It’s April Fools’ Day, but you won’t find any fake news here. Today we’ll take a look at the top stories from the weekend, including the demise of AirPower, government malware in the Google Play Store, and more.
Apple News: RIP AirPower, 2017-2019
In a shocking bit of new, Apple announced that the AirPower “project” was dead and the product wouldn’t be released.
- Apple kills AirPower, citing failure to meet the company’s high standards. Wild. [Review Geek via TechCrunch]
- Speaking of things Apple decided to kill, the company also announced that it will be shutting down the Texture app on May 28th. It bought this magazine curation app last year, which it then rolled into what we now know as News+. [PC World]
- The company also lost the engineer who led the design of every internally-made chip from the A7 to the A12x. [CNET]
- In happier news, it looks like Apple is gearing up to add Chromecast support to Apple Music. It’s nice to see the company embracing things outside of its own standards. [9to5Google]
It’s unusual to see Apple announce a product while it’s still being tested and designed, and it’s even more unusual for the company to backtrack and cancel an already-announced product. But that’s exactly what happened with AirPower.
You may be curious why AirPower was canceled, even though there are dozens of other multi-device charging pads on the market. The answer is simple: Apple wasn’t satisfied with the status quo and wanted to do something better with AirPower. While most multi-device wireless charging pads have very specific charging spots (where the induction coils are found), Apple wanted AirPower to work in a way that would offer a better experience.
Instead of having to put the phone (or other device) into a specific spot, the company wanted overlapping induction coils so you could just toss your phone, watch, or AirPod case down anywhere and charging would start. No fiddling with finding the exact spot for each device—just a fluid, intuitive experience. It sounds great…on paper, at least.
It turns out it was much harder to execute than the company imagined, and after well over a year of testing, finally proved to be impossible given the company’s high standards. It’s a bummer, no doubt, but I respect them for knowing when to fold ‘em.
Google News: Hey Government, Get Your Malware Out of my Play Store!
In news that we only wish was an April Fools’ joke, a new type of government malware was discovered in the Google Play Store. Also, Google’s goo.gl URL shorter is dead, a new Nest smart display was leaked, and more.
- Motherboard worked with a non-profit research company called Security Without Borders to uncovered a new type of government-backed malware in the Google Play Store. The entire story is fascinating. [Motherboard]
- Google’s goo.gl link shortening service, originally announced in 2009, has now reached its end of life. Existing goo.gl links will still work, but new ones can no longer be created. [Android Police]
- Google accidentally leaked a new product from Alphabet-owned Nest: the Hub Max, a 10-inch smart display with a camera. The leak has since been pulled. [Android Police]
- Firefox and Edge users can now use USB security keys to log into their Google account. This functionality was previously only possible in Chrome. [Engadget]
- In Chrome 75, the first run setup screens got a makeover, which includes setting up dark mode and applying a wallpaper to the start screen. [Techdows]
- Gmail turns 15 years old today! To celebrate, Google is introducing new features, like the ability to schedule sending emails. [Google Blog]
- Google stopped selling the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, leaving only the 3 and 3 XL in the store…for now, at least. Something tells me this is a move to get ready for the upcoming 3a and 3a XL. [Android Police]
- In Android news not directly related to Google, Samsung has promised monthly security updates for the Galaxy S10 family. It also moved a number of other devices, including the S7, to a quarterly update schedule. [Android Police]
Google has protection against malware in the Play Store by way of Google Play Protect, which finds and removes quite a bit of malware every day. But as it’s been proven time and time again, it’s not perfect. This new malware uncovered by Motherboard is proof.
According to the report, this new malware was “sold to the Italian government by a company that sells surveillance cameras but was not known to produce malware until now,” which is as curious as it is unsurprising. Like most other malware, these suspect apps offer to provide something for nothing—device improvements or carrier promotions.
The malware is being called Exodus, and it works by downloading a remote ZIP file that contains the actual malware file that “hacks” the phone. Once infected, however, the malware has total control of the phone, allowing it to pull recordings from the phone’s surroundings, phone calls, geolocation, messenger logs, text messages, and all kinds of other sensitive data.
If you’re interested in all the gory details, I highly recommend giving Motherboard’s in-depth piece a read. Also, this is a good time to remind everyone to be safe and vigilant when it comes to installing apps—even if they come from the Play Store.
Other News: A 10-month Security Breach Exposed 2 Million Credit Card Numbers
Keeping up the trend of news you don’t want to hear about, a recent data breach that went on for 10 months exposed the credit card data of 2 million Earl Enterprise Restaurant customers. Oof.
- Earl Enterprise Restaurants, the owner of such establishments as Planet Holywood and Mixology (among others), confirmed a 10-month long data breach that exposed more than 2 million credit cards numbers that are now being sold online. The breach has now been fixed, but you should definitely keep an eye on your credit card statements if you’ve visited an Earl Enterprise location. [The Verge]
- Amazon is rumored to be working on a free, ad-based news app for Fire TV. [Engadget]
- Sega is getting into the mini-console game with the Genesis Mini. It will launch on September 19th for $80 and contain 40 classic games. [The Verge]
- Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo beta is available for download, with the full release coming in April. [Liliputing]
- Valve announced a teaser for its upcoming VR headset, called the Index. Alright then! [The Verge]
- Last week, AT&T’s 5G E network was found to be slower than rivals’ 4G LTE networks. Over the weekend, it became the first carrier to hit gigabit speeds with its real 5G network. [Engadget]
- Facebook “accidentally” deleted several of Mark Zuckerberg’s posts from the network, including all of his posts from 2007-2008. It decided this was due to a “technical error”—then said there was basically no point in trying to retrieve them. Curious. [Business Insider]
- But the good news is Facebook is finally going to show you why you see the posts that you do. That’s a surprising move in the direction of transparency, and I dig it. [Facebook Newsroom]
- Microsoft quietly updated the Surface Book 2 with better processors. [The Verge]
Data breaches have become an uncomfortably common trend in recent years, with more and more data becoming available for sale every day. The worst part about it? There isn’t a whole hell of a lot you can do about it. You can be as vigilant as a person can be, but if the company storing your data has a flaw in its system, someone will find it. Your data is only as safe as the company that’s holding on it, which is scary as more and more services adopt modern tech conveniences. Pretty soon, it will be almost impossible to keep your personal information, well, personal.