Google’s suite for mobile apps development, Android Studio version 3.1 released in late March, brings enhancements for SQLite and Room databases in applications, with support for better code editor to aid developers with SQL table and query creation statements.

Android Studio 3.1 IDE also added improvements for C++ and Kotlin coders and for SQLite database users.

While developers use the simplperf command line tool as the backend and the profiler records C++ method traces, the C++ CPU performance profiler troubleshoots bottlenecks in the code.

The former Android Studio 3.0 IDE brought support for the Kotlin language for building Android applications, and enhancements to its build system and debugging, which also interoperates with existing Android languages and runtimes.

Kotlin, Lint code quality checks can now run in the command line as well as from the IDE in the current version. And developers can take advantage of the Lint capability to open an Android Studio project and use the command line to run gradlew lint.

To add Kotlin to a project, developers can use the conversion tool found in the Android Studio IDE via the menu sequence Code > Convert Java File to Kotlin File.

Android Studio version 3.1 IDE can be downloaded from the Android Studio website.

Android Studio 3.1 brings Improvements for SQLite and Room databases in applications

Google URL Shortener, was launched in 2009 as a way to help people share links that are rather too long easily and to be able to measure the traffic. While many URL shortening services have emerged, the ways people find content online have also changed dramatically, from primarily desktop webpages to apps, mobile devices, and smart home assistants.

The company starting March 30, 2018, has turned down support for the URL shortener, and from April 13, anonymous users and those who have never created short links before now will not be able to create new short links via the console.

Google is transitioning over the coming weeks and replacing it with Firebase Dynamic Links(FDL), smart URLs that allow sending of existing and potential users to any location within an iOS, Android or web app.

For existing short links, you can continue to use all features of console for a period of one year, until March 30, 2019, when it will be discontinued.

And after March 30, 2019, all links will continue to redirect to the intended destination. But existing short links will not be migrated to the Firebase console, however, you will be able to export your link information from the console.

Google have recommended FDL APIs for developers who already are calling the URL Shortener APIs to manage short links, FDL short links will automatically detect the user's platform and send the user to either the web or your app, as appropriate.

All links will continue to redirect to the intended destination after March 30, 2019. Albeit, existing short links will not be migrated to the Firebase console/API.

Google ending support for its URL Shortener service; recommends Firebase Dynamic Links

While Amazon launched its Video Skill API, a new addition to the Skill Kit (ASK) designed to offer more control over apps from media companies in January, the company has moved up to add the ability to use the digital assistant for video recording.

The new video recording Skill joins other functionalities already provided by top developers, notably from producers like: DIRECTV, TiVo and Verizon — all which will most likely be updating their Skill set to the new recording function.

Amazon also included the ability to access frequently used navigation options, like DVR interfaces or video services like Netflix or Prime, with the instance that the company gives in its post on the topic.

The instance works pretty much as explained, just by saying, “Alexa, record the A’s game,” the associated function will do it. And it applies to any specific program, where users can ask Alexa to do things like pause the show, and the assistant will do just that.

Surely, Alexa is becoming an ever-important video assistant, with the new skills now available to developers and will be pushed to the aforementioned producers soon.

How Amazon's Alexa is becoming an ever-important Video assistant

As part of its effort to tighten the leash on the spread of misinformation, Facebook will fact-check Photos and Videos prior to the U.S. Midterm Elections, so as to avert the purported negative role it played in the 2016 presidential election.

While Russian trolls were pointed in the abuse of the social network to meddle in the campaigns, the current measures are coming at a time when Facebook is already on the hot seat with the U.S. lawmakers.

According to the company, to curb the spread of misinformation, it will focus on four areas, including: thwarting foreign interference, removal of fake accounts, and ad transparency. Now coupled with the fact-checking of photos and videos, in reducing the spread of fake news.

Facebook has partnered with Agence France-Presse, the French news provider to roll out the authentication process in France, and promising that more countries will follow soon.

The company claims that millions of fake accounts are blocked each day, with the help of machine learning, which accounts engages in different types of activity that is deemed inappropriate by the social network.

And the ongoing media backlash over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, makes the current effort but one in a million of tasks before the social networking platform.

Other measures include the understanding of the different context of misinformation: like false identities and false facts. Albeit perhaps, it isn't just for the U.S. elections, but in every other countries, by localizing Facebook's efforts to tackle their specific problems.

Facebook will fact-check Photos and Videos prior to the U.S. Midterm Elections

Apple at its Tuesday education event, introduced a slew of new education apps, which includes: Classroom for Mac, Schoolwork, and the Everyone Can Create curriculum. While Apple hope to strengthen its classroom presence with the Everyone Can Create curriculum and Schoolwork apps, now joining Classroom to round out the iPad school suite.

The new iPad with Apple Pencil support perhaps attracted all of the attentions, as Apple used the education event in Chicago to unveil a host of new tools for teachers and students, aimed to make the most of their Apple education experience.

Also, Apple has expanded the Classroom application, now including the Everyone Can Create curriculum and Schoolwork app. Find below what the different tools can do and how schools can utilize them.

  • Classroom for Mac

Apple soon to be released Classroom for Mac, which will be available this June as a beta, like the original Classroom app, can be used to launch apps, books, and webpages on Mac by the students and Teachers.

It integrates into Apple’s Schoolwork app, which also received an update, to allow the teachers to take students to a specific point within the app, or assign specific tasks within another app.

  • Everyone Can Create Curriculum

Everyone Can Create Curriculum presents a free resource to teachers and students for the integration of videos, photos, illustrations, and music into lessons or assignments. It is developed in-house by Apple with input from educators, and will be available in the Spring, with lessons already available at Apple sessions in the Apple Store.

As part of the Everyone Can Code project, the teachers can create interactive lessons, while students can work on the active projects.

  • Schoolwork Management

Apple says it's Schoolwork Management suit is a better solution to the competitions, with many of them web-based programs, and having serious shortcomings. There are a variety of classroom management applications, which is currently available for Teachers.

The major difference between Schoolwork and other apps, is that Schoolwork can work with other apps on the iPad that have implemented the ClassKit API.

Schoolwork integrates into Apple’s existing Classroom app, and allow teachers to manage and create class assignments and monitor student progress. This integration allow teachers to access a lot of student data at once. However, it remains to be seen whether these apps would work with cybersecurity or privacy tools like Mac VPN software.

