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Tencent's messaging app WeChat halts new user registrations in China
by Chandrakant Isi
Tencent's subsidiary WeChat has temporality closed new user registrations in China. As per Reuters, the move is to enable the company to upgrade its tech "to align with relevant laws and regulations" in mainland China.
WeChat is expected to restore registration services after completing the upgrade in early August. For those unversed with Chinese messaging apps, WeChat's local Chinese version is known as Weixin. Based on the latest numbers, WeChat has over 1.2 billion monthly active users most of which are from China.
According to Reuters, the Chinese regime is in the process of "tightening its policy towards privacy and data security". It also claims that China readying a Personal Information Protection Law. The news is kind of ironic considering that according to BBC, Wall Street Journal, and Wired, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses WeChat data for its massive surveillance network.
In Amnesty International's 2016 report that studied technology companies on encryption and human rights, WeChat's Tencent scored zero out of 100. In the same year, Citizen Lab published a report on WeChat highlighting how the Chinese messaging app didn't notify users after blocking their messages.
In the last few months, the CCP has also tamed big tech companies such as Alibaba and Didi. Many analysts believe that the Chinese government's actions are meant to send out a message that Beijing is in charge.
By Jay Bonggolto
Twitter is testing downvote and upvote buttons for tweet replies on iOS
by Jay Bonggolto
A dislike button has been one of the most requested features on Twitter for quite a while as a way to tell the service whether a tweet is relevant or not. Last year, Twitter’s product lead Kayvon Beykpour revealed that the company was considering adding a dislike button or a downvote system.
Today, Twitter announced that it's testing a downvote and upvote system for a small group of users on iOS. The new capability appears in a few different ways on top of the usual options to interact with a reply to a tweet. For some, the upvote and downvote buttons show up as up and down arrows, thumbs up and thumbs down, or a heart icon and a down arrow.
The micro-blogging platform said the new system is designed to gauge the types of tweet replies people like on Twitter. It also clarified that downvotes won't be shown to the public while upvotes will appear as likes. This means that downvotes won't trigger notifications and will be visible only to the user whose tweet reply is being downvoted. On the other hand, notifications for upvotes will show up in the Likes tab.
Contrary to popular assumption, however, Twitter's new experimental system isn't quite similar to a dislike button. The company said that the test is only part of its research to determine what type of reply seems to be irrelevant to a conversation.
Votes will also not affect the order of replies. Unlike in Reddit where votes alter the position of replies in a conversation, Twitter's implementation does not have the same impact on tweet replies. That said, this isn't the only tweet interaction that Twitter has been testing; in May, the platform was spotted experimenting with tweet reactions.
By Usama Jawad96
Chrome now features better privacy and security without draining the battery
by Usama Jawad
Google Chrome 92 is rolling out later today with a number of enhancements such as Bluetooth device filtering, enhancements to PWAs, and deprecation of a payment handler configuration. Now, the company has detailed certain privacy- and security-related features that it is rolling out to Chrome today as well.
Chrome users may have noticed that some sites ask for extra permissions such as microphone and location. To allow you to keep track of what permissions a site is utilizing, you can simply click on the lock icon in the address bar which now shows an updated panel showing the permissions you have granted. You can toggle these permissions as well. Currently, this capability is only present on Android phones and tablets. Google says that future enhancements will also include the ability to delete the site from your browsing history.
Improvements are being made to Chrome Actions as well. For those unaware, this feature was introduced in Chrome 87 in November 2020, and enables users to perform actions such as deleting history or cookies right from the address bar of the browser. Today, it is getting new actions such as the ability to type "safety check" to validate the security of your passwords and scan for malicious extensions. Other actions include "manage security settings" and "manage sync".
Finally, on the security front, Google is expanding Site Isolation on Chrome. In-depth technical details can be found on the technical blog here, but in a nutshell, the capability isolates sites and extensions from each other so a malicious extension or site is not able to steal your data from another website. The feature is being expanded to cover more websites and extensions. The company has boasted that with new image processing techniques in Chrome, it has also made phishing detection 50 times faster with the process draining even lower battery than before. You can find out more details about this here.
By Usama Jawad96
Apps for Microsoft Teams meetings are now supported on mobile
by Usama Jawad
It has been particularly tough navigating the remote working landscape in the ongoing pandemic for a number of organizations and individuals. While apps such as Microsoft Teams have enhanced online collaboration, there is still work to be done. Now, Microsoft has announced that Teams apps built for meetings can now be utilized in Android and iOS.
Teams offers apps and activities like Kanban boards, actionable dialogs, and surveys to engage users between pre-, in-, and post-meetings experiences. This capability was announced for desktop PCs back in November, but was not available on mobile devices until today. Now, it is being rolled out for Android and iOS devices as well.
The mobile experience is similar to desktop. Meetings apps can be accessed from a tab before or after the meeting. If you want to interact with apps during the meeting, there is an in-meeting panel you can utilize for this purpose. Furthermore, Microsoft has introduced a new notification for all activities that take place during the meeting. You can click on "View" on the notification banner to drill down to granular details about the activity.
This parity with desktop will certainly please those who actively utilize their mobile devices for work. That said, Microsoft has cautioned that apps will need to be attached to the meeting via desktop by the organizer themselves. Furthermore, not all apps are available for mobile devices currently, but third-party developers will be optimizing their apps for mobile use on a rolling basis. Users looking to utilize this functionality can do so by updating to the latest version of Teams on Android and iOS - version 2021031702 and 2021032701 respectively.
By Fiza Ali
Twitter adds captions to voice tweets for enhanced user accessibility
by Fiza Ali
Twitter released Voice Tweets for iOS users last year and although Federal Law of the US requires closed captioning, it did not come with captions. Regarding this concern, the company stated that it did not have a dedicated accessibility team.
Now, it has finally launched dedicated accessibility teams and is bringing automatically generated captions to accompany Voice Tweets for enhanced user accessibility. The latest feature will allow users to view the captions on the web by clicking the "CC" button.
Users will be able to view captions in Italian, Korean, Indonesian, French, Hindi, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese, Japanese, and English. Keep in mind that captions will only be available for new voice tweets because they have to be produced when the tweet is generated.
Twitter's global accessibility head, Gurpreet Kaur stated:
For now, the new feature will only be available for iOS users because Android users do not have voice tweets capability yet.
Source: Twitter via Engadget