Google Releases Chrome 73 With Support for macOS Mojave Dark Mode

Google today released Chrome 73, the newest stable version of its Chrome browser for Mac and Windows. Chrome 73 has been in beta testing since February, with several new features included.

On macOS Mojave, Chrome 73 introduces support for Dark Mode. The browser window will display the darker colored theme automatically whenever Dark Mode on Mojave is enabled. Dark Mode in Chrome looks similar to the darker toolbar available when using Chrome in Incognito Mode.


Other new features in Google Chrome include tab grouping for better organizing multiple tabs, support for keyboard media keys, and an automatic picture in picture option enabled when swapping away from an active video.

There's a new Sync and Google Services section under Settings to make it easier to control data collection settings and other options, spell checking improvements, and a new badge API that will let web app icons include a visual indicator for things like unread item counts.

There are a number of changes for developers in Chrome 73, including signed HTTP exchanges, constructable style sheets, and support for Progressive Web Apps on Mac.


Multiple security fixes have been addressed in Chrome 73, with Google outlining security updates in a blog post. Chrome 73 can be downloaded using the update button in Chrome if you already have it installed or through the Chrome website.

Tags: Google, Chrome

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Apple Not Fighting Royalty Increase for Songwriters That Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon Have Appealed

Spotify, Google, Pandora, and Amazon have all teamed up to appeal a ruling by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board that will increase royalties paid to songwriters by 44 percent, reports Variety.

In a joint statement, the companies, which all operate major streaming music services, said that the decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners.

"The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), in a split decision, recently issued the U.S. mechanical statutory rates in a manner that raises serious procedural and substantive concerns. If left to stand, the CRB's decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners. Accordingly, we are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision."
Apple is not joining the other streaming music services and will not appeal the decision. According to Variety, songwriter organizations have been heavily praising Apple while condemning the other streaming services.

David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers' association, called the appeals from Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon "tech bullies who do not respect or value the songwriters who make their businesses possible."

He also thanked Apple Music for not participating in the appeal and for "continuing to be a friend to songwriters."


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Google Bringing ‘Duplex’ Feature That Can Make Calls for You to iPhone

Google today announced plans to bring its "Duplex" feature that's designed to book restaurant reservations for you through actual voice calls to iOS devices.

Google says that the feature is available on all Pixel phones in 43 U.S. states and that it will be coming to "more Android and iOS devices" over the course of the next few weeks.


Unveiled at the 2018 Google I/O developer conference, Google Duplex lets Google Assistant make calls to businesses to schedule appointments and make restaurant reservations. It was demoed on stage with Google Assistant making a phone call to a real salon and using a natural-sounding conversation to book an appointment.

Following the demo, there were questions about the ethics of having a machine phone a real person, but in response, Google said that Google Assistant will identify itself and will allow restaurants to opt out of being recorded.

Placing a restaurant reservation this way involves telling Google Assistant where you want to go, what time, and with how many people. Google Assistant then calls the restaurant, and once a reservation is made successfully, you're notified via email and calendar invite.

Tag: Google

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Google Shares Details on Unpatched ‘High Severity’ macOS Kernel Flaw

Google's Project Zero team in November found a "high severity" macOS kernel flaw that was recently disclosed (via Neowin) following the expiration of a 90 day disclosure deadline.

As explained by Google, the flaw allows an attacker to modify a user-owned mounted filesystem image without informing the virtual management subsystem of the changes, meaning a hacker can tweak a file system image without user knowledge.

This copy-on-write behavior works not only with anonymous memory, but also with file mappings. This means that, after the destination process has started reading from the transferred memory area, memory pressure can cause the pages holding the transferred memory to be evicted from the page cache. Later, when the evicted pages are needed again, they can be reloaded from the backing filesystem.

This means that if an attacker can mutate an on-disk file without informing the virtual management subsystem, this is a security bug. MacOS permits normal users to mount filesystem images. When a mounted filesystem image is mutated directly (e.g. by calling pwrite() on the filesystem image), this information is not propagated into the mounted filesystem.
According to Google, Apple has not yet fixed this issue. Apple is planning to implement a fix in an upcoming software update, however.
We've been in contact with Apple regarding this issue, and at this point no fix is available. Apple are intending to resolve this issue in a future release, and we're working together to assess the options for a patch. We'll update this issue tracker entry once we have more details.
Google released the details on the bug without a fix from Apple because of its Project Zero policies. After discovering a security flaw, Project Zero provides details to the company that makes the software, providing them with 90 days to fix it before disclosure.