Apple's slew of Education Apps: Classroom for Mac, Schoolwork, and the Everyone Can Create curriculum

Hire by Google is a recruitment service powered by the search giant's existing candidate database, which comprises previous candidates who applied to a position at a given company, who perhaps weren’t necessarily a great fit for a previously open position.

According to Google, companies on average, engage with about 250 candidates before finding the right candidate, and more often, many of the 249 that don’t get hired are a great fit for future openings.

The idea of the recruitment tool is to help companies who haven’t always had an easy way to identify past candidates that might be a good match for new jobs.

Google have updated the tool with a couple of new features, including what it calls "candidate discovery" which is still in beta, that will make it easier to find the right candidates among the pool of potential employees who previously applied to a position at a company.

The "candidate discovery" capability aims at the job description, title and location of a job ad and matches it to a list of past candidates.

It serves more as an intuitive search engine that gives recruiters a head start by helping them quickly create a short list of past candidates who are a fit for new positions, using Google’s search smarts technology to better understand the recruiter’s intent.

Albeit, Google’s efforts to streamline the overall online job search in recent months have all focused on helping job searchers find potential positions, the current tool serves to cater for the hiring managers.

The new candidate discovery capability is now available in beta to all Hire by Google service customers.

Hire by Google service for recruiters makes finding the right candidates easier

Following the privacy furore about how data obtained by Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan was abused, aka Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook will now allow users delete anything from their profile and timeline, or even outright denial of Facebook the use of their data.

While other measures taken by the social network to ensure users privacy include bringing the privacy settings to the top of News Feed with the apps granted permissions to data by the user and an easy way to revoke the permissions.

The new privacy tools will help users have more controls over their data and be able to choose which specific parts of their data they no longer want Facebook to share with advertisers and which specific posts, reactions, comments and profile details to delete.

According to Facebook, some of these updates have been in the works for some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance.

The steps taken by Facebook to put people in more control over their privacy include: Simplified privacy settings, Information tool that lets you access, manage and delete information from your profile or timeline, and tools to manage who sees your posts or what you've shared on the network.

Additionally, Facebook has made it possible for you to download all of your data: like photos, contacts or posts and be able to move it to any other social network.

And perhaps, those users who formerly cared less about their privacy, would probably do now, as the events of the past weeks and the #DeleteFacebook tag have opened their eyes to demand more control of their data.

Facebook's new tools allow users to take more control of Privacy

Microsoft is set to introduce a new feature in the spring 2018 feature update of Windows 10, AKA Redstone 4, called Near Share to allows users to share files wirelessly to other user on a different PC. It works the way Apple's AirDrop work for iOS devices, and it's pretty convenient to share those random stuff off the screen.

Near Share was first introduced in Windows 10’s Insider Build 17035, as an ad-hoc replacement for the "sneakernet" of trading USB keys, and uses both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (Bluetooth to establish and maintain the connection, and Wi-Fi to help transfer files).

And PCs will need to be tied to the Insider program, or just be up-to-date with Windows 10 Redstone 4 when it drops to be able to beam files across via Near Share.

The feature is turned off by default, Near Share, so to turn it on, you’ll need to open the Settings menu, specifically Settings > Home > System > Shared experiences. Toggle on the Nearby sharing button. The Share across devices setting, below it, enables the “Pick up where you left off” experiences that are built into the related Timeline features and Cortana.

As per the permission settings, you can either allow any nearby device to send files across to you or limit the sending of files to your own, signed-in PCs.

There’s a tip to consider in renaming your PCs, given that Windows assigns a quasi-random device name to each PC, so when you’re transferring a file, you’ll need to pick which PC to send it to, so a recognizable name is a no-brainer.

The feature is more convenient than using a USB stick to share images or some small files, albeit it’s a limited use case that could have an enlarged scope. Microsoft, however plans to launch a “cloud clipboard” in the Redstone 5 release or later of Windows 10, due this fall.

Microsoft set to debut Near Share in Windows 10 spring update

5KPlayer is perhaps the best utility app that offers free 4K/ 5K /8K music video playback for MKV MTS DVD 1080P videos and APE FLAC MP3 AAC music , with built-in YouTube online video downloader, AirPlay sender/receiver and it’s able to stream video/music from iPhone to both Mac & Windows.

The YouTube downloader and AirPlay features on 5KPlayer was first released for Mac in early 2015, while the Windows version followed some months after.

Find below some enhancements that make 5KPlayer one of the best free 4K UHD video players for Windows 10, and what it offers more than regular media players.

  • Full Support for all audio music formats: MP3, AAC, WAV, FLAC, and More

5KPlayer support all video music file types, including MP3, WMA and M4A, and also offer playback for less-known formats like FLAC, APE lossless files.

It also supports ISO file format, and able to plays live radio like CBS Sports, NBC news, The Buffalo country & rock radio, etc.

  • Apple AirPlay™ Support to stream video and audio with multi-screen playback

5KPlayer is capable of streaming videos and music from iOS device to a Windows computer via AirPlay, and users can mirror an iPhone or iPad screen to Windows 10 computers. Additionally, it can record the computer screen as a video file.

As both AirPlay sender and receiver, it ensures that users can stream video and audio files, including full-length movies from iPhone, iPad, and iPod to Windows.

  • Media Player for Windows 10 & HD YouTube Downloader

5KPlayer can handle virtually all media file types, and offers video and music playback in any format, including 4K, 1080p, H.265, MP4, MKV, AVI, MP3, AAC, OGG.etc.

Apart from the ability to play local media files, 5KPlayer can also help enrich your music and video collections by the free downloading of videos/movies/music songs online , including from YouTube, Facebook, among others.

It also support 1080p HD videos and 4K ultra HD videos downloading. And you can easily convert the videos from MP3 to AAC, and vice versa.

  • Conclusion

Definitely, these features make 5KPlayer overwhelming superior to the competitions of other media players. And coupled with the intuitive interface and user-friendly layout, which makes it easy for users to customize their videos and audio playback with tons of options.

5KPlayer Review: Best Free 4K Video Player for Windows 10

Mozilla next update to its browser, Firefox is purportedly bundled with an ad filter, which follows after the recent Google's Chrome browser ad-blocking feature which took effect on February 15, 2018.

