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  1. Quick Tip Today am gonna show you how you can download your favorite Android Apps directly from Google Play Store. From the Play Store, search for your favorite app, copy the link with the app id visit apps.evozi.com/apk-downloader/ Paste the link and click generate download link. Wait for some seconds as your download link is been generated. After some few seconds, your link should be ready for download. eNJOy!!! source: thetechblog
  2. Apple, Google and Microsoft have denounced the Australian government’s decision to pass an anti-encryption law that they claim undermines cybersecurity and human rights. The Assistance and Access Bill, passed in Australian parliament last week, allows authorities to force companies and websites to reduce encryption so that the government can increase surveillance on personal communications. Any businesses that do not comply with the law, which the Silicon Valley giants have said is “deeply flawed”, will be fined. The technology companies, which are part of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition (RGS), said in a joint statement that the law needs to change to safeguard online security and the right to privacy of citizens. “The new Australian law is deeply flawed, overly broad, and lacking in adequate independent oversight over the new authorities," the joint statement said. “RGS has consistently opposed any government action that would undermine the cybersecurity, human rights, or the right to privacy of our users – unfortunately, the Assistance and Access Bill that was just passed through the Australian Parliament will do just that.” The RGS, which also includes LinkedIn, Snap, Dropbox, Twitter and Yahoo, has urged the Australian Parliament to promptly address these flaws when it reconvenes in the new year. The new encryption law was pushed through the Australian parliament as it was deemed essential for fighting terrorism is the country and keeping national security, as it would allow authorities to snoop on the messages of criminals using Whatsapp and other communication apps. Apple first denounced the legislation in October, saying it will “weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers” so the government can investigate a few criminals. Technology companies have also raised concerns the law could set a precedent forother countries to bring in similar legislation for their citizens. Source
  3. Under Russian law, search engine operators are required to censor their search results to ensure that permanently blocked sites do not appear in their indexes. After failing to comply by interfacing its systems with the national FGIS blacklist database, Google has now been fined 500,000 rubles (US$7,545), the lowest amount that can be levied under existing laws. Last year, Russian introduced new legislation that can see search engines fined for offering links to VPNs and other anonymizers that have been banned in the country. Fines can also be issued to search engines that fail to connect to a resource offering up-to-date information on what domains should be rendered inaccessible. This database (known as FGIS), should have been utilized by Google, but for reasons that remain unclear, the US-based search giant didn’t want to play ball. Several weeks ago, local telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor contacted Google with a demand that it should immediately connect to the FGIS blacklist. Google still did not comply, placing the company in breach of federal law. That left Google exposed to a potential administrative fine of between 500,000 and 700,000 rubles (US$7,545 to US$10,563). A further demand insisted that it should connect to the FGIS database by today. Despite a meeting between Deputy Head of Roscomnadzor Vadim Subbotin and Doron Avni, Google’s Director of Public Policy & Government Relations for Europe, Middle East & Africa Emerging Markets, which took place in Moscow last month, today’s deadline wasn’t met. Roscomnadzor announced this morning that as a result of the continued breach, it had considered the merits of an administrative violation against Google. Since the company had not responded as required, despite having the rules “repeatedly explained”, a fine had been imposed. “Failure to comply with these requirements constitutes an administrative offense (Part 1 of Article 13.40 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation). The sanction of this article provides for a legal fine in the amount of from 500 to 700 thousand rubles,” a Roscomnadzor statement reads. While fines are never welcome, the watchdog fined Google just 500,000 rubles (US$7,545). This is the lowest amount that can be handed down under existing laws. While the dispute was ongoing, Google said that it was in constant contact with Roscomnadzor and was ready for discussion and negotiation, including action to ensure it complies with Russian legal requirements moving forward. Why connecting to Russia’s FGIS database didn’t happen as required remains unclear. Early November, major rightsholders and tech companies in Russia signed a memorandum of cooperation to deal with the issue of online piracy. Google was not a signatory although there are some suggestions that it could join at some point in the future. Original Article.
  4. SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s competition watchdog on Monday recommended a new regulatory body be set up to monitor tech giants Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google and their dominance of the online advertising and news markets. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in a preliminary report on the U.S. firms’ market power that extra oversight was justified to ensure advertisers were treated fairly and the public access to news was unfettered. The report, ordered by the government a year ago, is being closely watched as lawmakers around the world wrestle with the powerful tech firms’ role in public life and their influence on everything from privacy to disinformation and traditional media. It follows moves by Australia last week to compel tech firms to help security agencies access private user data. Facebook and Google’s algorithms governing the display of advertisements lacked transparency, the ACCC said in its report, giving the firms “both the ability and incentive to favor their own related businesses” ahead of advertisers’. Similarly, the companies have usurped traditional publishers as news distributors, which has both hurt incumbent media companies and made it harder for readers to find accurate reports, the regulator found. “Consumers face a potential risk of filter bubbles, or echo chambers, and less reliable news on digital platforms,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. The ACCC has suggested that a new regulator be given investigative powers to examine how the companies rank advertisements and news articles. Facebook and Google had no immediate response, although both firms say they are committed to tackling the spread of fake news. Australia’s government ordered the probe into the firms’ influence as part of wider media reforms, amid growing concern for the future of journalism and the quality of news following years of declining profits and newsroom job cuts. Like their rivals globally, Australia’s traditional media companies have been squeezed by online rivals, as advertising dollars have followed eyeballs to digital distributors. Source
  5. US Senator says Google is profiting off advertising fraud and has no interest in addressing it. A US senator has blasted the Federal Trade Commission for failing to crack down on Google's lack of effort in reducing ad fraud on its advertising network. Virginia Democrat Senator Mark Warner says Google is directly profiting by letting ad fraud run rampant at the expense of the companies who buy or sell ads on its platform. However, Warner is just as mad about the FTC as he is about Google, claiming the FTC has failed to take action against the Mountain View-based company for more than two years since he and New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer first wrote the agency about Google's ad fraud problem. "The FTC's failure to act has had the effect of allowing Google to structure its own market," said Sen. Warner in a letter sent to the FTC yesterday. "Through a series of transactions, the company has accomplished a level of vertical integration that allows it in effect to act as the equivalent of market-maker, commodities broker, and commodities exchange for digital advertising -- in the process creating a range of conflicts of interest," he said. "While the company controls each link in the supply chain and therefore maintains the power to monitor activity in the digital advertising market from start to finish, it has continued to be caught flat-footed in identifying and addressing digital ad fraud." Sen. Warner also called out Google for proving unwilling to address misuse of its advertising platform for the "rampant proliferation of online disinformation" --referring to how various foreign entities have used Google ads to push political agendas, both in the US and other countries of the world. "As long as Google stands to profit from the sale of additional advertisements, the financial incentive for it to voluntarily root out and address fraud remains minimal," Sen. Warner added. Both Google and the FTC have not replied to requests for comments for this article. Google did publish a blog post after our inquiry entitled "Tackling ads abuse in apps and SDKs" that described the company's latest efforts in addressing Android and Google Play Store ad fraud, which has been a serious problem for the company in the last few months. This is the third letter Sen. Warner has sent the FTC about Google's ad fraud problem. He sent a first in 2016, another one in October, and a third yesterday. In yesterday's letter, Sen. Warner also criticized the FTC's reply to the second letter. In its answer, available here, the FTC told Sen. Warner that they don't have the authority to go after Google for its practices, but instead opted to tackle online ad fraud through "workshops and education campaigns." Sen. Warner disagreed and reminded the FTC that they themselves lobbied Congress for additional authority related to online businesses and the digital age, which they received. "Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act was written in broad terms precisely for this purpose," Sen. Warner said. Source
  6. steven36

    Google is shutting down Allo

    Google has officially announced that it’s shutting down Allo, ending the run of yet another failed Google chat app experiment. The news isn’t entirely unsurprising, given that Google had already paused investment in Allo back in April. Back then, the head of the communications group at Google, Anil Sabharwal, noted that “[Allo] as a whole has not achieved the level of traction we’d hoped for.” Allo will “continue to work through March 2019,” Google says, and users will be able to export their conversation history until then. The timing for Allo’s pending shut down is particularly apt, given that Verizon is set to officially launch RCS Chat on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL on December 6th. Unlike Allo, RCS Chat will be carrier-based in its implementation, and could finally give Google the sort of iMessage competitor it’s been looking for on Android for all these years, albeit through a service that won’t actually be run by Google at all. It’s also important to point out that RCS Chat is not the same thing as Google’s Hangouts Chat, the re-branded version of Google Hangouts designed for enterprise users that will eventually replace the classic Hangouts experience with something that looks similar to services like Slack. Google says Hangouts Chat and Meet, the video solution, will both be available to existing users “at some point”. Source
