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2 months ago

Best apps to download on a new Android phone


These are the apps you should immediately download on your new Android phone!

If you or someone you know just got their first Android phone, firstly… congratulations! Regardless which make or model you're using, you've got a very capable and customizable device, and it all starts with the apps found in the Google Play Store.

Google includes the full suite of very valuable apps which include Gmail, YouTube, Google Play Music, and Google Photos, but that's really just the tip of the iceberg. We've compiled a list of some of our favorite apps that we think you should consider when you're just starting out.

Authy 2-Factor Authentication

Securing your devices and accounts is very important, and no one does two-factor authentication better than the folks at Authy.

If you're unfamiliar with the process, two-factor authentication adds another layer of security by creating six-digit tokens that expire every 60 seconds. This extra layer of security will keep you safe from hackers and account hijackers and, best of all, Authy is free and supports most major multi-factor authentication accounts including Facebook, Dropbox, Amazon, Gmail, and thousands of other providers.

Download: Authy (Free)

Gboard - The Google Keyboard

There are a bunch of great keyboards available for Android, but the best of the best is currently Gboard, Google's own keyboard.

Gboard is completely free, supports gesture typing for both individual words and entire sentences, a bounty of languages, and a modest choice of themes.

Gboard employs Google's own speech-to-text engine for voice dictation, and while it might not be the best at predictive text, it does learn from your typed data across Google's apps and services. Gboard has pretty much every feature you'd want from a touch keyboard, including the ability to quickly search Google from virtually anywhere in your phone. It's fast, reliable, and minimalist, with theme options to tweak in the settings.

Download: Gboard - The Google Keyboard (Free)


Book lovers who have made the switch to digital materials already know about the eponymous e-readers, but Kindle's app for Android lets you access all your favorite books from Amazon's e-book catalogue right from your phone, without having to lug another piece of tech around with you everywhere.

There are millions of titles available via Amazon, which include magazines and newspapers. There are thousands of public domain classics available, and you may even be able to check out e-books from your local library. Take advantage of reading in the digital age and customize your reading experience by adjusting font sizes, screen brightness and background color, while searching and dictionary functions built right into the app are perfect study tools for students working on essays and book reports.

Download: Kindle (Free)


It's ubiquitous in our culture these days, and an absolute must-have for pretty much any device you own. In short, Netflix has come to exemplify how millions of people unwind and keep themselves entertained.

The Netflix app for Android lets you watch all your favorite shows using your phone data or when connected to Wi-Fi, with a recent update allowing for offline viewing of a large swath of the service's content. You'll also find full compatibility with Chromecast, allowing you to use your phone as a remote to control things while casting your favorite shows and movies to your TV. A subscription is required, but you probably know someone with a login you can borrow if $10 a month is too rich for your blood.

Download: Netflix (Free)

Nova Launcher

One of the best parts of using Android is the sheer amount of customization that's available to you — if you're willing to put in a little bit of work to do it. Android phones come with a manufacturer's default launcher pre-installed, but if you're looking for something different, Nova Launcher is a great option for theming and customizing your phone to reflect your personality, or your favorite shows or hobbies.

Nova Launcher lets you change icons, layouts, animations and more to completely tweak almost every aspect of your phone's look and feel to your exact specifications. We've included a link to the free version of Nova Launcher below, but if you're serious about theming, you'll want to check out the paid version. You'll also want to keep it locked on the Android Central home page, as we frequently post theming how-tos that give you step-by-step instructions for keeping your phone looking fresh and cool, like this recent article on Star Wars themes.

Download: Nova Launcher (Free)

Pocket Casts

Podcasts are amazing, and Pocket Casts makes listening to podcasts even better. While you might scoff at paying money for a podcast app when Google Play Music and Spotify do the same for free, the folks behind Pocket Casts have incorporated some really smart features that you need to know about.

For one, they've got this feature that trims out the silence in all the podcasts you listen to, and if you're a heavy listener, that time will really add up fast. Other features include a smart volume boost which increases the volume for voices while keeping background noise to a minimum, full integration with Android Auto and Android Wear, and cloud-based subscriptions and playback, so you can sync your podcasts between your phone and the web service or (more importantly) keep all your subscriptions when you switch over to a new phone.