According to the Firefox roadmap note, Mozilla will take a stand against tracking, intrusive ads, and other dark patterns on the web by blocking the worst content and more clearly communicating the privacy and other protections the browser offers.

While the Quantum Firefox, version 57 is the most important Firefox release in years, culminating years of improvements on many of the pieces that allow the browser to work smoothly.

This year, Mozilla's focus is to include more mobile work, with new products like Lockbox, and targeted feature updates that will make the mobile apps silky smooth, more powerful, and a joy to use whether it's Firefox for Android, Firefox for iOS, Firefox for FireTV, or Firefox Focus and Klar.

And the feature Mozilla tagged ad filter rather than the more common ad blocker moniker, which defines the more broader screening of all ads from website pages.

Firefox ad filter would flag certain categories of ads, just as Chrome target ads determined as obnoxious by the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA), and then expunge only those advertisements. Albeit, the company did not disclose any third-party censorship standard it will employ, or whether it will toe the line of Google with the CBA.

The ad filtering capability is expected in Firefox 62 (due for Aug. 21) or Firefox 63 (for Oct. 15 release date).

The roadmap focuses primarily on the Firefox consumer products, as such developers will not be left out and will see significant improvements to the Firefox web platform and the expansion of developer and designer tools.

Mozilla Firefox roadmap points to ad filter coming to the browser

Microsoft announced back in February the end of supplemental servicing for Windows 10, version 1511, now the company's set retirement date of April 2018 (which correspond to the additional six months from initial termination date of October, 2017) is around the corner.

So Windows users who are still in the process of updating to a current version of Windows 10, should mark April 10, 2018 on their calendar, which is the last day for supplemental servicing for Windows 10, version 1511.

Microsoft labels its feature upgrades in a yymm format, and its scheduled to receive a final set of security patches on April 10, after which it will require additional action from customers for eligible devices.

Also, Windows 10 mid-2016 feature upgrade, version 1607 will receive its last security patches that day on Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, and additional servicing for both Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10, versions 1607 will be available starting in May 2018 for a duration of 6 months at no cost.

While Microsoft added six months of support to all versions of Enterprise and Education, from 18 months to 24 for not only 1511, but also for 1607, 1703 and 1709.

The Windows 10 support timelines is 18 months for some SKUs, and 24 months for others to compliment the easy-to-understand practice of patching the different versions for a year and a half.

Microsoft support for Windows 10 generally will continue until 2025 and customers working to stay current will continue to have support channels available.

Windows 10 version 1511 (November Update) set to be retired in April

Google Pay integration with Assistant (Google's digital voice command) will now allow you to send and receive money from your contacts on Android and iOS smartphones, with support for smart home speakers coming in the near future.

This is coming on the heels of Google Assistant-powered shopping initiative, Shopping Actions, which allow users to purchase items on Google search, the Google Express shopping service, and via Google Assistant.

While Google opened up the Google Payment API to developers to enable an easy-to-use checkout experience powered by Google, with promised Assistant support, which perhaps is now fulfilled in this new function.

Google Pay accounts will be required to initiate sending payment, and for those who don't have, they will be guided on how to set it up on the first time they ask the virtual assistant to send money. The voice commands follow the examples: "Hey Google, request $20 from Sam for the show tonight" or "Hey Google, send Jane $15 for lunch today."

And to ensure optimum security, Google will require all transactions to be authorized by the users from their phone, through Google account password or fingerprint scanner on their device.

It is pertinent to note that Google has already brought all its payment platforms: Android Pay and Google Wallet into Google Pay, and the integration with Google Assistant is perhaps one way Google intends to expand its ecosystem.

Google Pay now allow sending money via Assistant's voice command

While there are many backup software available online, DearMob iPhone Manager, stands always-ready to manage category-wide iPhone data including photos, music, videos, and create ringtone on iOS 11.2.1 or even older versions.

Apple iTunes basically didn’t change much since its launch, and it's gradually becoming a bloated and complicated piece of software, DearMob iPhone Manager works in conformity with iPhone or iPad running iOS 11.2.1 or even older versions to make your task easier.

Perhaps, the biggest reason to go for DearMob iPhone Manager is the fact that it packs all the features that you will ever need to manage your iPhone in a simple and clean interface. But don't take our word for it, dive into the review of the DearMob iPhone Manager to discover some key features that makes it standout.

  • Backup & Restore

To back up and restore your iPhone data is easy as clicking a button, simply connect your iPhone to your computer and wait for a few moments, then click on the backup button and DearMob will initiate the back up of your iPhone’s data from your computer. And the software gives an option to encrypt your data if it contains sensitive information by checking the “Encrypt your Backup” button before you start the back up.

  • Photo Transfer

Most probably the best use case for DearMob is transferring photos from your iPhone to your Windows or Mac machines. As the iPhone doesn’t offer expandable storage, it’s just a matter of time when you start running out of storage on your phone. And coupled with the fact that iCloud only offers 5GB of free storage which is really nothing to compare the huge collection of photos an average user holds. DearMob makes it easier for you to transfer photos from your iPhone to your desktop, instead. It does not only support Apple’s new HEIC format, it also allows you to export photos in normal JPG Format which is what you need if you want to share photos to be viewable on any device.

  • Music & Video Sync

DearMob iPhone Manager makes it pretty easy to transfer songs from your desktop to iPhone by simply connecting your iPhone to desktop and launch DearMob. You can as well drag and drop the music files that you want to transfer to your iPhone and click on the sync button.

It also provides a very comprehensive suite of video management tools for you to easily export videos from your iPhone to your desktop, and vise versa.

  • Apps Management

One big setback for iTunes is Apple's removal of the ability to manage apps on your iPhone using iTunes. But no worries again, as DearMob allows you to manage apps on your device. It not only allows you to uninstall multiple apps at once but also to install apps on your iPhone using the already downloaded .ipa file from your local storage.

Aside the above key features are some nifty features like the ability to manage your ebooks, podcasts, contacts, calendar, messages, bookmarks, and more. Also, it can convert your iPhone to a flash drive, allowing you to easily transfer any kind of file from your computer to your iPhone and use as USB device.

