Google (via YouTube) is rolling out new protections in the coming months for children using the video-streaming platform in the wake of the recent $170 million FTC settlement. As part of that change, personalized ads and comments on children's content will be eliminated, data collection for viewers of children's content will be reduced to the bare minimum required to "support the operation of the service," and content creators will be required to tag children's content as such.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published its final rules gutting net neutrality today. But like most phone announcements these days, there were no real surprises. We all knew what was coming.
Why the actual publication of the repeal matters is because it is only now that states and internet freedom organizations can start taking legal action. Plus, now the Senate has 60 legislative days to block the FCC if it is so inclined, which would require help from Republican senators.
Billions of devices, from phones and tablets to self-driving cars and connected dishwashers, are thirstily awaiting the rise of 5G wireless connectivity, and the big wireless carriers are scrambling to bring these powerful new networks to market. According to documents obtained by Axios, however, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile might be nudged out of the race to 5G—not by an industry competitor, but by the U.S. government.
While recently re-examining the Google Play Store policies, we took another look at the rules against keyword spam and what the company suggests for app descriptions. Developers are advised to stay away from classic spam techniques like repetitive keywords, exceedingly long descriptions, and unrelated keywords or references. Publishers will often use these tactics in an attempt to sneak their apps into unrelated search results. One of the most interesting of these recommendations comes at the tail end of the page where Google advises against referencing other apps you've published.
Excessive detail, references to your other apps
Your app description should avoid excessive detail and references to your other apps or products.
Most of the time, major corporations like to cushion their words so that, in the event of a PR disaster, it's easier to walk back its statements. Today, an AT&T exec in charge of public policy decided to throw that caution to the wind and announce in no uncertain terms 'the Librarian’s ruling will not negatively impact any of AT&T’s customers.' Well. That sure is blunt.
We're not apt to take any AT&T rep at their word, and there are certainly some things to raise eyebrows over. For starters, at one point in the post, the author says the following:
As we make clear on our website, if we have the unlock code or can reasonably get it from the manufacturer, AT&T currently will unlock a device for any customer whose account has been active for at least sixty days; whose account is in good standing and has no unpaid balance; and who has fulfilled his or her service agreement commitment.
In an e-mail sent out to Play Store developers earlier, Google announced several updates to its developer program policy. The e-mail mentioned changes in policy including clarification to payment policy regarding subscription billing, the restriction of the "use of names or icons confusingly similar to existing system apps" (a statement that brings back memories of Facebook's "Messenger" gaffe), clarification regarding dangerous products, and practices that violate the Play Store's spam policy, all in addition to a stringent new Ad Policy.
Here's the full text of the e-mail:
Hello Google Play Developer,
We are constantly striving to make Google Play a great community for developers and consumers.
One of the changes to the Play Store announced at Google I/O as "coming soon" was the ability for app developers to publish links to their privacy policies, thus making their intentions more transparent right out of the gate. By using Android apps, we allow a lot of personal information to travel through the tubes, and it's in everyone's best interests to disclose just what exactly happens to it in an open way.
Here's the relevant bit from the Google I/O session I was talking about earlier:
Well, that didn't take long. Earlier today, we reported that Google was limiting the number of devices that can be deauthorized from your Google Music account. The official limit on Google Music devices was 10 active devices, with the proviso that up to 4 devices could be removed from your account every year. As of this moment, the Google Music help page still echoes this, but Google might be back pedaling. We're hearing reports that some users are able to deauthorize devices after being told just this morning that they'd reached their limit. Cameron, who had already reached his limit this morning, tried it out and lookie here:
Earlier this morning (left), and around 3:30 EST (right)
While it's unclear how Google's stance on this has changed (we've reached out to Google for comment), it does seem very clear that some customers are now able to deauthorize devices that, just hours ago, they could not.
The problem with any account-based music streaming service, from a corporate standpoint, is that end users are a shared password away from getting access to free media. Really, who hasn't shared their Netflix account once or twice? In an effort to prevent this kind of abuse, Google Music (likely at the request of the music labels) has instituted a cap on the number of devices you are allowed to deauthorize: Four. Per year. It gets worse, though.
For the uninitiated, here's how it works: you are allowed a maximum of ten devices that can be associated with a single Google Music account.
When we published a piece reporting on the recent decision of game developer Bithack to pull its popular title Apparatus from the Amazon Appstore, we contacted Amazon asking for comment on the whole situation.
Earlier this week, Amazon got back to us and wanted to sit down and discuss the Appstore and some of the issues that developers and customers alike have had. While Amazon could not specifically discuss the complaints of Bithack for confidentiality reasons, they were able to generally talk about some of the concerns Bithack raised.
Today, I spoke with Aaron Rubenson, Category Leader (essentially, head of business) of the Amazon Appstore.