Google Takes On The Future Of Gaming With Project Stream

Google takes on the future of gaming with Project Stream for PCs and Macs. Here’s everything you need to know about it. [ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Google takes on the future of gaming with Project Stream for PCs and Macs. Here's everything you need to know about it.


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Google to give Chrome users an opt-out to ‘forced login’ after privacy backlash

Google has responded to blowback about a privacy hostile change it made this week, which removes user agency by automating Chrome browser sign-ins, by rowing back slightly — saying it will give users the ability to disable this linking of web-based sign-in with browser-based sign-in in a forthcoming update (Chrome 70), due mid next month. The […]

Google has responded to blowback about a privacy hostile change it made this week, which removes user agency by automating Chrome browser sign-ins, by rowing back slightly — saying it will give users the ability to disable this linking of web-based sign-in with browser-based sign-in in a forthcoming update (Chrome 70), due mid next month.

The update to Chrome 69 means users are automatically logged into the browser when they are signed into another Google service, giving them no option to keep these digital identities separate.

Now Google is saying there will be an option to prevent it pinning your Chrome browsing to your Google account — but you’ll have to wait about a month to get it.

And of course for the millions of web users who never touch default settings being automatically signed into Google’s browser when they are using another Google service like Gmail or YouTube will be the new normal.

Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins, flagged the change in a critical blog post at the weekend — entitled Why I’m done with Chrome — arguing that the new “forced login” feature blurs the previously strong barrier between “never logged in” and “signed in”, and thus erodes user trust.

Prior to the Chrome 69 update, users had to actively opt in to linking their web-based and browser-based IDs. But Google’s change flips that switch — making the default setting hostile to privacy by folding a Chrome user’s browsing activity into their Google identity.

In its blog post Google claims that being signed in to Chrome does not mean Chrome sync gets turned on.

So it’s basically saying that despite it auto-linking your Chrome browsing and (Google) web-based activity it’s not automatically copying your browsing data to its own servers, where it would then be able to derive all sorts of fresh linked intel about you for its ad-targeting purposes.

“Users who want data like their browsing history, passwords, and bookmarks available on other devices must take additional action, such as turning on sync,” writes Chrome product manager Zach Koch.

But in his blog post, Green is also highly critical of Google’s UI around Chrome sync — dubbing it a dark pattern, and pointing out that it’s now all too easy for a user to accidentally send Google a massive personal data dump — because, in a fell swoop, the company “has transformed the question of consenting to data upload from something affirmative that I actually had to put effort into — entering my Google credentials and signing into Chrome — into something I can now do with a single accidental click”.

“The fact of the matter is that I’d never even heard of Chrome’s “sync” option — for the simple reason that up until September 2018, I had never logged into Chrome. Now I’m forced to learn these new terms, and hope that the Chrome team keeps promises to keep all of my data local as the barriers between “signed in” and “not signed in” are gradually eroded away,” Green also wrote.

Hence his decision to dump Chrome. (Other browsers are certainly available, though Chrome accounts for by far the biggest chunk of global browser usage.)

Responding to what Koch colorlessly terms “feedback” about the controversial changes, he says Google is going to “better communicate our changes”.

“We’re updating our UIs to better communicate a user’s sync state,” he writes. “We want to be clearer about your sign-in state and whether or not you’re syncing data to your Google Account.”

His explanation for Google flipping the default to be privacy hostile (rather than user affirmative) is to claim that “we think sign-in consistency will help many of our users”, saying Google has “received feedback from users on shared devices that they were confused about Chrome’s sign-in state”.

“We think these UI changes help prevent users from inadvertently performing searches or navigating to websites that could be saved to a different user’s synced account,” he also writes.

Though, as Green points out, making more people sign in to Chrome (rather than fewer) is a fuzzy sort of fix for an account ‘pollution’ issue.