Download: Pocket Casts ($3.99)


Pushbullet lets you receive your phone notifications on your computer, so you don't have to constantly check your phone every time you feel the buzz. Anyone who works with a computer for a living knows how distracting checking your phone can be.

Pushbullet not only lets you see who's trying to contact you — via text and phone call, but also supporting popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Kik and Facebook Messenger — and lets you respond with your computer's keyboard. So, not only will you never miss a notification, you'll be able to quickly respond to the important stuff and dismiss the less-important stuff for later.

Download: Pushbullet (Free)


Millions of people have made Spotify their go-to source for all their music, and for good reason. You're able to listen to a shuffled mix of music from nearly any artist or band for free, but the real fun begins when you sign up for Spotify Premium.

Not only does Spotify Premium provide better sound quality, it also removes ads and lets you play any song by any artist when you want across all your devices. You can also build and share playlists with friends and family, along with an option to download music to your device for offline listening. And then there's other smart features like Discover Weekly, which curates a playlist of new music Spotify knows you'll love based on the bands and genres you listen to on the regular.

Download: Spotify (Free)

Solid Explorer

You don't have to root your Android phone to conveniently access files on your phone. Solid Explorer lets you do all that and much more, though you'll need to play to unlock the full version.

Solid Explorer lets you organize and manage all your files, including those stored in cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and more. You'll be able to read and extract .zip, .rar, and other compressed file formats, along with options of creating password-protected folders and .zip files within the app. And if you do decide to root your phone, you'll be able to use Solid Explorer to browse your system files with ease.

You can try Solid Explorer on a trial basis for 14 days before having to pony up for the full version.

Download: Solid Explorer (Free Trial)


Sports fans need to know the score at all times, and there's no better sports app out there than theScore. They've got full up-to-the-minute coverage for all the major sports leagues, including NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA Football, NHL, English Premier League, La Liga, Champions League, World Cup and all major sports and competitions. You can personalize your feed to only include the sports and/or teams you're interested in, so you're never bothered by a score for a game you're not interested in.

Pair this with alerts for goals, key moments, final scores and breaking news and with one app you're never more than a quick glance away from the absolute latest, up-to-date information. It bills itself as "real time, all the time" and that's probably the best way to think about it.

Download: theScore (Free)


Uber is taking the world by storm and changing the way people think about getting around. Whether or not you've used Uber seems to depend on it's legal status in your city, or how frequently you travel. The taxicab industry is furious because Uber has jumped in with its ridesharing app and service that makes it way easier to get a ride somewhere.

Simply download the app, plug in your credit card or PayPal details, and you're ready to hail an Uber car to wherever you are. You can determine your fare estimation before requesting a car, and you'll be able to see details about the car and driver coming to get you an watch for their arrival on the app map as you wait. There's also different levels of service, from UberPool in which you share your ride with other riders for a cheaper fair, or UberBlack for a more upscale experience.

Download: Uber (Free)

Weather Underground

Weather Underground provides the most accurate hyper-local weather forecasts right on your phone, with interactive radars, satellite maps and severe weather alerts included so you always know what's on the way.

At a glance, you'll be able to view current temperature and conditions from your local weather station include temperature, wind speed & direction, humidity, dew point and visibility. Weather Underground also makes use of crowd reporting, fostering a community of weather enthusiasts who report live data from weather stations in their own backyards, with this crowd-sourced data generates forecasts that are targeted to your precise location. You'll also enjoy the option of customizable widgets, so you don't even need to launch the app to see your local weather conditions.

Download: Weather Underground(Free)

What are your suggestions?

These are our picks that would make up our Android app starter pack — what would be in yours? Let us know in the comments!

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3 months ago

Best launchers for theming


Customization is my favorite part of Android.

Android provides us with so much freedom, allowing us to completely scrap the setup and the launcher that came with our phones and replace it with something that suit us more. Years ago, before I knew what Nova Launcher and icon packs were, I was trying to make my phone look less blockish and boring. Our phones hold our lives — shouldn't they hold some of our personality and style, too?

