Android Apps Track Kids; Making Facebook Friends Portable; Amazon’s Choice Secrets; Mini Sega Genesis Coming

In the wake of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica flap, more people are becoming re-sensitized to their privacy…or lack of it. Bgr.com is pointing out that Google does a much better job of protecting privacy, but…and there’s always a but…with their third party apps, not so much. Researchers at the International Computer Science Institute have discovered thousands of Android apps that track young kids. In fact, the majority of 5855 of the most popular children’s apps were guilty of tracking in some manner. 19% of them collect personally identifiable information, while 66% transmit non-resettable persistent identifiers that negate the privacy preserving properties of the advertising ID. So…those thousands of apps are free, except for the data they steal to serve targeted ads to your kids. What a deal! ‘OK, Google! Fix this!’

Some people are leaving Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica mess…I count 31 that have bailed or deactivated on my friends list. For me, the horse got out of the barn a long time ago, so it seems a bit late to leave when you’re privacy has been violated continuously for 8 or 10 years. TechCrunch.com notes that you can download your facebook info, including your friends list…but it’s just a text list…you can’t easily take it to a competing platform. It’s just not going to work having to type them all in, or letting another platform use your email list and keep sending out pestering email to your friends. If people want the government to regulate Facebook as a utility, being able to export your friends list in a useable form to port them to another platform would be a great start. Meanwhile, we’ve speculated that somewhere, some brilliant geeks are working on programming to do it whether Facebook likes it or not. Whatever platform gets that kind of feature first will have a hell of a leg up in giving Facebook some real competition.

What kind of magic formula does Amazon use to give a product the Amazon’s Choice designation? No one has had a clue…until now. Geekwire.com reports that the online giant has started placing a ‘why we like this product’ link next to the Amazon’s Choice logo. If you click it, it will give you 3 specific reasons Amazon has awarded the Choice designator to that particular product. Some of the criteria seem heavily skewed towards highly rated, but also seen have been low return rate and popularity in Amazon search results. At least it’s a peek behind the curtain. So far, all the factors seem to be ones that lend themselves to a high degree of automation..hey, it IS Amazon!

Having purchased probably every system Sega ever made for a certain family member (which paid off in a way…he now works for a game company), I was interested to see that Sega is probably going to bring out a Sega MegaDrive Mini later this year. Cnet.com says the little box has just rolled out in Japan to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the system (MegaDrive was the original name for the system.) Now, a number of reports are surfacing saying the diminutive Genesis will e hitting the US later this year. It appears that Sega is presently asking users to let them know what classic games they want pre-loaded onto the system. Apparently the system will feature both Japanese and English voiceovers, and choice of classic or modern controls.

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Galaxy Note 8 Launch in August; Virgin Mobile Goes iPhone Only; Classic Sega Genesis Games FREE on Mobile

Hot off the press…or web, anyway, Samsung will unveil its Galaxy Note 8 in August. According to cnet.com and Reuters, it will have a curved screen that will be slightly larger than the Galaxy 8’s 6.2 incher, and have 2 rear cameras. Despite the flameout…in a number of cases literally…of the Note 7, there is a substantial hard-core fan base that will snap up the Note 8 models as soon as they hit the market!

Galaxy Note 8 fans, Samsung fans, or any other Android users will have to look elsewhere for a carrier if they were considering Virgin Mobile…they have announced that after June 27th, they will sell nothing but Apple iPhones. Bgr.com reports that Virgin will be kicking off a new wireless plan to go along with the change. A new promotion for the $50 per month Inner Circle plan is out too…buy a new iPhone through Virgin, and get the 1st full year of unlimited service for just a dollar. After that, the monthly fee pops back up to $50. (Check the fine print…like with everyone else’s ‘unlimited’ plan, there are limits!)

The venerable Sega Genesis managed to attract substantial hard core, dedicated fans to its games. If you were one or know one, you’ll be happy to find out that Sega has launched the 1st wave of its Sega Forever collection on mobile…for free! Engadget.com says there are ads, but for $2, you can play ad free. The initial launch includes the 1991 version of Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star II, Comix Zone, Kid Chameleon, and Altered Beast. All are available today on iTunes and Google Play. For iPhone or iPad, you also get some iMessage sticker packs. Sega will be adding new titles about every two weeks.


Peeking Ahead at Apple; Samsung’s Amazing Coming AI Assistant; Future Tesla Buyers & Superchargers; New Old Sega Genesis Goes into Production

Apple has a few things up its tree, including something fresh for the present iPhone 7. Thenextweb.com says they may be readying a ‘Jet White’ shiny new color to the 7 and 7 Plus to bookend the Jet Black color.

As for the future, they may add a feature to Find My iPhone that would surreptitiously turn the phone on for you with the proper authentication, so you could find a stolen phone without alerting the thief, according to bgr.com. What about the iPhone 8? We reported earlier that they were working with Energous on wireless charging. Now, again according to bgr, this is moving forward with Energous getting an infusion from a power management chip maker. You would be able to charge your phone from a source 15 feet away…no charging pad…and it would draw current whether you were at home, work, or wherever!

Appleinsider.com has discovered that Apple was just granted a patent detailing an augmented reality mapping system that harnesses iPhone hardware to overlay visual enhancements onto live video, lending credence to recent rumors suggesting the company plans to implement an iOS-based AR strategy in the near future. Tim Cook has strongly hinted about this.

Meanwhile, over at Samsung, a sea change in digital assistants. The Galaxy S8 will have a digital assistant that takes ‘smart’ to a new level. Samsung will add Viv, from San Jose’s Viv Labs (which they bought last month). Reuters.com says Viv not only can answer questions and look things up, but can effectively write software on the fly to accomplish tasks that you ask it to! This is beyond Star Trek, folks!

A huge change for future Tesla buyers. According to theverge.com, anyone getting a Tesla after January 1st, 2017 will have to pay a small fee to use Tesla Superchargers. Previous owners will still get to use them for free. Tesla says the fee will be much less than the cost of filling a car with gas.

For hardcore Sonic fans, here’s something cool from the dailydot.com: The Sega Genesis is officially back in production. TecToy is making the machines, with Sega’s blessing. Aside from the SD card slot, it’s pretty well a duplicate of the original. It comes with 22 games on the SD card. Preorders are $125 for the box. Are you hearing the Sonic the Hedgehog theme?