Apple Music’s ‘Friends Mix’ is a playlist of your pals’ top tunes

Apple is giving your friends the keys to your Music account. Okay, not really, but every Monday, it’ll compile 25 songs your friends are listening to into a playlist dubbed, you guessed it, “Friends Mix.” 9to5Mac notes that this doesn’t seem to be tied to a specific iOS update. From the sounds of it, the new trick relies heavily on the social features (seeing your friends’ listening history, specifically) announced last June.

Of course, this isn’t the only playlist feature Apple Music has going for it. There’s also “My Chill Mix” and the weekly new release mix. Editorial and personalized playlists have been Spotify’s bread and butter for awhile, and Apple Music is keen to take a few notes from its competitor. The feature is currently in a staggered rollout so, if you don’t see the mix pop up in your For You section, or Siri doesn’t respond when Continue reading “Apple Music’s ‘Friends Mix’ is a playlist of your pals’ top tunes”

Google Releases Android 9 Pie as Previous Oreo Release is Installed on Just 12% of Devices

Google’s latest Android operating system update, Android 9 Pie, was officially released to customers today following a beta testing period that started earlier this year.

Android Pie introduces a new gesture-based system interface that’s similar to the interface of the iPhone X, with iPhone-like swipes for navigating through the operating system. We went hands-on with Android Pie earlier this year when it was in a beta testing phase.

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The new update also introduces the Android Dashboard, designed to tell you how much time you’re spending on your device, which is similar to Apple’s own Screen Time feature. A new Do Not Disturb option called “Shush” silences Android devices when placed facedown, and a Wind Down option lets Android users select a specific bedtime to turn the interface gray to discourage smartphone usage at night.

Android Pie also includes an Adaptive

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Latest Windows 10 build will support “Your Phone” content sharing

Enlarge / With Your Phone you can drag and drop a photo from the phone onto the PC, without having to plug the phone in. (credit: Microsoft)

Back at its Build conference in May, Microsoft showed Your Phone, a Windows 10 app (with companion apps on Android and iOS) that helped bridge between the smartphone world and the PC world. The company showed syncing of photos, SMS messages, and notifications between the phone and the PC, hoping to put an end to time-honored traditions such as e-mailing yourself a picture you took on your phone just so you can use it on your computer.

The latest Insider Preview build of this autumn’s Windows 10 update, released yesterday, finally enables this syncing. Or at least, it enables the Windows-side portion of it. The phone-side updates are merely “coming soon.” An Android app, requiring Android 7.0 or better,

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“P is for Power”—Android engineers talk battery life improvements in Android P

Enlarge / This interview is all about battery life.

With the last version of the Android P Developer Preview released, we’re quickly heading towards the final build of another major Android version. And for Android P—aka version 9.0—battery life is a major focus. The Adaptive Battery feature will dole out background access to only the apps you use. A new auto brightness scheme has been devised. And the Android team has made changes to how background work runs on the CPU. All together, battery life should be batter (err, better) than ever.

To get a bit more detail about how all this works, we sat down with a pair of Android engineers: Benjamin Poiesz, Group Product Manager for the Android Framework, and Tim Murray, a Senior Staff Software Engineer for Android. And over the course of our second fireside Android chat, we learned a bit more about Android P

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Vertical video sheds its black bars on YouTube, Android app adds dark mode

The YouTube desktop site was designed for 16:9 video, with videos in any other aspect ratio—most commonly 4:3 for old TV material or 9:16 for vertical smartphone video—padded with black bars until they fit the 16:9 box. In a change that Google is currently rolling out, those black bars are now being scrapped, and the video box will instead take on the aspect ratio of the content it’s showing.

For 4:3 content, this means a bigger picture. It will be both wider and taller, pushing the title, description, and comments further down the page. For vertical video, the benefits are less apparent—empty space will open up on each side of the video—but even there, removal of the black bars means that narrow browser windows are less likely to cause the video to be sized down. Even 16:9 video is getting a little larger due to reduced margins and white space.

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Snoopware installed by 11 million+ iOS, Android, Chrome, and Firefox users

(credit: Ruth Suehle,

People often use ad blockers, disk-cleaners, and similar utilities to stop online trackers from monitoring their online activities. Now, researchers have uncovered a host of apps and browser extensions downloaded more than 11 million times that keep a list of every website ever visited and send it to servers operated by the developers.

The snooping wares affect both Android and iOS users, as well as those who installed Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox extensions, according to a blog post published Tuesday by AdGuard, a developer of ad blockers and privacy tools. AdGuard cofounder Andrey Meshkov said in the post that the extensions and apps make a list of every exact address of every page visited and combine it with a unique identifier he believes is generated when the extension or app is first installed.

“There are numerous ways of discovering your real identity from

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Hey Google, Android actually does stifle competition

Sundar Pichai knows that the choice of mobile OS nowadays boils down to Android or iOS. He published a blog post yesterday in response to the European Commission’s competition decision against Android, which opens saying, “If you buy an Android phone, you’re choosing one of the world’s two most popular mobile platforms.” That’s not very many options, but it’s also not Google’s fault.

EU: Google illegally used Android to dominate search, must pay $5B fine

Enlarge / The Google search app on an Android portable device on February 5, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

The European Commission today fined Google $5.05 billion (€4.34 billion) for violating EU antitrust rules, saying that “Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general Internet search.”

The commission said that Google is violating antitrust law by requiring phone manufacturers to pre-install the Google search app and Chrome browser “as a condition for licensing Google’s app store (the Play Store).”

Google also violated EU antitrust rules by “ma[king] payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices,” the commission said.

