Videoconferencing app usage still far higher than it was pre-COVID

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Zoom 5.0 brings much-needed security enhancements hoping to end Zoombombing.
Remember the days before everyone was Zooming?
Photo: Zoom/Cult of Mac

Many parts of the world are starting to open up again as the pandemic (hopefully) continues to subside. But video-conferencing apps, possibly the app category most associated with COVID-times, continue to ascend.

According to data from app analytics platform Sensor Tower, collective monthly active users of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet continued their surge in the first half of 2021. Usage was collectively 21x higher during the first half of 2019 than it was prior to the pandemic.

Zoom puts spotlight on iPad Pro’s Center Stage camera effect

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Zoom puts spotlight on iPad Pro’s Center Stage camera effect
With Center Stage support in the new Zoom version, the front-facing camera in the 2021 iPad Pro will follow you during your video calls. Within limits, of course.
Photo: Zoom

Zoom users with a 2021 iPad Pro will be able to use the tablet’s Center Stage effect that keeps them cantered in the front-facing camera during video calls.

And Zoom 5.6.6 will also lets Apple tablet users see far more people in the gallery view.

Concept artists imagine crazy cars from Apple, Netflix and other tech giants

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An Apple Car as imaged by ‘ Vanarama.’
The iDrive is just one of the Big Tech concept cars imaged by Vanarama.
Concept image: Vanarama

The Apple Car really is on the drawing board at Cupertino, but no one outside the company knows what it’ll look like. Vanarama came up with a concept design.

And it didn’t stop there. Its designers had fun imagining vehicles designed by Netflix, Peloton, Airbnb and Zoom if these other Big Tech companies got into the market.

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Best of 2020 app award
For the first time, Apple created a physical award to hand out to winners.
Photo: Apple

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U.S. investigations of TikTok gather steam.
TikTok enjoyed a great month in August. From a downloads perspective, at least.
Photo: Kon Karampelas/Unsplash CC

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.

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TikTok continues to dominate the App Store in 2020.
TikTok continues to dominate the App Store in 2021.
Photo: Kon Karampelas/Unsplash CC

Google Meet adding blurred backgrounds, images, and other new features

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Google Meet 1
Google Meet's new features will help it to better take on Zoom.
Photo: Google Meet

Thanks to people working from home and coronavirus lockdown, 2020 has been the year of videoconferencing apps — and Google Meet is adding a few new features to try and take on rival Zoom.

According to a new report from 9to5Google, Google Meet is working on new features that will allow users to add images or blur the background of their video calls. This is a feature that already exists for Zoom and Skype users, although this will be the first time it’s available on Google meet.

Zoom does an about-face on end-to-end encryption

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Zoom
Zoom will offer top-tier encryption to all users.
Photo: Allie Smith/Unsplash

Zoom promised on Wednesday to make end-to-end encryption an option for all users, not just paying ones.

This video conferencing app became incredibly popular during the COVID-19 epidemic. But it also drew criticism for weak security.

Zoom worked quickly to fix that, but again faced complaints when the company decided that end-to-end encryption would only be for paying customers. That’s a decision it changed today.