Apps

Google’s newest product is a photo album

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Google unveiled a number of cool new things at its annual developers conference Google I/O. Among the many things they announced (which included Android O features, Google Home and Google Assistant updates, and even YouTube upgrades), what interested me most were the new features on Google Photos. 

Now, like any self-respecting girl in the age of social media, my photo roll is chock-filled with random photos that never see the light of day (cue 254 photos I took at that party to find the perfect one for Instagram), so curation and sharing of these mementos has always been an issue.

It seems Google had been appraised of my millennial girl problems and sought to find solutions.

A smarter library

Never hesitate to send that cute photo of your crush you took at that party you both went to, because now Google will actually prompt you to send it to him! These smart suggestions do not stop there; Google will also be prompting your crush to share said photos to other suggested people.

New functions also include smarter photo searches (even without tags) and impressive photo-editing capabilities.

A shared library

Google also announced Shared Libraries that will allow you to share albums with others! This seems to be a very convenient function, although the idea of a collaborative album isn’t new. Apple and Facebook already have these album-sharing functions, but it’s better late than never, yeah?

Photo sharing is already a thing on Apple ?

The difference here is that this shared library will be integrated into your photo roll. Google also claims that its smart photo functions will apply to these shared libraries. This also allows for an automatic sharing option that updates with your new photos in real time —  which frankly scares me more than it excites me. (I mean, do you really want to see everything on my photo roll?)

A printed library?

The biggest news (at least to us girls in the GadgetMatch office) that came from yesterday’s announcements was Google’s Photo Book which was basically, well, a non-digital photo album.

Yes, finally, you can touch and feel your photos — except again, this isn’t the newest idea.

Apple has a printing option, too.

Google’s Photo Book offer starts at $9.99 for 20 pages of 7-inch square photos while Apple’s already existing printing service offers the same number of pages for the same but in a different size (8 x 6 inches).

Although the Google I/O announcements come with a lot of improvements for Google Photos, there really wasn’t anything new or groundbreaking — unless you think unlimited photo storage is still its best feature. Because really, the best photo library is simply the one you can put most photos in.

SEE ALSO: Google Assistant is now on iPhones, but it’s worse than Siri

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Apps

Grab kickstarts growth of digital economy in the Philippines

Here’s how Grab can help small businesses sell more

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For almost a decade, Grab affixed itself as a staple in Filipinos’ lives. The ride-hailing app’s advent revolutionized mobility in the Philippines, making living in the metro relatively convenient.

In 2020, Grab takes things a step further, launching Small Business Booster Program. Moreover, the company partnered with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Tourism, and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Grab is aiming to support local businesses in their transition to a growing digital economy. It seeks to bridge the gap between MSMEs and consumers relying on digital-based services. Furthermore, it kickstarted initiatives that are accessible to small business owners — particularly mom-and-pops or independent, family-owned businesses.

Transitioning to digital services

“Small, independent businesses are the backbone of our economy,” according to Grab Philippines Brian Cu.

Believing that supporting government initiatives will help these businesses rejuvenate the economy amid the pandemic, the Small Business Booster Program strives to provide digital support to businesses, such as GrabMerchant.

This all-in-one platform helps business owners augment their customer base efficiently. Some features include Insights — providing analytics to a merchant’s sales, marketing campaigns, and its customers’ profile and buying behavior.

There’s also an ads creation tool, which allows merchant-partners to create their own advertisements and track performance in Grab’s platform.

GrabMerchant is available to existing Grab merchant-partners as an app. A web portal is already in the works, which will roll out by the end of August 2020. Currently, there are over 78,000 merchant-partners onboarded in the Grab app across Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, Grab recorded almost 12,000 merchants between March and June 2020, with small businesses seeing at least 57 percent growth in their online revenues. Interested merchants can sign up through this link.

Photo by Grab Philippines

Free, personalized ads

Aside from GrabMerchant’s Ads creation tool, Grab is committed to supporting Filipino merchants with advertising solutions. Most merchant-partners saw up to 300 percent return on ad spend, after placing an ad on GrabFood’s homepage.

