Apps

More than 1,000 Android apps are mining your data

They can bypass your restrictions

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The world knows what you did last summer. Well, more than a thousand Android apps do, to be precise. A group of researchers have recently discovered the shadier ways of the Android ecosystem. According to a short report, several Android apps can bypass certain permission restrictions imposed by the user. The discovery reemphasizes the need for a crackdown on data collection.

Of course, excessive data collection has always terrorized the digital world. Software companies continuously find ways to extract data from us. As consumers, we can only restrict app permissions to combat malicious apps. For the most part, permissions can ward away the more rudimentary data collection method. For example, a selfie app absolutely has no need for access to your messages. A simple restriction can ideally stop this.

The latest findings reveal the futility of app permissions. Using a variety of methods, apps can still collect data, bypassing the imposed restrictions. Notably, most examples use readily available data on your device outside of the restrictions. For example, a restricted app can tap into an allowed app’s database to extract data. Baidu’s Hong Kong Disneyland app, for one, can access other Baidu apps with the right permissions. These allowed apps can store vital data on your internal storage, waiting for other apps to extract it.

Another example sends seemingly innocuous data hiding important information. Shutterfly, a photo management app, can sneakily bypass geolocation restrictions. Normally, users can restrict the app from sending geolocation data. If restricted, Shutterfly will instead send photos to its server. The server then extracts the photo’s EXIF or metadata to mine the same geolocation data it was restricted from.

These are just some examples presented by the short report. In August, the researchers will reveal more methods and examples including the full list of 1,325 apps. Additionally, Google has already promised to patch these exploits out in Android Q.

SEE ALSO: Some Nokia 7 units are sending your data to China

Apps

Facebook Pay will let you send money instantly

Will also be available on Instagram and WhatsApp

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Facebook unveiled its next-generation cryptocurrency Libra early this year. However, the service has received a lukewarm response due to Facebook’s spotty privacy record. Governments and regulators are worried the social network hasn’t done enough to instill confidence after the Cambridge Analytical scandal.

While the giant is trying to find a smooth path for Libra, it’s also ensuring that now-trending opportunities aren’t missed out. With the launch of Facebook Pay, the social network will seamlessly let you transfer money to your friends and acquaintances.

The system supports all major credit as well as debit cards but is being launched in the U.S. only at the moment. We expect availability in other regions following compliance with local laws.

Facebook already lets users send money through the Messenger app. But with Facebook Pay, users will be able to send money via other Facebook apps. To start, it’s rolling out on the core Facebook and Messenger apps, but will be added to Instagram and WhatsApp in the future.

The company has more than a billion active users worldwide. Thanks to a centralized service, it can leverage users from all the various apps it owns. Venmo is currently leading the micro-transactions segment and only time will tell whether Facebook has been able to retain users.

The users can add a PIN or use device biometrics, such as touch or Face ID recognition, for an extra layer of security when sending money or making a payment.

In India, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been trying to launch WhatsApp Pay, a similar peer-to-peer service. Unfortunately, India’s data localization laws and additional compliances have delayed the release by more than a year.

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Huawei Mobile Cloud will have free storage for some users

5GB free for users in APAC

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In an attempt to get more people to use Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), Huawei is offering a treat for users in Asia Pacific.

Some time in the middle of November, HMS users located in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand will be the first in the region to enjoy free 5GB storage of Huawei Mobile Cloud. You’ll just need to login using a Huawei ID.

In addition, Huawei and Honor users can enjoy one month of 50GB Mobile Cloud storage at a massive discounted price from today until December 31, 2019.

Countries Original Price per month Discounted
Philippines PhP 49.00 PhP 1.00
Singapore SG$ 1.28 SG$ 0.10
Thailand THB 35.00 THB 1.00
Malaysia MYR 3.90 MYR 0.10

Exclusive deals for Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro users

Those who already own or who plan to own Huawei’s latest smartphones — the Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 pro are entitled to three months of free 50GB Huawei Mobile Cloud storage along with two years warranty and free screen replacement from Huawei HiCare.

They’re also incentivizing users who will download the Huawei Member Center app from the AppGallery. Users from the mentioned countries can redeem free Huawei Points and Lazada shopping vouchers available on the app. This will be available by the end of November 2019.

Countries Huawei Points Lazada Vouchers Trip.com Vouchers
Philippines PhP 1200 PhP 500 N/A
Singapore SG$ 30 SG$ 12 Up to SG$ 20 off
Thailand THB 850 THB 300 Up to THB 250 off
Malaysia MYR 100 MYR 40 Up to MYR 30 off

SEE ALSO: Huawei is building an ecosystem of connected devices

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Instagram has started borrowing features from TikTok

Instagram is looking out for inspiration

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A couple of years back, Instagram and Snapchat were involved in a brutal face-off, each wanting supremacy over the other. Thanks to Snapchat, Stories are now an integral part of not only Instagram but also Facebook and WhatsApp.

In 2019, Snapchat is no longer viewed as a threat to Instagram. A new kid on the block is challenging the status quo — TikTok. Instagram launched a new video editing tool in Brazil that copies some of the best-known features of TikTok.

Dubbed Reels, it lets you create “15-second video clips set to music and share them as Stories,” which can be shared wider via a new “Top Reels” section on the Explore page.

Per a recent tweet from engineer Jane Manchun Wong, this new tool will also let you remix other users’ Scenes if their account is public. Reels is launching today on iOS and Android but is limited to Brazil for now.

 

It’s safe to assume that Instagram is piloting the new feature because a release timeline for other regions isn’t available yet.

Instagram also has IGTV that is essentially a YouTube rival. However, short videos have been the main forte of TikTok and since the death of Vine, there has been a vacuum in this segment. With healthy funding from its Chinese parent Bytedance, TikTok has enough firepower to take on the Facebook-owned app.

In a leaked audio recording, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also expressed concerns about TikTok’s growth and dominance in certain market. He said that the Chinese company has “married short-form, immersive video with browse. So it’s almost like the ‘Explore Tab’ that we have on Instagram, which is today primarily about feed posts and highlighting different feed posts.”

Instagram previously launched a dedicated video sharing app called Lasso but failed to migrate users over from the primary app. Incorporating similar features in the Instagram app is the best way to ensure users get on board.

 

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