Google then publicly shares details on security flaws when a bug is fixed or when the 90-day deadline expires. Apple was informed of the bug in November, and the 90 day period elapsed without a fix.

Mac users should, as always, be wary of the files they're downloading to avoid attacks like this, making sure to download files only from trusted sites. It's not known if this is a bug that's easy to exploit, but Google has marked it as severe because it has the potential to bypass macOS safeguards.

Tag: Google

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Google Says Bug Caused Apple Music to Appear in Google Home App

Apple Music's brief appearance in the Google Home app earlier this week was due to a software bug, a Google spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg.


In an earlier statement, a Google spokesperson said "Apple Music is currently only available for Google Assistant users on mobile phones. We have nothing to announce regarding updates to Google Home."

Back in December, Apple Music became available on Amazon's range of Echo speakers, so there was hope that the service would be expanding to Google Home speakers too. Many other music services are available on Google Home, including Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Google Play Music, and YouTube Music.

Apple Music is currently available on iOS, Android, Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomePod, and Amazon Echo and Sonos speakers. Apple Music can also be controlled with the Google Assistant app on iOS devices.


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Apple Music Integration Possibly Coming to Google Home Devices

Apple Music may be soon be available as an option on Google Home devices, according to an image that was shared by MacRumors reader Jason.

We were able to track down the Apple Music listing within the Google Home app for iOS devices, but at the current time, it can't be linked to a Google Home device.


Still, the listing suggests that Apple could soon make Apple Music an available option for Google Assistant-powered playback on Google Home devices, much like it did with the Amazon Echo.

Back in December, Apple Music became available on Amazon's range of Echo speakers, allowing Alexa voice commands to be used to control Apple Music playback.

The Apple Music listing appears to be relatively new, and given that it's not working, it suggests an upcoming feature.

Apple Music expanding to Google Home speakers would make Apple's music service more accessible across all of the most popular smart home speakers that are available at the current time, expanding access far beyond just the HomePod.

Many other music services are available on Google Home, including Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, YouTube Music, and Deezer.


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‘Google Keep’ Note Taking App Now Available on Apple Watch

Google's "Keep" app for taking notes and making lists today expanded to the Apple Watch, allowing the app's users to use the note taking and list making functionality right on their wrists.

With Google Keep for Apple Watch, you can create new notes or reminder lists, pin items to lists, and check off items on existing lists.


Google Keep, for those unfamiliar with the app, is designed to let users create, edit, share, and collaborate on notes on any device at any time. It is cross platform like many of Google's apps, and works on iOS devices, Android devices, Macs, and PCs.

You can create reminders and voice memos, pull text from images, and organize notes with labels and colors. All Google Keep content can be shared with family members and friends, so you can create multi-person notes that everyone can annotate.

Tag: Google

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Google’s Planning a Cheaper Smartphone to Rival iPhone XR

Google is planning to unveil a cheaper smartphone as part of an aggressive effort to draw more users into the Google ecosystem and to better compete with Apple, according to a recent report from Nikkei.

Google is said to be planning to exploit Apple's current pricing issues. Apple suffered poorer iPhone sales than expected during the holiday quarter, and one major factor was the high cost of iPhones around the world.

Google's alleged low-cost smartphone, via Andro News

Google's upcoming smartphone will be priced similarly to Apple's iPhone XR, which costs $749 for the entry-level model in the United States. Google is targeting customers looking for a more affordable smartphone option and customers in emerging markets where higher-priced smartphones don't sell well.

Prior Google smartphones, such as the latest Pixel, have started at higher prices. The 2018 Pixel 3 released in October was priced starting at $799.

Along with a new lower-cost smartphone, Google is planning on hardware that includes new smart speakers, wearables, and web cameras. Google has been planning its hardware push for years and has scooped up hundreds of hardware engineers and supply chain specialists from Apple.

Google wants to use Google-branded hardware to push various Google services, a tactic that has been successful for Apple.

Alleged photos of Google's lower-cost Pixel smartphone surfaced earlier this year, depicting a device that looks a lot like the Pixel 3 but with a plastic shell.

Rumors have suggested the smartphone will feature 1 5.56-inch 2,220 x 1,080 LCD display instead of an OLED panel, along with a Snapdragon 670 processor, 32GB of storage, a headphone jack, 4GB of RAM, the same high-quality 12-megapixel camera that's in the Pixel 3, and a 2,915mAh battery.

