Messenger App: Facebook Not Required
Last week, Facebook began allowing even people who do not have an account to use Facebook Messenger. Now, assuming you are in the United States or select parts of North and South America, all you need is a first and last name and a phone number.
Phone users who download Messenger will now see a “Not on Facebook?” button, which will allow them to add their phone contacts and use those to match with people who have Facebook or Messenger accounts.
What’s the point of using Messenger if you already send texts and have no need for Facebook, you may ask? Well, Messenger now offers video and voice calling, a game interface, location sharing and a send-cash feature, among other features. And Facebook is hinting that further innovations to Messenger are right around the corner.
For now, accountless signups have rolled out to the U.S., Canada, Venezuela and Peru.
Google Algo Update Shakes Rankings
A little over a week ago, a new Google update shook up search rankings in some areas of the web.
Exactly what changed is still in debate, and Google’s official statement is that it was just a standard, periodic adjustment to the search engine’s core algorithm — not an extension of its Penguin, Panda or other major updates. But a large proportion of URLs fell in search results.
Because the timing coincides with a major migration of Wikipedia’s vast volumes to secure HTTPSThis is the protocol for secured data communication, and it requires authentication for privacy and integrity. A URL that begins https:// means that a site is encrypted. pages, some speculate that this accounts for much of the shifting. But Wikipedia makes up less than 1 percent of the URLs affected, so it’s unlikely to be the sole or even a major catalyst.
However, secure HTTPS pages overall do seem to have been disproportionately affected, ranking substantially higher or lower than before.
News Sites Get Boost in SERPs
Sites with new, newsworthy content also got a noticeable rankings spike from Google last week.
Popular news websites such as the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Gizmodo, and USA Today increased substantially in rankings. Google remains silent as to the possible cause.
The timing coincides with a major expansion of Google Trends, which now offers real-time data and a news-feed-style, “story-centric” homepage with more graphics for easier readability. Additionally, Trends now tracks Google News and YouTube, not just Google proper. The new version of the Trends page has rolled out in 28 countries, and there are plans to bring it to more in the near future.
Gmail Rolls Out “Undo Send” Button
One of Google Labs’ most popular extensions has now been baked directly into Gmail: the ability to “take back” an email you just sent.
Users can set a timer for up to 30 seconds, holding back the “sent” email until the “Undo” link disappears. Meanwhile, if senders have a change of heart, they can recall the email with the click of a mouse.
The beta version of this feature has been available for download in Google Labs for six years, but users had to search for and add it to use it. Now, it will be an automatic option in regular Gmail inboxes. If you wish to turn off the feature, you can go into Settings and uncheck the “Enable Undo Send” box. You can also shorten the number of seconds that the button will appear.