Tech roundup: Google Privacy Scare, Uber Hack & More

[A recurring feature on the latest in Science & Technology.]

1. Admits it tracked location of Android phone users even when location services setting was turned off by triangulating his/her location from cell tower addresses; says the practice went live January this year as a means to improve message delivery and that it has ended using this method as of November 30.
2. Bans app developers from adding lock screen ads on Android smartphones.
3. Releases final preview build of Android 8.1 with support for Pixel 2's Visual Core, a SoC dedicated exclusively for faster image processing.
4. Brings its own version of Stories format (but it's not ephemeral!) to Youtube; officially releases its data saving app for Android called Datally (previously Triangle, which was being tested in Philippines) and a new version of YouTube called YouTube Go to download and watch videos for users with limited data and slow internet connection.
5. Brings Duo video calling integration and money transfer via Google Wallet to Messages app for Android; adds new motorcycle mode and 'OK Waze' voice commands to Waze in latest update and gives Google Flights a design refresh (why not integrate it Google Trips?)
6. Updates Google Trends to surface data from News, Images, YouTube and Shopping verticals.
7. To allow users contact one another via email addresses (instead of just phone numbers) and support multiple devices in future update to Allo messaging service.
8. Makes it possible for Google Home smart speaker to handle two commands at once.
9. Removes more than 270 accounts and over 150,000 videos from YouTube and turns off commenting on 625,000 videos targeted by child predators as it fights disturbing videos on the video platform.

1. Reportedly holds preliminary talks with pharmaceutical companies for drug purchasing and distribution weeks after news emerged that it had purchased domain.
2. Adds in-skill purchases and personalised responses for Alexa; beefs up its cloud offering with a slew of new services, including but not limited to translation, transcription, video recognition, artificial intelligence and machine learning, at its AWS re:Invent conference at Las Vegas.
3. Asks Indian users to handover Aadhaar information, the country's biometric-metric based unique ID, to track lost packages.
4. Releases Kindle Lite Android app to let users read eBooks over slow networks.
5. Enters Australian market with a dedicated online shopfront for users to buy products without having to pay international shipping fees.

Facebook Collections for saved posts

1. Faces a fresh wave of privacy concerns for sharing facial data captured via Face ID on iPhone X with app developers.
2. Suffers from an embarrassingly long list of software bugs on macOS and iOS 11 in a short span of just one week.
3. Acquires Vrvana, a company that previously developed an augmented reality headset called Totem for US$ 30 million.

1. Tests native Regram button and hashtag following features in Instagram; rolls out Customer Chat website plugin that makes it easy to integrate Facebook Messenger to any retailer website for customer support.
2. To release a new tool by the end of the year that allows users check if they were victims of Russian propaganda in U.S. presidential elections last year.
3. Takes on Pinterest with its own Collections feature to group saved posts on the social network.

1. Says 600 million monthly active users are now running Windows 10, adding 100 million since May this year.
2. Releases Edge browser for Android and iOS.
3. Updates Office apps for Android to support Chromebooks (via Play Store).
4. Gets its Skype app removed from Android and iOS app stores in China for its failure to comply with local law.

1. Faces a slew investigations in the wake of revelations that it paid hackers US$ 100,000 to delete stolen data on 57 million users.
2. Gets hammered in court over disclosures made by a former Uber employee Richard Jacobs, who testifies (as part of ongoing lawsuit filed by Google's Waymo unit for alleged theft of self-driving tech) that a special team at the company (called Strategic Services Group) was tasked with gathering code and trade secrets from competing businesses, in addition to making use of ephemeral messaging apps like Wickr to avoid leaving a trail.

In other news:
1. Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger unveils new Substitute Phone made out of plastic and stone beads to help people kick their smartphone addiction.
2. Snapchat unveils a new design of its Android and iOS app that focusses on friends and human-curated Discover content to weed out fake news. (But will it help?)
3. Indian ride-hailing startup Ola begins offering a bicycle-sharing service.
4. Collaborative workspace startup WeWork acquires hobby-focussed networking platform Meetup for US$ 200 million.
5. Samsung's Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) develops a new battery technology with more capacity and extremely fast charging times of just 12 minutes.
6. Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp steps down from the company "after months of reflection on my personal ambitions, and at no cost to my hopefulness for Tumblr’s future or the impact I know it can have."
7. Andy Rubin, Essential CEO and creator of Android, takes leave of absence from the company after details of an "inappropriate relationship" with an employee during his tenure at Google is outed by The Information (paywall).