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Japan’s Line Passes 200M Global Downloads Of Its Messaging App But Still Isn’t Reporting Monthly Actives (Original)

Line downloads growth

Line continues its apparent growth tear. The mobile messaging app that’s extremely popular in its home market of Japan has announced it’s passed the 200 million global registered users mark, some two years after launching. Line passed 100 million users back in January.

It should be noted that the 200 million figure is not monthly active users but rather refers to app downloads – combined for Line’s iPhone/Android/Windows Phone/BlackBerry/Nokia Asha/feature phone apps. The company also does not break out sent/received monthly messages, which is another useful metric to judge messaging app engagement. However it has previously told TechCrunch the proportion of active to registered monthly Line users can be as high as 80%.

That active peak is likely to be in Line’s Asian stronghold markets,  like Japan, rather than the international markets it has since expanded to — including the U.S. and Europe, however.

Line competes with a raft of mobile messaging apps — including the veteran WhatsApp, which last month announced it had hit 250 million monthly active users. While relative newcomer, China’s WeChat, now has a registered user base of around 300 million — of which it reports 190 million are monthly active users. If Line continues to eschew reporting its monthly active users it’s hard to escape the conclusion it’s struggling to match the engagement levels of its biggest rivals.…

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Google Brings Voice Calling Back to Gmail, Now Under Hangouts (Original)

Google-hangouts

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Gmail users who upgraded Google Talk to Hangouts back in May were up in arms after discovering that doing so removed the ability to make voice calls. Google addressed this issue on Tuesday after it finally introduced voice calls to Hangouts.

"For those of you who have taken the plunge and are using desktop Hangouts in Gmail, Google+ and the Chrome extension, we've heard loud and clear that you miss the ability to make calls from Gmail, so today, we're happy to announce it's back," Alex Wiesen, a senior software engineer, wrote in a blog post.

Citing new features such as adding multiple phone numbers and video participants to the same call, as well as playing sound effects with the Google Effect app, Wiesen said the newly dubbed "Hangouts calling" is "better than before." He added that calls to the U.S. and Canada are free from countries where Hangouts calling is available, while international rates are reasonably priced Read more...

More about Google, Gmail, Voice Calling, Voice Calls, and Google Hangouts

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Viber Is Testing New Revenue Models, Value-Add Features By Integrating With Traditional Telephony (Original)

viber

Viber has just confirmed to TechCrunch that it is running an extremely limited test that would allow Viber to act as a “call terminator” — which refers to the carrier that offers the last (and most expensive) leg of an international call’s three-part process.

Along with offering Viber the ability to add new features to the free calling/messaging app, over 200 million users strong, this would also offer the Israeli-based startup an opportunity to monetize its entirely free service.

Right now, Viber offers free Viber-to-Viber calling with the option to complete the call through your carrier should the intended recipient be Viber-free. The app also offers free Viber-to-Viber messages with the same back-up plan via carrier.

CEO Talmon Marco mentioned this spring that monetization was on its way, but that it wouldn’t be with ads. Rather, Viber will offer value-added paid features to users, which founder Talmon Marco expressed would be “coming soon” in an interview with TechCrunch.

He also mentioned that deals with carriers were a solid option, wherein carriers could promote Viber in an effort to sell larger data plans. In fact, Viber recently signed a deal with an Indonesian operater called Axis to do just that. But in April, Marco also said that partnerships where Viber offered enhanced voice calling over a carrier network would be a viable option for a shared revenue stream.…

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Skype Passes 100M Android Installs and Launches Redesigned 4.0 (Original)

Just recently, we reached a major milestone. Skype for Android is now installed on over 100 million phones worldwide. And we’re so thankful – reaching such an achievement would be impossible without the support of our users, and we continue to put you and your needs at the heart of everything we do.

Today we’re bringing 100 million of you a step further on our journey into the future. Last week we discussed how Skype’s Mobile Future demands a modern design that puts conversations first, focuses on quality & performance, and delivers a common set of experiences across multiple platforms and devices. Today, we’re excited to deliver in two of those areas with the all-new Skype for Android 4.0.

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Modern design, putting conversations first.

We started to reimagine what Skype would look like back when we launched our Windows Phone 8 app late last year. Our focus was simple: we wanted to deliver an app that makes your interactions easier and puts conversations first. Our Android team saw this great work and wanted to deliver an equally bold, beautiful, and modern design in this latest Skype for Android release.

We’ve completely redesigned Skype for Android to be faster and easier – especially when you’re trying to fire off a quick message.

