Chats in Google Messages are about to get even more secure

Google has announced that it's bringing end-to-end encryption to group chats in the Google Messages app. The security upgrade is heading to beta users first before being rolled out more widely.

End-to-end encryption means no one, not even Google, can read the content of messages. It's already supported in the Google Messages app for one-to-one chats, but now (via The Verge) it's going to be added to group conversations as well.

“End-to-end encryption is starting to roll out for group chats and will be available to some users in the open beta program over the coming weeks,” Google says. “This shouldn’t even be a thought – just an expectation and something anyone texting should not have to worry about.”

From SMS to RCS

In the same announcement blog post, Google revealed that the ability to quickly react to a message with any emoji is coming to Google Messages soon as well. At the moment, only a selection of emojis can be used as reactions.

Alongside a mention of these new features, Google also continued to push hard for RCS (Rich Communication Services) to become the new standard for everyone – the technology, an upgrade on SMS, is now widely available but has yet to be adopted by Apple on its iPhones.

Google's post also acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the SMS, a milestone which emphasizes how old the technology is as well as how overdue we now are for a standard that can fully replace it.


Analysis: SMS should really be history

The arrival of SMS three decades ago helped to transform the way that we communicate with each other – even if the messages were limited in terms of characters, and many phones could only store a limited number of texts at any one time.

Now, apps like WhatsApp and Slack have taken us far, far beyond those limitations. Messages can be much longer and include photos, videos or audio, and we can even tell when recipients have opened up the messages we send them.

It's benefits like these that make RCS a worthwhile upgrade, improving the security of messages and making features such as group chats much better. Google didn't create the standard, but it is heavily promoting it.

However, whenever an iPhone user texts an Android user, SMS is still the protocol used. Google wants that to change, but it's unlikely that Apple ever will – Apple knows that iMessage is one of the key reasons that people stick with iPhones.

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Apple forgot about its own Studio Display in latest iOS update

It seems that Apple forgot about the A13 Bionic processor that powers its own Studio Display, as a recent firmware update caused the monitor to malfunction.

On April 8, Apple stopped signing iOS update 15.4 after it pushed down update 15.4.1 on March 30. Normally when an update stops signing, it’s not available anymore and can no longer be installed. But since Studio Display uses 15.4 and cannot install 15.4.1, this meant that over the weekend users were out of luck.

According to MacWorld, anyone with issues using the monitor was met with a message stating: “Apple Studio Display firmware update could not be completed. Try again in an hour. If the problem persists, contact an authorized Apple service provider.”

As of April 10, Apple has fixed the issue and users have reported that the firmware update was installed without a hitch. However, the tech giant will most likely need to overhaul the signing and un-signing of iOS updates since multiple products require various versions to operate.

This isn’t the first time the Apple Studio Display needed a fix. Soon after its launch, the monitor received an update in order to fix the low quality of its webcam, as reported by multiple outlets such as TechCrunch and The Wall Street Journal.


Analysis: the perils of an ecosystem

When you have a whole lot of products that are supposed to work with each other seamlessly, but they aren't running on the same system, problems are bound to pop up.

While Apple is known for a very tight product catalog that keeps the number of models currently being sold to a fairly lean lineup, Apple has been expanding its offerings in recent years.

Whether it's the Apple HomePod, the recent Apple AirPods 3, or any number of its MacBook and Mac products, Apple is having to juggle a lot more discrete systems that are supposed to work without the user even really thinking about it. It's kind of Apple's thing, so while it's kind of funny to think that Apple accidentally nerfed its own high-end workstation monitor by mistake, it's also symptomatic of a growing number of interlocking products where it becomes harder to predict what any single change to the system will have.

While Apple typically runs a tight ship, we wouldn't be surprised if we saw more of this kind of thing in the future. 

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DoorDash is about to make cash-strapped students very happy

Cash-strapped students might start thinking about delivery that still fits within their limited food budget after DoorDash launched a new low-cost subscription plan for its DashPass service.

The aptly named DashPass for Students will run you back $ 5 per month, half of the cost of a normal subscription and it’s a more budget-friendly alternative for students to get food delivery, groceries, and more from partnered retailers. There’s also the Annual Student Plan, which is $ 48 annually.

