Google don't Play that; apps will now need to notify users about data harvesting

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2017 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: google, google play, Privacy

Google has responded to the news stories posted last week at various news sites about the secretive data collection many apps on Google Play indulge in.  Developers of Android apps now have 60 days to update their privacy polices and add notifications if their apps collect personal information such as your phone number and contacts or device information such as IMEI.  If they do not comply Google will create warnings for them, which will be displayed prominently.  The Register also reports that Google will include crash reports in this policy, requiring apps to notify users if the report will contain data not directly related to the app which crashed.

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"If developers don't comply within 60 days, Google said, it will warn users via Google Play Protect “or on webpages that lead to these apps”."

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Source: The Register

Identity theft? Ya, there's an app for that

Subject: General Tech | November 29, 2017 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, security, google play, google, Android

Hopefully you are already well aware that a large number of free Android apps slurp up a lot of personal information about you, however you might not realize the extent of the issue.  Researchers have just released a report which documents the amount of personal data that popular apps such as Uber, Tinder, Skype, Twitter, Spotify, and Snapchat gather about you, which The Inquirer linked to.  These apps collect and then share your name, phone number, e-mail address, login, IP address and device ID with targeted advertisers, something that many of the apps do not make clear when you install or use them.  That data can be used for some rather interesting things, such as tracking the physical location of your phone, so the next time you are installing an app on an mobile phone of any flavour you might want to consider what it may be sharing especially in light of the recently revealed Uber hack.

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"In case you're wondering, yes, there's a good chance at least some of your Android apps have tracked you rather more than you expect."

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Source: The Inquirer

Hollywood Plexes it's muscles and now offers a digital movie locker and store

Subject: General Tech | October 12, 2017 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: movies anywhere, plex, Amazon Video, google play, itunes, vudu

Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Entertainment have teamed up to offer Movies Anywhere, a service that provides access to stores for purchasing movies as well as a place to store and watch them.  The access to stores is what differentiates this from Plex, as Amazon, Google, iTunes, and Vudu all use the same DRM technology this new service will show you the results of a movie search on all four of those providers and let you purchase them using your existing accounts.  If you link those accounts to your Movies Anywhere account, any previously purchased movies will appear under your new account.  Currently there is an offer for a few free movies for those who sign up; there is no fee to do so.  Check out more information at Ars Technica.

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"Signing up for a Movies Anywhere account gives you access to the digital locker, which you can then populate with purchased or redeemed movies by logging in to the accounts you have with those online retailers."

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Source: Ars Technica

Practice safe programming

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2017 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: security, mostly harmless, google play, andriod

Fallible is a security firm which developed an automated tool for reverse engineering Android apps and used it to take a look at a large portion of the top apps on Google Play.  They found quite a few things that really should not have been there, including keys to Amazon Web Services which would grant them the ability to start and stop instances under the developers account.  In total they found 2500 apps with at least some sensitive information contained within them, in many cases those keys were necessary for the proper functioning of the app but in some cases they were secrets which did not need to be there.  Follow The Register's advice and think long and hard before hard coding keys into any apps you might be developing.

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"A security firm has reverse engineered 16,000 Android apps on Google's Play store and found that over 304 contain sensitive secret keys."

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Source: The Register

NVIDIA Launches Half-Life 2: Episode One on SHIELD Tablet

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 15, 2014 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, Portal, nvidia, half-life 2: episode one, half-life 2, google play, google, Android

Back in November, we published news about the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet update to Android 5.0. A part of the update was the “Green Box” promotion, which gives Half-Life 2, Portal, and Half-Life 2: Episode One free with the purchase of a 32GB LTE SHIELD Tablet. Today, Half-Life 2: Episode One launches on Google Play store for $7.99 USD (or free with the Green Box). Unlike Half-Life 2 and Portal, which runs on the original NVIDIA SHIELD, Episode One requires an NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet. It also requires a controller.

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Like the previous release of Half-Life 2 and Portal, this is a complete port to the ARM architecture of NVIDIA Tegra K1. The game will run natively on the device, without being streamed from a host PC. For a little perspective, the Tegra K1 has a little more compute performance than a GeForce 9600 GT – a popular mid-range GPU that launched two years after Episode One.

Half-Life 2: Episode One launched today for $7.99 USD (or free with “The Green Box” bundle).

Source: Google

A slew of updates from Google

Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: google, lollipop, google play, shield

As you have no doubt heard, Android 5.0 aka Lollipop has been released, with NVIDIA's Shield picking it up immediately and most users having no issues whatsoever.  Nexus devices have also started to download and install it although that process is not going as smoothly as The Inquirer reports that many users are finding their devices almost unusable after they installed the new OS.  We shall see over the coming days if that is a rare occurrence or if the problems are widespread.  There was also an update to Chrome which brings stable 64bit performance to Apple users and some changes to the way bookmarks are handled in the beta version as well as numerous bugs which were found and bounty was paid on.  There are even more updates to Google Play, maps, wallet and other products which you can catch up on at The Inquirer.

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"YEE-HAW AND HOWDY pardners. In the week when it began to rain Lollipops in earnest, it's time to hit the trail for the Google Round-Up."

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Source: The Inquirer

Google Play Store Could Be Redesigned (Maybe Even Soon)

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 16, 2014 - 04:11 AM |
Tagged: google, google play, Android, android l

If you have looked at Google's recent design ideologies, first announced at Google I/O 2014, you will see them revolve around skeuomorphism in its most basic sense. By that, I do not mean that they want to make it look like a folder, a metal slab, or a radio button. Their concept is that objects should look like physical objects which behave with physical accuracy, even though they are just simulations of light.

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Image Credit: Android Police (and their source)

Basically, rather than having a panel with a toolbar, buttons, and columns, have a background with a page on it. Interface elements which are affected by that panel are on it, while more global actions are off of it. According to Android Police, who make clear that they do not have leaked builds and readers should not believe anything until/unless it ships, the Google Play Store will be redesigned with this consistent, albeit broad, design metric.

Basically, if you are navigation bar, pack your desk and get out.

If true, when will these land? Anyone's guess. One speculation is that it will be timed with the release of Android "L" in Autumn. Their expectation, however, is that it will be one of many updates Google will make across their products in a rolling pattern. Either way, I think it looks good... albeit similar to many modern websites.

Google Rolling Out Play Store Redesign That Emphasizes Larger Images and Faster Checkouts

Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 10:45 AM |
Tagged: google play, google, froyo, appstore, Android

Google has begun a worldwide rollout of its re-designed Google Play store for Android smartphones and tablets. Over the next few weeks, users will be presented with a new, and simplified, user interface for the Play store.

Mobile devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above will recieve the update. The redesign has moved to a simpler layout that groups similar content together and uses larger images to draw in the user's attention. A continuous scroll feature will introduce recommendations for related content as you scroll down.

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Google has also reportedly simplified the checkout process, in order to reduce the time between buying an app, purchasing an MP3, or renting a movie and actually being able to begin consuming the content.

From Google's blog post and what little screenshots they have shown off of the new layout, I think Google has made some positive changes here, but I'll reserve final judgement once I've been able to test it out for myself.

Has your Android device received the Play store update yet?

Source: Android Blog