WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Hackers have reportedly been injecting Israeli spyware onto smartphones via the popular Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp. The surveillance software, named Pegasus, was developed by Israeli firm NSO Group and can access an iPhone with a single missed voice call on WhatsApp. NSO claims that it carefully vets its customers; the company’s software is intended for government agencies to combat crime and terrorism. While it is currently unknown how many users may have been affected at this point (the problem was first discovered in early May), WhatsApp says it has created a patch to address the vulnerability. Continue reading WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Google Announces Plans to Bring Electronic IDs to Android

On the final day of its annual I/O developer conference in Mountain View last week, Google announced plans to bring Electronic IDs like driver’s licenses and club memberships to Android, and that all new Android Q devices would be required to encrypt user data. These developments could move users one step closer to using digital wallets as valid identification for in-person transactions. As part of the announcement, Google indicated that it’s looking into adding Electronic ID support so developers can build mobile apps for secure ID use.

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India Reportedly Launches Antitrust Investigation of Google

Sources informed Reuters that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered an antitrust investigation into Google for allegedly using the popularity of its Android operating system to block competitors. CCI began evaluating the complaint in 2018, and by April of this year reportedly determined that there was enough merit to launch a full investigation. A similar case played out in Europe last year, which resulted in a $5 billion fine against Google. In that case, the EU determined that Google had violated antitrust rules by forcing Android phone manufacturers to pre-install the Google search app and Chrome Web browser, providing the Google Play Store with an unfair advantage. Continue reading India Reportedly Launches Antitrust Investigation of Google

Android Q Live Caption Feature Enables Real-Time Subtitles

During Google’s I/O 2019 developers conference this week, the company demonstrated an impressive new feature for mobile operating system Android Q. Called Live Caption, the feature enables real-time transcription for any video or audio that users play on their smartphones. No matter if they’re listening or watching via YouTube, Skype, Instagram, Pocket Casts, or other applications, Live Caption overlays the text on top of whatever is being used. Additionally, Live Caption will work on top of original video or audio recordings on users’ phones.

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Google Unveils New Devices, Privacy Features at I/O Event

At this week’s Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California, the company unveiled new tools for a number of its products designed to help consumers control their personal data and how their online activities are tracked. “We think privacy is for everyone — not just for the few,” explained Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “We want to do more to stay ahead of constantly evolving user expectations.” In addition to detailing privacy features, Google made announcements regarding its two latest Pixel devices, its newest version of Android, the Nest Hub Max smart display, and updates to Google Assistant. Continue reading Google Unveils New Devices, Privacy Features at I/O Event

WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

When Apple’s 5-day Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off June 3 in San Jose, the company is reportedly planning to introduce an array of new apps, software features and development tools. According to those familiar with the plans, Apple is expected to introduce operating system updates for its Apple TV, Apple Watch, iPad, iPhone and Mac computers. The new iOS 13, codenamed “Yukon,” will offer new and updated features — while iOS14, codenamed “Azul,” will launch next year to support 5G wireless and new AR functions. Continue reading WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

Microsoft Announces Launch of Azure Blockchain Services

In the past year, Microsoft has demonstrated a focus on blockchain technology. It previously launched a blockchain developer kit along with its Azure Blockchain Workbench. Just last week, ahead of its Build developer conference, Microsoft announced the launch of Azure Blockchain Services, a “fully managed service that allows for the formation, management, and governance of consortium blockchain networks” which are “meant to help businesses build applications on top of blockchain technology,” according to TechCrunch.

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Facebook Is Developing Cryptocurrency Payments System

Facebook is currently recruiting financial firms and online merchants to launch a “cryptocurrency-based payments system on the back of its gigantic social network,” reports The Wall Street Journal. At its center is a digital coin that users would be able to send to one another and use to make purchases on Facebook and on the broader Internet. This has the potential to significantly disrupt, or even up-end, “the traditional, lucrative plumbing of e-commerce and would likely be the most mainstream application yet of cryptocurrency.”

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Spotify Tests Voice-Enabled Ads on Mobile Devices in U.S.

If you — like millions of others — log into Spotify via a free mobile account (and if you’re in the U.S. and have enabled voice controls), you might start noticing something new: voice-enabled ads. As part of increased investment in voice technology, the streaming service started a test period of these new ads, which encourage listeners to say verbal commands to take action based on the ad’s content. For now, Spotify is focused on promoted in-app content like branded playlists and podcasts, instead of directing listeners outside the app.

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Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

With an emphasis on privacy, Facebook made a series of compelling announcements at its annual F8 developer conference this week. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg detailed six core principles that will be embedded across the company’s services: private interactions, improved data encryption, interoperability, general safety, reducing permanence and secure data storage. The principles arrive following a difficult period for the social giant, as it continues to face criticism regarding privacy-related scandals while contending with increased scrutiny from global regulators. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

Facebook Unveils First Design Changes to Enhance Privacy

Under the dark cloud of various privacy-related scandals, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the first of a series in design changes meant to shift the social media platform away from town square-style communication and toward more direct, private communication between users and groups. On Tuesday at Facebook’s annual developer conference, the company showcased a redesign of its mobile app and desktop site, both of which add new features to promote group-based communication rather than a focus on the News Feed.

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Apple Facing Criticism for Restricting Parental Control Apps

“Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?” asked Fred Stutzman, founder and chief executive of Freedom, an app designed to limit screen time. Freedom had 770,000 downloads before Apple removed it from the App Store in August, and other app makers have similar stories. According to analysis from The New York Times and app-data firm Sensor Tower, Apple removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen time and parental-control apps as well as clamping down on similar but lesser known apps.

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Canada, New York Rebuke Facebook For Privacy Violations

In Canada, privacy commissioners stated that Facebook’s “superficial and ineffective safeguards and consent mechanisms” violated local and national laws in allowing third parties to access users’ personal data — and that the company has refused to fix the problems. The New York State attorney general plans to investigate Facebook’s “unauthorized collection” of 1.5+ million users’ email address books. Facebook just banned “personality quiz” apps similar to the one behind the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to improve security. Continue reading Canada, New York Rebuke Facebook For Privacy Violations

NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

NBCUniversal became the latest media outlet to dip a toe into interactive storytelling, with “Series: Your Story Universe,” a mobile game produced by Universal Games and Digital Platforms with Endless Entertainment. The team picked IPs not easily adapted for mobile games that allow users to interact with stories based on favorite TV shows and movies, including “Vanderpump Rules,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Law & Order,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Bridesmaids,” “Sixteen Candles” and “Xena: Warrior Princess.” Continue reading NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

PayPal Monetizing Venmo, Which Now Has 40 Million Users

PayPal Holdings’ Q1 earnings report revealed that 40 million people used its digital money transfer service Venmo in the last year, making it one of the most popular financial apps in the United States. Venmo is also growing dramatically in overall volume with the total number of payments made on its platform skyrocketing 73 percent to $21.3 billion in Q1 2019. Most Venmo transactions are between two people, with the company swallowing the processing fee. But PayPal prizes the app since a younger, more active cohort favors it. Continue reading PayPal Monetizing Venmo, Which Now Has 40 Million Users

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