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BlackBerry confirms BBM is coming to iOS and Android this summer

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BBM crossplatform

In a better-late-than-never announcement, Canada-based BlackBerry today posted a surprising announcement confirming it will be bringing its BlackBerry Messenger platform to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform. Yes, BlackBerry’s killer app won’t be exclusive anymore.

BlackBerry’s move comes amid consolidation in the instant messaging space. Two increasingly popular services, Viber and WhatsApp, recently passed 200 million users each.

With iMessage pretty much ruling the messaging game on iOS devices and Google’s rumored unified chatting platform dubbed Babel expected soon, it is no surprise that BlackBerry Messenger will be available to mobile users who don’t use BlackBerry devices…

The official announcement on the company’s blog lists the following features that will be initially supported on iOS and Android:

  • the immediacy of BBM chats
  • multi-person chats
  • voice note sharing
  • BlackBerry Groups, where BBM users are able to set up groups of up to 30 people and share calendar, photos, files and more

The BlackBerry Messenger service will be released for Android and iOS as a free app this summer.

The iOS edition will support iOS hardware running iOS 6 and above. Its Android counterpart will require Android version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later devices.

BlackBerry Messenger claims 60 million monthly active users, with more than 51 million daily active users sending and receiving more than ten billion messages each day, “nearly twice as many messages per user per day as compared to other mobile messaging apps.”

BlackBerry Messenger coming to iOS (teaser 002)

Like other similar services, BlackBerry Messenger lets you exchange instant messages and supports delivered and read statuses. In underscoring the reliability and engagement of its platform, the firm stated that almost half of all messages are read within twenty seconds of being received.

Support for voice and video chatting will be added to the  iOS/Android build later this year. A future update will also enable BBM Channels, a newly announced social engagement platform within BlackBerry Messenger that lets you connect with the businesses, brands, celebrities and groups.

BlackBerry Live (teaser 001)

This is certainly a welcomed move on BlackBerry’s part, albeit way overdue. The app will let you chat with your BlackBerry-totting friends right from your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad devices (in addition to Android smartphones and tablets, of course).

In my view, Blackberry should have made the services available on all platforms a long time ago. Whether or not this is a futile effort remains to be seen given the large installed base of Whatsapp, Viber, Skype, iMessage and Google chat services.

Viber, for instance, recently launched a desktop chat client for Mac and Windows PCs and we expect rival WhatsApp to follow suit. Microsoft-owned Skype is already available on a number of desktop and mobile platforms and Google is expected to fix its messaging conundrum with an upcoming release of the unified Babel messaging service that will reportedly include a “first-class iOS experience.”

Will you be using BlackBerry Messenger on your iDevices?

 

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READ MORE: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2013/05/14/blackberry-confirms-bbm-ios-android/

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INSTAGRAM IS USING AI TO DETECT BULLYING IN PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS

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Last year, Instagram introduced an enhanced comment filter that uses machine learning to spot offensive words and phrases in challenging contexts. Now, the company is expanding similar coverage to photos and captions. Today, it announced that it will use AI to “proactively detect bullying” before sending content to human moderators for review.

The new feature will roll out to users in the coming weeks, launching in time for October’s National Bullying Prevention Month in the US and just before Anti-Bullying Week in the UK. The same technology is also being added to live videos to filter comments there as well.

This is the first product announcement under new Instagram chief Adam Mosseri who took over following the hasty departure of co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger last month. The split was reportedly due to simmering tensions between the pair and parent company Facebook, which has frequently meddled with Instagram’s product.

With public trust in Facebook continuing to fall, Instagram remains the bright spot in the company’s product lineup. It’s popular, profitable, and it has yet to be tainted by the scandals that have undermined Facebook. In this context, using AI to help weed out offensive content and keep Instagram a home for good vibes is extremely important.

A story published in Wired last year explained some of the details of Instagram’s machine learning comment filters, but it’s well-established that this sort of technology is no silver bulletfor content moderation. AI is cheap to deploy at scale, yes, but it still has trouble dealing with human context and nuance. That’s why it’s good that these new bullying filters also send content to human moderators to perform the final check. Automation without oversight is a recipe for disaster.

Interestingly, Instagram says it’s not just analyzing photos captions to identify bullying, but also the photo itself. Speaking to The Verge, a spokesperson gave the example of the AI looking for split-screen images as an example of potential bullying, as one person might be negatively compared to another. What other factors the AI will look for though isn’t clear. That might be a good idea considering that when Facebook announced it would scan memes using AI, people immediately started thinking of ways to get around such filters.

Along with the new filters, Instagram is also launching a “kindness camera effect,” which sounds like it’s a way to spread a positive message as a method to boost user engagement. While using the rear camera, the effects fill the screen with an overlay of “kind comments in many languages.” Switch to your front-facing camera, and you get a shimmer of hearts and a polite encouragement to “tag a friend you want to support.”

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FACEBOOK IS TESTING ITS VERY OWN DATING APP

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Yes, Facebook Dating is a real thing. And we may have just received a sneak peek.

Jane Manchun Wong — an app researcher who’s spotted Facebook features in the past, like Talent Show — posted photos from what she claims is an internal test of Facebook Dating.

 

The company wouldn’t say whether these pics are the real deal, although it did confirm it’s testing Facebook Dating internally.

Two months ago, at its F8 developer conference, Facebook shared that it was developing a dating app. Aspiring yenta Mark Zuckerberg explained it was “going to be for building real, long-term relationships, not hookups.”

Later, on its blog, Facebook dished out a few more details: “People will be able to create a dating profile that is separate from their Facebook profile — and potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends. They’ll have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events.”

From Wong’s photos, it looks like the app will let you prevent your current Facebook friends from seeing your dating profile, thus avoiding potential embarrassment. It’ll also offer a variety of gender options, including trans man, trans woman, and non-binary.

No word on when, exactly, Facebook Dating will become available to the public. Guess you’ll just have to make do with Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, Happn, Grindr, Hinge, and the thousands of other dating apps out there in the meantime.

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WHATSAPP MESSAGES AND SENDERS CAN BE ALTERED AFTER YOU RECEIVED THEM, SAY RESEARCHERS

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Security researchers have discovered that it’s possible for hackers to change both the content and the sender of a WhatsApp message after you’ve received it …

This includes the ability to change quoted messages, to make it appear you said something you didn’t.

CNET reports that the possibility was discovered by Check Point Software Technologies.

The firm] found that hackers can create a hacked version of the app and alter a quoted message (a past one that someone is replying directly one) to change the content or sender.

The hacker would, however, need to be part of the chat, so the vulnerability mostly applies to group chats.

WhatsApp told the NYT that it was not aware of the technique being used in the wild, and a cure would be worse than the problem.

One solution would be to create transcripts of every message exchange to verify the accuracy of every quote. Creating such a transcript is a significant privacy risk because those accounts of what people wrote to each other must be stored somewhere, the company said.

All WhatsApp messages are protected by end-to-end encryption, which means that only those within a chat would be able to exploit the loophole. Storing a transcript would effectively mean removing that end-to-end encryption.

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