Tag: apps

By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC

In response to the European Union’s $5 billion antitrust ruling in July, Google will change how it bundles its apps on Android phones and charge a licensing fee for phone makers that want to pre-install apps like Gmail, Maps and YouTube in the EU.

Google will also end restrictions on phone makers selling modified or “forked” versions of the mobile operating system.

Previously, Google tied together a suite of 11 different apps that phone makers would have to pre-install if they wanted to license its app store, Play. In July, the EU ruled that this bundling was anti-competitive — pushing consumers toward Google’s search engine and weakening rival app makers — though it only specifically called for Google to separate Chrome and Search from Play.

In response, Google said in a blog post on Tuesday that it will start offering separate licenses for Search and Chrome, as well as a license for its suite of apps like Maps, Gmail and Docs. That means that if phone makers want to pre-install those apps, they will have to pay a fee, though the amount was not specified. Google says the new licensing fee will offset revenue lost through compliance efforts that it uses to fund the development of Android, which it offers as a free, open source platform. The licenses for Search and Chrome will not have a fee.

Although Google doesn’t make money from Android directly, it generates advertising revenue through search as well as Chrome, Maps and Gmail, serving ads within those apps and using data it collects from users to better target ads across its platforms.

“Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the EEA [European Economic Area],” wrote Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s vice president of platforms.

Google’s previous agreements with phone makers also prevented them from selling modified versions of Android if they wanted to use its suite of apps, but the company will now allow manufacturers to build forked smartphones and tablets for the EEA.

Overall, Google’s Android powers more than 80 percent of the world’s smartphones. These changes, which will come into effect on Oct. 29, will only affect phones for the EEA, a group consisting of 28 EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

By Phoebe Weston for MailOnline

Your private emails are being read by third-party Gmail app developers, an investigation into data privacy has revealed.

Developers behind a number of popular online services designed to work with Gmail trawl through private messages sent and received from your email address, it claims.

It is common practice for some of these third-party app creators to instruct employees to read personal emails.

One app, which is designed to help users manage their Gmail inbox, lets employees read ‘thousands’ of emails, the Wall Street Journal investigation found.

According to experts, this ‘dirty secret’ is now common practice among some firms.

The revelation comes just a few months after it was revealed political data firm Cambridge Analytica had siphoned private data from third-party apps on Facebook.

According to the investigation into Gmail, the hugely-successful Google email client allows third-party developers to scan the inbox of anyone who installs their app.

These apps can provide additional functionality to the Gmail inbox, like the ability to compare prices from different online retailers, or quickly unsubscribe from any marketing emails sent to your address.

The Wall Street Journal report was based on the testimonies of more than two dozen employees of companies who create services around Gmail – the most popular email service in the world, with 1.2-billion active monthly users.

What does Facebook know about you?

Source: By Andrew Griffin for The Independent 

As attention turns to Facebook’s use of data, many of its users are wondering how they can avoid being manipulated by the site.

Some are urging users to boycott the site entirely. Those voices include the co-creator of WhatsApp, who sold the app to Facebook for billions but has since called for people to delete it.

Others, however, say that they can’t leave Facebook, since they need it for talking to people or keeping up with their communities. It might not even be possible to really leave, anyway – the internet expects you to keep using Facebook, and the site is able to learn about people’s data even if they’ve never actually used it.

The site does, however, give people relatively easy ways to find out what data is being collected and how. And if they object to that, they can either delete their account or deactivate it, both of which do go some way towards stopping the site learning more about you.

Everything you do on Facebook generates data of some kind. That might be the obvious, explicit ways, like the information people add to their profile about themselves – but it could be much more subtle things, like how long you spend watching a certain video.

Sometimes, the site and developers using it will use quizzes or mini games to make the experience of giving up data more fun. When they’re opened, they don’t only get access to the answers you give, but also request access to people’s data.

In the case of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook says data collected via a quiz app called ThisIsYourDigitalLife, billed as a personality predictor, was passed to the data firm in violation of its terms.

Where can I find details about what apps I’ve given access to?

Visit Facebook’s settings page or, on the desktop site, settings is located on the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the blue header bar.

Click on the apps tab on the left-hand side of the screen to see all the apps you’ve okayed.

Users can see what info is shared with any app, and there are options to delete, limit the information each app can access and remove info collected by the app.

Deleting an app may still allow the developer to retain some of a user’s personal information.

How do my friends impact on apps?

In “Apps Others Use”, Facebook sets out how apps which other people use can read your data. This feature revolves around the social part of Facebook – it’s the tech which means you might be flagged as a fellow reader of a certain book, a brand devotee, or someone who also plays a game.

Click edit and 13 categories are listed, including bio, timeline posts and online status. Any combination can be toggled on and off.

What is Facebook Platform?

If you want to go a step further you can turn off Platform – this is the system which among other things allows you to comment on or log into other websites using your Facebook details.

By turning it off, you lose some functionality but it means your information is not automatically shared as you surf the web.

How to see your Facebook data
In the general section of the settings is an option “download a copy of your Facebook data”. Click on it and Facebook will email you when it’s ready to download.

Facebook says most of this data is already available in your account and activity log, but it also includes information on ads you have clicked on and the IP addresses you’ve used.

