Chrome, Facebook, Vine and other popular apps for Android and iOS platforms got significant updates this week.
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App developers pushed out scores of updates to their applications this week. Smartphone and tablet owners can now do more with apps including Chrome, Facebook, Maps, Skype, Twitter, Vine and Yahoo Mail. Here's what's new.
-- Chrome: Google offered an update to its popular Android browser that adds full-screen browsing to tablets. Chrome now lets users hide the toolbar so Web pages will fill the entire display. The app added support for Google Translate, which will translate Web pages from one language to another. Last, Google Chrome for Android added a right-to-left viewing option to support languages such as Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew.
-- Facebook: Facebook was updated this week for both the Android and iOS platforms. For Android, Facebook gained the ability to share news stories privately, a new swipe-left-to-open messages gesture, the ability to store and run the app from microSD cards, and drag-and-drop folder support for Facebook Home. For iOS, Facebook added support for verified accounts, which lets iPhone and iPad owners stalk, er, search for and follow celebrities and other high-profile users. The app also made it easier to edit Places within Facebook.
-- Google Maps: Google rolled out a huge update to Google Maps. The update hit Android devices this week and will reach iOS devices soon. The new Google Maps makes it easier to search for nearby places with an Explore feature, and also added the ability to automatically alert drivers to changing road conditions ahead. Even better, Google is going to offer a version of Maps specifically for tablets.
-- Skype: Microsoft gave Windows Phone devices some love with a new version of Skype. Skype 2.8 for Windows Phone 8 makes significant improvements to the app's start-and-resume performance. Essentially, users who've multitasked away from Skype will see much faster resume behavior when they return to the app. Skype also makes changes to how it tallies unread conversations on the Live Tile and made the app available in South Korea.
-- Twitter: Twitter revised its application for Android and iOS devices, as well as its dedicated Mac desktop application. The most significant new feature in this version of Twitter is that it will sync direct message status across devices. One of Twitter's most nagging problems has been its inability to mark-as-read DMs between devices. Now, when a Twitter DM is read on one device, such as an Apple computer, it will be marked read on mobile devices as well. Twitter also refreshed the search tool, which provides more user details in results, and made it easier to join ongoing conversations.
-- Vine: Vine, Twitter's video-sharing social network, added tons of features to its Android app that should make users happy. The update gave Android devices a new quick-capture widget that can be put on the home screen and used to jump straight to recording a video. The app added 15 new channels through which users can browse for videos, and added the ability to share videos, which Vine calls re-Vining, with others. It also gained a new mute button and performance improvements.
-- Yahoo Mail: Yahoo updated its email app for both Android and iOS devices. Yahoo Mail for Android devices added integration with Dropbox. That means Yahoo Mail users can access and share their Dropbox files from within the email program. The app also now lets users swipe from message to message, and adds support for business mail accounts. The iOS version of Yahoo Mail gets business mail support, too, and throws in support for multiple accounts for good measure.
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Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.