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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Echo Show Will Connect to Security Cams; Vivo-1st Smartphone To Screen-Embed Fingerprint Sensor; Facebook Tests Securing Profile Pics

Amazon says the new Echo Show will connect to Nest, Ring, and other security cams via Alexa. According to geekwire.com, the $230 smart speaker with screen, which ships next week, will also talk to cams from August, Amcrest, EZViz, IC Realtime, Vivint, and Arlo….with just a simple command to Alexa like ‘show me the front door .’

Vivo may beat both Apple and Samsung to the punch, showing the 1st smartphone with a fingerprint sensor embedded in the screen at Mobile World Congress next week in Shanghai. Macrumors.com reports that a video leaked shows the Chinese maker’s phone being unlocked with a fingerprint. Samsung had to put a sensor on the back of the Galaxy S8, but the new Note may have an embedded sensor when it launches in August, and the iPhone 8 reportedly has the feature.

Facebook is testing out a feature aimed at protecting profile pictures from scammers. Techcrunch.com says it is being piloted in India right now. The so-called ‘photo guard’ will prevent other users fro downloading a profile pic or sharing it with others, prevent others from tagging using a profile pic, and prevent others from taking screenshots of another person’s profile pic…although that appears to be an Android only feature. If activated by the user, the optional guard will show a blue border and shield around your profile pic. If it tests out, look for Facebook to roll it out to other countries soon.


Apple Working on More Secure Future iPhones; Samsung Building 256 Gig Memory Smartphone Chips

In the middle of the dust up with the FBI over writing a software backdoor to hack it’s own iPhones, which Tim Cook has called ‘the software equivalent to cancer,’ Apple is working on making their phones even more impenetrable. Theverge.com reports that they are working to plug a troubleshooting feature that allows Apple to install new firmware on an iPhone to upgrade the operating system without inputting the user’s passcode. If they remove the feature, which security experts deem highly likely, they won’t be able to open up a backdoor no matter who wants one or tries to force them to.

Samsung has started mass producing 256 gig embedded chips, double what it had last year. According to engadget.com, they will run the Universal Flash Storage 2.0 standard, which will make them red twice as fast as current ones. These chips will not only give future phones the storage capacity of a lot of laptops, but will make it easy to store memory hogs like 4K movies…and transfer them faster using USB 3.0. It will also make it much more practical for phones to carry virtual reality content.


Samsung Rolls Out New Phablets & Smartphones

As widely leaked, Samsung showed a couple of new flagship smartphones today at their Unpacked event, and rolled out two new phablets…the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge +. Techcrunch.com notes that this is the first time they have had a major rollout event in August, hoping to get the drop on Apple, which will show new iPhones, iPads, and more on September 9th. The Note 5 continues with the 5.7 inch screen of the Note 4, but has 4 gigs of RAM, it’s thinner, and jumps the front cam up to 5 megapixels. The rear cam stays at 16. The Edge + increases in size from the 5.1 inch screen of the Edge to 5.7, and also gets the same memory and cameras as the Note. Both have built in wireless charging, but the charger pad is extra.

As previously reported, Windows 10 reports back all kinds of info about you to Microsoft. We covered how to turn it all off with privacy settings…and it’s a hassle. Now, arstechnica.com reports that some apps and servers continue to communicate with Redmond’s servers, EVEN after you opt out in the privacy settings. Worse, some connect to Microsoft through unencrypted channels, exposing users to their information being intercepted.


Find in iOS 9 Beta Points to Larger iPad

A developer running the beta of iOS 9 has found a hidden, larger keyboard layout in the system, according to theverge.com. The scaled up keyboard isn’t a dramatic departure from the present one, but does add a narrow top row of symbols keys, adds a redo key, a tab key, and a caps lock key. A widely rumored 12 inch plus iPad dubbed the ‘Pro’ is expected out later this year.

Engadget.com reports that Google has killed off the widely disliked bookmark manager, and reverted to the previous version. The cluttered, slower version can still be downloaded as an extension from the Chrome Web Store for those who really want it.

A security researcher was able to hack a page on Uber’s website, with a humorous result. Businessinsider.com says Uber’s micro-site on their website with a petition to get San Francisco to allow them to operate on Market Street had the flaw. The hacker was able to just key in ‘zipcode,’ instead of numbers. Being a security researcher, he didn’t dump malware code or steal information…he uploaded an ad for arch rival Lyft to Uber’s site!


Car Tech Helps Deal With Squirmy Kids

The 2015 Toyota Sienna van will let you use the built in microphone to holler at the kids. Engadget.com says your admonitions to Junior will come through the back speakers.

Immedia Semiconductor has a home security camera on Kickstarter. This one’s half the size of a smartphone, and runs $69. Gigaom.com reports that the killer feature is that it can run on a pair of batteries for a year, like a smoke detector.

There are lots of chat apps that delete your messages, but don’t you wish you could do that easily on Twitter and Facebook sometimes? Geekwire.com says Xpire is an iPhone app that lets you set delete times for your posts on those two social media platforms.


Android Wear Gets a Smartphone App

Android Wear, Google’s smart watch system, now has a companion app, according to tech crunch.com. The app lets you configure your smart watch on your Android phone’s bigger screen.

Engadget.com reports that scientists at Stanford, Harvard, MIT, and University of Sydney have gotten past a major hurdle in printing 3D organ replacements. They can now also print the blood vessels in them.

Apple has a new patent to make your devices more secure. 9t05mac.com says it automatically configures security and other settings of a device based on biosensors that determine the location and habits of the user.