Facebook is bringing more 3D Touch features to its iOS app

apple, facebook, apps, iphone 6s, iphone 6s plus, 3d touch, pop and peek

One of the most popular features of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is their 3D Touch functions. With a light press, users can preview all kinds of content and even act on it without having to actually open it up. Facebook introduced 3D Touch support to its iOS app last October, but it was only used to access some quick actions from the homescreen. Now, however, the social network is bringing Peek and Pop controls into the app itself.

Facebook said that 3D Touch will work with “web links, profiles, pages, groups, events, photos, profile pictures and cover photos.” The idea is that previewing content in this way should let users know whether or not something is worth opening.

Facebook is also adding another quick action shortcut to the homescreen icon. Right now, the quick actions are mostly used to perform tasks such as writing a post and uploading or taking photos/videos, but the company is introducing a new action that will take users directly to their timeline.

Facebook says it’ll be rolling out these new features today, but only to a “small group of people.” All other iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users won’t get the updated 3D Touch support for a few more months.

It’s heavily rumored that Samsung’s next flagship Galaxy smartphone – the S7 – will have a pressure sensitive screen to give it the same functionality as the latest iPhones.

At the start of last month, it was reported that Instagram briefly tested a feature on the Android platform that imitated 3D Touch. By holding down on a thumbnail, it was possible to preview a photo without having to open the image up to the entire screen.

Samsung updates their Android browser to introduce ad blocking

galaxy, android, samsung, browser, ad blocking

Whenever Apple introduces a new feature on its smartphone, it’s only a matter of time before that feature finds its way to Samsung’s mobile products. Case in point: an over the air update has introduced ad blocking to Samsung’s Android web browser, after Apple debuted a similar feature on iOS last year.

Samsung’s ad blocking system for their browser works in a similar way to Apple’s in that it allows developers to create ad blocking extensions, rather than offering ad blocking as a native feature within the browser. It also only works with Samsung Internet, the company’s in-house and default browser for their Android devices, not Chrome or third-party alternatives.

Unsurprisingly, the first ad blocking extensions for Samsung Internet have appeared alongside the update that allows ad blocking. AdBlock Fast, available through the Google Play Store, is a popular extension already found on iOS and on desktop versions of Chrome and Opera. It’s free to install and open source, and its developer claims it can speed up the web browsing experience by 51 percent on average.

Crystal, another ad blocking extension already available on iOS, is also now available for Samsung Internet, again as a free download.

To use ad blocking on your Samsung device, at the moment you’ll need to be running Android 6.0 with Samsung Internet 4.0 installed. In the future, Samsung will release an update that will bring the same functionality to devices running Android 4.2 and higher.

Instagram apps now finally support multiple accounts

android, ios, facebook, app, instagram

Instagram has updated their mobile apps for both Android and iOS, bringing a long-awaited feature to the platform: support for multiple accounts. In testing for several months, the new feature allows users to add up to five accounts to the one app.

Users can add new accounts to the app through the settings menu, after which you can switch accounts quickly and easily by tapping on the username at the top of your profile. There are several new visual cues spread throughout the app that make it easy to distinguish which account you are using, so you don’t accidentally post to the wrong account.

Having multiple account support in the Instagram app isn’t something that regular users will find useful, but it will be incredibly handy for brands and companies that manage a large number of social media accounts. It will also make it easy for you to have a dedicated Instagram account for your pets, if you’re in to that sort of thing.

The new feature is rolling out through an update to the Instagram app right now. If you haven’t received the update already, version 7.15, it should be pushed to all Android and iOS devices throughout the coming week.

New gestures and voice commands, plus speaker support coming soon to Android Wear

update, smartwatch, android wear, wearable

Android Wear users should be on the lookout for new ways to use Google’s wearable device platform. According to the Android Blog, there’s a firmware upgrade happening soon (“in the next few weeks”) that includes some new input and output features. Once the upgrade rolls out, Android Wear watches will take advantage of the functionality of their built-in speakers, as well as support new gestures and voice commands.

As far as gesture controls go, the big news is that gestures are expanding from the simple wrist flick. With the upgrade, after flicking to scroll through different cards, users can take action on them through pivoting their arm downward in a motion called a “push.” Reverse the motion to trigger a back command. And to get back to the home screen, just shake your wrist back-and-forth.

Use your voice to dictate messages to some of the apps on your smartwatch, including Hangouts, WhatsApp, and Telegram. And since speaker support is enabled in the upgrade, your Android Wear watch can be used as a Bluetooth speakerphone for tethered handsets. Watches with speakers compatible with this function include the Huawei Watch and 49mm Asus ZenWatch 2.

Excited? Look for the OS version 1.4.0. Don’t have a smartwatch? Just carry on with your day (I don’t have one either.)