DearMob packs more features that you'll never need an iPhone manager. And the minimalist user interface ensures all its features get different icons, with the settings panel of each feature almost exactly the same, but not confusing to the user in differentiating it.

Again, the uniformity of DearMob makes it a piece of software which is very easy to get used to, as it only takes a few minutes to get used to the software.

DearMob iPhone manager is free to download for a trial, but you will need to buy the license if you want to perform more action. It's available for both Windows and macOS platforms, and pricing starts at $39.95/year.

Review: DearMob iPhone Manager backup software for Windows and Mac

Snap Map, the mapping service introduced by Snapchat a year ago, is getting a nifty addition called Map Explore, with realtime status from friends’ movements to enable you see where your friends are and where they’re going.

The map-based feed idea, Map Explore integrates some conventional interface elements and notifications to bring users’ attention to items of interest that they might otherwise have missed out in the Map.

Albeit, Snap Map is necessarily an opt-in option, and only recommended if you’re less concerned about privacy and don't border on security issue from creepy friends on the platform.

While Snapchat is still getting over its redesign hurdle, the company has devoted more resources to build out the Map service, which is definitely a necessary move.

Snapchat stated that they’ll be using the feature to push updates on breaking news to users based on areas of the Snap Map that are seeing a lot of traffic tied to news events. And the feed can give updates on the habits of friends who are going on trips; also their location updates when they’re off to noteworthy spot.

Snap Map also has a collaborative “Our Story” section, that collects snaps taken at a particular location that’s popular.

The Map feature initially tied to privacy concerns, but you can delete your status or turn on Ghost Mode (which hides your location) by tapping on the settings icon in the top right hand of the map.

The new feed feature will be rolling out globally in the next few weeks, Snap says the travel and location updates will automatically appear on users’ Snap Maps.

Snapchat adds a map-based feed feature, Map Explore to Snap Map

Facebook's CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg took to his official page to clear the air about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, including the steps they've already taken and what's next in line to address the privacy issue.

The privacy furore was against how data obtained by Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan and given to the affiliated behavior research firm Strategic Communication Laboratories, played major role in the 2016 US election manipulations, and some other countries in Afica, which is certainly a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.

According to reports, Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app which was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends' data.

As a result, Kogan was able to access tens of millions of Facebook users data and their friends' data as well. The Guardian revealed the extent to which the London-based data mining and analytics firm Cambridge Analytica misused the data from as many as 50 million Facebook users.

Facebook has outlined some important steps it hopes to take to prevent such mishap from reoccurring in the future.

First, it will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before the changes on the platform that dramatically reduce data access in 2014. And it will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity, with a ban penalty for any developer on the platform that does not agree to the audit.

Also, if any developer misuse personally identifiable information, Facebook will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps, including people whose data Kogan misused as well.

Secondly, Facebook going forward will restrict developers' data access to further prevent such kind of abuse. For instance, it will remove developers' access to users data if they haven't used their app in 3 months.

The company will require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data.

Finally, Facebook will show every user a tool at the top of their News Feed with the apps they've used and an easy way to revoke those apps' permissions to their data. Albeit, it already have a tool to do this in the privacy settings, but now this tool will be placed at the top of users' News Feed to make sure everyone sees it.

Facebook's new App permission policy following Cambridge Analytica scandal

Google has unveiled the Google News Initiative, a partnership with news publications worldwide to help highlight the most accurate news stories, especially as it relates to breaking news, among other information.

The company is committing $300 million dollars over the next three years to meet this goal, with the internet giant already wooing some mainstream media companies.

While this is not Google's first attempt to salvaging the news media reach, the Google have had long running tools dedicated to surfacing accurate news, like: Stamp - a new platform that allow publishers to create visual media content similar to Snapchat’s Discover portal, and Outline, a tool that lets journalists set up a secure virtual private network (VPN) connection to the internet.

Google is now poised to work with news organizations to enhance their news reporting capabilities with different experiences, citing work with the South China Morning Post on the use of Google Earth Studio to create a virtual reality experience.

The company meanwhile have teamed up with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University and the Local Media Association to launch MediaWise, a platform designed to improve digital literacy for the young adults.

All these is coming on the heels of Google, alongside the social networks: Facebook and Twitter's increasing scrutiny over the kinds of stories highlighted in their different platforms with regard to accuracy.

Google in response to fake news problem launched the Disinfo Lab as First Draft to fight misinformation during elections and whenever news is breaking.

Additionally, Google has debuted Subscribe with Google, a tool that streamlines the sign-up and subscription process for premium news sources, with partners including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Telegraph and the Financial Times.

Google News Initiative: Partnership with the media for accurate breaking news

Shopping Actions is a new Google service that will allow users to purchase items on Google search, the Google Express shopping service, and Google Assistant on home devices and mobile. It avails shoppers an easy way to purchase from retailers with instant checkout by saving their payment credentials and as a “seamless shopping" experience.

Unlike other Google ads, the Shopping Actions service charges on a cost-per-sale model, while Google earns revenue from sales generated from these placements.

Google maintains that the listing won't impact organic rankings or change anything in response to speculation that preferential ranking would be given to those merchants on the service.

Albeit, this is perhaps Google’s latest attempts to regain ground from Amazon in consumer product searches, as the service mimics Amazon's offerings like: one-click re-ordering, voice-enabled shopping that is enhanced by purchase order history, and instant checkout using saved payment credentials.

The early adopters of the service are companies like Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Costco Wholesale, 1-800-FLOWERS, and Ulta Beauty who signed on for the test run of the program. And the program is currently restricted to US retailers, and will spread to more countries as the service gains more traction.

Google has promised to integrate shoppers Google accounts and retailers', to create a more personalized and intuitive shopping experience.

To learn more about Shopping Actions, sign up through this Google form to be contacted with more information.

Google debut Shopping Actions for users to purchase items directly from Assistant on smarthome and mobile

While Microsoft's ploy of Windows 10 as an edge-bait, which automatically reset users browser preference to Edge on upgrade hasn't seen much success, it now has made the built-in Edge browser the default for opening of links within the Windows Mail app in the Fall update.

And including the technical tussle required for people to reset their browser, introduced by Microsoft in Windows 10, now taking more than twice the number of clicks, while scrolling through hidden settings.

