Google revealed disappointing news alongside the release of the third developer preview of Android Wear 2.0, informing developers and early users that a final release would be pushed back to early 2017. The fourth developer preview became available today and it comes with some big changes that suggest the Wear team is putting the extra time to good use. There are several new APIs for developers and a few things for users to check out.
Twitch has been the largest live streaming video platform for quite some time, and now they decided to push out an update that helps users protect their accounts. Two-Factor Authentication is now available on all Twitch accounts.
Enabling this feature adds one more layer of security by requiring something that you have in your possession, with the first layer being something you know (e.g. your password). This thing you have is a code, which can be generated through a Two-Factor Authentication application, or sent to you via a text message. This generated code changes after a brief interval, usually 30 seconds. Due to the nature of Two-Factor Authentication, attackers are unable to access your account without being able to generate one of these secure codes. Twitch has teamed up with Authy to generate a secure code for you. I've been using Authy for a few years now, and I highly recommend it as a way to manage your Two-Factor codes.
Amazon's Android tablets and phone are often seen as second class citizens in the mobile world, but its Fire TV set-top box and Fire TV Stick gadget are worthy competitors in their respective spaces. Amazon is about to make both of them even better with a new update aimed at expanding functionality, particularly in those small but crucial areas that can make a big difference to the user experience. First up: Wi-Fi access for hotspots that require browser-based authentication, like dorm rooms, hotels, offices, and the like.
This is a much bigger deal than it might sound like. One of the primary failings of Google's Chromecast is that its phone and tablet-based setup makes it almost impossible to verify on these common networks, reducing the cheap streaming gadget's efficacy when traveling.
The Grand S3 isn't a beefed up version of the Galaxy S III, an easy mistake to make just from skimming the name alone. No, it's the latest version of ZTE's flagship handset. This time around, the company is using more than competitive pricing to draw attention to its kind-of-premium device. Anyone who buys this phone in the future will apparently be able to unlock it using their eyes.
ZTE has partnered with EyeVerify to incorporate its Eyeprint ID solution with an upcoming version of the Grand S3, a phone that's already on sale in China. It is one of the first smartphones to implement this technology, which allows users to scan their retinas using a phone's front-facing camera.
PasswordBox is a password manager that automatically enters your credentials into various websites and apps, not unlike LastPass. Last month the company was acquired by Intel Security, which is both absorbing the service and leaving it available in its current form for the time being. The PasswordBox team has been hard at work for its new boss, and at this year's CES, Intel Security announced True Key, built on top of the technology made available by the partnership.
True Key is a replacement for master passwords that secures your information by checking a combination of traits unique to you. This includes relying on aspects of facial recognition—think the distance between your eyes and nose—along with information such as the number of devices that you own.
Google's two-factor authentication system is a great way to keep your email and other accounts safe, especially if you've always got a smartphone (or even a dumb phone) around. Today Google is adding even more options beyond the current phone call, text message, email, and app-based verification. The latest update to the desktop version of Chrome lets you use a USB key as your two-factor security token, ensuring access via both your physical presence and your login password.
Don't pull out your ancient jump drives just yet: you can't add this functionality to just any USB drive. The system only works with USB tokens certified for use with the FIDO U2F Security System, which currently includes just two products on Amazon (though you might be able to find a few more elsewhere).
Account security is a tough issue for a lot of people. It's a constant balancing act between having a stronger system to keep out would-be invaders while also making it convenient enough that users won't reject it. After Google began offering its own 2-step verification system, several other services adopted the same mechanism and opt-in model for people that wanted more than a single password protecting their personal data. This generally left users with Google's Authenticator app, which got the job done, but it lacked features and languished on an early Holo dark design. If you're looking for something a little more modern and functional, it's time to check out Authy.
Just yesterday Google announced that it would soon allow users to send video and other entertainment items to a nearby Chromecast even when they're not connected to the same WiFi network, with the backend relying on location data for verification. It looks like there's some even more interesting technology going on behind the scenes. GigaOm reports that the upcoming update will allow Chromecast and Android devices to authenticate each other using ultrasonic waves.
Here's how it works. You're at a friend's house, and you've just got to show him the latest Honest Trailers video. If his Chromecast has the upcoming "nearby devices" option enabled, you won't need to get on his WiFi.
How many times do you unlock your smartphone within the span of a minute? I can't count the number of times I've unlocked my phone, started a podcast, put it down, changed my mind, unlocked the phone, selected a new podcast, put the phone back down, heard a chime, unlocked the phone, responded, and put the phone down - finally - for long enough to focus on something else. For the sake of convenience, I desperately want to leave my phone unlocked, but doing so frankly isn't safe. We've covered an NFC ring on Kickstarter that alleviates this problem by unlocking your phone whenever it's pressed against it, and now we're sharing the Nymi, a bracelet that can detect who you are and unlock your phone by measuring your heartbeat.
Just after initially unveiling Google Play Services, Google has made the APK installable directly from the Play Store.
For those who missed the announcement, Google Play Services is an APK rolling out automatically to devices running Android 2.2+ that will allow Android apps to easily integrate with Google services like Google+. At present, the app (which is in version 1.0 "Asiago") includes components and relevant client APIs for OAuth 2.0 authentication, Google+ sign-in, and Google+ +1 buttons. Google assures users that "we anticipate more Google services to be continuously added, so be on the lookout for these updates."
The Google Play Services app began rolling out through the Play Store automatically, primarily in order to keep updates to the service independent of carrier or OEM updates.