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  1. After promising so much the highly anticipated encrypted chat project Hemlis has come to an end. The software was left with too many obstacles to overcome, not least the absence of former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde who was arrested and taken away to serve his jail sentence for copyright infringement last summer. During the summer of 2013 the Internet was abuzz with the revelations of Edward Snowden. The PRISM scandal exploded and suddenly everyone had confirmation that everything they do online can be stored and monitored on a staggering scale. As a direct result of this massive privacy breach, people around the world became motivated to fight back against what has developed into one of the biggest technology scandals of recent times. One of those groups consisted of former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde, who together with friends and Flattr allies Linus Olsson and Leif Högberg began working on Hemlis, a messaging app for both iOS and Android. The aim of the game was for Hemlis (‘secret’ in Swedish) to provide absolute secrecy, with only the sender and recipient able to read messages – not middle men like prying governments. “People act differently if they think someone is listening in to their conversation. That’s what Stasi taught us for instance. It’s one of many reasons why privacy is so vital,†Sunde told TF at the time. But with hundreds of news articles behind them and the two-year anniversary of the project’s birth just around the corner, the Hemlis team have now delivered the ultimate in bad news. “Lately we have been awfully quiet. The reasons are many, sad and non important right now. They have though made this project drag along and that made us understand a thing we feared for quite a while but neglected to accept. New messengers fail miserably,†the team said in a statement. “Each new attempt has made us understand that our goal of creating a mass market messenger just based on the fact that it is private, secure and beautiful, is not nearly enough. As the only reason we are doing this is to give you viable huge scale alternative to the existing systems there is really only one thing to do at this stage. Accept our current roadmap and goals as defunct.†While there were many reasons for the project to succeed, the challenges faced by the Hemlis team proved insurmountable. At least initially, financing wasn’t a problem, with around $150,000 raised via a short crowd-funding campaign. Then disaster struck when around $30,000 disappeared after a bitcoin wallet was stolen from Hemlis’ bitcoin supplier. Keeping up with the budgets of the competition also took its toll. “We decided to hire some people to help us out with the things we are not experts in. The process was slow and hit with lots of realizations that certain things would not work. The ideas were too complex and sometimes just too expensive,†Peter Sunde explains. “We had a lot of money, but far away [from] the same amount (we’re talking millions or billions) that our competitors had access to… They’ve had more progress and financial support so they could speed up their process to the level that they’re now really good. Better than our messaging app could become right now. Ok, they’re missing on features but they have the ability and cash to resolve those issues. And our goal was always to ensure that the everyday users would be protected.†But financial and technical issues aside, personal issues also played a big part in the project’s demise. “In the middle of it all one of our team members got a kid and had to focus on that of course. I personally had other issues as I got kidnapped by the Swedish government and locked up for my work with another project – The Pirate Bay. In the middle of the kidnapping, my father died,†Sunde explains. “I had no way of working on anything, and I’ve had a hard time with how I personally need to handle things. This project – as well as the other projects I’m involved in – were hit massively by my absence. And they still are, since I have not been able to get 100% on my feet yet. I’m getting there but just as with other things, it takes a lot of time.†A few weeks ago Sunde said the team took a step back to assess its position. While decent apps for both iOS and Android exist semi-completed, Hemlis is far from a market-ready product. More time and money would be need to be pumped in for it to succeed. “We decided that we could go two ways. We could ask for more money (a lot), either from the community or some investors. Or we could close down. Since we already got money from the community with way too little to show back from the expectations that felt wrong,†Sunde explains. “And we don’t think that it would be a good idea to ask investors for money since we’d lose control over the project. So in the end, closing it down felt like the least bad thing to do.†While many supporters of the project are supportive of the brave decision to close Hemlis down, others have been more critical. Some, having pumped money into the project and received nothing, are downright angry. Nevertheless, one of the big takeaways is that in some shape or form, Heml.is will be handed back to its backers. “We’ll release the usable parts of the code as free software with the most free license we can. It belongs to the community (and the community paid for it),†Sunde says, adding that there may be other ways to achieve similar aims. “I’m personally trying to influence people and politicians to make sure we don’t need systems like Heml.is. We should be protected by the governments instead of trying to protect ourselves from them. It’s a multi-angle attack needed, technology, political work and transparency,†Sunde concludes. https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bays-peter-sunde-kills-nsa-proof-messenger-app-150424/
