Why is video quality on Instagram and Snapchat so much worse on Android than iOS?

Android Central:

It’s the case of one versus many again. When you add hundreds of different phones with hundreds of different cameras and hundreds of different screen sizes and resolutions, it can seem impossible. With Android, that’s what you have. Developers have a particular set of rules and instructions about how to use the camera in iOS because there are so few models, and Apple does the work of making a set of rules that work on all of them.

That’s not how Android works. If you want a big phone with a big screen, you have plenty of choices from plenty of companies. The same goes if you want a smaller phone or a cheap phone or an ultra-high resolution phone. Android is software that works on many things, while iOS is software that works on just a few things that all come from the same company.

That means that there are countless different camera setups that Snapchat and Instagram need to support. And they could offer the same level of quality and support that is there for iOS if they wanted to, but that would mean hiring a lot more people and taking a lot more time.

Google learned this early in Android’s life: developers either can’t or don’t want to support many models of phones with many different camera setups. The solution was to offer a bare minimum level of support that works with every phone. Your new Galaxy S20 might have a spectacular camera, but with none of the extra features and none of the automatic control that Samsung built into it available, you get that bare minimum. And it shows.

This is a struggle we face with our Android app. There are just too many combinations of hardware and software environments we need to optimize for. In contrast, the iOS app is a lot easier to maintain.

Google faces $5 billion lawsuit in US for tracking 'private' internet use

Reuters:

The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the Alphabet Inc unit of surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite their using what Google calls Incognito mode.

According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads.

This helps Google learn about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said.

So what does Google have to say about this?

Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said the Mountain View, California-based company will defend itself vigorously against the claims.

“As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,” he said.

Really?

Michael Tsai:

When you open a new incognito tab, Chrome tells you:

Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity.

[…]

Your activity might still be visible to:

Websites you visit Your employer or school Your internet service provider

Not deceptive at all.

Users should be told that they are tracked by Google even in Incognito mode.

Urbanization is driving a wave of new internet users in China

Urbanization is driving a wave of new internet users in China:

We estimate that 914.1 million people in China will be internet users in 2020, which represents 65.6% of the population. This figure should cross 975 million by 2022, even as growth rates decline from 4.5% this year to 3.1% in 2022.

China has rapidly become a nation of urbanites, and every year, fewer people live in areas deemed to be “rural.” This process is significant, because consumer access to and use of modern technology tend to rise as urbanization grows. Whether because of population transfers to existing cities or infrastructure and economic development in previously rural areas, 60.6% of China now lives in a district designated as “urban.”

[…]

Most non-internet users in China are offline for several reasons: poverty, lack of education or literacy, old age, lack of interest or lack of access to internet enabled technology and an internet service provider.

The initiative to eradicate poverty will further drive the numbers down.

White House organizes harassment of Twitter employee as Trump threatens company

The Verge:

Conway called the employee “horrible” and directed listeners to go after him. “Somebody in San Francisco go wake him up and tell him he’s about to get a lot more followers,” she said on air. Immediately, the call was picked up by right-wing personalities and Trump supporters, who began sharing screenshots of the employee’s tweets. Roth is already facing a torrent of abuse and harassment, including multiple death threats, reports Protocol.

Such attacks happens on Twitter and nothing is done to curb such behaviour. What we are seeing now is probably one of the highest profile organised harassment of a Twitter user. Will it finally push Twitter to send a signal that this is not acceptable usage of the platform.

Kuaishou users don't need to leave the app to buy on JD

Emma Lee on TechNode:

Short video app Kuaishou and e-commerce giant JD announced today a new partnership as the Chinese tech titans are gearing up for China’s biggest mid-year shopping extravaganza 618 on June 18.