But still, Microsoft’s Edge browser usage has steadily gone down, and perhaps, many users haven’t really hit the “make default” button on Windows 10 to Edge, keeping in their old comfort zone usually with Chrome or Firefox.

Microsoft will try a new trick to push Windows 10 users into running Edge, by enforcing link opening from the Windows Mail app and its messages to display in the browser.

The latest preview of Windows 10's Fall feature upgrade, currently version 1809 in Microsoft's yymm label format, has made Edge the default browser with responsibilities for opening links within messages.

It was first detected in the build 17623 of the "Skip Ahead" version of Windows Insider, which is offered to the limited number of Insider participants the company allow to continue with the latest code during the month or longer run-up to a release of one of the twice-annual feature upgrades.

Albeit, it isn't clear if the Edge-related change introduced in build 17623 will remain in place long enough to appear in the 1809 feature upgrade. Microsoft has scheduled to ship the spring upgrade, designated as 1803, sometime in early April, 2018.

Microsoft's Windows 10 Fall update makes Edge the default browser for opening links in Mail app

The eCommerce giant, eBay has launched an Augmented Reality (AR) tool that help its sellers figure out the best way to ship items to buyers; by auto recommending the correct USPS Flat Rate shipping box for their items.

The technology works by helping the seller skip a trip to their local post office looking for the right-sized box, and also provide real-time calculation of shipping costs. It's perhaps the first practical use case for AR, and works with a wide range of products, including everything from kitchenware to automotive parts.

It runs on Google’s new ARCore platform, which is currently available only on ARCore-enabled Android devices, like Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Galaxy S8, S8+, Note8, S7 and S7 edge, LGE’s V30 and V30+ (Android Oreo only), ASUS Zenfone AR, OnePlus 5, among others.

The AR feature also takes advantage of concurrent odometry and mapping to understand the phone’s position, and sensors for movement and orientation.

It can be accessed from the eBay mobile app for Android; you'd need to open the app and tap “Selling” followed by “Which Box?” - the app will instruct you to place the item on a non-reflective flat surface, like a table or floor.

Then you'd “try on” virtual boxes around the item, to see which one fits best – making room for extra padding if the item is fragile. You can change to the angle to look down on the box from the top, look on the sides and the back to see if the item is fitting all the way around using the box overlaid on the item.

The AR shipping feature is only one of several new AR experiences eBay has in store, with an iOS version still in the works.

How eBay's AR-powered feature help sellers in shipping items to buyers

Google in its Android Security 2017 Year In Review, reports that devices running the latest version of Android are comparatively safer, with a combination of features such as Google Play Protect and Instant Apps, coupled with machine learning capabilities.

While the biggest issue with Android security is fragmentation, and one that seems to have no foreseeable solution in the near future due to the numerous OEMs saddled with the churning out of devices.

But with each new Android release, Google does more and more to secure the numerous devices running the software. Albeit, just about 1 percent of Android users are currently running Oreo, compared to nearly 28 percent for both Nougat and Marshmallow.

And that leaves nearly 99 percent of Android users less secure, though Google is hoping for a favorable uptake with Project Treble and the Pixel, with the latest version of Android to increase exponentially, and likely by next year there could be over 10 percent of Android phones running Android P.

Also there’s Android Go and Android One, both of which offers “pure Android” version with the promise of up-to-date software, better performance and security.

Google in the report says that the odds of downloading a harmful app from the Play Store in 2017 was “less likely than the odds of an asteroid hitting the earth.” And that the introduction of Instant Apps, has helped to keep limits to the likelihood of installing harmful code on Android devices.

Both Google Play Protect and Instant Apps are available for phones going back to Lollipop, while most of the other security enhancements delivered recently are only available on Oreo.

Such new enhancements in the latest version of Android are stronger encryption and key storage, tighter sandboxing, kernel self-protection, and an updated version of Android Verified Boot.

Android Oreo handling of apps from sources other than the Play Store is alos different, as formerly users could easily access an Unverified Sources toggle to allow installations of non-Play Store-approved apps, in Oreo it’s a behind-the-scenes permission that automatically runs whenever an app is side-loaded.

And that makes it harder to manipulate as users can’t unwittingly turn it off, also malicious app can’t do it either.

There's a new Oreo feature that makes it easier for manufacturers to deliver updates to phones, so the phones running Android 8 should receive version 9 much quicker. And Google’s new Project Treble could ramp up the number of phones running Android P, as it gives manufacturers a clear way to update from Oreo to next version.

Google confirms Android Oreo as leading the ecosystem in terms of security

Microsoft back in January issued mitigations against the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, which vulnerabilities stemmed from design flaws in virtually all modern processors made by AMD, ARM and Intel.

While the security updates could brick Windows 10 PCs equipped with antivirus (AV) software that had improperly tapped into kernel memory, the no-patches-for-you rule still remains in place for the more popular Windows 7.

The company have this week lifted the security update blockade on Windows 10 PCs without an approved antivirus software.

Microsoft enforces AV vendors to self-certify that their code was compatible with the Spectre/Meltdown patches, and also requires that the AV developers should signal the compatibility by writing a new key to the Windows Registry.

As the updates would not download and install if the key was not present, thus a Windows PC sans an approved antivirus package would not be patched.

So to prevent customers' PCs from encountering "stop errors" - Microsoft's euphemism for "Blue Screen of Death" or BSOD - during installation of the security updates, the company will continue to enforce this requirement until the majority of vendors have complied with the directive.

Microsoft will continue to block an update from reaching affected PCs, as the antivirus software was incompatible.

And it remain in place for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. PCS, while users of these editions must continue to have a compatible AV package on board, that tarries with the registry key.

Microsoft removes the blockade on Windows 10 PCs security update

Have you ever wanted to create how-to guides of digital products, capture footage from your favorite video games, or maybe save your video calls? Obviously, screen recorders could be pretty useful in varied ways, which ranges from saving casual footage from your screen to creating stunning and professional-looking contents.

But the only setback with screen recording is that you’ll need different features for the different tasks. That is why Movavi has an entire range of screen recording apps available – each of which specializes in a particular field of coverage.

  • Movavi Screen Capture Studio

With both a screen recorder and built-in editor, Movavi Screen Capture Studio is versatile to say the least. It will let you fully customize the recording parameters when capturing footage from your screen and then let you improve that footage using a wide range of editing tools to compile video footage, enhance its quality, add captions, insert audio tracks, and more.