New form of Android Malware that is spread via text messages appears in Europe

europe, malware, virus, denmark, mazar, heimdal, heimdal security

A new form of Android malware has appeared in Europe that is being spread via SMS messages. Danish company Heimdal Security, which uncovered Mazar BOT, told theBBC that it has already spread to 100,000 devices in Denmark, although it’s not clear how far it’s reached beyond the county’s borders.

The SMS messages in question contain a link, claiming to be a multimedia message, that when clicked will prompt users to download a malicious Android application package (APK) called ‘MMS Message.’

The text messages generally look like this: ‘You have received a multimedia message from +[country code] [sender number] Follow the link http:www.mmsforyou [.] Net /mms.apk to view the message.’

Once installed, Mazar gains administrator rights that allow attackers to do whatever they want with the phone, including reading text messages or sending them to premium channel numbers, monitor calls, root the phone, and even erase all the data stored on the device. It also uses TOR for communication.

“Attackers can open a backdoor into Android smartphones, to monitor and control them as they please, read SMS messages, which means they can also read authentication codes sent as part of two-factor authentication mechanisms, used also by online banking apps and ecommerce websites, and use their full access to Android phones to basically manipulate the device to do whatever they want,” warned Heimdal

The company has only tested devices running Android Kit Kat, but it says older versions will likely be at risk as well. Phones with the latest versions of the OS haven’t been tested.

One of the interesting things about Mazar is that it won’t install itself on an Android smartphone that has Russian selected as the operating system’s language. The malware has been advertised on the Dark Web for a while, but this is the first time it’s been used in active attacks.

Despite Mazar requiring people to click on the SMS link and allow software from outside the Play Store to be installed on their device, it is still spreading. As a warning to less tech-savvy users, Heimdal said: “First of all, NEVER click on links in SMS or MMS messages on your phone. Android phones are notoriously vulnerable and current security product dedicated to this OS are not nearly as effective as they are on computers.”

Twitter adds video support for direct messages and rolls out native GIF search

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It seems that it’s a case of another day, another new feature for Twitter. This time, however, the microblogging site has revealed two new additions to the platform. The first is native support for GIFs, the second is the ability to record and share videos within direct messages.

Twitter very briefly tested its GIF button earlier this month, when users spotted the icon between the camera and poll buttons inside the Android app. The company has now confirmed that it is rolling the feature out over the “coming weeks,” and it will appear on the iOS, Android and web versions of Twitter. The feature is powered by GIF search engines Riffsy and Giphy.

As with other apps that have native support for GIFs, such as Facebook Messenger, users can browse through the library of files using keywords or by category. The GIFS can be embedded into both Tweets and direct messages.

As a way of giving its DM service similar functions to the public feed, Twitter has introduced the ability to record and send videos within direct messages.

The company has doubtlessly seen how popular Messenger is for Facebook, and wants to try to emulate some of that success with its own messaging service. Twitterincreased its direct message limit from 140 characters to 10,000 last year.

Unlike some of the other features Twitter has introduced recently, these new additions will likely be appreciate by its users. The company has had a torrid time over the last 12 or so months, as it struggles to attract new users and compete with the social media giant that is Facebook.

Android for desktop fork “Remix OS” gets 32-bit support, OTA updates and more

A company called Jide has been working on a desktop-optimized fork of Android for a little over a year now. After Kickstarting a tablet running its custom software in March 2015 and later following with a small set-top box, the company now plans to release itsRemix OS for free for anyone to install and use on an x86 computer.

Remix OS brings PC productivity features such as multiple floating windows, advanced file manager, and true mouse and keyboard support. It has a start menu where users can access installed programs, and a notification tray that swipes in from the side.

The Alpha release of Remix OS was actually released last month, but with the new public Beta coming on March 1, the company is bringing a substantial amount of improvements and bug fixes. Chief among them is adding support for 32-bit machines, which means you’ll be able to repurpose that old laptop or PC to run a productivity-oriented version of Android.

Other new features include a new hard drive installer that allows for dual-booting of Remix OS with your other main operating system, and OTA updates, allowing Jide to release updates that you can download over the internet and install without losing data.

The a wealth of apps available for Android open up the potential of Remix OS in a meaningful way that Chrome OS extensions and apps can’t match at this point. But there’s still one key feature that’s missing from Remix OS for PC: the Google Play Store. The company says it’s currently in talks with Google for certification to have official access to the Google Play Store and Services — in the meantime you can still sideload them onto your Remix OS device.

Another thing worth keeping in mind is that the user experience varies greatly from app to app depending if they’ve been designed to run only on phones or phones and tablets. If it’s the former apps may not play as well unless you keep the window down to a phone-like shape and size.

Last week we reported on another company that’s working on a solution to repurpose old PCs, only using Chrome OS instead of Android.