First Chrome 66 Build Lands in The Chrome OS Dev Channel

Chrome OS Build 61 App Launcher

For the fourth consecutive week, the Chrome OS Dev Channel has received another new update.  This week however, it is something new.  Chrome 66 has come to the alpha channel in build version 66.0.3344.0 (Platform version: 10403.0.0).

There hasn’t been a massive amount of insight into what is going to be coming in Chrome 66 and the release notes – of which there are none for this update – didn’t shed any light.  It is known that the Symantec Trust Certificates prior to June 1, 2016 will be removed.  It is also expected that split-screen Android mode will be available.  That feature, to this point, has been in the hidden Canary channel of the platform.

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New Android P Commit Suggests Idle Apps Will Have No Camera Access

Android Droid Logo

Based on a new commit found in the Android code review repository, it looks like Android P is going to have a significant security improvement built into it.  The commit suggests that idle apps will no longer have access to the camera and it looks like it will be universal across all apps.

If a UID is idle (being in the background for more than cartain (sp) amount of time) it should not be able to use the camera. If the UID becomes idle we generate an eror (sp) and close the cameras for this UID. If an app in an idle UID tries to use the camera we immediately generate an error. Since apps already should handle these errors it is safe to apply this policy to all apps to protect user privacy.

Today, a rogue app could access your camera without you knowing, even if that app is running in the background.

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Google Pay Goes Live Today with App Release and Rebranding

Google Pay Logo

Google Pay, the rebranded merging of Google Wallet and Android Pay, is going live today.  With a new app rolling out and a rebranding of another… wait, I thought there was only going to be one app?  Yeah… we’ll get there.

First, Google Pay is the rebranding of Android Pay and that app is going live in the Play Store today according to the company’s blog.  If you have Android Pay installed on your phone, you will get an OTA update to the new app over the course of the next few days.  Regardless of which one you have installed right now, you can still go and use it.  This, to an extent, is a rebranding exercise at this point.

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Swype Keyboard Abandoned by Nuance as Company Shifts Focus

Swype Banner

Having been in the Google Play Store for the past four-plus years, the Nuance developed Swype Keyboard is no longer being developed.  The news came via XDA Developers who confirmed the news with Nuance.

Nuance will no longer be updating the Swype+Dragon keyboard for Android. We’re sorry to leave the direct-to-consumer keyboard business, but this change is necessary to allow us to concentrate on developing our AI solutions for sale directly to businesses.

It means that one of the original swipe-to-type keyboard solution for both Android and iOS is essentially dead.  The app is still available in the Play Store but it is likely a question of how much longer.

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Chrome 64 for Android Shortens Unwieldily Long URLs When You Share Them

Chrome for Android

In the latest stable channel build for Android, Chrome 64, there is a new automatic URL shorter for those long, unwieldily URLs from shopping sites and other locations.  The new feature was uncovered by the team over at Android Police and should make sharing of URLs a little bit easier.

The new feature is used when you use the Share feature in Chrome for Android.  When you share a URL or copy it to the clipboard, a smaller version of the URL copied.  You can then share it with whatever apps or contacts as you would normally.

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Google Pixelbook Down to $899 on Amazon and The Google Store

Google Pixelbook

Right now, over at Amazon, you can pick up the entry level Google Pixelbook for $899, a savings of $100 off the regular price.  In fact, you can pick up the Pixelbook and the Pixelbook Pen together for $997, which is less than the normal price of the Chromebook itself.

The price is for the Intel i5 powered unit with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.  It is certainly powerful enough to do anything you would need, be it in Chrome OS or Android apps running on the device.

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Chrome OS Gets an Optional TPM Security Update That Requires a Powerwash

Chrome OS Powerwash

There is a new, optional security update for Chrome OS that fixes a vulnerability with the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) in the majority of Chromebooks.  To apply the update however, you will need to Powerwash your device.

The vulnerability has to do with hackers potentially being able to brute force the RSA keys generated by your TPM.  This, in theory, could give the the opportunity to plant malicious code on your device or take it over.  For those not familiar, a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a specialized chip on an endpoint device that stores RSA encryption keys specific to the host system for hardware authentication. It essentially makes sure that the hardware and software on your device are secure and encrypted and what has access to the keys generated by it.  Thus, you see the problem.  If the TPM gets compromised, it can lead to a lot of issues for end users.

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