[…]

  • Kuaishou’s closer relationship with JD comes a few months after a hiccup with Taobao Live, the Alibaba-backed livestream major that supports a similar referral feature.
  • Livestream e-commerce, on the cusp of its boom, is expected to become a new driver for the upcoming shopping spree 618.
  • The festival comes when the country is trying to boost domestic consumption to offset the economic slowdown resulted from the coronavirus outbreak.
  • JD shareholder Tencent invested $2 billion in Kuaishou last year in Kuaishou’s $3 billion pre-IPO round, giving Kuaishou a valuation of around $28.6 billion.

618 is JD’s equivalent of Alibaba’s 11.11 Singles Day. It’ll be interesting to see how this alliance helps to boost JD’s revenue for this upcoming event on 18 June.

I’m also curious what angle JD will approach the live streaming given the brand’s strength as a reputable, verified ecommerce platform. Taobao is an open marketplace so you see many entrepreneurs and small businesses selling on Taobao, and they conduct their live streams as the shop owner. In contrast, JD stores are more brand flagship stores or authorised resellers.

Camo Beta

Michael Tsai:

Reincubate (tweet, via Joe Cieplinski):

Want to look your best on video calls? The camera on your iPhone or iPad is leagues ahead of any webcam on the market, and Camo makes it easy to use your iPhone as a webcam.

iPhone cameras are getting better whilst webcams get worse. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the 2020 MacBook Air’s camera is worse than the 2010 model. Even the new MacBook Pro only does 720p, which even YouTube doesn’t consider “HD”.

Great idea. I expect it to get Sherlocked soon.

I have no complaints about my 16” MacBookPro’s camera. It is good enough for calls, but definitely lacking for serious video recording.

You can use all the fancy camera filters and effects in FaceTime on iOS but it doesn’t work on the Mac. That’s a bummer when you want to use Animoji in calls.

The painful death of BlackBerry

Shawn King wrote about the painful death of BlackBerry:

The reasons why BlackBerry failed staying as the coolest communication devices aren’t exclusive to them. When one of the biggest phone companies plummets to oblivion, it’s worth analyzing.

Check out the embedded video.

Jekyll and GitHub Pages

BakingPixel is now on Jekyll hosted on GitHub Pages! Since this is now a static site, you should see a massive boost in performance.

We’ve also used this opportunity to refresh the design. The old design we created with WordPress has been around for 7 years, with some minor tweaks over the years. This is the first major facelift and, like our other sites that we reworked, we have added auto dark mode support.

Thank you for your support all these years and we look forward to putting more content out here!

Students are failing AP tests because the College Board can’t handle iPhone photos

The Verge:

Bryner is among the many high school students around the country who completed Advanced Placement tests online last week but were unable to submit them at the end. The culprit: image formats.

A screenshot of the AP testing portal informing a student that they weren’t able to submit their responses. Screenshot: College Board For the uninitiated: AP exams require longform answers. Students can either type their response or upload a photo of handwritten work. Students who choose the latter option can do so as a JPG, JPEG, or PNG format according to the College Board’s coronavirus FAQ.

But the testing portal doesn’t support the default format on iOS devices and some newer Android phones, HEIC files. HEIC files are smaller than JPEGs and other formats, thus allowing you to store a lot more photos on an iPhone. Basically, only Apple (and, more recently, Samsung) use the HEIC format — most other websites and platforms don’t support it. Even popular Silicon Valley-based services, such as Slack, don’t treat HEICs the same way as standard JPEGs.

If they had tried testing it with the most commonly used devices they would have noticed this bug instead of only discovering it after rollout.

France orders social media platforms to remove extremist content in 1 hour or pay a fine

The Next Web: France orders social media platforms to remove extremist content in 1 hour or pay a fine.

France just passed a new law forcing major social media platforms requiring social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to remove sensitive content related to pedophilia and terrorism within just one hour of notification.

This new order also states that these platforms need to remove hateful content promoting racism, sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and aggravated insults within 24 hours of notification.

Having seen hate speech run amok on social media of late, this is a much needed move.