| Cult of Mac

TikTok continues to rule the App Store despite tough times


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

Despite the challenges it continues to face, TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide on iOS and Google Play in August, a new report by app analytics platform Sensor Tower claims.

In total, TikTok was downloaded upward of 63.3 million times during the month. That is a slight increase of 1.6% from the same month last year. Indonesia and Brazil were the most popular growing markets for the app during the month.

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


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.

TikTok reigns as world’s most downloaded non-gaming iOS app in June


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

TikTok enjoyed another month at the top of the App Store charts in June, becoming the most downloaded non-gaming iOS app, according to a new report from Sensor Tower.

The leading app analytics firm says the Chinese social video app was installed more than 87 million times last month on iOS and Android. That represents an impressive 52.7% increase from June 2019.

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


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


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.

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


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.

Zoom buys startup to bring end-to-end encryption to video calls


Zoom promises to work harder to protect user privacy.
Zoom calls are already encrypted, and the company committed today to step up to end-to-end encryption.
Photo: Zoom

Zoom on Thursday acquired Keybase for its experience with encryption and security.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought millions of new users to Zoom, but also criticism for weak security. Its stated goal in purchasing the smaller company, which developed its own messaging and file-sharing service, is to bring end-to-end encryption to Zoom meetings.

Google Meet goes free to tackle Zoom’s lockdown dominance


Google Meet 1
From live transcription to 100-person support, Google Meets is packed with features.
Photo: Google Meet

To lend a helping hand during coronavirus lockdown, Google Wednesday announced that it will be making its premium videoconferencing service Google Meet free to users starting in the next few weeks.

Google Meet is the business-oriented version of Google Hangouts. It supports up to 100 callers with no time limits on conversations, making it a good enterprise-focused video chat tool. While normally Google Meet comes with a price tag attached, it’s now free to all Google users through September 30.

Thursday’s Parks and Rec reunion was shot on iPhone, directed via Zoom


Parks and Rec 1
Expect everyone to look a little older than they do here.
Photo: NBC/Parks and Recreation

The half-hour reunion special of Parks and Recreation, airing this Thursday, was entirely shot on iPhone due to the challenges of production during the current coronavirus pandemic.

The logistics of getting the episode together were “very difficult,” co-creator Mike Schur told trade publication Variety. Not only did the special have to be written in under three days, but it then had to be directed via Zoom, with the cast filming themselves using a “little rig with a tripod,” an iPhone, light, and microphone.