Google makes it clear that it is scanning your email

Business Insider reports on Google’s updating of its privacy policies.

Google scans your email:

Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.

Google can reuse whatever you upload:

When you upload,or otherwise submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

Of course, on the surface, it is just a way for Google to ensure that they have permission to scan your emails for virus and data about you. Data that is used to customise your search results and ads targeting. And to translate your uploads, assuming these are content that can be accessed by people who will need it to be translated in the first place.

It is better to be vague than specific in this case to ensure that it blankets all possible instances where the policy can be effected. However, it is worrying for Google to have a policy that gives it so much leeway in what it can do with user data.

The Nocera confusion

John Gruber writes about the article by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera.

Much like how Kane, in her piece back in February for The New Yorker’s website, tried to have it both ways regarding Scott Forstall — arguing that Apple Maps was “a fiasco” in the very next paragraph after arguing that Tim Cook should not have fired Forstall, the executive who was responsible for Apple Maps in iOS 6 — Nocera here has painted Apple into a damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don’t scenario. He spends most of his column arguing that Apple is screwed because they’re lost without Jobs. But now he’s saying they’re screwed because they’re doing exactly what Jobs expressly told his biographer he wanted to do: fight Android handset makers — and by proxy, Google — tooth and nail in court.

It seems that it doesn’t matter if Nocera contradicts himself, as long as he writes something that sells. Bashing Apple will definitely bring in readership.

The day Microsoft gave up world domination and settled for relevance

Waffle writes about the day Microsoft decided to give up wanting to dominate all platforms.

Ballmer and Gates think losing the platform war, no longer being the largest and the no-one-ever-got-fired-for choice means the end of the Microsoft as we know it, and they may be right. But it’s the also the beginning of the only Microsoft that can stop the bleeding and thrive. The time to make a choice either way is long gone. Now it’s a matter of survival and you can’t yearn yourself to the future.

Took them long enough.

Interestingly, someone else realised this earlier and benefited.

Steve Jobs at MacWorld 1997:

We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose. We have to embrace a notion that for Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job. And if others are going to help us, that’s great because we need all the help we can get. And if we screw it and we don’t do a good job, it’s not somebody’s else’s fault. It’s our fault.

Microsoft says it will stop inspecting your emails

Microsoft released a statement on the change in their stance towards privacy.

Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves. Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.

Something they should have done from the start.

Three Mozilla board members resign over choice of new CEO

WSJ Digits reports on the resignation of three Mozilla board members over choice of new CEO.

How did the CEO appointment go ahead when three board members, who felt so strongly against it that they are willing to quit over it, and Mozilla employees oppose the decision?

I can’t even begin to imagine how messed up their decision making process is.

Roku CEO: Apple TV is a money-loser

CNET reports on claims by Roku CEO Anthony Wood that Apple TV is a money-loser.

Apple TV is essentially an accessory for the iPad. They lose money, which is unusual for Apple,” he said Thursday, speaking at the Recode conference here. “If you’re losing money, why would you want to sell more.

The CNET reporter failed to notice the flaw in Wood’s assertion. The Apple TV was estimated to cost $64 to build back in 2010. I’m sure costs would have gone down in the past few years. Given that the Apple TV sells at $99, how is that making a loss?

Also, it is an incredible lack of insight to miss the true value of a content providing device. You need to consider profits generated from the content served by the device. Just ask Amazon.

Oh, speaking of Amazon, Roku has bigger problems to deal with than the profits from Apple TV.

97% of mobile malware is on Android

Forbes reports that 97% of mobile malware is on Android devices.

If you want to stay safe on Android there’s the solution: stick to buying apps on the Play Store and every one in 1000 apps you buy may have had malware for a brief period.

I’ll like to hear what pro-Android users have to say. Keep in mind that a large proportion of Android users are probably not tech savvy enough to know how to scan for malware.

Two Google Play apps secretly mines Litecoin and Dogecoin

Ars Technica reports on two Android apps that secretly mine Litecoin and Dogecoin.

Users with phones and tablets that are suddenly charging slowly, running hot, or quickly running out of batteries may want to consider if they have been exposed to this or similar threats. Also, just because an app has been downloaded from an app store – even Google Play – does not mean it is safe.

Google Play is not secure. But lack of outrage regarding the matter is rather disturbing. Are Android users more concerned about how the mining could be done even more discreetly, rather than be alarmed that their phones are used for something they were unaware of, without their consent?

Android KitKat’s SD card change breaks apps

AndroidCentral explains why apps stored on the SD card stop working after updating to KitKat.

It’s simple, really. Prior to Android 4.4 KitKat, applications — provided they had permission to access the SD card — could read and write to any area on removable storage, including the system folders like DCIM, Alarms, etc. That has all changed, and now third-party applications — as in ones you download from Google Play or elsewhere — can only write to files and folders that they have created or have taken ownership of.

This should have been how it was designed from the start. There are people who say they will not update to KitKat because of the hassle to work around the change in SD card support. But if you wanted things to work out of the box, perhaps you should have considered iOS. Isn’t the draw of Android, or so I’ve been told, its flexibility in allowing users to handle the files and folders?

Of course, you can choose not to upgrade. You just need to be very careful with the apps you install and trust that the apps you choose to install have no malicious intents.

WhatsApp says reports of security flaw are overstated and inaccurate

TechCrunch reports on Whatsapp’s response to the report security flaws in its Android app.

Under normal circumstances the data on a microSD card is not exposed. However, if a device owner downloads malware or a virus, their phone will be at risk. As always, we recommend WhatsApp users apply all software updates to ensure they have the latest security fixes and we strongly encourage users to only download trusted software from reputable companies.

WhatsApp is shifting the blame to users for downloading malware. This does not address the issue of their encryption being cracked.

Google also needs to rethink the way they allow apps to access folders. Perhaps they can learn from how Apple sandboxes iOS apps.

For now, Android users should be very careful what apps they install as the exploit still works with the latest version of WhatsApp. Of course, if you don’t mind people reading your messages, then it’s not an issue.