  7. ACCC set to hand down preliminary report into digital platforms and whether they are competing fairly with traditional media Rupert Murdoch has floated the idea that Google, Facebook and Apple should pay for news content they push out in news feeds and on their own news services. A titanic struggle is taking place between some of the world’s largest corporations. In one corner is Google and Facebook. In the other is News Corporation. It’s not alone. It stands with most of the established media companies which have watched with growing horror as their advertising revenues have migrated into the coffers of the digital behemoths. Alphabet, Google’s parent, reported worldwide revenues of US$33bn in the third quarter and is on track to top US$120bn in 2018, mostly from advertising. Facebook’s revenues topped US$40bn in 2017 and have continued to grow during 2018. In just 10 years, the platforms have gone from nothing to hoovering up the majority of advertising dollars in Australia. In contrast, News Corporation and most media companies have seen their revenues draining way. It began with what used to be known as print media, but are probably now better described as news media sites. Now the conflagration has spread to free to air television, which depends on advertising for their existence. Their content is often republished on sites such as Facebook and YouTube without compensation, diverting eyeballs and diminishing their value to advertisers. According to the journalists’ union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the media sector has lost about 3,000 journalist positions since the growth of digital platforms escalated about 10 years ago. The loss in the newspaper sector has been the most severe, down from 23,472 employees in 2010-11 to just 14,678 by June 2017. Some new digital jobs have been created but the impact is a net loss. The beef the media companies have is that they invest in the journalism while the digital platforms simply take their output and republish it on people’s feeds and within their own news products. It’s a complicated relationship: on the one hand the news media companies acknowledge they need Google and Facebook to reach younger audiences, who don’t read newspapers, visit websites or watch broadcast television. On the other hand, the financial benefit of their hard work is going straight to these multinationals, and now threatens their very existence. A year ago the government, after intensive lobbying from the big Australian media companies, asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate whether these multinational digital services have an unfair advantage in the market, and whether they are abusing their market power. This week we will get the preliminary view of the ACCC. Chairman Rod Sims’ approach will have far reaching effects on the Australian media in the future. It will be important globally. His views will be studied by regulators around the world, all of whom are grappling with whether and how to ensure Google, Facebook et al don’t lead to the death of important and much loved media in their local communities. Here’s some of the suggestions that have been floated. Break up Google One of the biggest complaints about Google is that it is vertically integrated and uses its businesses to keep people within the Google ecosystem. In its latest submission, News Corp Australia argues that a separate ad-free Google News site was merely a tool to drive more traffic to Google search so it could monetise its services through mining user browsing data and then targeting ads to those users. “Google makes every effort to keep the user within its own ecosystem, by including snippets of news that allow users to effectively read the key points without clicking through to the full article,” News says in its latest submission. It’s also both the gateway to the internet and news content and an “intermediator” between readers and publishers through the provision of its Google News service, News says, and it uses these dual roles to generate revenue for Google at the expense of publishers. Google disputes this and denies it misuses “snippets of news articles” so that users do not click on links of news websites. “Google has no financial incentive to prevent users from clicking on links to news articles in response to their queries on Google Search and Google News. Because advertisers decide which search queries their ads will appear against, very few of them elect to advertise against queries that relate to news information,” it says. Then there are Google businesses like Double Click. In order to obtain a reliable audience and advertising data relating to content featured, News argues publishers must pay for Google Analytics, and cannot use third party analytics software. Google says it has been working with news publishers to address changing consumer behaviour, by sharing at least 70 per cent of ad revenue when they display ads from Google, and partnering with publishers to promote quality journalism online through the Google News Initiative and Google News Lab. Fairfax Media has been part of the Google News Initiative and is generally supportive. However, it said “we see substantially less progress in commercial partnership opportunities with Facebook. It is our view that Facebook’s commercial interests are largely served by keeping users within Facebook’s environment.” Ditto some of the smaller platforms such as Snapchat. “A clear preferred pathway is for publishers and platforms to explore and implement commercial, market-based solutions to the challenges presented by the current operating environment,” Fairfax said. A carriage fee Making Google, Facebook and Apple pay for news content that they push out in news feeds and on their own news services was floated by Rupert Murdoch in a statement on News Corp’s website in January. “There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism,” he said. “The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies,” he said. Others have echoed the call for digital platforms to pay up. Foxtel says in its submission to the ACCC: “Our ability to attract subscribers and advertisers, and in turn obtain a return on our investment in content, is being seriously undermined by platforms which host our content without our permission, make it available for free to our entire potential subscriber base, and use that content to attract advertisers away from our platform.” Nine put it this way: “A fundamental issue is that there is no equitable remuneration for the use of publisher content on digital platforms, and the digital platforms are extracting advertising dollars from the engagement with that content.” Exactly how a carriage fee would work is not clear. Google has partly acknowledged that it is benefiting from the journalistic effort of others, with its Google News Initiative. An algorithm review board News and others have backed an “algorithm review board” to investigate how Google prioritises news organisations in its search results and to ensure it is acting fairly. Search engines, like Google, use algorithms to decide the order they display links to web pages in a search. This is immensely important to media companies in generating traffic to their sites. The algorithms take into account several factors including relevance, the reputation of the page and popularity to decide who to rank higher. But it is not transparent and Google regularly makes changes to the algorithm, which are also not public. News Corp has claimed that Google downgrades companies that have paywalls on their material, something Google has disputed in its submissions. (News has hard paywalls on most of its masthead sites, but none on news.com.au.) Despite often railing against additional regulation, News Corp has proposed a review board to oversee the algorithms and make sure they are fair. Free TV has set out the type of information it believes Google and Facebook should be making public such as what causes upgrades and downgrades. It also wants one month’s notice of changes to the algorithms. Google told the ACCC: “Certain comments suggest that Google does not provide enough information about how its algorithms work. These comments do not recognise that Google is constantly engaged in finding the right balance between providing transparency about how search works while playing a cat and mouse game against sites that try to ‘game’ Google’s algorithms without providing any benefit to users.” Fairer regulation in relation to advertising and content From the free to air television industry’s perspective, the key changes the industry wants to see is some balancing up of the relatively heavy-handed regulation applying to television compared with the non-existent regulation of the digital platforms. Nine Entertainment Co, which has just taken over Fairfax, calls it “regulatory disparity”. “Nine is subject to strict regulatory requirements and licence conditions, including in relation to the standard and composition of its content, while the digital platforms prefer to be characterised as “tech companies” that do not have responsibility for the content they distribute, or require media regulation,” it says. In relation to advertising, for example, television, radio and pay TV are subject to an election advertising blackout three days before an election. Digital platforms are not, with the result that political parties direct a deluge of money into Google ads in the last days of the campaign. Once upon a time that money would have gone into print – but no more. In the days before the Wentworth byelection, anyone using Google search from their computer or phone in the Wentworth electorate, or searching a story about the byelection, was bombarded by ads for the Liberal candidate, Dave Sharma, or Kerryn Phelps, the independent. There are wildy different rules that apply on sensitive advertising like gambling ads. That doesn’t necessarily mean that free to air wants digital platforms to be subject to the same rules as them. They would be just as happy, perhaps, with a reduction in regulation across the board. The bigger issue of Australian content is arguably outside the scope of this ACCC inquiry, which said at the outset it was focussing on news and journalism. But it may be tempted. Most of the television networks and Foxtel have made reference to the free ride that digital streaming services such as Netflix, Stan and Amazon get under the Australian content rules. The screen industry wants the popular on-demand platforms to spend at least 10 per cent of their programming on Australian content. Currently, they have no requirement to spend on local programs, unlike the free-to-air networks which must meet local programming quotas, and pay TV, which must spend 10 per cent of its programming on local drama. Fast take-down mechanisms Another big gripe is that the digital platforms, particularly YouTube, are slow to act on requests from the networks and other copyright holders to remove material posted by users in breach of copyright. Free TV, the industry group, is arguing for a swift response mechanism when copyright is infringed. Verification of ad claims by digital platforms One of the other gripes of the existing media industry is that they are expected to make verifiable claims about the advertising reach of particular channels, publications or websites, but the digital platforms are not. The television industry funds OzTam which measures audiences. The digital platforms rely on their internal information to sell ads, which admittedly is more easily measured online. The ACCC report is expected this week. There will then be a second round of submissions before a final report comes out next year. The ACCC can potentially make orders about the structure of the industry if it considers there are serious breaches of the competition rules occurring. But issues such as Australian content rules would require legislation. Source
  8. It looks as though Hangouts will join a growing list of Google chat products to bite the dust. After years of indications that such a move could be imminent, Google may finally be shutting down its Hangouts platform for consumers. Citing a source “familiar with the product’s internal roadmap,” 9to5Google reported Friday that the end of Hangouts for consumers will arrive “sometime in 2020.” The site noted Google’s announcement last year of a shift to an enterprise focus with G Suite’s Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet as an early sign that such a decision was forthcoming. But there were other warning signs as well, according to 9to5Google: Google has indicated for years now that it planned to position Hangouts as a competitor to workplace chat apps like Slack. As 9to5Google noted, there hasn’t been any movement on development for the app in some time, and Google removed Hangouts’ support for SMS in May of last year. As the Verge noted at the time, the move made sense considering the significant number of chat apps under the Google umbrella, including Google Duo, Android Messages, and Google Allo. There’s also Chat, its RCS product that is expected to launch with Verizon in 2019. Given that the rumored death of Hangouts is still more than a year out, any devotees of the platform have ample time to make peace with its reported demise. A spokesperson for Google didn’t immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment about the report, but we’ll update this post if we hear back. More At [9to5Google] Source
