Twitter drops the number of accounts users can follow in a day, more details about Microsoft’s Chromium-Edge, Wing launches a drone delivery service in Australia, and a lot more. Let’s talk about the biggest stories for April 9th, 2019.
The Play Store Has a Problem with Young Children Finding Violent Video Games
App stores are a haven for developers because they allow a single person to create an app, distribute it, and potentially reach millions of people. It’s very cool.
But that can also create problems. As recently uncovered by Wired, the Google Play Store, in particular, has an issue with violent games targeted at children. These games, which are generally listed as “suitable for all ages,” contain highly graphic content like blood, gore, violence, and more.
The issue here seems to be Google’s approach for approving apps for Play Store distribution—it essentially relies on the honor system and developer honesty. When a developer uploads an app or game, they’re required to also fill out a questionnaire with information about the age-appropriateness of the app or game. If the developer is dishonest about his or her product, then the app or game can gain a much wider audience—which includes young children who shouldn’t see the content in the first place.
The issue here is that Google doesn’t review these applications with human eyes, simply trusting that the developer is honest with its app’s content. While it would be nice to think this is enough, we all know what happens when things are left unchecked: it starts to become the wild west all over again. No rules, no laws. Anything goes. It’s anarchy.
And that’s what’s happening in the Play Store. Wired sent findings of some 52 different games over to Google with inappropriate content of some kind—including some that went as far as unnecessarily tracking location. At the time of reporting, Google had taken action on 16 of those games by either removing them or re-uploading them with appropriate ratings and permissions. (It’s worth noting that most of the games were actually legitimate games and weren’t doing anything shady or questionable outside of dishonestly being marked as appropriate for all ages.)
It’s unclear what action Google will take to prevent this in the future, but it would be nice to see it add some human involvement to the approval process. Just like it had to do with YouTube Kids to prevent inappropriate content, adding a human element to the approval process would go a long way—a person should know when a game involving blowing the heads off of zombies as blood and guts fly through the sky isn’t appropriate for a three-year-old.
But until then, as always, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at what your children are playing. Be vigilant, my friends.
Google News: Alphabet’s Wing Drone Delivery is Ready for Takeoff
Plus the Red Hydrogen One Titanium is available for sale, more details on Android TV’s ad situation, HTC’s apps are disappearing from Google Play, and a lot more.
- Wing, a division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is set to launch its drone delivery service in Australia. It’ll cover just 100 homes initially, with goals to expand “in the coming weeks and months.” Neat-o. [Engadget]
- If you want to buy the Red Hydrogen One Titanium, now you can. For $1600. But why? [Android Police]
- There’s been a lot of talk from Android TV users about the ads that were showing up on the home screen. 9to5Google did some sleuthing and wrote an excellent breakdown of what’s really going on here. If you’re an Android TV user concerned about this whole ad thing, definitely give it a read. [9to5Google]
- Speaking of sleuthing, Android Police did some of its own and discovered that HTC had been slowly pulling its apps from the Google Play Store over the last few months. The biggest issue is that no one knows why. Curious. [Android Police]
- Google Drive for Android is getting a material makeover and dark mode. [9to5Google]
- Whatsapp got a new attachment UI that is generally just…better. [Android Police]
- Android Q has a permission revocation system in place for older apps. Finally. [Android Police]
- Samsung has an event coming up tomorrow where it’s expected to launch the new Galaxy A90. Here are the details on where and when you can watch it. [Samsung Newsroom]
- Chrome OS 74 will hopefully fix the lag caused by Hangouts video chats. Hopefully. [About Chromebooks]
So, this Wing thing—it’s cool. The gist is that it will start small, covering about 100 homes in the suburbs of Crace, Palmerston, and Franklin, Australia. The drones will deliver goods from local business, including coffee, groceries, medicine, and other small items like that.
What’s really cool about this project, though, is that it started as “moonshot” project from Google X (now just called “X”) back in 2014. The goal was to launch a consumer service in 2017, but that didn’t happen. It did, however, successfully team up with a food chain and a pharmaceutical company in late 2017 and successfully deliver 3,000 packages during “advanced trials.”
While I also understand why some people are wary of such a service, getting small goods delivered directly to my house the same day I order them is cool no matter how it’s done. I…would very much use this.
Microsoft News: Chromium-Edge is Here
The first look at Microsoft’s project to move Edge to Chromium is available to download, and there’s a lot to dissect.
- Microsoft replaced or disabled a lot of services from Chromium in its Edge build, then it talked about that. [The Verge]
- The Plugin and Extension store for Chromium-Edge is also live. [TechRadar]
- While Chromium-Edge was said only to be compatible with 64-bit Windows 10, it turns out you can also install it on Windows 7 (and probably 8.1). Microsoft just blocked the download from those OSes. [Bleeping Computer]
- Also, Chromium-Edge is coming to Windows 10 ARM PCs. [Bleeping Computer]
Microsoft’s move to Chromium for Edge is a big move, and it’s nice that it’s now available for testing if you’re into that. It turns out that it’s really just…a lot like Chrome. But you know, more Microsoft-y. My colleague Josh Hendrickson took it for a spin yesterday and shared some initial thoughts on details, so if you’re inclined to check it out vicariously through someone else, check out that post.
Other News: Huawei Wants to Sell Its 5G Modems…to Apple
Plus Twitter tries to tackle spam accounts, Chinese doctors are going to use 5G to perform remote surgery, and more.
- Huawei is down to sell its 5G modems…but only if Apple is the buyer. Interesting [Engadget]
- Speaking of 5G, Chinese surgeons want to use it to perform remote surgeries, which absolutely terrifies me. [Digital Trends]
- Twitter has a spam problem. Twitter knows that it has a spam problem. To cut back on spam accounts, it’s limiting the number of accounts a user can follow per day to 400 (down from 1000). It’s a start if nothing else. [TechCrunch]
- Opera launched its Reborn 3 browser, which includes a baked-in cryptowallet and unlimited VPN. [TechRadar]
With recent rumors that Apple may not be able to deliver a 5G iPhone in 2020 because of supply issues with 5G chips, Huawei wants to be the company that steps in to “help out.” This is interesting because the company has never taken such a stance before; in fact, it developed its own model specifically for its own devices.
Still, Huawei isn’t known for being a chip manufacturer. What’s even more interesting is that the company is set to become the largest smartphone maker in the world next year, so offering to sell its 5G modems to what amounts to the company’s largest rival is…curious.
Of course, this is all just hearsay at this point. Engadget, which originally reported the story, couldn’t get Huawei or Apple to comment. There’s nothing to indicate the two companies have even discussed a possible deal, but the fact that Huawei is at least interested is still enough to warrant a bit of surprise.