Chrome’s flipped switch also now means users have to take Google’s word for it that it won’t suddenly auto sync their data to its own servers — say by making another opaque change, in the future, to further automate the harvesting of users’ personal data.

Privacy policies that can just be unilaterally rewritten at any point, without obtaining fresh consent from the user, aren’t worth the pixels they’re claiming to be inked in.

Let’s also not forget this is the same company that, back in 2012, combined around 60 separate privacy policies into a single overarching policy and Google account covering multiple, distinct web products — thereby, also in a fell swoop, collapsing multiple user identities which, prior to then, people had been able to maintain (to try to control what Google knew about them).

Google’s push where privacy is concerned is pretty clearly one way — away from individual agency and control, and towards it being able to join up ever more personal data dots which its ad-targeting business can use.

With the Chrome update the company has rubbed out yet another privacy firewall for users wanting to fight its amassing of conglomerate profiles of their online activity.

And even with the after-the-fact switch that’s being announced now (and only after a critical backlash), which from next month will let settings pros disable the default Chrome auto-link, the company’s general direction of travel does not respect user agency at all. Quite the opposite.

Google seems to be trying to make consent itself an after thought — i.e. for the few who know to poke around in the settings. Instead of what it should be: An affirmative, baked in by design to ensure privacy is available for everyone.

Google’s push to erode privacy looks likely to bring it problems in Europe, where a tough new regional data protection framework makes privacy by design and default mandatory.

Failure to comply with this element of the GDPR can attract fines as large as 2% of a company’s global annual turnover — which would not be a trivial sum for a company as revenue-heavy as Alphabet.

And, as others have pointed out, Google making a major change to how Chrome handles sign-ins does not look like business as usual for the product. So the company would have been well advised to have carried out a privacy impact assessment — to ensure the changes it’s making were compliant with GDPR.

We’ve asked Google whether it carried out a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) ahead of pushing out the change to sign-ins on Chrome 69 and will update this report with any response. Or whether it’s handling sign-ins differently in the EU (which does not seem to be the case).

We’ve also asked if it will commit to making any DPIA for Chrome public.

A spokesman acknowledged receipt of our questions but at the time of writing the company had not sent any answers.

There’s another potentially problematic issue for Google here too, vis-a-vis GDPR, because according to Koch’s blog post it is not currently clearing Google auth cookies when cookies are cleared by the user.

He writes that it will “change this behavior that so all cookies are deleted and you will be signed out”. But that’s going to take about a month.

In the meanwhile a user action (clearing cookies) is not resulting in Google clearing all cookies — which looks like a pretty clear violation of EU privacy rules, albeit temporarily (if it’s going to fix it next month).

We also asked Google about its failure to clear all cookies.

Safe to say, Google’s privacy hostile actions look sure to attract close scrutiny in the EU where privacy is a fundamental right.

But the company is also set to face questions on the topic in a Senate committee hearing today — and is expected to acknowledge that it has made “mistakes” on privacy issues, according to documents seen by Reuters

Though it will also apparently claim it has “learned, and improved our robust privacy program”.

Certain Chrome users would probably take a very different view.

5 useful new features in Chrome 69

On Google Chrome’s tenth anniversary, Google has released a major update with a revamped design. In this article, we will walk you through the all the interesting new features and options in Chrome 69. What’s new in Google Chrome 69? 1. New…

On Google Chrome’s tenth anniversary, Google has released a major update with a revamped design. In this article, we will walk you through the all the interesting new features and options in Chrome 69. What’s new in Google Chrome 69? 1. New user interface As soon as you open Chrome v69, the new design immediately catches the eye. Google has opted for rounded edges, new icons, and brighter colors. This makes Chrome look a lot simpler and cleaner than before. For example, the toolbar has been moved to the bottom of the screen for easier access. Further, almost everything has

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On its tenth anniversary, Chrome rolls out Material Design overhaul across platforms

Google Chrome turned ten yesterday. To celebrate the anniversary, they’re refreshing the app across desktop and mobile platforms with an all-new look taking cues from Material Design and some new features and improvements, including a completely revamped password manager and updated autofill so you can get things done more easily and securely.