DashPass Perks

With the subscription service, you won’t have to pay any delivery fees so long as you hit the minimum subtotal, though that only applies to certain orders. The minimum isn’t a very high threshold; it’s $ 12 for restaurant orders and $ 25 for groceries. You will also get 10 percent off orders in the form of reduced service fees.

Students will also get five percent credit back on Pickup orders, but only for certain restaurants. There will also be members-only promotions and exclusive menu items like the blindingly red Flamin’ Hot Nacho Wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. These wings are meant to promote the new subscription tier.

All undergraduate and graduate students at an accredited college or university in the United States are eligible to become members. There’s also a 30-day free trial of DashPass for Students so people can try it out before committing.

Brand new market

It appears that DoorDash is capitalizing on a new market as the announcement cited a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research, which found that 70 percent of college students order food on a delivery app an average of four times a week. DoorDash goes on to note that, according to the survey, 27 percent of students spend more than $ 100 a week on delivery alone.

Other services have done the same thing or, at least, something similar. Grubhub has its own paid subscription service for students called Grubhub+ Student in conjunction with Amazon.

That service launched back in 2021 and students don’t have to pay extra to use the service or pay for delivery. All you have to do is tie an Amazon Prime Student account to your Grubhub+ account to become eligible.

Grubhub+ Student is still available and shares the same $ 12 minimum on orders, but there’s nothing for groceries and no standalone service.

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Microsoft Teams is about to save your PowerPoint presentations

Your next PowerPoint presentation might be a lot more exciting thanks to a new feature that also draws in Microsoft Teams.

The company has announced it is bringing two separate tools together to make your meetings more engaging and interactive using its popular video conferencing platform.

The upgrade now means you'll be able to bring your Microsoft Teams camera feed into a PowerPoint presentation, hopefully meaning an end to death by slides.

Microsoft Teams and PowerPoint

The change has been made possible by integrating Cameo and Recording Studio, two existing tools announced by Microsoft in 2021 that looked to help improve the PowerPoint experience.

Cameo let users bring their live or recorded Teams camera feed into a PowerPoint presentation, giving users the chance to customize where on a slide they'd like to appear. Recording Studio allows users to record a presentation in PowerPoint and deliver on-demand video, so your co-workers or colleagues can watch whenever they like.

Microsoft PowerPoint Teams record

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The two tools will now be combined in PowerPoint, meaning that when a user is done creating a presentation, they can use Cameo to decide how and where they appear on the slides, and then carry out the actual pre-recorded speaking with recording studio just by clicking the new “record” button within PowerPoint, all without having to switch between multiple platforms.

When the presentation is taking place, PowerPoint Live will then deliver the recorded video.

Microsoft says the tool can be useful for speakers who may be unable to attend a “live” meeting in-person, but still want to be a part of it, as Cameo with Recording Studio means, “you’ll still show up in the meeting as if you are “live.””

Recording studio is generally available now for use in PowerPoint, and Cameo is set to be released within the next few months.

The news is only the latest in a series of partnerships between Teams and PowerPoint as Microsoft looks to make its Office suite more useful for workers everywhere.

The company recently revealed PowerPoint Live is getting support for live slide translation, meaning slides can be instantly translated during a Microsoft Teams call. Both presenters and attendees can translate presentation content privately by right-clicking on the presentation, which will bring up a “Translate Slides” option. 

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Microsoft Teams is about to save your PowerPoint presentations

Your next PowerPoint presentation might be a lot more exciting thanks to a new feature that also draws in Microsoft Teams.

The company has announced it is bringing two separate tools together to make your meetings more engaging and interactive using its popular video conferencing platform.

The upgrade now means you'll be able to bring your Microsoft Teams camera feed into a PowerPoint presentation, hopefully meaning an end to death by slides.

Microsoft Teams and PowerPoint

The change has been made possible by integrating Cameo and Recording Studio, two existing tools announced by Microsoft in 2021 that looked to help improve the PowerPoint experience.

Cameo let users bring their live or recorded Teams camera feed into a PowerPoint presentation, giving users the chance to customize where on a slide they'd like to appear. Recording Studio allows users to record a presentation in PowerPoint and deliver on-demand video, so your co-workers or colleagues can watch whenever they like.

