Tag Archive for ‘Quartz’

Google Collects Android Users’ Locations Even When Location Services Are Disabled ➝

Keith Collins, reporting for Quartz:

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.

Quartz observed the data collection occur and contacted Google, which confirmed the practice.

The cell tower addresses have been included in information sent to the system Google uses to manage push notifications and messages on Android phones for the past 11 months, according to a Google spokesperson. They were never used or stored, the spokesperson said, and the company is now taking steps to end the practice after being contacted by Quartz. By the end of November, the company said, Android phones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, at least as part of this particular service, which consumers cannot disable.

Google only decided to discontinue this practice after getting caught red-handed. But if no one noticed, how much longer would this have gone on?

Amazon’s Echo Is a Glorified Clock Radio ➝

Alexander Acimen, writing for Quartz:

I can’t imagine that the designers at Amazon would have been thrilled with the minor achievement of having assembled the world’s foremost clock radio when they built the Amazon Echo, a smart home hub that came out in 2015. But what else could they possibly have expected after packing this little device with a prodigious number of useless easter eggs and yet somehow overlooking a glaring, Death Star-level flaw: the Echo uses Bing instead of Google. […]

This reality doesn’t bode well for Alexa, because her response to 95% of basic search queries is “I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.” It is a phrase that Alexa owners are all too familiar with. It is a phrase you hear again, and again, and again, and soon you will feel that time has stopped, and you will never want to look up anything on the internet ever again. There is a reason that the phrase “to google” has universally come to mean looking up on the internet. It is because Google is the most reliable search engine. At best, and Bing looks like an ad pages site posing as a search engine.

There are some kind words about the Echo in the last two paragraphs, but overall, this is a pretty scathing review of the product. Perhaps Siri isn’t the worst voice assistant on the market.

(Via Matt Birchler.)

Quartz’s News App for iPhone ➝

Zachary Seward, on the recently released Quartz news app:

The app, exclusive to iPhone, is a whole new way to experience Quartz. We put aside existing notions about news apps and imagined what our journalism would be if it lived natively on your iPhone. It wouldn’t be a facsimile of our website. It would be something entirely different, with original writing, new features, and a fresh interface.

I’ve launched the app several times since it was released and I just don’t think it’s for me. All of the stories that it’s delivered have been much more mainstream then I’d prefer and there’s no way to tell the app what type of stories you’re interested in.

It’s also an incredibly inefficient way of consuming news. I get that the app is meant to mimic a text message conversation, but having to tap a reply button between each headline is just silly. The interface feels like an artificial barrier that’s meant to further the gimmick rather than improve the experience of reading the news.

A Month of Beats 1 Tracks Analyzed ➝

This explains exactly why I don’t listen to Beats 1 anymore — it doesn’t play any music I enjoy. I really hope Apple is able to strike a chord with my musical taste with subsequent stations, but I can’t say I’m too optimistic. I’m sure there’s plenty of listeners who love hip-hop and electronic music, but I’m not one of them.