Google One Launches with New Cloud Storage Tiers

Breaking out from the Google Drive moniker, Google has launched a set of new cloud storage tiers under the branding Google One. The new name makes sense, since Google Drive storage formerly encompassed space allotted to a wide swath of Google products, such as Photos, Docs, and Gmail, as well as files actually stored in Drive. Now Google One fills the role of covering your storage needs across all Google products and services, which I think will be less confusing. It’s a pattern that follows Apple’s own iCloud branding, where iCloud storage covers a variety of Apple services like Photos and Mail, with iCloud Drive just one of those services.

Along with the organizational change, Google One introduces revised pricing and storage options:

Verizon looks to Apple and Google for live TV over 5G

Following a rumor last month that Verizon could partner with Apple or Google for TV tie-ins on its rollout of 5G wireless internet, the company announced it has deals with both. The 5G Residential Broadband service it will offer in Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Indianapolis will offer promotional packages with an Apple TV 4K box, and a tie-in with the streaming YouTube TV service. While Verizon did not announce details, according to Bloomberg sources customers will either be able to choose a free box or a free subscription. The report indicates customers can also choose streaming packages from the NFL, NBA or (the Verizon-owned parent company of Engadget) Oath.

Indianapolis is a new addition to the list of cities where 5G will launch later this year, initially for fixed receivers before mobile devices begin to roll out in 2019.

Source: Verizon (1), (2)

Google’s iOS and Android Apps Track and Store Location Data With Location History Disabled

Some Google apps on iOS and Android devices continue to store location history even with the setting disabled, according to a new AP report citing data collected by computer science researchers at Princeton.

Location History, a feature available in Google apps like Google Maps, is an option that allows the app to display the locations that you’ve visited in a timeline. Princeton researcher Gunnar Acar turned off the Location History option in his Google account, but his devices continued to record the locations he had visited.

Data collected from a Princeton researcher on an Android phone with Location History disabled

It appears that even with Location History paused, some Google apps are ignoring the setting and continue to store time-stamped location data, due to confusing data collection policies that allow other app features to also store location information.

For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you

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Twitter doesn’t have the spine to ban Alex Jones

It seems like every major tech company has had enough of Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and propagandist behind the controversial far-right site InfoWars. Well, almost everyone. The obvious holdout: Twitter. On Monday, Twitter said InfoWars and its associated accounts, including Jones’, were not currently violating its rules. And last night its CEO and co-founder, Jack Dorsey, tried to explain the decision. He said Twitter is going to “hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account,” but that it isn’t “taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.”

The nine speakers we recommend in our back-to-school guide

Though our back-to-school guide includes plenty of headphones, we threw in just as many speakers. Whether you intend to host a few parties or just want the convenience of a smart speaker, we found a number of models that we feel earn their space in your dorm. As you might expect, our list of nine picks include plenty of smart speakers, including usual suspects like the Apple HomePod, Google Home and Sonos One. Our feeling is, if you’re going to invest in bookshelf or desktop speakers, you may as well have the option of using voice commands.

That said, nearly half of our recommendations are portable, with highlights from JBL, Bang & Olufsen and the category leader, UE. As a warning, not everything on this list is cheap (we’re looking at you, Klipsch), but some, like the UE Wonderboom are much cheaper, with a street price of around Continue reading “The nine speakers we recommend in our back-to-school guide”

Google Pixel 3 XL Production Unit Leak Reveals Taller iPhone X-Like Notch

Although Google’s major fall event is still about two months away, typically occurring in October and ushering in a new generation of Pixel smartphones and other products, today leaked pictures have been shared online highlighting the upcoming Google Pixel 3 XL.

Images from Telegram user @LuchkovCh via Android Police

The images depict an alleged “pre-release” final production unit of the Pixel 3 XL smartphone, sourced from a Russian tech blogger (via Android Police). Images showcase the rear and front of the device, with an iPhone X-like notch at the top of the Pixel 3 XL’s display that’s not as wide as Apple’s, but is noticeably taller.

Previous CAD leaks suggest that a smaller 5.4-inch Pixel 3 will not have a notch, while the larger 6.2-inch Pixel 3 XL is what appears in the images today, notch included. It’s believed that Google is using the notch to house

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InfoWars fans flock to apps following recent bans

While a number of tech companies have purged their sites of Alex Jones podcasts and accounts over the last couple of days, not all InfoWars-related content has been taken down. And what’s still available continues to attract interest. CNBC reports today that the InfoWars app, which is still available through the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, is being downloaded quite a bit, taking the fourth spot in Apple’s chart of top free news-related apps. As of writing, the app was number 12 in Google’s chart of top free news and magazine apps.

