• Apps

    by Published on 05-24-2019 09:45 AM
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    2. Apps



    With all the talk about Chinese backdoors and state-sponsored spying we must remember that our personal information is also at risk from entities closer to home. Case in point: Snapchat, whose employees have apparently been abusing access to user data, according to a new report from VICE. This is especially troubling for an ephemeral photo and video messaging service that first gained popularity as a sexting app.

    The tool used to access user accounts is known internally as SnapLion (as per the fake logo whipped up by a VICE artist above); more on that from the source:

    The tool was originally used to gather information on users in response to valid law enforcement requests, such as a court order or subpoena, two former employees said. Snap's "Spam and Abuse" team has access, according to one of the former employees, and a current employee suggested the tool is used to combat bullying or harassment on the platform by other users. An internal Snap email obtained by Motherboard says a department called "Customer Ops" has access to SnapLion. Security staff also have access, according to the current employee. The existence of this tool has not been previously reported.
    Data that can be retrieved using SnapLion includes user generated content (Snaps) and location information, plus the email addresses and phone numbers of users.

    From interviews with Snap employees VICE says that abuse was carried out by multiple individuals within the company, and occurred on multiple occasions. Read the full story at the link immediately below.

    Source: VICE

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    by Published on 05-16-2019 11:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    A special episode of The Vergecast this week features an interview with Mark Rifkin, a lawyer involved in a class action suit against Apple. Originally filed in 2011, Apple vs. Pepper argues that the iOS App Store is an unlawful monopoly; whereas Android (for example) offers alternative app stores and direct installs from developers, Apple gives you exactly two choices: deal with the App Store or have zero third-party apps on your phone. Because Apple takes a 30% commission on all App Store purchases, the plaintiffs argue that this fee is passed on to users, who again have nowhere else to go.

    The case has been making its way through the legal system for the past eight years. First, a lower court sided with Apple; then an appeals court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. This week the Supreme Court upheld the prior ruling against Apple, citing the precedent of Illinois Brick, a case where the state of Illinois sued a brick company for price-fixing. Without going into too much detail, that case was about who in the supply chain was the guilty party.

    Here's what Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh says about Apple:

    iPhone owners are not consumers at the bottom of a vertical distribution chain who are attempting to sue manufacturers at the top of the chain. There is no intermediary in the distribution chain between Apple and the consumer. The iPhone owners purchase apps directly from the retailer Apple, who is the alleged antitrust violator. The iPhone owners pay the alleged overcharge directly to Apple.
    In a statement to The Verge Apple asserts that its App Store "is not a monopoly by any metric", and will likely cite the very existence of Android as proof. But, according to Rifkin:

    “The fact that they have a [less than] 50 percent market share of smartphones doesn’t mean they don’t have a 100 percent share of the distribution of iPhone apps—which they absolutely do.”
    Have a listen to the 40-minute episode at the link immediately below.

    Source: The Verge

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    by Published on 05-10-2019 12:40 PM
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    2. Apps



    Okay, this is getting a bit ridiculous... after years of complaining about tap and pay on Android I finally have a OnePlus phone with a decent NFC radio and a stable version of Magisk that successfully hides root from Google's official tap and pay app.

    And it still doesn't work.

    Shame on me, I guess, for thinking I could use it with my AMEX card at a shop where AMEX isn't accepted. Since Google obfuscates your credit card number from the merchant I assumed that the type of credit card would similarly be hidden; I was wrong. I realize that it's only a matter of time until tap and pay finally starts working as promised, but this latest experience has me questioning yet again if I should even bother.

    Let's revisit the three pillars of Google Pay:

    Security
    Again, Google Pay hides my credit card number from the retailer, but here in Canada credit cards use Chip and PIN security which yields, for the user, pretty much the same result.

    Convenience
    Google Pay does at least let me leave my credit and debit cards at home, so if I get a hankering for Peanut M&Ms when I'm out getting exercise then I'm covered. But most of the time I carry my phone in my oversized wallet, so the value for me is dubious at best.

    Offers
    Google Pay is supposed to alert me of nearby offers as I make my way through the world. For the past week in downtown Toronto the number of said offers has been zero.

    I'm starting to wonder if the only real perk of using Google Pay is that Google gets to see all of your transactions on any registered card, whether you're using Google Pay or not. Is there something I'm missing here?

