Apps

12 lightweight versions of your favorite Android apps

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Do you want to speed up your phone, free up storage space, and minimize data usage? These lightweight versions of popular apps will be able to help you accomplish those three.

These apps are generally intended for developing regions with slow internet connections and less powerful devices. They’re not as feature-rich as their full-featured counterparts, but sacrificing a few features will go a long way for Android phones with weaker specs.

Camera360 Lite

Camera360 Lite will still deliver your candy selfies with dozens of filters and presets. The best part is that it’s less than 4MB to download.

Download on Google Play Store

Facebook Lite

Stay connected with your friends on the world’s most popular social network even with a 2G connection. Instead of accessing the mobile site of Facebook on your phone’s browser, you can download Facebook Lite to get more features and instant notifications.

Download on Google Play Store

Files Go

Files Go is designed to work for any Android phone, but devices with low storage will benefit nicely from this app. Instead of relying on crapware for cleaning your phone, download this one made by Google.

Download on Google Play Store

Google Go

As Google embraces developing markets more with the introduction of Android Oreo (Go edition), a lightweight version of their search app is up on select countries. Enjoy the best of Google Search without sacrificing precious megabytes.

Download on Google Play Store

Line Lite

Line is pretty popular in Asia, and with the stripped-down version of their mobile messaging app, you can message your friends with a package that takes up only 1MB on your phone. Don’t worry, you can still send stickers, images, and emojis.

Download on Google Play Store

LinkedIn Lite

Keeping in touch with your professional connections online will be a lot easier with LinkedIn Lite. You can chat with your connections to get job referrals and career advice without a heavy app on your phone.

Download on Google Play Store

Messenger Lite

If you have Facebook Lite, you should have Messenger Lite to complement it. Like with Line, you can still do messaging basics with photos, stickers, and even voice calls for longer chitchats.

Download on Google Play Store

Opera Mini

Even before Android phones became affordable for the masses, Opera Mini was around on feature phones for loading mobile web pages quickly and neatly. Now that we all have smartphones, the app still doesn’t fail to deliver.

Download on Google Play Store

Shazam Lite

Quit guessing and typing the lyrics of what’s playing around you. Shazam already has a straightforward app which lets you record first offline and search when you go online.

Download on Google Play Store

Skype Lite

Video calling is pretty heavy on data and storage space, so if you worry about that, Skype’s own lightweight app can help you. You can even do group video calls for free. Some of its features are primarily for India, but everything else works well everywhere.

Download on Google Play Store

Twitter Lite

Twitter’s mobile website works wonderfully, but then again, having a dedicated app on your phone is better. If the main Twitter app is too much for your phone (or even for you), there’s the Lite version available for download.

Download on Google Play Store

YouTube Go

Here’s another Google-made lightweight app for the rollout of Android Oreo’s Go edition. YouTube Go is designed to be offline-first because it asks to download the video instead of streaming it instantly. You can re-watch the saved video after without spending your data allowance.

Download on Google Play Store

With Android Oreo (Go edition) already on its way to manufacturers, these lightweight apps list will soon have more names. Which app should be next?

SEE ALSO: 10 offline free-to-play mobile games on iOS and Android

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Apps

4K streaming could be cheaper soon

Thanks to the H.266 format

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Watching 4K videos on YouTube or Netflix is taxing on mobile data, consuming about a gigabyte or more. But a new compression method could change 4K streaming soon.

Developed by Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, the H.266 / Versatile Video Coding format aims to bring a more efficient way of compressing and streaming videos digitally. This new standard is meant to replace two existing standards — the H.264/AVC and H.265 HEVC.

Compared to the two, H.266 can transmit 4K videos at a much lower file size. The institute says H.266 can transmit a 10-minute UHD video at only 5GB of data.

This is almost 50 percent more efficient than the most advanced video format in the market, H.265 HEVC. Right now, HEVC requires 10GB of data to transmit the same 10-minute UHD video. As such, consumers can expect cheaper 4K streams with the H.266 format.