  9. Too bad fewer people are using Mozilla's web browser. An expanded Firefox search deal with Google helped push Mozilla revenue's annual revenue up 8 percent to $562 million for 2017 -- money that should come in handy as the nonprofit tries to salvage what's good about the internet. Facebook's Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal have led plenty of people to question whether today's tech is actually a net benefit for society. But Mozilla was founded to tackle those kinds of internet health issues. "Privacy and security have been brought to the mainstream. We love that we can talk about these issues in a way that's creating a lot more knowledge and understanding for the consumer," said Chief Operating Officer Denelle Dixon. Mozilla is using not just the Firefox web browser but increasingly other products, services and campaigns to try to help us online. "That's our focus as we enter into in 2019," she said. Too bad Mozilla is arguably losing leverage just when we could use it the most. Over the last year, the number of people using Firefox monthly has dipped from about 300 million to about 277 million, according to Mozilla's own figures. Mozilla offers more technology than Firefox, but the browser is its best-known brand, most widely used product, and a key tool to get people to try things like Mozilla's VPN service for network privacy, Lockbox tool for password management, and the Firefox Monitor tool to warn if you were affected by a data breach. And Firefox trails Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari, too. Firefox usage slipped over the last year from 6 percent to 5 percent, according to analytics firm StatCounter, which measures how often browsers are used to view websites among its network. That's third place to Google's dominant Chrome browser at 62 percent and Apple's Safari at 15 percent. Firefox doesn't need to dominate the internet. But it does need a strong enough presence to influence the development of standards so the web remains an openly developed platform, not just whatever works with Chrome. Mozilla's 2017 revenue increased 8 percent to $562 million. Some of the increase in Mozilla's 2017 revenue came because Mozilla signed a deal to get paid for Google search traffic in parts of Europe, Thayer said. "We generate a significant amount of revenue from outside the US," she said, including from non-Google partners. She declined to comment in detail on the Verizon lawsuit, which is in a preliminary data-discovery phase. "We feel very good about our revenue from existing partners. We have anticipated not receiving any additional revenue from Yahoo as the litigation is pending," Thayer said. Mozilla has taken on Facebook, pulling its advertisements and offering a Firefox plugin that makes it harder for Facebook to track you online. But Mozilla's search partners aren't free from criticism, either, whether it's Google tracking you online or wrestling with the idea of censored search results in China. Of course, you can always search in Firefox's private-tab mode, which makes it harder for Google to profile you based on your search history. More marketing money Mozilla's revenue increased from 2016 to 2017, but so did its expenses, including $30 million more spent on software projects and $18 million on marketing -- mostly the new Firefox Quantum version that's spearheading Mozilla's attempt to reverse its market declines. Also in 2017, Mozilla paid $2.3 million to its chair, Mitchell Baker, a key executive since Mozilla's early days. Mozilla's total expenses increased from $361 million to $422 million. Mozilla is branching out beyond Firefox, though only modestly at this stage. One example is its 2017 acquisition of Pocket, a service that lets you bookmark websites, save them for online or offline reading at your convenience, and more recently convert them into spoken words with AI text-to-speech technology. Pocket feeds recommendations -- including sponsored posts -- into the new-tab page in Firefox. You can also subscribe to Pocket for ad-free usage. Mozilla garnered nearly $3 million in revenue from Pocket, Thayer said. Mozilla also disclosed that it paid $25 million in cash for Pocket plus $5 million in deferred payments. It might not be the last time Mozilla decides to expand through an acquisition, too. "We're constantly evaluating our options in building, buying and partnerships," Thayer said. "I would hope to say Pocket is not our last acquisition." Firefox-generated search revenue The lion's share of Mozilla's revenue -- $542 million, according to the 2017 tax reports it released Tuesday -- comes from deals that send our queries in Firefox to search engines such as Google, Yandex and Baidu. An earlier deal with Yahoo ended in an as-yet unresolved lawsuit with its owner, Verizon. Mozilla is paid in proportion to the search traffic it sends to search sites, which make money by sometimes showing search ads alongside search results. Source
  10. Like almost every company that’s ever tried to build a tablet What is a tablet? What is a tablet supposed to be and do? Nine years ago, these questions were foremost in debates about new technology, as Apple was preparing to introduce its first iPad and rival companies were rushing to beat it to the punch. CES 2010 gave us one answer in the form of the 8.9-inch HP Slate, a Windows 7 PC running on an Intel Atom processor. A few weeks later, Apple’s iPad made its debut with a 9.7-inch screen and mobile chips and software. And then a year after that, Google released a version of Android called Honeycomb that was tailored specifically for tablets. No one understood tablets back then; everyone was guessing. Apple originally envisioned the iPad as the glossy magazine equivalent of Amazon’s Kindle. The iPad would be more interactive, it would have apps, but a major part of its appeal was supposed to come from “digital magazines” and comic books created for the platform. Publishers quickly found that idea too costly to sustain, and Apple discovered people were using the iPad for many other purposes as well. The company’s initial reluctance to offer a stylus or a keyboard has since turned into multiple generations of keyboard covers and Apple Pencils. Apple’s iPad development has been characterized by learning, adapting, and evolving. What has Google done in that time? Well, the Mountain View company has taken over the smartphone world with Android, so there’s that. But translating that operating system (OS) to tablets has been a tragic, chronic failure for Google. The Motorola Xoom and Xyboard, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the 13-inch Toshiba Excite, and a litany of others from Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and Google have shown promise only to ultimately disappoint. Android on tablets has only ever been somewhat appealing on a couple of 7-inch devices — the Google Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab — and on task-specific tablets like Amazon’s Fire HD and Nvidia’s Shield Tablet, both of which are more about the content than the OS. The reason for Android’s failure as a tablet OS should be obvious. Android is made for smartphones. Its system requirements are aligned with a smartphone’s capabilities, its app library is made to fit a smartphone’s screen, and all of its core usability features are built for a smartphone’s vertical orientation. Granted, phone displays have kept growing over the past decade, but they’re likely to find their ceiling right around the point where they reach the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Tab’s dimensions. Android is not infinitely expandable. Putting Android on a 10-inch (or larger) tablet makes as much sense as trying to find clothes for Yao Ming in a regular store. Sure, you might dig up some scarves, ties, and belts that are a fit, but most things will be a total mismatch. Google got that message after its series of embarrassing flops. But instead of going to a tailor, the company just started looking in the clown costume aisle with its Chrome OS, as exhibited by the distinctly doofy Pixel Slate. Android is an operating system designed for phones, Chrome OS is an operating system designed for laptops, and the mix of Android apps and Chrome software that Google serves on the Pixel Slate is a buggy mess. It’s easy to fall into the trap of looking at a tablet’s display size and say, “It’s like a laptop, so put laptop software on it,” or to consider its touchscreen and declare, “It’s just an enlarged phone.” Easy and wrong. Tablets, despite being proximate to both phones and laptops, are unique. To have a good tablet experience, you need an OS that is made specifically for that task. It must offer an intuitive touchscreen interface, like a phone, but it should also make full use of its greater screen real estate and higher spec ceiling. Apple’s iPad is, of course, the role model for how this is done. Apple has developed custom X editions of its iPhone chips for use in the iPad, taking advantage of the larger battery and better cooling of the tablet. The company has also dedicated major iOS releases to improving iPad functionality, even while the iPhone remains its most important product. That, together with a historic willingness among app developers to create iPad-specific apps, generates a distinct iPad-only user experience. So long as Google keeps trying to cram its software for other platforms onto a tablet, it will continue to suffer the ignominy of failure. Android Wear on smartwatches, now renamed Wear OS, has been another instructive example of what should be a very simple concept: if you want to build the best possible version of any gadget, the software for it has to be designed for it. Someone at Google really ought to consult Microsoft’s long, abortive history of trying to slim Windows down just enough to make it fit onto mobile devices. (The Surface Pro 2-in-1s of today are good, but they’re still more laptop than tablet.) There’s also Intel’s spectacularly profligate run of pseudo-mobile chips that were just trimmed-down laptop and desktop processors. The future of technology will be defined by more software specialization, not less. Even today, the best fitness trackers have featherlight software built specifically for the efficient processing of biometric data. The best cameras — something Google knows a lot about — are defined by highly customized, multilayered exploitation of the basic hardware. Good software, in spite of its name, is incredibly hard to do. That’s what makes it tempting for pragmatic companies to try and take shortcuts, as every PC manufacturer shipping a copy of Windows or every phone maker relying on Android tends to do. But Google isn’t just another company, and its competition, Apple’s iPad, isn’t just another formulaic slab of transistors and pixels. To take on the iPad, Google needs to give up its Dr. Frankenstein act and just take the time to craft a tablet from fresh parts. The truth is that just about anyone in tech can build a good tablet, but very few have yet been able to build a good tablet experience. Source