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    by Published on 04-02-2019 01:50 PM
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    2. Apps



    As of today, Google's "experiment" in re-imagining email is officially over, with Inbox joining a growing list of the company's abandoned apps and services.

    I can still remember the exact moment that I decided to try it out, while listening to The Verge crew sing its praises on their weekly podcast. Like Gmail you had to get an invite at launch; unlike Gmail it was only a few weeks before I got mine. And almost immediately thereafter I began using Inbox full-time.

    Less than four years later Google abruptly announced that Inbox would be shutting down. They promised at the time that its best features would be added to Gmail proper but, as 9to5Google reports, that promise has yet to be fulfilled. I'm still missing the very handy travel bundle, where I could see plane tickets and hotel reservations organized by date on a single screen. On Android I can use Google Trips, but for some reason that app no longer has a desktop counterpart.



    What I'll miss most about Inbox, though, was its elegant interface, which encouraged me to act on messages quickly and then file them away—when I did I'd get this nice little graphic as a reward. Gmail has it now too, but Inbox did it first.

    So rest in peace Inbox, and say hi to Google Reader for me.

    Sources: 9to5Google, The Verge (1) (2)

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    by Published on 03-26-2019 01:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Apple's Spring 2019 Event went down yesterday at the Steve Jobs Theater in California, promoted everywhere with the tag line: "it's show time". Indeed, as the many embedded YouTube videos in this post would suggest, Cupertino is leaning hard into traditional media. And also credit cards...?

    I'm already getting ahead of myself here; let's break it down:



    Apple Arcade

    This one is the lightest on details, a subscription service for games promised sometime this year. It seems to me that its announcement was primarily an attempt to steal some thunder from Google Stadia, with the main differentiator being that Apple Arcade titles can be played offline.

    Apple did say that it will launch, in both Canada and the United States, with more than 100 new and exclusive titles.



    Apple Card

    ... Or, more accurately, an Apple-branded virtual MasterCard from Goldman Sachs. Available this summer (USA-only), it will offer deep integration with Apple Pay, no extra fees and daily cashback rewards of up to 3% on purchases.

    One caveat that I spotted right away was that the cashback goes on a separate digital card within Apple Pay, and cannot be used to pay down your balance. On the plus side, you also get a nifty physical card made of titanium for anywhere Apple Pay isn't accepted.



    Apple News+

    Here's Apple's revamped subscription-based service for magazines and newspapers. It's available right now in the U.S. (for $9.99/month) and Canada ($12.99/month) via iOS 12.2 and the existing news app. You can also try before you subscribe with the first 30 days free.

    About 300 titles are currently available, some featuring animated "live covers".



    Apple TV+

    In addition to new premium TV channels that users can subscribe to à la carte, Apple is also launching a separate Plus package with original programming. Content partners who have already signed on include J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Steven Spielberg.

    The service is set for a wide launch this fall in 100 markets, including Canada. Pricing is TBA.

    Additional Sources: MacRumors (1) (2) (3), The Verge (1) (2)

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    by Published on 03-22-2019 02:40 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Here's evil in action on a whole new level: BuzzFeed is reporting on a new ad fraud scheme for Android apps that may run up extra charges on your data network, but will almost certainly drain your device's battery. I don't really understand the graphic above either, so here's the scam works—using the example of "Julien", an app developer:

    Julien sells a banner ad, which appears in the app and is visible to his users. Then, hidden from view behind that banner, fraudsters conceal auto-playing video ads that no human being actually sees, but which register as having been served and viewed. In this scenario, Julien gets paid for the small banner ad in his app that users see, but the fraudsters earn many times that amount by stuffing far more lucrative video ads behind the banner. Ultimately, it’s the brands whose ads were shown in hidden video players that lose money to those running the scheme.
    According to BuzzFeed, this scam streams as many as 60 million unseen video ads per month, and is a $20 billion annual business for fraudulent advertisers. This might be a good time to remind you of the existence of ad blockers. I've heard good things about AdGuard, but nothing beats AdAway if you've got root.