Microsoft PowerPoint Teams record

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The two tools will now be combined in PowerPoint, meaning that when a user is done creating a presentation, they can use Cameo to decide how and where they appear on the slides, and then carry out the actual pre-recorded speaking with recording studio just by clicking the new “record” button within PowerPoint, all without having to switch between multiple platforms.

When the presentation is taking place, PowerPoint Live will then deliver the recorded video.

Microsoft says the tool can be useful for speakers who may be unable to attend a “live” meeting in-person, but still want to be a part of it, as Cameo with Recording Studio means, “you’ll still show up in the meeting as if you are “live.””

Recording studio is generally available now for use in PowerPoint, and Cameo is set to be released within the next few months.

The news is only the latest in a series of partnerships between Teams and PowerPoint as Microsoft looks to make its Office suite more useful for workers everywhere.

The company recently revealed PowerPoint Live is getting support for live slide translation, meaning slides can be instantly translated during a Microsoft Teams call. Both presenters and attendees can translate presentation content privately by right-clicking on the presentation, which will bring up a “Translate Slides” option. 

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Microsoft 365 is getting a load of features we already knew about – and a few we didn’t expect

Microsoft has provided an update on a number of upcoming features for its suite of productivity and collaboration software, designed to help support the demands of hybrid working.

In conjunction with its latest Work Trend Index report, Microsoft has clarified the release windows for new facilities spanning Microsoft Teams, Outlook and other services, on which TechRadar Pro has previously reported.

However, the company also announced a handful of brand new features, including new meeting room hardware, tools to assist with virtual presentations and an addition to the newest Microsoft 365 service, Loop.

Microsoft 365 for hybrid working

Since the start of the pandemic, Microsoft has worked doggedly to turn collaboration and video conferencing platform Teams into a central hub for working, by rolling out a variety of feature updates and new integrations designed to create synergies between its apps. 

Now, with many businesses shifting towards a new working model as offices reopen, the company is making a series of tweaks that better align its software with the hybrid working era.

In December, we reported that Microsoft was developing a new feature for Outlook that would allow users to specify whether they will be attending a meeting in-person or online, called Outlook RSVP. Microsoft has now confirmed the feature will become available at some point in Q2, 2022.

Separately, TechRadar Pro reported on a new video call layout coming to Microsoft Teams, which is supposed to enable more equitable hybrid working meetings by bringing remote participants eye-to-eye with those in the office. The feature is now available in preview, with “enhancements” to arrive later in the year.

Microsoft

(Image credit: Microsoft)

What's new, Microsoft?

Microsoft also had a few surprises in store, however, the most notable of which is perhaps a pair of updates designed to improve the online presentation experience.

In the coming months, Microsoft will integrate recording studio and cameo, two PowerPoint features that allow users to record and add a video feed to their presentations, respectively. And second, the company unveiled a feature called Language Interpretation for Microsoft Teams, which lets human interpreters dial into a presentation to provide live translation for international attendees.

The company also took the opportunity to announce a new AI-powered business webcam for the Surface Hub 2, which offers intelligent framing and image optimization, and two touch-enabled displays from Neat and Yealink. Microsoft says the third-party devices are undergoing certification for Microsoft Teams Room and should be available to purchase in Q2.

Microsoft webcam

The new AI-powered webcam for the Surface Hub 2. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Finally, Microsoft revealed plans to integrate portable Loop components into Outlook, which will supposedly help employees “brainstorm and complete action items” without having to switch apps. The functionality is already available with Teams, and members of the Office early access program can now sample Loop components in the Outlook email client too.

“Whether it’s creating more engaging meeting experiences, enabling collaboration with external partners, or giving you the flexibility to work where, when and how you want, these new features address the new expectations people have for the workplace,” wrote Nicole Kerskowitz, VP Microsoft Teams.

“While so much has changed about work, one thing remains constant: people are at the center. With technologies like Microsoft Teams supporting people, we can make hybrid work really work by bringing everyone – and everything – together.”

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Microsoft 365 is getting a load of features we already knew about – and a few we didn’t expect

Microsoft has provided an update on a number of upcoming features for its suite of productivity and collaboration software, designed to help support the demands of hybrid working.