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Skype’s Mobile Future: A Few Thoughts on the Road Ahead (Original)

Skype was founded under the simple principle that “the whole world can talk for free,” and I’m not sure any of us could have imagined the remarkable effect this would have had in our daily lives. From millions of young families sharing their weekly video call with proud grandparents, to connecting students around the world with Skype in the Classroom, to bringing families together of all kinds – Skype has become a fundamental part of how the world communicates.

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Lindsay Clang Portrait

That said, when you ask people “What’s Skype?”, pretty often the answer you’ll get is “it’s a free video calling app for your PC or Mac.” We love that; that got us to where we are today. But, as we all know, the world has changed. People’s computers are just as much in their pockets as on their desks, and Skype has grown up right along with this increasingly mobile world. Here’s a few things you may not know about us:

  • At certain points in the day, there are more people using Skype from their phone or tablet than from a PC.
  • Each month, the growth rate of new users coming to Skype on a tablet or phone is double what it was the year before.

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Comcast reportedly axing Skype on Xfinity June 1st (Original)

Comcast reportedly axing Skype on Xfinity from June 1st

Well, Comcast's idea to charge users $10 a month for set-top Skype hardware went as well as you could have expected. If DSLReports' sources are correct, the offering will be quietly retired on June 1st due to, surprise surprise, "low adoption." If you were one of the few triple-play customers who ponied up for the gear, fear not, as the leaked internal e-mail says that existing users will continue to be supported. Given that you can snag subscription-free gear from Logitech, Biscotti and others, it's no surprise to see Skype on Xfinity joining Cisco's Umi on the island of misfit telepresence devices.

Filed under: Cameras, Internet

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Source: DSLReports

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Telenet trials voice-over-IP mobile phone service (Original)

Belgian cable operator Telenet has launched a trial of its Triiing app, which enables users to make mobile phone calls using WiFi, with billing to their fixed line accounts.

Triiing enables Telenet customers to use WiFi to make calls at home or abroad via any WiFi network, free of charge in off-peak hours

According to the company, the app is the fist step in offering a range of mobile voice-over-IP services. Triiing is currently available for iOS phones with other operating systems set to follow later. Users need a a Telenet fixed line in order to use Triiing. They can phone all Belgian numbers and European landlines free-of-charge on weekdays after 16:00 at weekends and on public holidays.

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Now 200M Users Strong, Viber Launches Desktop App With Video Calling In Version 3.0 (Original)

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Viber has made quite a name for itself as a global mobile first company, but today that all changes as the company breaks ground in the desktop space. That means that starting today, Viber’s 200 million+ users will have access to their Viber contacts from both mobile and desktop.

The rollout is part of a bigger push from Viber, including an update to its iOS, Android and BlackBerry apps to version 3.0. But the real story is this desktop app.

I played with the software earlier this week, and can say that it’s a truly impressive VoIP, messaging, and video calling platform. That’s right. Viber for Desktop (available on both PC and Mac here) marks the company’s entry into video calling with a beta version of the feature. For now, video calling is only available from desktop to desktop.

Other than that, the desktop version has just about everything the mobile version has, including messaging, stickers, etc.

To start, you must be a mobile user of Viber, so if you don’t have a number that’s already associated with the service, the desktop app will ask you to download the mobile application. From there, you simply input your number into the desktop app, enter a pin which is sent to your mobile device, and you instantly have access to all the contacts you know on Viber.…

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Type Less. Talk More. Make Skype Calls Directly From Your Outlook.com Inbox (Original)

Starting today, Microsoft is rolling out a preview version of Skype for Outlook.com, bringing two great communication experiences together — all in one place! As part of our commitment to bring you the very best ways to communicate, this Skype for Outlook.com preview is beginning to roll out in the United Kingdom and will be made available in the United States and Germany in the coming weeks. In the coming months, audio and video calling powered by Skype will be available in every Outlook.com inbox. By adding Skype conversations to your modern email, Microsoft is creating yet another way for you to connect to the people you care about most.

With the preview version of Skype for Outlook.com you can enjoy Skype video and audio calls right from your inbox — less typing, more talking!  For those of you that aren’t familiar, Outlook.com is a free personal email service from Microsoft. In the first six months after launch, Outlook.com attracted 60 million new users, making it the fastest-growing email service in history.

Even with the best email service, sometimes text isn’t enough. We all face those situations where it’s just easier to jump on a call to talk something through. Sometimes that quick call can accomplish more than a long email reply.…

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DirecTV to add voice control to iOS and Android apps (Original)

DirecTV has announced that both its iOS and Android phone apps will receive updates this summer that will add voice search capabilities, with tablet apps to follow sometime thereafter.…

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