Privacy is a Luxury Item? Think Again

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Electronic spy eye

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says privacy shouldn’t be a luxury item. Responding at Computerworld, Jonny Evans writes:

The crux of Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s argument against firms such as (obviously including but never named) Apple is that his company offers convenience in exchange for personal secrets, makes its services available for free, and has a “profound commitment” to protecting user privacy.

Author Evans lays bare the reality of how Google operates and the shallowness of Pichai’s whines.

Google Assistant Can Read Your Kids a Bedtime Story

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If you have Google Assistant and the latest version of Google Play Books on your iOS device, it can now read your kids a bedtime story.

Ahead of National Tell a Story Day taking place on Saturday, youngsters now have more ways to hear a bedtime tale. As of today, the feature will be available on iOS and Android phones in English in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and India.

Sounds like a great feature. When I asked Siri to read me a bedtime story, she said: “Next you’ll be asking me for a glass of milk. And a dark matter cookie.” Damnit Siri, that doesn’t even make sense.

For Years, Google Sabotaged Firefox

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In the latest news of anticompetitive corporate behavior, a former Mozilla executive said Google sabotaged Firefox for years.

“When Chrome launched things got complicated, but not in the way you might expect. They had a competing product now, but they didn’t cut ties, break our search deal – nothing like that. In fact, the story we kept hearing was, ‘We’re on the same side. We want the same things’,” the former Mozilla exec said.

I encourage everyone to read the Twitter thread.

iPhones Aren’t Safe From Google’s Sensorvault Database

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Google has a database called Sensorvault. It contains location data of users and shares it with law enforcement—if they have a warrant, of course. Apple honors lawful requests as well. But Jennifer Valentino-DeVries wonders whether the database is too broad.

Google would not provide details on Sensorvault, but Aaron Edens, an intelligence analyst with the sheriff’s office in San Mateo County, Calif., who has examined data from hundreds of phones, said most Android devices and some iPhones he had seen had this data available from Google…

“It shows the whole pattern of life,” said Mark Bruley, the deputy police chief in Brooklyn Park, Minn., where investigators have been using the technique since this fall. “That’s the game changer for law enforcement.”

Google Duplex Rolling Out to Google Assistant on iOS

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Google Duplex is a feature that lets the Google Assistant make reservations on your behalf. The company is starting to roll out the feature to iPhones and other non-Pixel phones.

The support site for Duplex lists the iPhone as being part of this rollout, with Android phones simply requiring Android 5.0 or higher to use the automated calling service. iOS users simply need to have the Google Assistant installed to get started.

Google Stadia and Apple AR Gaming, Good Data Collection, with Andrew Orr - ACM 506

· · Apple Context Machine Podcast

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Google Stadia looks likely to shake up the gaming world, but there’s more than one way to skin a gaming cat, and Apple is focused on AR. Bryan Chaffin is joined by guest cohost Andrew Orr to discuss how those different tracts might fare. They also talk about the good sides of corporate data surveillance, and yes, they will both forgive you if you are surprised either would entertain such a notion.