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Google: Cutting off Huawei is an even bigger threat

Could lead to less secure apps

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For three weeks, Huawei’s biggest concerns were the loss of Android and ARM architecture support. The recent Trump ban created pandemonium for the Chinese company. Since the ban’s announcement, Huawei has struggled with solutions and appeals. Unfortunately, the company’s troubles are not stopping.

In a Financial Times report, Google argues that Trump’s ban will ironically open Huawei to more cybersecurity issues. Likewise, an Android ban will cascade down to the operating system’s supported apps. Users will likely resort to less secure installation methods for their lost apps.

Google further explains that using an Android hybrid (since the platform is open-source by nature) could result in more holes in the system’s security. Huawei’s alternative — either their own custom OS or a forked Android variant — will not offer the same amount of protection.

In related news, Facebook has banned their app’s pre-installs on their future smartphones. Currently, Huawei’s phones come installed with Facebook’s slew of apps — Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. Arguably, all three apps are essential pieces of a smartphone’s ecosystem. As such, smartphone makers often strike pre-installation deals with app developers, allowing devices to come with these essential apps.

Of course, Huawei users can still install them manually through the Google Play Store. However, this method is also in jeopardy. By August 19, Google is forced to sever support for Huawei, pending a permanent resolution. The ban can feasibly take the Play Store with it. If that happens, Huawei users can no longer install Facebook through the usual means. Users will start resorting to Huawei’s own store or APK installs.

Huawei’s continued dealing with bans rings an ominous death knell for the Chinese company. Without a conclusive resolution, the world’s number-two smartphone manufacturer is facing an uncertain, dangerous future for its phones, inside and out.

SEE ALSO: Huawei inks a 5G developmental deal with Russia

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Google turns Android into world’s largest earthquake detection system

Using technology to make a difference

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2020 is the epitome of chaos with a pandemic, fear of cyber warfare, and government incapability. Amid all the negativity, Google has some refreshing news. Android, the world’s most widely used mobile operating system, will now leverage its reach to help detect an earthquake.

Pretty much every Android phone today sports an accelerometer, a sensor that can help detect seismographic movement. When this sensor is clubbed along with the user’s GPS data, researchers can use the phone as a live seismometer.

The University of California-Berkeley, along with funding from the state of California has launched a new app called MyShake. The app can use the phone’s onboard sensors to feed data in a massive network of devices that are constantly monitoring seismographic movement across the globe.

Using this same technology, Google is taking a step forward. Instead of relying on an app, it’s incorporating Android Earthquake Alerts System on every phone running on Google Play Services. The system is being touted as “the world’s largest earthquake detection network.”

The company studied historical accelerometer readings during earthquakes and found they could give some users up to a minute of notice. Since the feature is being rolled out via Play Services, the alerting system will be available on all active phones within a few weeks. The user won’t have to depend on the software update roll-out.

“We are on a path to delivering earthquake alerts wherever there are smartphones,” said Richard Allen, director of the University of California-Berkeley’s seismological lab and visiting faculty at Google over the last year.

Proactive alerts shall be limited to California for now. Google added that “over the coming year, you can expect to see the earthquake alerts coming to more states and countries using Android’s phone-based earthquake detection.”

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Google launches virtual visiting profile called People Cards

Time to google yourself!

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Have you ever googled yourself? If not, this new feature on Google search will surely prompt you to give it a shot. The search engine wants to make it easier to find new people and has unveiled a new feature in India called People Cards.

People Cards act like your virtual visiting card. If someone’s looking for you on Google, they’ll usually come across a few social media profile links or any other online content you’re associated with. Thanks to the new card, you can directly control how much information you want to keep up front.

The feature is limited to the mobile app for now. To set up your own card, all you need is an active mobile number and a Google account. It’s also limited to India for the time being and only supports English.

To create your own card, just:

  • Open the Google app on your phone.
  • Search for “add me to Search.”
  • You’ll immediately see a prompt to set up your card and after mobile number authentication, you’re all set.

You can enter brief details about yourself, add a bio, link social media profiles, and even make it easier to connect with you by publishing your email, website, or mobile number.

While the feature makes discovering people easy, it also opens a floodgate of privacy concerns. Spammers can easily collect information from the partially open system. We advise our readers to proceed with caution and ensure they’re not divulging any personal details.

Individuals who have already created their cards can opt-out of the experience anytime. In the case of people who share the same name, Google Search will show multiple modules.

The search giant says it has a number of mechanisms to fight spam and abuse. Only one card can be created by an account and you can flag a card in case of false information or an imposter.

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Google announced new directives for online learning

Including a Homework filter for Google Lens

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With the pandemic still ravaging the world, online learning is ramping up twice over. Tech companies are developing new ways to help students learn and attend classes online. Today, Google announced new directives for online learning. For one, Google Lens’ new Homework filter can solve math homework.

In a post written by Jennifer Holland, Google’s Director of Program Management for Education, the new Homework filter can take photos of a math formula and provide a host of new options including transcribing it and actually solving it. The solution will also include a step-by-step explanation for the formula.

Besides the new filter, Google’s Read Along will gamify text-to-speech technology for learning readers. When students get words right, the program will reward them with stars.

Speaking of text-to-speech, Google Meet now has advanced speech recognition to provide live captions which are particularly helpful for online classes. In the same vein, Holland also hypes up a better noise cancellation feature for Google Meet.

For class time, Google’s Family Link can limit a student’s online time, optimizing learning time even while studying at home.

Right now, we’re already at the tail end of summer. The next school year is fast approaching. Because of the ongoing pandemic, classes are still online for the time being. That said, online learning tools will prove their usefulness very soon. Today, students are already getting used to Zoom and other collaboration tools, stemming from the previous school year.

But, don’t tell the students; we’re borrowing the new filter for every time we have to split the bill somewhere.

SEE ALSO: Acer and Smart team-up for online learning tools

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