News

Google is building a password-less future

Introduces the passkey to Android and Chrome

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Passwords are no longer as protective as they once were. Following the rise of more personal authentication methods, a lot of companies are building a future without the need for an overly complex password. This year, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have signed an agreement to do away with the outdated method for good. Today, Google is doing its part by introducing passkeys to Android and Chrome.

Today, passwords have lost their veneer of security. Even if you create a password with several numbers and special characters, a malicious party can still theoretically obtain it and access your account. Plus, since people often use the same password for multiple platforms, one breach can cascade into a maelstrom.

In contrast, a passkey connects more naturally to the user and to their device. Ideally, a user will need access to their phone and a PIN/fingerprint reader to unlock an account. In addition, they need to have their phones close to the other device they are trying to unlock.

For its latest announcement, Google will allow developers to add passkeys to their website. Users will soon be able to access websites using the method, marking a big step towards a password-less future.

Unlocking accounts without (or in addition to) a password isn’t a new concept for most users. Today, a lot of users are already using authenticator apps to add an extra layer of protection for their accounts.

SEE ALSO: Apple, Google, and Microsoft are getting rid of the password

News

A new iMessage feature alerts you of any government spies

Anyone can use it

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Do you have an irrational fear of government hackers spying on your text messages? If you do, Apple has a new feature to help alleviate your phobia. Starting today, users can opt into the new iMessage Contact Key Verification feature, a security measure designed to prevent any unwanted snooping on your messages.

If it sounds too specific, it’s because Apple designed the feature for those who face “extraordinary digital threats,” like journalists and politicians. Naturally, this subset of the population can benefit from keeping their conversations away from snoopers (which includes, according to Apple, state-sponsored attackers). However, there’s no denying that the feature is also a boon to users who want an extra layer of protection for their messaging needs.

To use the feature, both the sender and the receiver need to have the option turned on while using their device. On a more basic level, the device will alert both users if an unexpected party suddenly crashes and enters the encrypted conversation. A more advanced level even allows iMessage users to compare verification codes, ensuring that both parties are indeed talking to whomever they intend to talk to.

While most users might not find a lot of use for an exorbitant amount of protection against hackers, it’s a step in the right direction for total message encryption. Despite some significant hiccups, Apple remains focused on bringing encryption to its users.

SEE ALSO: Apple is tracking users even with settings turned off

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Gaming

Microsoft is being prevented from buying Activision Blizzard

Sued by the FTC

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The year started off with a bang. Microsoft, already a respectable name in the gaming industry by itself, announced the impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard for US$ 68.7 billion. Perhaps it’s fitting that the year will end right back where it started. The FTC is officially suing Microsoft to block the monumental purchase from going through.

Announced today, the United States’ FTC (or Federal Trade Commission) has filed a legal claim against Microsoft, stating that the acquisition will allow the company to suppress competition between its rivals in the gaming industry. The commission believes that it has enough to effectively block the purchase. Allowing Microsoft to go through with the purchase will supposedly enable the company to prevent Activision Blizzard’s titles — including the Call of Duty franchise — from coming out easily on other platforms.

Since the announcement of the acquisition, Activision Blizzard has gone through a rocky year. The company had its dirty laundry aired out: a plethora of disagreeable practices from within the company. Exacerbated by the rocky launches of Diablo Immortal and Overwatch 2, it’s not exactly a stellar year for the company.

In fact, it’s not a good year for monopolistic practices either. Recently, Ticketmaster found itself under the microscope after a massive kerfuffle preventing Taylor Swift fans from purchasing tickets to the star’s upcoming concert.

While the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard is still up in the air, it seems company acquisitions aren’t as easy as this year has made them out to be.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft announces a modular Adaptive Mouse

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Apps

Google is merging Waze with Google Maps

Apps will remain separate

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It’s not a secret. Google owns both Google Maps and Waze. Though both certainly come with their own pros and cons, using either app can boil down to a matter of preference, especially in driving cities. Starting soon, the two might even look more alike. Google is merging the teams of Google Maps and Waze together.

Since acquiring Waze in 2013, Google has kept the app’s development separate from Google Maps. Even knowing this face, it’s hard to draw comparisons between the two. They felt like separate products, and they were.

Now, as announced today (via Wall Street Journal), Google will merge Waze’s team (which consists of over 500 employees) with the larger team that oversees Maps, Earth, and Street View. While there are no plans to lay off any employees, incumbent Waze CEO Neha Parikh is expected to leave the company after the merger.

Though a merger might spell the end for Waze, Google remains committed to keeping its own services separate from each other. However, by merging the teams, the company can reduce a lot of redundant work that the two teams have in common.

From a more generalized standpoint, Google Maps and Waze are incredibly distinct apps. While the latter focuses more of directions for drivers, Google Maps offers a grander sweep of directions for all travelers including those who prefer to walk or take public transportation.

SEE ALSO: Google Maps introduces a new way to be a tourist

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