  2. Cryptocat is a fun, accessible app for having encrypted chat with your friends, right in your browser and mobile phone. Everything is encrypted before it leaves your computer. Even the Cryptocat network itself can't read your messages. Cryptocat is open source, free software, developed by encryption professionals to make privacy accessible to everyone. Chat with groups of friends at the same time using Cryptocat's group chat encryption. Cryptocat's fun interface makes it easy! Send files and photos to friends quickly and easily, with the assurance that not even the Cryptocat network itself can read your data. Connect to Facebook Messenger to see which Facebook friends are also using Cryptocat, and set up encrypted chat with them instantly. https://crypto.cat/
  3. Around 92 percent of more than 64,000 Facebook users have given the Messenger app a one-star rating on App Annie over the past month. Facebook's Messenger app, which has shifted the social network's instant-messaging features off the main mobile app and onto its own standalone program, has found its niche -- among critics. App Annie, an analytics-tracking site that gathers the collective wisdom of app users, shows that Facebook's Messenger app has received nearly 59,000 one-star ratings from users over the past month, dwarfing the nearly 2,700 five-star ratings the app has received from users. That said, it's possible that not all of the reviews came from actual Facebook Messenger users. App Annie users can review apps without proving they had actually used the programs. Facebook announced at the end of last month that it was beginning the final phaseout of mobile messaging within its main app. The company rolled out the Messenger-only app in Europe in April, but has since rolled it out globally. In a statement to CNET last month, Facebook said that while it might seem unorthodox to break out a feature, the move is designed to "focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences." When users now try to send messages through Facebook's standalone mobile app, they are prompted to download Messenger. Upon doing so, users will still be able to see pending messages in the Facebook main app, but when they decide to respond, they are sent to the standalone Messenger. Not surprisingly, there has been some outcry among people who were previously accustomed to sending messages through the standard Facebook app. Facebook, however, has largely stayed out of the ongoing criticisms hitting the Web, deciding instead to focus on its data points that show using the Messenger app would make communicating with others 20 percent faster and more reliable than using the main app. App Annie is by no means is the last word on overall Facebook user sentiment. The compiled data does not come from a traditional survey. It is compiled from people actively choosing to vote. Thus App Annie can be a lightning rod for critics. At the same time, this is a large-scale reaction to Facebook's recent switch. Out of the more than 64,000 reviews of Facebook's Messenger in the past month, the app has only been able to garner a 1.2-star average rating. "I hate this app," one user wrote on App Annie's comments section. "Why make everything harder? Just don't understand that." Another user wrote: "I hate it! I delete it every day because Facebook force me to download that awful app every day." Another reason not to lend too much credence to the App Annie findings: while the opinions of 64,000 people is nothing to ignore, Facebook has well over 1 billion users worldwide and 200 million using its Messenger app. That leaves many, many people who haven't shared their opinions via App Annie. Still, the comments address the fact that at least some, very vocal people don't appreciate the transition or the new app. "We're focused on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and have recently added features like new ways to send photos and videos, group conversations, free voice calls, quick voice-based messages, and stickers," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET in an e-mailed statement. "Messenger is used by more than 200 million people every month, and we'll keep working to make it an even faster and more engaging way to connect with people." http://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-users-share-messenger-displeasure-in-online-pool/