For example, a 25-minute 4K video that clocks in at 4GB can be streamed at a much lower 2GB with the new format. This will drastically reduce data and bandwidth consumption for consumers and companies.

The new video format also tries to solve the patent royalty system that has long plagued H.264 and H.265. Right now, companies have to deal with the messy system of paying licenses and royalties just to include these formats to their apps and websites. H.266 does away with these licenses, promising a better deal than the old formats.

Support and availability

As of right now, support for H.266 is being worked on both the software and hardware level. According to the institute that developed the format, Media Coding Industry Format is working on chip designs that support the new format on a hardware level.

Meanwhile, the institute is working on an encoder and decoder software which will be released this autumn.

It is worth noting, however, that H.266/VVC is not the only format that promises to improve 4K streaming on devices. Most tech companies today are adopting AV1 alongside VP9. These two formats are developed by separate organizations.

Right now, these formats — along with the H.266 — promise a better way of streaming 4K that will ultimately benefit everyone.

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Apps

Google removes 25 apps for secretly stealing your data

The apps were downloaded more than 2 million times

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Google has removed 25 apps from its Play Store for slyly collecting your data in the background. The apps were collectively downloaded more than 2.3 million times before the company clamped down.

According to French cybersecurity firm Evina, the malicious apps were developed by the same threat group. They seemed to offer different functionalities but were fundamentally designed to phish data.

The apps disguised themselves as step counters, image editors, video editors, wallpaper apps, flashlight applications, file managers, and mobile games. While offering some functionality on the front, the end-goal was always to collect user data.

Basically, what these sinister apps do is steal Facebook user’s credentials if they regularly open the account on their phone. The phishing app would overlay a web browser window on top of the official Facebook app and load a fake Facebook login page. You’d assume you’re logging in to your account, but in reality, you just handed over your username and password.

Image by Evina

Evina discovered the flaw in these apps and contacted Google for further action at the end of May. Once the company’s findings were verified, the apps were kicked from the Play Store. Google not only removed the apps from the Play Store but also disabled them on users’ smartphones and informs them via the Play Protect feature.

In recent times, users are increasingly aware of phishing and data collection since social platforms like TikTok have also been caught red-handed. Apple has emphasized its focus on privacy and announced a host of new features to protect the user via iOS 14. Even Xiaomi has added a range of new methods to protect the user in MIUI 12.

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Apps

Google, Facebook, Twitter resist China’s attempt to censor Hong Kong

China is trying to curb free speech

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Google, Facebook, and Twitter have temporarily stopped processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong. A new security law went into effect on July 1 and Google immediately paused processing requests.

Even WhatsApp has stopped processing further requests. The controversial law is seen as an attempt by China to curb free speech in the former British colony.

Pro-democracy protestors are worried the new law will be used to censor the internet. Twitter cited “grave concerns” about the law”s implications.

This is seen as China’s broader plan to establish its supremacy and expand its ideology. The new law includes the ability to ask publishers to remove information deemed as a threat to national security. Refusal to enact the request could result in a fine or jail time.

Tech companies work in tandem with local law enforcement agencies to moderate content on their platforms. With the new law, processing Hong Kong government’s request would indirectly mean handing over user data and endangering pro-democracy protestors.

In simpler terms, you could be jailed for a social media post that says anything against the administration.

Citizens are actively switching to messaging apps like Signal that provide end-to-end encryption. This helps in masking your identity to a great extent.

Previously, when the internet was shut down to curb protests, citizens used offline messaging apps like Bridgefy and FireChat to spread the world and coordinate protest efforts.

Mainland China has a firewalled internet that is highly censored and constantly surveilled. The irony is, ByteDance’s TikTok isn’t available in China while the rest of the world can freely use it.

TikTok has also officially announced it will be exiting Hong Kong within a few days. But this move is seen as a smokescreen to avoid its Chinese origin.

SEE ALSO: 6 tips to make your phone more private and secure

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