It will also reveal email addresses previously associated with your account, topics of ads which may be targeted to you and the metadata contained in photos uploaded to Facebook.

How do I deactivate or delete my account?

Facebook talks people through both deactivating and deleting their account in Settings General Manage Your Account.

Deactivating allows you to log back in in the future and have your Facebook profile completely restored. While deactive, people won’t be able to search for you or see your page, but the info is retained.

To permanently delete your Facebook account, visit the account deletion page to start the process. It may take up to 90 days to delete all the things you’ve posted, says Facebook.

Source: By Andrew Griffin for The Independent 

Google’s numerous safeguards designed to prevent malicious apps from reaching Android users led to the removal of over 700,000 apps from the Google Play Store in 2017, the company said today. That’s a 70% increase over the total removals in 2016.

“Not only did we remove more bad apps, we were able to identify and action against them earlier,” Google Play product manager Andrew Ahn wrote in a blog post.

“99 percent of apps with abusive contents were identified and rejected before anyone could install them.”

Google attributes this success to its improved ability to detect abuse “through new machine learning models and techniques.”

Copycat apps are still a significant problem

Copycat apps designed to resemble popular mainstays remain a popular method of trying to deceive users, according to Ahn. Google removed over a quarter of a million of these impersonating apps last year. The company also says it kept “tens of thousands” of apps with inappropriate content (pornography, extreme violence, hate, and illegal activities) out of the Play Store. Machine learning plays a key role here in helping human reviewers keep an eye out for bad apps and malicious developers.

“Potentially harmful applications” (PHAs) are apps that attempt to phish users’ personal information, act as a trojan horse for malware, or commit SMS fraud by firing off texts without a user’s knowledge. “While small in volume, PHAs pose a threat to Android users and we invest heavily in keeping them out of the Play Store,” Ahn said.

Google Play Protect scans installed apps to monitor for malicious activity. Google
Last year, Google put all of its malware scanning and detection technologies under the umbrella of Google Play Protect. The Android operating system automatically performs scans on installed applications to hunt for anything that’s out of place, and users can also manually trigger scans of their Android smartphones right in the updates section. (I’ve finally managed to stop hitting this button when checking for new versions of apps, but it took some time.)

Still, bad apps do occasionally slip through Google’s defenses. In August, Google discovered and kicked out 30 apps that were secretly using the devices they were installed on to perform DDoS attacks. Just earlier this month, the company removed 60 games from the Play Store — some of them meant for children — that were found to display pornographic ads. Google says it will continue to upgrade its methods and machine learning models against bad actors trying to trick consumers with apps that violate its policies. Those efforts indeed seem to be paying off in helping Android’s security turn a corner.

By Chris Welch for The Verge

Fake WhatsApp affects millions of users

Around 1 million users have downloaded a fake version of WhatsApp which appeared on Google Play.

Reddit’s forum users noticed that it was a hoax. Users who didn’t notice this and downloaded the fake app ended up with a major amount of adverts rather than a messenger app.

According to Hacker News, the reason this spoof fooled so many people is because whoever created the App and who put it in the Play Store did so under the name “WhatsApp Inc”, which is the same name the maker of the world-famous app uses. However, Fortune Magazine says that it is not the most uncommon incident.

Fortune points out that when you search for “WhatsApp” on Google Play, it currently shows no fewer than seven spoof apps using slight variations on the developer name “WhatsApp Inc.”
All of them have four-star review averages, due to Play’s review system.

So remember to watch out before downloading off Google Play or ask a friend to send you the original App via file sharing apps such as SHAREit.

What happened?

WhatsApp fraudsters have tricked more than one million people into downloading a fake version of the chat app from the Google Play Store.

WhatsApp users downloaded the ‘Update WhatsApp Messenger’ from the Android app store as it looked it was from the company that makes the popular app.

The Google Play Store page for the fake app claimed the programme had been developed by WhatsApp Inc, the creators of the instant messaging app.

However, it was instead a fake app that contained adverts and download malicious software onto a user’s device.

The developers made it look like a legitimate app by using virtually the exact same name as the developer WhatsApp Inc.

However, they replaced a space that appeared in the name with a character that made the one defining difference look invisible.

This made it almost impossible for an Android smartphone user to detect the different between the real WhatsApp app and the fake version.

How to check if your WhatsApp is fake

To start with, go to Settings and then find the Apps section and click on WhatsApp.

Then under Store you should see the option to check the App Details.

This should then take you to the Google Play page which shows the app has been downloaded more than one billion times.

The developer for the app should be WhatsApp Inc and it should have a PEGI 3 rating.

If any of these details are different, alarm bells should be ringing and you should delete the app to find the official version.

You can also download an anti-virus to clean up any malicious software that may have been installed on your smartphone.

The news comes after over the weekend Express.co.uk warned about another fake app that had appeared on the Android app store.

The bogus programme appeared to be a fake version of the upcoming WhatsApp business app and was available to download from the Android app store.

Alerting users to the issue one Android user on Google Play complained that the app was full of adverts, while another claimed it was being used for “data theft”.

The fake app was flagged up by tweeter @MujtabaMHaq and WABetaInfo, a Twitter account about all things WhatsApp.

It has since been deleted from the Google Play Store.

Source: IOL; Dion Dassaayake for Express

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