Apple has complied with Russian demands to show the annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russian territory on its apps.
Russian forces annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, drawing international condemnation.
The region, which has a Russian-speaking majority, is now shown as Russian territory on Apple Maps and its Weather app, when viewed from Russia.
But the apps do not show it as part of any country when viewed elsewhere.
It appears to be a limit based on what App Store a user has chosen (Russian in this case) and this is yet another appalling case of Apple bending over backwards to please an authoritarian regime.
Google, which also produces a popular Maps app, also shows Crimea as belonging to Russia when viewed from the country. The changes happened in March.
Apple is, however, not alone.
Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President, Devices & Services at Google:
Today, we’re announcing that Google has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit, a leading wearables brand.
Meanwhile, Fitbit put out a press release which includes this statement:
Consumer trust is paramount to Fitbit. Strong privacy and security guidelines have been part of Fitbit’s DNA since day one, and this will not change. Fitbit will continue to put users in control of their data and will remain transparent about the data it collects and why. The company never sells personal information, and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.
And yet they just sold all of their user’s personal information to Google.
Angela Moon, reporting for Reuters:
Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.
Holders of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps, however, will continue to be able to use and download app updates provided by Google, a Google spokesperson said, confirming earlier reporting by Reuters […]
Chipmakers including Intel Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Xilinx Inc and Broadcom Inc have told their employees they will not supply critical software and components to Huawei until further notice […]
This could spiral out of control very easily.
Paresh Dave, reporting for Reuters:
Alphabet Inc’s Google will begin featuring ads on the homepage of its smartphone app worldwide later this year, it said on Tuesday, giving the search engine a huge new supply of ad slots to boost revenue.
Google will also start placing ads with a gallery of up to eight images in search results, potentially increasing ad supply further.
It appears that they’re still keeping their desktop homepage clean though.
Since you’re reading this, please consider switching to DuckDuckGo as your main search engine. Its results are close enough to Google’s that it doesn’t matter 99% of the time, and it doesn’t track you. Period. You can also set DDG as your default search engine on Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, etc. Try it, at the very least.
Tom Warren:, writing for The Verge:
Something had to give. Microsoft had to change its Edge browser in a big way. That meeting with Nadella ultimately led to Microsoft’s huge decision to jettison the browser it built in house and start from scratch using Chromium as a new foundation. The stakes for success couldn’t be much higher: the future of Windows and the web itself could hinge on this project.
This is the story of how Microsoft made that monumental decision and what could happen next.
I’m not personally interested in Edge or particularly happy that Microsoft joined the Blink/Chromium camp. I would have definitely been more please had they based Edge on WebKit or Gecko…
And speaking of WebKit…
I’m deeply disappointed in Apple for discontinuing Safari for Windows and not expanding to Linux and other operating systems. I don’t trust Google or Microsoft’s priorities (Google’s especially), and Chrome needs to lose some market share for our benefit. History has shown that a monopoly in the browser department doesn’t end well. Apple had the unique ability to challenge Google on competing desktop OSes and they forfeited that fight. Yes, Safari is holding its own on mobile. For now. That could change, when something new comes along, replacing our iOS and Android devices. At this point, all I can do is also root for Mozilla and Firefox.
Tom Warren, for The Verge:
Apple shut down Google’s ability to distribute its internal iOS apps earlier today. A person familiar with the situation told The Verge that early versions of Google Maps, Hangouts, Gmail, and other pre-release beta apps stopped working alongside employee-only apps like a Gbus app for transportation and Google’s internal cafe app. The block came after Google was found to be in violation of Apple’s app distribution policy, and followed a similar shutdown that was issued to Facebook earlier this week.
Nicole Nguyen, for Buzzfeed News:
In a statement, Google told BuzzFeed News, “We’re working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps, which we expect will be resolved soon.” Apple told BuzzFeed News, “We are working together with Google to help them reinstate their enterprise certificates very quickly.”
Hands were slapped, but I wonder how many more companies are using enterprise certificates for things they shouldn’t be.