  4. Facebook’s given its user base approximately one week to download the new messaging app in which texting abilities are being separated from the core Facebook app. Some users that have already downloaded the Facebook Messenger app are finding it to be offensive. One Facebook user in particular said that she is outraged at the privacy approvals users must give Facebook in order to download the Facebook Messenger app. “It makes me feel really angry. I think it’s a complete invasion of my privacy. We are growing up in a digital age but it’s hard knowing that everything you do is followed. It’s weird that Facebook and other apps are getting involved in your phone. It’s weird that I completely overlooked it,†she told CBS 6 News. Facebook’s new Messenger app is designed to let you text other Facebook friends, but you have to give away some privacy in order to gain texting capabilities. Here are the permissions you must give the new Facebook Messenger app: Identity Find accounts on the device Read your own contact card Contacts/Calendar Read your contacts Location Approximate location (network-based) Precise location (GPS and network-based) SMS Edit your text messages (SMS or MMS) Receive text messages (SMS) Read your text messages (SMS or MMS) Phone Directly call phone numbers Photos/Media/Files Read the contents of your USB storage Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage Camera/Microphone Take pictures and videos Record audio Wi-Fi connection information View Wi-Fi connections These permissions do not count others, such as the permission to give Facebook full network access to your phone and to even “change network connectivity.†For all of these permissions, you can view them by going to the Facebook Messenger app at Google Play, then scroll down to the section above “Google Play Content†that says “permissions.†While some are what normal apps require, we have to admit: the “edit and read your text messages,†as well as “record audio†permissions are a little weird for Facebook Messenger. If the company wants to learn more about its users, we’re not sure this is such a good idea. The best advice we can give users is this: read the permissions before agreeing to download the app. If these permissions make you feel uncomfortable, or if you think they give Facebook too much control, then do not download it. If you downloaded it in the past and you now feel uncomfortable, then the best thing to do is to use a carrier messaging app such as Verizon’s Message+, or some other carrier app that you think does a better job at maintaining privacy (FaceTime, or iMessage, for example). It’s likely the case that Instagram comes with many of the same permissions as Facebook Messenger.
  5. BlackBerry announced that the BBM app would make its way to Windows phone devices as far back as February of this year, but this announcement was followed by months of nothing. As of today, however, the waiting period is over. Windows Phone users who love BlackBerry’s Messenger app can now get their hands on the BBM app on their Windows Phone. The BBM for Windows Phone brings a few important factors to the text messaging experience, such as “chats,†“feeds,†and “contacts.†BBM’s “chats†page allows you to start individual or group messaging; “feeds†lets you stay up to date with what’s going on with your contacts, and “contacts†allows you to maintain information about your contacts or add new ones as you meet new people and make new friends. The new “pin†feature allows you to “pin†an interesting IM conversation you’re having to your main screen. You can press the “pin†symbol at the bottom of the chat page, and go to your home screen to find that the chat you just pinned to the start screen is now a Live Tile – that can also be moved around like other Live Tiles on the start screen. This allows you to maintain easy access to a chat that you’re involved with often, and keep up with a friend that’s truly close to you without having to make your way through an app or two to find where you left off in the conversation. While BlackBerry says that this feature is something unique to Windows Phone users that can’t be done on any other platform, the “pin†feature is unique in how it works – but the concept is the same. It’s true that Android and iOS users can’t “pin†a conversation in a text message to their home page for example, but Android widgets allow you to access your favorite contacts and conversations with just the tap of an icon.
  6. ou’ve been enjoying the convenience of having your messages and Facebook status updates in the core Facebook app. Well, prepare to be inconvenienced! Facebook’s now moved your messages to its Facebook Messenger app – prompting yet another download by some Facebook users who feel that the social media company should centralize its offerings. Facebook is now notifying users who’ve yet to download the Facebook messenger app on their phone by way of the Facebook Home page as well as their current list of Facebook messages sent to friends in the core Facebook app. There’s a “learn more†button you can press to learn about why Facebook’s moving its messages. In short, Facebook claims by way of its FAQ page that Facebook messenger gets your messages to you faster than the core Facebook app. At the same time, however, we here at Inferse have used both the core Facebook app for messages and the Facebook Messenger app – and we’ve yet to understand the difference in message delivery speeds. We’d like to be optimistic here, but we believe that Facebook’s doing this for company benefit rather than user benefit. In any case, the company’s not yet relocating everything. According to its FAQ page, “We’ll keep giving you links to install Messenger, and soon you’ll see a reminder notice where you’d normally see your messages. At that point, you’ll need to install Messenger or go to www.facebook.com from a browser to view and send messages.â€