Mankind loves to obsess over numbers, statistics, and data. Ok, maybe not everybody is stuck on tracking every last thing that happens; but if you're reading this site, there's a good chance you're already checking your monthly activity reports each time Google fires off an email reminder. That addiction to numbers is about to get much more interesting. Google is merging the monthly activity report with Dashboard to produce a super-sized page full of facts and stats about how you're using Google's services.
Last month Facebook bought WhatsApp for way too much money, making the app's developers very wealthy individuals. This deal, theoretically, gives Facebook access to the data provided by the app's nearly half a billion users. The companies behind the social network and the instant messenger have both promised that WhatsApp will continue to operate autonomously, but this hasn't completely alleviated privacy concerns. Thus WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum has shared a blog post aimed at "setting the record straight."
In it he states:
WhatsApp, the incredibly popular messaging service recently acquired by Facebook for 19 Instagrams dropped an update for Android users today, bringing the app up to version 2.11.186. The update brings to the Play Store features beta users have enjoyed since version 2.11.181 earlier this month.
Users who grab the update will enjoy new privacy settings for "last seen," profile photo, and status (allowing users to limit who can see each), a camera shortcut (a 1x1 widget for quick photo capture), and several other UI improvements.
Your Facebook feed is about to get slightly less infuriating. No, your friends aren't going to spontaneously start believing the same things you do. Facebook has decided to end sponsored stories. Those are the posts that float to the top of your feed informing you that one of your friends has interacted with a brand or product on Facebook. Well, no more.
You probably see that "Display images below" button in Gmail all the time on both mobile and desktop. This is the default behavior because it makes it harder for spammers and advertisers to track you. However, Google says it has prepared a workaround that mitigates the security concern and will allow it to show those images by default.
Mercury Browser has been one of the top alternatives to Apple's Safari browser on iOS for a while, and now the developers have finally ported it to Android. It might not be sewn into the fabric of your Google account like Chrome is, but Mercury Browser has a slick interface and plenty of advanced features.
The security of our mobile apps and private data is a very serious matter. This is particularly true for high value targets like web browsers, which often store login credentials that can be used to access many of the websites we use on a regular basis. Unfortunately, browsers are also very complicated applications with an extensive set of features that are difficult to lock down completely. Sebastián Guerrero Selma of viaForensics recently posted a video demonstrating a newly discovered vulnerability in Firefox for Android which would allow hackers to access both the contents of the SD card and the browser's private data.
Note from Artem: Mark Murphy, also known as CommonsWare and CommonsGuy, is one of the top 10 contributors to StackOverflow (he's currently #8). He's the Chuck Norris of Android development, with over 300,000 StackOverflow reputation points. I am honored by his decision to accept my offer to join the AndroidPolice team of contributors.
The User Defense series of posts will highlight relatively easy ways in which users can improve the privacy and security of their use of Android devices.
Android 4.3 has a hidden feature! It's called "App Ops" and it lets you selectively disable some permissions for your apps. Is some misbehaving app constantly pinging your location and draining your battery in a few hours? You can fix that now.
I'm working on my full 4.3 teardown, but I just ran across this and had to add it here:
<string name="grant_confirm_question">Do you want to grant the following permissions?