  11. The secrecy surrounding the work was unheard of at Google. It was not unusual for planned new products to be closely guarded ahead of launch. But this time was different. The objective, code-named Dragonfly, was to build a search engine for China that would censor broad categories of information about human rights, democracy, and peaceful protest. In February 2017, during one of the first group meetings about Dragonfly at Google’s Mountain View headquarters in California, some of those present were left stunned by what they heard. Senior executives disclosed that the search system’s infrastructure would be reliant upon a Chinese partner company with data centers likely in Beijing or Shanghai. Locating core parts of the search system on the Chinese mainland meant that people’s search records would be easily accessible to China’s authoritarian government, which has broad surveillance powers that it routinely deploys to target activists, journalists, and political opponents. Yonatan Zunger, then a 14-year veteran of Google and one of the leading engineers at the company, was among a small group who had been asked to work on Dragonfly. He was present at some of the early meetings and said he pointed out to executives managing the project that Chinese people could be at risk of interrogation or detention if they were found to have used Google to seek out information banned by the government. Scott Beaumont, Google’s head of operations in China and one of the key architects of Dragonfly, did not view Zunger’s concerns as significant enough to merit a change of course, according to four people who worked on the project. Beaumont and other executives then shut out members of the company’s security and privacy team from key meetings about the search engine, the four people said, and tried to sideline a privacy review of the plan that sought to address potential human rights abuses. Zunger — who left his position at Google last year — is one of the four people who spoke to The Intercept for this story. He is the first person with direct involvement in Dragonfly to go on the record about the project. The other three who spoke to The Intercept are still employed by Google and agreed to share information on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Their accounts provide extraordinary insight into how Google bosses worked to suppress employee criticism of the censored search engine and reveal deep fractures inside the company over the China plan dating back almost two years. Google’s leadership considered Dragonfly so sensitive that they would often communicate only verbally about it and would not take written notes during high-level meetings to reduce the paper trail, two sources said. Only a few hundred of Google’s 88,000 workforce were briefed about the censorship plan. Some engineers and other staff who were informed about the project were told that they risked losing their jobs if they dared to discuss it with colleagues who were themselves not working on Dragonfly. “They [leadership] were determined to prevent leaks about Dragonfly from spreading through the company,” said a current Google employee with knowledge of the project. “Their biggest fear was that internal opposition would slow our operations.” In 2016, a handful of Google executives — including CEO Sundar Pichai and former search chief John Giannandrea — began discussing a blueprint for the censored search engine. But it was not until early 2017 that engineers were brought on board to begin developing a prototype of the platform. The search engine was designed to comply with the strict censorship regime imposed by China’s ruling Communist Party, blacklisting thousands of words and phrases, including terms such as “human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize.” It was developed as an app for Android and iOS devices, and would link people’s search records to their personal cellphone number and track their location. (Giannandrea could not be reached for comment.) The company managed to keep the plan secret for more than 18 months — until The Intercept disclosed it in August. Subsequently, a coalition of 14 leading human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, condemned the censored search engine, which they said could result in Google “directly contributing to, or [becoming] complicit in, human rights violations.” Employees who opposed the censorship staged protests inside the company. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators called Dragonfly “deeply troubling,” and Vice President Mike Pence demanded that Google “immediately end” its development. Google employees who had worked on Dragonfly watched the furor unfold and were not surprised by the backlash. Many of the concerns raised by the human rights groups, they noted, had already been voiced inside the company prior to the public exposure of the plans, though they had been brushed aside by management. Every new product or service that Google develops must be reviewed by legal, privacy, and security teams, who try to identify any potential issues or problems ahead of the launch. But with Dragonfly, the normal procedure was not followed: Company executives appeared intent on watering down the privacy review, according to the four people who worked on the project. In January 2017, Zunger, the 14-year veteran engineer at the company, had been tasked with producing the privacy review. However, it quickly became apparent to him that his job was not going to be easy. His work was opposed from the outset by Beaumont, Google’s top executive for China and Korea. Beaumont, a British citizen, began his career in 1994 as an analyst for an investment bank in England and later founded his own company called Refresh Mobile, which developed apps for smartphones. He joined Google in 2009, working from London as director of the company’s partnerships in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In 2013, Beaumont relocated to China to head Google’s operations there. He described himself in his LinkedIn biography as a “technology optimist” who cares about “the value and responsible use of technology in a range of fields.” According to Zunger, Beaumont “wanted the privacy review [of Dragonfly] to be pro forma and thought it should defer entirely to his views of what the product ought to be. He did not feel that the security, privacy, and legal teams should be able to question his product decisions, and maintained an openly adversarial relationship with them — quite outside the Google norm.” Three sources independently corroborated Zunger’s account. Beaumont did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and Google declined to answer questions for this story. During one meeting, Zunger recalled, Beaumont was briefed on aspects of Dragonfly that Google’s privacy and security teams planned to assess. He was told that the teams wanted to check whether the Chinese search system would be secure against state and non-state hackers, whether users in China would have control over their own data, and whether there may have been any aspects of the system that might cause users to unintentionally disclose information about themselves. “I don’t know if I want you asking those questions,” Beaumont retorted, according to Zunger, who said the comment was “quite surprising to those in the room.” Beaumont micromanaged the project and ensured that discussions about Dragonfly and access to documents about it were tightly controlled. “Different teams on the Dragonfly project were actively segmented off from one another and discouraged from communicating, except via Scott’s own team, even about technical issues,” said Zunger. This was “highly unusual,” according to Zunger. Normally, even for extremely confidential work inside the company, he said, there would be “open and regular communication within a project, all the way up to senior leadership.” With Dragonfly, the opposite was true. The restrictions around the project limited the ability for discussion and seemed intended “to prevent internal objections,” Zunger said. Some members of the Dragonfly team were told that if they broke the strict confidentiality rules, then their contracts at Google would be terminated, according to three sources. Despite facing resistance, the privacy and security teams — which together included a total of between six and eight people — proceeded with their work. Zunger and his colleagues produced a privacy report that highlighted problematic scenarios that could arise once the censored search engine launched in China. The report, which contained more than a dozen pages, concluded that Google would be expected to function in China as part of the ruling Communist Party’s authoritarian system of policing and surveillance. It added that, unlike in Europe or North America, in China it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Google to legally push back against government requests, refuse to build systems specifically for surveillance, or even notify people of how their data may be used. Zunger had planned to share the privacy report and discuss its findings during a meeting with the company’s senior leadership, including CEO Sundar Pichai. But the meeting was repeatedly postponed. When the meeting did finally take place, in late June 2017, Zunger and members of Google’s security team were not notified, so they missed it and did not attend. Zunger felt that this was a deliberate attempt to exclude them. By this point, Zunger had already decided to leave Google, due to a job offer he had received from Humu, a startup company co-founded by Laszlo Bock, Google’s former head of human resources, and Wayne Crosby, Google’s former director of engineering. Had Zunger not received the offer to join Humu when he did, he said, he would likely have ended up resigning in protest from Google over Dragonfly. “The project, as it was then specified, was not something I could sign off on in good conscience,” he told The Intercept. Zunger does not know what happened to the privacy report after he left Google. He said Google still has time to address the problems he and his colleagues identified, and he hopes that the company will “end up with a Project Dragonfly that does something genuinely positive and valuable for the ordinary people of China.” Google launched a censored search engine in China in 2006 but stopped operating the service in the country in 2010, saying it could no longer tolerate Chinese government efforts to limit free speech, block websites, and hack activists’ Gmail accounts. At that time, Google co-founder Sergey Brin had advocated inside the company to pull out of China because he was uncomfortable with the level of government censorship and surveillance. The “key issue,” Brin said, was to show that Google was “opposing censorship and speaking out for the freedom of political dissent.” The Dragonfly revelations prompted questions about whether Brin had dramatically reversed his views on censorship in China. But in a meeting with Google employees in August, Brin claimed that he knew nothing about Dragonfly until The Intercept exposed it. According to three sources, employees working on Dragonfly were told by Beaumont, the company’s China chief, that Brin had met with senior Chinese government officials and had told them of his desire to re-enter the Chinese market, obeying local laws as necessary. However, the Dragonfly teams were instructed that they were not permitted to discuss the issue directly with Brin or other members of Google’s senior leadership team, including Pichai, co-founder Larry Page, and legal chief Kent Walker. Two sources working on Dragonfly believed that Beaumont may have misrepresented Brin’s position in an attempt to reassure the employees working on Dragonfly that the effort was fully supported at the highest levels of the company, when that may not have been the truth. “How much did Sergey know? I am guessing very little,” said one source, “because I think Scott [Beaumont] went to great lengths to ensure that was the case.” Inside Google, a deep ideological divide has developed over Dragonfly. On one side are those who view themselves as aligned with Google’s founding values, advocating internet freedom, openness, and democracy. On the other side are those who believe that the company should prioritize growth of the business and expansion into new markets, even if doing so means making compromises on issues like internet censorship and surveillance. Pichai, who became Google’s CEO in 2015, has made it clear where he stands. He has strongly backed Dragonfly and spoken of his desire for the company to return to China and serve the country’s people. In October, Pichai publicly defended the plan for the censored search engine for the first time, though he tried to play down the significance of the project, portraying it as an “experiment” and adding that it remained unclear whether the company “would or could” eventually launch it in China. Staff working on Dragonfly were confused by Pichai’s comments. They had been told to prepare the search engine for launch between January and April 2019, or sooner. The main barrier to launch, the employees were told, was the ongoing U.S. trade war with China, which had slowed down negotiations with government officials in Beijing, whose approval Google required to roll out the platform in the country. “What Pichai said [about Dragonfly being an experiment] was ultimately horse shit,” said one Google source with knowledge of the project. “This was run with 100 percent intention of launch from day one. He was just trying to walk back a delicate political situation.” The launch plan was outlined during a July meeting for employees who were working on Dragonfly. The company’s search chief, Ben Gomes, instructed engineers to get the search engine ready to be “brought off the shelf and quickly deployed.” Beaumont told employees in the same meeting that he was pleased with how things were developing for the company in the country, according to a previously undisclosed transcript of his comments obtained by The Intercept. “There has been a really positive change in tone towards Google during [Pichai’s] recent visits” to China, Beaumont said. “Part of our task over the past few years has been to re-establish that Google can be a trusted operator in China. And we’ve really seen a pleasing turnaround, relatively recently in the last couple of years. We are fairly confident that, outside of the trade discussions, there is a positive consensus across government entities to allow Google to re-engage in China.” A few weeks later, details about Dragonfly were emblazoned across international newspapers and the internet, and the company was scrambling to contain the outpouring of internal and external protest. Beaumont was furious that information about the project had leaked, said two sources familiar with his thinking, and he told colleagues that he feared the disclosures may have scuppered the prospect of Google launching the platform in the short term. “[Beaumont’s] endgame was very simple — his ideal circumstance was that most people would find out about this project the day it launched,” said one Google source. “He wanted to make sure there would be no opportunity for any internal or external resistance to Dragonfly, but he failed.” Source
