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The best alternatives for Facetime on Android devices (How to Facetime on Android)

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If you know a lot of people who use iPhones you probably hear a lot about FaceTime. Apple launched FaceTime back in 2010 with the iPhone 4 as a way for Apple users to connect on a more personal level. Video calling is not a new concept by any means, but the nice thing about FaceTime is it’s built right into the phone dialer. The problem is FaceTime currently only works between Apple devices. What is an Android user to do? Will you be able to use FaceTime if you’re switching from an iPhone?

What You’ll Miss

The bad news is you won’t be able to completely replicate FaceTime functionality on Android. Apple will most likely never release a FaceTime app for other platforms, and Android doesn’t have an integrated video calling feature. That’s the one thing you will miss the most if you’re switching from an iPhone to Android: the deep integration.

Getting a FaceTime call is no different from getting a normal phone call, and everyone who owns an iPhone is automatically signed in. iPhone users don’t have to worry about getting their friends to install and sign up for a 3rd-party app. The good news is there are plenty of awesome alternatives, and since Android allows apps to hook into the OS you can get close to the same integration. Here are a few of our favorites!

Google Hangouts

The obvious FaceTime replacement for Android is Google’s own Hangouts app. In fact, Hangouts can even replace iMessage. Hangouts can do SMS, MMS, audio calls, and of course video calls with groups and one-on-one. To use Hangouts you’ll need a Google account, and then you can message or call anyone else with a Google account (which most people already have). Hangouts is available for both Android, iOS, and on the web.

Skype

Skype is one of the most well-known and ubiquitous video calling services to ever exist. It has been around since way back in 2003. Today Skype is available on nearly every platform you can imagine, including Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. You can do video calls (including group calls), audio calls, and even text messaging. Calling or messaging other Skype users is free.

Viber

viber

Viber is another option that offers all the basics: HD video and audio calls, photo and video messages, and text messages. On Viber, your phone number is your ID. The app syncs with your mobile contact list, automatically detecting which of your contacts have Viber. This makes it really easy to connect with people because you don’t need to remember a username. Viber is available for free on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and desktop.

Tango

tango

When Apple first showed off FaceTime there was a rush to be the Android equivalent. For a time it looked like Tango would be that app as HTC pre-installed Tango on their devices. Today Tango offers what you would expect: HD video and audio calls, text messaging, and group chat. You can also explore channels of content, and play games with friends.It’s available for free on Android, iOS, and Windows.

ooVoo

ooVoo

ooVoo is another app similar to Viber and Tango. You can use it to make free HD video calls, audio-only calls, group chat, and send messages to other ooVoo users for free. One thing that ooVoo has that not all of these apps can do is group video calls with up to 12 people. ooVoo is available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and desktop.

LINE

LINE

With over 350 million users, LINE is one of the top 10 most popular messaging apps in the world, and you’ve probably never heard of it. LINE allows users to make free voice and video calls, send group messages, and has tons of fun stickers. It’s available on nearly every platform imaginable, including Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Firefox OS, and desktop.

Snapchat

Snapchat video

Now that we’ve shared some of the obvious alternatives it’s time to think out of the box. Did you know Snapchat can do video messaging? I don’t just mean sending 10-second snaps to your friends. I’m talking about live one-on-one video calls and text messaging.

Snapchat Chat works differently than any other video calling app. You can’t really even “call” someone in the traditional sense. Swipe right on a name in your inbox to open the chat screen. When both you and your friend are on the chat page at the same time you can press the blue button to open up a video call. It’s one of Snapchat’s lesser known features, but it works well.

Facebook Messenger

FB Messenger

A lot of people like FaceTime because it can be used over WiFi and the audio quality is much higher than a typical phone call. If you’re only interested in making audio calls to your friends you can use Facebook Messenger. The beauty is most people in the world use Facebook, so it should be easy to contact your friends. When you’re in a conversation with a friend you should see a blue phone icon. Tap it to go into a call.

The Bottom Line

The best video calling app for you will depend on your needs. More importantly, you’ll have to find the one that all of your friends and family members are willing to use. That’s the sad thing about messaging apps. It doesn’t matter how many features the app has, or how well it’s designed. What matters is the platform and if you can get people to switch.

