Google can apparently revoke the software program licenses from Android TV makers if in addition they make units working sure forked variations of its working system, together with Amazon Hearth TV, according to a new report from Protocol. In the event that they do, Google’s licensing phrases for Android reportedly dictate that these TV makers would now not have the ability to run the Play Retailer and Google apps on any units they make, together with telephones and tablets.
The insurance policies, which fall underneath the Android Compatibility Dedication, seem to spell out that units that need entry to the Play Retailer should run a model of Android that’s appropriate with the Google-approved model of Android. Meaning if TV makers wish to have the Play Retailer on their TVs, they’ll’t make TVs with different working methods — like, for instance, Amazon’s competing Hearth TV. Protocol experiences that this allowed Google to bar a few of its companions from additionally working with its sensible dwelling rival Amazon.
Going towards Google’s strict licensing phrases might be doubtlessly disastrous for TV makers who additionally make smartphones that run Android, like LG or Samsung. That’s as a result of the phrases of the Android Compatibility Dedication additionally imply that if a TV maker opted to make use of Hearth TV on its TVs, it wouldn’t have the ability to put the Play Retailer or Google apps on its telephones, both. That will seemingly make these telephones considerably much less in style with customers.
Google didn’t particularly reply to a query from The Verge about whether or not it barred TV producers from providing each Android TV and Amazon Hearth TV of their product strains. The corporate did say it places Android TV units that supply Google’s providers and the Play Retailer via safety evaluation and compatibility testing to guard person information privateness and safety. The corporate additionally argued that it tries to supply constant and safe software program experiences with vetted variations of Android, and that apps could not work like customers anticipate on an Android gadget that’s hasn’t been run via the corporate’s compatibility testing course of.
Nonetheless, it needs to be famous that each Google and Amazon are dealing with an uphill battle towards Roku in TV OS adoption. Over 30 p.c of all new TV streaming units bought within the US within the first quarter of final 12 months ran Roku software program, based on a Technique Analytics report published last June. Amazon’s Hearth TV accounted for 12 p.c of units bought, whereas Android TV counted for less than 9 p.c.
Notice that these numbers embody the gross sales of each streaming containers and TVs working Roku’s, Amazon’s, or Google’s software program. However they nonetheless present that though Google could also be protecting Amazon from powering extra sensible TVs, each of the tech giants nonetheless have a protracted solution to go to overhaul Roku.
Arizona sues Google over claims it illegally tracked location of Android users
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has filed a lawsuit against Google over allegations the company illegally tracked Android users’ location without their consent and even when the location tracking features had been manually disabled, according to a report from The Washington Post.
The suit argues Google kept location tracking running in the background for certain features, like weather and for web searches using its search engine and Chrome browser, even after the user disabled app-specific location tracking. Only when a user dug further into the Android system settings and turned off broader system-level tracking did Google stop surreptitiously siphoning location data, the complaint argues.
Google has found itself in similar controversies in the past over location tracking of Android users. The company has responded to privacy concerns over the years with various stopgap measures like making it easier to auto-delete your location data, and cracking down on offending third-party apps that do so without consent. But its efforts to improve privacy protections and the various settings you need to monitor to ensure you’re not being overly tracked remain complex and confusing to average users, and it can often seem impossible to keep tabs on just how much Google knows about you and what sources of data it maintains.
Brnovich is asking a court force Google to pay back profits it may have earned from monetizing this data through ads served to Arizona residents. The Post says Arizona’s anti-fraud laws also might subject Google to $10,000 per fine violations. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“At some point, people or companies that have a lot of money think they can do whatever the hell they want to do, and feel like they are above the law,” Brnovich told The Post in an interview. “I wanted Google to get the message that Arizona has a state consumer fraud act. They may be the most innovative company in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re above the law.”
Google and its YouTube subsidiary, as well as the other major tech companies, are facing a number of regulatory and legal quagmires right now, following antitrust and privacy enforcement in the European Union that resulted in multi-billion fines against Google over the last decade.
Now, US politicians and regulators are following suit and have begun engaging in a broad and coordinated effort across the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and state legislators to reign in Big Tech and enforce antitrust, privacy, and other laws. These are rules Silicon Valley has largely flouted over the last couple of decades as lawmakers failed to keep up with the pace of technological change and the scale of Big Tech’s ability to exploit loopholes and skirt regulation for monetary gain and market consolidation.
YouTube settled with the FTC last year for violations of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), while Google is currently under investigation by all 50 state attorneys general and the subject of a broader antitrust probe led by the Justice Department.
Gmail’s latest update makes it easier to change the look of your inbox
Accessing the plethora of settings hidden in Gmail can be a pain, but it’s about to get a little easier. Google is rolling out a quick settings menu, which offers a sampling of options that let you adjust the look of your inbox without leaving the page. Once this new tweak arrives on your account, it will activate automatically, and you won’t have to leave the page to see the visual changes you make to your inbox.
The quick settings menu contains an option to change the density of information displayed (between default, comfortable, or compact). It also lets you choose which emails you want to have prioritized in your inbox. Another option lets you add a reading pane so you can see an email’s contents without actually opening it. Lastly, you can adjust your Gmail theme from the quick settings menu.
You’ll still need to drill into the full list of settings if you want to, say, make a vacation response for some out-of-office time. Google’s putting a link to all of those options right at the top of the quick settings menu, and it mentioned in a press release for this feature that no new features are being added to Gmail. This is simply a nip and tuck of previous features to make its email service a little easier to use.
The rollout has begun for personal Gmail accounts as well as G Suite users who work at corporations on Google’s rapid-release track. If you don’t notice the quick settings menu soon, your workplace might be on Google’s scheduled release track. If that’s the case, the quick settings menu won’t begin rolling out until June 22nd.
Google now lets businesses clarify what services they offer during the pandemic
Google will soon let businesses add additional descriptors to their listings that appear in Google Search and Maps results to better help potential customers understand what a business offers at a glance. The company is adding these new descriptors and announcing a number of other features today to help businesses better surface important information for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new descriptors, which Google calls “attributes,” are short notes that show up under other business information on a listing. A yoga studio that offers virtual lessons could add an “online classes” attribute, for example. Business owners can add one attribute, though their businesses will have to be verified by Google to use the feature. Here’s a screenshot from Google to give you an idea of what attributes may look like:
Google is also expanding a tool called Reserve with Google that lets people book appointments directly from a listing. Google previously offered integrations with more than 100 service-booking partners for in-person services, but now businesses can offer appointments for online services via those partners. Businesses will also be able to specify how to attend the online appointment or class right from the listing.
There are a few new features for restaurants, too. Restaurants will soon be able to specify their preferred delivery or takeout partner company in their business listing, and Google is now letting restaurants that are takeout- or delivery-only (sometimes called virtual or cloud kitchens) apply to become verified businesses.
Google is also letting more businesses across the globe add links to direct donations or buy a gift card right in their business listings. Google first said these links were available to businesses in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand on May 11th, but Google is rolling out the feature for businesses in 18 more countries, including Italy, Spain and Japan, starting today.
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