  12. BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators have asked Google’s rivals if the internet search giant unfairly demotes local search competitors, according to a questionnaire seen by Reuters, a move which could lead to a fourth case against the Alphabet unit. Google has been fined a total 6.76 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in the last 17 months for favoring its comparison shopping service and for using its dominant Android mobile operating system to reinforce its search engine market power. The European Commission, which took the world’s most popular internet search engine to task for these two anti-competitive practices, is wrapping up a third case which involves Google’s AdSense advertising service. The EU competition authority’s interest in local search services followed a complaint by U.S. search and advertising company Yelp (YELP.N) and rivals in the travel, restaurant and accommodation industries. It sent questionnaires to Google rivals last month, asking for details of the company’s practices and the impact on competing services between January 2012 to December 2017. Regulators also wanted to know if rivals experienced an impact in the operation of their local services as a result of major search algorithm changes by Google, including the introduction of its Panda 4.0 algorithm. Introduced in 2014, this algorithm determines what appears in Google search results. Companies were also asked if Google’s introduction of the Local Universal or One Box had a substantial impact on their local search services. Local Universal is targeted at hotel ads while One Box, which is information and images outlined in a box, is a tool for local businesses to get more visibility in Google search results. The Commission asked if Google used content from rival local search services such as reviews on Local Universal or One Box. Google had no immediate comment. Source
  13. Employees are asking management to end the project, citing human rights concerns. Google workers signed a public letter asking their company’s management to cancel controversial plans to build a censored version of the company’s search product in China, referred to as Project Dragonfly. “Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” the letter reads. It goes on to state that the project “comes as the Chinese government is openly expanding its surveillance powers and tools of population control” and “would establish a dangerous precedent, at a volatile political moment.” The letter is in support of Amnesty International’s public campaign against the project, which includes planned protests outside several Google offices today. About nine workers have signed the letter so far, including two of the organizers of the recent Google Walkout protests. This isn’t the first time Google employees have taken issue with Google’s ambitions to build a censored search app for China. But it’s the first time employees have publicly called for it to end. In August, around 1,400 employees signed a letter internally raising ethical concerns about the project. The app was reportedly designed to blacklist phrases such as “human rights,” “Nobel Prize,” and “student protest,” according to the Intercept, which first reported on its existence. Several employees including a senior research scientist resigned over the issue. There has also been increasing pressure to end the project from U.S. politicians. Six senators have asked for more information about the project and Vice President Mike Pence publicly criticized the project, saying that it “will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers” and called on Google to halt development. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has defended the company’s decision to enter the Chinese market, arguing that the company is always balancing its values when abiding by local laws in other countries. “We are compelled by our mission [to] provide information to everyone, and [China is] 20 percent of the world’s population.” said Pichai speaking at the WIRED25 conference last month. Google previously cancelled plans to expand its business to China in 2010 over concerns about the government’s involvement in cyber attacks and regulations on citizens’ free speech. In the past year, Google employees have become increasingly outspoken about ethical implications of how the company’s technology is used. In April, thousands of employees criticized the company’s involvement in a project with the Pentagon to use Google artificial intelligence technology for military purposes. Two months later, the company decided not to renew that contract. Source
  14. But there's a lot of security issues to think about first Combining online and offline could lead to security settings not listed here A CONSORTIUM of developers is looking for a way that will allow users to edit locally saved files in web apps. The grou, led by teams from Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, has a few hurdles to overcome before we can even think about this sort of thing as "normal", because exposing offline files to the internet is fraught with danger. At the moment, users need to upload files, edit them and download them again to minimise the risk of dodgy payloads getting a free pass to your hardware. It's one of the reasons that Microsoft still offers native versions of the Office suite, not just the Office 365 versions. Pete LePage, a developer advocate for Google explains the problem of creating a Writable Files API: "Today, if a user wants to edit a local file in a web app, the web app needs to ask the user to open the file. Then, after editing the file, the only way to save changes is by downloading the file to the Downloads folder, or having to replace the original file by navigating the directory structure to find the original folder and file. "This user experience leaves a lot to be desired, and makes it hard to build web apps that access user files." But, he adds that the potential for abusing such a feature is huge, and could even lead to websites with access to your private documents: "The Writable Files API must be designed in such a way as to limit how much damage a website can do, and make sure that the user understands what they're giving the site access to." The W3C Web Incubator Community Group (WICG) is the team working towards finding a safe implementation, and are currently looking at options for security. As well as hidden code, there's also the risk of so-called "super-cookies" which could give the website permanent access to the locally held file. WICG is currently canvassing feedback as it works on the API, and hopes that the hive mind will come up with the right security protocols and permissions, and if there should be any limitations on the types of files that can be made writable. Source
  15. The Chinese are making doubly sure public displays of displeasure with their totalitarian regime such as occurred in Tiananmen Square in 1989 will never be repeated. They are instituting a technological surveillance program so pervasive that when completed -- quite soon, it seems -- it will enforce conformity throughout their giant country on a scale that would stupefy Orwell and Huxley. China’s plan to judge each of its 1.3 billion people based on their social behavior is moving a step closer to reality, with Beijing set to adopt a lifelong points program by 2021 that assigns personalized ratings for each resident. The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday. Those with better so-called social credit will get “green channel” benefits while those who violate laws will find life more difficult. The Beijing project will improve blacklist systems so that those deemed untrustworthy will be “unable to move even a single step,” according to the government’s plan. Bloomberg has more to say about this incipient "brave new world." The final version of China’s national social credit system remains uncertain. But as rules forcing social networks and internet providers to remove anonymity get increasingly enforced and facial recognition systems become more popular with policing bodies, authorities are likely to find everyone from internet dissenters to train-fare skippers easier to catch -- and punish -- than ever before. Bad news for Winston Smith. Or is it Winston Chang? Thank God, it's China! Or is it? Perhaps the Chinese are only being public, and therefore somewhat more honest and transparent, about their plans and the world in which we all already live. After all, when it comes to technological surveillance, they are merely playing catch-up to our NSA, which has been monitoring us all for decades with only sporadic protest. Does the NSA have their own form of a rating system? We don't know, but they surely have some way -- various algorithms, one assumes -- for deciding who deserves more attention. Meanwhile, Google -- lord on high of the internet -- works with the NSA through the PRISM program and with the Chinese on a new China-only search engine that will be subject to Communist Party regulation, an equal opportunity silicon behemoth. Google's experience with NSA makes this outreach to the Chinese almost seamless. When you think about it, the similarity of approach and method is blood-curdling. It wouldn't be surprising if important components of the new surveillance technology for this latest Chinese initiative to control the behavior of their entire population were "borrowed" in part from Google. What does this all mean to us -- the common man and woman of the USA (and elsewhere really)? Whether we choose to think about it or not, almost all of us realize we have no private life any more, no secrets the government couldn't easily ascertain should it be the slightest bit interested. Even a presidential candidate was not exempt from such surveillance. What possibility do we have? This has already been factored into our personalities and behaviors, at the very least unconsciously, in ways we can only begin to guess as it is now such a mundane occurrence. I would imagine many phenomena such as political correctness and its attendant virtue signaling are amplified by the knowledge that we are constantly observed. It also contributes to the extraordinary uniformity and group think pervading our educational system and media. The employees of Google themselves behave much like a cult, eager to drum out the mildest of apostates. The self-styled social justice warriors on our campuses act similarly, ever searching for the most "victimized" person as the eye in the sky watches and, hopefully, approves. All the to-ing and fro-ing on our supposedly contentious social media are just fodder for the homogenization to come. It's all very Chinese, if you think not very far back to the Cultural Revolution. But Mao and Jiang Qing didn't have the technological weapons available today and were beaten back, temporarily anyway. Now the battle for freedom is global. Source
