Google To Overhaul Ad Tracking System On Android Devices

File photo: Google on Friday, January 14, agreed to buy a central London building complex for $1 billion, but stressed it remained committed to new hybrid working patterns in the wake of Covid.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Google announced plans Wednesday to limit ad tracking on its Android operating system, a sensitive privacy issue that rival Apple has already moved to address on its iPhones.

Tech giants are under growing pressure to better balance privacy and ad-targeting, as users complain, regulators threaten tougher rules, but the companies themselves try to maintain access to the data key to their many billions in ad revenue.

Apple and Google’s operating software run on the majority of the world’s smartphones, thus any changes they make to their policies have the potential to impact billions of users.

“Our goal… is to develop effective and privacy enhancing advertising solutions, where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile,” Google said in a statement.

For its part, Apple announced last year that users of its one billion iPhones in circulation can decide whether to allow their online activity to be tracked for the purpose of targeting ads.

It was a change which Apple said shows its focus is on privacy, but that critics noted does not prevent the company itself from tracking its users.

Apple’s tweak has sent ripples through the tech world, with Facebook parent Meta saying it expects that policy to cost the social media giant $10 billion in lost revenue this year.

A heavy impact is expected because less data will impact the precision of the ads Meta and other companies can sell, and thus their price.

– Online advertising billions –

Google gave an indication of the timing of its announced changes, saying “we plan to support existing ads platform features for at least two years, and we intend to provide substantial notice ahead of any future changes.”

At present, the internet search giant assigns an identity to Android-powered devices, which enables advertisers to have a profile of people’s habits and thus send them ads they might be interested in.

Google said it is working on ways to better protect users’ privacy, which would “limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID.”

It contrasted its plans with Apple’s moves, saying, “we realize that other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers.”

While Google argued that the changes would protect users’ anonymity, it could also further strengthen the dominance the tech giant already holds over the digital advertising industry.

Google’s parent Alphabet pulled in over $60 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021 just in ad revenue, which makes up over 80 percent of its income.

But new pressure to change is building on Big Tech due to advancing landmark European legislation that could set unprecedented oversight, and similar efforts are underway in the United States.

The Facebook whistleblower scandal last year boosted regulation efforts long-stalled by sharp partisan divides in Washington, but for the moment no major legislation has gotten significant momentum.

In the absence of action from the federal government legislation or rules, states have launched their own lawsuits.

In one such complaint filed in January, multiple states accuse Google of tracking users’ location data despite leading consumers to believe they could protect their privacy on its services.

Google To Pay Russia $6.75m For Android Antitrust Violations

Google, Russia, AndroidGlobal search giant, Google has been fined 438 million rubles ($6.75 million) by Russia’s anti-monopoly watchdog.

The IT Company was penalised on Thursday after it was discovered that it had breached the competition rules with its Android mobile operating system.

Reports say Google was accused of violating the laws by bundling, or pre-loading, a suite of apps on mobile phones for sale at the Russian market.

Russian authorities have asked the company to slacken the restrictions it placed on device makers.

Google acknowledged that it had received the notice of the fine from the Federation Anti-monopoly Service (FAS).

“We have received notice of the fine from FAS and will analyse it closely before deciding our next steps.

“In the meantime, we continue to talk to all invested parties to help consumers, device manufacturers and developers thrive on Android in Russia,” Google said.

Channels TV Ranked Number One News Station With Best Use Of Social Media

Channels Television is the number one news organisation making the best use of social media in Nigeria.

This is according to the Alder Social Media Report for 2014, put together by Alder Consulting, a creative intelligence company in Nigeria.

According to the report, Channels Television came first on three levels of ranking – expert ranking, popular ranking and overall ranking – ahead of other online news media; Punch and Sahara Reporters.

Channels Television was identified as the top news organisation which effectively uses social media to connect and engage users of the new media.

This is no surprise as Channels Television has the highest followership on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus ahead of other television stations in Nigeria.

Recently, Channels Television’s YouTube subscriber base hit 100, 000, making the 8-time Nigerian Television Station of the Year, the fourth station in Africa to reach and surpass the mark.

Channels also has approximately 300,000 downloads for its mobile app across various platforms including the Windows, Android, Apple and Blackberry. The Channels TV YouTube Channel has also been viewed over 14 million times.

In the latest Alder Social Media Report, Channels Television is also rated among the top three Nigerian brands known for providing up-to-date information, as well as relevant information using the social media platform.

Apple Unveils iTunes Radio, Revamps iOS

Apple Inc unveiled a music streaming service called iTunes Radio and new mobile software on Monday, in the biggest redesign of its operating system since the original iPhone was introduced in 2007.

