Welcome, May! We’re kicking off a new month today with another edition of The Weekly Download.

On the docket: Facebook Messenger Rooms, Google Meet is now free for anybody, Google Shopping opens up free product listings, Apple makes Face ID easier for mask wearers, Instagram rounds up COVID-19 resources for businesses, Friday Fun and more.

Facebook Introduces Messenger Rooms

Look out, Zoom… There’s a new video conferencing service in town!

Facebook Rooms allows up to 50 users to start a video hangout with no time limit – plus, you don’t even need a Facebook account to join. 

Oh, and did we mention that it’s completely FREE?

You can invite anyone to join through other Facebook-owned apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and even through an ordinary shareable link. According to Mark Zuckerberg, a new feature will also display all active Messenger Rooms at the top of a user’s Facebook feed.

It’s no surprise that Facebook is trying to capitalize on the “new normal” we’re currently living. Have you tried Messenger Rooms yet?

Google Meet Video Conferencing is Now Free for Everyone

And speaking of free video conferencing services… Google Meet is now free for anybody to use.

Previously only available to enterprise and education customers via G Suite, the service is now available to anyone with a Google account. Users will be able to create free meetings of up to 100 people that can last any amount of time — for now.

But there is one big caveat: people won’t be able to simply click a link to join a meeting. They must first be logged into a Google account. While this seems inconvenient, it’s actually one of the measures the tech giant is taking to make meetings on the platform secure (no Zoombombing here!).

But the big question remains: will the efforts of new video conferencing services be enough to slow Zoom’s extraordinary growth?

Google Shopping Opens Up to Free Product Listings

Great news for businesses looking to sell online: Google is opening up its Shopping search results to include unpaid, organic listings. Beginning next week, the Shopping tab results “will consist primarily of free product listings.” 

The decision will provide a way for brick and mortar retailers to serve their products up online following the heightened importance of e-commerce strategies for merchants. According to Google, the coronavirus pandemic advanced the company’s plans to make Google Shopping free for merchants, although it was already part of a larger strategy.

Though the change has been spurred on by COVID-19, it is a permanent one that will live beyond the period of viral outbreak.

Apple Will Make Face ID a Little Easier for Those Wearing Face Masks

Many of us have taken the advice of our governments to heart and have been wearing face masks while we run essential errands these days, but it’s difficult for those of us who use Face ID as a security measure. A new update from Apple is hoping to make the process a little easier.

Although Face ID still won’t work if any part of your face is covered, the update in iOS 13 will automatically display the passcode screen after detecting a face mask. In the current version of iOS, the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera continues to scan even after you’ve swiped up, prompting lots of user frustration and further delay in obtaining access to your device.

It’s a subtle change, but hopefully one that alleviates frantic tapping and swiping!

Instagram Introduces COVID-19 Resource Directory for Businesses

To make things a little easier during this tough time, Instagram has rounded up its top tips for businesses in one helpful spot.

Instagram’s COVID-19 Resource Directory features resources to help manage your business through the crisis and connect with communities and customers during this unique time. 

Featured content includes a business COVID-19 playbook, ways to support other businesses on Instagram, and walkthrough guides on how to use features like Instagram Live and Instagram Shopping.

The company is continuing to update this page with more tips and guides — so be sure to check back often!

Friday Fun

This week’s Friday Fun is a mix of fun and feel-good news… Something we could all use during these uncertain times!

Earlier this week, Canada’s Stronger Together special aired, and more than a whopping $6 million was raised for Food Banks Canada. Even better: the non-profit organization estimates that number will be somewhere around $10 million by the end of the week!

If you missed the special full of your favourite Canadian artists, activists, actors, and athletes, check out one of our favourite moments below:

 

Like many others who tuned in, the special made us proud to be Canadian! We’re so grateful to all front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19.