Microsoft’s AI Copilot is coming to your messaging apps, starting with Telegram

Whether you love or hate Microsoft’s Copilot AI, there could be no escaping it soon as it has recently been spotted crawling around messaging apps, specifically Telegram. Microsoft seems to have sneakily introduced Copilot into the messaging app, allowing Telegram users to experience it firsthand. 

According to Windows Latest, the move is part of a new project from Microsoft dubbed ‘copilot-for-social’, which is an initiative to bring generative AI to social media apps. The Copilot bot seems to currently work in Telegram in the US and UK (and possibly other regions). It’s available for free, although it requires your phone number to work.

Telegraph and Copilot

(Image credit: Future)

You can find the bot by typing in ‘@CopilotOfficialBot’ into Telegram’s search bar, whereupon a new message thread will open and Copilot will give you the rundown of everything it can do. Keep in mind that there is a query limit of 30 questions a day, but given that you don’t need to create a separate account and it’s all completely free, that’s not a bad setup. 

Copilot appears to work similarly to how you use it on a PC. The AI can also be used on the desktop, phone and web versions of Telegram. 

Great, I hate it 

From what we understand the reason why you need to verify your phone number to enable Copilot in Telegram is to stop people within the EU from gaining access (likely due to data regulations and stricter laws in that region). We’re sure in time that EU users will have the chance to try it out, but as of now, they’re going to have to wait.

Copilot may be exciting news to some, but others may not like the idea of an AI having access to their messaging app (there could be trust issues for some Telegram users, we’d imagine). Furthermore, this does give me flashbacks to Snapchat’s AI chatbot, a rather bizarre affair that died as quickly as it popped up.

It seems like generative AI chatbots are becoming harder and harder to escape, as Telegram surely will not be the end of Copilot’s mobile integration plans. Microsoft could also push for integration with WhatsApp, Messenger and more, which I would find unbearable frankly. 

Hopefully, Microsoft will stick with the non-invasive setup that Copilot seems to have in Telegram, where you must actively seek it out, rather than having the AI shoved into your messages by default somehow.

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Strava gets a handy direct messaging feature to make organizing rides easier

Strava already has a lot of social features built in, so you can share your cycles, runs and walks with friends and family, but it's now adding a major new feature to make contacting fellow users even easier: direct messaging.

As per the official blog post (via Velo), the Strava apps for Android and iOS are being updated now with messaging capabilities. Both one-to-one and group chats are supported, as well as options to share activities and routes in conversations, and you don't need to pay for a subscription to use the feature. 

When it comes to group chats, you're able to set specific names for them, and message reactions, GIFs, and replies to individual messages are all supported. What doesn't seem to be live yet, according to 9to5Mac, is photo sharing – but that's due in early 2024.

Perhaps the easiest way to start messaging someone you're connected to on Strava is to head to their profile and then tap the new Message button. You can also find your conversation list by tapping the speech bubble on the Home or Groups tabs.

Safety and privacy

Strava says that it's adding direct messages after so long because “athletes perform better together”, while the press release talks about messaging “enabling seamless coordination, connectivity, and celebration of accomplishments and progress”.

In other words, you can cheer your friends on, brag about your accomplishments, and meet up for activities more easily without having to resort to another messaging app. That said, if you've already got a group chat established somewhere else, this new feature might not have enough about it to tempt you to switch over.

There is a safety and privacy aspect to this, too: you need to have entered your date of birth in the app to use messaging, so Strava can monitor for “suspicious, underage, or unsafe activity” through the new chatting mechanism.

And you can limit who is able to message you, if you're worried about people sliding into your DMs. Via messaging settings (the cog icon on the conversation list), you can choose from Following (people who follow you), Mutuals (people who follow you that you also follow back), and No one (no one can message you first, but you can still start chats).

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Google Messages update could be a game changer for messaging apps – here’s why

We may soon live in a world where large messaging platforms will be able to seamlessly communicate with each other. Google is taking the first step into this new world, announcing this week it will support the Message Layer Security (MLS) standard with plans to incorporate the protocol into its Messages app.

As Google points out in its Security Blog announcement, one of the annoyances concerning messaging apps is the lack of interoperability. Each platform has differing opinions on what they consider to be robust end-to-end encryption for texts. Developers don’t want to lower their “security standards to cater for the lowest common denominator and raise implementation costs”. If they did, the result would be, as Google puts it, “a spaghetti of ad hoc middleware” potentially endangering user information. MLS, however, aims to be a universal standard for everyone. It could be the solution these tech companies need.