The new software, designated iOS 7 and announced at Apple’s annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, sports a streamlined design, employs translucency and a fresh palette of colors, and features animation in apps.

Apple’s iTunes Radio, one of the more highly anticipated features of the new iOS 7, comes free, supported by ads across many devices including iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV.

Much like rival Pandora Media Inc’s Internet radio, the service – which launches in the fall, months after Google Inc’s “All Access” on-demand competitor debuted – allows listeners to customize their own radio stations by genre, skip songs multiple times, or just tune in to some 200 featured stations.

Apple has been talking to record companies for the past year in hopes of getting the service off the ground, seen as crucial to retaining users as music consumption grows alongside smartphone use. It will also come free of ads for customers who subscribe to Match, another Apple music service.

Executives also showed off a new line of Macbook Air computers. They gave a sneak peek at a cylindrical Mac Pro desktop, in a rare preview of upcoming hardware. And, in a continuation of efforts over the past year to wean itself off arch-rival Google’s services such as maps, Apple’s updated Siri voice software on the iPhone will turn to Microsoft Corp’s less-popular Bing as its default in-app search engine.

Previously, Siri handled Web search queries by asking users if they would like to access Google, which dominates Internet searches. With iOS 7 however, users can still choose to ask specifically for Google results.

The latest Macs will run a new computer operating system christened OSX Mavericks – named after a famous California surfing spot and a departure from Apple’s penchant for naming software after big cats like Mountain Lion.

The real makeover was reserved for iOS 7, a smartphone and tablet platform overhauled by resident creative honcho, Jonathan Ive. It comes with a new edge-to-edge look that uses translucency to highlight underlying content, new typefaces, and new icons. Apple plans to release iOS 7 in the fall.

It will support multitasking for all apps.

“It’s the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone,” said Chief Executive Tim Cook.

Robert Brunner, founder of design consultancy Ammunition and a former design head at Apple, said it was past time Apple changed the look of software that had become “busier and busier” visually and, to some degree, busier and busier functionally.

“The iOS look and feel had become long in the tooth,” said Brunner, who hired Ive while he was at Apple. “So what Jony has done is really gone in and cleaned it up. He made it feel more sophisticated, more modern.”

“It seems like quite a lot to have done in a relatively short period of time,” said Brunner, who uses an iPhone.

“MY ASS”

The conference, whose tickets sold out in just over a minute after they went on sale in April, comes as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd solidified its lead in the smartphone market in the first quarter with a 33 percent share followed by Apple with 18 percent, according to market research firm IDC.

Cook is under pressure to show that the company that created the smartphone and tablet markets is not slowing as deep-pocketed competitors like Samsung and Google encroach on its market.

Investor concerns center on whether Apple will be able to come up with more groundbreaking products as the smartphone and tablet markets get more crowded. In April, Apple reported its first quarterly profit decline in more than a decade.

Marketing chief Phil Schiller offered the audience a sneak peek at Apple’s upcoming new Mac Pro, its top-of-the-line computer. The computer has a sleek cylindrical chassis that he said will feature several times the processing and memory speed and power of the previous generation.

It will be released later this year and be assembled in the United States, Schiller said.

“Can’t innovate any more, my ass,” Schiller said as he showed off the new Mac Pro. “This is a machine unlike anything we’ve ever made.”

Apple’s stock has fallen 37 percent after touching a high of $705 in September as competition in the smartphone market escalated. Some investors believe the company is struggling to come up with original new products since the death of cofounder and former CEO Steve Jobs in 2011.

The redesigned iOS comes after Cook ousted former chief mobile software architect and 15-year Apple veteran Scott Forstall last November, in a sweeping management move that also gave Ive more control of the look-and-feel of both hardware and software.

Some industry experts have criticized Apple’s mobile operating software, which has retained its general look and feel since its inception, for looking somewhat dated.

“The iPhone was the first real smartphone for a lot of people so it had to be really basic,” said Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, which makes note-taking software for smartphones. “Now the training-wheels are starting to come off a little bit.”

Among some of the other features introduced was “activation lock,” an anti-theft security enhancement that prevents unauthorized resetting of the device.

Cook told the audience of developers that Apple’s App Store now has 900,000 apps that have been downloaded a total of 50 billion times.

Apple’s stock dipped 0.66 percent to close at $438.89 on the Nasdaq.

Hon Hai, Mozilla To Launch Mobile Device Running On Firefox

Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd will team up with Mozilla and launch a mobile device that runs on the U.S. company’s Firefox operating system, a Mozilla spokeswoman said, as Hon Hai looks to diversify its client base away from Apple.

