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WhatsApp Becomes the Latest Victim of China’s New Wave of Internet Censorship


Facebook is desperate to do business in China, but authorities in the country are increasingly comfortable with shutting out foreign companies and tightening restrictions on internet communications. On Tuesday, Facebook’s only major product that is still permitted by authorities fell victim to the “Great Firewall” and all signs indicate that we’re entering a new age of censorship.

According to the

New York Times

, WhatsApp users in China are reporting widespread disruptions to the messaging app. It has reportedly been partially blocked by the massive filtering system that authorities use to limit free speech online. Users have found themselves unable to send photos, videos, and in some cases text messages. Security analysts confirmed to the
that the disruptions were originating from the government. Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software, tells the paper, “according to the analysis that we ran today on WhatsApp’s infrastructure, it seems that the Great Firewall is imposing censorship that selectively targets WhatsApp functionalities.”


Even though WhatsApp is incredibly popular around the globe-it has 700 million users-it’s a small fish in China. Still, the app is popular with citizens who want to communicate with the outside world. That could be one reason that it has suddenly been targeted. According to research by
Citizen Lab
, there has been a concerted effort to block certain communications online following the death of China’s only Nobel Peace Prize winner,
Liu Xiaobo
, on July 13th. Citizen Lab found that for the first time, images were being blocked in one-on-one chats within WeChat. The homegrown messaging app by Tencent boasts
768 million users
. Accounts that are registered to phone numbers from mainland China were unable to view at least 74 images that were tested and numerous keyword combinations have been blocked.

Facebook warned investors last week during an earnings call that it’s
running out of space
to insert ads while still maintaining an acceptable user experience. After hitting
2 billion users
, it’s also running out of the potential for growth. China is one of the few markets left to be tapped, but authorities have consistently resisted
Mark Zuckerberg’s appeals
.Reached for comment a WhatsApp spokesperson told Gadgetlayout, “We are not providing a comment on this topic.”

But it’s not just Facebook that has problems with China, major Western technology companies like Google and Twitter are also shut out of the country. China’s government has been resistant to the explosion of the internet from the beginning, but it made certain allowances knowing that completely blocking the internet wasn’t an option in the modern world. Now, the growth of its own technology sector has given it a sort of parallel internet that can be controlled from within. Domestic companies like Baidu and Tencent offer search, microblogging, messaging, and other alternatives to the most popular web services. They also can’t tell Chinese censors “no.”


Residents of China have always used VPN services to access the unrestricted internet, but greater efforts to
block access to VPNs
remove them
from online marketplaces have been enacted this year. On top of that, a confusing
new cybersecurity law
has left companies uncertain about what is and isn’t allowed on networks within the country’s borders.

We’re not entirely sure why WhatsApp is being disrupted at the moment, or if a permanent ban is in its future. But China is very clearly signaling that it has its own internet now, and that’s a major problem for its citizens.

New York Times
Citizen Lab


PSA: Check Your App Subscriptions So You Don’t Get Stung


Thanks to the helter-skelter pace of modern living it can be all too easy to sign up for a free trial or a month’s worth of a particular service, and then before you know it, you’re getting billed for a ton of apps you’re not using and
don’t really need
. Checking up on your subscriptions could save you a serious chunk of change-here’s how to do it.

Get cancellation fever

There’s no shame in having rolling subscriptions you’ve forgotten about, with just about every app and service on the planet offering a free trial in return for an email address and a credit card number. One way of avoiding getting stung is to stick to free trials that don’t ask for card details up front, because that way you can’t get charged when your free period ends.

That’s not always possible though, and you might be keen to get started with something that does require payment details-you might even be willing to pay up for a month or two to get a feel for the service.

Image: Screenshot

If you’re sure you’re going to want out, then one of the best ways to avoid a nasty surprise on your next credit card bill is to cancel your trial as soon as you’ve signed up for it. In most cases, you’ll be allowed to continue to use the service until the trial ends. Have a look around the app or the website while it’s still fresh in your mind to find the cancellation option.


Of course, it’s in an app’s best interest to keep stringing you along, so that cancel button might be tricky to find. For Apple subscriptions and services, open up iTunes on Windows or macOS, then open the Store tab and click
to find everything you’ve paid for through Apple; as for Google services and Android apps, head to the
Subscriptions and services
page on the web.