Zack Whittaker, Josh Constine, and Ingrid Lunden, reporting for TechCrunch:
Google has been running an app called Screenwise Meter, which bears a strong resemblance to the app distributed by Facebook Research that has now been barred by Apple, TechCrunch has learned. In its app, Google invites users aged 18 and up (or 13 if part of a family group) to download the app by way of a special code and registration process using an Enterprise Certificate. That’s the same type of policy violation that led Apple to shut down Facebook’s similar Research VPN iOS app, which had the knock-on effect of also disabling usage of Facebook’s legitimate employee-only apps — which run on the same Facebook Enterprise Certificate — and making Facebook look very iffy in the process […] After we asked Google whether its app violated Apple policy, Google announced it will remove Screenwise Meter from Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program and disable it on iOS devices.
The company said in a statement to TechCrunch:
“The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize. We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been. We’ve been upfront with users about the way we use their data in this app, we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time.”
Translation: ‘Please Apple, don’t disable our certificate, like you did Facebook’s. We’ll be good now. Promise!’
From the comments section:
From the description of the declarativeNetRequest API, I understand that its purpose is to merely enforce Adblock Plus (“ABP”)-compatible filtering capabilities. It shares the same basic filtering syntax: double-pipe to anchor to hostname, single pipe to anchor to start or end of URL, caret as a special placeholder, and so on. The described matching algorithm is exactly that of a ABP-like filtering engine. If this (quite limited) declarativeNetRequest API ends up being the only way content blockers can accomplish their duty, this essentially means that two content blockers I have maintained for years, uBlock Origin (“uBO”) and uMatrix, can no longer exist.
Please don’t use Chrome (or Chromium unfortunately). Just switch to Safari or Firefox (I use it as my second browser and it’s fine). And while you’re at it, switch out your search engine to DuckDuckGo — it works surprisingly well, even in Poland when searching for Polish content.
Vlad Savov, for The Verge:
If you listen closely, you might be able to hear every other phone camera engineer flipping their desk and resigning in disgust. This is just an astonishing improvement. The Pixel 3’s camera is already among the very best low-light performers, so when a scene is so dark that it barely registers anything, you know there’s hardly any light. And yet, with Night Sight on, we actually see a scene that looks like a moderately noisy daytime shot.
These are the kind of shots (the Night Sight ones) that the first smartphones took in pretty decent lighting conditions. Computational photography is obviously the future but I did not expect such stunning results so quickly. I would actually consider getting a Pixel 3 XL if it had a dual camera system because I really enjoy having a 50 mm lens on my iPhone.
Ron Amadeo, writing for Ars Technica:
Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is shipping out to the masses, and people hoping to take advantage of the new Qi wireless charging capabilities have run into a big surprise. For some unexplained reason, Google is locking out third-party Qi chargers from reaching the highest charging speeds on the Pixel 3. Third-party chargers are capped to a pokey 5W charging speed. If you want 10 watts of wireless charging, Google hopes you will invest in its outrageously priced Pixel Stand, which is $79 […]
Google got back to us. The Pixel 3 does not support 10W Qi charging at all. It supports 10W wireless charging, and it supports the Qi wireless charging standard, but these are two different things. Qi is capped at 5W, and for 10W wireless charging, you need a charger with what Belkin calls “Google’s 10W proprietary wireless charging technology.”
This is something I expected Apple to do, when they first introduced inductive charging, not Google.
Moran Knutson, in a long thread on Twitter:
Now that Google+ has been shuttered, I should air my dirty laundry on how awful the project and exec team was.
I’m still pissed about the bait and switch they pulled by telling me I’d be working on Chrome, then putting me on this god forsaken piece of shit on day one.
Read the whole thing, it’s worth it. I’m actually suprised (though I shouldn’t be) about how things are done over there.
If your team, say on Gmail or Android, was to integrate Google+’s features then your team would be awarded a 1.5-3x multiplier on top of your yearly bonus. Your bonus was already something like 15% of your salary.
Gerrit de Vynck, for Bloomberg:
Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it found a “software glitch” in its Google+ social network in March that could have exposed the personal data of as many as half a million users, but decided not to tell the public until Monday.
Google chose not to disclose the flaw out of concern it would trigger regulatory backlash, especially in the wake of criticism against Facebook Inc. for its privacy failures, according to the Wall Street Journal, which initially reported the news Monday. In a statement posted to its blog minutes after the report, Google said it plans to shut down Google+ for consumers and introduce new privacy tools restricting how developers can use information on products ranging from email to file storage.