Yesterday, Google’s Chrome browser celebrated its tenth birthday by bringing a fresh new look and some new features to its mobile and desktop app, now bumped to version 69.... Read the rest of this post here


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Google Chrome Update Brings New UI, Smarter Features And Much More On Mobiles And Desktops

Google Chrome’s latest update brings new user interface, smarter feature, and much more on mobiles and desktop computers. Here’s everything you need to know. [ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Google Chrome's latest update brings new user interface, smarter feature, and much more on mobiles and desktop computers. Here's everything you need to know.


[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Chrome gets a new look for its 10th birthday

It’s been ten years since Google first launched Chrome. At the time, Google’s browser was a revelation. Firefox had gotten slow, Internet Explorer was Internet Explorer and none of the smaller challengers, maybe with the exception of Opera, every got any significant traction. But here was Google, with a fast browser that was built for […]

It’s been ten years since Google first launched Chrome. At the time, Google’s browser was a revelation. Firefox had gotten slow, Internet Explorer was Internet Explorer and none of the smaller challengers, maybe with the exception of Opera, every got any significant traction. But here was Google, with a fast browser that was built for the modern web.

Now, ten years later, Google is the incumbent and Chrome is getting challenged both from a technical perspective, thanks to a resurgent Firefox, and by a wave of anti-Google sentiment. But Google isn’t letting that get in the way of celebrating Chrome’s anniversary. To mark the day, the company today officially launched its new look for Chrome and previewed what it has in stock for the future of its browser. And it’s not just a new look. Chrome’s Omnibox and other parts of the browser are getting updates, too.

If you’ve followed along, then the new look doesn’t come as a surprise. As usual, Google started testing this update in its various pre-release channels. If you haven’t, though, you will still instantly recognize Chrome as Chrome.

The new Chrome user interface, which is going live on all the platforms the browser supports, follows Google’s Material Design 2 guidelines. That means it’s looking a bit sleeker and modern now, with more rounded corners and subtle animations. You’ll also see new icons and a new color palette.

On the feature side, Chrome now offers an updated password manager that can automatically generate (and save) strong passwords for you, as well as improved autofill for those pesky forms that ask for you shipping addresses and credit card info.

What’s maybe more interesting that, though, is an update to the Omnibox (where you type in your URLs and search queries). The Omnibox can now search the tabs you have currently open and in the near future, it’ll return results from your Google Drive files, too.

Also new are the ability to change the background of your new tab page and create and manage shortcuts on it.

Looking ahead, Google VP of product management Rahul Roy-Chowdhury notes that the team is looking at how to best bring more AI-driven features to Chrome.

“With a smarter Chrome, you will be able to do more than just look at a webpage,” he writes. “Imagine searching on Chrome for a singer you just heard, and having Chrome show you not just their bio, but also their upcoming concert near you and where to purchase tickets. With AI, Chrome will also better understand what you’re trying to get done, and help you do so faster.”

That, of course, is exactly what Microsoft is also trying to do with its Edge browser and its integration with Cortana. I’m not a regular Edge user, but I’ve generally been surprised about the usefulness of that integration, which automatically brings up related information about restaurants, for example. It’ll be interesting to see what Google’s version of this feature will look like.

Roy-Chowdhury also notes that the team is working on building more augmented-reality features into the browser. So far, those features have always sounded better on paper than in practice and mostly felt like a gimmick. Google thinks it’s on to something, though, so we’ll just have to see what that’ll look like when it goes live.

How to move multiple tabs to a new window in Google Chrome

One of the benefits to using Google Chrome on your Mac, as opposed to Safari, is the ability to move multiple tabs to a new window. Here’s how to do it. 