If all your friends and family members are super stubborn FaceTime users you’re going to feel left out. Your best bet is common apps such as Hangouts or Facebook Messenger. Most people in the world already have accounts for those services. Apple is trying to lock people into their walled garden, but with these awesome apps at your disposal you can fight back.

Phandroid

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More than 3,000 tech employees are volunteering their skills to turn the tables politically

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There have always been outliers, people in tech who are willing to volunteer to help certain candidates. An even smaller percentage of techies quit their jobs to join campaigns. Still, it’s probably safe to say that most tech employees, who are also U.S. citizens, have long viewed the extent of their obligation as Americans to vote for their preferred candidate — then get back to work.

The surprising rise of Donald Trump has changed that stance in largely liberal Silicon Valley. In fact, more than 3,000 skilled tech workers have now signed on to help a nonprofit called Tech for Campaigns that injects tech talent into the campaigns of centrist and liberal candidates who need advice and tools to better make use of Facebook and Twitter, craft individualized emails for segmented voters and much more.

More people are signing up to help every day, too, particularly now that the low-flying organization is raising its profile a bit to further that momentum.

It has been writing explainers, for example, including this one in Quartz, on the importance of focusing on so-called down-ballot (non-presidential) state races. Tech for Campaigns also recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $250,000 to hire additional full-time employees who can help its three co-founders — entrepreneurs Jessica Alter, Pete Kazanjy and Ian Ferguson — run the organization. (It has 23 days remaining to reach its goal.)

We talked recently with Alter about that campaign, as well as to get a better understanding of the specific candidates Tech for Campaigns is aiming to help, and how. Our chat, following, has been edited for length.

TC: You’d previously started a founder dating company that was sold. How did you end up starting this nonprofit?

JA: Peter and I and our other co-founder, Ian, are all tech founders, and the election last year woke us up. After the inauguration, there was one alarming executive order after another. I like posting on social media, but saying, “I can’t take this anymore” wasn’t helping, and we were seeing the same from many people we know who wanted to do more but weren’t sure how.

TC: “60 Minutes” recently aired a segment with Trump’s digital head, who said Facebook employees embedded themselves with the campaign, trying to provide it expert help. He also said the Clinton campaign was offered some of the same help and declined it. Is your organization trying to get the job done for Democrats that they aren’t getting done themselves?

JA: We’re not saying that tech is coming in to save politics. But for every dollar spent on campaigns, only 5 to 10 percent goes to digital right now, which is a little crazy in 2017. Americans spend 5.6 hours a day online, yet 60 to 70 percent [of marketing dollars are] still going to TV and paper mail.

There are many under-exploited digital strategies [that campaigns could be using], like testing out messages, targeting people who wouldn’t necessarily watch TV but can be reached online and being able to show [return on investment] on that spend. So a lot of what we’re doing is educating campaign managers, many of whom come from field ops backgrounds. They build their careers by knocking on doors and making calls, which is important. But they don’t necessarily understand all the digital tools they could be using.

TC: You’re helping progressive and centrist campaigns play catch-up here. Who is signing up to help you with them?

JA: A lot of people. What started as a Google Doc in January with our friends became 700 sign-ups in a few days’ time. We now have more than 3,000 skilled digital volunteers who have day jobs but are willing and able to be deployed in small campaigns. By the end of next month, we’ll have completed 50 campaign projects; we’re hoping to tackle 500 by the end of 2018 midterm elections.

TC: Tell us about some of those projects, and how you settled on them.

JA: We’re doing a project in Virginia for a state legislator, for example, where we’re taking the list of [potential voters the campaign has] and helping them segment it in a much more detailed way so it can send different messages that have been designed for different lists. We’re also helping them understand the return [the return on investment] in that effort.

We also got very involved in a special election in Montana in May.

TC: Ugh. Where Republican Greg Gianforte won Montana’s seat in the House of Representatives, despite roughing up a reporter days earlier? What did your involvement entail? I remember he was up against a novice.

JA: We ran a Facebook program and a get-out-the-vote texting program for [that first-time candidate, Democrat Rob Quist]. Most of that state voted [via] absentee ballot, though, so most had cast their votes before that [scuffle with the reporter] happened.

TC: Looking back, is there anything different you would have done with that campaign or any other?

