Meta launches genAI features for ads

This week, Meta announced it is beginning the rollout of generative AI capabilities in Ads Manager. These should be globally available by next year.

These capabilities are:

  • Background generation. The creation of multiple ad backgrounds allowing advertisers to choose relevant creative for their targeted audiences.
  • Image expansion. Automates the adjustment of image assets to aspect ratios suitable for specific channels like Feed or Reels.
  • Text variations. The generation of multiple text options based on the advertiser’s original copy to better reach selected audiences.

Meta has been testing the features in an AI Sandbox, making them available to a small and varied set of advertisers. Feedback includes saving “five or more hours a week,” said Meta.

Meta also reiterated the announcement made at the Connect conference that businesses will soon be able to use AI to generate conversational responses to customers on Messenger and WhatsApp.

GenAI magic. “I think the most interesting part is where it magically finds the right text and combination of elements to maximize ad effectiveness,” said Andrew Frank, VP distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Inserting generative AI into the Facebook (and Instagram) ad workflow is likely to appeal to the smaller businesses that constitute the bedrock of Meta’s advertising business. “Most of it is small brand advertisers and a lot of it is highly targeted, localized, topical content. A lot of the effort for those advertisers is the menial reformatting of videos to fit the right aspect ratio and stuff; so I can certainly see how that would be helpful for smaller organizations,” Frank said.

For the enterprise, it may be the case that ad creation takes place in systems before the ad is deployed in a Meta channel. “If you’re an enterprise, then you’re probably relying on your agency to do a lot of the things

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WhatsApp debuts new in-app shopping features and more

What you need to know

  • WhatsApp introduced an in-app shopping capability that allows users to buy directly from merchants using the WhatsApp Business platform.
  • Meta notes that the feature is rolling out to businesses globally that are using the platform.
  • Other business features are rolling out, including easier payment functions and a verification process for businesses.

Lately, WhatsApp has been trying to move beyond basic chats. The Meta-owned platform started to prioritize e-commerce functions as part of its growth strategy — and now the platform is debuting new features that will further propel the WhatsApp Business platform.

At the company’s global Conversations event in Mumbai, WhatsApp introduced an in-app shopping feature for merchants and customers. Dubbed ”Flows,” the feature allows users to buy directly within the app from merchants using the app’s business platform. 

“We’re launching Flows so businesses can offer more experiences like quickly choosing your train seat, ordering a meal or booking an appointment – all without leaving your chat,” the company said in the announcement.

Meta promises that the feature, which allows businesses to provide their WhatsApp customers with menus and customizable forms, will be made available to businesses — at least, to those merchants using WhatsApp’s business platform — worldwide in the next few weeks.

WhatsApp's in-app shopping function, Flows.

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

Elsewhere on the app, the company also notes that it’s making it easier to complete a purchase within a chat. Within the app, users in India now have the ability to choose their preferred mode of payment from supported UPI apps, debit and credit cards, and more. WhatsApp is also partnering with payment partners, including RazorPay and PayU, to streamline the check-out experience. Earlier this year, the company had already introduced merchant payment support for users in Brazil. 

Further, the company is introducing a verification process for WhatsApp

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This app lets you use one of the best iOS 17 features on Android

What you need to know

  • iOS 17 introduces StandBy Mode for iPhone models, providing a smart display-like experience when charging. 
  • While some Android phones offer a similar interface, it’s not as feature-rich as what iOS 17 brings.
  • StandBy Mode Pro emulates this iOS 17 feature but includes a lot more customization than even what Apple will offer.

When Apple introduced iOS 17, there really weren’t a lot of “game-changing” features unless you’ve never used an Android phone before. But in my time testing out the iOS 17 beta on my iPhone 14 Pro Max, I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy the “new” StandBy Mode. 

Basically, this turns your iPhone into a smart display of sorts, complete with a digital clock and various widgets to show things like your calendar, upcoming tasks, or the weather. This is nothing new in the Android space, as Samsung phones offer something similar thanks to the always-on display, but it doesn’t really “hit the spot.”

As you might suspect, a bunch of apps hit the Play Store shortly after iOS 17 was unveiled, which aimed to bring StandBy Mode to all Android phones. But there’s one app that I’ve been relying on for a while now, and it’s slowly turning into one of my favorite apps of the year.

Aptly named StandBy Mode Pro, the app “turns your phone or tablet into a Smart Display while it charges.” But instead of just imitating the different clocks and widgets that you’ll find on the iPhone running iOS 17, there are quite a few more options to choose from. You can opt for the “Duo” mode, which splits your screen in half and places scrollable widgets on either side. 

