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App privacy controls still missing from Android 5 / Lollipop
There is a lot of money to be made by selling our privacy so the business model of app developers often relies on harvesting your private data. Enter the world of app privacy controls....

We have all been there: installing a simple app (say a flashlight) which demands access to all our location, contacts and photos, wants to use the microphone and camera and insists on using the internet for itself while sending texts on our costs.

The even more sneaky apps install with a normal list of permissions, but on the first update extend this enormously.  

Most users just say accept without even scrolling down the list, but some of us would like to control what an app can do on our phone. Happy to let the flashlight app control the camera flash, but why give it access to our contacts or location to resell these data to an unknown third party.

For a short period Android (4.2.2) offered exactly this possibility to control the permissions of apps. You could allow or deny individual permissions. If you went too far, the app stopped working, but in most cases you got the functionality you wanted without the intrusion on your privacy. 

App Ops was brilliant and applauded by privacy organization EFF, but rapidly removed by Google. This control by users was not 'ready for prime-time' so there was hope it would return in Android 5. 

Unfortunately it's missing from today's announcements. What we got in terms of privacy is default encryption (nice if you lose your phone) and so called SELinux which will help against malware and controls access on a system level but it's not user controlled.

However Android 5 / Lollipop won't protect you against the software you install yourself. Lots of apps are basically malware as they only exist to spy on you and sell your privacy, but you were the one who accepted the long list of 'permissions' so officially it was your choice to sell out.

Android 5 offers us a security lollipop while we need actual user control over apps. Disappointing that Google didn't dare to break the business model of sneaky apps

What would be your choice: fine control with the slight risk that the installed app won't work as expected or the current black and white model of 'accept all' versus 'don't install'?

#LolliPop #Android #Privacy  
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We are in the middle of our Q1 earnings call right now. Here are the remarks I just gave.

Hi everyone.  Thank you for joining us.  It’s great to be on the call this afternoon.  

If you are listening online, I hope you liked our warm-up video, I hear they had a great time making it.  

OK … We had a really strong start to 2013 -- with Q1 revenue up 31 per cent year-on-year to $14 billion.  I want to give a big shout out to the sales teams that made this all possible.  We tend to focus on product and engineering -- but our business organization is tremendously strong.  They are Google’s unsung heroes.

Over the last two years, we’ve worked hard to increase our velocity, improve our execution and focus on the big bets that will make a difference in the world.

Take Google Now.  Our goal is to get you the right information, at just the right time.  Launched nine months ago, Now provides boarding passes, delivery updates, and traffic conditions … without you having to ask first.  And this quarter we added movie tickets nicely packaged with directions to the theater.

I am also excited about our Voice Search momentum.  Looking for the nearest pharmacy?  Just ask Google for directions, and we’ll deliver them instantly … no typing needed.  And you can now ask conversational questions like-- “do I need a jacket this weekend?”

Voice commands are going to be increasingly important.  It’s just much less hassle to talk than type!  So this quarter we launched Chrome support for web speech APIs.  Developers can now easily add voice recognition into their web apps.  We expect to see a lot of innovation there.    

The velocity around Google Play is tremendous.  It’s a big bet, and one that’s fundamental to the success of the Android ecosystem.  In our first year:  

We have signed partnerships with all the major movie studios, music labels and publishers; and

Our digital content is available in over 20 countries globally -- seven of which we launched in Q1, including India and Mexico.

And last week, we released a beautiful new UI … with better recommendations, bigger images and a simpler way to buy things.  Play is already a great product and we are improving it at a rapid rate.

As devices multiply, it’s really important that our products work seamlessly whatever device you are using at that moment.  

It’s why I love Google Play … the ability to buy books, apps, movies or songs and have them instantly available on your Android devices, even when you buy it on the web.  When you switch devices while reading, your book opens exactly where you left off!    

In the same way, we need to make advertising across devices really simple for our customers.  

Online advertising has developed in very device-specific ways, with separate campaigns for desktop and mobile.  This makes arduous work for advertisers and agencies, and means mobile opportunities often get missed.  

So in February we launched Enhanced Campaigns, a significant upgrade to AdWords.  Nikesh will talk more about that in a moment … but our goal is simple:  to enable advertisers to focus on their audience and message, while we dynamically adapt their campaigns across multiple devices.  I’ve been very pleased with the rate of progress so far, we’re smoothly moving a huge advertising system and ecosystem on a dime.

In today’s multi-screen world, the opportunities are endless.  Think about your device.  

Battery life is a challenge for most people … you shouldn't need to carry a charger around with you to make it through the day.  

If your kid spills their drink on your tablet, the screen shouldn’t die.  

And when you drop your phone, it shouldn't shatter.  

There’s real potential to invent new and better experiences -- ones that are much faster and more intuitive.  

So having seen Motorola’s upcoming products myself, I am really excited about the potential there.  In just under a year they’ve accomplished a lot and have impressive velocity and execution.

I wanted to finish up by talking a little bit about the future.  

We invest the vast majority of our resources and time in our core products as well as our big bets like Chrome, YouTube and Android.

But as CEO it’s also super important to keep focused on the future.  Companies tend to get comfortable doing what they have always done, with a few minor tweaks.  It’s only natural to want to work on things you know.  But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time.  Especially in technology, where history has shown that there’s a lot of revolutionary change.

So a big part of my job is to get people focused on things that are not just incremental.  Take Gmail.  When we released that, we were a search company -- it was a leap for us to put out an email product, let alone one that gave users 100 times as much storage as anyone else.  It was the same with Android.  And it’s why we’re investing in what appear to be speculative projects to you today, such as self-driving cars.  

We’ve found that with ambitious goals and a committed team you can make progress pretty quickly.  The best people often want to work on the biggest bets -- and there’s not much competition because no-one else is crazy enough to try.

We started Google Fiber because Sergey thought it would be great to show how high-speed Internet access can improve people’s lives.  Three years later, our first homes are live in Kansas City, and in the last two weeks we have announced plans to roll-out the service in Austin and Provo.  

And just this week -- after three years of development -- we started handing over Glass devices to developers.  I get chills when I use a product that is the future, and that happens when I use Glass.  Someday we'll all be amazed that computing involved fishing around in pockets and purses.

There are so many opportunities in the world to create technology that make people’s lives better.  We are still only at 1 per cent of what’s possible … we are really just getting started … and that is why I am so excited to be here -- working hard with Googlers to take our company to the next level.
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60 years ago the US military was trying to make a flying saucer... Today the schematics surface
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