Wait, what did I sign up for?

Here are just some of the subscriptions you might be paying for monthly or yearly:

  • music streaming
  • movie and TV streaming
  • paywalled publications
  • photo or cloud storage
  • premium versions of apps
  • desktop software subscriptions
  • security software
  • VPN software
  • forum memberships
  • online gaming networks
  • website hosting
  • premium versions of sites
  • subscription clothing or other goods

These are just the digital app and website subscriptions, and don’t include gym memberships, insurance coverage, and so on.


Your next port of call should be your credit card or bank statements: Look for recurring charges and anything you’re not expecting. Many banks will break out recurring payments for you, or show you pending transactions you’ve got coming up, so check your options online or on your statement.

Image: Screenshot

If you can’t remember what name or email address you used to sign up for a service-understandable if you registered many months ago-you should be able to recover your account details by opening up the app or heading to the website and looking for
an account recovery option
. If you can’t remember anything about the details you used to sign up, try searching through your inbox for a welcome email.

Getting in touch with the app or website directly might be enough to recover your account details, if indeed you can find a responsive customer service department. As a last resort, you should be able to cancel the payments through your bank, though you may have to pay a fee and
jump through a few hoops

Services that can help you quit services

There’s a pile of apps will also try and take the hard work out of spotting unwanted, recurring payments for you.
, for example, accesses your account and returns a list of regular payments. Everything works over text message and you can even cancel the services you don’t want any more from inside the app.

Image: Truebill

works along similar lines and goes into even more depth, with charts showing your monthly spending and a detailed breakdown of where all your hard-earned cash is going. If any recurring payment should get changed (maybe Amazon Prime raised its prices up again), then Truebill can alert you.



Clarity Money
is a more comprehensive account management service, but it does include a feature for removing what it calls “wasteful accounts”-those recurring payments for services and apps that you’re no longer making use of. Again, regular payments are highlighted and you have the option to cancel inside the app.


Tinder Keeps Swiping Right on New Ways to Take Your Money

Image: Tinder

Summer’s here, the weather’s hot and sticky. What did you expect Tinder to do? It has needs…

…It needs your money to stay afloat! In the infamous app’s latest scheme to get you to pay for the ability to swipe right on your future excruciatingly awkward first date, Tinder’s offering to let you peek behind the blinds, so that you can see a listing of only people who like you.

The new service, called Tinder Gold, allows you to see all the people who’ve liked your profile before you even start swiping. Upon logging in, you’ll have access to the “Like You” grid, which displays the profiles of all the people who’ve swiped right on you. You’ll then be able to decide if you want to match and message them or simply dismiss them.


There’s currently
more than one million people
spending money on Tinder premium services, according to the parent company Match Group. Users currently have the opportunity to splurge on Tinder Plus, which allows you to Rewind on accidental swipes, among a couple other features that basically help you to more aggressively spam potential matches with that dank profile photo of you drinking Rose with a baby cheetah. It costs $10 per month for folks under 30 years old, and $20 per month for everyone else. (All features on Tinder Plus will be available on Tinder Gold.)

And don’t forget Tinder Select, the new members-only version of the app that’s exclusively for elite (rich) people. Not in that club? Us neither.

A Tinder spokesperson told Gadgetlayout that details for Tinder Gold are still being ironed out, and that pricing still hasn’t been set. Tinder Gold will first roll out in Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Mexico as a beta test. Eventually it’ll roll out in the US, but there’s no firm launch date.


The transparency of “Likes You” seems somewhat refreshing. Who doesn’t want to cut the crap and get to chatting? Still, it takes part of the thrill and mystery out of the whole swiping scenario. That match you didn’t pay for with the crushing disappointment of a thousand swipes gone wrong just won’t feel as good! The level playing field and spartan simplicity of Tinder’s original formula is much of what made it a hit in the first place. Two people swipe right, and that’s it.

At any rate, before you spend any money Tinder’s services, remember that this cash could easily buy you a drink on your first date. Or the cab ride home when it’s terrible. Or a silent afterwork drink to coax away that cold, crippling loneliness.