The Taipei-based Mozilla spokeswoman declined to provide details on the device that the companies plan to unveil on June 3, but Focus Taiwan, citing an “industry insider”, reported that it would likely be a tablet.

Hon Hai and Mozilla declined to comment on the report.

Hon Hai, a contract electronics maker that draws an estimated 60 percent of its revenue from assembling gadgets and other work for Apple Inc, saw its net profit ease last quarter as sales of iPhones and iPads slowed.

Most of the mobile devices that Hon Hai manufactures run on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android systems. Hon Hai said it would add Firefox to its product line for clients.

Mozilla, the non-profit organization that evolved from Netscape, said at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress in February that it was working with manufacturers Alcatel (TCL Communication Technology), LG Electronics and ZTE Corp to build the first Firefox OS devices, with Huawei Technologies to follow later in the year, all powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors.

Apple Buys Silicon Valley Startup WiFiSlam

Apple has acquired a Silicon Valley startup, WiFiSlam, which makes mapping applications for smart phones.

Apple confirmed the acquisition, but declined to give details. The news was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal, which quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying that Apple paid around $20 million for the company.

“Apple acquires smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” an Apple spokesman told Reuters.

WiFiSlam develops technology that provides indoor tracking and similar services. Big tech companies such as Apple and Google have been racing to provide more and better map applications for users. Google’s application, Google Maps, is widely accessed on Google’s Android platform and rival Apple’s rival iOS platform.

Google ‘X Phone’ A Wireless Charging Phone?

Google will be unveiling a new smartphone as early as spring of 2013, in conjunction with the Motorola, the mobile phone manufacturer Google acquired in May 2012.

Though its executives didn’t mention it in today’s earnings call, but the device called Google “X Phone,” may come as early as spring 2013.

At this point its existence and capabilities are pure speculation—rumoured features range from a bendable screen and a ceramic case to advanced gesture recognition technology—but whatever it is, it will be the first true “Google phone,” where everything from its hardware to its software will be under Google’s complete control. (Past efforts at creating Google-branded devices, as in Google’s Nexus line of phones and tablets, have always been partnerships with a variety of manufacturers outside Google.)

Twice during today’s earnings call, Google executives emphasized that when the company bought Motorola, Motorola already had a 12 to 18 month “product pipeline” in the works, which Google is still “working through.” Google could have shut down Motorola’s work on existing handsets, but that would have involved bigger short- and long-term losses than the company was apparently willing to take. It also means that all of the devices that Motorola has released since it was acquired were already in the works, and the same is likely to be true until at least spring of this year. (A good example is the Motorola Motogo! phone, which looks like a dated BlackBerry and doesn’t even run Android.)

Rumours have already circulated that Google will reveal a Motorola-built “X Phone” and “X Tablet” at its next developer’s conference, which is scheduled for May 15-17, 2013.

In today’s call, Google CEO Larry Page said that “In today’s multi-screen world, the opportunities are endless… battery life is a huge issue… when you drop your phone it shouldn’t go splat. There’s a real potential to invent new and better experiences.” Page also mentioned phone recharging as a pain point for people. This is speculation, but the obvious interpretation of these comments is that Google is working on—or at least thinking about—phones with extra-long battery life, some kind of novel (perhaps wireless) recharging capability, and a case that won’t break when the phone is dropped. (Which is possibly a reference to earlier rumours about Google’s X Phone using an extra-hard case that incorporates ceramics.)

Review: Five favourite tablets of 2012 – itproportal

Microsoft founder Bill Gates was the man of the moment, when in 2001 he unveiled a prototype tablet computer.

Bill Gates however made history after he showed knowledge of events on the evolution of tablets before it started to happen, because now the tablet market has exploded, with mobile computing due to eclipse traditional PCs in the near future.

Though Apple can take credit for taking tablets mainstream with the introduction of the first iPad in 2010, the Cupertino-based company is certainly not the only player in that market nowadays. And so with the holiday season on the horizon, a list of five favourite tablets of 2012 has been compiled to guide you this Christmas.

 

Apple iPad mini

Apple’s miniature tablet is likely to top many Christmas wish lists this season, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise – the iPad mini packs a slew of impressive features in its slim, 7.9in frame. It offers a richer experience than some of the other tablets in the 7in category by being slightly bigger, but its major selling point is that it is considerably more portable than the full-size 9.7in iPad. At just 308g and thumb typing-friendly, it’s a great option for anyone looking for a lightweight tablet. Plus, it has an IPS LCD display with a 1,024 x 768 pixel resolution, as well as both rear and front-facing cameras.

