Facebook as a stand-alone social networking website has reached its saturation point in most markets and the parent company is now relying on other products like Instagram and WhatsApp to continue its advertisement machinery.
To bolster its presence, Instagram intends to take on its arch-rival Snapchat by releasing a new messaging app called “Threads”. It’s “meant to promote constant, intimate sharing between users and their closest friends.”
According to The Verge, the companion app will leverage Instagram’s “close friends” list and let users share details like location, speed, and battery life. The app is being tested internally and there has been no official word on its release yet.
On a brighter side, the app will not share your exact live location and only display a message like a friend is “on the move.” A similar feature is available on Snapchat’s Snap Map which displays a car or airplane based on the user’s movement.
With Snapchat, you can disappear from the map at any time by turning on Ghost Mode or by not opening Snapchat for a few hours. Alternatively, location-sharing is turned off by default and you can leave it that way to just lurk, watching what friends are up to.
Too many messaging apps?
Instagram was previously working on a standalone messaging app called “Direct”, but it was ditched a few months back because users weren’t in favor of shifting apps just to send a message.
Facebook has a host of messaging services now, including Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. It’ll be interesting to see how the company justifies having yet another messaging app in its portfolio.
Lastly, Facebook has come under immense criticism after it leaked data of more than 50 million users to Cambridge Analytica. The social network lacks users trust at this point and it’s best to stay away from controversial features like these. Even its cryptocurrency “Libra” has received a lukewarm response from industry experts and regulatory bodies.
Google’s Emoji Kitchen will mash-up your favorite emojis
Rolling out on Gboard
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.
Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo joins Huawei’s effort to build a Play Store alternative
Preparing for a Google-less future
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 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.
Grab Philippines ordered to suspend in-car recording and selfie verification
Due to violations in the Data Privacy Act of 2012
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.
Lenovo IdeaPad S540 review: A professional’s daily driver
An essential for every career-driven millennial
Fitbit Versa 2 review: Your BFF in achieving work-life goals
Achieve your life goals in just a few clicks!
Realme 5i review: Power on a budget
A real, long lasting budget option with midrange power
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip fails a scratch test
Realme X50 Pro 5G confirmed to have 65W fast charging
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Unboxing, Setup, Photos & Q&A
Globe’s postpaid plan for Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra
Lenovo’s new phone will supposedly score 600,000 on AnTuTu
Best Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P10,000 to P20,000
Best Budget Smartphones in the Philippines below P10,000
Huawei Philippines Smartphone Price List
Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P20,000 to P30,000
Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400
Philippines1 week ago
Huawei Philippines Smartphone Price List
Philippines4 days ago
Samsung Philippines Smartphone Price List
Philippines2 weeks ago
Realme Philippines Smartphone Price List
News6 days ago
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip price and availability in the Philippines
India2 weeks ago
POCO X2 now official with 120Hz display, Snapdragon 730G
News1 week ago
Motorola Razr horribly fails a folding test
News2 weeks ago
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite: Price and availability in the Philippines
Apps2 weeks ago
NVIDIA’s GeForce Now is ready for gamers