How to Back Up All of Your Online Accounts Offline

Image: Google

Big fans of the cloud as we are, there’s no doubt relying solely on keeping your stuff stored remotely is a risky strategy. Accounts get hacked. Companies fold. And if you don’t have backups of your most precious
, then they can disappear in a puff of data center smoke. Here’s how to make sure you’ve got local copies of everything.


Image: Screenshot

Your Facebook life might look like a sprawling mess but
Mark Zuckerberg
and his team have everything better organized than you might think, and getting a local copy of your data is very simple. Head to
your Facebook settings page
on the web, then click
Download a copy of your Facebook data
. On the next screen, click
Start My Archive
, enter your password, and confirm your choice-you’ll get an email when the archive’s ready to go.

When you’ve got the archive downloaded to your computer, you can open up the index page in your browser and click around through your posts, photos, chat conversations and more, right back to when you first opened an account-in some cases it’s quite a blast of nostalgia. Should anything ever happen to Facebook’s servers, or should you want to
delete your account
in the future, you’ve now got a local copy of your social networking.


Image: Screenshot

To get copies of your Gmail emails (and indeed just about everything else you’ve ever uploaded to Google’s servers), head to
your Google account page
on the web and click
Control your content
Create archive
. Make sure
is ticked (as well as anything else you want to download), use the drop-down menu to restrict your download to specific labels if you’d like to, then click
to choose an archive file type and delivery method.


Emails are delivered in
the mbox format
, which you can then import into a variety of common desktop email clients. Alternatively, get Gmail set up for IMAP access through the Settings pane on the web, then use your desktop client to sync all the emails you want straight to your computer-in either case, you can use whatever export options your email program has to get your messages into another format (like plain text) if you need to.


Image: Screenshot

You’ve got a ton of options for downloading your Instagram photos but none of them are native tools and the quality of these third-party apps varies. There’s
InsSave for iOS
, which costs $1.99,
InstaSave for Android
, which is free but ad-heavy, and
on the web, which only download one picture at a time. By far the best tool we’ve found for the job is
4K Stogram
, which is a free download for Windows or macOS.

Putting your faith and trust in these third-party developers isn’t ideal, and a much better option is to have Instagram save your photos to your camera roll at the same time as posting them, then they
can be backed up
from there. Look for the
Save Original Photos
Save Videos After Posting
options on the app’s settings screen, which you can get at through your profile page (tap the cog icon on iOS or the three vertical dots on Android).


Image: Screenshot

The world’s most famous disappearing photo app will actually save your pictures if you want it to (we’re talking about your own pictures and videos here-saving incoming snaps is sort of against the spirit of Snapchat). Tap the ghost or bitmoji icon at the top of the camera screen, then the cog icon, then
-this is your own personal bank of Snapchat photos and videos that appears on any device when you log into the app.


Make sure your snaps are being saved to both the Memories page and your Camera Roll (then you can back them up to
other places
) and turn the
Auto-Save Stories
option on too. For individual, non-Story snaps, you still need to tap the save button (bottom left) before sending photos or videos, and this only applies to future snaps you create -there’s no way to get back pictures and clips you’ve sent before turning the Memories feature on.


Image: Screenshot

You may well have uploaded a host of art and carefully crafted GIFs to your Tumblr account, and if you’ve kept the local copies around then it’s easy enough to back these up to the cloud using whatever your
is. If your Tumblr posts are the only copies of this stuff you have, then it’s a good idea to save an archive locally,
just in case Verizon
should suddenly decide to raze Tumblr to the ground with no advance warning.


Doing this is actually pretty difficult though-Tumblr did have some official backup tools, but they’re no longer around. The best option we’ve found is
, a free export tool for Windows: read through the usage notes on the download page to make sure you’re using it properly. It’s not the most intuitive application, so really your best bet is keeping your original photos and videos around locally after sending them to Tumblr.


Image: Screenshot

Twitter might not be on the verge of closing down just yet, but who knows in five years’ time? Or what if a third-party app should run amok through your tweets and permanently delete them? All your droll 140-character observations and witticisms would be lost forever. Thankfully, Twitter has a pretty comprehensive archive tool built into the web interface that you can use to to get your whole timeline downloaded for safe keeping.


the Twitter settings page
on the web, click the
Request your archive
link down at the bottom-when it’s ready to go, you’ll get a link over email. You end up with a folder of assets and an HTML file that ties them all together: you can browse around your whole history by year and month, and the archive includes all the photos and videos you’ve posted too. It’s actually much easier to navigate around than the main Twitter website.