Whether you've got theming down to an art or you're just looking for something a little more flexible than your current launcher, these are the best of the best when it comes to theming launchers. They are also two of the best launchers on the market, period.

Here's why you should have Nova Launcher and Action Launcher in your theming toolkit.

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3 months ago

Best Apps of 2016


Our favorite apps of 2016.

Apps are becoming the glue that connects all of our mobile experiences together. Messaging apps, productivity tools, and mapping utilities come together to make our Android-powered computers worth using. It's really hard to choose a favorite, but we'll try.

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3 months ago

Google Play: Ultimate Guide


How to get the most out of the Google Play Store

Google Play is the cornerstone of Google's ecosystem of content and has become a critical part of Android. It reaches almost all of Android and through Play Services is capable of fixing many of Android's problems. Google Play also is a content library and ecosystem that is accessible on more platforms than almost any other.

Born as the Android Market, it's grown from just a home for apps and is now the one-stop shop for applications, books, movies, music, TV shows — basically anything and everything that you can buy and use on your Android phone or tablet.

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3 months ago

3 perfect apps for editing holiday photos on the go


These are the apps to use for a quick photo edit.

Happy holidays! Now it's time the share those precious photographs from Christmas morning and the first night of Hanukkah, but not before ensuring they're dressed for success. You can crop them, tweak them, and give them new life with these easy-to-use apps for editing your holiday photos on the go — no computer required!

Pixlr - Free Photo Editor

Developed by Autodesk, this is one of the easiest photo editing apps available for Android. The app features over two million combinations of effects, overlays, and filters. You can use it to quickly crop a photo, do minor editing, and add a little sparkle to an otherwise dull pose. Pixlr is always updated with themed frames, too, in case you forgot to send out holiday cards and you're desperate for a way to send a quick email.

Pixlr - Free Photo Editor (Free)


VSCO is what I use when I want to fit in with everyone else on Instagram — which is always, clearly, because I pretty much use this app exclusively for turning my boring social snaps into dynamic pieces of the past. TAG IT ALL THE THINGS.

In all seriousness, VSCO is good for adding some character to your photo and making your cheap phone look like it produces some artful masterpieces. Seriously, did you guys even notice I was shooting with a Moto G half the time? I used VSCO before posting to make it seem like the low-resolution quality was intentional. You can download and purchase a variety of punchy filter packs, or tweak the photo in your own manner with a plethora granular controls. When you're finished, you can upload to VSCO's own social network or save to share elsewhere.

As an added bonus, filter purchases are tied to your Google Play account, so you can easily switch devices without worry of losing your investment.



For when Google Photos just isn't enough, there's Google's own Snapseed. The app features a ton of essential tools you'd find on a desktop photo editing app, like an on-screen histogram, lens corrector, healing brush — which works remarkably well — and an HDR tuner. There are also real, grown up frames and filters you can use to show off your smartphone photo-taking prowess. And if you're really on the go — like, say, in transit to your next destination — Snapseed has both JPEG and RAW support so you can make major edits to your big camera photography. Just be sure to bring a mobile card reader with you on your trip.

Snapseed (Free)

Got an app you like to use to edit your photos before sharing them online? Let us know!

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3 months ago

Daydream VR game Unthethered makes your voice the controller


Consider, if you will, if a comic book and a radio drama had a VR baby ...

New Daydream VR title Untethered is a new take on the VR game, mixing in comic and radio elements to craft an episodic video game you talk your way through. Forgoing a lot of clumsy virtual controls, you navigate the game using your voice and a laser pointer.

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3 months ago

How to buy and email a Google Play Gift Card


In need of a last-minute gift? Google's here to help!

A Google Play Gift card makes a great gift or stocking stuffer for any Android user on your shopping list. You can find gift cards at a number of popular brick and mortar stores, but if you've been trying your darnedest to avoid the hustle and bustle of the shopping season, Google has made it incredibly easy to give the gift of Google Play credits via email — right from the Google Play Store App.

