Offline Gmail Support Rolls Out; Warrantless Cellphone Tracking; Apple v Samsung, Round 3; Amazon Go to San Francisco

The offline Gmail support for search, archive, and compose is rolling out on the web. the feature was promised at Google I/O. Up to now, Gmail over the web had offline capability via the Gmail Offline Chrome app. Google recommends you uninstall the app, as the functionality is not built right into the web app. When you reconnect with the web, your changes will synch up automatically. You’ll need chrome 61 or better to use the feature. Just go to settings and hit the Offline tab, then ‘enable offline mail.’ The default stores 30 days of messages, but you can select 7 or 90 days.

As if there wasn’t enough to worry about over lack of privacy…now, it turns out that a company which mainly works with prison phone systems has leveraged a data-sharing service offered by phone carriers that allows police to track any cellphone number, with no legal checks…like a warrant…to keep the practice from being abused. The New York Times says the company is called Serurus, and they an another company are making available data the phone carriers already offer to marketers to police agencies…basically uncontrolled access to nationwide location tracking. Senator Ron Wyden has already written to the FCC and the carriers, asking them to tighten these disclosures up.

Facebook is apparently working behind the scenes, to try to make up for the Cambridge Analytica debacle. They have now suspended over 200 suspicious apps, and have reviewed ‘thousands so far,’ in the audit promised by Mark Zuckerberg, according to techcrunch.com. The social network has not released the names or info on those apps so far, and says in some cases, apps will be reinstated after reviews, interviews, and even some on-site inspections of the makers. Apparently, apps that don’t agree to the through audit are banned outright. Apps that have grabbed data will be listed on https://www.facebook.com/help/yourinfo, if you want to check whether or not one has gotten your data.

It’s the third trial in 8 years in Silicon Valley for Apple and Samsung over smartphone intellectual property. This one is centered around the $500 million judgment Apple got in the last one.
The judge is the same one who heard both the previous trials. The jury will have to interpret a completely new (and extremely vague) test that came out of the US Supreme Court appeal of this case. The outcome could well re-write US patent law, in a way that could greatly affect makers of complex products such as electronics or electric cars.

Amazon Go appears to be coming to San Francisco. The Chronicle reports that they have their eyes on a site around Post and Kearny near Union Square. Amazon Go is the ‘frictionless’ shopping experience, where you simply log in with an app, pick what you want from the shelves, then just walk out and your account is automatically billed…no waiting in lines at the checkout. Amazon hasn’t commented, but there may be an announcement in a few weeks.

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Some Google I/O Highlights; iPhone X Plus Will Be Sized like iPhone 8 Plus; Twitter’s Unlaunched ‘Secret’ Messages

There was a lot to unpack at the keynote for Google I/O today, but here are a few highlights. It was announced that Android P will not only add gestures like the iPhone X has, but will use AI to predict what apps you’ll use in the near future. In addition, according to cnet.com, Google claims to save battery life with ‘adaptive brightness’ to control the screens brightness level based on your surroundings. for Gmail, they announced Smart Compose…which also uses AI to predict what you will write and suggests common phrases. Smart Compose should roll out in the next few weeks, but you can access it now by hitting ‘experimental access’ in your settings menu.

Google Assistant has gotten more conversational and smarter…it will now listen for up to 8 seconds, so you don’t have to keep saying ‘Hey, Google’ or ‘OK Google!’ Google Routines now allows you to design your own routines that launch simultaneous commands, much like Apple HomeKit Scenes. Before long, you will be able to order food for takeout or delivery on Android phones. Assistant now has 8 voices to choose from, including John Legend’s.

The upcoming iPhone X Plus, or whatever they end up calling the model this fall will be the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus…but with a 6.5 inch screen instead of the 8’s 5.5 inch screen! 9to5mac.com reports that the new king sized Apple hero phone will also be somewhat thicker, due to a reported larger camera sensor and larger lens. That tidbit comes by way of Macotakara. Both successors to the iPhone X will get horizontal Face ID unlock.

There is apparently a ‘secret conversation’ option hidden in Twitter’s Android app, that you could use to send encrypted direct messages. Techcrunch.com says the feature could keep users within Twitter instead of jumping over to Signal, Telegram, or WhatsApp for secure, private messages. Twitter had no comment about the feature, or if it would become available, but since it’s been coded and included, they could take it live, and hold on to those people needing secure private messaging, instead of losing those eyeballs to others.


Amazon Will Deliver Your ‘Junk’ to Your Trunk; Updated Gmail Bows; iPhone Unlocker GrayKey Hacked; Twitter Revenues Up..& Profit!

Amazon has launched a new service that gives its couriers access to a person’s vehicle for the purpose of leaving package deliveries inside. The service is in partnership with two major automakers — General Motors and Volvo — and will be rolling out in 37 cities in the US starting today. Theverge.com reports that initially, the service will only be available to Amazon Prime subscribers. who are also owners of 2015 or later GM and Volvo vehicles, with active OnStar and Volvo on Call accounts. Amazon says it plans to add other automobile brands over time. Packages that weigh over 50 pounds, are larger than 26 x 21 x 16 inches in size, require a signature, are valued over $1,300, or come from a third-party seller also are not eligible for in-car delivery. To access the new delivery service, add your car to your Amazon Key app and include a description of the vehicle, so Amazon’s couriers will be able to locate it. The car will need to be parked within a certain radius of an address used for Amazon deliveries, so either home or work. Driveways, parking lots, parking garages, and street parking are all eligible locations, Note that the courier will just send code to the Amazon Cloud, which contacts the OnStar or Volvo Cloud, and that service pops the trunk…Amazon doesn’t get access directly to unlock your car.

