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By Usama Jawad96
The Android beta for Clubhouse is now live in the U.S.
by Usama Jawad
Live audio social app Clubhouse launched exclusively on iOS over a year ago and quickly noted a massive surge in popularity despite its invite-only system. This was partially fueled by prominent figures and celebrities who made appearances on the platform. Given its popularity, other social media platforms such as Facebook also announced plans to enter the live audio space.
Back in March 2021, it was revealed that Clubhouse is launching on Android soon, and a beta for the Android app is now available for select audiences.
Image via Walk the ChatIn a blog post, the Clubhouse team said that even though it takes a measured approach to growth, the company noted a significant increase in its iOS user base this year as people invited more of their friends to the platform than usual. This caused server outages and affected algorithms which were not designed to handle load of this kind. As a result, the firm had to shift focus to expanding its team to fix issues rather than build new features.
But this has also made Clubhouse realize the need for universal audio experiences, hence the decision to go cross-platform now. The Android beta app can now be downloaded from Google Play but is currently only available in the U.S. The company once again plans to scale up gradually by first making the app available in the U.S., followed by other English-speaking countries, and eventually the rest of the world. This is also why it will be retaining its invite systems and waitlists.
In the next few weeks, the firm will not only be working with its community to fix issues but will also be finalizing features such as payments and club creation before the app becomes publicly available for everyone. It went on to say that:
While all our readers may not be able to download Clubhouse yet, feel free to have a look at the Google Play listing here.
Google announces next steps for YouTube TV on Roku devices
by Paul Hill
Google has announced that it has added YouTube TV directly into its YouTube app so that users on Roku devices can continue to access the streaming platform. It comes after Roku pulled YouTube TV from its platform’s store following a failure between the firms to renew their distribution agreement.
To access YouTube TV from the YouTube app, just click “Go to YouTube TV” in the sidebar on the main app. If you don’t see it yet, be on the lookout for an update to the app in the coming days. Google said it will expand the feature to as many devices as it can over time.
The search giant said that it’s still working to come to an agreement with Roku so that customers can continue to access the streaming service, however, in a statement published by The Verge, Roku is not happy about what Google has done, branding Google an “unchecked monopolist bent on crushing fair competition”.
To ensure that customers can continue to access YouTube TV on Roku, Google has also begun discussions with partners to secure free streaming devices on the off chance that Roku finds a way to prevent access to YouTube TV on its platform. On a separate note, Google said it’s also working with Roku to introduce minimum technical requirements for Roku devices so that YouTube delivers a high-quality and consistent experience for users.
By Jay Bonggolto
Google Play Store will add a new section to explain how apps use your data
by Jay Bonggolto
Early in 2020, Google introduced policy changes to the Play Store meant to ensure that apps have the right permission to access background location data. Now, the search giant has previewed a new section in Google Play that will increase the transparency around how apps are using your data.
Google announced today that, beginning in the second quarter of 2022, developers will be required to include information about how their apps collect and share data as well as other data pertaining to privacy and security. With the new safety section, users can check what type of data is collected by the app and how it's used. These pieces of information may include location, contacts, name, email address, photos, videos, audio files, and storage files.
The new section will also show if an app encrypts data it gathers and obeys Google's policy for creating apps and games for children. It will also highlight whether specific data being accessed is essential for an app's functionality and whether an independent party verified an app's safety section. There are elements in it as well that will show if users can request to have their data removed if they uninstall an app. These pieces of information must be included when developers submit or release updates to their apps beginning next year.
Developers will gain access to the new policy requirements and resources starting in the third quarter of this year and then they can add the necessary information in the Google Play Console by the fourth quarter. The safety section will go live in Google Play in the first quarter of 2022.
It's noticeably a similar policy change to what Apple introduced last year for app listings in the App Store. Apple's Privacy Labels essentially provide an overview of data that an app gathers and what it does with it. It's interesting to see how Google will implement this policy in its own ecosystem.
By Abhay V
Google announces new family-focused Assistant features
by Abhay Venkatesh
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, Google today announced a few new family-focused Assistant features rolling out to users. These include improvements to the Broadcast feature, new Family Bell reminders, and a few features specific to Assistant-powered smart displays.
First up is an addition to Assistant’s Broadcast feature called Family Broadcast. The feature extends Broadcast’s capabilities to now include the ability to send updates to Google Family Group members across devices, extending beyond just smart home devices. For example, members in the group can receive updates on their mobile phones when they are away from home and can reply with a voice note.
Another Assistant feature receiving new additions is the Family Bell reminder. For those unaware, Family Bell reminders are school bell-like time-specific reminders for various activities that can be scheduled via the assistant. The search giant is adding two new reminders for gardening and reminding kids to tidy up the room.
Additionally, the feature is gaining the ability to ring across multiple smart home devices at once. The company says that users will soon be able to stop these bells by just saying “stop” without having to use the wake word. The firm is expanding the availability of the feature to eight new languages that include Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Lastly, a few new kids-focused features include new stories such as Quidditch from Harry Potter and the “Who Was?” series from Penguin Random House. The company adds that users can listen to stories about Ida B. Wells, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and over 100 others. New games include trivia quizzes like “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader”. There are also a couple of easter eggs for Mother’s Day with timers.
By Usama Jawad96
Google wants you to imagine a future without passwords
by Usama Jawad
On the first Thursday of every May, "World Password Day" is celebrated annually to promote password management and cybersecurity practices in general. We already know that some organizations such as Microsoft want you to reduce dependency on passwords, but today, Google has announced a similar goal in a blog post titled "A simpler and safer future - without passwords".
Google says that password management is a difficult process and even though it is recommended to keep long and complex passwords, this inevitably results in people sharing passwords across different websites. This essentially acts as a single point of failure where a compromise of one website's system means that all your accounts are under threat. To that end, the company is continuously investing in tools which make it easier to manage passwords right now, and eradicate them altogether in the future.
Of course, the simplest way to protect your passwords is to have multilayered verification, and Google already supports this with two-step verification (2SV), where users can utilize their mobile devices to authenticate login attempts. Google has indicated that it will automatically start enrolling users into 2SV soon provided that their accounts are correctly configured. The company is further enhancing its security mechanisms by building security keys directly into Android devices and through apps like Smart Lock for iOS.
Google pledges that while traditional forms of authentication like passwords remain common, it will continue to offer innovative products like Password Manager and Password Import that not only make password management easier but also makes passwords secure by default.
Interestingly, while the company keeps hinting in its blog post that it wants you to imagine a world without passwords, it doesn't highlight any notable endeavors on this front. "One day, we hope stolen passwords will be a thing of the past, because passwords will be a thing of the past", says Google mysteriously, "but until then Google will continue to keep you and your passwords safe."