The device promises up to 10 hours of battery life, so it’s particularly useful for commuters or those who spend a lot of time travelling. Another feature in the iPad mini’s favour is Apple’s App Store, with an unbelievable library of titles available, 275,000 of which were designed specifically for the iPad. The iPad mini is available in two colour schemes – black and slate or white and silver – and ships in Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi + cellular models, with three storage options – 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB, depending on what your usage is like. Pricewise, the iPad mini starts at £269 and runs to £529 for the 4G enabled 64GB model.

 

Apple iPad with Retina display

Apple’s fourth-generation iPad sits at the higher-end of the tablet spectrum, its Retina display boasting a dazzling 9.7in screen with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. But though the incredibly sharp display is its primary calling card, the latest iPad is chock-full of other attractive features. The new Apple A6X processor, for instance, means that graphic-heavy applications and CPU-intensive tasks are considerably faster and more fluid; according to Apple, it’s twice as fast and twice as powerful as its predecessor, making it ideal for media consumption.

Apple’s iOS is one of the factors setting the fourth-gen iPad apart from offerings from competitors – the mobile operating system is tighter, more streamlined and altogether smoother than Android. The new iPad in particular counts Siri among its premier features; Apple’s voice-activated digital assistant promises improved voice recognition and can look up movie times, manage your calendar, and post Facebook statuses for you. There’s also Apple’s unmatchable App Store, which is home to hundreds of thousands of apps, running the gamut from games to fitness management to music production. Ultimately, if you’re prepared to swallow the price – it starts at £399 for a 16GB, Wi-Fi-only device and ranges to £659 for a Wi-Fi + cellular model with 64GB of storage – it’s the best large-format tablet on the market.

 

Google Nexus 7

Google’s Asus-produced Nexus 7 proved to be incredibly popular when it was released this summer, and its recent refresh alongside the larger Nexus line-up will likely continue to be just as coveted throughout the holiday season. Here we have a budget-friendly 7in tablet that’s fantastic for everyday use and is virtually unrivalled in the value-for-money department – so much so that some competing manufacturers and retailers were forced to cut their own prices in response.

On the operating system front, it runs the latest version of Android, 4.2 Jelly Bean, which adds features like Gesture Typing and more integrated Google Play media, including books, music, and films. As for hardware, the Nexus 7 features an IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 1,200 x 800 pixels that, despite not being ground-breaking, certainly does the trick. It’s powered by a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 SoC, which is impressive for such a small, affordable device.

The Nexus 7 is available in 16GB and 32GB storage iterations, but lacks a microSD card slot, which could prove to be a deal breaker for some customers. However, its attractive pricing is difficult to resist; it may not be the best tablet out there but, maxing out at £239 for a 32GB model with Wi-Fi and 3G, it certainly won’t break the bank.

Google blew the display on Apple’s fourth-generation iPad out of the water when it unveiled its Nexus 10 earlier this autumn. The Samsung-made device boasts a 10in display with a 2,560 x 1,600 pixel display, giving it the title of the highest-resolution tablet in the world. And, coupled with Google Play’s improved media offerings, the Nexus 10 is an optimal tablet for watching videos, editing photos, and browsing the web.

But an astounding screen isn’t all this high-end tablet has to offer – it also runs the latest version of Android, so it benefits from the slight tweaks introduced via Jelly Bean 4.2, including the new Photo Sphere app and live turn-by-turn GPS navigation. All of that is powered by a dual-core ARM processor with 2GB of RAM, so it will prove to be a thoroughly capable tablet with less battery drain than its quad-core rivals. Surprisingly, the Nexus 10 is Wi-Fi-only and ships in either 16GB or 32GB variations with no microSD slot. If you want to avoid going down the Apple route, the Nexus 10 is almost certainly your best alternative – and priced at £319 or £389, it’s also a fair bit cheaper.

 

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT

The launch of Surface marked Microsoft’s first foray into tablet production – a sturdy, impressive hybrid tablet billed as a happy medium between a conventional tablet and a productivity-friendly notebook. Surface sets itself apart from the other devices on this list by shipping with a smartcover that offers a full touch keyboard – a spill-resistant one, at that. At 10.6in and with a solid build, it veers close to notebook territory, but the 1,366 x 768, 16:9 widescreen display offers a rich experience that feels very much like a hybrid and not simply a tablet with a keyboard attached.