  • Gecata by Movavi

To record footage from video games there is no better option than Gecata by Movavi. Not only will it let you quickly and conveniently record in-game footage, but it will also let you capture and overlay video from your webcam along with audio from your microphone.

  • Movavi Screen Capture Pro

If you want a business software that will let you record footage from your screen so you can save conference calls or program activities – Movavi Screen Capture Pro should fit the bill. It is a no frills software that will let you adjust the recording parameters to suit your needs, and will also let you capture screenshots as you record.

  • Movavi Video Editor Business

Let's assume you’d like to produce high quality and professional-looking content, Movavi Video Editor Business will ensure you’re well equipped so you can cut and join video segments, improve their quality, apply special effects and filters, include background music, and more. Aside from being a powerful video editor it will also let you use screen capture or record videos from webcams or other external devices.

And depending on how you would like to use screen recording, you should be able to easily find the right software from among the selection that Movavi provides. Be eest assured each of the software is designed to be intuitive and easy to use, and will require no prior experience whatsoever.

By giving you exactly the tools you need, Movavi’s screen recording apps means you’re properly equipped and can record precisely the type of footage that you need from your screen. As its features are designed to exceed expectations, so it will definitely prove a versatile tool in their own rights.

An Overview of Movavi’s collection of Screen Recording Apps

Apple's programming language, Swift forthcoming version 4.2 is focused on stabilizing the language’s ABI (application binary interface), and to serve as an intermediary step to achieving ABI stability in the next version Swift 5.0 due for release later in the year.

While ABI allows for binary compatibility between applications and libraries compiled with different Swift language releases.

Apple is working on intermediate versions to smooth the transition between the September 2017 release of Swift 4 and the planned fall 2018 release of Swift 5, albeit Swift 4.2 is not binary-compatible with the previous releases.

But most source code built with the Swift 4.0 compiler should compile with the Swift 4.2 compiler and the Swift 4.1 compiler.

The Swift Package Manager is for code distribution, and it's integrated with the Swift build system to automate processes including downloading, compiling, and linking of dependencies. And Swift 4’s new compatibility modes could help from having to modify code and to be able to use the new version of the compiler.

Other improvements in Swift 4’s package manager include: cleaner Package API that allows packages to specify new settings, and formalization of packages, thus enabling control over what libraries a package publishes to clients.

Additionally, the package builds on MacOS now occur in a sandbox, which prevents network access and file-system modification, reducing the threat of malicious codes.

Apple maintains that source migration will be required for some projects, but the number of source changes remain “quite modest” compared to many previous changes between Swift releases. Swift 4.2 will be posted on as part of the integration testing.

Swift 4.2 offers improved Package Manager; new Source-code compatibility

Microsoft research have announced the first machine translation system capable of translating news stories written in Chinese to English with the accuracy of speech recognition – which have recorded a number of advances in recent years.

While machine to understand language at this scale is a bit more complicated than speech recognition, as advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and speech recognition have enabled digital assistants to find their ways in the homes where they help consumers with everyday tasks, like controlling the smart home devices.

On the other hand, machine translation of a web page or news article renders it more of a difficult scribbles, which gives rather general view on the story, but always impossible to make any deeper sense.

To solve the puzzle, Microsoft tested the machine translation system repeatedly on a sample of about 2,000 sentences from various online newspapers, with the results compared to actual individual’s translation and even went as far as hiring bilingual language consultants to verify the accuracy.

Surprisingly, the researchers were able to achieve this milestone, despite the fact that machine translation of text input remains a difficult area for decades now.

Albeit, the researchers added their own trained models to the system to improve its accuracy – which equate to how individuals could go over their work time and again to improve on it.

The methods they employed include: dual learning for fact-checking translations; agreement regularization, which is capable of generating translations by reading sentences both left-to-right and right-to-left; and deliberation networks, to repeat translations and refine them; with new techniques like joint training, which will help to boost English-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-English translation systems.

The researchers, however expressed reservations about the system and cautions that the technology isn't yet ripe to be commercialized into Microsoft’s products.

If you wish to test run the new translation system, you can access it on Microsoft’s translate website here:

Microsoft Research records a leap in Chinese to English machine translation

Microsoft's upgrade to .NET Framework, version 4.7.2 will bring dependency injection capability in ASP.NET web forms to allow one object supply dependencies of another object. While Setter-, interface- and constructor-based injection will be supported, other dependency injection frameworks will be available as plugins.

The developer beta now available is to allow developers build applications that are compatible with the planned upgrade .NET Framework 4.7.2 through the use of Visual Studio 2015 or 2017 IDE versions, as well as other IDEs supported.

With the earlier release of .NET Framework 4.7.1 in mid-October 2017, the development platform gained critical improvements to garbage collection, security, and application configuration.

Other new features in .NET Framework 4.7.2 include: Azure Active Directory authentication which is now supported via an interactive authentication keyword added to multifactor authentication as an extension of the SqlClient Connection String to improve security.

Also, APIs have been added to standard collection types, enabling new functionality such as HashSet constructors that allow HashSets construction with a capacity.

Additionally, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) has been added to the StaticResource references feature letting a diagnostic assistant to be notified when a StaticResource reference is resolved. And the WorkflowDesignerColors class has been added to improve UI experiences in high-contrast mode.

If you'd like to give it a spin, you can download the current beta .NET Framework 4.7.2 Developer Pack Early Access build 3056 from Microsoft’s .Net Webpage. And provide your feedback by reporting any issue at the .NET Framework Early Access GitHub repository.

Microsoft .NET Framework adds dependency injection for ASP.Net web forms

While ads are pushed to web users through virtually every possible ways nowadays, push notifications certainly is the most annoying of the lots. But not anymore for Firefox users, as Mozilla has introduced a blockade for push notification in Firefox 59, that stop websites from asking to send its users any notifications.

Though most have moved to an HTML5 overlay to request notifications, as the overlay can be used for lots of other sruff, Firefox can’t really block such notifications. But that's not the case for sites that use the push API standard for sending push notifications to pop up these notification requests.