Sameer Samat details the new Android Pie on Google’s blog:
The latest release of Android is here! And it comes with a heaping helping of artificial intelligence baked in to make your phone smarter, simpler and more tailored to you. Today we’re officially introducing Android 9 Pie […]
I wanted to comment on two of the new features…
That’s why Android 9 comes with features like […] Adaptive Brightness, which learns how you like to set the brightness in different settings, and does it for you.
I have been using iPhones and iPads since 2008, and always relied on Automatic Brightness. I don’t know what Apple did, but I never had an Android phone which handled this function, as well as iOS does — I’ve always had stuttering or sudden brightness shifts, including flickering while it’s been adjusted. All this on many flagship phones, including older Nexus devices and more recent ones like the Galaxy S8.
At-a-Glance on Always-on-Display: See things like calendar events and weather on your Lock Screen and Always-on Display.
I have always found it curious that Apple chose not to use the Lock Screen in a more productive fashion (widgets do not count). Just weather information could be easily included and it’s something I miss every day. And since we have a OLED screen on the iPhone X, that could be taken advantage of even further. Burn-in could present a problem and perhaps that is why Apple isn’t in on this, but I can imagine a scenario where one tap on a screen shows upcoming calendar events and the weather, while two taps wake the screen.
Computers are (partly) supposed to help us solve our problems. This isn’t being pursued as I had hoped it would be. We’re 11 years in and iOS still can’t do things that my simple Nokia could, such as setting it to Do Not Disturb mode for a precisely set amount of time. iOS 12 will introduce a few new features that help in this regard but there’s so much more that could be done. My iPhone know’s my daily schedule and how I use it — it should adapt automatically. When I walk into the gym, it should suggest launching Overcast and Workouts (on my Apple Watch). When I leave, it should suggest that I text my wife, informing her that I am on my way and share my ETA. When I get into my car in the parking lot beneath the gym, it should launch Waze and guide me to where she is. I do this every single day and I should not have to manually repeat these steps every time — the OS should have learned by now. It has my location, it knows my routine; it should help automate repetitive tasks automatically.
Gennie Gebhart and Cory Doctorow, for the EFF:
While many of its features sound promising, what “Confidential Mode” provides isn’t confidentiality. At best, the new mode might create expectations that it fails to meet around security and privacy in Gmail. We fear that Confidential Mode will make it less likely for users to find and use other, more secure communication alternatives. And at worst, Confidential Mode will push users further into Google’s own walled garden while giving them what we believe are misleading assurances of privacy and security […]
Ultimately, for the reasons we outlined above, in EFF’s opinion calling this new Gmail mode “confidential” is misleading. There is nothing confidential about unencrypted email in general and about Gmail’s new “Confidential Mode” in particular. While the new mode might make sense in narrow enterprise or company settings, it lacks the privacy guarantees and features to be considered a reliable secure communications option for most users.
The one thing I trust Google with is their uncanny ability to try to create an illusion of privacy and security, while in reality doing the exact opposite.
Mark Bergen, for Bloomberg:
For more than two years, a small and stealthy group of engineers within Google has been working on software that they hope will eventually replace Android, the world’s dominant mobile operating system. As the team grows, it will have to overcome some fierce internal debate about how the software will work […]
The company must also settle some internal feuds. Some of the principles that Fuchsia creators are pursuing have already run up against Google’s business model. Google’s ads business relies on an ability to target users based on their location and activity, and Fuchsia’s nascent privacy features would, if implemented, hamstring this important business. There’s already been at least one clash between advertising and engineering over security and privacy features of the fledgling operating system, according to a person familiar with the matter. The ad team prevailed, this person said.
This sounds very disappointing. I really hope they decide to change course and focus on security and privacy instead.
Ron Amadeo, for Ars Technica:
Duplex patiently waited for me to awkwardly stumble through my first ever table reservation while I sloppily wrote down the time and fumbled through a basic back and forth about Google’s reservation for four people at 7pm on Thursday. Today’s Google Assistant requires authoritative, direct, perfect speech in order to process a command. But Duplex handled my clumsy, distracted communication with the casual disinterest of a real person. It waited for me to write down its reservation requirements, and when I asked Duplex to repeat things I didn’t catch the first time (“A reservation at what time?”), it did so without incident. When I told this robocaller the initial time it wanted wasn’t available, it started negotiating times; it offered an acceptable time range and asked for a reservation somewhere in that time slot. I offered seven o’clock and Google accepted.