    Links: AdAway, AdGuard, BuzzFeed

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    by Published on 02-12-2019 01:40 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    What, this confusing banner graphic from a random foreign-language YouTube video doesn't make things abundantly clear for you? Fine... It seems that the music streaming service Spotify updated its Terms of Service recently, and eagle-eyed tech bloggers noticed this clause:

    The following is not permitted for any reason whatsoever:

    10. Circumventing or blocking advertisements in the Spotify Service, or creating or distributing tools designed to block advertisements in the Spotify Service.
    Unfortunately the headlines that resulted—like The Verge's "Spotify bans ad blockers in updated Terms of Service"—are more than a little misleading. Over the weekend I watched as a bunch of confused redditors tried to figure this out in a thread on r/Android.

    Eventually they did, and it boils down to this: Spotify's warning is meant for users running modded APKs that filter out audio ads from the free version of their service. if you're running Spotify on a device with a system-wide ad-blocker like AdAway or Blockada, you almost certainly have nothing to worry about.

    You can Google "hacked Spotify apk" if you like to get an idea of what's out there, just don't bother downloading anything from the results—or your free account might be terminated, remember?

    As a paying subscriber I honestly have no idea if there are visual ads in the app; if there were then sure, AdAway would probably block them, thereby violating the ToS. But then again, I can't imagine Spotify being impacted by this, as someone streaming music through their phone isn't likely to be staring at the album art for any significant length of time.

    Sources: Spotify, The Verge via r/Android

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    by Published on 02-08-2019 02:35 PM
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    2. Apps



    Ditto for Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com and Singapore Airlines. All of these apps—on both Android and iOS as far as I can tell—use a customer experience analytics firm called Glassbox. Here's how they themselves describe their own tech:

    Imagine if your website or mobile app could see exactly what your customers do in real time, and why they did it? This is no longer a hypothetical question, but a real possibility. This is Glassbox.
    The obvious security risk here is that each of the apps in question holds sensitive user information, not only email and physical addresses but credit card numbers as well. Glassbox gives app developers tools to mask this data (quite literally, with black boxes) but guess what? They don't always work. Check out this screencast from The App Analyst:



    Since the story broke, Air Canada reached out to TechCrunch with this official statement:

    “Air Canada uses customer provided information to ensure we can support their travel needs and to ensure we can resolve any issues that may affect their trips [...] This includes user information entered in, and collected on, the Air Canada mobile app. However, Air Canada does not—and cannot—capture phone screens outside of the Air Canada app.”
    Way to miss the point there, AC.

    Apple too, has responded to the situation, threatening immediate action for any app recording screens without explicit user consent. Nothing from Google yet...

    Sources: TechCrunch (1) (2) via The App Analyst

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    by Published on 12-13-2018 03:25 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Canadians who rely on mass transit in the province of Ontario should be pleased to hear that there's finally an app for that. Metrolinx has announced a limited beta of a new PRESTO app for both Android and iOS.

    Anyone who wants to tap on or off with their phone, however, will unfortunately have to wait. From Mobile Syrup:

    The Android version of the app disappointingly doesn’t feature the ability to instantly pay by swiping the phone near a Presto machine, though Metrolinx says that functionality is coming in future versions.

    Given how tightly guarded Apple is with the iPhone’s NFC functionality, it remains unclear if the ability to validate a transit trip at a Presto kiosk will ever come to the tech giant’s smartphone.
    Aren't people doing this stuff on their wrists now...?

    Also, there's a stern warning that the Android app won't run on rooted Android devices, but not to worry—Magisk Hide will instantly fix that.

    Sources: @aczerny on Twitter via iPhone in Canada, Mobile Syrup

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    by Published on 11-13-2018 03:15 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Cloudflare's public 1.1.1.1 DNS has been available since April, but there's been no way to use it with your mobile carrier's data network. That is until now. Available for both Android and iOS, the app allows you to switch your DNS resolver with a single tap, as seen above. For why you might want to do this, here's a Linus Tech Tips video, posted shortly after 1.1.1.1 made its debut:



    So, to summarize, you can (potentially) enjoy lower latency and increased privacy just by switching your DNS. There are other alternative DNS resolvers out there—Google being the notable example—but as of right now Cloudflare's is by far the easiest to use on your mobile device.

