Facebook ‘Shadow Profiles’; Snapchat Tries V. 2.0 Spectacles; Gmail Web Redesign

Of all the deliberately boring and evasive answers Mark Zuckerberg gave at the congressional hearings this week, one of the most interesting was to a question by New Mexico Representative Ben Lujan, who asked about ‘shadow profiles.’ The term refers to data Facebook collects about non users, and other info the company has but doesn’t admit to to users. TechCrunch.com reports that Zuckerberg said the company collects info on people who haven’t signed up for security purposes to try to prevent data scraping and the like, but balked at calling them shadow profiles. He also played dumb about how many data points FB has on each user. Zuck did admit that non users can’t really opt out of data collection the company does to prevent scraping info of others…and the Congressman pointed out that those are folks who have never signed any sort of consent or privacy agreement. Privacy? They’ve got your stinkin’ privacy!

Snapchat’s first swing at Spectacles was a 40 million dollar whiff. Now, the company is teeing up for another shot at the concept. According to 9to5mac.com, they have filed with the FCC for second generation ones. In the filing, they are identified as a
‘wearable video camera,’ and model ‘002.’ No drawings were included, but they will come with 802.11ac WiFi and will work over both the 2.4 and 5 gig bands. They do apparently have Made for iPhone branding and mention support for iPhone X as well as other earlier devices. There may be a higher end version running around $300 and built of nicer materials like aluminum. So far, nothing as far as when we might actually see version 2.0 of Spectacles.

It’s been a year since Google noted that a revamp was coming to Gmail. It looks like the redo is coming in the form of an early access program in the next few weeks. We received an email blast that came out to G Suite administrators yesterday, with the promise of a new design for the Gmail web interface, and some new features including Calendar within Gmail and Smart Reply. There will also be a snooze feature which will hide emails for a selected amount of time. Perhaps the coolest upcoming feature is offline support. Google says we can expect native offline support by July. (This will replace the Gmail Offline Chrome app.) Many popular Chrome extensions will continue to work on the new Gmail experience, however.

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Facebook to Hire 1000 To Battle Election Interference; Facebook Testing Face Recognition to Unlock Accounts; Apple Looking To Roll Own on Mac Chips; Google Launches “Made for Google” Accessory Program

Facebook is making changes in the wake of the Congressional investigation of Russian election meddling via social media including Facebook. TechCrunch.com says that includes hiring 1000 more people to its global ads review team over the next year, and making it so anyone can see any ad run by any organization on Facebook instead of only the ads targeted to them.

Facebook is also testing out facial recognition as a way to get back into your account if you’re locked out. 9to5mac.com points out that if you are on the road, and don’t have roaming available, you can’t even use 2 factor identification. The face recognition would not be Apple’s Face ID, but Facebook’s own system, and it would be in addition to two-factor authentication using SMS….as noted, where SMS might not be available. It’s not clear if or when the feature will be rolled out.

Future laptops from Apple may feature Apple designed chips in place of ones from Intel. Businessinsider.com says this is coming on the heels of Apple’s new iPhone 8 models with Apple designed ARM chips that can outperform a MacBook Pro in bench tests. Apple is also apparently looking at designing custom silicon for their modem chips, too in place of Qualcomm or Media Tek.

Google is readying a ‘Made for Google’ program to certify accessories from its partners. According to 9to5google.com, it should work similarly to Apple’s accessory program, giving users a little peace of mind about buying gear that they can know will work well with Google hardware devices. No time frame as yet, but we may hear more later this week when Google bows the Pixel 2 family of products in San Francisco.