The blockade settings dialog also allow users to block sites from asking access to their device’s camera, microphone and location. Which option is hidden in the settings menu via the Firefox Options menu, then Permissions > Notification Settings > Block new requests asking to allow notifications.

Firefox 59 also feature new functionalities like faster graphics rendering for Mac users, a makeover of the Home page, and the ability to add annotations to screenshots with better support for pen and touch screen pointer input.

Also, there's a small change to the Private Browsing Mode that will remove path information from referrers, making it a bit harder to track users as they surf from site to site.

Mozilla calls the new blockage "experimenting with a popup blocker" to dismiss them automatically, and curating a dataset for it. If you know of a site that shows these kinds of popups, you can report them by submitting it here:

Mozilla thwarts annoying push notifications in Firefox 59 for desktop

The NCAA's March Madness college basketball tournament is about to get more interesting, as Google teams up to host a developers' challenge on Kaggle, the world's largest online community of data scientists, tasking the participants to build and train machine learning models to forecast the games’ outcomes.

Google has set aside $100,000 in prizes for any computer scientist or group who could write the best AI software to predict the outcome of the NCAA's March Madness college basketball tournament.

While Kaggle has hosted such contests in the past, this year’s competition will be taking things to the next level with a new data set that contains every play-by-play moment in men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball since 2009.

Since 2009, a database of 40 million basketball plays have been recorded in the men's and women's NCAA Division I basketball games.

The data scientists will run the database through their neural networks, and it involves a log-loss approach that grades how well their predictions fare for all matchups that actually took place.

And because the competition is based on ML models, not basketball know-how, makes anyone’s game a win.

Also, the NCAA is migrating 80+ years of data across 24 sports to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), using Google tools to power analyses of teams and players, which will afford everyone a strategy for making their picks for the NCAA’s March Madness tournament.

Google's AI developers challenge to forecast the outcome of NCAA's tournaments

Giphy supports animated GIFs from YouTube videos or images with captions and stickers, but the self acclaimed fast and easy GIF maker is rather taunted for its extremely racist slur. Both Snapchat and Instagram have temporarily removed the Giphy GIF sticker features from their platforms, citing users complaints of racist undertones, and have gone ahead to disable the Giphy GIF support until they can be assured it won’t repeat itself.

The disturbing GIF includes text containing a racial slur, which sample reads "N—– Crime Death Counter – Keep Cranking Bonzo, the Numbers Just Keep on Climbing!"

The incident is quite embarrassing for social media generally and perhaps do raise a flag on Facebook’s Messenger Kids app, which also has Giphy integration that is supposed to show G-rated contents.

All Giphy GIFs in Snapchat are meant to be “rated PG,” meaning they’re mostly suitable for the 13-and-up teens that are formally allowed on Snapchat.

The racial slur could deter Snapchat from working more with outside developers, which it’s only recently allowed to contribute content through its Lens Studio and the Giphy integration. Albeit, it only launched on February 20th for users to jazz up their photos and videos with moving images curated by the Giphy team.

Though Giphy seems to have removed the offending GIF, as the community guidelines prohibit this kind of objectionable content in the first place, but since it indexes the top GIFs on the web, bad stuff can still pass undetected.

Giphy, however have taken full responsibility for the embarrassing mishap and sincerely apologized to anyone who may have been offended.

Giphy GIF sticker racial slur: A dent on the Social Media platforms

Facebook is currently testing its Camera AR Effect using location markers in the real world that trigger AR experiences in a precise location, with promotions for the upcoming Ready Player One and Wrinkle In Time films.

While the Facebook AR Camera’s Ready Player One effect takes one of the movie’s posters and overlays a window in the virtual Oasis world. It plans to bring the tracker-based AR to its AR Studio tool which is open to all developers.

The company launched its AR Camera Effects platform and AR Studio just less than a year ago at F8, but hitherto it hasn’t made a ton of progress, other than opening AR Studio to all developers back in December.

As Facebook opens the marker-based AR to its AR Studio tool, developers worldwide could start creating experiences tied to physical locations.

The AR markers could offer a much wider range of AR content that users would actually know where it is in the real world. Unlike the markerless AR, whereby users have to spontaneously think to use Facebook’s Camera, the markers can act as promotional reminders that there’s invisible content waiting to be unlocked.

And it is much more powerful because the AR now has immediate context as it is directly tied to a place or target familiar to everyone.

Facebook confirmed that the testing is still in closed beta, and that the AR camera is evolving beyond selfie masks and randomly placed 3D objects to using location markers in the real world that trigger AR experiences in a precise location.

Facebook's AR Effect evolving beyond Selfie masks and randomly placed 3D objects

Google's updates for Chrome happens in the background, and users can also install the latest version manually, by clicking on "About Google Chrome" from the Help menu; with the result tab display showing if the browser has been updated or the download-and-upgrade button.

The company on March 6 released Chrome 65 for Windows, macOS and Linux, with fixes for 45 vulnerabilities, and other enhancements that may not be observed by most users.

Chrome 65 toed the line of the previous version, with the end-user modifications that alter the browser's performance, signal adoption of web standards or debut new functionality. And top of the list is support for the Web Authentication API which enable the creation and use of strong, public key-based credentials by web applications, for the purpose of users authentication.

While Microsoft and Mozilla have also committed to the standard in their respective browsers, Edge and Firefox, the Support for the API though disabled in Chrome 65 by default; can be enabled from the page that results from typing chrome://flags in the address bar.

The previous version, Chrome 64 allowed auto-play in some exceptions: like when a user clicked or tapped (desktop Chrome or mobile Chrome), "somewhere on the site during the browsing session," the auto-play will still take effect.

And perhaps Google has delayed the enforcement to the middle of April, when Chrome 66 will arrive.

Other improvements in Chrome 65 include: CSS Paint API (which allow developers to craft images programmatically without the need to insert actual images) and the Server Timing API which brings the functionality that site designers and administrators can use to pass performance information on the server, and from the server, to the browser.

Google reportedly offered $34,500 to researchers for reporting 19 of the 45 bugs, with one additional bounty still to be decided.

What's new in Chrome 65 for Windows, macOS and Linux

Twitter "verified" status was originally conceived as a way to let users know a celebrity's account wasn't fake, while the program had over the years expanded to other public figures (including, politicians and journalists).

