Insatiably Curious

Tag: Google (Page 1 of 2)

Considering the Google Pixel 4

I’m in the market for a new smartphone. My iPhone SE is fading quickly. Some pixels are dead and the screen has blotches across it. It’s also feeling a bit dated, but I don’t mind the dated look. I don’t have it to impress others. I love it mainly for it’s size. It fits nicely in my front pocket. It fits nicely in my hand.

It’s ridiculous that most smartphones last an average of 2 years or less. Isn’t it? That’s the industry average, and it’s mirrors my experience. I’m sure I’m not the only one to think that’s an absurdly short amount of time for the kind of money they are asking.

So I was looking forward to this week’s Apple event where they were expected to announce the new iPhone 11. But meh – I had a similar reaction last year. The 11 is not much more than an incremental freshened up XR. And most of the honest reviewers seem to agree. Forget the fan boys that love anything with an Apple logo stuck to it. Even with it’s $50 cheaper price tag over last year than last year’s entry model (iPhone sales numbers are dropping and Apple is shifting focus more towards services), it’s still outside the limits of what I think we should be paying for a phone. Those with short memories will have forgotten that last year Apple increased the base price of the base model iPhone by $150.

So I’ve started considering Android again. And I’ve reluctantly started looking at the Google Pixel phones again.

I’m reluctant to go with a another Google product. My previous phone was a Android One Motorola X4. It just stopped working one night, while I was asleep. I wasn’t plugged in. It was sitting on my nightstand. I had used it before going to sleep. It died a couple weeks after the warranted period ended. Before that I owned a couple of Nexus phones. They were all middle of the road phones. So I’m reluctant to buy another Google product.

But the Google Pixel 4 official “leaks” are looking interesting and come hot on the heals of the iPhone 11 announcement. There are a lot of photos and specs of the Google Pixel 4 available over at GenK. (You my need to decipher the Vietnamese with the help of Google Translate, as I did.) Most prior leaks of the Pixel 4 had blurry photos. These are nice shots that show a very interesting phone with very interesting features.

Way back in June, Google themselves tweeted out a photo of the Pixel 4 when the leaks started spilling out.

The leaks have only accelerated, seemingly never ending, and creating a lot of buzz, which is probably what Google was hoping for.

For me, it will come down to price. Right now, through Sept 28, the Pixel 3 is discounted by a whopping $400 in Canada, $300 in the US. That’s nothing to sneeze at, particularly if you are serious about your mobile phone photography and you want the pure Android experience. The Pixel 3 is still one of the best, and at the current discount, it has to be near the top of anyone looking for a mid-range priced phone. This was Google’s flagship smartphone less than a year ago.

But then there’s the Teracube to consider.

Google tracks users even when they turn off location tracking

An Associated Press report has revealed that several Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even after users set a privacy setting that is meant to stop Google from doing so.

Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed AP’s findings.

Associated Press:

Storing location data in violation of a user’s preferences is wrong, said Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist and former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau. A researcher from Mayer’s lab confirmed the AP’s findings on multiple Android devices; the AP conducted its own tests on several iPhones that found the same behavior.

“If you’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” Mayer said. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.”

Google says it is being perfectly clear.

“There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to the AP. “We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

Should Apple really be your privacy hero?

When compared to the likes of Facebook, Google, and others, Apple are probably doing a better job. But they could be doing more.

Bloomberg Businessweek (paywall):

Bloomberg News recently reported that for years iPhone app developers have been allowed to store and sell data from users who allow access to their contact lists, which, in addition to phone numbers, may include other people’s photos and home addresses. According to some security experts, the Notes section—where people sometimes list Social Security numbers for their spouses or children or the entry codes for their apartment buildings—is particularly sensitive. In July, Apple added a rule to its contract with app makers banning the storage and sale of such data. It was done with little fanfare, probably because it won’t make much of a difference.

When developers get our information, and that of the acquaintances in our contacts list, it’s theirs to use and move around unseen by Apple. It can be sold to data brokers, shared with political campaigns, or posted on the internet. The new rule forbids that, but Apple does nothing to make it technically difficult for developers to harvest the information.

