Privacy: a huge proportion of Android apps are secretly tracking you

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A joint research project between Yale University’s Privacy Lab and French non-profit Exodus Privacy has uncovered widescale tracking in a large number of Android apps. The likes of Tinder, Spotify, Uber, Twitter and Snapchat — as well as masses of lesser-known apps — were found to be riddled with snooping components relating to no less than 25 well-known trackers. In all, around three quarters of apps were found to gather personal information about users via a variety of third-party tracking techniques. Researchers have published their findings online so Android users can check if their favorite apps are snooping on them.… …Continue reading on BetaNews

Ok, Google, call Santa

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Christmas is now less than a month away, and if you have any kids in the house, it won’t be long before excitement reaches fever pitch. Helping to keep the magic alive this year, Google is giving your children (or you) the chance to phone Santa. If you have a Google Home, Google Home Mini, or an Android phone with Google Assistant, you can use a voice command to call the fat, festive fellow and have a chat and a sing-song with him. There’s very little to it. Just say “Ok, Google, phone Santa,” and a call will be placed… …Continue reading on BetaNews

Microsoft to drop Facebook login from Skype

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Starting next year, it will no longer be possible to log into Skype using your Facebook account. Thanks to the rollout of the updated Skype experience, as of January 2018, Skype users will need to log in using their Microsoft account. This is not a change that is likely to affect regular users of Skype, but for anyone who rarely uses it, it is something of a pain. Microsoft has not said anything about why it is introducing the change — it would seem to make sense to make it as easy as possible for someone to sign into their… …Continue reading on BetaNews

Beta: Plex DVR strips out ads so you don’t have to see them

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Over recent months Plex has made numerous improvements to its DVR feature, but the latest one is likely to go down particularly well with users: ad-stripping. Cord cutters rejoice. Many DVRs include a feature that lets you quickly skip through the ads so you can spend more time enjoying your favorite show, but the latest update to Plex DVR makes things even easier. It simply removes the ads from your recordings. See also: Plex Live TV and DVR features arrive on Android and Apple TV Plex backtracks on controversial privacy policy change Official Plex for Kodi addon now available to… …Continue reading on BetaNews

Facebook launches AI-powered suicide detection tool

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Facebook has long offered a range of support options to help those considering suicide. Today the social network launches an automated AI-powered tool that aims to spot suicidal posts before they are reported. Relying on the reports of people who spot worrying posts is just one of the ways Facebook has tried to provide a safety net for people who are struggling, and by adding artificial intelligence to the mix, the company will be hoping to speed up detection and offer help more quickly when it matters most. See also: Facebook uses World Suicide Prevention Day to highlight the support… …Continue reading on BetaNews

Facebook outlines its advertising policies, begging users to believe their privacy is respected

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Facebook is accustomed to criticism, and it’s no different when it comes to advertising. There’s been a lot of talk about advertising on the social network recently, not least because of concerns about Russian ads being used to influence the outcome of the US election. In its latest attempt to calm fears that may have built up around its advertising platform, Facebook has today set out its advertising principles. This sees the company explaining the ethics behind ads, as well as seeking to reassure users that their privacy is protected and respected at all times. See also: Facebook is developing… …Continue reading on BetaNews

Bitcoin mining and transactions use more electricity than Ireland and 19 other European countries

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When Bitcoin hits the headlines, it tends to be because its value is rocketing, or because there has been a token theft. Now, however, the financial cost of mining the cryptocurrency has been revealed. The energy consumption of Bitcoin has been investigated by Digiconomist, and the cost is staggering. Using more power per year than Ireland, the mining of Bitcoin as well as performing checks gobbles up 30.14TWh every year. See also: The Pirate Bay is secretly running a Bitcoin miner in the background, increasing your CPU usage JPMorgan chief dismisses Bitcoin as ‘a fraud’ currency, ideal for drug dealers… …Continue reading on BetaNews

New drone laws will require owners to take tests, and give police new powers of seizure

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The UK government is planning to introduce new laws to control the use of drones. Under the new legislation, drone owners may be forced to take safety awareness tests before they can take to the air. The draft Drone Bill also sets out new powers for police, granting them the authority to seize drones believed to have been used in criminal activity. The bill also places restrictions on where drones can be used, and requires larger drones to be registered. The draft bill is due to be published in the spring, and it’s possible that the exact contents will change… …Continue reading on BetaNews

Microsoft Office is now available for all Chromebooks

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A key piece of software that has been missing from Chromebooks is now available to everyone — Microsoft Office. Microsoft has made its office suite available for a range of platforms over the years, but Chromebook support has been notable by its absence. Now, without announcement from the company, this changes. It’s great news for anyone who has been put off the idea of using a Chromebooks because they couldn’t use their favorite software. The arrival of Office is partly thanks to the appearance of the Play Store on Chromebooks. The Chromebook-wide release of Office was first noticed by Chrome… …Continue reading on BetaNews

Oreo arrives on the OnePlus 5 through OxygenOS open beta

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The OnePlus 5T may have just rolled out, but the Chinese smartphone maker has not forgotten its older handsets. Having rolled out a beta version of Android Oreo to the OnePlus 3 and 3T, now the OnePlus 5 is getting the same treatment. Making good on the promise it made at the launch of the OnePlus 5T, the company has launch the first OxygenOS Oreo open beta for the OnePlus 5. It is available for anyone to download and install, and the full, stable release of Oreo is due early next year. See also: Download the Android Oreo beta for… …Continue reading on BetaNews

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