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Google Accidentally Breaks Important Google Photos Feature

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Users of Google Photos are reporting that one of the app’s most frequently-used features is currently broken. The bug comes into play when selecting multiple photos at once, but fortunately, it looks like there’s a workaround for anyone affected.

When sharing pictures it’s common to want to select multiple images to send together in one go. Thankfully, the Google Photos app makes this very easy: simply hold your finger down on the first thumbnail image and then drag your finger along the gallery until you get to the last one you want to share. This will select all of the images between the first and last, marking them with a tick.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

However, as picked up by Android Police, some users on Reddit have reported that this feature has now disappeared since updating their apps, leaving them forced to select each image individually. This is a minor inconvenience when selecting just a few pictures but quickly becomes a chore when larger numbers are involved.

Today In: Innovation

The bug seems to affect a wide range of Android smartphones from various manufacturers, but only for a certain group of users and it turns out that a seemingly unrelated Android system setting is the trigger. As luck would have it, one eagle-eyed reader of the Android Police post discovered that the problem is related to an unexpected interaction with Android’s accessibility settings.

I can confirm that enabling Android Accessibility features on the Amazon Shopping app caused the Google Photos multi-select problem to appear on my handset while disabling the feature enabled Google Photos to work as normal once again.

For now, it seems the workaround to the problem is to disable Android Accessibility on any applications which may be using it.

To do this, go into your Android settings menu and search for ‘accessibility’ then scroll down to locate the relevant options. The actual layout will vary from phone to phone, but sections to look out for are ‘Downloaded Services’ where apps such as Amazon Shopping are likely to appear, and ‘Screen Readers’ where you may find functions such as ‘Select to Speak’ or ‘Talkback’ available.

Tapping on any of these will enable you to turn off its accessibility service. Turning them all off should then cause Google Photos to work correctly once again.

Obviously, the downside to doing this is that you’ll lose any accessibility functions you may have been relying on until Google comes up with a fix.

Method two

Alternatively, you may be able to restore the multi-select function by reverting to an older version of Google Photos. You can download previous versions of the app from sites such as apkmirror.com and sideload them onto your device, although I’d recommend waiting for an official update instead.

With any luck, a forthcoming fix from Google will then enable us to revert our Accessibility settings back to the way we want them.

I’ve been working as a technology journalist since the early nineties. My passion is photography and the ever-changing hardware and software that creates it, be it traditional cameras and Photoshop or smartphones and tablets with their numerous apps. I have also worked extensively on computing titles such as PC Magazine and Personal Computer World and managed the PCW hardware testing labs. This has seen me testing and reviewing all manner of technologies in print and on line. I take on both written and photographic assignments and you can get in touch with questions, tips or pitches via email. Find me on Instagram @paul_monckton.

Source: Google Accidentally Breaks Important Google Photos Feature

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Google Photos was designed to make it easier for people to organize a lifetime of memories. The recently announced API now lets you harness the best of Google Photos in your own product. In this session, you’ll see how you can create experiences that eliminate the friction associated with finding, transferring, and sharing photos. Rate this session by signing-in on the I/O website here → https://goo.gl/Cuv8ta See all the sessions from Google I/O ’18 → https://goo.gl/q1Tr8x Watch more Android sessions from I/O ’18 → https://goo.gl/R9L42F Watch more Chrome sessions from I/O ’18 → https://goo.gl/5fgXhX Watch more Firebase sessions from I/O ’18 → https://goo.gl/TQEeBQ Watch more Google Cloud Platform from I/O ’18 → https://goo.gl/qw2mR1 Watch more TensorFlow sessions from I/O ’18 → https://goo.gl/GaAnBR Subscribe to the Google Developers channel → http://goo.gl/mQyv5L #io18

 

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Google Warning: Tens Of Millions Of Android Phones Come Preloaded With Dangerous Malware

Millions of shiny new Android smartphones are being purchased with dangerous malware factory-installed, according to Google’s own security research team. There have been multiple headlines about the millions of harmful apps being installed from the Play Store, but this is something new. And the danger to unsuspecting users, trusting that new boxed devices are safe and clean, is that some of that preinstalled malware can download other malware in the background, commit ad fraud, or even take over its host device.

Android is a thriving open-source community, which is great for innovation but not so great when threat actors seize the opportunity to hide malware in basic software loads that come on boxed devices. New phones can have as many as 400 apps factory-installed, many of which we just ignore. But it transpires that many of those apps have not been vetted. The apps themselves will work as billed, providing a useful capability or service, so we can be forgiven for not considering the risk that might lurk within.

Google’s Maddie Stone, a security researcher with the company’s Project Zero, shared her team’s findings at Black Hat on Thursday. “If malware or security issues come as preinstalled apps,” she warned, “then the damage it can do is greater, and that’s why we need so much reviewing, auditing and analysis.”

