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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 2021.
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."
Pine is free to claim on the Epic Games Store this week
by Vishal Laul
Epic Games Store has put on offer Pine for this week’s giveaway, taking the place of a premium pack for Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms.
Pine is an indie action-adventure title originally released in October of 2019 following a successful Kickstarter campaign. It features a simulated open-world with NPCs following a set of rules rather than a pre-defined path or logic. Here’s how the Epic Games Store describes it:
Epic Games Store is offering Pine for Windows but it’s also available for macOS and Linux via Steam where it is priced $24.99 at the time of writing. Here are the minimum requirements:
If you wish to claim Pine, you can find it here. It will be free to claim until May 13, which is when Epic will put on offer The Lion's Song for its next giveaway.
By Abhay V
Twitter rolls out support for viewing tall images in tweets on iOS and Android
by Abhay Venkatesh
Twitter today announced a change to the way images in tweets are displayed on its mobile apps. The company will finally begin displaying taller pictures in tweets on its iOS and Android apps and will stop cropping the pictures in them to a pre-set aspect ratio. The company has been testing the feature for the last few months. The announcement itself came via a tweet from the company that contained an example.
The change is indeed a welcome one as it will no longer result in awkward images cropped inaccurately. This also will help the company avoid criticism about the algorithms’ bias with specific images since taller images will automatically be cropped to the center if they are too long to be completely displayed in the tweet. As usual, users can tap on the image to view the full-length picture.
The firm adds that the structure of the tweet will be identical to how it is previewed when being composed. Currently, the change is rolling out to users running the iOS and Android apps. However, there is no word on when it will make it to the web clients and on the desktop. In addition to this, the company has been making other changes related to images such as adding support for high-resolution uploads in tweets.
Considering that the feature has just begun rolling out today, it might be a while till all users receive the update.
Have you received the feature yet and what do you think about this change? Let us know in the comments below!