Skype has long offered video call capabilities for more than two users on Mac (and PC) — but only when at least one had a paid Premium subscription plan in effect. Now, the company has eased that restriction, making group calling available free as of today to all computer users, along with those on Xbox One. And iOS users may be next to be added to that list.
Anyone who’s ever been stuck at a nightclub, concert, or sporting event with spotty wireless connectivity knows the frustration of being unable to ping friends or family waiting nearby. That no longer has to be the case thanks to FireChat, a free messaging app for iPhone that takes advantage of the Multipeer Connectivity framework introduced with iOS 7. This service allows nearby devices to discover and communicate with each other using peer-to-peer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, even in areas where an Internet connection is unavailable.
Mobile chat services are great, until you don't have an internet connection and the conversation goes dark. That's where FireChat could potentially come in, tapping into the power of iOS 7 to offer chat with other users near and far.
In the past, Apple has at least allowed customers to chat about out-of-warranty products via its online support sections, but in the future, 9to5Mac reports, it's (usually) going to cost you. The push for paid chat support is part of a larger effort by Apple to bring other features to its online services, such as the ability to pay for product repairs and replacements over the Internet.
It wasn't that long ago that having Wi-Fi on an airplane felt impossibly futuristic, but as the program settles into maturity, airlines have begun expanding their offerings to cater to specific passengers' needs. One of the most intriguing examples comes from Southwest Airlines, reports MacRumors, which is now offering iOS users the chance to spend $2.00 to send iMessages throughout the flight if they don't want to spend the eight bucks needed for the full-access Wi-Fi services.
Google+ is a hit-or-miss proposition for many socially connected folks, so the company’s first Hangouts attempt — originally part of the Google+ app — passed by largely unnoticed. Now available as a standalone app, Hangouts appears hell-bent on reinventing the messaging wheel, but winds up leaving too many spokes off to make this a smooth ride.
Now here's a bit of good news for those of you paranoid that the government is peeking into your instant message services: At least one government agency is complaining Apple's iMessage is a tough nut to crack.