This option is only available in the United States, so the rest of the world is stuck with the traditional gift cards. Bah humbug!

How to buy and email a Google Play Gift Card.

  1. Launch the Google Play Store app and tap the Menu bottom by the search bar.
  2. Tap Send Gift.
  3. Select the gift value you wish to send.

  4. In the next window, type the recipient's email along with an optional greeting.
  5. Tap Continue.
  6. Confirm all the info is correct and then tap Buy.

  7. You may need to enter your Account password to confirm the purchase.
  8. Your gift card will immediately be sent out via email.

You will also be sent a copy of the email with the Google Play gift code. If for whatever reason your recipient can't find the email with the gift code info, you can forward them your copy and it'll work just the same.

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3 months ago

Best travel apps for Android

Best travel apps for Android

What's the best travel app for Android?

Whether you're planning your first trip away from home or you're a frequent flier, there are a ton of travel apps available for Android that will help you find the best flight, learn a new language, or get the best information about your desired destination. Here are our favorites.

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3 months ago

Best Streaming Service in India

With Prime Video now available in the country, there are plenty of great options for streaming video on the go.

Best overall


See at Play Store

Hotstar is easily the best streaming service in India. At ₹150 per month, it is affordable, and offers a wide variety of content — both in regional languages and English.

With a catalog that has close to a thousand TV shows and nearly three thousand movies, you won't run out of things to watch on Hotstar. And as the service is owned by STAR — the largest broadcaster in India — you get access to live cricket matches.

Hotstar is available on Android and iOS, and the web.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a streaming service that offers the best TV shows, movies, and sports content, look no further than Hotstar.

One more thing: Although Hotstar isn't available on Android TV, the service supports Google Cast, allowing you to stream content to any Chromecast or Cast-enabled device.

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3 months ago

Russian Hackers used Android malware to track Ukrainian artillery


More proof that you need to be extra careful downloading apps online.

Android software is everywhere these days, even finding use on modern battlefields. And just like the apps on your smartphone, downloading potentially compromised .APKs from unofficial sources can lead to unforeseen consequences.

A new report from American cybersecurity technology company CrowdStrike found that a hacker group known as Fancy Bear embedded a malware implant known as X-Agent into an Android app used by the Ukranian military. The group is thought to have ties to Russian authorities who supported rebel forces in Ukraine, and had previously been linked to the DNC email leaks in another report published by CrowdStrike.

From the CrowdStrike blog:

Late in the summer of 2016, CrowdStrike Intelligence analysts began investigating a curious Android Package (APK) named 'Попр-Д30.apk' (MD5: 6f7523d3019fa190499f327211e01fcb) which contained a number of Russian language artifacts that were military in nature. Initial research identified that the filename suggested a relationship to the D-30 122mm towed howitzer, an artillery weapon first manufactured in the Soviet Union in the 1960s but still in use today. In-depth reverse engineering revealed the APK contained an Android variant of X-Agent, the command and control protocol was closely linked to observed Windows variants of X-Agent, and utilized a cryptographic algorithm called RC4 with a very similar 50 byte base key.

The filename 'Попр-Д30.apk' was linked to a legitimate application which was initially developed domestically within Ukraine by an officer of the 55th Artillery Brigade named Yaroslav Sherstuk. In media interviews Mr. Sherstuk claims that the application, which had some 9000 users, reduced the time to fire the D-30 from minutes to seconds. No evidence of the application has been observed on the Android app store, making it unlikely that the app was distributed via that platform.

The report goes on to say that if the X-Agent malware was successfully deployed within the application, it would have allowed for accurate reconnaissance for rebel troops on the location of Ukrainian artillery positions. CrowdStrike found through open source reporting that "Ukrainian artillery forces have lost over 50% of their weapons in the 2 years of conflict and over 80% of D-30 howitzers, the highest percentage of loss of any other artillery pieces in Ukraine's arsenal." You can read the full report from CrowdStrike here.

This case is obviously a fairly extreme example of the damage hacked apps can do, but let this serve as a stern reminder to all of us about just how easy it can be to download malicious Android apps from the internet.

