be either in an office or a public place without headphones, and high level of impatient curiosity is provided. Well, no suffering anymore! The next time you’re caught in such kind of situation, you take the phone to your ear. Then the built-in-speaker is activated and it would let you hear the note like you’re on a call. Wow!

  • Disable saving photos from WhatsApp to the gallery

WhatsApp usually saves images from your messaging to the phone gallery. But necessity is somewhat controversial. Later, when you face loads of useless photos in the gallery, you’ll wish to clear the space. And you become obsessed with disabling this ‘useful’ feature. In Settings> Security select Photos and disable saving photos. No more unwanted files in your gallery!

  • Find out all your chat statistics

If you are interested in the statistics of your communication, use the program WhatStat. It will show you the most popular interlocutors, your habits, the number of messages, the most "productive" time of the day and so on. Statistics from WhatsApp are displayed in the form of graphs here; the interface is intuitive and straightforward.

  • Swipe right to quote messages

Everybody has friends who send you 20 notes in a minute. And half of these messages are questions. How to avoid more confusion in such chats? Swipe right on the message you want to reply to and WhatsApp will let you quote it, giving you the reference point you need. It helps you respond to an individual text. It’s an option to select the messages you’d like to reply and ignore the other unnecessary stuff.

  • Mark prioritised messages with stars

Sometimes it is difficult to find an old message with valuable information in it. To avoid such situation, better mark meaningful messages with a star and then quickly find them whenever you need it. Go to Settings and select Starred Messages to refresh your memory.

2. Privacy hacks.

  • Hide your status and stay incognito

The status "was online" shows when you opened WhatsApp the last time. If you want to stay secret or even hide from someone, then this feature can be turned off. Possibly, you want to hide from your 80-years old aunt who wants to invite you to spend a weekend together, or maybe you are just tired of seeing the recent photos of friend’s dog. This option exactly what you always needed. For iPhone users, everything is a piece of cake. Open Settings> Chat settings> Advanced and disable "Last time online".

On Android, everything is a bit complicated; you can not turn off the service from the program itself. To do this, you will have to use programs like "Hide WhatsApp Status". This program will turn off Wi-Fi and mobile Internet when you open WhatsApp. When you minimize the program, the data transfer resumes and all WhatsApp data is synchronized, and outgoing messages are sent to the server.

  • Protect your profile picture

Anyone who gets your phone number can see your WhatsApp profile picture Not a pleasant thing indeed. To protect your security and save your appearance in secret, you can change some settings. You need to do:

  1. Settings > Account > Privacy

  2. Change your setting from Everybody to My Contacts

If you don’t want somebody you know to see your display picture, simply use this hack.

  • Deleting messages on WhatsApp

“Hey, dude! What are your plans for this weekend?” - Accidentally you sent that to your boss. To avoid misunderstanding and not to spend your rest days with the boss, just make sure your chief won’t get the message. To make everything right, hold down the message, and select Delete For Everyone. Warning: you can only use this feature within seven minutes of sending a message. This action, of course, is not full proof. There are few third-party apps such as social notification history, that can reincarnate deleted messages and make them visible for your addressee.

  • Hiding a chat on WhatsApp

Some conversations are not welcome in your recent messages, the reasons for it may vary. Maybe you don’t want your girlfriend to find out, that you are chatting with your ex or your friends’ chat group draw your attention away from preparing for exams. There’s a way just not to see a particular chat for a while. And you do not have to delete it forever. To hide a conversation, swipe right on it and press the ‘Archive’ option that shows up. You can later locate this chat quickly by just going back to your Archived messages. To move the contact back to your recent chats requires unarchiving or merely sending the person a message.

3. Creative hacks.

  • Make different fonts on WhatsApp

It is a neat trick, that helps you to convey the tone of your message. Here’s how to start using different fonts:

  1. Bold: Enter your text between two asterisks (*).

  2. Italics: Enter your text between two underscores (_).

  3. Typewriter: Enter your text between ` ` ` on either side. To find this symbol, press down on the single inverted comma and pick the last symbol on the left.

  4. Strikethrough: Enter text between two tildes (~).

Make your friends surprised and feel yourself more creative just writing your WhatsApp messages.