The risk impacts Android’s Open-Source Project (AOSP), a lower-cost alternative to the full-fat version. AOSP is installed on lower-cost smartphones where cheaper software alternatives help keep prices down. This means owners of Android-badged devices from the likes of Samsung and Google itself are safe from this particular risk.

For an attacker, Stone warned, the benefit of supply chain compromise is that they “only have to convince one company to include their app, rather than thousands of users.” The Google team didn’t disclose any details of the brands of phones involved, but more than 200 device manufacturers fell foul of the testing, with malware allowing the devices to be attacked remotely.

Of particular concern were two particularly virulent malware campaigns: Chamois and Triada. Chamois generates various flavors of ad fraud, installs background apps, downloads plugins and can even send premium rate text messages. Chamois alone was found to have come installed on 7.4 million devices. Triada is an older variant of malware, one that also displays ads and installs apps.

Google is working to help device manufacturers screen for such vulnerabilities, and between March 2018 and March 2019, Stone claims such screening helped reduce the instances of devices infected by Chamois from 7.4 million to “only” 700,000. “The Android ecosystem is vast,” she warned, “with a diversity of OEMs and customizations—if you are able to infiltrate the supply chain out of the box, then you already have as many infected users as how many devices they sell—that’s why it’s a scarier prospect.”

In the meantime, the usual advice applies around downloading and installing apps from the Play Store. A healthy dose of skepticism does not go amiss when the app is from an unknown source. Not much users can do if those threats come preinstalled, though, and that’s why this revelation is so dangerous. For this one we need to rely on manufacturers to do the right thing and follow Google’s advice in screening software fully to eradicate such risks.

I am the Founder/CEO of Digital Barriers, a provider of video surveillance and analytics technologies to security and defense agencies as well as commercial organizations. I cover the sectors in which DB operates, potential conflicts are highlighted.

Source: Google Warning: Tens Of Millions Of Android Phones Come Preloaded With Dangerous Malware

Why Google’s Theme For Its Big Developers’ Conference Could Fall Flat

This week, thousands of visitors will swarm Google’s home city of Mountain View, California, for the company’s annual I/O developers’ conference. The event serves as a state of the union of sorts for Google, allowing it to parade out new products, share milestones for existing ones, and lay out its vision for the future as techies and press from all over the world tune in.

“This year, you’ll hear a lot about how we’re building a helpful Google for everyone,” the company wrote in a press teaser ahead of the show, which starts Tuesday (the bold emphasis is the company’s).

But while Google hopes to wow audiences with presentations on artificial intelligence and accessibility, that rosy messaging may fall flat in light of the company’s recent controversies.

In the past year, Google has faced an unprecedented level of criticism from experts and its own employees on issues like censorship, workplace misconduct, and AI ethics. One consistent theme of the various accusations has been how Google has not, in fact, been helpful for everyone. Google’s timeline since its 2018 conference is studded with complaints of exclusionary behavior.

Take, for example, last fall when The Intercept revealed that the company was secretly developing censored search products in China. Lawmakershuman rights activists, and Google employees alike denounced the plans, and in an open letter, workers admonished the company for building technology that would “aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable.” Google ultimately said it has tabled its plans.

Not long after, employees staged a massive walkout to protest what organizers described as a “workplace culture that’s not working for everyone” following a New York Times report on how Google shielded executives from misconduct claims. Demonstrators shared stories of inequity and harassment, including for Google’s “shadow workforce” of temporary and contract workers, who have less job security and fewer protections than their direct-employee peers. Google has updated a handful of policies and practices since the walkout, but its organizers have continued to push for other changes.

More recently, employees and outsiders called out Google for including Kay Coles James, the president of a conservative think tank, on a new advanced technology advisory council, citing her anti-LGBTQ views. Google eventually disbanded the so-called AI ethics board, saying in a statement that it had “become clear that in the current environment, [the council] can’t function as we wanted,” but didn’t address protestors’ arguments about underrepresented groups, like LGBTQ people, being especially at-risk for unintended consequences for AI.

For Google to hang its conference on the theme of being helpful for everyone without acknowledging its slew of exclusion-based issues may make the company’s intended theme seem hollow or ironic.

This wouldn’t be the first time Google has undermined its own messaging: Last year it sabotaged its recurring I/O mantra about developing “responsible AI” by launching a product that imitated humans but didn’t self-identify as a robot, which raised major ethical red flags.

Gartner research director Werner Goertz, who plans to attend the conference, doubts that any of the many product managers and executives who get up on the main stage will directly address Google’s litany of recent controversies. Viewers will hear details about a cheaper Pixel smartphone and the next edition of Android, but no atonement.

“Remember, I/O is a developers’ conference,” he says. “Google will focus on addressing the technical details, and I don’t think these other topics will really distract from that message.”

