Meta is making Messenger a lot more like Slack

Meta has announced that Slack-like shortcuts are coming to Messenger to make it easier to get the attention of an entire group chat.

Just like in Google Workspace and many other online services today, typing “@” and a person's name will tag that specific person in a group chat or document. Now though with the new @everyone shortcut, Messenger users on iOS and Android will be able to ensure that everyone in a chat sees what they have to say.

When you start a message with @everyone in Messenger, all of the participants in the chat will be notified which is perfect for group reminders, impromptu get-togethers or when you need everyone's help to answer a specific question.

In addition to the new @everyone shortcut, Meta is rolling out its new /silent shortcut for those times when you want to say something in a group chat but don't want to wake up others with a notification or disturb those who live in different time zones. This shortcut is also available on Instagram though on the service it is written as “@silent” instead.

Messenger shortcuts

Meta's new @everyone and /silent shortcuts are just the beginning though as Facebook's parent company plans to add even more shortcuts to Messenger going forward according to a new blog post.

Messenger users in the US will soon be able to use the /pay shortcut to make it easier to send and receive money directly from their one-one-one chats. To use the shortcut, simply type /pay to send or request money securely without fees.

GIFs are another way that users like to express themselves which is why Meta plans to add its new /gif shortcut to Messenger on iOS. Typing /gif followed by a topic at the beginning of a message will pull up a row of GIFs that users can choose from to insert into their chats.

Likewise on Messenger for iOS, Meta plans to roll out its /shrug and /tableflip shortcuts so that users don't have to type out the old-school text based tableflip “(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻” and shrug “¯\_(ツ)_/¯” emoticons.

While @everyone, /silent and /gif could be quite useful for Messenger users, /shrug and /tableflip are more of a throwback to a simpler time before emoji became what they are today.

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WhatsApp update is borrowing another feature from Messenger and Instagram

WhatsApp is testing a feature where you can react to a message with a heart emoji, similar to a feature in both Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

Meta owns all three of these messaging apps, yet there are users who don't have all of these apps installed on their devices. But there's a need for similar features across these apps, as long as they make sense, and reactions are a good example of this.

Reacting to messages is a useful way of replying to someone without typing out a sentence. It can inform the sender that you've seen the message, but you don't have time to reply to anything substantial as yet.

Currently in testing for the desktop app of WhatsApp in version 2.2208.1, you can try out the feature on Windows 11 and macOS.

Analysis: When features from other apps work well

WhatsApp Desktop reactions

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp all fall under the same umbrella as Meta, the parent company headed up by Mark Zuckerberg.

Every app either is a messaging app or has messaging features. But in some way, these are all used by its users, and some features work better on different platforms, from iOS to Windows.

Stories are a great example of this – they don't make sense for WhatsApp, yet it's on the app in the 'Status' tab. But for Instagram, it does make sense, and it works well for its users, as it's a great way of sharing photos and videos in short bursts.

For reactions, it's another feature where it helps to reply to a message quickly, without using your keyboard, and for WhatsApp it makes sense.

Taking features from other apps should only occur if they work towards the app's intended purpose, and with how a user interacts with the app in question.

While Stories didn't work for WhatsApp, reactions do, so it'll be interesting to see what other features from Messenger and Instagram carry across in the coming months.

Via WaBetaInfo

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Why MSN Messenger, Google Wave, and Vesper should return in 2022

There are some apps that are abandoned through no fault of their own. The team responsible could have moved on to other projects, or a new, redesigned app may have appeared to take its place.

If you go trawling through YouTube or even find an old PC in the family office, you can find yourself transported back to a time when the only way you could use the internet was by being sat down in front of a desk, waiting for a dial-up modem to connect.

But we're also heading into an era with the App Store and Google Play Store, where  users are longing for deleted apps to make a comeback, regardless of how they may look or operate in today's world.

