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Don’t use Google Allo if you care about your online privacy

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Shortly after Google released its new messaging app Allo, public reception has been generally positive for its features, but not so much for online privacy. Just ask Edward Snowden.

The NSA whistleblower warned people on Twitter not to download the app:

His concerns are totally valid. You see, what Allo specializes in is reading your messages using its artificial intelligence to dish out automatic replies for your conversations. This also helps Allo answer questions you ask its chatbot, such as what the weather situation will be the next day or where the nearest Starbucks is.

Ironically, it was Google who publicly admitted Allo’s greatest flaw. Just as users thought their messages sent through the app’s non-Incognito Mode were safe from other eyes, the search giant recently stated that there’s no encryption preventing Google from reading your every move.

This goes against what Google claimed the app would do back when it was first announced months ago at its I/O developer conference. In this case, the company will store your messages for its records until you manually delete them, and you must use Incognito Mode to remain anonymous in the servers (similar to Google Chrome’s private browser hiding history in your own computer).

Google claims that is needed merely to assist Allo’s Assistant feature; what it really does is allow government authorities to extract and read the contents of your inbox whenever they feel like it. This is a far cry from the privacy other chat apps have been implementing the past year.

Losing one messaging service shouldn’t bother you. We still have Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, KakaoTalk, LINE, and heck, even Google’s other chat system Hangouts. When it comes down to it, you’re going to use whatever your family and friends are obsessing over, anyway.

If you really must use the new trendy messaging app, there’s nothing stopping you from downloading it on the official app stores of either iOS or Android. The interface is as attractive as Google’s other material design software, and doodling over images never gets old.

Source: The Verge

Apps

How to hide from Instragram’s new Activity Status feature

It’s on by default!

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Instagram silently rolled out a new feature of its app. If you don’t like your friends to know that you’re online (and also protect your privacy), you might want to take action. Why? Because it’s automatically turned on.

If you have the latest app, you probably noticed something new inside the Direct Messages section. This new feature dubbed “Activity Status” lets your Instagram buddies know if you’re online. If you happen to be scrolling through your timeline moments ago, the status will show that you’ve been available earlier.

This is switched on by default but the data is only shared with users that you follow and those you message privately. There’s no need to panic if you think a stalker will know that you’re online — unless you follow them, too.

How to turn it off?

You can easily switch it off inside the app. Just go to your profile page and tap the top-right icon for Options.

Next, scroll down until you see “Show Activity Status” and switch the toggle button beside.

That’s it! Now that it’s off on your end, your status will not show up to your buddies. Although, you won’t be able to see the status of other accounts as well.

Since the new feature was smoothly included in the recent updates from the Play Store or App Store, it’s not clear when Instagram introduced the function. Some might not have it yet, which could mean it’s still an experimental approach with a limited number of users.

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Pokémon Go will drop old iPhones that don’t support iOS 11

You must upgrade to play!

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Bad news for Pokémon Go trainers out there with an old iPhone. If the “battery-gate” fiasco is not enough to make you upgrade, this announcement might force you if you want to keep on playing.

Niantic announced its plans to drop support for iOS devices that can’t be updated to iOS 11. Primarily, these are iPhones and even iPads released in or before 2013. They are the following:

  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5
  • iPad (4th generation)
  • iPad (3rd generation)
  • iPad mini (1st generation)
  • iPad 2

The anticipated update will take effect starting February 28, 2018. After that date, Trainers using Apple devices that can’t be updated to iOS 11 will no longer be able to log in, catch Pokémon, and use their PokéCoins or other items. They must switch to a supported device to continue playing.

Niantic stated that the change is a result of improvements to Pokémon Go which push the game ahead of the capabilities of old iPhones and iPads.

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6 free VPN apps for Android and iOS

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If you’re connecting to a public Wi-Fi, it’s best to use a virtual private network or VPN to mask your IP address and avoid security risks. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted “tunnel” over the internet between your device and any website or app you are trying to access.

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