    Source: Cloudflare via SlashGear

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    by Published on 11-09-2018 03:28 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps



    For us few, proud Pebblers desperately hanging on to our favourite smartwatch it seems inevitable that it's going to suffer a death by a thousand cuts. I've just learned on reddit (via this post) that version 9 of Android comes with some unknown "improvement" that breaks call display for all Pebbles connected with the official app.

    Pebbles connected via Gadgetbridge aren't affected. Then again, Gadgetbridge doesn't support Rebble.io features like weather and voice replies.

    For those of us connected via Rebble there is thankfully an Android (and companion Pebble) app that purports to fix this critical functionality. It's called Dialer for Pebble, and can be found on both F-Droid and Google Play.

    Before you go ahead and try it, though, be aware of two potential issues: First, it brings the grand total of required apps on your Android device to three—the Pebble app (obviously), Wear OS (for additional notification support) and now this Dialer app. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it may not even work. Here's a telling comment from a related r/Pebble thread:

    After a back and forth with matejdro [the developer] about how Dialer hangs on my Pixel XL with Pie, a Time Steel (two, actually—I tested with a second watch) and Rebble, I've uninstalled Dialer.

    The problem has been that Dialer hangs (for lack of a better term) and prevents any subsequent notifications from coming through until I notice and cancel Dialer. Then it works until the next hang.
    If any Pebblers have a better experience with this solution kindly let the rest of us know. I myself am going back to the Amazfit Bip for the time being; I'm sure the Chinese government has missed my daily step counts...

    Sources: r/Pebble (1) (2)
    Links: Dialer for Pebble on F-Droid / Google Play

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    by Published on 10-25-2018 02:55 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Vlad Savov—yeah, that's him above—has uploaded some before and after images to The Verge, captured with and without a modded version of the Pixel 3 camera app. I'd say the results pretty much speak for themselves.

    To be clear, Google's Night Sight feature is still very much in testing, and this unofficial app merely has the cuttlefish (aka Night Sight) flag set to "on". Visit this XDA link for additional technical details, plus their own gallery of impressive comparison shots.

    If you blow up the source for the image on the right it's by no means sharp; on the other hand Google is basically turning night into day here, so I'm not going to ding them too much on image quality.

    If you really want to be amazed be sure to check out the other images on The Verge—they've got some sort of web plugin that overlays a slider onto each photo, showing the before and after on either side of it. Even in its current pre-release state Night Sight seems nothing short of magic.

    Links: The Verge, XDA

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    by Published on 08-23-2018 03:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps



    Once again, it's summer vacation time for yours truly, and before I set off I thought I'd share some travel wisdom in regards to airlines and their mobile apps. After a decade of pining for paperless check-in it's now very much a thing, but after getting this notification from China Airlines' spiffy Android app I went straight to my desktop computer to check in online and print out boarding passes the old fashioned way. Here's why...

    The girlfriend and I are actually starting our journey from Toronto on Air Canada. When we check our bags for that first flight I'm going to ask if they can be also checked through on China Airlines to our final destination; if Air Canada can facilitate that request I'll then hand over our paper boarding passes from China Airlines, instead of two smartphones whose screens will timeout and will have to be unlocked every sixty seconds by a fingerprint and pattern, respectively.

    We'll then request paper boarding passes for our Air Canada flight, so that we don't have to hand over the same smartphones that contain our entire digital lives to a security official who might decide, for whatever reason, that a further inspection of our digital lives is necessary.

    It's not that we've anything to hide; when it comes to our travel plans it's really quite the opposite. My pre-travel printing spree also includes two complete sets of airline tickets and hotel reservations, which I'll leave in each of our unlocked suitcases, along with scans of our passports, in the event that they get misdirected somewhere along the way. And lest you think I'm some kind of tree-hating monster, the pages will be shredded and recycled upon our return home.

    To sum up, paper still has its place in 21st century travel, for your security and the convenience of everyone you'll interact with along the way. Thanks for indulging; I expect to be back on regular duty on Monday, September 10th.