There’s a growing nostalgia for the apps we used to use every day. Whether it's to feel like we're back at school, or just because the app was so good that we’d like to use them again for our new Windows 11 and iPhone 13 devices in 2022. Windows Media Player coming back is a great example of this, and it's why there should be more comebacks for depreciated apps.

With this in mind, here are three apps that should see a return and a remake for 2022 to take advantage of the devices we use every day.


Vesper app on macOS

(Image credit: Q Branch)

This is a note-taking app that set itself apart from the rest in the productivity category at the time. 

Created by Q Branch, involving Brent Simmons, Dave Wiskus, and John Gruber, the app was launched in 2013 and then discontinued in 2016. But thanks to the ability to redownload apps that have disappeared from the App Store, Vesper can still be used in 2022.

Vesper’s design is classically inspired by Apple's Notes app from 2013, but in a modern vibe that still looks good in 2022.

The app's purpose is simple – to take notes. But you can also tag these notes, similar to a feature that Apple brought to its own Notes app only in 2021. You can swipe to the left to archive any notes that you don't need, and you can re-arrange them to order the notes in a way that suits your needs.

For some reason, we weren't able to redownload it for iPhone, but on an M1 Mac we could, and it still works great, even with a janky way to resize the window in only two ways.

You can't sync notes to different devices as that was shut down when Vesper shut its doors, but it's a great app to use locally on your device if you're creating one or two projects.

Since its discontinuation, the source code has been available on GitHub for someone else to make their own interpretation of the app. Using this app in 2022, we can't help but wonder if one last hurrah should occur for Vesper. One more version where the band gets back together, much like James Bond in the mid-nineties, to be relevant again but for a new civilized age.

Even in a world where we have note apps that work similarly to WhatsApp, there's still room for a Vesper, especially in an app world where we use to-do lists and collaborative efforts to jot things down for those personal projects.

To see a new, final Vesper with Widgets, a web version variant, iCloud sync, alongside the proverbial dark mode option, could be a great way for Q Branch to sign off and raise a glass to, and have it work for our modern iPhones again.

MSN Messenger

MSN Messenger in Windows 11

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Between 1999 and 2009, Microsoft's messaging app was everywhere. You'd finish school and go straight to your parents' PC to log on to MSN Messenger, to either continue a conversation from earlier or to arrange something for later that evening.

You would log in and be greeted with a list of the contacts you've added, with many showcasing using waves of emojis and symbols placed on either side to their name for effect.

You could 'nudge' and 'wink' a friend who would be online, and you could exchange images if you wanted.

Eventually, the ability to play games with one another, alongside webcam support would be available to use, taking a strain on the 120Kbps broadband that would have been the average common internet speeds in 2003.

MSN Messenger was also arguably the first dating app before Tinder and Bumble. A small rainbow or heart next to a name would be a not-so-subtle hint on someone's name, yet it could initiate something more in the playground the next day. Messenger had something for everyone during those times, but ironically it didn't move to where apps were going.

Due to the rise of the iPhone and the App Store in 2008, Windows Live Messenger, as it was renamed to, dropped in usage, as everyone was starting to use WhatsApp, Facebook, FaceTime, and iMessage to communicate with one another, and Messenger was discontinued in 2014.

While you can install a version of the app in Windows 11, you can only get as far as the login screen, as the server to connect to the Hotmail server has long been depreciated.

In hindsight, Microsoft didn't know what it had – it rode a wave that the company hasn't had in the messaging category since. Especially when you consider how Zoom soared in use during the pandemic while Skype was left as an afterthought.

But nostalgia is starting to seep through to apps – Windows Media Player has returned to Windows 11, and currently, there are two apps by Microsoft, Teams, and Skype that both do the same function, but not as well as Zoom.

Rebooting MSN Messenger as a service for everyone, but with business features for work, could be a big boon to many.