Continue reading

Google was fined by the EU, but Apple deserves the same

Bloomberg (paywall):

If Google is at fault for its de facto monopoly in Android app stores, Apple should be held to account for a similar violation. Although an Android user can easily shop in a few alternative stores (though none is a match for the Google Play Store), an iPhone user cannot go outside Apple’s App Store without “jailbreaking” the phone, a process that disables operating system updates. That makes Apple a monopoly in the truest sense of the word, and the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a suit challenging this super-dominant position on behalf of consumers who have no choice but to pay Apple’s 30 percent commission for developers as part of every app’s price.

Like Google, Apple makes its preinstalled browser impossible to delete from a phone. Google, however, allows users to choose their own default applications, including the browser and maps. Apple doesn’t do that; you can, for example, install Google’s Chrome browser and Google Maps on an iPhone, but they won’t launch by default when you click on a link in an email or another app. That’s even more anticompetitive than simply preinstalling one’s own software and hoping users will keep it because it’s good enough.

DuckDuckGo CEO explains how they make money without profiling users, and how Google and Facebook could do the same

Gabriel Weinberg via Quora:

Alarmingly, Google now deploys hidden trackers on 76% of websites across the web to monitor your behavior and Facebook has hidden trackers on about 25% of websites, according to the Princeton Web Transparency & Accountability Project. It is likely that Google and/or Facebook are watching you on most sites you visit, in addition to tracking you when using their products.

As a result, these two companies have amassed huge data profiles on individuals, which can include interests, past purchases, search, browsing and location history, and much more. This personal data is stored indefinitely and used for invasive targeted advertising that can follow you around the Internet.

Via Twitter:

Get smarter and healthier; The first nylon stockings go on sale; Face recognition tools are staggeringly inaccurate

Apple has 55 self-driving cars registered in California – TechCrunch

Facebook closed 583 million fake accounts in first three months of 2018 – The Guardian

The number of kidnappings is surging in Mexico – VOX

Average house price in Canada fell 11% in past year – CBC

  • National home sales fall to lowest level in 5 years – CTV News

A 69-year-old double amputee from China summits Everest – Adventure Journal via Adventure Trend

Great employees quit instead of admitting they are unhappyForbes

Running out of Japanese whiskey – Kotaku

Taking a stand for what you believe in: Google employees resign in protest over work for Pentagon – Gizmodo

Watch: Learning to play an instrument can help anyone become healthier and smarter – Life Noggin via YouTube

Face recognition tools used by police are ‘staggeringly inaccurate’ – BBC

How a newspaper diesPolitico

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May 15

1919The Winnipeg general strike: 24,000 organized and unorganized workers in Winnipeg walked off the job. Another 6,000 would soon join them. It was the start of the largest strike in Canadian history.

1940: The first nylon stockings go on sale; 780,000 pairs are snapped up on the first day. Four million pairs sold out in four days. The material was developed by a scientist at DuPont.

1941: New York Yankees outfielder Joe DiMaggio begins his record 56-game hitting streak with a single off Edgar Smith of the Chicago White Sox.

Thousands of Google employees urge CEO to pull out of Pentagon AI project

If nothing else, the current U.S. administration demonstrates that a change of government can change quickly change it’s trustworthiness.

Scott Shane and Daisuke Wakabayashi, The New York Times:

“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” says the letter, addressed to Sundar Pichai, the company’s chief executive. It asks that Google pull out of Project Maven, a Pentagon pilot program, and announce a policy that it will not “ever build warfare technology.”

Read the rest of the letter.

Google to spend $300 million to support journalism and fight fake news

Chaim Gartenberg, writing in The Verge:

Google is announcing new efforts today to support the media industry by fighting misinformation and bolstering journalism, which will live under a newly announced umbrella called the Google News Initiative. Google already offers something similar in Europe through the Digital News Initiative, but the Google News Initiative is intended to be a wider worldwide expansion of those kinds of efforts.

There are three specific goals of the Google News Initiative: highlight accurate journalism while fighting misinformation, particularly during breaking news events; help news sites continue to grow from a business perspective; and create new tools to help journalists do their jobs. Google is serious about supporting these goals, too, pledging to invest $300 million over the next three years.

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