Image: Screenshot

If you’re a keen
then you can back up your chats from inside the app, photos and videos and all, but you can’t view these archives anywhere except inside WhatsApp. It’s still worth doing, should something happen to your phone, because you can just import everything again and pick up from where you left off. Head to the WhatsApp Settings page inside the app, then tap
Chat backup
to start the process.

You can back up your WhatsApp conversations to your phone or to Google Drive (Android) and iCloud (iOS), so choose whichever method you prefer and configure an automatic backup schedule so you don’t have to keep remembering to do it. Of course if you go for the cloud option you need enough storage space, which may or may not be a problem depending on how many photos and videos you’ve got in your conversation threads.


Image: Screenshot

We’ve already mentioned Gmail and the process for YouTube (or any other Google-owned property) is very similar-head to
your Google account page
, click
Control your content
, then follow the
Create archive
link. Make sure YouTube is the only item in the list ticked, and use the drop-down menu alongside to choose what you want to download (the options are history, playlists, subscriptions, and videos). Click
to confirm your choice.



The videos come down the pipe in whatever format and resolution you originally uploaded them at, so you get them back untouched by YouTube’s various processing and optimization techniques. Of course it’s a good idea to just keep your videos around on your phone or your computer after you’ve uploaded them, which means you’ve always got spare copies of your movie masterpieces should they vanish from
the YouTube platform

What other tips and tricks do you have for keeping all of your online accounts backed up?


Measuring Tape in Augmented Reality Is Way More Exciting Than It Should Be


GIF Source: laanlabs

There are a few reasons to be bullish about augmented reality. It’s just neat is the most important reason. Its practicality is another great factor. But above all, the fact that Apple is about to unleash its app developers to go crazy with AR in iOS 11 means that a ton of content should be coming. This humble measuring tape app is just the tip of the iceberg.

Yes, HoloLens, the big daddy AR device is still
a long way
from being in an average user’s hands. But unlike VR, using a phone for AR can still produce some great experiences. Virtual Reality is betting on games as the gateway drug to ubiquity. That’s a tried and true approach that might work… eventually. AR is already slowly making a splash with phone apps and games that work okay,
Pokemon Go
being the most notable example.


Earlier this month Apple dropped its AR kit for developers and promised that it will significantly improve AR performance on all iOS devices. At the time that it was announced,
Gadgetlayout’s Alex Cranz wrote
, “With [Google’s] Project Tango you can measure a window by pointing your phone at it, or know exactly how much space a couch can take up in a room. Apple seems to think it can do that with all the hardware built into last year’s iPhone 7.” If this
video demonstration
of an AR measuring tape in iOS 11 is to be believed, then yes, you can totally measure a window by pointing your phone at it.

While gaming has been a gateway drug for technology for a long time, there’s another way to get users to wrap their head around new possibilities: appealing to their prurient/lewd interests. Many people were first introduced to
online payment systems
because they needed a way to pay for porn. Pretty much everyone who was an early adopter of smartphones had a fart app. Snapchat, of course, turned
an app for dick pics
into a multi-billion dollar IPO. Take a wild guess what people are going to do with this measuring tape app.

But once people have finished screen recording measurements of their member, they’ll still have this handy app to measure things they actually
to measure. And there will be so many other AR applications that we haven’t considered yet, all handled by a device that you already have in your pocket.


The company behind this video demo,
Laan Labs
, appears to have a decent amount of iOS development experience, so expect this to be legit. For now,
all they are saying
is that it will be released when iOS 11 comes out in the fall.



Apple’s Planet of the Apps is the boring college lecture you never attended

Cable channels have been losing sleep over the blitzkreig of shows from Netflix and Amazon Prime
hen Apple announced its plans of entering the show business, it did spell doom for them. But when Apple’s debut show, Planet of the Apps actually premiered last month, TV channels knew they still had a chance of survival.

For some reason, Apple’s idea of a debut series was a reality show
if there weren’t enough of them already)
But of course with a twist. While most reality shows dealt with honing one’s singing skills or showing off their general knowledge, Apple chose something close to its heart. Apps. It fondly named the show

Planet of the Apps.