Taking things even further, StandBy Mode Pro borrows the “night mode” from iOS 17, putting a red tint on

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Google unveils its plans for Android 14’s advanced cellular security features

Last updated: August 11th, 2023 at 10:37 UTC+02:00

Google has been continuously working to improve the security features of its Android OS since its initial versions to protect users from increasing malware attacks. Now, while we are on the verge of the release of Android 14 OS, Google has revealed a ‘first-of-a-kind’ cellular connectivity security feature.

The company already introduced the option to turn off insecure 2G connections two years ago with Android 12. Now with Android 14, they wish to take the cellular security features to another level and combat poor connectivity and encryption standards for phone calls and messages.

In an official blog post, Google announced that with the arrival of Android 14, users would get a new toggle called  ‘Require Encryption.’ As per the currently available draft, the description of this toggle reads, “Encryption is more secure, but you might not be able to connect in some locations. For emergency calls, encryption is never required.” Google has added this toggle because users cannot tell whether their calls and SMS are adequately encrypted.

Android 14 will offer the option to turn off unused 2G connectivity

Many carriers use null ciphers, opening gates for foreign actors to intercept SMS and call over the air. While these null ciphers are there for testing and debugging purposes, the report clarifies that many networks always use these misconfigured null ciphers. Thanks to the new Android 14 advanced cellular security toggle called ‘Require Encryption,’ the phone will reject null cipher connections, making it harder to intercept your calls and SMS. Also, it will turn off unused or less used 2G connectivity.

There is no clarity on whether this new feature will come on the already-sold devices in the market because it requires a tweak to the underlying hardware, the Hardware

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Looking for a Google Maps Alternative? This Android Auto App Will Soon Get New Features

Google Maps and Waze dominate the navigation world on Android and Android Auto, but the search for alternatives is a never-ending struggle due to bugs appearing occasionally.
OsmAnd on Android Auto
10 photos

Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/OsmAnd

OsmAnd is a top choice, using the OpenStreetMap (OSM) map database for accurate directions and up-to-date information.

A new version scheduled to launch this month will boast a long list of improvements, including Android Auto refinements that’ll make the app an even better alternative to the like of Google Maps.

Let’s start with the Android Auto improvements.

The OsmAnd development team says engineers have been working on making the interface more straightforward, and the first menu getting a facelift offers faster access to favorites, tracks, and POI categories. Version 4.5 will include a new start screen that’ll bring all these items under the same roof.

As a result, OsmAnd will no longer display favorites, tracks, and POI categories separately, eventually making the interface more organized. Users who save their favorites and settings on the device will be allowed to upload the data to OsmAnd Cloud. However, this feature will be exclusive to mobile devices – you can still make changes on Android Auto but can’t upload the data directly from the dashboard screen.

The new version will also include 3D relief support for Terrain maps and an option to announce deviation from the route. The new feature should make it easier to follow an active route and notice suggested deviations, especially when the application finds faster routes to the destination.

The upcoming update will include additional refinements for widgets, pedestrian routing, and track management.

Users who want to stick with Google Maps on Android and Android Auto must know of a glitch that breaks down alternate routes. Due to a glitch introduced in a recent app update, Google

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Google launches a fresh fleet of features across Android phones and watches

Summer is just around the corner, and Google is celebrating the warm season with a slew of updates across Android, the web, and WearOS. While we still have to wait for the June Feature Drop to hit the Pixel devices as a system update, the company is already rolling out new features to its apps and services on all kinds of devices.


Google is still in the process of creating more widgets, and that’s particularly clear with this feature drop. Phones and tablets are in to get new widgets for Google Finance, Google TV, and Google News. The former widget is apparently already rolling out widely, and it’s part of the Google app. It allows you to track your most important investments right on your home screen, in case you want some more anxiety whenever you turn your phone’s screen on. Meanwhile, Google TV’s widget wants to make it easier to find personalized watch suggestions at a glance, and the Google News home screen addition will offer the latest and most important headlines right at your fingertips.

Animation of new Android widgets for Google apps, with Google TV app being opened

Source: Google

While none of these widgets are entirely new concepts, they all share the same Material You design language, making them feel right at home on Pixel phones. The widgets are available globally on devices running Android 6 and newer.

Emoji Kitchen updates

Render of phone with Gboard's emoji picker opened, showing shark combo creations

Source: Google

When Google first released its emoji-merging feature for Gboard it was an instant hit, and Emoji Kitchen is only getting better with every passing month. As part of the June Feature Drop, Google is adding new summer-themed emoji combinations to the mix, though the company is still light on the details. A look at the image provided by the company below teases that some of the

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