It's been a tough year for Google in Europe, and it doesn't look to be getting any better. The Mountain View company was slapped with a record $5 billion antitrust fine by the EU Commission this summer, and now it could be in hot water once again due to its location and online activity tracking practices. Read More
According to a report yesterday by Bloomberg, some Android apps may be using silent push notifications to track if and when you uninstall them, which is alleged to be a violation of both Apple and Google's policies. Ostensibly this is being done to target such users with advertisements designed to win the back, although the tracking providers claim this functionality is designed to gauge response to app updates and changes. Read More
Mozilla has always been a strong advocate for internet privacy. More recently, Mozilla has been working on Firefox Focus, a simplified browser that blocks all trackers/cookies and erases browsing data after you close the app. Now the company wants to take privacy a step further, by blocking all tracking scripts by default on the main Firefox browser. Read More
Securus Technologies is a Texas-based company, specializing in providing and monitoring calls to prison inmates. Securus came into the spotlight earlier this month, when a former Missouri sheriff was found using the company's service to repeatedly track people without a warrant. The New York Times reports that between 2014 and 2017, former sheriff Cory Hutcheson used the service at least 11 times, allegedly tracking a judge and members of the State Highway Patrol.
Securus obtains tracking information through a company called LocationSmart, which in turn has agreements with most U.S. carriers. Earlier this month, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon wrote a letter to various carriers asking them to independently verify that these requests are made lawfully. Read More
Unbeknownst to most users (myself included until recently), Android apps on current and previous versions of the OS get unrestricted access to your network activity. There's no permission for you to accidentally say okay to, it's just allowed for all. This means that any app can detect when another app is connecting to an external server, and while the content is not visible, even just the source of the connection could be used for a nefarious purpose.
With a renewed focus on privacy and data collection, not least in the wake of the recent Facebook scandals, this type of potential security flaw clearly needs to be addressed. Read More
Samsung is releasing a new type of tracking tag that can be attached to just about anything and offers smart location notifications over cellular. The Connect Tag was announced yesterday and is the first of its kind to use narrowband network technology (NB-IoT, Cat.M1). This means it can connect to the internet without consuming too much power, leading to a battery life of up to 7 days on a single charge.
The tag can utilize GPS, WPS, and Cell ID to accurately determine location before relaying it to your phone. It will link up with Samsung's SmartThings hub, and its geo-fence feature can be used to trigger certain actions when the two are in close proximity. Read More
Google Fit stands as one of Google's only flagship apps on Android Wear, and may be the only one of its apps that matters more on a watch than it does on a phone. There's a new version of the app available on the Play Store for both watches and phones, but this update is all about adding a big feature for Wear. There's a new mode for recording strength training and similar activities that involve counting reps.
This update is for Wear 2.0 only, so quite a few people will have to wait until the rollout is complete before testing this out, but it works on the last developer preview as well as any watch that already has the official 2.0 firmware. Read More
Opera Max started out as a VPN capable of reducing data usage, as well as blocking apps from accessing the internet. Now Opera is rolling out a new feature to Max, called 'privacy mode,' that aims to make your device even more secure online.
Privacy mode is based on the S Secure feature Opera created for Samsung for the Galaxy J5 Prime and J7 Prime, which filtered ad trackers and other privacy risks. Opera Max takes it a step further by showing information per app, so you can see what applications on your device are potentially dangerous. Opera uses the EasyPrivacy filter list, a massive database of tracking services, to make this possible. Read More
Back in April, some Project Tango invitees reported that the tablet development kit's price had dropped from $1024 down to the "special price" of $512. In an email notification to invited buyers, Google advised, "We're opening up sales more broadly, so now is the last chance to buy the device we've reserved for you."
Evidently Google wasn't joking, as today Project Tango can be bought for the same $512 price invite-free from the Google Store.
Dropping the invitation requirement just one day before the 2015 I/O keynote is certainly an interesting move, and may suggest that Google will have more to tell us about its 3D sensing and tracking efforts during the conference. Read More