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3 months ago

Encrypted chat app Signal adds domain fronting to bypass censorship in the Middle East


Signal is now routing its traffic through Google's CDNs.

Open Whisper Systems — makers of the encrypted chat app Signal — found out that the Egyptian government had blocked access to the app earlier this week. The company has now rolled out an update to Signal that circumvents government censorship through a technique called domain fronting.

Signal is now routing its traffic through Google's CDNs (content delivery networks), so all messages sent on the platform now look like requests to Google services. Essentially, this means that for a country to block access to Signal, they'd also have to switch off connectivity to all of Google's services.

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3 months ago

5 Great Starter Apps for Daydream VR

To dream is to use Daydream.

I know what I'm planning to do on Christmas Day: Get my family believing in the dream that is Google's Daydream.

I've been having tons of fun exploring the different virtual reality apps offered in the Play Store and there are a surprising number of ready-to-go games and movies available. If you're like me and you're planning to evangelize wonder of virtual reality at the holiday dinner time, here are five apps to load up on your smartphone before you start the showcase.

Read more at VR Heads!

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3 months ago

Best adult apps for Android

In an ocean of adult apps done poorly, these rise to the top.

If you're reading this, chances are you have an awesome pocket computer running Android at your disposal. Today's Android phones and tablets can pretty much do anything, and that includes things of an adult nature. We want to help you find and see that content the best way possible.

Android After Dark

It's a big world out there, and it's not all Rated G. Welcome to Android Central's NSFW section — home to sex, booze and other stories of an adult nature. It's not for everyone — especially if you're underage —and that's OK. Be adult. Be respectful. And be responsible.

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox, .devicebox, .devicebox, .devicebox { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox, .devicebox ~, .devicebox, .devicebox ~ { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox ~, .devicebox ~ { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

We're not here to condone or condemn anyone or anything — and by all means let's keep things legal — but we feel that adults using their Androids to peruse adult content is just fine and dandy. We bet a good number of you guys and gals feel the same way.

If you don't agree, that's cool, too. We also are firm believers in the "live and let live" philosophy, and fully respect your opinion and support your right to have it. We also advise you to not click through the break if you think you might be offended. We love you regardless.

Don't worry, we're not trying to push any boundaries or limits (too terribly far), we just want to share a list of the best ways to find and browse adult content on Android. And do it in an adult way.

Namaste my friend. Namaste.

Article updated December 2016

There are countless ways to see adult content on your Android out there, covering a broad range of subject matter. This is our list of the best of the best, and ones we feel confident to recommend. Be sure to tell us in the comments if you know another we should have a look at. Sorting through apps is a tough job, and we always love hearing input about the great stuff we need to check out.

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3 months ago

With FotoSwipe 3.0, sharing files, pictures, videos (even apps) has never been easier #BYEBYEBLUETOOTH


If you're looking for an easy way to transfer your files, pictures, folders — WHATEVER — check out FotoSwipe!

For those of you that have been reading Android Central for a while, you might remember us posting about FotoSwipe way back in 2014 and 2015.

Together, with the help of our awesome community, we helped the FotoSwipe team launch their app in iTunes and Google Play, and we've been super pumped about their progress. Check out some of the wicked new updates!

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3 months ago

Facebook Messenger now offers group video chat, says it was the "most requested Messenger feature ever"


More ways to stay in touch with family and friends.

Just in time for the holidays, Facebook Messenger is rolling out a new update that introduces group video calling for up to 50 people at once. This expands on the group calling feature which was added back in April, and is the latest feature added to the popular messaging platform since games were added last month.

You'll be able to see six people in the group video call at one time, but other folks on the call will be able to listen or chime in with their voice. Once more than six people are connected via video, the dominant speaker will be shown to all participants. A feature not unlike Snapchat's live filters — called 3D Masks — will be immediately available for iOS users and eventually rolled out for the Android app. As you would expect, calls are free over Wi-Fi, and can also be made using your carrier data.

We're still waiting to see a new app update pushed through the Google Play Store, but you can check out the new feature on the desktop version of Messenger.

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