One of the benefits to using Google Chrome on your Mac, as opposed to Safari, is the ability to move multiple tabs to a new window. Here’s how to do it. ... Read the rest of this post here


"How to move multiple tabs to a new window in Google Chrome" is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Workona helps web workers finally close all those tabs

A new startup, Workona, this week launched software designed for those who primarily do their work in a browser. The company’s goal is to become the OS for web work – and to also save web workers from the hell that is a million open tabs. To accomplish this, Workona offers smart browser windows you […]

A new startup, Workona, this week launched software designed for those who primarily do their work in a browser. The company’s goal is to become the OS for web work – and to also save web workers from the hell that is a million open tabs. To accomplish this, Workona offers smart browser windows you set up as workspaces, allowing you a place to save your open tabs, as well as collaborate with team members, search across your tabs, and even sync your workspace to different devices.

The Palo Alto-based company was founded in fall 2017 by Quinn Morgan (CEO), previously the founding product manager at Lucidpress, and Alma Madsen (CTO), previously the first employee and Director of Engineering at Lucid Software, the makers of Lucidpress.

“Last year, Alma and I decided we wanted to build something together again, and initially began working on a different startup idea,” explains Morgan, as to how Workona began. “As a remote team at the time, we were using cloud apps like Google Docs, Asana, Slack, and Zoom to stay connected. Both of us were wearing multiple hats and juggling ten different projects at once.”

“One late night, with ten windows open for each project, the idea just struck us: ‘Why doesn’t the browser – the tool that we actually do most of our work in – not have a good way to manage all of our projects, meetings, and workflows?'”

Of course, there are already browser add-ons that can help with taming the tab chaos, like OneTab, toby, Session Buddy, The Great Suspender, TooManyTabs and others.

But the co-founders didn’t want just another tab manager; they wanted a smart browser window that would save the work you do, automatically. That way, you wouldn’t have to keep all the tabs open all the time, which can make you stressed and less focused. And you wouldn’t have to remember to press a button to save your tabs, either.

With Workona, the software guides users to create workspaces for each of the projects, meetings, and workflows they’re currently working on. (Working on…Workona…get it?).

You can also take a browser window that represents one project and save it as a workspace.

These workspaces function like a folder, but instead of holding a set of files, they can save anything on the web – cloud documents, task lists, open websites, CRM records, Slack sessions, calendars, Trello boards, and more. In each workspace, you can save a set of tabs that should reappear when that workspace is re-opened, as well as set of “saved tabs” you may need to use later.

After creating a workspace, you can use Workona to re-open it at any time. What that means is you can close the browser window, and later easily pick up where you left off without losing data.

A list of workspaces will also appear in the left-side navigation in the Workona browser tab. Within this tab, you can click to open a workspace, switch between workspaces in the same browser window, search for tabs or workspaces from the included search bar, or open workspaces from their URL.

In a shared workspace, you can also collaborate with others on things the team is working on – like everything needed for a project or meeting.

“Our vision is to build the missing OS for work on the web and workspaces are just the start,” says Morgan.

The company is currently working on making the workspaces and its search features more powerful, he adds.

Workona will be sold as a freemium product, with a free tier always available for moderate use. Pro accounts will be introduced in the future, removing the limit of 10 workspaces found in the free version.

The company has been beta testing with users from tech companies like Twitter, Salesforce and Amazon, as well as NASA.

The company is still pre-seed stage, with funding from K9 Ventures.

Traditional OS’s spent a lot of time and effort in designing the ‘desktop experience’ and switching between applications. But in a browser, all we have is tabs,” said K9 Ventures’ Manu Kumar, as to why he invested. “There are tab managers but none of them really solved my problem well enough, and none of them allowed me to maintain a shared context with other people that I’m collaborating with,” he added.

Workona is available for Chrome as a plugin you download from its website.

