So, if you want to find the best burger in your area, all you have to do is tweet the burger emoji at Google, which takes just a matter of seconds. The account will then respond with a link to a Google search for “burgers nearby,” displaying a map with restaurant listings.
Google says the feature will work with over 200 different emoji for food, sites and activities near you. It’s also promising some “easter eggs.”
It’ll be interesting to see which emoji will yield search results and you better believe we’ll be trying as many as we can. (And yes, we’re going there with the eggplant emoji.)
When something goes wrong, one of the first things you think about is getting in touch with the people you care about. But if there’s been a natural disaster, an accident or some other emergency, that may be a lot easier said than done.
Google’s latest app, called Trusted Contacts, aims to fix that. The app allows friends and family members to remotely share their location with just one touch.
When you sign up for the app, you designate specific people in your address book as “trusted contacts.” This allows you to share your location at any given time and allows them to request your location.
Unlike Apple’s Find My Friends and some related apps, Trusted Contacts doesn’t share your location by default. Instead, your trusted contacts can see general information about your whereabouts, like whether you’re currently online and if you’ve been moving around.
You can, however, broadcast your location at any given moment to one or all of your trusted contacts, who will be able to see your real-time location until you end the location sharing. The thinking, says product manager David Tattersall, is that users will be able to share their location with loved ones for brief periods of time, like while walking home or out on a hike.
The app also works offline, so if your battery dies or you lose service, the app will still be able to point contacts to wherever your last known location was.
Likewise, if a trusted contact wants to check on you, they can ask for your location within the app. When a contact requests your location, the app will notify you and you can opt to share your location or decline the request. If you don’t respond to the request, the app will automatically share your most recent location with the contact who requested.
That last part may be troubling to the more privacy conscious, but Google says it’s necessary as people are not always able to use their phone during serious emergencies, like natural disasters or car accidents.
“It basically means then that as long as you’ve got your phone in your pocket, someone can always find you in case of an emergency. You’re always findable,” Tattersall tells Mashable.
Trusted Contacts is currently only available on Android, but there is a web interface that allows you to designate iPhone users and others who don’t have the app as trusted contacts and Google says an iPhone version is in the works.
Though the app is relatively simple for now, Tattersall notes that the app complements some of Google’s other crisis response services and says that, in the future, Google may choose to integrate it with Android’s built-in emergency calling features.
“We have a really robust crisis response offering for times of earthquakes and natural disasters… you can see there’s a natural evolution here where these two products could work together if we want.”
BONUS: Google Earth Timelapse shows how man has altered the planet in 32 years
The tech companies plan to create a shared database of unique digital fingerprints that can identify images and videos promoting terrorism
Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have pledged to work together to identify and remove extremist content on their platforms through an information-sharing initiative.
The companies are to create a shared database of unique digital fingerprints known as hashes for images and videos that promote terrorism. This could include terrorist recruitment videos or violent terrorist imagery or memes. When one company identifies and removes such a piece of content, the others will be able to use the hash to identify and remove the same piece of content from their own network.
We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online, said the companies in a shared statement.
Because the companies have different policies on what constitutes terrorist content, they will start by sharing hashes of the most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos as they are most likely to violate all of our respective companies content policies, they said.
The precise technical details remain to be established, said Facebook, although the approach echoes that adopted to tackle child sexual abuse imagery. The same companies use the National Center for Missing and Exploited Childrens PhotoDNA technology, developed by Microsoft, to identify images of child sexual abuse. However, with PhotoDNA the images are categorized centrally by law enforcement and the technology companies are legally obliged to remove the content.
Earlier this year Hany Farid, the computer scientist who helped develop PhotoDNA, proposed a sister program for extremist content. He teamed up with the Counter Extremism Project to develop a system that could proactively flag extremist photos, videos and audio clips as they are posted online.
We are happy to see this development. Its long overdue, he told the Guardian, explaining that he has been in conversations with Facebook and Microsoft since January.
Despite welcoming the announcement he remained cautious, particularly because of the lack of an impartial body to monitor the database: There needs to be complete transparency over how material makes it into this hashing database and you want people who have expertise in extremist content making sure its up to date. Otherwise you are relying solely on the individual technology companies to do that.
The strength of PhotoDNA comes from the single central database, he said. If its removed from one site, its removed everywhere. Thats incredibly powerful. Its less powerful if it gets removed from Facebook and not from Twitter and YouTube.
What we want is to eliminate this global megaphone that social media gives to groups like Isis. This doesnt get done by writing a press release.
Technology companies have been under pressure from governments around the world over the spread of extremist propaganda online from terror networks such as Isis.
We are interested in exploring all options with you for how to deal with the growing threat of terrorists and other malicious actors using technology, including encrypted technology, said a briefing document released before the secretive summit.
Are there technologies that could make it harder for terrorists to use the internet to mobilize, facilitate, and operationalize?
Facebook said the latest initiative was not the direct result of the January meeting. But it said all the companies agreed there was no place for content that promotes or supports terrorism on their networks.
Tech-savvy rightwingers have been able to game the algorithms of internet giants and create a new reality where Hitler is a good guy, Jews are evil and Donald Trump becomes president
Heres what you dont want to do late on a Sunday night. You do not want to type seven letters into Google. Thats all I did. I typed: a-r-e. And then j-e-w-s. Since 2008, Google has attempted to predict what question you might be asking and offers you a choice. And this is what it did. It offered me a choice of potential questions it thought I might want to ask: are jews a race?, are jews white?, are jews christians?, and finally, are jews evil?