  16. Tim Cook (Apple CEO) has defended his firm’s agreement with Google, in spite of his earlier criticism of the search behemoth for its inconsiderate attitude toward consumer data. The comments, which were aired as fraction of an interview on HBO on Axios, came in response to Cook being questioned why he was calm taking billions from Google to make it default search engine for Apple, in spite of wanting to defend consumer privacy. To reply this question, Cook emphasized the privacy and security standards that Apple develops unswervingly into its Safari browser while still permitting its consumers access to “the most excellent” search engine. ”I believe Google’s search engine is the finest. Look at what we have done with the controls we have developed in. We include private Internet browsing,” Cook claimed. “We have intelligent tracker avoidance. What we have attempted to do is come up with methods to assist our consumers via their course of the day. It is not an ideal thing. I would be the very first individual to state that. But it goes a long way to assisting,” Cook added. On a related note, Cook is likely to praise new privacy rules from Europe. In addition to this, he is expected to voice the firm’s support for sturdy laws in the United States and Europe to defend the employment of data. Cook will define Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) as an instance of how “good politics and policy will can join hands to defend everybody’s rights.” Cook was also likely to support a widespread federal privacy rake in the United States. This is the most influential statement to date made by Apple. Concerns on how data is employed and how users can protect their personal data have come under the limelight lately following huge violations of data privacy comprising millions of social media and Internet consumers in the United States and Europe. Apple has used its policy as a stick to beat on ad-driven companies like Facebook. “This is surveillance and these stockpiles of data serve only to make rich the companies that collect them,” Cook told the audience at an EU privacy conference in October. He added, “This should make us uncomfortable.” So it should probably make Cook a little uncomfortable to talk about the fact that Apple gets paid by Google to make its search engine the default on iOS devices. But when asked about it by Axios, he was relatively sanguine. Here’s his full comment on the matter: Private web browsing is fine and the intelligent tracker prevention in Safari helps users control whether cookies follow them around the web, although Google quickly found a workaround after the feature was announced. But Tim’s argument that Google is the browser of choice is difficult to argue with. Apple could set the default search engine to one that’s focused on privacy like DuckDuckGo, but that would be like selling a Bentley with fake leather seats—or at least that’s what Cook seems to be arguing. He did not specifically address the annual revenue Apple takes in from Google, but financial analysts estimate it lies between $3 billion and $9 billion. DuckDuckGo could never pay Apple that kind of cash, and with growth in device sales slowing down, Apple is increasingly relying on services to create new opportunities. In the fourth quarter of 2018, Apple had $62.9 billion in revenue, $10 billion of which came from services like iCloud, Apple Music, and that lucrative deal with Google. Should Apple be shamed over its hypocritical willingness to reap profits from a company it considers to be unethical? Sure. But this is just how Apple rolls. It makes some great decisions and some great devices. It also uses terrible labor practices for assembling those devices, opposes the right to repair, and contributes to untold amounts of e-waste. For now, it’s just lucky that so many other companies are so clearly much more evil on the surface. As for tech being evil, in general, Cook said, “Technology is good or evil, as you put it, depending upon the creator and many times it’s not that the creator set out to do evil it’s that there wasn’t an anticipation of these negative things that it could be used for.” Sources : [Market News Press] [Gizmodo]
  17. Google says it will stop ads for expensive unofficial Esta services appearing at the top of search results, eight years after the first complaints. In 2010, the US started charging UK travellers to use the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (Esta). Unofficial sites charging five times as much as the US government soon flooded the top of Google's search results, despite breaking Google's ad rules. Now, after a BBC News investigation, Google says it is tackling the issue. While unofficial Esta sites will still appear in the search results, they should no longer appear above the official website as advertisements when using the most common search terms. Since it has used machine learning to address the issue, the ads do still show up for some search terms. Google says this will improve in time. Why has this taken so long? The official Esta website is run by the US Department for Homeland Security. It charges $14 (£10.70) for each Esta application. But countless unofficial sites appeared at the top of Google search results by buying advertisements. These unofficial sites charged more than $80 for an Esta application. Google's advertising policies explicitly forbid "charging for products or services where the primary offering is available from a government or public source for free or at a lower price". The company did take down ads that were manually reported by its users, but the same websites would soon reappear with a new web address. It was a fruitless game of "whack a mole". What has changed? The BBC sent several unofficial Esta ads to Google and asked why they had been allowed to remain on the platform. One of the websites advertised on Google was charging $99 (£76) per Esta. Google took the ads down, but others immediately filled the space. After the BBC supplied more of the unofficial Esta ads, Google said it would look into the problem. It later said it had been able to develop its machine learning process to wipe out the unofficial Esta ads. Following the change, commonly used Esta search terms no longer carry ads for the unofficial services. Some less common searches may still return ads while the algorithm continues to learn, but the most obvious ones such as "esta" should no longer show ads, it said. Beyond Estas Other countries including Australia and Canada also have travel permits similar to the Esta. Just like the Esta, there are countless unofficial websites offering Australia ETA and Canadian ETA permits at inflated prices. Ads for these services have also been prominent on Google. But the search giant said it would use the same machine learning systems to eliminate these too. In a statement, Google said: "We know that people look to Google ads for information about where to get goods and services, so we are committed to ensuring that the ads they see are useful and relevant. "We use a combination of algorithmic and human review to catch and remove bad ads; and we continue to update our policies and methods of enforcement." It said it encouraged people to report ads that slipped through the system, so they could be manually reviewed. Source
  18. Alphabet Chairman John Hennessy is conflicted about what Google's strategy should be in China. John Hennessy "Anybody who does business in China compromises some of their core values," Hennessy said in an interview this week with Bloomberg. It's true for every company "because the laws in China are quite a bit different than they are in our own country," he said. Since details of Google's project to create a censored search app for the Chinese market leaked this summer, human rights groups and U.S. politicians have called on the company to cancel its plans, while thousands of Google employees signed a letter saying that it raised "urgent moral and ethical issues." The company initially withdrew its search service from the country in 2010 due to increased concerns about cyberattacks and censorship. In the time since, the Chinese government has increasingly curtailed what its citizens can or and can't do online by blacklisting websites and access to information about certain historical events — like the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square — and requiring people who use online forums to register with their real names. Google's Chinese search app would have reportedly complied with demands to remove content that the government ruled sensitive and linked users' searches to their personal phone numbers. Critics say that by cooperating with the Chinese government, Google would have violated principles of free expression as well as users' privacy rights. Hennessy, like Google CEO Sundar Pichai,framed the company's consideration of a censored search product through the lens of it being a better option than current domestic products, like the local search engine Baidu. "The question that I think comes to my mind then, that I struggle with, is are we better off giving Chinese citizens a decent search engine, a capable search engine even if it is restricted and censored in some cases, than a search engine that's not very good?" Hennessy said. "And does that improve the quality of their lives?" Hennessy, a former president of Stanford University, said that he didn't have a good answer. There's no doubt it's a big market. As of August, China had 800 million internet users. Pichai has repeatedly said that Google's plans for a censored search app in China are in their "early stages," and recently equated them with how the company must follow "right-to-be-forgotten laws" in Europe. Critics called it a false comparison. Pichai has also said that in any country where Google operates, it must balance its values — "providing users access to information, freedom of expression and user privacy" — with obeying the local laws. Other major U.S. technology companies like Facebook and Netflix are also banned in China, though Apple sells hundreds of millions of phones there and has more than 40 physical retail stores. Source
  19. Advertisers should boycott tech giants like Google and Facebook to force them to effectively address the "scandal" of online terrorist content, members of UK's Parliament said, according to The Times of London. The big picture: Social networks and web companies are under pressure around the world to police extremist content on their sites that facilitate the spread of radicalized material. Despite hiring thousands of people to identify and quickly take down such content, staying ahead of malicious actors online has proven to be very difficult. Show less The backdrop: Salman Abedi, who killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last year, reportedly learned how to build a bomb by watching a YouTube video. Extremist content online may have helped radicalize attackers at London Bridge and Westminster, per the Daily Mirror. What they're saying: Web companies have not done enough to take down extremist content and prevent terrorists from using their platforms as a "safe haven," MPs wrote in a report from the Intelligence and Security Committee, a parliamentary watchdog. The report acknowledged the companies are engaging more on the issue, but have made "little tangible progress." Appealing to the internet giants' sense of social responsibility hasn't worked, it says, so businesses should threaten to pull advertising to pull on "financial leavers" to force the platforms to listen. Between the lines: Major brands such as Unilever and Proctor & Gamble have in the past threatened to pull advertising until the web platforms meaningfully dealt with fake news and divisive content. But with Google and Facebook commanding such huge user bases and such a large share of advertising spending, it's very difficult for marketers to abandon them. Source