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Apple’s iPhone 6 is accident prone, but Android is 20% old

Blancco Technology Group’s latest State of Mobile Device Repair and Security report appears to tell us that an astonishing 20.5 percent of Android devices are running operating systems that are over five years old

Android devices are old

These findings are based on internal mobile diagnostics and mobile erasure data collected from iOS and Android mobile devices that were brought into hundreds of mobile carriers and device manufacturers in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia from January 1, 2018 to March 30, 2018

“Approximately 20.5% of Android devices that underwent the Blancco Mobile Device Erasure process in Q1 2018 were running Android versions from 2013 or earlier, before encryption of deleted data was included as a standard feature,” the report explains.

The report also points out that Android users simply aren’t as happy as iOS users. While Android’s have 60 percent makret penetration, they also fail more

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Mobile-gaming titans keep ripping off indies

The word “casual” has long been flung out as an insult on video-game forums and social media. It’s deployed to belittle the interests of people who enjoy more relaxing experiences than gritty shooters, strategy-rich online games or time-sucking RPGs. Unsurprisingly, it’s most often hurled at anyone who says they like mobile games.

For Voodoo, “casual” isn’t an insult. It’s a cash cow.

New RAMpage exploit revives Rowhammer attack to root Android devices

(credit: Ron Amadeo)

In late 2016, Google’s security team scrambled to fix a critical vulnerability that allowed attackers to gain unfettered root access to Android devices by using a relatively new class of exploit that manipulates data stored in memory chips. Now, 21 months later, many of the same researchers behind the attack, dubbed Drammer, are back to say that a large number of Android phones and tablets remain vulnerable to the rooting attacks because the patches Google deployed weren’t adequate.

Both Drammer and the newly disclosed RAMpage attacks exploit Rowhammer, a class of exploit that alters data stored in memory chips by repeatedly accessing the internal rows where individual bits are stored. By “hammering” the rows thousands of times a second, the technique causes the bits to flip, meaning 0s are changed to 1s and vice versa.

The original Rowhammer attack against PCs made it possible for

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Amazon is turning its Fire tablets into portable Echo Shows

Jeff Dunn

Amazon on Thursday announced a software update for its Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets that introduces “Show Mode,” a new setting that makes the two slates function similarly to the company’s Echo Show smart speaker.

Amazon says the update will start rolling out to the current-generation Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets on July 2. The mode won’t be available on older Fire tablets or the less expensive Fire 7 tablet.

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Will Apple’s 2018 iPhones tempt Android switchers higher?

Millions of Android users switch to iPhones every single year, fresh data claims, and while many switchers choose to purchase the less-expensive iPhone SE significant numbers instead choose to use an iPhone Plus model.

15-20% of iPhone buyers switch from Android

15-20% of iPhone buyers in a given quarter switch from Android, claims Consumer Intelligence Reports Partners.

“CIRP finds Android owners that switch to iPhone tend to purchase lower-priced models. Android owners also switch disproportionately to larger Plus form factor iPhones,” the researchers said.

Android switchers seem to be value-conscious people. They buy the iPhone SE at twice the rate as iPhone owners, and the most expensive iPhone X at half the rate as iPhone owners.

(We do not know if those patterns maintain once they have joined the iOS community – do they then become more like existing iPhone users in purchasing patterns?)

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Microsoft is testing AdBlock Plus on the Edge mobile browser

Microsoft is apparently serious about creating a great experience for users of its Edge browser on Android and iOS. According to The Verge, the tech giant has added Adblock Plus directly into the beta version of its Microsoft Edge for Android browser. It’s also been added to the iOS beta program. The Android beta is, unfortunately, currently closed to new users, but you can download the latest version of Microsoft Edge on the Google Play store in hopes that it will be added to the final release soon.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft killing off the Groove Music apps for iOS and Android

Microsoft is retiring its Groove Music apps for iOS and Android on December 1.

The cross-platform music apps lost a lot of their purpose when Microsoft closed its Groove music store and subscription service last year. They still retained some value, however, as they could play music stored and synchronized on OneDrive. That will end on the retirement date, with Microsoft saying that not only will the application cease to be available to install but also that existing installations will stop working.

When it shut down its store, Microsoft suggested that users turn to Spotify as an alternative. This time around, the company is pointing users at Google Play Music and iTunes Match. The OneDrive app itself also has some limited music playback capabilities of its own. Overall, however, the net effect of this change is that there’s now little point in using OneDrive for

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North Korea-tied hackers use Google Play and Facebook to infect defectors


Researchers said a team of hackers tied to North Korea recently managed to get the Google Play market to host at least three Android apps designed to surreptitiously steal personal information from defectors of the isolated nation.

The three apps first appeared in the official Android marketplace in January and weren’t removed until March when Google was privately notified. That’s according to a blog post published Thursday by researchers from security company McAfee. Two apps masqueraded as security apps, and a third purported to provide information about food ingredients. Hidden functions caused them to steal device information and allow them to receive additional executable code that stole personal photos, contact lists, and text messages.

The apps were spread to selected individuals, in many cases by contacting them over Facebook. The apps had about 100 downloads when Google removed them. Nation-operated espionage campaigns frequently infect a small number of carefully

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The revamped Google News app is now available on iPhones and iPads

Jeff Dunn

Google detailed an overhaul of the Google News app at its I/O developer conference last week, and on Wednesday that redesign officially became available to download on iOS devices. It replaces the previous Google Play Newsstand app.

The new app arrived on Android devices shortly after Google’s initial announcement. Google says the app is available in 127 countries.

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