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    by Published on 08-16-2018 03:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    This just in: recording phone calls will no longer be possible (at least without root) on devices running Android 9 Pie. The developer of the popular ACR app (which I use) took to his own issue tracker to explain:

    Official call recording API was discontinued on Android 6 by Google on the grounds of user privacy. Luckily, few developers found a workaround and it worked up until Android 8.1. Sadly, we have learnt that Google has closed that workaround on Android 9.
    According to Android Police the issue isn't so much user privacy as it is local laws on call recording. In Germany, for example, all parties in any call must agree to be recorded, whereas current privacy laws here in Canada require only one party consent. While I generally respect other people's privacy, I'm of the strong opinion that calls to businesses are absolutely fair game for recording—especially when you consider that they almost always record you and provide no way to opt out.

    And the war on general purpose computing continues...

    Links: ACR Issue Tracker via Android Police, Cory Doctorow

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    by Published on 08-14-2018 03:15 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Apps



    By now you've probably seen some version of the AP exclusive about Google and your location history. In a nutshell, Google services continue to track your whereabouts, whether you want them to or not. And to be perfectly clear, this happens on both Android and iOS.

    Among smartphone users I can picture a spectrum of reactions, from a dismissive shrug to a tinfoil hat:

    "Who cares? I've got nothing to hide."

    I can't say that I 100% agree with this; to paraphrase Ed Snowden, dismissing privacy because you've got nothing to hide is like dismissing free speech because you've got nothing to say.

    But it does remind me of a chat I once had with a so-called security expert, who at the time insisted that his clients refrain from using any of Google's products. "Wouldn't that make you more suspicious?" I asked him, and he eventually came to agree with me that security through obscurity is a defensible strategy to protect one's privacy.

    "Granting Google access to some of my personal data in order to use their services is a fair exchange."

    This is where I currently find myself on this particular issue. Not only do I keep my location history turned on, but I share it with the girlfriend on an ongoing basis. That way both her and Google know if I stop in at Dairy Queen when I'm not supposed to.

    That said, if you do opt out of location tracking then it's a reasonable expectation that you shouldn't be tracked.

    "Of course Google is spying on you. Don't you know they're funded by the CIA? Wake up, sheeple!"

    That's certainly possible, but... I dunno.

    What mostly concerns me about surveillance in this part of the world is that it's not at all transparent. Everybody knows that WeChat shares user data with the Chinese government, yet it takes a Snowden to reveal it here. I'm not saying that China is better, only that North America seems to be about as bad.

    So that's my two cents. What do you make of this latest revelation about Google and location tracking?

    Source: Associated Press

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    by Published on 08-03-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    After their disastrous earnings call last week it's understandable that Facebook would want to squeeze some revenue out of WhatsApp, the standalone messaging platform with over a billion active users sending 65 billion messages each and every day. Thankfully, they're not planning on dumping ads into everyone's message and group feeds but will instead give businesses tools to connect with customers, and then charge them for it.

    Here's how it will work: Businesses will be able to buy ad space on Facebook (and presumably other ad networks) with an embedded click-to-chat button that will open a new message thread directly in WhatsApp. There will be no cost for this service to the user, but the business will have to pay a surcharge if they don't respond to a customer query within 24 hours. Users will have the additional option of blocking the business at any time, to prevent being spammed.

    About 90 companies have already signed up to test the service, including Singapore Airlines, Uber and Wish. If the ads aren't already live they should be soon.

    Sources: WhatsApp Blog via The Verge

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    by Published on 07-16-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    France won the title, but an unexpected MVP has been revealed at this year's World Cup. From The New York Times:

    The defining image of this World Cup is fans from all over the planet, hosts and visitors alike, holding their cellphones out to each other to conduct conversations in languages they have never learned and would never claim to speak. This has been the Google Translate World Cup.
    I can certainly appreciate how invaluable the app would be to anyone visiting Russia; I spent a week or so in Moscow in 2010, and only because I had friends living there who could shepherd me around. But even in the big city basic English was never guaranteed, and trying to decipher Cyrillic on Moscow's metro system? Забудь об этом!

    Back then Google Translate wasn't even a viable option, but it's been steadily improving in the years since. According to the Times, the app currently boasts half a billion daily users and upwards of 150 billion daily translations. The many nuances of language might still lie beyond Translate's reach, but for basic interactions it seems to do the trick. Поздравляю!

    Source: New York Times

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    by Published on 07-05-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Apps



    What we're looking at here is a bunch of Android phones being tested by researchers at Northeastern University, seeking to prove or disprove the popular conspiracy theory that apps like Facebook passively spy on you through your phone's microphone to show you ads based on your conversations with others.