Imagine MSN Messenger as an app for iOS and Android, alongside Windows 11, macOS, and Chromebooks. With Microsoft's aim of making apps available on as many systems as possible Messenger is the next logical step.

One that can bring back the nudges, the winks, and themes to bring the look of 2022 back, could be appealing to many, while the features are useful to others.

Microsoft is in a bind with Skype and Teams. Making a fresh start with an app that users have nostalgia for, but rebuilt for 2022, could be something that could appeal to everyone, and clear the deck of confusion that the company has carried with the two apps for a number of years now.

Google Wave

This effort by Google in 2009 was a direct precursor to the Slacks and Microsoft Teams of apps that you probably use every day in 2022.  The main theme of Google Wave was collaboration, with an effort to help with projects that involve many users without having to use Skype or a messaging app from back in the day, in order to collaborate in a Google Docs file.

Wave only lasted for three years between 2009 and 2012, but it’s still missed by plenty of users. It was a time when Google would try out different products almost every six months, but if it didn't quite hit the mark there’s a good chance you’re not able to use it anymore.

Google Wave worked differently from other apps, as you would have to be referred in order for your Google account to have access to Wave giving it an exclusive feel. Eventually, in 2010 it was available to everyone, so you could invite someone to a project without having to find a referral link.

This would combine Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and your contact list into one app, where you could collaborate on different projects. 

While the user interface in the video department left a lot to be desired due to so much going on, it had a knack for introducing each feature and interface option in steps. After an hour or so, you'd be able to use it with ease.

But Google pulled the plug on Wave in 2011, with its reasons being that too few users were using the service, even though there were signs that it was about to grow, due to the increase in social network usage at the time.

As it is with Google's stance on abandoned projects, there's no way of trying out a remade version of Wave in 2022 – you can only be reminded through screenshots and videos. But in a way, you're already using them through Slack, Teams, and Google Docs collaborations.

But it's a service that should come back, as it could work well alongside Slack integration and app versions on iOS and Android.

But with Google's focus on mobile and content, it's 50/50 as to whether it would consider a return for Wave.

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Messenger calls and chats are now fully encrypted – if you want them to be

Meta-owned Messenger has announced the launch of end-to-end (E2E) encryption across its platform, meaning chats and calls should be safe from snooping.

Users can now choose whether to have their messages, group chats and calls fully encrypted when logged into the service. One option is to use vanish mode, which can be activated by swiping up on an existing chat to activate a new option where messages automatically disappear when the chat window is closed.

There's also the Secret Conversations feature, first introduced back in 2016, which also offers fully-secured chats and can be toggled on by swiping on the lock icon when starting a new chat.

E2E encryption on Messenger

The launch is a slight surprise, given that Meta said in November 2021 that it would delay the roll out of E2E encryption by default on Messenger and Instagram until 2023 as it examined the effect such a move would have on users.

“We know that people expect their messaging apps to be secure, private and provide them a space to be expressive,” Timothy Buck, Product Manager, Messenger wrote in a company blog post.

“Building secure and fun interactive features takes time and requires our engineers to innovate and solve technical challenges, so this is part of a series of product updates as we keep improving our services. With cybercrime and hacking on the rise, it’s more important than ever to find great ways to connect with friends and family through private and secure communications.”

“We know the importance of safety and privacy when it comes to communicating with the people who matter most to you. End-to-end encryption protects you and your data from hackers, criminals and other prying eyes.”

The news comes shortly after the UK government hired a top ad agency to help it launch a campaign against Meta's plans to introduce E2E for Messenger. The Home Office apparently believes the move will allegedly help criminals, and has pointed to Meta's WhatsApp platform, which also features E2E encryption as an example of unregulated technology leading to crime.

Messenger's rivals have no such qualms, with many having already introduced E2E encryption already. Microsoft Teams announced its E2EE launch in December 2021, with Android Messages adding the facility back in June 2021.

  • If you are concerned about privacy, consider using one of the best VPN services

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