Facebook is now a major mobile browser in U.S., with 10%+ market share in many states

Most of the data around web browser market share puts Google Chrome or Safari at the top – with their percentage of the market varying by platform and region. But new research from analytics provider Mixpanel finds that many sources are overlooking a major contributor of mobile web browser events here in the U.S.: Facebook. […]

Most of the data around web browser market share puts Google Chrome or Safari at the top – with their percentage of the market varying by platform and region. But new research from analytics provider Mixpanel finds that many sources are overlooking a major contributor of mobile web browser events here in the U.S.: Facebook.

According the firm’s new study involving millions of users and billions of events across its platform, Facebook has grown to become a significant browser on U.S. mobile devices. In some states, it’s even accounting for a sizable number of mobile browser events – like Washington (13.74%), Rhode Island (13.14%), and Montana (12.64%), for example.

While Facebook’s use as a mobile browser was still far outweighed by Safari in most cases, due to the dominance of Apple’s iOS in the U.S., the social networking app has achieved mobile browser market share of around 10 percent in many states, Mixpanel found.

This includes: Texas (10.12%), Hawaii (10.94%), New Hampshire (10.52%), Indiana (11.93%), Missouri (11.49%), Pennsylvania (10.92%), South Carolina (10.16%), North Carolina (11.8%), Oregon (9.73%), North Dakota (9.9%), West Virginia (9.95%), Minnesota (11.81%), and Delaware (9.94%), in addition to Washington, Rhode Island, and Montana, as noted above.

This is notable because it means many people in those states are using Facebook as their main point of consuming online content – whether it’s news or entertainment, or anything else.

It’s also indicative of the threat that Google has been facing for some time as users shift their web searches to mobile devices. With more people using Facebook as their portal to the web, Google has had to rely more heavily on partnership deals – like its integration in Apple’s Safari browser where it pays to be the default search engine, creating much heftier traffic acquisition costs.

Facebook’s growth as a mobile browser is also of concern because it means it has an outsized influence on shaping the flow of news and information, without having a news media background or experience – or even, any longer, an editorial staff who curates the way news reaches Facebook users.

Instead, it has for years over-relied on its algorithms to customize the News Feed, which allowed fake news, hoaxes, and clickbait to spread. This is something the company has only recently come to terms with, and is trying to correct through punitive measures like downranking fake news, as well as by implementing fact-checking programs.

Those course corrections are long overdue, and are increasingly critical to get right, as this new data shows.

Thankfully, Facebook’s portion of the mobile browser market share is still small compared with Safari, which has the majority market share in almost all the U.S. states, where it claims anywhere from the mid-50’s to mid-60’s in terms of mobile browser market share percentages.

On average across all U.S. states, Safari claims 58.06 percent of mobile browser market share, Chrome has 32.48 percent, and Facebook has 8.82 percent. All other browsers account for the remaining 0.64 percent, Mixpanel reports.

Related to Safari’s dominance, the study also found iOS topped Android usage in the U.S. with 65.5 percent of American using iOS versus 34.46 percent on Android.

In some states, iOS’ usage was very high – around three-quarters or more of the population are using Apple’s OS – including: Alaska (77.88% iOS vs 22.12% Android), Connecticut (76.94% vs 23.06%), and Rhode Island (75.50% vs 24.5%). New York (72.57% vs 27.43%) and California (66.72% vs 33.28%) were high as well, on that front.

And every single state had over 50 percent of their users on iOS.

The highest penetration by Android was in Nevada (58.33% iOS vs 40.44% Android), West Virginia (56.95% iOS vs 43.05% Android) and Wyoming (55.5% iOS vs 44.5% Android). But only in one case did this also equated to higher Chrome usage: in Wyoming, 65.94% of the mobile browser market share was Chrome, versus 30.07% Safari.

How To Get Google Chrome’s New Material Design Refresh On iOS And Desktop Right Now

Here’s how to enable Google Chrome new Material Design Refresh on iOS, Windows and Mac (desktop) right now. [ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Here's how to enable Google Chrome new Material Design Refresh on iOS, Windows and Mac (desktop) right now.


[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]