    The researchers analyzed Internet traffic generated from 10 Android phones and 17,260 apps, and found no unauthorized transmission of audio. They did, however, find evidence of apps recording screen activity and sending those recordings on to third parties.

    Gizmodo's reporting of this story cites the specific example of goPuff, an app that enables the delivery of junk food to college students. Researchers found that this app was surreptitiously sending screen recordings to an analytics company called Appsee, which has an entire page devoted to their screen recording technology:

    Every tap, swipe, and action of every screen is recorded, allowing you to gain instant insights of your app’s user experience [...] Even one video can illustrate an obstacle that many of your users are grappling with. That’s why you have complete control in terms of the ratio of recorded users. You can even choose to record sessions based on parameters such as which screens they visit, their demographics, or their mobile device OS.
    There's even a video demo of a recorded screen:



    According to Appsee's CEO, the offending app violated his company's terms of service, as any screen recordings must be disclosed to users. The developers of goPuff have since added a disclosure to their privacy policy. Google itself has also weighed in on the matter; in an email to Gizmodo a spokesperson said that Appsee's screen recordings may put developers at risk of violating Google's Play Store policy.

    Source: Gizmodo

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    by Published on 06-22-2018 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    It wasn't so long ago that mobile video, captured in portrait mode and uploaded to YouTube, would appear on that site sideways. That issue has since been fixed, but Instagram is taking vertical video one step further with their new video sharing platform, called IGTV.



    Instagram is pitching IGTV as a mobile-first video sharing platform for "creators". Videos can be up to an hour long and uploaders can have public channel listings, just like YouTube. Besides the addressable audience of a billion Instagram users worldwide, the incentive to host videos on IGTV will be eventual monetization through the inevitable blight of inline ads.

    So what to "creators" think of IGTV? Here's Marques Brownlee on that very subject:



    The official IGTV app is already available for Android and iOS, and the service itself is rolling out right now to all parts of the world.

    Source: Instagram

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    by Published on 06-20-2018 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    As of this morning Google has no less than four Android apps for music, podcasts and video, with more than a few redundancies between them. The most confounding of the lot has to be YouTube Music, but its existence is more easily understood if you know your recent Internet history. Here's a quick and dirty refresher.

    Google Play Music

    GPM was launched in late 2011, and was part of the reason behind the Android Market's re-branding as Google Play. Google's app store (now Google Play Apps) was joined by an ebook store (Google Play Books) a video store (Google Play Movies) and GPM, likely an answer to the growing popularity of Spotify.

    Like Spotify, GPM users could pay for a premium subscription to stream specific albums and tracks on-demand, or listen for free and endure the occasional ad. Unlike Spotify, GPM users could also upload tracks from their own music collection. In 2016 GPM added podcast support, presumably to lure users (and their listening habits) away from the more popular Pocket Casts app.

    YouTube

    Wait a minute, YouTube isn't a music player... It is, however, the key to understanding YouTube Music. Open for uploads in 2005, YouTube predates GPM by 6 years, and during that time it became a popular practice for YouTubers to upload playlists or entire albums (legal or not) as video files, with high quality audio tracks and either a static graphic or simple animation for visuals.

    In many markets and demographics YouTube is far more popular as a music platform than Google Play Music. This, along with the added pressure of rights holders angry over pirated music streams, inevitably let to the creation of—you guessed it...

    YouTube Music

    At Google, everything is supposedly driven by user data; in that context it makes perfect sense to apply their video brand to a music streaming service. But if the goal is to replace GPM (and it should be) Google's still got some work to do. Tracks uploaded to GPM are not yet available on YouTube Music. Even worse, unless you have a paid subscription the YTM stream on your phone will immediately stop the moment your screen goes dark.

    Podcasts

    Instead of focusing their efforts on a better YTM experience Google has decided instead to release a standalone podcast app. Again, if the goal is to migrate users away from GPM (and again, it should be) this makes sense. But with the current state of YTM no one is going to stop using GPM anytime soon, so a dedicated podcast app is a bit premature.

    And that, in a nutshell, is Google's current music (and podcast) mess, and how I believe it came to be.

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