Through its “Homegrown Heroes” initiative, Grab will create personalized ads for over 1,000 merchant-partners, featuring their businesses for five weeks on the most prominent spaces within the app. Costs and resources required to produce materials will be covered by Grab.

An easy way to receive payments

If you’re a social seller, take advantage of Grab’s Offline to Online (O2O) Merchant Support Program. Businesses with no online presence can set up their online stores, and utilize an integrated GrabPay checkout for virtual payments through a landing page on Grab.com.

Since the lockdown, people turned to social selling for sustenance. However, online selling plies with tricky payment methods. Grab aims to ease purchasing and receiving payments through its Remote GrabPay link solution, where sellers can hand out URLs to their customers.

These links will allow customers to make direct payments from their GrabPay Wallet, which sellers receive easily. Access the service through this link.

Connecting rural entrepreneurs

Grab is also leveraging its leadership in technology and innovation to help expand livelihood opportunities to Filipino farmers across the country.

It has been actively working with local governments in helping traditional ecosystems maintain their presence in a growing digital economy. Together with the Department of Agriculture’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program and the Department of Tourism’s Philippine Harvest Initiative, Grab seeks to create an avenue for Filipino farmers to earn through the Grab platform. More importantly, their fresh produce will be delivered to customers across Metro Manila.

To learn more about Grab’s response in the COVID-19 impact, check their social report, Grab for Good through this link.

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Apps

Indian telco launches a Zoom rip-off and it’s free

Definitely worth giving it a shot!

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Jio, India’s leading telecom operator has recently been in the news for a lot of reasons. The company has more than 30 percent of the telecom market in India and it intends to pivot, unlike any other telco we’ve ever seen.

The company has launched a Zoom alternative called JioMeet. The video conferencing app is expected to get a lot of traction amid calls to increase self-dependence and reduce the consumption of foreign products. However, it seems like the Jio team took too much inspiration from Zoom and thought of just directly mimicking it.

The app looks almost identical to Zoom’s offering, except for the minor color change here and there. The app is one of many in Jio’s portfolio.

However, the app offers a lot of high-end features like unlimited free calls in HD and supports for 100 participants in one go. Additionally, JioMeet does not impose a short time limit on a call’s duration.

On Zoom, you’d require a premium account to disable the 40-minute restriction on calls. Thankfully, the app is available on the Play Store and App Store for download directly, and no coupons or invite links are needed.

For security and privacy reasons, all its meetings are password protected. The host has the control to send the uninvited guests to the “Waiting Room” to ensure no gatecrashing. Obviously, standard features like screen sharing have also been included.

For desktop usage, the service can also be accessed through Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers. On its official website, JioMeet claims all the meetings are “encrypted”.

In the last two months, the telecom operator has raised billion in funding from global investors like Facebook. The company also owns JioSaavn music streaming service and has its own entertainment unit that offers movies, shows, as well as live TV.

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TikTok is a massive data collection service – researcher

Disguised as a social network

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Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

TikTok is getting a lot of heat for its opaque data collection policies after it was discovered that the app also accessed the user’s clipboard on iOS. Now, a researcher alleges that the app has collected a huge amount of user data in the background while the service continues to operate like any other social network.

Going by the name bangorlol on Reddit, the user claims that after reverse-engineering the app, they caught it collecting an abnormal dose of personal information. This includes users’ phone hardware, the apps on their phone, network-related information like IP address, router MAC, Wi-Fi access point name, and if a user’s phone was rooted or jailbroken.

He further added that GPS location pings were also being sent to the company’s servers within short intervals. However, we should take the current findings with a pinch of salt. The allegations are from an independent study and yet to be verified or audited by a government or assigned third-party.

We also can’t ignore the report. TikTok has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. The US government has officially cited its potential security threats with the Chinese social network and at least two security audits are currently underway.

India has already banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok. The government said these apps are “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner.”

When compared to other social networking apps, TikTok has access to extremely sensitive data. At this point, we need more transparency from TikTok. The company has already pulled its service from India, citing the recent ban. However, it’s yet to convince public authorities about its data protection policies.

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