In what I am sure was on purpose due to it being Friday the 13th, some mild form of privacy panic has hit the world due to The Guardian's article this morning about a critical backdoor in WhatsApp. It postulates that, due to how encryption keys are handled when a device goes offline and messages are not sent (for whatever reason), WhatsApp or its parent company Facebook can intercept user communications. Meanwhile, Gizmodo has reported that this is not the case — how WhatsApp handles encryption is a feature and works as intended. Read More
What was wrong with 3.5mm audio jacks? They have been standard for many years, they worked reliably, and you could find tons of headphones that supported them. But no, companies have to sometimes invent reasons to change things around and here we are with the 3.5mm jack mysteriously disappearing from modern smartphones to be replaced by USB-C digital audio. Yes, I know that size constraints matter, but so far, the released phones with no jack don't make a good case for that argument and don't provide any new hardware that uses the additional empty space favorably. And for the record, I am ranting even though I use Bluetooth headsets 99% of the time; I just like having the 3.5mm plug option for that 1%. Read More
Board games are great fun: I especially like Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. Some are so good they get turned into PC games. Mysterium is one such example, and after proving popular on Steam, it's garnered an Android release as well.
Mysterium is set in the 1920s - prime detective era, think Agatha Christie - and is a little bit like Cluedo (Mrs White, in the ballroom, with the candlestick). A ghost guides a group of psychics to uncover a murder using only visual clues, leading them to the murderer, the weapon, and location. Co-operation between the psychics (i.e. players) sees the mystery uncovered faster. Read More
Snapchat is readying an update for its Android and iOS versions that brings a new interface with plenty of usability improvements and a few added features. The update is now rolling out to beta testers on Android so you can give it a go before it goes live for everyone — and thus feel cooler than the cool kids, I guess. Just don't use the word "thus" when you tell them that.
The new interface is more colorful with a blue title bar for chats and a purple one for stories. The Stories section also loses the Discover strip from the top. It now goes on the bottom instead, letting you focus first on the recent story updates from your friends. Read More
The latest major update to Gmail is beginning to roll out to users and this one looks like it might be fairly important to Exchange users. We're still looking for additional features, but this version does bring support for task management and syncing to Exchange accounts. As usual, we've got a download link at the bottom so you don't have to wait for the apk to roll out to your devices organically. Read More
Yahoo is going through some changes right now. Not necessarily the good kind, either. Verizon is buying a chunk of the company, and the rest is changing its name to Altaba. So, there are some changes in the Flickr app, which Yahoo has been accused of neglecting in recent years. For the first time in several years, you can sign into Flickr without a Yahoo account. Read More
YouTube live streams are generally pretty good, but getting noticed in the live comment stream is tricky, especially when there are thousands or even hundreds of thousands watching or commenting. To combat this, YouTube has introduced Super Chat, a way for commenters to get more noticed by their favorite content creators by paying to pin comments to the top.
The way Super Chat works is by allowing individual users to pay to promote their comment for a temporary period of time (up to 5 hours). The comment is highlighted and pinned to the top of the comments, and the creator who is hosting the live stream can reply. Read More
As part of an update to the Maps app today, Google is adding fully native integration with Uber. You can set a destination, pick an Uber type, book it, monitor its location, and call the driver - all directly from Google Maps. This is excellent. While I did see an update to Maps on my phone today, the feature doesn't appear to be live for me just yet, so there's probably a server-side switch on this. Read More
Chrooma Keyboard is one of those keyboards I can always recommend to people who like the Google Keyboard but want something more out of the experience. I have been using it on and off since it got updated to v3 in June and I love its adaptive colors that fit with whatever app you're using, extensive gestures, multilingual support, and customizable action row. But since some of these features were already added to GBoard recently, there were fewer reasons to use Chrooma... until this new v4 update came rolling.
Now Chrooma has emoji suggestions so you get a pizza emoji when you type the word "pizza," neural predictions for your sentences, a smarter clipboard that lets you view a history of your copied texts and paste whichever you want as well as pin some to keep them, a words blacklist option to stop suggesting certain words, and the customizable action row now shifts from emojis to numbers to punctuation depending on what you just typed. Read More