Better interoperability

Google claims MLS “enables practical interoperability across services and platforms”. It goes on to say the protocol is “flexible enough… to address emerging threats to… [user] security”. Imagine being able to contact someone on WhatsApp and then shooting a text over to a friend on Telegram right from your messaging app of choice. You won’t need five different apps on your smartphone to stay in contact with people and you won't have to worry about a lack of security.

As stated earlier, Google Messages will one day support the new encryption protocol. In addition to the update, the company will open-source its MLS implementation into the “Android codebase.” This could result in developers having an easier time incorporating MLS into their software – if they choose to adopt it, of course. Right now, Google is the only brand that we’re aware of announcing its support. Mozilla has posted a sort-of rallying cry to its blog calling MLS an “internet standard”, but it doesn’t appear the Firefox developer plans on adding it to its browser.

Cost of doing business

There is one line in the post that we found particularly interesting. Google says it is “strongly supportive of regulatory efforts [requiring] interoperability for large end-to-end messaging platforms.” As 9To5Google points out in their report, this could be a reference to the Digital Markets Act, a law passed by the European Union last year demanding tech corporations increase the “level of interoperability between messaging services” among other things. And if they don’t comply, the violators “could be fined up to 20 percent” of global revenue for repeated offenses.

Google is willing to play by the new rules. It’s even willing to help other Android devs by open-sourcing its future MLS code. But what about Apple? Will iMessage support the protocol?

Honestly, who knows? We doubt Apple will ever want to play nice with others. It has repeatedly rebuffed Google’s advances to put RCS (Rich Communication Services) on iOS. It’s even willing to “pull iMessage from UK iPhones rather than weaken its security”. Sure, the massive EU fine could change Apple's mind or it might simply accept it as a cost of doing business in Europe. 

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WhatsApp now lets you edit your messaging nightmares – here’s how to do it

WhatsApp is saving you from those awkward spelling mistakes and missing commas by giving you the power to edit messages – within limits. 

We first saw inklings of this update in a late March beta. The feature didn’t work at the time, but there were some clues hinting at how it would function. From the looks of things, not much has changed since then.

To fix a text, Meta states you need to first long-press a sent message and then select Edit from the menu that appears. Users have 15 minutes to make their corrections. Texts cannot be changed past the time limit, forcing you to live with the typos you made (or you can just send a new text).

Messages that have been altered will display ‘Edited’ right next to them, making it clear to others in a chat that some corrections have been made. It all works similarly to iMessage editing on iOS 16. WhatsApp, however, will not save any sort of edit history, meaning others won’t be able to see previous versions of texts.

Editable messages are currently “rolling out to users globally and will be available to everyone in the coming weeks” so keep an eye out for the new patch. We asked Meta if there are any other restrictions. For example, on iOS 16 users can only make up to five edits to a text within a 15-minute window. This story will be updated at a later time.

WhatsApp Message Editing

WhatsApp Message Editing (Image credit: WhatsApp)

A very busy month

WhatsApp has had quite a busy month as the platform has seen multiple updates in a short amount of time. Just last week, the app gained a Chat Lock tool, ensuring your private conversation stays private which can be useful if you’re using a shared phone. Before that, we saw the introduction of single-vote polls “to stop people from skewing [results] with multiple votes.”

As for the near future, it appears Meta will soon launch a “password reminder feature for end-to-end encrypted backups”, according to a recent post from WABetaInfo. The app will ask you to verify the password so you’ll always have access to the backup in the event you forget your login credentials. This particular update will be rolling out to both Android and iOS “over the coming weeks.”

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Is Slack down? Messaging platform not working for some users

We're getting reports that online collaboration platform Slack is seeing outages across the UK.

Reports of issues with Slack began to surface around 10.30am GMT, with hundreds of users signalled problems on outage tracker site DownDetector.

We're following the story live, so stay tuned and read all our latest updates below…

As you can see in the below image from DownDetector, there's been a definitely spike in complaints from Slack users across the UK.

DownDetector slack stats

(Image credit: DownDetector)

There has been no official confirmation of any issues from Slack itself, with the company's Slack Status Twitter page remaining silent so far.

Slack's online dashboard is also quiet for now, with green across the page – let's see if that changes any time soon…

Slack status page

(Image credit: Slack)

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