Communications Apps

Google Hangouts 2.0 is here with iOS 7 design, iPad optimization, animated stickers, and more!

Google Hangouts, the combination instant messaging (IM), video, audio, and VoIP calling app for iPhone and iPad, has been updated to version 2.0. That means an iOS 7 make-over, iPad optimization, 10-second audio recordings, and most importantly — animated stickers! (Joking! The most important update is the ability to vanquish the appalling shake-to-send feedback non-feature!)

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Instagram reportedly getting into the insta-messaging game

What the world needs now is yet another proprietary messaging platform, right? Well, if reports are accurate, Instagram might just think so, and might just think they're the ones to do it. Om Malik on GigaOm:

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SMS, iMessage, BBM, Skype, Line, Twitter, Facebook: Which messaging systems do you use? [Poll]

Which messaging systems do you use?

My life is a series of dissonant beeps and buzzes. My friends and family contact me via Apple's iMessage or old-school SMS, which are at least both built into the same Messages app on iOS, and the former of which at least has a desktop app on OS X. We use Microsoft's Skype as our office phone system at Mobile Nations, so I that's firing away pretty much 24/7 as well (ironically, almost never because of our friends at Windows Phone Central). My colleagues over at CrackBerry use BlackBerry Messenger, so I get those too now. And, of course, the folks at Android Central use Google Hangouts, as do some of my legacy GTalk friends, so I get those in the Hangouts app, and erratically via Jabber in OS X Messages. (I get the occasional AIM there as well. Old school style.)

Twitter Direct Messages come in throughout the day as well. As do occasional App.net messages. Once in a while a Facebook message will join them.

Then there's the wide world of communications and chat apps which seldom if ever cross my radar. The KakaoTalk and Lines that are so popular in Asia, the WhatsApp and Pinger and WeChat as well. Hell, even the Snapchat. (This must be what my parents felt like after finding out what music I was listening to when I was a kid.)

Unlike email, there's no universal protocol that "just works-ish" in every client. Almost every messaging service is garden walled up unto itself. Even if I knew what Line was, I doubt I could just log in with my iMessage ID and suddenly have all my contacts and messages just show up in their interface. Or my Skype chats show up in BBM. Or whatever.

And that sucks, literally, because it means I have to either leave a multitude of battery-draining apps open and the notifications that go with them, or risk finding important messages too late to really do anything about them. It's fragmented. And, frankly, it's maddening.

So that brings me to this poll. How are you handling your communications? Your instant messages? Your chats? Are you using a multitude of services like me? Or have you gotten every that matters to you all in one place, and that's it? Vote up top and then give me the details below. How are you managing your messaging?

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BBM for iPhone line ups over, fast access now for everyone

When BlackBerry Messenger for iPhone debuted there was a waiting list to gain access. That's always a good way to mitigate against massive server loads, but not a great way to satisfy everyone who wants on now, now, now. Well, looks like the waiting list is a thing of the past, and millions of downloads later, the gates are wide open for anyone and everyone who wants in.

If you haven't tried BBM for iPhone yet, now's your chance. If you have, let me know what you think.

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BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for iOS submitted to App Store, waiting on approval

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), once the crack in crack-berry, is going multi-platform this month, including iOS and Android. While no firm release date has been set, BlackBerry's Alex Kinsella has just stated that BBM for iOS has already been submitted to the App Store. Twitter:

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Skype launches video messaging service

Microsoft has added video messaging to the Skype app for iOS. In an update in December, under-the-hood improvements were made that were intended to support future feature launches. This morning, Skype added the ability to send video messages, each up to three minutes in length, to your Skype contacts.

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Skype for iPhone and iPad updated with Microsoft accounts, animated Retina emoticons

Microsoft's Skype communications apps for iPhone and iPad have been updated to version 4.2. New features include the ability to chat with Messenger, Hotmail, and Outlook.com, and merge them all together into one, happy, mega-Microsoft account. If you're a first timer, you can now create an account from within the app.

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Best free iPhone apps

iMore's authoritative guide to the very best, absolutely free apps and games for iPhone and iPod touch

Looking for great free apps and games for your iPhone or iPod touch? The App Store is home to over half a million apps and games, and a surprising number of them are available for free. That's free as in free of charge to buy, free of subscriptions to use, and free of any crippling or time-bombing to make you pay later. They're just free. But which free apps are the best? Which are the top free apps you just absolutely have to download right now?

That's where iMore comes in! Here's your ultimate, authoritative guide to the top, 100% free iPhone and iPod touch apps for social networking, IM and communications, education, entertainment, finance, fun and games, health and fitness, kids, music, navigation and location, news, photography, productivity, reading, shopping, sports, travel, and general utility.

Whether you're new to iPhone or iPod touch and looking for a fast, free way to get started with apps, or you're just bored and looking for a little free fun, check out the apps and games below. And hey, since they're free, you can download them all!

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