A new version of the Google app began rolling out earlier this week, but there don't appear to be any major changes going live quite yet. However, this version does bring some big clues about upcoming changes. On the docket for this teardown is a new authentication step for purchases made through Google Assistant, video previews in search results, user-defined actions take form through IFTTT, and some people will be happy to find out that Google's launcher won't always add icons for newly installed apps.
We've reached a point in the smartphone world where most devices have fingerprint sensors. Some are faster and more accurate than others, but I think that most of us can agree that they're pretty awesome to have. Synaptics is a large player in the industry, although some may recognize the name from the touchpads on their laptops. The biometrics company announced yesterday that it's working on a new fingerprint sensor for security, convenience, and versatility.
The recent rollout of Google Play services v10.2 came with a cool new Instant Tethering feature that automatically enables a small set of devices to sip on a shared cellular signal when they're in need. Aside from a couple of minor tweaks, that appears to be the only major functional change we're supposed to access at this time. However, that doesn't mean there aren't a few other things waiting to be revealed. Fresh additions to the APK reveal new data types coming to the Google Fit API. There's also support baked in for the new FIDO Alliance U2F tokens for secure authentication.
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.