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Bizarre OnePlus ads show implausibly odd series of smartphone tests

I've been told that smartphone enthusiasts are often a bit prickly about their preferences, though OnePlus is taking things to a bizarre new extreme with their latest campaign. Apparently titled "The OnePlus 5T Smart Tests," the first in the series features two men in underwear—one holding a OnePlus 5T, the other holding a Samsung Galaxy S8—having bits of cactus thrown at them, only able to leave after they open 20 "everyday apps." Truly, this takes advertising to a bizarre and unwarranted new level, and you should trust me on this because I live in Japan.

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Amazon doesn't want ads on Alexa

It's fairly simple to create unobtrusive advertising on computers, phones, tablets, and other devices with a screen - users can simply ignore the ads. However, that doesn't translate to smart speakers, since the only interface is speaking. There's no unobtrusive way to stop in the middle of a sentence and start talking about a sale.

Thankfully, at least for the moment, Amazon agrees that ads have no place on smart speakers. According to a report from The Information, Sony approached Amazon several times about running ads on its Jeopardy Alexa game. The company refused each time, explaining that advertising could alienate users.

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Google adds more personalization options to its Ads Settings tool

Back in 2016, Google introduced a new tool which allowed users to further personalize the ads they saw online. It was a win-win, Google got to increase the effectiveness of its advertising, and you got to ensure (within limits) that they were a bit more useful. Apparently, this change was worth it, as Google is doubling down by introducing even more new settings options for advertisements, like disabling "reminder" ads and synchronizing "Mute This Ad" settings across devices.

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Google raises the bar for monetizing videos on YouTube [Update]

It's no easy feat to keep YouTube respectable enough for big advertisers when it relies entirely on user-created content from legions of video makers. Advertisers have complained to Google with increasing regularity when their ads show up alongside content that's inappropriate or just plain creepy. Google's solution is a change to the YouTube Partners Program (YPP) that will make it harder for small channels to monetize videos.

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YouTube v13.01 continues development on dark mode, may enable swipe-to-skip ads, and relocates autoplay setting [APK Teardown]

YouTube just took a big version jump from v12.49 to v13.01, but you probably won't notice a lot of changes if you're just tapping around. In fact, this update appears to be pretty average for most of YouTube's releases, which usually include a couple tweaks here and there, and sometimes some interesting material for a teardown – and this update has both. You'll find a new page in the Settings screen for autoplay options, and a teardown turns up some inspiring progress on a dark mode and possibly an adjustment to the ad-skipping experience.

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Google reveals how Chrome's ad-blocker will work when it goes live February 15th

Advertising is the lifeblood of Google, so the company has always had an understandably awkward relationship with ad-blocking software. Google seems to understand why people use ad-blockers, though. There are a lot of terrible ads out there, but blocking them all is bad for Google. That's why Chrome is getting an ad-blocker for "bad ads" soon, and now we know how it'll work.

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Google finally bans apps that include shady lock screen ads from the Play Store

Ads are just a fact of life in mobile apps. You can't completely avoid them, but there are some ad implementations that are so annoying that Google has explicitly disallowed them from the Play Store. Remember Airpush? The current advertising scourge is ad-infused lock screens, which have shown up in previously safe apps like ES File Explorer, Peel, and Hotspot Shield VPN. Google has finally listened to our pleading, and lock screen ads are no longer allowed in the Play Store.

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[Update: It's back] UC Browser temporarily removed from Play Store due to setting "not in line with Google's policy"

UC Browser is massively popular in India, with over 500 million installs on the Play Store. But just two days ago, the app was removed from the store. Now it appears that a setting in the browser itself, rather than rumored data theft or misleading promotions, is the reason it has been removed.

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[Update: You can turn it on now] Chrome 64 will block those pesky redirecting ads everyone hates

Over the past few months, we've received dozens of complaints about redirecting ads on this site, which we have been repeatedly reporting to our ad networks. The problem ultimately comes down to rogue ads being published through common ad networks (even 'safe' ones like AdSense and AdX), which then show up on sites like ours. When the ads load, they hijack the parent page to load a misleading message, like the one pictured above, often while turning on the device's vibration motor to make it seem more realistic.

Most ad networks don't have any kind of manual review process, making this behavior difficult to pinpoint, and the ad's code can even be obfuscated to hide the malicious behavior.

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Google will now allow real-money gambling apps on the Play Store in the UK, Ireland, and France

Last month, we heard rumors that Google was planning to relax its ban on real-money gambling apps in the Play Store, but after reaching out to Google we didn't get a response either way. With an update to its developer policy page, Google has now confirmed that some of these apps are going to be allowed on the Play Store in the UK, Ireland, and France.

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