The freshened Gmail, with come new features, is live now. According to techcrunch.com, some highlights include an ever present sidebar with built in Google Calendar, Tasks, and Keep, and both snoozing and disappearing email (which Google calls Confidential Mode.) The confidential email can’t be forwarded, copied and pasted, or downloaded and printed…and goes ‘poof’ after a selectable amount of time. Another key feature is offline mode…you can save up to 90 days of email even when you aren’t connected to the web.

GrayKey, the unlocking system in a box that can crack an iPhone in 3 days…has been hacked. 9to5mac.com says part of their code leaked onto the internet, and the leaker has demanded $15,000 from the company…which happens to be the price of an entry level GrayKey device. Turnabout is fair play, it would appear!

Here’s a headline we haven’t seen in a while…well, actually ever! Twitter’s revenue was up 21% year over year first quarter, and the company made a profit! 9to5google.com reports that Twitter beat Wall Street expectations, with a net income of $61 million, and daily active users increased by 10%. Twitter also Tweeted out their updated privacy policy yesterday, and emailed about it early this morning. Video now accounts for more than half Twitter’s ad revenue.


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.


Amazon Augmented Reality Shopping for iPhone; Google ‘Advanced Protection System’; New Entry Level GoPro Next Year

IKEA has it, not Amazon joins the party in a big way. The party is the augmented reality shopping party. Geekwire.com reports that the latest Amazon app update for iPhone 6S and above running iOS 11 includes an augmented reality feature. We tried it out yesterday, and noted a couple ways it works. One, you can open the app, point the cam at an object…I used my coffee table…and Amazon will show you a slew of other tables. You can also pick an item and use the app to virtually place it in your room…I tried a lamp, and it was pretty cool to see it virtually appear on my messy coffee table on top of the books and magazines! Hey, just in time for the holidays, a way to spend more….and with Amazon’s countdown to Black Friday in full swing, enjoy your augmented shopping!

Most any true techie will tell you that any passwords can be hacked with time and trouble. Now, Google is rolling out a solution…a tried and true system that will work, but some will hate. Yep, it’s a DONGLE. According to zenet.com, the $20 solution, which is made like a key fob you can put your physical keys on, will be made available first to politicians and lawmakers, business leaders, activists, and reporters…the people most likely to be hacked. There are two keys involved as part of two factor ID…a Feitian key to wirelessly authenticate your computer or phone over Bluetooth and a Yubikey that can be used in a USB port. They only work with real Google pages, so phishing sites are out of luck. If you lose the dongle, you will be locked out for a few days while Google determines that you are really you and unlocks your account. One catch…besides having to plug in and push a button…the system only works directly with Google accounts, so you won’t be able to get your gmail over Apple’s mail on an iPhone or Microsoft Outlook.

GoPro has had a rough couple years, with layoffs, dropped products, and closed departments in an effort to turn a profit. Now, theverge.com says that corner has been turned, and GoPro made money third quarter. In addition to rolling out a new flagship cam, the Hero 6 Black this fall, GoPro will be unveiling a new entry level cam to replace the original Hero Session in 2018. The cam maker said there will be additional products, but wouldn’t specify what they were.


Amazon Working on Alexa Powered Smart Specs; 2018 iPhones All Get Face ID; Gmail Finally Catches Up

Google has updated Glass on a small scale and on the down low after the uproar the original GlassHoles created. It’s been reported that Apple is also working on smart glasses, and now Amazon is working at putting Alexa into smart glasses. Babak Parviz, who founded Google Glass, has been working at Amazon since 2014. According to an Financial Times report picked up by thenextweb.com, Amazon is also working on a home security cam that would tie into its ‘ecosystem of products.’

Unless Apple’s new Face ID is absolutely and roundly despised and panned, expect it on all 2018 iPhones. That’s the take of KGI Securities’ MIng-Chi Kuo, probably the preeminent Apple analyst in the world. Appleinsider.com notes that the TrueDepth camera needed for Face ID can bring other cool and innovative applications. It is still possible that Apple will bring back TouchID under screens as a second biometric, which would allow for a second layer of authentication for secure apps like banking.

Google has finally given Gmail something most other email clients…and even Apple’s iMessage have had. Clickable links allow you to easily save and add names, addresses, and email addresses into your contact file, Google Maps, and clicking on a phone number will call it. Mashable.com reports that the rollout should be complete to everyone with Gmail in a couple more days.


Dueling Display Rumors for iPhone 8; Gmail Android App Adds Money Sending

Just yesterday, we had a rumor that the iPhone 8 would keep a flat screen as it goes to AMOLED. Now, macrumors.com says a new one points to a ‘slightly curved’ screen…not near as curved as a Samsung Galaxy Edge, but a gentle curve. Actually, the present iPhones curve at the edges very slightly, so it may be a matter of semantics or maybe it’s because Apple generally builds a number of different test models before settling on a final design. In this case, we may not really know for sure until fall.

Users of the Gmail app on Android can now send or request money with anyone, including those who don’t have a Gmail address, with just a tap. Mashable.com says
it’s designed to make exchanging money as easy as attaching a file. Just tap the attachment icon (the paperclip), then choose either send or request money. A pop-up window appears where you can input the amount and add a note, and send. The entire process takes place in the Gmail app — you don’t have to have Google Wallet installed. Recipients can configure it so the money they receive through Gmail goes directly into their bank account. There are no fees involved. A little late to the party, but Google joins PayPal, Venmo, Square Cash, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger in adding a cash sending feature.