Are Jews evil? Its not a question Ive ever thought of asking. I hadnt gone looking for it. But there it was. I press enter. A page of results appears. This was Googles question. And this was Googles answer: Jews are evil. Because there, on my screen, was the proof: an entire page of results, nine out of 10 of which confirm this. The top result, from a site called Listovative, has the headline: Top 10 Major Reasons Why People Hate Jews. I click on it: Jews today have taken over marketing, militia, medicinal, technological, media, industrial, cinema challenges etc and continue to face the worlds [sic] envy through unexplained success stories given their inglorious past and vermin like repression all over Europe.
Google is search. Its the verb, to Google. Its what we all do, all the time, whenever we want to know anything. We Google it. The site handles at least 63,000 searches a second, 5.5bn a day. Its mission as a company, the one-line overview that has informed the company since its foundation and is still the banner headline on its corporate website today, is to organise the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful. It strives to give you the best, most relevant results. And in this instance the third-best, most relevant result to the search query are Jews is a link to an article from stormfront.org, a neo-Nazi website. The fifth is a YouTube video: Why the Jews are Evil. Why we are against them.
The sixth is from Yahoo Answers: Why are Jews so evil? The seventh result is: Jews are demonic souls from a different world. And the 10th is from jesus-is-saviour.com: Judaism is Satanic!
Theres one result in the 10 that offers a different point of view. Its a link to a rather dense, scholarly book review from thetabletmag.com, a Jewish magazine, with the unfortunately misleading headline: Why Literally Everybody In the World Hates Jews.
I feel like Ive fallen down a wormhole, entered some parallel universe where black is white, and good is bad. Though later, I think that perhaps what Ive actually done is scraped the topsoil off the surface of 2016 and found one of the underground springs that has been quietly nurturing it. Its been there all the time, of course. Just a few keystrokes away on our laptops, our tablets, our phones. This isnt a secret Nazi cell lurking in the shadows. Its hiding in plain sight.
This week, researchers revealed that a strain of malware hit at least 1.3 million Android phones, stealing user data as part of a scheme to boost ad revenue. Called “Gooligan,” it got into those devices the way so many of these large-scale Android attacks do: through an app. Specifically, an app that people downloaded outside the comfortable confines of the Google Play Store.
For criminals, the malicious Android app business is booming. It’s easy for a hacker to dress software up to look novel, benign, or like the dopplegnger of a mainstream product, and then plant it in third-party app stores for careless browsers to find. Once downloaded, these apps may even seem normal (if a little janky) but they can spread ransomware or types of malware that exploit system vulnerabilities to steal data or take over a whole device. Don’t want this drama on your phone? The key to protecting yourself is staying away from sketchy app stores, and only downloading software from Google Play.
Android’s open-source status makes it easily accessible to developers, but also leaves the door open for malicious apps. (Apple’s App Store isn’t immune from this issue, but it’s much less severe.) Google carefully vets the products in Play to make sure they’re safe. Rotten apps do slip through on occasion, but the company is fairly quick at removing anything problematic. “Google Play automatically scans for potentially malicious apps as well as spammy accounts before they are published on the Google Play Store,” Google said in a statement to WIRED. “We also introduced a proactive app review process to catch policy offenders earlier in the process and rely on the community of users and developers to flag apps for additional review.” There’s usually no way to know whether third-party app vendors offer this (or any) type of oversight. And malicious apps aren’t a minor threat.
“We work three to four cases a week around apps that have been seeded within the secondary app store market that conduct a variety of attacks from stealing money to rooting a phone for information stealing purposes,” says Dan Wiley, the head of incident response at Check Point, the security firm that discovered Gooligan. “When you buy or download an app from the genuine store a number of controls are in place to detect the fake and hostile apps. When you get your apps from somewhere other than the official stores, well, instead of just not getting the real thing you could lose your money, lose your personal information.”
One problem confronting Android in particular is the broad range versions, and manufacturer-imposed “skins” on top of those versions, in the wild. Nearly half of current Android users are on devices running Android 4.4—which came out three years ago—or older. This puts devices at risk because hackers can continue to successfully exploit known Android bugs for years even though they have been patched in more recent firmware updates, a strategy malware (like Gooligan) often relies on.
The most important way to ensure that your apps are legitimate is to navigate to the Google Play Store first, then search for what you want and download it there instead of using a search engine (or email from a coworker you barely know) to find a random link that may or may not lead to a legitimate source. By intentionally going to the Play Store first, you give yourself the best chance of downloading safe apps. “I definitely recommend getting things from the official sources,” says James Bettke, a counter threat unit researcher at the security intelligence firm SecureWorks. “Think before you click. Google Play establishes trust. You can trust that that app is made by a certain vendor or individual. With a third-party store you dont know what you’re getting.”
One exception may be Amazon Underground, an app store which the retail giant created to work in parallel with Google Play so that Amazon wouldnt have to share revenue, and could experiment with non-traditional app business models. Though staying in Play is the safest option for now, reputable third-party stores are possible, theyre just rare, because vetting apps to ensure security requires significant investment.
That’s true today more than ever. As desktop browsing declines and more people spend time on their mobile screens, apps are an increasingly appealing and lucrative target for hackers. “More and more critical functions and transactions are being executed through the apps,” says Sam Rehan, chief technology officer at the mobile security firm Arxan. “At the rate that online transactions are growing, things will only get more intense.”
Besides, no bubble-bursting game is worth leaking your personal data or a stolen identity. And it’s not like you don’t have millions of safe apps to choose from.