From the human end, Duplex’s voice is absolutely stunning over the phone. It sounds real most of the time, nailing most of the prosodic features of human speech during normal talking. The bot “ums” and “uhs” when it has to recall something a human might have to think about for a minute. It gives affirmative “mmhmms” if you tell it to hold on a minute. Everything flows together smoothly, making it sound like something a generation better than the current Google Assistant voice.
So Google’s demo at I/O 2018 was partly staged. The journalists invited to test it out were not able to speak directly to Google Assistant but had to have an engineer enter their data manually. I assume that that last integration will be one of the easier parts of the project, which as a whole is extremely impressive. It will need to me more accurate though, so Google won’t need people to oversee the calls themselves — Google says it currently handles 8 out of 10 calls without the need for human intervention.
Other reports about Google Duplex from the past day or so:
I’ve been writing about Google’s efforts to deprecate HTTP, the protocol of the web. This is a summary of why I am opposed to it.
This isn’t their first attempt and it won’t be their last foray into trying to influence the internet, but hopefully it won’t affect us as much as it could, especially since we do have alternatives to Google Search and Chrome.
Frederic Lardinois, for TechCrunch:
Google is revamping its consumer storage plans today by adding a new $2.99/month tier for 200 GB of storage and dropping the price of its 2 TB plan from $19.99/month to $9.99/month (and dropping the $9.99/month 1 TB plan). It’s also rebranding these storage plans (but not Google Drive itself) as “Google One.”
Since they’re not only consolidating their storage plans under the “Google One” slogan, will this be updated in the future to include subscription services such as YouTube Red? If yes, then will users be able to select which services they want, to customise the plan (and price) to their needs or will Google go down the Amazon Prime route, where many services will just sit unused but will still be paid for?
Christopher Mims, for The Washington Post:
As justifiable as the focus on Facebook has been, though, it isn’t the full picture. If the concern is that companies might be collecting some personal data without our knowledge or explicit consent, Alphabet’s Google is a far bigger threat by many measures: the volume of information it gathers, the reach of its tracking and the time people spend on its sites and apps […]
It’s likely that Google has shadow profiles on at least as many people as Facebook does, says Chandler Givens, chief executive of TrackOff, which develops software to fight identity theft. Google allows everyone, whether they have a Google account or not, to opt out of its ad targeting. Yet, like Facebook, it continues to gather your data […]
Google also is the biggest enabler of data harvesting, through the world’s two billion active Android mobile devices. Because Google’s Android OS helps companies gather data on us, then Google is also partly to blame when troves of that data are later used improperly, says Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University.
A good example of this is the way Facebook has continuously harvested Android users’ call and text history. Facebook never got this level of access from Apple ’s iPhone, whose operating system is designed to permit less under-the-hood data collection. Android OS often allows apps to request rich data from users without accompanying warnings about how the data might be used.
Meanwhile, we still don’t have the tools or means to protect ourselves from being targeted by Google, Facebook, and others, or to block their tracking practices completely.
Jack Nicas and Cade Metz, for The New York Times:
Apple has hired Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence, John Giannandrea, a major coup in its bid to catch up to the artificial intelligence technology of its rivals.
Apple said on Tuesday that Mr. Giannandrea will run Apple’s “machine learning and A.I. strategy,” and become one of 16 executives who report directly to Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.
Perhaps iPhone-Siri will be able to talk to HomePod-Siri and Apple-TV-Siri next year and be able to control them. Or know how to set more than one timer at the least.
TL;DR: We are making changes to how AMP works in platforms such as Google Search that will enable linked pages to appear under publishers’ URLs instead of the google.com/amp URL space while maintaining the performance and privacy benefits of AMP Cache serving.
Nothing significant has changed; you still cede content control to Google.
Do not use AMP.
Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.
Quartz observed the data collection occur and contacted Google, which confirmed the practice.
I wonder what would have happened had they not been caught, and I mean that with all the sarcasm in the world.
