Apps

Dark mode is in the works for Chrome, coming to Windows 10 and macOS

No need for dark themes

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Chrome Canary 74 in dark mode | GadgetMatch

Dark mode is a sought-after feature these days, may it be on mobile or desktop systems. While dark mode is now available system-wide on both Windows 10 and macOS, third-party apps have yet to adapt automatically. But, that might change soon — at least for Chrome users.

Google has been working on a full-fledged dark mode for Chrome and it’s now available in the latest builds of Chrome Canary. If you wish to test it out, simply download and install Chrome Canary 74. The experimental version of Google’s browser runs separately from the stable build, so you don’t have to worry about it messing up.

There are quite a few dark themes available on Chrome’s Web Store, but the built-in dark mode turns on and off dynamically based on your operating system’s settings. When you have dark mode enabled on either Windows 10 or macOS, Chrome will automatically adjust to match the system-wide change.

There’s no manual switch or an option to disable dark mode from automatically kicking in for now, but it’s unclear if the implementation will be the same when it comes to the stable build.

Check it out in action on Windows 10…

Google Chrome dark mode switching on Windows 10 | Image credit: TechDows

… and on macOS.

Google Chrome dark mode switching on macOS | Image credit: 9to5Google

Unlike dark themes which selectively darken portions of the browser, the built-in dark mode turns everything to black or a really dark shade of gray including the omnibox, tabs, and menus. So far, it’s looking pretty clean which could mean it’ll soon be ready for prime time.

There’s no official release date for dark mode on stable builds yet, but based on Google’s usual release schedule, it should be ready for stable release in April as per TechDows.

SEE ALSO: Android Q early build leaks, shows system-wide dark mode

Apps

Google’s Emoji Kitchen will mash-up your favorite emojis

Rolling out on Gboard

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Do you know that Merriam-Webster adds new words to the dictionary every year? Do you also know that the Unicode Consortium adds new emojis to everyone’s devices every year? Such is the way of language. New ways to communicate will always emerge out of nowhere. Usually, they form whenever two things combine into an all-new form. It’s easy enough to combine words together, but how do you do that with emojis?

Google is developing a way to fuse emojis into new ones. In an official blog post, the Android developer announced the new feature called Emoji Kitchen. A feature of Gboard, Emoji Kitchen unlocks a plethora of new emojis. How about a cowboy ghost? Or a crying robot? Or a kissing poop face?

Prior to the Emoji Kitchen, users already received access to emoji variants in the past. Today, you can select different skin tones for human emojis. With the Emoji Kitchen, you can mix existing ones with each other. Likewise, users can access the feature automatically by opening compatible emojis. Opening the cowboy emoji sub-menu, for example, will open up its different variants.

Naturally, Emoji Kitchen will combine only existing emojis. In other words, you can’t create an all-new emoji from nothing. All new emojis come from Google’s own designers. Still, the feature’s new combinations will come in handy. Especially when I feel like a… monkey cactus?

Emoji Kitchen is slowly rolling out to Gboard users starting today. If you don’t want to wait for an official version, you can sign up for the Gboard Beta program for instant access.

SEE ALSO: Emoji documentary to show at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival

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Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo joins Huawei’s effort to build a Play Store alternative

Preparing for a Google-less future

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Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo recently collaborated with Huawei to build the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA). GDSA aims to create a single app store aimed at simplifying app uploads and downloads for developers and consumers.

At first glance, GDSA seems like a competitor for Google’s Play Store. Over the years, the rising hostility of the US towards Chinese tech companies led to tariffs and outright ban from using its technologies. For example, Huawei suffered an entity ban last 2018 due to suspicions of spying for the Chinese government.

Such precedence may have stoked fear among other Chinese companies that a ban could be leveraged by the US in the future. Dependence on Western technologies is crucial for these companies. As such, a ban would represent a great loss, considering that most of these companies have established markets in many countries.

To counter this scenario, these tech companies are slowly building their own alternatives to established apps and services. Huawei, for its part, had already pushed out AppGallery as an alternative to Google’s Play Store. Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have their own app stores in China due to a continuing ban on Google’s services in the country.

A unified app store

A unified app store will greatly simplify the process for developers who have to deal with these multiple app stores. GDSA will unify the backend of these app stores so developers can publish once and have their apps appear on the brands’ respective app stores.

For now, details about GDSA are scarce. Pilot countries for its deployment include 9 key regions including India, Russia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. A prototype website has been set up, but developers cannot sign up for it yet.

But if GDSA really pushes through, Google will face some serious competition on Android app distribution. Furthermore, the issue of fragmentation will only deepen in the ecosystem as companies build their own version of Google apps.

Xiaomi’s statement

Xiaomi already responded with a statement stating that they have no plans to position GDSA as a Play Store competitor. The company reiterated GDSA’s function to simplify the app uploading process. Furthermore, there was no mention of Huawei in their statement.

Huawei and Google have yet to release a statement. However, it is clear that Google will not welcome this development. Considering that Google has an iron grip on app store distribution outside China, a viable competitor will only compel the American company to further control the Android ecosystem.

With a tightening grip on Android, other tech companies will only intensify their efforts to build an alternative OS. Huawei, as an example, launched HarmonyOS for its devices in the future.

An alternative app store will also open up another potential avenue for hackers targeting users with malware. This will only contribute to security and privacy problems in Android, which has long been dealing with notorious malware and data breaches.

Source: Reuters

 

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Grab Philippines ordered to suspend in-car recording and selfie verification

Due to violations in the Data Privacy Act of 2012

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Last year, Grab Philippines tested new features to ensure passenger and driver safety. These new features are in-car audio and video recording, as well as selfie verification.

However, the country’s National Privacy Commission (NPC) ordered Grab to halt the rollout of these features. The commission stated that those features pose a privacy risk to passengers. A cease and desist order released by NPC cites violations within the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which governs the privacy and security of all digital data on the country.

NPC also stated in its Notice of Deficiencies that the ride-sharing company failed to assess the new features’ risk to passengers, taking only into account “the risk faced by the company”.

The notice also noted that there is no clear mechanism for informing passengers when recorded data gets sent to authorities. It also found out that there is ambiguity in opting out of recording.

As such, NPC gave Grab 15 days to address the deficiencies it found for both in-car recording and selfie verification. This is surely a welcome move for ensuring passengers’ privacy. However, the question remains on what measures Grab will implement in the future to protect its passengers’ safety.

Source: Top Gear Philippines

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