Via: CNBC, 9to5Mac

The internet’s slow turn against Alex Jones and InfoWars

Tech companies are finally starting to take action on Alex Jones, the man who called the Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax and said the Democrats were planning a second civil war, for spreading his hateful conspiracy nonsense on the internet. It all began a couple of weeks ago when YouTube removed multiple videos from his channel for hate speech, a move that was followed by Facebook blocking him from posting on his personal page for 30 days. Since then, Spotify has taken down multiple episodes of Alex Jones’ podcast, citing violations of its rules against hate speech, while Stitcher and Apple have gone as far as completely removing InfoWars shows. And now Facebook and YouTube have outright banned him and his InfoWars pages.

Although things seem to have come to a head just recently, the battle between the InfoWars creator and tech firms has actually been brewing for months. Continue reading “The internet’s slow turn against Alex Jones and InfoWars”

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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South Korea wants to tax global companies like Apple and Google

It’s getting harder for global companies like Amazon, Apple and Google to avoid paying tax around the world as more countries move to change their permissive corporate tax laws. Now, according to a report in the Korea Times, the South Korean government is looking at ways to collect taxes from foreign companies in the wake of domestic complaints about the practice. The Ministry of Economy and Finance created a taskforce with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to start talking about newer tax policies that focus on global tech firms.

Source: Korea Times

Chase now offers phone-based withdrawals at ‘nearly all’ ATMs

It took a long, long time, but Chase’s phone-based ATM withdrawals are finally widespread. The bank has expanded its card-free access to “nearly all” of its ATMs across the US, giving you one less reason to panic if you leave your wallet at home. As before, you can get in by tapping a device with a Chase debit or Liquid card linked to Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay, and then entering your PIN code. It’s functionally equivalent to using your regular card, so you’re not facing the usual limits that come with making tap-to-pay purchases.

Source: Chase Media Center

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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Phishing scam targets iPhone users with a fake call to ‘Apple Care’

As more and more people use their mobile devices for everyday computing tasks, it makes sense that there would be more attacks. The latest phishing attempt, discovered over at Ars Technica, involves a false webpage that initiates a call on your iPhone. According to the site, when they made the call, they were connected to a fake representative who said he was “Lance Roger from Apple Care.” The person quickly hung up as the reporter tried to stall and get more detail on the scam.

Source: Ars Technica

After Math: The price of doing business

Elon Musk just can’t seem to stay out of the news. After last week’s tirade against the Thai cave rescue diver, his girlfriend took to Twitter to defend his large donations to the GOP as “the price of doing business in america [sic].” But that price differs depending on who you ask. For right-wing troll Alex Jones, that price is a 30-day timeout from Facebook and Yahoo, but for MoviePass that price could well be the company’s entire operation.

Bipartisan bill aims to study how tech is affecting kids

A bipartisan group of senators and representatives has introduced legislation that would fund research into the effects technology and media have on infants, children and adolescents. The funding would support research into the use of mobile devices, computers, social media, apps, websites, TV, films, AI, video games, VR and AR with a focus on cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development.

“While technology educates and entertains our children every day, we need a better understanding of how it impacts their social, psychological and physical well-being,” Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) said in a statement. “This bill will enable experts to conduct critical research that will inform parents and policymakers about how best to protect American children’s bodies and minds from issues such as tech addiction, bullying and depression in the digital age.”

Source: Senator Edward Markey (1), (2)

The best free and inexpensive mobile games

If you’re a gamer on a budget, you don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars on a console or $60 a pop on the latest triple-A titles. Chances are you already have a fantastic gaming machine in your pocket: your smartphone. While you won’t get the graphics of a high-end PC or the community of PSN, your phone can scratch that gaming itch for a fraction of the price.

Google launches “Shielded VMs” to protect cloud servers from rootkits, data theft

Enlarge (credit: Donald Iain Smith / Getty Images)

This week, Google is rolling out a number of new cloud security technologies aimed at making the public cloud a safer place. Among them is Shielded VMs, a feature of Google Cloud Platform that protects virtual machines from the installation of rootkits and other persistent malware, as well as other attacks that could result in data theft.

Using a cryptographically protected baseline measurement of the VM’s image, the Shielded VMs feature—launched in beta today—provides a way of “tamper-proofing” virtual machines and alerting their owners to changes in their runtime state. Shielded VMs also make it possible to prevent a virtual machine from being booted in a different context than it was originally deployed in—in other words, preventing theft of VMs through “snap-shotting” or other duplication.

Virtually secure

Major cloud providers have been trying to blunt threats to virtual machines and cloud application containers

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Verizon looks to Apple or Google for live TV over 5G

Verizon may be looking for some help launching its 5G home internet service with a bang. Sources talking to Bloomberg have claimed that Big Red is looking to team up with either Apple or Google to provide a streaming TV service when its fixed 5G broadband launches later in 2018. Although talks are still young and could easily go south, the insiders said it would either draw on YouTube TV or “Apple TV” (a service, not the device) to provide live programming. That last part is a head-scratcher, since Apple isn’t expected to launch a video-focused service until roughly March 2019 — Verizon might have to be patient.

Source: Bloomberg