Play god. Drive safe. Flip birds. Search secret. [Awesome Apps of the Week]

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Apple Arcade delivers blasts from the past, but there's new stuff in the App Store this week as well.
Apple Arcade delivers updated blasts from the past, but there's totally new stuff in the App Store this week as well.
Image: Cult of Mac

Some classic iOS games got upgraded for their Apple Arcade debuts this week, but that’s just the start of this week’s roundup. A new iOS app gives you the chance to win prizes for not driving like a jerk. And a new Mac app lets you effortlessly declutter your presentations.

Plus, a couple of heavy-hitter apps got updates — one kind of serious from a privacy perspective, and one almost completely frivolous. Are you ready for your app upgrades?

How to send Soundmojis in Facebook Messenger

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Amp up your emoji game with Soundmojis in Facebook Messenger.
Amp up your emoji game with Soundmojis in Facebook Messenger.
Image: Facebook

Emoji just got a sonic boost in Facebook Messenger. The social network’s chat app added Soundmojis on Thursday, giving users the option of sending audio snippets with some key emoji.

At launch, you can send catchphrases from TV shows, bits of hit songs, and garden-variety stock sounds. If your conversation demands the world’s tiniest violin emoji, your chat partner can actually hear it!

Beeper app promises to bring iMessage to Android and Windows

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Beeper brings iMessage to Android and Windows
15 different chat platforms in one.
Photo: Beeper

Beeper is a new all-in-one chat app that merges 15 different platforms into one. That sounds pretty interesting already, but what makes Beeper really exciting is its promise to put iMessage on Android and Windows.

The app, from Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky and his team, is “using some trickery” to make the impossible possible. But you’ll have to cough up a monthly subscription fee if you want to take advantage of it.

Facebook Messenger’s Zoom competitor gets custom backdrops, tweaked UI

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Messenger Rooms
Can Facebook's answer to Zoom triumph?
Photo: Facebook Messenger Rooms

Whether it’s socially distanced family quizzes, interminable work meetings or virtual conferences, video chat apps are big business in 2020.

Not wanting to be left out of the surge of popularity enjoyed by Zoom and Google Meets, Facebook is updating its video chat competitor Messenger Rooms app. The update makes it easier to find Rooms you’ve been invited to, to arrange future meetings, and to use custom backdrops of your choosing.

How to lock down Facebook Messenger with Face ID or Touch ID

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Add Face ID or Touch ID to Facebook Messenger for maximum security.
Take this simple precaution to keep your chats private.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Facebook Messenger’s new App Lock feature lets you add an extra layer of security to the popular chat app. iPhone and iPad users can switch on Face ID or Touch ID so they never need to worry about anybody seeing their messages.

The previously rumored feature, which Facebook rolled out for iOS devices Wednesday, is easy to enable. Plus, you can tweak a setting to make sure App Lock works ideally for you. Here’s all you need to do to turn on Face ID or Touch ID for Facebook Messenger.

Facebook Messenger Rooms can handle calls with up to 50 people in US

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facebook.messenger.rooms
Facebook Messenger Rooms allows users to host video calls of up to 50 people free of charge.
Photo: Facebook

Facebook took on Zoom and FaceTime Thursday by enabling its new video-calling service, Messenger Rooms, to make free calls between as many as 50 people.

The feature was announced last month, and is available now is the US and Canada. It’ll be rolled out globally next week, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook Messenger Kids expands its reach, adds new features

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Facebook-Messenger-Kids
Download it from the App Store today.
Photo: Facebook

Facebook Messenger Kids, the free chat app designed specifically for your little ones, on Wednesday expanded its reach to more than 70 new markets and added a number of helpful new features.

It’s now possible for parents to give kids control over their contacts (if they wish), and for kids to join approved groups. The changes come at a time when many children are out of school and unable to see friends.