It's not entirely clear when Google will debut the new lower cost smartphone, but one solid guess is Google I/O, which will take place in May.

Tag: Google

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Apple Shuts Down All of Google’s Internal Apps for Abusing Enterprise Certificate [Updated]

Apple is cracking down hard on companies that have been abusing its Enterprise Certificate program, and Google today joined Facebook in losing access to Apple's internal app tools, reports The Verge.

Apple revoked Google's Enterprise Certificate and as a result, none of Google's internal apps are functional. Pre-release versions of iOS apps like Google Maps, Hangouts, Gmail, and more stopped working today, along with employee transportation and cafe apps.


Google, like Facebook, was using its Enterprise Certificate designed for internal employee apps to distribute an iOS app called "Screenwise Meter" to customers.

Screenwise Meter was an app designed to collect information on internet usage, including details on how long a person spends on a site to the apps that are downloaded on a device. Apple does not allow data collecting apps like Screenwise Meter on the App Store, so Google asked customers to download it using an Enterprise Certificate.

By having customers install Screenwise Meter this way, Google was able to bypass Apple's App Store rules. Google was more forthcoming about its data collection policies than Facebook, but it still clearly violated the Enterprise Certificate Program, which only allows these certificates to be used for internal apps for employees.

Facebook was doing the same thing as Google with its "Facebook Research" app, and has also since lost access to its Enterprise Certificate, disabling all of the internal Facebook iOS apps and reportedly causing chaos within the company.

Both Google and Facebook have disabled the apps that took advantage of Apple's Enterprise Certificate program, but that did not stop Apple from revoking their Enterprise Certificates entirely.

Facebook yesterday said that it was working with Apple to reinstate the certificate, and Google is also likely in discussions with the Cupertino company to solve the issue.

Given the size of Google and Facebook and the importance of the Google and Facebook apps, Apple is likely to restore the certificates, but reinstated use may come with much more oversight.

Update: In a statement to Bloomberg, Google said it is working with Apple to resolve the issue. "We're working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps, which we expect will be resolved soon."

Update 2: In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple says it is working with Google to fix the certificate issue. "We are working together with Google to help them reinstate their enterprise certificates very quickly."

Tag: Google

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Google Also Exploiting Enterprise Certificates to Bypass iOS App Store for Data Collection

Facebook is facing the wrath of Apple today for misusing an enterprise certificate meant for internal use to get Facebook users to sideload a data harvesting "Facebook Research" app that violates App Store policies, and as it turns out, Google has been doing the exact same thing.

According to TechCrunch, Google has been distributing an app called "Screenwise Meter" using the enterprise certificate installation method since 2012.


Google has been privately inviting users aged 18 and up (or 13 for those part of a family group) to download Screenwise Meter, an app that is designed to collect information on internet usage, including details on how long a site is visited to apps that are downloaded.

By asking Screenwise Meter users to download the app using an enterprise certificate, Google is able to bypass App Store rules that prevent apps from gathering this kind of data from iPhone users.

Apple just this morning revoked Facebook's enterprise certificate for this exact same activity, which has rendered all of Facebook's internal apps nonoperational and has created chaos at Facebook's headquarters. Facebook employees are not able to use any of the internal apps that they rely on to get work done.

The Screenwise Meter app that Google uses lets users earn gift cards for sharing their traffic and app data. It is part of Google's Cross Media Panel and Google Opinion Rewards programs that provide rewards to people for installing tracking software on their smartphones, web browsers, routers, and TVs.


According to TechCrunch, Google is more forthcoming about the kind of data that it's collecting than Facebook, but that doesn't change the fact that Google is using an app installation method that appears to violate Apple's enterprise certificate rules in the same way the Facebook Research app did.

Additionally, people who install these kinds of apps for rewards may not fully understand the extent of the data that's collected.
Putting the not-insignificant issues of privacy aside -- in short, many people lured by financial rewards may not fully take in what it means to have a company fully monitoring all your screen-based activity -- and the implications of what extent tech businesses are willing to go to to amass more data about users to get an edge on competitors, Google Screenwise Meter for iOS appears to violate Apple's policy.
Apple and Google have not yet commented on the Screenwise Meter app, but if Apple does decide that Google is also violating its enterprise rules, which clearly state that the enterprise program is for distributing internal employee apps only, Google too could see the enterprise certificate used for the Screenwise app revoked.

Apple could also punish Google in the same way that it punished Facebook by revoking all of the company's internal apps that use the same certificate.

Tag: Google

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