The past 24 hours have been filled with some interesting tidbits with rumors of a Walmart game streaming service and Facebook’s improper storage of passwords, but that’s just the beginning. Here’s a look at the biggest stories for March 22, 2019.
Apple News: AirPower…Maybe
It’s been a surprisingly busy week for Apple, with new iPad, new iMacs, and new AirPods all hitting the scene ahead of the company’s big announcement on Monday. Things have been quiet on the Apple front this morning, but there are a couple of rumors worth talking about.
- Apple secured the trademark for “AirPower,” the company’s long-awaited multi-device wireless charging mat. [MacRumors]
- The better news? We might see it launch “in late March” (finally). Been a long time coming. [Digitimes]
- In new unrelated to AirPower, Apple Music got a nice little update and makeover to the Browse section that should make it easier for users to find new tunes. Dig it. [MacRumors]
AirPower has been an unusual product for Apple because it was initially announced back in 2017 with an expected 2018 launch. There hasn’t been anything concrete from Apple since then, which is pretty unusual for a company as consistent and reliable as it is. Still, it’s something that most Apple users have been longing for, and it looks like the time may finally be close. Maybe, anyway.
Microsoft and Windows News: The Return (and Demise) of Clippy
It seems like every day there’s at least one Microsoft-related thing worth talking about. Today, it’s Clippy, the long-loathed talking (and annoying) paperclip from back in the day.
- Microsoft brought back Clippy as part of an animated sticker pack for its Teams collaboration and chat app. Then, it quickly killed it off. The little guy just can’t get a break. [The Verge]
It turns out that after bringing Clippy back, the “brand police” weren’t pleased. Even in something as simple and otherwise harmless as a sticker pack, I guess Clippy is still so offputting that no one wants to see his stupid little face ever again. Poor Clippy.
Google and Android News: Hidden Video Ads and Drained Batteries
Ah, Google. Even when it seems like nothing else is going on in the tech world (even though there’s always something) we can all count on Google and Android news for something to look at and ponder on.
- There’s a new scam that lets advertisers run hidden video ads in the background, making them dollars off you while also killing your phone’s battery. What a time to be alive. [The Verge]
- Android Auto recently got an update for widescreen head units that will allow two apps to show in split-screen format at one time. This is such a killer update I’m jealous of everyone who gets it and isn’t me. [9to5Google]
- Google is dropping IFTTT support in Gmail as part of a program to increase privacy and security. This is undoubtedly going to come as a hit to anyone who relies on IFTTT for automation in their email. Support will be removed on March 31st. [9to5Google]
- There was an update to Samsung’s “Notification” app, which apparently bothered some people? Turns out it’s fine. Like, fine. [Android Police]
- Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy A90—which should be announced at the company’s April 10th event—is said to have a “notchless infinity screen.” So…where’s the front camera going to be? [The Verge]
- eBay added support for Google Pay on Android and the web. I think that’s cool. [9to5Google]
The most troubling thing here is the whole “video ads in the background” garbage. Apparently this is no fault of the developers of affected apps, however—it’s an ad company doing shady ad company stuff. According to Buzzfeed, the source of this crap was traced back to OutStream Media. At this point, any developer using OutStream for ad services should probably find a new ad provider, because this is pure garbage. If you’re experiencing this issue, best just to let the developer know what’s going on and realize that they probably don’t know either.
Review Roundup: Nintendo Labo VR
The Nintendo Labo VR headset got the hands-on treatment from a handful of different sites, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
- Tom’s Guide said the Labo VR is “exactly what virtual reality needs,” which is a pretty strong recommendation. [Tom’s Guide]
- PC Mag called it “more Google Cardboard than Virtual Boy,” which just kind of makes sense. [PC Mag]
- The Verge went all out with its Labo VR review. Seriously, it’s exhaustive. [The Verge]
- Engadget said it’s “the perfect gateway to VR.” Makes sense to me. [Engadget]
- Gizmodo’s take was fun and lighthearted (as Giz often is), but still offers all the info you want. It’s a good read. [Gizmodo]
Real talk: the thought of holding a Switch to your face for extended periods of time to play VR games was laughable to me at first, but as it turns out Nintendo may actually be onto something here. It’ naturally likened to Google Cardboard, but it’s so much more than that with all of the crazy accessories and additions. What Nintendo is doing with the Labo stuff is so cool.
Everything Else: Walmart’s Game Streaming Service and Terrible Facebook Password Storage Practices
Generally speaking, I find the “everything else” category one of the more subtle sections in this daily news feed. Today, however, it contains arguably the biggest news of the past 24 hours.
- Facebook stored millions of passwords in plain text, which allowed “as many as 20,000” employees to see your password. If you use your Facebook password in other places, probably time to change it. [The Verge]
- The Next Big Thing in Gaming is coming…from Walmart? Apparently, the store everyone hates but goes to anyway is thinking about offering its own game streaming service. Great. [The Verge]
- Steam’s library is getting a makeover that sucks so much less than it does now. It should give a much better overview of what’s the haps with your installs. I dig it. [Engadget]
- Apparently, people in India really love PUBG. So much, in fact, a 6-hour per day limit is being tested by the developer. Wow. [The Next Web]
- Thousands of Medtronic defibrillators could have a vulnerability that makes them open to hacks. This is a life-saving piece of equipment found inside a person’s body, and someone else could literally take control of it. If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is. [Gizmodo]
So let’s talk about this Facebook thing for a minute. First of all, storing passwords this way is absolutely in poor form for a company as big as Facebook and it should have known better. Period. Secondly, if you’re re-using your Facebook password elsewhere on the web, it’s time to stop doing that. In fact, it’s past time to stop re-using passwords anywhere. Get a good password manager, please. Thirdly, you should probably enable 2FA on Facebook. You know, just in case.
But I also want to touch on the Walmart gaming thing. The biggest question that comes to mind is: why? On the surface, the answer is clear—because money, that’s why. But who in the world wants to give Walmart money to let them stream games? It just seems like such a weird service for the company to get into. It made a name for itself as a store where you can go and buy all the crap you need (or don’t need) all under one roof for a price that other places can’t match. I don’t see how a transition into a game streaming service even starts to make sense there. I don’t mind buying my copy of Days Gone at Walmart when it hits the scene, but I’m not the slightest bit interested in giving them a monthly sum of money for anything else game related. I’ll wait for Stadia or nothing at all, thanks.