What scares me most is that people stopped caring about companies doing things like this. Sure, I care. Maybe even you care. But most people don’t.
The real-time translation feature is cool, but how often would you need it? I’ve been using AirPods for about a year and I don’t think I would have used this feature even once.
At least three times in the past six months.
Ron Amadeo, writing for Ars Technica:
In addition to the usual Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, the Pixel 2 is equipped with the “Pixel Visual Core,” an extra, second SoC designed by Google with hardware-accelerated image processing in mind. At the heart of the chip is an eight-core Image Processing Unit (IPU) capable of more than three trillion operations per second. Using these IPU cores, Google says the company’s HDR+ image processing can run “5x faster and at less than 1/10th the energy” than it currently does on the main CPU.
The Pixel Visual Core is currently in the Pixel 2, but it doesn’t work yet. Google says it will be enabled with the launch of the Android 8.1 developer preview. At that time, the chip will let third-party apps use the Pixel 2’s HDR+ photo processing, allowing them to produce pictures that look just as good as the native camera app. The chip isn’t just for Google’s current camera algorithms, though. Google says the Pixel Visual Core is designed “to handle the most challenging imaging and machine learning applications” and that the company is “already preparing the next set of applications” designed for the hardware.
Having two entirely separate SoCs inside a smartphone is unusual. The Pixel Visual Core has its own CPU (a single Cortex A53 core to play traffic cop), its own DDR4 RAM, the eight IPU cores, and a PCIe line, presumably as a bus to the rest of the system. Ideally, you would have a single SoC that integrates the IPU right next to that other co-processor, the GPU. The Pixel 2 is based on the Snapdragon 835 SoC, though, and you aren’t allowed to integrate your own custom silicon with Qualcomm’s design. What Google can do is wrap a minimal SoC around its eight IPU cores and then connect that to the main system SoC. If Google ever set out to compete with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line, an IPU is something it could build directly into its own designs. For now, though, it has this self-contained solution.
I’m willing to bet Google is planning to or already working on their own SoC. Once (and if) it goes to market, I wonder if they’ll be able to compete with Qualcomm and Apple, and how many years it will take them to catch up. Designing your own custom silicon is definitely a huge advantage, one which Apple is currently successfully leveraging over their competitors.
I was working for Forbes at the time, and was new to my job. In addition to writing and reporting, I helped run social media there, so I got pulled into a meeting with Google salespeople about Google’s then-new social network, Plus.
The Google salespeople were encouraging Forbes to add Plus’s “+1″ social buttons to articles on the site, alongside the Facebook Like button and the Reddit share button. They said it was important to do because the Plus recommendations would be a factor in search results—a crucial source of traffic to publishers.
This sounded like a news story to me. Google’s dominance in search and news give it tremendous power over publishers. By tying search results to the use of Plus, Google was using that muscle to force people to promote its social network.
I asked the Google people if I understood correctly: If a publisher didn’t put a +1 button on the page, its search results would suffer? The answer was yes.
After the meeting, I approached Google’s public relations team as a reporter, told them I’d been in the meeting, and asked if I understood correctly. The press office confirmed it, though they preferred to say the Plus button “influences the ranking.” They didn’t deny what their sales people told me: If you don’t feature the +1 button, your stories will be harder to find with Google.
With that, I published a story headlined, “Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Suffers,” that included bits of conversation from the meeting […]
Google promptly flipped out.
This borders on blackmail, NDA or not.
Kate Conger, writing for Gizmodo:
Google has removed roughly 300 apps from its Play Store after security researchers from several internet infrastructure companies discovered that the seemingly harmless apps—offering video players and ringtones, among other features—were secretly hijacking Android devices to provide traffic for large-scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
How many more have yet to be discovered?
Luke Dormehl, writing for Cult of Mac:
Google could pay Apple as much as $3 billion this year in order to remain the default search engine on iOS devices, a new report claims.
The claim comes from Bernstein analyst A.M. Sacconaghi Jr. If true, it would represent a sizable increase from the $1 billion that Apple was paid by Google for the same reason back in 2014.
While this is (or would be) a good business decision on Apple’s part, they really should just set DuckDuckGo as the default search engine. The good of the users should come first and DDG is easily good enough for most.
Mark Bergen, writing for Bloomberg:
James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” He said he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”