TIME apps

Facebook Adds Caller ID to Messenger App

New feature helps screen messages from new contacts

Facebook is making it easier to figure out who’s trying to contact you.

The company announced a new Caller ID feature for its Messenger app that will give users more information when people try to contact them. The revamped interface will show a larger photo of the person sending the message, as well as pull context about their occupation, city of residence and who your mutual friends are. If the person contacting you isn’t your Facebook friend, only the information they share publicly will be viewable. The upgrade will be available for the iOS and Android versions of Messenger in the U.S., U.K., France and India in the next few weeks.

Facebook

Facebook released an app with similar functionality in April called Hello. The Android app serves as a replacement for the generic phone app and uses Facebook data to provide users information about incoming callers.

[Mashable]

TIME apps

Playboy’s New App Isn’t at All What You’d Expect

You can read it at work, on the subway or in plain view of children

Playboy will show some skin — but only some — in a new mobile app that will display a PG-13 rated blend of light reading, interviews and listicles.

The new app, Playboy Now, is targeted at a growing mobile readership, who comprise roughly 80% of the 19 million unique visitors to Playboy.com each month, USA Today reports. The app will repackage content from the website for touchscreens and, crucially, strip out nude images that might not be appropriate for reading on the go.

“We want to give them the best experience possible when they are out and about,” Phillip Morelock, Playboy senior vice president told USA Today.

TIME apps

Google Maps Just Got Way Better

Traffic on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California.
Tim McCaig—Getty Images A traffic jam on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California.

Improved traffic data could make driving less of a nightmare this holiday weekend

Google is rolling out some new improvements to Maps in time for the traffic-heavy Memorial Day weekend. Users will be able to get more details about traffic conditions after entering a route.

For example, Maps might inform you that you are approaching construction and give an estimate for how long you might be stuck in a traffic jam. If the route is all clear, Maps will tell you that too. The app already helped users find alternate routes when dealing with heavy traffic, but it will be clearer in explaining why an alternate route is faster and the kind of incident you’ll be avoiding by following it.

Google also revealed the top trending search terms from last year’s Memorial Day weekend to give a sense of the most popular activities during the holiday. Beaches were unsurprisingly led the list of locations, followed by cemeteries and restaurants.

TIME Media

Here’s How Spotify Plans to Make Video Work

Spotify Press Announcement
Taylor Hill—FilmMagic Spotify founder Daniel Ek speaks during the Spotify New Platform Launch at S.I.R. Studios on May 20, 2015 in New York City.

Spotify is looking to take on YouTube and other video sites

Spotify, which has built its name by letting users stream music, now wants to be a home for video as well. That could be a tricky transition, but one key feature of the platform’s new video content could make it go more smoothly.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told the Wall Street Journal that some of Spotify’s video content will be made so it’s just as enjoyable to listen to as it is to watch. Spotify spokesman Graham James confirmed to TIME that such a feature is indeed planned as part of the company’s video rollout but is not yet available.

Letting users listen to just the audio from videos could help boost Spotify consumption and get users more comfortable with firing up videos on the platform. Formerly an audio-only service, many users have probably grown comfortable using Spotify while doing other things rather than focusing all their visual attention on the app.

YouTube enabled a similar feature earlier this year with its YouTube Music Key subscription service, which lets users listen to YouTube videos even when their phones are locked.

TIME apps

This Is the Coolest Feature Spotify Added Today

This is a far cry from the days of hoping your Discman didn't skip

Runners of the world, Spotify has got the update for you. The popular music streaming app is adding a special mode for running that plays music that syncs up to the pace of your run, along with a slew of other new features.

The feature works like this: you start the running mode, and then you start running. Using the technology already in your phone, Spotify figures out how fast you’re going and picks music where the beats-per-minute matches up. You can choose to either have music selected based on what you’ve listened to before, use a multi-genre playlist or hear new tracks made by DJs specifically for running.

So if you’re just going for a pleasant jog, we’d imagine you might get something mid-tempo, like Mumford and Sons. Run a little faster and maybe some Jay-Z will hit you. If you’re really going all out, it would make sense that Spotify would play some gnarly fast, double-bass driven thrash metal, like Slayer.

TIME apps

Microsoft Wants to Change Everything You Know About Email

US-IT-INTERNET-SOFTWARE-MICROSOFT
Josh Edelson—AFP/Getty Images The Microsoft logo is seen before the start of a media event in San Francisco, California on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

"No subject lines, salutations, or signatures”

Microsoft is reportedly working on a next generation email app that will strip away subject lines, greetings and signatures, and display only the text users need for a rapid fire conversation.

Microsoft has not formally introduced the new messaging app, though an announcement labeled “Microsoft Confidential” did briefly crop up on its public website, which was spotted by Twitter user @h0x0d on Tuesday. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on app.

The announcement described a new mobile app called “Flow,” which was designed “for fast, fluid, natural conversations.” The app enables the user to draw Outlook emails into a new display, reminiscent of an instant messaging window.