In the show, developers are given 60 seconds to pitch their idea of an app to
celebrity advisors on an escalator in the Pitch Room, a spin on the classic

elevator pitch”. At the end of the escalator ride, the advisors either swipe green or red. Four reds from the four advisors means they’re out of the game, but one green means they get another chance to convince any of the advisors to partner with them and hone their pitching skills for a chance to win over 10 million dollars of VC funding and a chance to showcase their app on Apple’s App Store.


So far the series
seen some interesting developments happening. From an augmented reality app
an Air Force Veteran, to having all the advisors fighting to partner with the same developer, the show is getting heated up.

Now in the fifth episode of the series, we have a funny personalised weather app
yet another one?) named Poncho, which comes with the tag line,

We’ve got you covered!”, yet another meditation app,

Stop, Breathe and Think!”, because anxiety and depression are on the rise, and a bunch of them which got rejected right at the start.

But f
ive episodes down the line, we noticed that the advisors seem more inclined to figure out which app has the most chance of success. They seem to notice which is the most lucrative of them all than really give an idea a shot. Things like Daily Active Users are previous fundings are paid more attention than really exploring a new idea and seeing where it goes.
Perhaps that’s the problem of dumbing down something as intricate as developing an app to a matter of swiping left or right. The apps too are all tried and tested and there really isn’t anything new on offer.

However, while it may feel weird for Apple to foray into a reality show, it could very well be an indicator into what’s in store for
the future. You
can never
discount a company like Apple that has literally pioneered the present we are
. The very concept of apps came out of the mind of Steve Jobs and it is the legacy of the iconic CEO that is being channeled into Planet of the Apps.

There’s no way of knowing whether
would have approved of this but we can say one thing for sure

Apps really are the future and it makes sense to build something as familiar as a reality show around it. If you consider the premises of earlier reality shows on television, they were all aspirational.
wanted to be singers, many more wanted to be dancers, some wanted to use their general knowledge to become millionaires. But slowly, and surely, the aspirations of the present and the upcoming generation is shifting towards becoming entrepreneurs.

Planet of the Apps, on face value, may come across as boring and not-so-innovative, but look a little closer at what is happening. Apple is slowly changing the way we perceive the world of apps and developers. They really are the new rock

stars. We have seen so many success stories from the world of software that it has become the new rock

n’ roll. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Evan Spiegel and Snapchat. Palmer Luckey and Oculus. Who doesn’t want to be someone like them?

Midway into the first season, it is clear what Apple
is attempting to do. It is trying to make app development mainstream. It is putting these nerdy developers straight into people’s living room and making viewers want to be like them. Apple is putting viewers into their shoes and navigating them through a world of
jargons, VCs, fundings, all the ups and downs and
is showing
in a way
is relatable to just about anybody.

Watch Planet of the Apps, not for the entertainment
because there really isn’t any), but for the learnings you can take away from it. The fifth episode premiered on July 11th on Apple Music. You will of course need an Apple Music subscription for it.


The Evolution of Social Media: How did we get here in the last 20 years

13 years after its launch, Facebook has now crossed 2 Billion monthly active users with as many as five new profiles created every second. People upload a total of 300 million pictures every day and the average user spends around 20 minutes on Facebook each day. Just thinking about the scale of that is staggering. Think how far this social media company has come in just 13 years that it has dominated social media and crept into our lives so much so that it’s become synonymous with living.

Yet it wasn’t Facebook that started the social media trend before Zuckerberg ensnared billions with his platform, Six Degrees became the first social media platform in 1997. It allowed users to create profiles and add their friends. Before that, people used Internet Relay Chat and thereafter ICQ. After Six degrees, the years approaching the millennium saw the advent of blogs and forums.

In 2001, Wikipedia was launched and while it doesn’t count as a social media platform, it plays an interesting part in today’s world where information about everything and anything is available at the portal. While many of you might be surprised by this fact but LinkedIn was launched in 2002 and was the first social media website dedicated to professionals. Around the same time, platforms such as Friendster, Hi5 and MySpace became popular until 2004.

Two major platforms that were going to dominate the social media industry, one resulting in the demise of other were launched. Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg was made live for Harvard students and Google-owned Orkut changed the way people interacted with each other. Orkut dictated the social media scene all around the globe for almost a decade till Facebook stole its thunder and Orkut was dissolved.