  20. US tech companies monopolize mapping data, locking out new services, says report Tech companies like Google, Apple, and Uber should be forced to share mapping data with rivals firms and the public sector, the UK government has been advised by a data advocacy group. In a report published today, the Open Data Institute (ODI) said that “data monopolies” were stifling innovation in the UK. These companies duplicate one another’s efforts, said the report, while using their large financial clout to gain insurmountable leads over would-be rivals. If they shared data, they said, then many services and new technologies — like drone delivery services and self-driving cars — would benefit. The ODI is an influential group in the UK, co-founded by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and Nigel Shadbolt, a professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Oxford. The report was published ahead of the UK government’s forthcoming review of national geospatial strategy, which will guide any mooted changes to legislation. Still, it’s not clear what laws the UK could introduce to force such data sharing, or if there is any widespread political report for such changes. In the ODI’s report, the authors note that geospatial data is a vital resource in the digital age, used to guide decisions in “almost all aspects of life and across all sectors of our economy.” The UK government has previously estimated that if such data was widely shared, it could generate between $7 billion and $14 billion additional revenue for the country. Jeni Tennison, chief executive of the Open Data Institute, said that while big tech companies are simply trying to deliver a good service to customers, “the status quo is not optimal.” Tennison told the Financial Times: “The large companies are becoming more like data monopolies and that doesn’t give us the best value from our data.” The ODI’s report makes for interesting reading in a climate of growing distrust of tech monopolies. In the US, monopoly-busting cases are being made against Facebook, Amazon, Google, and others. Geospatial data is not the most talked-about aspect of this debate, but as the ODI notes, this information is too important to be forgotten about. Source
  21. Google's new cloud supervisor is accustomed to being the dark horse, and that is fitting for the job he's venturing into at one of the world's most ground-breaking enterprises. The Alphabet Inc. unit has been striving for a considerable length of time — pitifully, in any event as of not long ago — to use its specialized aptitude in web look into regions, for example, leasing PC power and information crunching handling to organizations expansive and little. Amazon spearheaded that region with its Amazon Web Services activity, which (no distortion) has overturned the direction of innovation and business. Google additionally offers an adaptation of its email, spreadsheet and record programming to organizations — a zone in which it plays second fiddle to Microsoft and its gathering of Office programming. Second fiddle is actually where Google has been in these and different zones extensively called distributed computing. That didn't generally change when regarded innovation official Diane Greene accepted accountability for Google's business-centered programming in 2015. Google said on Friday that Greene intends to leave and will be prevailing by Thomas Kurian, likewise an all around regarded long-lasting innovation official, most as of late with the database innovation firm Oracle Corp. He will formally assume control in 2019 after a progress period, Google said in affirmation of a CNBC article. The issue is that if Greene, who helped to establish the progressive tech organization VMware and sits on the Alphabet board, couldn't make Google a resonating cloud accomplishment against AWS and Microsoft, at that point maybe nobody can. Greene's side of the organization was centered around pitching programming to organizations, and it has been an odd fit inside an organization that commits almost 100 percent of its consideration regarding shopper innovation: web seeks, cell phone applications, mapping, advanced partners that can foresee individuals' needs, and web video. Greene made Google more pertinent in the cloud, and she gave the business control and validity. She made a few acquisitions to round out Google's cloud innovation yet passed up others, eminently GitHub, the famous programming advancement startup that Microsoft purchased not long ago. Basically, Greene couldn't settle the central dissension of a task concentrated on corporate programming inside a machine that can't be tried to think about what a production line administrator needs to enhance stock frameworks for steel direction. KeyBanc Capital Markets thinks a segment of Google's distributed computing activity will produce $3.2 billion in income one year from now contrasted and $15.1 billion for Microsoft. AWS produced more than $23 billion of income in the a year finished Sept. 30. The three organizations don't offer the very same innovation items to organizations, however Google's slacking deals are an indication of how a long ways behind it is. Microsoft's direction is a notice of what Google could have been. At the point when Satya Nadella assumed control as Microsoft's CEO in 2014, it showed up his organization was bungling the cloud. From that point forward, it has been on a tear. Kurian will have a difficult, but not impossible task ahead. He additionally as of late left Oracle under odd conditions. The organization said toward the beginning of September that he was taking some time off from his job as leader of item advancement. Kurian, who worked at Oracle for over 20 years, and author Larry Ellison were in charge of Oracle's ventures in distributed computing, a territory where the organization has had less footing than Google. (To be reasonable, Google and Oracle are not specifically focused in many regions of distributed computing.) Bloomberg News revealed that Kurian and Ellison had conflicted about whether Oracle should make a greater amount of its product good with distributed computing programming from AWS and Microsoft. Ellison contradicted such a move and Kurian bolstered it. Later in the month, Oracle revealed that Kurian had surrendered, and it didn't intricate. Kurian has many years of involvement in the exceptional hand-to-hand battle of corporate innovation — contacting corporate administrators, tuning in to their particular business needs and offering programming that will enhance their activities. Be that as it may, Greene knew corporate innovation, as well, and her notoriety and capacity could just take Google's cloud business up until this point. Greene's battles don't look good for Kurian's future. Source: Bloomberg
  22. Google and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek today published the latest edition of their annual report on Southeast Asia’s digital economy. For the third year in a row, Google and Temasek have revised up their growth projections for the future of region’s digital economy. This is partly because they’ve included new sectors in the four verticals they examine, including on-demand food delivery in the “ride-hailing” vertical, vacation rental bookings in “online travel,” and on-demand music and video streaming in “online media.” The in-depth data by country and by sector is available here, but here’s a quick summary: Southeast Asia’s online economy reached US$72 billion in value this year, and is projected to triple to US$240 billion by 2025 – 20 percent higher than the US$200 billion Google and Temasek had estimated in their first report two years ago. The gross merchandise volume (GMV) of Southeast Asia’s online economy accounts for 2.8 percent of the region’s economy – more than twice as much as in 2015. GMV is projected to reach 8 percent of regional GDP by 2025. For comparison, GMV accounted for 6.5 percent of GDP in the US in 2016. Broken down, GMV adds most to Vietnam, making up 4 percent of the country’s economy. In second place is Singapore, where GMV equals 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), followed by Indonesia, with GMV at 2.9 percent of GDP. The first half of 2018 saw US$9.1 billion in funding – including venture capital, private equity, and public market investment – pumped into Southeast Asia’s tech companies, compared to US$9.4 billion for the whole of 2017. This means that the region’s tech scene is well on track for a record-breaking year for investment. Southeast Asian tech enterprises have raised a total of about US$24 billion since 2015. However, US$16 billion – or two-thirds – of that capital has gone to just nine companies: Bukalapak, Go-Jek, Grab, Lazada, Razer, Sea, Traveloka, Tokopedia, and VNG. The chart below gives a breakdown of each vertical’s contribution to the region’s online economy, as well as their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past three years, and projected CAGR from 2015 to 2025. Looking at developments within the studied verticals, the report found that: Ecommerce has been “the most dynamic sector” of Southeast Asia’s online economy over the past three years, having grown over 4x since 2015. Three companies – Lazada, Shopee, and Tokopedia – account for much of that expansion, having grown 7x collectively over the same period thanks to “offering tens of millions of products, world-class mobile user experiences, frequent consumer promotions, and far-reaching logistics networks,” the report says. Indonesia’s ecommerce market leads Southeast Asia, accounting for US$1 in every US$2 spent online in the region and hitting US$12 billion in value. The online media vertical is now worth over US$11 billion, with US$7 billion of that coming from online advertising. Much of this has been driven by “digital marketing investments on platforms like app stores, news sites, search engines, social media, and video streaming,” while companies in ecommerce, entertainment, gaming, and ride-hailing “have started to generate advertising revenue streams from the user engagement on their properties.” Online travel is “the largest and most established” of the four verticals, reaching US$30 billion in gross bookings value (GBV) this year and heading towards US$78 billion GBV by 2025. An estimated 41 percent of all travel-related bookings in Southeast Asia this year have been made online. That’s up from 34 percent in 2015 – a rise attributed to improved user experience and heightened consumer trust in online platforms. Ride-hailing GMV – which now includes on-demand food delivery – is at almost US$8 billion, and is expected to more than triple by 2025. With 35 million active users and 8 million rides booked each day, the ride-hailing vertical has grown 4x since 2015. Only 20 percent of Southeast Asians regularly use ride-hailing services, indicating there is still “huge headroom for further growth” in the vertical. Changing ecosystem In their original 2016 report, Google and Temasek identified six key pain points that Southeast Asia would need to address to fulfill its online potential by 2025. These were: Improved internet infrastructure to provide reliable and affordable internet access for more users Increased consumer trust in online marketplaces and transactions Better access to talent for tech companies Improved logistics network Wider adoption of digital payments solutions Greater availability of venture capital According to this year’s report, significant progress has been made in each of these areas, but challenges remain. Internet infrastructure The report states that as of June, there were over 350 million internet users across the region’s six largest economies – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, known collectively as the “ASEAN 6.” This represents an increase of 90 million since 2015. More than 90 percent of Southeast Asians internet users primarily access the net using their smartphones, underlining the importance of mobile to tech companies operating in the region. Faster 4G mobile networks now serve over 50 percent of the population in ASEAN 6 countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Access has also become more affordable, with the average cost of 1 gigabyte of data having halved in relation to average individual income (gross national income, or GNI) over the past four years. Consumer trust Active user numbers across all four analyzed verticals – ride-hailing, ecommerce, online media, and online travel – have shot up over the past four years, indicating increased consumer trust in online services. Source