Perhaps they should.

Contact this reporter at jdonfro [at] forbes.com. Have a more sensitive tip? Reach Jillian via encrypted messaging app Signal at 978.660.6302 using a non-work phone or contact Forbes anonymously via SecureDrop (instructions here: https://www.forbes.com/tips/#6ebc8a4f226a).

I’m a San Francisco-based staff writer for Forbes reporting on Google and the rest of the Alphabet universe, as well as artificial intelligence more broadly.

Source: Why Google’s Theme For Its Big Developers’ Conference Could Fall Flat

Google Confirms It Will Automatically Delete Your Data — What You Need To Know

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Ahead of the annual Google I/O developer festival opening its doors on Tuesday, Google has already made one major announcement: it will soon start deleting your data automatically.

Writing in the official Google safety and security blog, David Monsees and Marlo McGriff, the product managers for Google search and maps respectively, say that the company is responding to user feedback asking to make managing data privacy and security simpler. “You can already use your Google Account to access simple on/off controls for Location History and Web & App Activity,” they say, “and if you choose, to delete all or part of that data manually.” What’s new is the soon to be rolled out “auto-delete controls” that will enable users to set time limits on how long Google can save your data.

Said to be arriving within weeks, the new controls will apply to location history as well as web and app activity data to start with. Users will be able to choose a time limit of between three and 18 months after which the data concerned will automatically delete on a rolling basis. You can already delete this data manually if you want, but the ability to have it deleted automatically is long overdue in my never humble opinion. Especially given reports last year that suggested Google was storing location data even when users had turned off location history and considering the somewhat arduous manual deletion process.

Not that everyone will want to delete this data of course. As with most things online these days it comes down to a choice between privacy and function. Actually, make that a balance between the two as it’s rare for anyone to be totally binary when it comes to such matters truth be told. Google says that this data “can make Google products more useful for you, like recommending a restaurant that you might enjoy, or helping you pick up where you left off on a previous search.” If you are of the don’t store any of my location data thank you very much persuasion, then disabling location history altogether would seem like a better option given that some mobile apps can track location data when they aren’t running. For everyone else, the new auto-deletion controls will be a welcome weapon in the “taking back control of at least some of your data” arsenal.

Keep checking the Data & Personalization section of your Google account settings, specifically the “Manage your activity controls” option I would imagine, to see if the function has rolled out for you in the coming weeks.

Please follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn, you can find more of my stories at happygeek.com

I have been covering the information security beat for three decades and Contributing Editor at PC Pro Magazine since the first issue way back in 1994.

Source: Google Confirms It Will Automatically Delete Your Data — What You Need To Know

Chrome Will Remove Secure Label On HTTPS Sites In September

Google today announced its next steps for how Chrome labels HTTP and HTTPS sites. Starting in September 2018, Chrome will stop marking HTTPS sites as “Secure” in its address bar. And then in October 2018, Chrome will start displaying a red “Not secure” label when users enter data into HTTP pages.

HTTPS is a more secure version of the HTTP protocol used on the internet to connect users to websites. Secure connections are widely considered a necessary measure to decrease the risk of users being vulnerable to content injection (which can result in eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, and other data modification). Data is kept secure from third parties, and users can be more confident they are communicating with the correct website.

Google has been pushing the web to HTTPS for years, but it accelerated its efforts last year by making changes to Chrome’s user interface. Chrome 56, released in January 2017, started marking HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards as “Not secure.” Chrome 62, released in October 2017, started marking HTTP sites with entered data and all HTTP sites viewed in Incognito mode as “Not secure.”

With the release of Chrome 68 in July, here is what HTTP sites will look like in the address bar:

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Notice that they are labeled as “Not secure” but the text is still gray.

With the release of Chrome 69 in September, HTTPS sites will no longer sport the “Secure” wording:

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This is an odd decision. I prefer seeing the green “Secure” label when I’m about to log in to a website or enter credit card information.

Google believes, however, that “users should expect that the web is safe by default” and that they will only be warned “when there’s an issue.” As a result, Chrome’s positive security indicators are being removed “so that the default unmarked state is secure.”

With the release of Chrome 70 in October, HTTP sites will show a red “Not secure” warning when users enter data:

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Notice how the page is already labeled as “Not secure” in gray, but the text turns red upon entering data.

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Google’s plan has always been to mark all HTTP sites as “Not secure” in red. This is just the latest stepping stone. But now we’re also learning that Chrome will eventually only focus on these negative red labels and remove the green positive ones.

In February, Google shared that over 78 percent of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac was HTTPS, while 68 percent of Chrome traffic on Android and Windows was HTTPS. We reached out to Google today to see if the company was willing to share an update on these figures. Update: No new figures, but you can view the latest progress for yourself here.

By: @EPro  

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