Video and Photo sharing platforms, YouTube and Flickr also came on the radar while Facebook started attracting users. 2006 saw the microblogging platform, Twitter making its debut followed by Tumblr and WhatsApp in 2007 and 2009 respectively. Facebook was growing rapidly by that time and had already garnered 150 million active monthly users in 2009. Twitter, on the other hand, had a steady growth in 7 million unique visitors using the microblogging website.

Instagram, the photo and video sharing social media platform, made its debut in the year 2010 and gained a million users by the end of the year.

Snapchat, instant image and video messaging app for iOS users was launched in 2011 followed by an Android app in 2012. Until then, 20 million pictures were being shared on the iOS app alone.

WeChat, a social media service from China was way ahead of its competitors in terms of the features it offered. The service allowed users to send a text message, make voice and video call, pay bills and transfer money using its own payments service along with news feeds and search options. Though it was jam packed with features that were still not available on many major players in the social media industry, WeChat remained very popular in China with over 90 percent users of the app hailing from there.

Facebook had pretty much started impacting people’s daily life by then and had revamped their chat interface and relaunched it as a separate app, Facebook Messenger, by mid-2011. Facebook Messenger is a chat application that lets users, message instantly to their peers and allows voice and video calls. The Messenger had already gained 600 million users by the end of 2015.

Cut to 2017, four out of the most popular, most used social media platforms are today owned by Facebook with an approximate 5 billion user base that spans Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Facebook itself.

To put it in perspective, our planet has a population of 7.5 billion people.

A lot has changed in the past 20 years, with Internet becoming accessible to most people, mobiles becoming ever so popular that around 7 billion of us use them, smart or otherwise. Social media platforms have developed ways of creating business opportunities and money, of course, having been actively influencing people’s opinions across the world. Facebook Live videos, Instagram Stories and unverified information surround us today, creeping the hell out of us. People maintaining a second self, a digital one that showcases its opinions and rants about day-to-day ongoings, criticising other “selves” for not thinking like them and spreading information as the messengers of humanity. For what?

To Connect! All this hullabaloo, just so you could be in touch with your best friend who’s moved to another city or the professor to tell them about your growth in the “real” world or maybe your parents, to make them proud of what you have become. Isn’t it?

Today, June 30, marks the eighth annual celebration of social media as the Social Media Day. Launched by Mashable back in 2010, Social Media Day celebrates global communication and connections between traditions and lifestyles across the world. While I’m not advocating that one social media platform alone has become way too ubiquitous, I think it’s time we introspect and really connect.


This Tinder-like app is strictly meant for platonic friendships

There is now a place for everyone who writes

Not here for hookups” in their Tinder bio. Patook wants to be the platonic Tinder, a place for finding new friends, minus the benefits.
So far friendship has
remained elusive for dating apps to crack is the crux of this app. The app launched in beta back in 2016
It’s premise?

Strictly platonic friend making app.”

The app came out of beta this month and has around 70,000 active users. Founder Tony Daher told



users are sending around 15 thousand messages a day.

Patook also uses the Tinder model of accepting and rejecting people. You swipe your preference but you also have the option of getting a list view. Somehow, the app believes that condensing the screening process even further will result in fruitful friendships.

However, the app also offers users to filter out options through a range of specs like gender, age, location and more. Likes, dislikes are also one way of screening while users can fill a questionnaire to flesh out their profile.

Based on the preferences, the app will try to match users based on your responses. But the most innovative feature is perhaps its most useful. Patook uses natural language processing to flag flirtatious behaviour. There is a flirt detection feature which will keep a lookout for people crossing the platonic line by using suggestive wordings.

“Anything that is even a hint more than strictly platonic is immediately banned. No romantic advances, no flirting/hitting on, no innuendos, no

friends first then we’ll see” behaviors… Over 5% of users who tried to join were banned before their first message was even delivered,” Daher told TechCrunch.

The app also conducts regular behavioral analysis to filter out creeps. Their attention to building anti-creep filters is commendable especially in the cyberspace where trolls and stalkers have almost made a genuine connection non existent. So, if you don’t need the added baggage of creeps stalking you from dating apps, Patook is the place to be.


Facebook reportedly working on app for live group video chat

Facebook is reportedly working on a stand-alone app that would soon help its over two billion users make live group video chats on its platform.