  23. If you had a Google Analytics property receiving data from a Google Play Services SDK, you might have gotten an email with a subject line, “Important changes to your Google Analytics for mobile apps properties”. Here’s an excerpt: This means you’ll need to plan ahead on how you’d like to support your mobile app analytics in the future. This post is meant to serve as a high-level guide. It is possible that you use the GA Services SDK and you have not received an email yet – if you’re not sure, you might want to verify with your developers. Why is Google making this change? Firebase, which Google Analytics acquired in 2014, is a suite of data-oriented resources designed specifically for mobile applications. Initially, the Google Analytics Services SDK was a way to expand the Google Analytics solution, designed for web analytics, to mobile apps. While users familiar with Google Analytics enjoy the parity of features for cross-platform analysis, users with a strong focus on mobile app development find it limited in terms of: Data processing power* (limited for free GA, hit based pricing tiers for 360) Data activation in a mobile environment Marketing integration Users who want to drive full mobile user experiences with Google Analytics data will find themselves limited in integration possibilities. Google has been investing heavily in their acquisition of Firebase. It represents their current best-in-class approach to mobile analytics. It has significant differences to how it stores, processes, and makes data available that make it more ideal for mobile. Google knows this is an advantage, so they are pushing their users to evolve away from an older model that they no longer wish to support. * Some of the largest Analytics 360 web implementations collect billions of hits per month, while some Firebase apps collect billions of hits per day, just on basic automatic event tracking (comparable to “out of the box” page tracking in GA). Google Analytics for Firebase does not have a cap on hit volume and is unsampled, which makes it a huge advantage over TOS data limits for the free Google Analytics product. At the time of this publication, the current hit volume supported by the terms of service for the free product is 10 million hits per month per account. What does this mean for me? If you think these changes apply to you, you’ll need to consider whether you need to migrate to GA for Firebase, or consider other alternatives, which we’ll cover in this post. There are some differences in your options depending on whether you are a user of the free Google Analytics product, or if you use Analytics 360. Impact to Free Google Analytics Users If you use the free version of Google Analytics to track your mobile apps, it’s probably best to consider moving to Google Analytics for Firebase. The implementation code is fairly similar to the GA Services SDK, so there likely isn’t a need for a change in mobile app developer resources. The biggest change is that the implementation process starts in Google Cloud Platform. Spending some time to get familiar with this interface, or with a resource who already knows this interface, will be useful to you. If you’re nervous about making the switch, you can go with a combined approach by using Firebase with Google Tag Manager (iOS, Android). You can use GTM to send data to Google Analytics as well. These tags will also no longer be supported for free Google Analytics properties as part of this sunset, but while they are both running simultaneously, you can compare products and get the best of both. You can also link your GA for Firebase property with your Google Analytics account so that you can access your Firebase reports right alongside your Google Analytics reports. If GA for Firebase just doesn’t seem right for you, you can consider a custom implementation by sending hits to a Google Analytics property with Measurement Protocol. This is likely to be a higher level of effort for your team and might not utilize the same skills that your web development team already has. A typical mistake with Measurement Protocol hits is neglecting to include all the desired fields that a standard web or SDK implementation would include for you. Impact to Analytics 360 Users If you’re using Analytics 360, there is no clear indicator that you need to migrate any time soon. The GA Services SDK sunset is only targeted at free Google Analytics properties. However, it would be wise to consider Google’s changes and what it might mean for Google’s long-term plans. Taking the combined approach of using GA for Firebase and Google Analytics at the same time (by using Google Tag Manager) is probably a good idea to consider, to make migration easier should it become important later on. It’s also a really good idea for large scale, enterprise, or rapid-growth companies to consider the advantages that Firebase has to offer. About Google Analytics for Firebase Content is this section was provided by our resident Firebase expert, Ahmed Marof! Firebase is a comprehensive mobile development platform. It introduces a set of great components to build and improve your app quality and to grow your business. Google Analytics for Firebase is the core of the Firebase Platform. This means that gives you the power of using your data to acquire, engage, and retain your users. Using Google Analytics for Firebase you can create a dynamic audience and use it with multiple other products within the Firebase platform. For example, Predictions to retain users before they churn, Remote Config and A/B Testing to experiment the new features of your app, or Cloud Messaging to re-engage your users. In addition to the power that you have on the Firebase Console, you can link your Firebase project to BigQuery to export the data of Analytics, Predictions, and Crashlytics to have the full power of deep analysis of your raw data. Firebase offers a set of great tools for you to combine to create a solution that is best for your mobile app needs. Source
  24. The stock market operates according to many rules -- stated and unstated. One of the most important is the idea -- about which I have been writing since at least 2009 -- that public companies are rewarded or punished each quarter depending on whether they beat revenue and earnings growth targets and raise their forecasts for the quarter and year ahead. CEOs can either choose to play this game -- by giving investors the information they need -- or withholding information so they don't have to report bad news and suffer the consequences. This brings to mind the Nixon era dictum -- it's not the crime, it's the coverup. And sadly for investors, a partial coverup is being foisted on investors by such leading lights as Apple, Google, and General Electric. Before getting into that, let's take a look at how my beat and raise theory is playing out in the current quarter. According to the Wall Street Journal, investors have been punishing companies this month that beat but don't raise. As the Journal wrote, Simply put, beating is not enough for a stock to pop after announcing earnings -- raising guidance is also essential. James Bianco, president of Bianco Research LLC in Chicago, told the Journal, “Investors are saying, ‘Forget about whether you beat earnings expectations last quarter. What’s your outlook for next quarter, next year? What’s your guidance? That’s all we care about now.’” Thanks to new services that track social media activity, investors are able to anticipate whether a company will raise its guidance and invest accordingly. The Journal noted that firms like Estimize -- which assembles over 80,000 professional and amateur analysts who generate 220,000 earnings estimates per quarter on more than 2,100 companies -- are giving an edge to investors who use the earnings estimates to supplement the guidance that companies supply. This brings us to Apple, Google, and GE -- which have recently decided to withdraw critical information -- that in the past helped investors decide whether to buy or sell their shares. What are the CEOs of these companies thinking? My guess is that they are withholding information that they think will cause investors to sell their shares. Since they have played the beat and raise game in the past, they probably know enough about their company's prospects to know that if they keep reporting the information they are now withholding, their stock prices will plunge. So they decide that the benefits of hiding part of the truth about their company will offset the costs. Yet if the short term stock price results are any indication, it seems that the CEOs are not fooling anyone. Here's how each of these three companies have decided to stop providing information about their companies and what has happened to their stock prices since. Apple On November 1, Apple has decided to stop reporting its revenue by product. So investors will not be able to evaluate whether Apple's strategy of making incremental improvements to its old products is working. How so? As I wrote, in its earnings call, Apple said that starting next quarter, it will stop breaking out individual sales numbers for the iPhone, iPad and Mac -- instead wrapping them into one reported revenue figure. Since November 1, Apple shares had lost 12.9% of their value. No doubt, there are many other factors that caused Apple shares to drop -- but 60% of Apple's profit comes from the iPhone. CEO Tim Cook's decision to stop supplying investors information about iPhone sales suggests that he is trying to hide something important by ending Apple's reporting of that statistic. General Electric Under previous CEOs -- most notably Jack Welch -- GE prided itself on exceeding quarterly earnings per share expectations by a penny and then raising its guidance for the next quarter. When newly-anointed GE CEO, Larry Culp, reported its first earnings results under his leadership on October 30, he declined to provide guidance. To me this means that Culp has concluded that GE would be worse off disclosing how bad the future looks than to keep following its practice of providing guidance. As I said on CNBC on November 12, GE needs to announce credible ways that GE will reverse the company's negative 3.5% five year average revenue growth rate. Culp's decision to stop providing guidance tells me that he does not have a good idea of how to do that. Since October 30, GE shares have lost 21.2% of their value. GE's decision to stop providing guidance leaves plenty of reasons for investors to worry. Google Google's efforts to obfuscate are far less significant than those of Apple and GE. But CEO Sundar Pichai has cut back on what Google tells investors about its cloud business which includes applications for email, word processing and spreadsheets and public cloud infrastructure. According to CNBC, in February Pichai told investors that Google cloud was generating more than $1 billion in revenue per quarter and that -- based on publicly available data from 2017 -- it was likely growing faster than any of its rivals. Six months later mum was the word on Google cloud. On October 25, 2018, Pichai did not offer investors any details about its performance -- only saying that he was seeing "strong indicators" that the investment is paying off and that enterprise wins "turn into larger revenue deals over time." This left analysts from Atlantic Equities unimpressed. According to CNBC, their report said, "There were notably no metrics in relation to the cloud business, which we view as not an overly encouraging sign." With Thomas Kurian coming in from Oracle to run Google cloud, perhaps Pichai will disclose more details in the future. Since that conference call, Google shares have lost 3.3% of their value. I don't know what goes through CEOs minds when they decide to disclose less information to investors -- they make we wonder what they are trying to cover up. Source
  25. Google is giving developers tools to push users into updating their apps. Google is giving Android developers a new application programming interface (API) that lets them force users into updating to the latest version of their app. Google revealed at its Android Dev Summit this week that developers will be able to use the new In-app Updates API to create an immediate or flexible in-app update process, which either forces or nudges a user to update an app. Developers can choose which approach is more suitable, depending on how urgent it is that users should update. For example, developers could use the immediate process for critical security updates. After the user opens an app, a full-screen prompt to update is launched that prevents users from using the app until it has been updated. The flexible update allows the user to continue using the app while the update is downloaded. The API should help developers address serious issues if they've rolled out an app with a major bug. However, it also offers developers a way to bump users up to the latest version of an app if they've built a bunch of new features and want all users to have access to them. Google also provided some updates to Kotlin, which according to GitHub, is the fastest-growing language in terms of contributors. This month over 118,000 new projects using Kotlin started in Android Studio, marking a 10-fold increase on last year, according to Google. Google yesterday also revealed how Android would support different types of 'foldables'. It will support two broad classes: foldable devices like Samsung's Infinity Flex device, which has one screen when folded, and devices like the new FlexPai, which has two-screens when folded. Android will offer developers "screen continuity" so that when users start a video on the small screen, it seamlessly transfers to the larger screen as it's unfolded. Source