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App of the Week: Lango
PHOTO: Lango, formerly Zlango, is a social networking app that allows users to send text messages with current, culturally relevant emoticons.

Image credit: Zlango LTD

App Name: Lango

Price: Free

Available Platforms: Android and iOS

What does this app do?: The next time someone sends you a text message with an emoticon, it might look slightly more sophisticated than the standard smiley face icon with which many are familiar. Lango, a social networking app formerly known as Zlango, combines text messages with images, many geared toward daily news content, making it a more dynamic way for users to communicate tone and attitude in their messages.

"The days of plain text messaging are over," said Jennifer Grenz, vice president of marketing and content for Lango, who said the company embarked on overhauling the app about six months ago.

Not only did the company drop the "Z", it also improved the interface, added more icons from which users can choose, beefed up the company's "Essence Engine," which interprets what images to suggest as user types, and added the ability to create and share custom meme-like images to Facebook and Twitter for more social media synchronicity.

Lango generates two types of messages, sparks and flairs .

Sparks are text messages to which the app will auto-generate an image it determines best suits the context of the message. As someone types, the app presents images to go along with the text. For example, "I think I like it," might generate a thumbs-up sign, or "Do you want to go to the game?" might give you an icon of Tom Brady. Users can manually change the image the app selects by perusing Lango's library of icons.

To add flairs, users can choose from a handful of custom backgrounds, add text and pictures, and post their meme-like creations to Facebook and Twitter.

The app comes with a selection of pre-loaded icons and backgrounds and provides users with 1,200 coins to use in its virtual store toward purchasing branded packs of icons such as Paul Frank or "The Walking Dead."

Is it easy to set up?: Yes. Download the app, provide your phone number, and the app will send you a PIN number to get started.

Should I try it?: Lango is fun to play with. And its navigation wheel, which you spin to select a function, is a slick addition to the list of the apps improvements. However, the types of icons the app provides for free are limited and equate to sophisticated clip art. In the end, Lango seems best suited to a younger audience.

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