Now, the company is planning to expand the blue check-mark verification badge to more of its users, as the current system is rather meant to only indicate authenticity, according to Jack Dorsey, Twitter's CEO in a Periscope livestream.

Twitter is working on a new process to verify people's identity and ensure credibility, in an effort to further its mission to rehabilitate the network and its reputation following criticism of hosting tons of hate subcultures and misinformation.

As the current verified system is rather broken, because it has turned to status symbol, and the check-mark is now seen as a form of endorsement.

The company is especially focused on ensuring that accounts for candidates in elections are verified, with concerns that the Russian government-backed infiltrators might attempt to influence the upcoming US elections.

Twitter aims to make the verification system one of the most trusted services in the world, with the further expansion of the program.

Twitter set to simplify the 'Verified' system to accommodate more users

The next version of Google's mobile software, Android P - which at the moment is only available as a developer preview version brings upgrades in security and indoor mapping, among other nifty additional visual changes.

While still in the first developer preview version, Android P is very likely getting more enhancements — and as obvious some of the features already documented might look different in the next preview.

Google is toeing the line of Apple's iPhone X feature, the notch, with little cutout at the top of phones screens that take up about the whole screen. And that's perhaps the biggest changes in the software at the moment, and some manufacturers are already building notch compliant devices.

Since the new OS is optimized for notches which cuts into the top display area, Google has changed the position of notifications right next to the time. And about four different app icons will be displayed; which Android P shows a simple dot to let users know more items are waiting on sliding down the notification tray.

Also, the layout of items is a bit altered, and the grayscale icons of Oreo replaced by colorful circles.

Additionally, it presents the option to use Smart Replies, Google's AI-powered responses to texts that are already available in Gmail and its chat app Allo. And you'll find images in notifications which is helpful to quickly show who's on chat.

The new software focuses more on improving security as it restrict access to your phone's microphone and camera while apps are running in the background, which could help thwart the effort of hackers.

Albeit, Android P remains unfinished and the preview only serve to to give software developers a template to work on before the actual release.

As Google's tradition of naming its new mobile software flavors alphabetically and after something edible, it's expected Android P will also get a delicious moniker. The company will definitely unveil more features at its annual developer conference, Google I/O, in May and perhaps the new name choice, too.

Android P: What to expect from the next version of Google's mobile software

Google Lens, hitherto was only available to users of the Photos app on the latest Pixel phones, but now, Google is rolling out the feature to all Android users. Lens offers users a visual search engine that can recognize what’s in their images and scan business cards, among other image processing capabilities.

While the feature isn't yet foolproof, Lens can be both useful and frustrating at times, as it’s easier to take a picture of a landmark or restaurant to get more information than searching for it with a keyword.

Though you probably won’t need Lens to tell you when you're standing in front of the Burj Al Arab, the fact that it can show you more information about places of note, is actually quite handy.

And the ability to scan a business card can be pretty useful, though, most of us have done away with the good old business cards a long time ago. But users can also create a contact from a business card and certain phones will eventually be able to access Lens through Google Assistant.

Perhaps, Google’s visual search function could be improved upon to easily identify and annotate all objects, later in the future. Google had promise to bring Lens on Google Photos for iOS users soon, but no particular time frame has been set for it to happen.

Google Lens now available to all users of its Photos on Android

While Google has brought all its different payment tools under one umbrella, Google pay, still it hasn't been able to fend off the Apple advances, as the number of e-commerce websites that support Apple Pay on the Safari browser continue to soar.

According to a survey by dealspotr, in this quarter's usage of mobile payments, particularly emerging mobile payments technologies such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, as well as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are preferred among the Millennials and Generation Z shoppers.

As admittedly obvious, the young adults are the early adopters of new paradigms like influencer commerce and social-media driven shopping.

The survey was based on Google Market Research, in which about 1,000 people in total (comprising 500 Millennials - females and males aged 25 to 34 and 500 Generation Z - females and males aged 18 to 24), whose ages in summary are "young adults"category.

Against, the popular believe that there's a lackluster adoption of Apple Pay in general, the research findings indicates that this trend may be changing, especially among users between 18 to 35.

As Apple Pay dominates in usage and interest / affinity among young adults, and remarkably, 15% of young adults overall have used Apple Pay to pay while shopping online. And the majority of these cases involve paying for items through iOS mobile apps that connect to Apple Pay, indicating strong use of Apple Pay within native iOS applications.

While another 10% of young adults have used Apple Pay to pay in-store, which is broken down to 11% of Millennials and 10% of GenZers using Apple Pay to pay for items in the checkout line.

The 10% recorded with Apple Pay was significantly more popular than rival payment platforms such as Google's Android Pay (4%) and Samsung's Samsung Pay (2%) put together. Albeit, credit card and PayPal remain the most dominant forms of payment for online shopping.

Apple Pay leads in Mobile Payments among Gen Z and Millennials in Q1 2018

Google's mobile UI framework, Flutter is aimed to help developers to build high-quality native interfaces on iOS and Android in record time. The framework project, however isn't related to Google’s 2013 purchase of the gesture recognition startup with the same moniker.

While Flutter works with existing code, and employed by developers and organizations around the world to build applications and interfaces via a single code base that compiles directly to native ARM code. The company has just released the first beta, which can be downloaded from the Flutter webpage.

The new capabilities include Flutter's stateful hot reload which allows for quick code changes, with results of changes available quickly without losing application state. And the existing code written in Java and Kotlin for Android applications, or in Objective-C and Swift for iOS applications, can be reused with the framework.

Albeit, the alpha release last year added iPhone X and iOS 11 support, along with inline video and additional image formats.

The framework now works with a beta of Dart 2 language, a general-purpose programming language originally developed by Google, and can use the device’s GPU and access platform APIs and services.

The major highlights of the framework include: Integration with other development tools, such as Android Studio and Visual Studio, so that developers can use their familiar editor or IDE.

And there's now a set of interactive widgets, with rendering and gestures moved into the framework, providing control over pixels and offering the ability to build custom designs.

The new betas of Flutter are expected roughly every four weeks, and the future roadmap for Flutter capabilities include: embedding of Flutter screens into existing applications, and additional support for Google’s Firebase development platform.

Google’s Flutter mobile development framework hits first beta