Google’s minute-by-minute map of your life

TechCrunch reports on Google’s location history browser.

If you carry any Google-filled gear (like, say, an Android phone or tablet), there was a prompt during the initial setup that asked if Google could transmit your location data back to the mothership. This is that data. You know how Google Now can auto-magically figure out where you work and warn you about traffic? This is the data that makes that possible (or at least a good chunk of it.)

If you are using an Android device and cannot remember if you agreed to send your location data, check this link to see if Google is tracking your location. Unfortunately, Google does not have any of my location history so I will appreciate it if you can share your experience. Do you find it awesome or creepy?

WeChat partners with StickerMe to let users create personalised stickers

WeChat has announced a partnership to allow users to share personalised sticker from Japan-based MotionPortrait’s sticker-making app StickerMe.

StickerMe users are able to custom stickers from a selfie. Through this partnership, WeChat users can share their personalised stickers from the StickerMe app directly to their WeChat conversations and Moments.

As part of the launch of this collaboration, MotionPortrait has made a set of Christmas-themed StickerMe templates available exclusively to WeChat users this December.

StickerMe is available free on App Store and Google Play.

(via WeChat Malaysia)

Google had to start over their Android project after Apple unveiled the iPhone

The Atlantic writes about how Apple’s launch of the iPhone forced Google to scrap their Android project and start over.

For most of Silicon Valley—including most of Google—the iPhone’s unveiling on January 9, 2007 was something to celebrate. Jobs had once again done the impossible. Four years before he’d talked an intransigent music industry into letting him put their catalog on iTunes for ninety-nine cents a song. Now he had convinced a wireless car­rier to let him build a revolutionary smartphone. But for the Google Android team, the iPhone was a kick in the stomach. 

“What we had suddenly looked just so . . . nineties,” DeSalvo said. “It’s just one of those things that are obvious when you see it.”

Android prior to the iPhone was scrapped when the iPhone was unveiled.

A lot was wrong with the first iPhone too. Rubin and the An­droid team &emdash; along with many others &emdash; did not think users would take to typing on a screen without the tactile feedback of a physi­cal keyboard. That is why the first Android phone &emdash; the T-Mobile G1 from HTC, nearly two years later &emdash; had a slide-out keyboard. But what was also undeniable to the Android team was that they had underestimated Jobs. At the very least, Jobs had come up with a new way of interacting with a device &emdash; with a finger instead of a stylus or dedicated buttons &emdash; and likely a lot more. “We knew that Apple was going to announce a phone. Everyone knew that. We just didn’t think it would be that good,” said Ethan Beard, one of Android’s early business development executives.

Within weeks the Android team had completely reconfigured its objectives. A phone with a touchscreen, code-named Dream, that had been in the early stages of development, became the focus.

The Android team did not believe a touchscreen would work, until they saw the iPhone. The author is mistaken to write about touchscreen on iPhone being something wrong with the iPhone. As John Gruber puts it:

That first sentence is fine — the original iPhone left much room for improvement. But Vogelstein’s supporting example — the on-screen keyboard — is an example of something the original iPhone got right, and which took the rest of the industry, including Andy Rubin and the entire Android team at Google, years to come to terms with and accept. What percentage of smartphones sold today have a hardware keyboard? I’m guessing it’s in the single digits and dropping.

Credit card data of Target’s customers stolen in a major breach

Chicago Tribune reports on a major credit card breach of Target’s customers. Payment card data was stolen starting from the Black Friday weekend.

Investigators believe the data was obtained via software installed on machines that customers use to swipe magnetic strips on their cards when paying for merchandise at Target stores, according to the person who was not authorized to discuss the matter and declined to provide further details.

Krebs on Security, a closely watched security industry blog that broke the news, said the breach involved nearly all of Target’s 1,797 stores in the United States, citing sources at two credit card issuers. The report said that “track data” from at least 1 million payment cards was thought to have been stolen before Target uncovered the operation, but that the number could be significantly higher.

It is a major security breach for the attackers to be able to compromise so many point-of-sales terminals across the US.

Update: Target has confirmed the breach.

Microsoft CEO search update by board of directors

Microsoft’s board of directors had decided that it is necessary for them to post on the company’s official blog to give an update on their search for a new CEO.

As the chair of the Board’s search committee, I’m pleased with our progress. The Board has taken the thoughtful approach that our shareholders, customers, partners and employees expect and deserve. After defining our criteria, we initially cast a wide net across a number of different industries and skill sets. We identified over 100 possible candidates, talked with several dozen, and then focused our energy intensely on a group of about 20 individuals, all extremely impressive in their own right. As you would expect, as this group has narrowed, we’ve done deeper research and investigation, including with the full Board. We’re moving ahead well, and I expect we’ll complete our work in the early part of 2014.

Reacting to the uncertainty over the CEO search? Regardless of whether they manage to settle the nerves of investors and consumers, it still does not hide the fact that there was no succession planning in place.

LG Chromebase

I thought the 256 GB on my MacBook Pro is measly. The LG Chromebase beat that with just 16 GB of storage.

RaincheckPH helps Filipinos prepare for storms

Tech in Asia reports on the RaincheckPH app that makes rainfall prediction in the Philippines.

The next step would be to get mobile devices out into the areas that are prone to storms, and provide internet that the general public can easily access.

Evernote for Android gets improved note editing

Evernote has updated its Android app with improved not editing.

If you are like many Evernote users, then you’re creating notes across a variety of platforms. It used to be that when you tried to edit one of these notes on Android, you were likely to wipe out much of the text styling. Not anymore. Now, Evernote for Android has expanded its support for styles created in other versions of Evernote. Also, if a given style is unsupported on Android, the app will allow you to edit the content, while maintaining the styling so that it displays correctly when viewed on other platforms.

Good news for Android Evernote users.

Reporting Apple’s “Rate this app” dialogs

Chuq Von Rospach writes about how Apple can implement a system to report unwanted “Rate this app” dialogs.

What you want to build here is a reputation system. Every time this team validates a report, everyone who made that report gets their reputation value incremented. Every time a report is rejected, those that reported gets their reputation value decremented. Over time, you’ll build a data set that will tell you how reliably a person giving a report is in sync with the standards of those judging the reports.

Thoughts on ‘Button Shapes’ in iOS 7.1 Beta 2

Steven Aquino writes about the inclusion of button shapes in iOS 7.1 beta 2.

From a AX perspective, what the new Button Shapes do is restore a sense of explicitness to iOS 7′s interface. These types of visual cues are so important to many visually impaired users, myself included. Whereas previously I struggled in identifying whether a label was an actionable control or simply a label, iOS 7.1′s Button Shapes hearken back to the iOS 6-style, This is a button. Tap me!, level of usability. And therein is the point: usability. As I stated, it’s perfectly valid to wince at and decry the visual design of the new buttons, but make no mistake, the addition of this feature is a tremendous improvement for visually handicapped users such as myself. These buttons will make iOS 7 infinitely more usable than it is today, and Apple absolutely should be applauded for addressing a serious issue — not only for me, but even for the normal-sighted as well.

Very good point. It seems that many people missed the fact that the option is available under Accessibility. The inclusion of the ability to turn on button shapes is for the benefit of visually impaired users. The emphasis is on making iOS 7 more usable for this particular group of people, and not on making it look visually stunning for everyone.