The device runs Windows RT, Microsoft’s touch-optimised operating system for ARM-based hardware (in this case, the SoC in question is an Nvidia Tegra 3). Accordingly, Surface fits in well with the company’s broader ecosystem, which also encompasses Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. While that means it will initially suffer from the scarcity of apps in the Windows Store, it will benefit from a much welcome boost in the form of Microsoft Office and tight integration with other Microsoft products like SkyDrive and Skype. In terms of capacity, it comes in 32GB and 64GB models, with a microSD card slot for an additional 64GB of space. In the end, Surface is a surprise contender, so if price is no object – it ranges from £399 to £559 – this could be the device for you.

Samsung ships a whooping 157million smartphones ahead of Apple in Q3

Samsung increased its lead in terms of smartphone shipments as estimate shows that the total number of smartphone shipments exceeded 157 million in Q3 2012. The Korean company shipped a record 56.3 million which was almost double the number of iPhones shipped by Apple (26.9 million). The Galaxy S III played a key role for Samsung with estimated sales of 18 million in the third quarter. Things are getting so dire for RIM and Nokia that ZTE has got ahead of them. LG did well amongst the Tier 2 players compared to rivals like Huawei, Motorola and HTC.

Nokia’s insistence on failing to ship an Android based handset and stick to its Windows Phone (W7 Mango) devices meant sales fell a whacking 63 per cent compared to Q3 2011.

The Finnish company shipped just 6.3 million smart devices in the third quarter. Though there’s hope for Nokia as the Xmas season always see strong sales growth for everyone.

In its report, ‘Smartphone Evolution Strategies: Premium, Standard & Economy Markets 2011-2016′, Juniper says, “Samsung has been highly effective in leveraging its global brand strength and the popularity of the Android OS to drive sales of smartphones in all price tiers.”

With Windows Phone 8 devices due to become commercially available shortly plus the fact that in the UK, for example, its offers handsets to run on EE’s 4G LTE network.

No such luck for RIM which unbelievably won’t actually ship a BlackBerry 10 smartphone until Q1 2013 – just when everybody has bought a new phone.

At least the Canadian firm managed 7.7 million quarterly smartphone shipments, so it piped Nokia.

Given RIM’s emphasis on the business sector missing Xmas may not harm its Q4 sales as much as expected.

Even LG sold more smartphones than Nokia as it posted a 24 per cent quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) growth to a record 7 million smartphone shipments.

ZTE shipped almost 20 million smartphones over the first three quarters with third quarter sales exceeding both Nokia and RIM.

The phenomenal success for Samsung has been the Galaxy S III which is, of course, an Android based device.

Drop in Desktop PC sales linked to increase in Tablet users

It has been reported that there’s been a 10 per cent year-on-year slump in desktop PC sales to business users during the first two months of Q3.

A Market Watcher, Context tracked sales of desktop PCs through distribution across Western Europe and blamed the decline on the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets.

Sales of the devices were down by more than 20 per cent in Switzerland and Finland, while the UK, Germany and France suffered single digit declines.

UK PC sales, in particular, were down 3.4 per cent on the same period last year, but were reportedly buoyed by a series of large-scale enterprise purchases towards the end of Q3.

A PC market analyst said desktop PCs are falling out of favour with business users that want to take advantage of mobile working.

According to research, Notebooks now have the same power as most desktop [PCs] while other portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets, continue to offer enterprise users more personalised features via app eco-systems.

Despite the lacklustre performance of the desktop PC market, it was predicted by a market analyst that all-in-one devices will become more popular with business users as time goes on.

Android-powered desktop unveiled by Motorola

Phone-making company, Motorola has introduced new desktop computer powered by Android which also offers cloud-based services provided by Wasu, including games, high-definition television and movies and web browsing.

A partnership agreement was done between Motorola Mobility and Wasu Digital a cable and telecommunications service provider to launch a new android powered computer “HMC3260″”.

The HMC3260, which is dubbed as CloudBroadBand, features an 8.5 inch LED touchscreen, Android 2.3.4 operating system and broadband internet access through EuroDOCSIS.

It also features 1 GB DDR RAM, 4 GB NAND flash memory, LAN and Freescale i.MX53 ARM Cortex A8 1GHz.

With the new CloudBroadBand, Wasu’s customers can access to a host of cloud entertainment services such as an on-demand high-definition media, games, applications and storage space.

Motorola Home Division Asia vice president and regional general manager Kevin Keefe said the Motorola HMC3260 provides subscribers with a fast broadband connection and also offers cloud-based services provided by Wasu, including games, high-definition television and movies, web browsing and more.

The powerful touchscreen interface capitalizes on the power and flexibility of Android to enable Wasu to differentiate itself from operators who only offer a pipeline for data.