“Only conversations started in Flow and their replies show up in Flow,” reads the announcement, but the thread will also be stored in the user’s Outlook account, potentially replacing scattered email chains with a tidy stack of messages.

The app would give Microsoft a unique entry point into a fiercely competitive market for instant messaging services, such as Slack and Microsoft’s own Yammer. Rather than “kill” email with instant messages, Flow appears to marry the two forms of communication. And that’s a match Microsoft is eager to make if it wants to ensure Outlook doesn’t get left behind in the craze for chattier communications.

TIME apps

Google Plus’ Best Feature Is Coming Back From the Dead

CeBIT 2012 Technology Trade Fair
Sean Gallup—Getty Images A worker prepares the Google stand the day before the CeBIT 2012 technology trade fair officially opens to the public on March 5, 2012 in Hanover, Germany.

Its photo features could get spun off into a new service

Google Plus as a social network may be dead, but its widely acclaimed photo sharing service may soon have a second coming.

Google will unveil a new photo service at its developer’s conference next month, Bloomberg reports. Photo storage, editing and sharing has long been a standout feature of Google Plus, prompting the company to break out a standalone team last year to focus on releasing photo products to a wider audience. Google Plus’ photo features were essentially borrowed from Picasa, a Google-owned photo suite the company has largely neglected since Google Plus first launched.

A company spokesperson declined to confirm Bloomberg’s report.

TIME apps

This Is the Country That Gets the Least Amount of Sleep

woman-sleeping-bed
Getty Images

New study sheds light on who gets the best sleep around the world

Wage disparity isn’t the only gender gap separating men and women.

It turns out men also generally wake up in a better mood than women. At least according to a new report from Sleep Cycle, the alarm clock app that analyzes users’ sleep patterns. The report, which draws on data from nearly one million Sleep Cycle users in 47 different countries, found that men wake up in a better mood than women in all but three countries: Colombia, Portugal and Ukraine.

In the U.S., though, that good mood doesn’t always follow more sleep. Sleep Cycle found that women in the U.S. sleep more than men on average every day of the week. On weeknights, U.S. men sleep an average of 6 hours and 54 minutes, while women sleep 7 hours and 11 minutes. On weekends, women sleep 7 minutes longer than men.

Globally, Japanese men sleep the least at less than 6 hours per night on average. Men and women in Finland and the Netherlands get the most sleep compared with other countries.

TIME apps

Don’t Worry, Spotify Isn’t Killing Free Streaming

SWEDEN-MUSIC-COMPANY-SPOTIFY
Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images This photo illustration shows a woman as she uses the iPhone application of Swedish music streaming service Spotify on March 7, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden.

A spokesperson flatly denies that Spotify's freemium model is floundering

Spotify is refuting recent reports that it would pull the plug on its free streaming music service, leaving listeners no alternative but to pay up.

“It’s totally false,” a Spotify spokesperson told Music Business Worldwide. The dismissal came in response to unnamed sources, quoted by Digital Music News, who claimed that music labels were pressuring Spotify to cap its free streaming service at three months.

The report comes amid grumbling from industry insiders that Spotify’s freemium model may not generate enough revenue to support music labels, a complaint famously echoed by singer Taylor Swift and hotly contested by Spotify’s CEO. Apple is also said to be pressuring labels to stop supporting Spotify’s free streaming tier ahead of the rumored launch of its own new streaming service.

“The model is working,” Spotify’s spokesperson insisted.

 

 

TIME apps

Slack is Starting a Podcast for Some Reason

The office chat platform just launched its first episode

How does a hot Silicon Valley company with a fast-growing valuation make the most of its ever-growing momentum? How about by starting a podcast?

That’s the latest move by Slack, the office chat platform headed by Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield that recently raised $160 million in its latest venture capital funding, for a valuation of $2.8 billion. The first episode of the Slack Variety Pack podcast hit SoundCloud Monday morning in a debut that would seem to fit well in the platform’s own “#random” channel.

The company describes the podcast as covering “work, life, and everything in between.” And, the initial episode lives up to that somewhat nebulous billing with segments ranging from a relatively light-hearted explainer on quantum physics to another, called “Open Letter to Grandparents,” that features youngsters explaining why they don’t reply to their grandparents’ e-mails.

Fast Company interviewed Slack’s chief marketing officer, Bill Macaitis, about the new podcast:

“The idea is to present ‘stories about work and life, told in a very human voice,’ explains Bill Macaitis, Slack’s CMO. ‘Funny, inspirational, serious, innovative. It was something we hadn’t seen a lot of podcasts doing.’

As Fast Company notes, the firm has previously sponsored podcasts such as 99% Invisible, StartUp and Reply All. For this endeavor, though, Slack partnered with production company Pacific Content to produce the show, which will initially have a dozen episodes no longer than 30 minutes each.

Slack has grown rapidly since launching publicly in February 2014, with Butterfield saying earlier this year that the service was racking up 10,000 new users each week. Slack currently claims roughly 750,000 daily active users and the company has raised a total of $320 million in venture capital, including $120 million in October that came just six months before the more recent $160 million funding round.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

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