According to a report in The Verge late on Wednesday, the app that copies technology startup Life On Air’s popular group video chat app ‘Houseparty’ was recently demonstrated for employees and is being targeted for a fall release.

The new app has the working name ‘Bonfire’. Details about ‘Bonfire’ are still unclear though it was described as “essentially a clone of Houseparty”.

Facebook’s move comes after Life On Air had helped make live broadcasting popular with its app ‘Meerkat’, which inspired its eventual competitors Facebook’s ‘Live’ and Twitter’s ‘Periscope’.

‘Houseparty’ is especially popular among teenagers and by November 2016, it had 1.2 million users spending a total of 20 million minutes on it daily.

It works by notifying a user’s friends whenever they have the app open, inviting them to hang out virtually on their smartphones.

According to the report, employees at Facebook were also recently shown an app called ‘Talk’, designed to encourage younger people to communicate with their grandparents using video chat.


A Guide to Apps That Make Your Photos Look Shitty

All images: Gadgetlayout

There are thousands of photo apps to download in the App Store. Some are great and some are terrible. But it seems apps that’ll make your photos look like a 3-year-old took them are sometimes the most popular.

There’s been a rise in photo apps that make your photos look crappy, only because the filters are supposed to mimic old-timey photography. Image-obsesselebrities such as Kim Kardashian have made this style of photo even more popular.

While the nostalgic aesthetic is sometimes
, it’s easier to just go the #nofilter route. But if you’re a person who wants to seem trendy and post bad photos, here’s a guide to some of the best apps to tarnish the good quality photos you take with your smartphone camera, which has never been better.


Because buying a disposable camera and developing its film is both complicated and expensive nowadays, there’s now an app that’ll let you relive the struggles of photography in the ’80s.



Gudak is a photo app that simulates what its like taking photos with a Kodak disposable camera. It has filters that simulate light leaks, reddish hues, and over-saturated color. To make things feel even more realistic, the app only lets you take 24 photos per day, and you have to wait three entire days until you can “develop” and see the images. You know, because that’s how it was in the good old days. Oh, and it also costs money to download-$0.99.


Once upon a time, light leaks, grain, and flares were a photographer’s worst nightmare. But now, photo apps are using typical photo complications as hip filters. Filterloop is one of those apps.

Filterloop allows you to washout photos with analog film effects. It also lets you stack up filters to make photos look really bad and hardly visible. And you can do it all for free.


There’s a free app called BitCam that lets you turn your photos into a pixelated mess. The app is described as a “blast from the past,” but the only thing you’ll be revisiting is the low number of likes you get if you use this filter. You might think it’s cool, but know that cool and good are not synonyms. Cool is also subjective. So just because you post a photo on Instagram that you think is cool, it doesn’t mean it’s good.

SoSoCamera Lite

SoSoCamera Lite lets you take multiple shots and pair them up with analog film layouts to turn your photos into a photo strip. Most of the filters are oversaturated and resemble Instagram’s early filters. So if you use this app, it’ll make all your photos look like they were taken in 2010.


Glitches aren’t cool, but Glitche wants to make them acceptable as a photo filter. This app makes photos look distorted just as your computer screen would look when there’s a glitch. It’s quite simple to use and for $0.99 you can create terrible photos to post on Instagram.

RAD VHS Camera Effects

This app takes bad filters to another level by distorting your video and making it seem like it was recorded in the ’90s. It could be fun for a little while, but not for showing off your vacation videos on Facebook. The app is a bit annoying too, since it has ads, but you can remove them if you buy the pro version for $2.99-which is not worth it.

Fisheye – Fisheye Camera with Film and LOMO Lens

Unless you’re going to take a cute photo of your dog’s nose, the Fisheye filter is pretty much useless. It will automatically take a decent photo and make it ten times crappier. But if that’s what you’re looking for, then go ahead and download Fisheye-it’s free to distort your photos.


Anything that the has the words “hip” or “hipster” in the name should automatically be deleted from this world. But here we are with an app called “Hipstamatic.” This app has an array of filters that will not be worthy of the $2.99 you’ll spend on it. There is a free version that lets you add analog filters to your photos, but if you’re going to do that, might as well stick to using Valencia on Instagram.