JA: There are things we wish we could have tried, but given the time we were working with — remember, this was a special election to fill a seat vacated by someone who’d joined Trump’s cabinet — we were proud of what we accomplished. [Quist’s camp] wasn’t going to do a texting project and we pushed them to do that.

TC: What other types of projects can you spin up for candidates?

JA: There are basically four categories, including digital basics like creating websites; email and analytics, which means marketing, getting more out of voter lists and voter data; social and digital media, which includes running paid digital programs; and engineering and data science-type projects.

One thing we’ve done for 2017 is focus on Virginia, which is one of two states that has a midterm election in less than 30 days. The governor is being elected and [the outcome will be seen as test of Trump’s popularity]. In fact, all 100 members of Virginia’s House of Delegates will go before voters. Republicans hold a majority of the chamber now, and are only one seat away from having a super majority, [and we want to change that].”

TC: How sort of “customized” would you say your various efforts are?

JA: We’re building technology to be shared across campaigns, as well as best practice toolkits. Building the former is what most of our [resources] will go toward. We’re building tech that we’ve seen missing — not reinventing email — then we’re allowing campaigns and state parties that are usually priced out to access it.

TC: How do you prioritize projects or campaigns?

JA: We have a data team that’s scoring every district in every state in the country to understand winnability. Then we work with state caucuses, which sort of oversee the races at the party level. We can do data modeling that helps them understand redistricting, for example, while they meanwhile know a lot that we don’t. We might say, “We think it’s these 25 districts,” and they’ll add their own on-the-ground understanding, explaining that a district is difficult because of XYZ that doesn’t show up in the data.

TC: How long do you typically engage with a campaign? Potential volunteers might like to know.

JA: Everything is scoped into a project with campaigns, and projects are typically four- to eight- week-long commitments involving three to five people who opt in. Most have day jobs and are fitting this work into their nights and weekends.

TC: That’s significant.

JA: When we speak with volunteers, they say the same thing over and over, which is that this is allowing them to volunteer their time and skills in a way that’s more impactful, without having to quit a job and join the campaign trail.

© 2017, Paul Umoh. All rights reserved.

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Amazon patents a drone that delivers a charge to power up EVs on the go

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A recent Amazon patent could be an answer to range anxiety, albeit one that sounds a bit more sci-fi than practical solution at the moment: the newly granted patent (via Roadshow) describes a drone that could carry a battery charge for electric cars, and deliver them to any cars out on the road that need them while in route, providing enough juice to get to a proper charging station.

There’s a lot that seems crazy about this patent, however – including the fact that drones themselves require a lot of tricky power management to get even limited flight times with lightweight cargo on board. Keeping themselves charged and within range of vehicles in need of a top-up might be the most challenging aspect of the idea overall, in fact.

It’s not the only hurdle in terms of making this thing real, either; the patent also describes a rooftop docking station that the drone can land on to stay connected with the vehicle and provide power on an ongoing basis while it continues along its route. That means either aftermarket modifications or buy-in from automakers will be required to make it happen, too.

At the moment, it’s not a super realistic concept, in other words. But it has potential, especially if we get to a future where EVs are commonplace, as are drone delivery services (something Amazon definitely is interested in making happen).

© 2017, Paul Umoh. All rights reserved.

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Magic Leap confirms $502 million Series D round

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Mixed reality slash augmented reality startup Magic Leap announced today that it raised a $502 million Series D round led by Temasek with participation from EDBI, Grupo Globo, Janus Henderson, Alibaba Group, Fidelity Management and others. Just last week, a Delaware filing confirmed that Magic Leap authorized up to $1 billion in new shares.

“We’re excited to welcome Temasek and the other new investors in this round to the Magic Leap family,” Magic Leap founder and president Rony Abovitz said in a release. “We also greatly appreciate the strong support and partnership from our existing shareholders.”

It’s still not totally clear what Magic Leap is doing, but it sure has raised a ton of money (more than $1.9 billion) in order to do whatever it is that it’s doing. To date, we’ve been able to gather that the company may be launching a device called “Magic Leap One.” And last month, Bloomberg suggested Magic Leap may be gearing up to ship that device to a “small group of users” in the next six months or so.

You can listen to the Equity podcast crew talk about Magic Leap’s ambitions on their show last week.

© 2017, Paul Umoh. All rights reserved.

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