  • Use WhatsApp to convert videos into GIFs

No need to use any other tools to convert your videos to GIFs as long as you have WhatsApp. Just follow the instruction below:

  1. Go to any chat to send a video.

  2. When the needed on is selected from your library, it will be opened the video-editing window.

  3. Now you can crop the video length to five seconds and switch then the icon on the right from video to GIF.

  • Add effects to your images

In WhatsApp, you can change pictures by adding text, emojis or scribbling on them before you send them to somebody. To do it follow the next steps:

  1. Open a chat, send a picture, select the needed from your gallery, and the editing window will open up.

  2. Use effects and image editing tools from the list.

This hack is also helpful when you want to pinpoint something in the screenshot by circling or underlining it.

  • Creating your notes on the app

Keep writing notes to yourself, or jot down ideas for later even in WhatsApp. First, make a group with somebody. Then remove the person from the group, this is how you will become its sole member. You can post notes, pictures of something you’d like to remember or any recording on the group. Thus, everything you need to get back to is in a protected place, and you don’t have to keep switching between different apps.

WhatsApp has a sufficient quantity of hacks that are worth learning. And it is also updating all the time. Don’t miss new cool hacks and tricks and use it with pleasure.  

 

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Sharing Video Outside Snapchat: Now Possible!

Snapchat is an image messaging and multimedia mobile app with an audience that is limited to young people owing to its sophisticated interface. This is one of the major reasons behind others preferring Instagram over Snapchat.

However, there will soon be an update which is sure to make Snapchat all the more enticing. The app on 6th February 2018 announced that it is going to allow the sharing of its public content across other social media platforms. It means one will be able to share the content outside the app. Once this update rolls out, the users will be able to share the links of their own videos or other videos from the app on different social media platforms. Once clicked, these link will open the video on a player that will be hosted on the website of Snapchat.

Hopefully, the new feature will elevate the experience of using the Snapchat app by several notches and help it bag more users. Currently, both Facebook and Instagram allow the sharing of content outside their apps. The same can be verified by the fact that one gets to see more Instagram photos online as compared to the Snapchat screenshots. 

Once the Snapchat app will make this feature available for others, it will join the league of other apps and services which are in the business of what is popularly called ‘Viral Videos.’
Though the feature may attract plenty more users towards the app, it could compromise on its uniqueness which is ‘self-erasability.’ Addressing to the same issue, the company mentioned that the outside link will be treated in the same way as public videos inside the app. These outside videos will be erased automatically after few weeks (in case if the users don’t delete them on their own). Official Stories from either public figures or celebrities will remain visible for the span of 24 hours.

Though initially, Snapchat has not included any advertising in videos shared on different social platforms, it has also not ruled out this possibility. As of the now, the feature is available for users who have redesigned the Snapchat app. It will soon be available for others.

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WhatsApp Drops Support for BlackBerry & Windows Phone

WhatsApp is a popular instant messaging app and living without it is easier said than done. However, if you have a phone that is powered by BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, and Windows 8.0, it’s time to either imagine a life without WhatsApp or consider upgrading your phone. This is so because WhatsApp is now no longer supporting these operating systems owing to the fact that quite a small number of people are using them. 

Other than the aforementioned operating systems and smartphones, the instant messaging app has also indicated other operating systems that will lose the support next. In this category, there is Nokia S40 which won’t see any WhatsApp from December 31, 2018. Next in the line are phones or smart devices that are still on Android 2.3.7. These mobile devices have until February 1, 2020. People who have devices powered by these operating systems can neither create new WhatsApp accounts nor re-verify their existing ones. The app’s continuation to work on these older operating systems is just a buffer for their users to upgrade. 

WhatsApp is Just an Upgrade Away

It is quite interesting to note that approximately 99.6% of new smartphones are powered by Android and iOS. Also, 9 out of every 10 smartphones have Android as their operating systems. As per the insights and facts, one can see that phones and devices that are supported by Windows and BlackBerry hardly stand a chance to breathe in the market let alone getting support from some of the widely used apps.

And this is not the first time that WhatsApp has announced such a step. It has previously stopped the support for Android 2.3.3, iOS 6, Windows 7 Phone, and phones that are powered by Nokia Symbian S60.

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