In conjunction with its latest Work Trend Index report, Microsoft has clarified the release windows for new facilities spanning Microsoft Teams, Outlook and other services, on which TechRadar Pro has previously reported.

However, the company also announced a handful of brand new features, including new meeting room hardware, tools to assist with virtual presentations and an addition to the newest Microsoft 365 service, Loop.

Microsoft 365 for hybrid working

Since the start of the pandemic, Microsoft has worked doggedly to turn collaboration and video conferencing platform Teams into a central hub for working, by rolling out a variety of feature updates and new integrations designed to create synergies between its apps. 

Now, with many businesses shifting towards a new working model as offices reopen, the company is making a series of tweaks that better align its software with the hybrid working era.

In December, we reported that Microsoft was developing a new feature for Outlook that would allow users to specify whether they will be attending a meeting in-person or online, called Outlook RSVP. Microsoft has now confirmed the feature will become available at some point in Q2, 2022.

Separately, TechRadar Pro reported on a new video call layout coming to Microsoft Teams, which is supposed to enable more equitable hybrid working meetings by bringing remote participants eye-to-eye with those in the office. The feature is now available in preview, with “enhancements” to arrive later in the year.

Microsoft

(Image credit: Microsoft)

What's new, Microsoft?

Microsoft also had a few surprises in store, however, the most notable of which is perhaps a pair of updates designed to improve the online presentation experience.

In the coming months, Microsoft will integrate recording studio and cameo, two PowerPoint features that allow users to record and add a video feed to their presentations, respectively. And second, the company unveiled a feature called Language Interpretation for Microsoft Teams, which lets human interpreters dial into a presentation to provide live translation for international attendees.

The company also took the opportunity to announce a new AI-powered business webcam for the Surface Hub 2, which offers intelligent framing and image optimization, and two touch-enabled displays from Neat and Yealink. Microsoft says the third-party devices are undergoing certification for Microsoft Teams Room and should be available to purchase in Q2.

Microsoft webcam

The new AI-powered webcam for the Surface Hub 2. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Finally, Microsoft revealed plans to integrate portable Loop components into Outlook, which will supposedly help employees “brainstorm and complete action items” without having to switch apps. The functionality is already available with Teams, and members of the Office early access program can now sample Loop components in the Outlook email client too.

“Whether it’s creating more engaging meeting experiences, enabling collaboration with external partners, or giving you the flexibility to work where, when and how you want, these new features address the new expectations people have for the workplace,” wrote Nicole Kerskowitz, VP Microsoft Teams.

“While so much has changed about work, one thing remains constant: people are at the center. With technologies like Microsoft Teams supporting people, we can make hybrid work really work by bringing everyone – and everything – together.”

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Google Sheets are about to become even more chaotic and unwieldy

A new era of gargantuan Google Sheets could be coming thanks to a new change made by the company.

In a Google Workspace update blog, the company revealed that it was increasing the cell limit in its spreadsheet software from up to five million cells to up to ten million cells.

The new limit isn't just for newly-created files either, with Google noting that it will also be available for existing and imported files, meaning you can expand to your heart's content. 

Giant Google Sheets

“Over the course of the last four years, we’ve been steadily increasing the cell limit in Google Sheets: from 2 million to 5 million in 2019 and now to 10 million,” the blog post read. “We hope this and future increases give users the ability to work with their data on a much greater scale in Google Sheets.”

The update is rolling out now to all users, and won't require any special admin control or action to activate. It's available to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers.

The feature is the latest in a series of recent updates to Google Sheets as it looks to boost its offerings for hybrid workers.

This includes the recent addition of intelligent formula suggestions based on the data in question and the user’s initial input, taking much of the heavy lifting out of complex formulae.

The software itself also recently saw a cosmetic overhaul to make Google Sheets better for users with smaller screens. The changes saw the menu bar, as well as the right-click menu shortened to better fit on a smaller screen, and to prevent menu items from being hidden off-screen.

Some features were also reorganized and moved to “more intuitive” locations. For example, freezing a row or a column can now be done directly from the right-click menu. Menu items also received new icons, while the descriptions of some items in the menu are shorter.

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