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Avast has found that many low-cost, non-Google-certifed Android phones shipped with a strain of malware built in that could send users to download apps they didn’t intend to access. The malware, called called Cosiloon, overlays advertisements over the operating system in order to promote apps or even trick users into downloading apps. Devices effected shipped from ZTE, Archos and myPhone.
The app consists of a dropper and a payload. “The dropper is a small application with no obfuscation, located on the /system partition of affected devices. The app is completely passive, only visible to the user in the list of system applications under ‘settings.’ We have seen the dropper with two different names, ‘CrashService’ and ‘ImeMess,’” wrote Avast. The dropper then connects with a website to grab the payloads that the hackers wish to install on the phone. “The XML manifest contains information about what to download, which services to start and contains a whitelist programmed to potentially exclude specific countries and devices from infection. However, we’ve never seen the country whitelist used, and just a few devices were whitelisted in early versions. Currently, no countries or devices are whitelisted. The entire Cosiloon URL is hardcoded in the APK.”
The dropper is part of the system’s firmware and is not easily removed.
The dropper can install application packages defined by the manifest downloaded via an unencrypted HTTP connection without the user’s consent or knowledge.
The dropper is preinstalled somewhere in the supply chain, by the manufacturer, OEM or carrier.
The user cannot remove the dropper, because it is a system application, part of the device’s firmware.
Avast can detect and remove the payloads and they recommend following these instructions to disable the dropper. If the dropper spots antivirus software on your phone it will actually stop notifications but it will still recommend downloads as you browse in your default browser, a gateway to grabbing more (and worse) malware. Engadget notes that this vector is similar to the Lenovo “Superfish” exploit that shipped thousands of computers with malware built in.
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Exactuals, a software service offering payments management for the music industry, is debuting r.ai, a new tool that it’s dubbed the “Palantir for music”. It’s a service that can track songwriting information and rights across different platforms to ensure attribution for music distributors.
As companies like Apple and Spotify demand better information from labels about the songs they’re pushing to streaming services, companies are scrambling to clean up their data and provide proper attribution.
According to Exactuals, that’s where the r.ai service comes in.
The company is tracking 59 million songs for their “Interested Party Identifiers” (IPIs), International Standard Work Codes (ISWCs), and International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) — all of which are vital to ensuring that songwriters and musicians are properly paid for their work every time a song is streamed, downloaded, covered, or viewed on a distribution platform.
Chris McMurtry, the head of music product at Exactuals explained it like this. In the music business, songwriters have the equivalent of a social security number which is attached to any song they write so they can receive credit and payment. That’s the ISI. Performers of songs have their own identifier, which is the ISWC. Then the song itself gets its own code, called the ISRC which is used to track a song as it’s performed by other artists through various covers, samples and remixes.
“There’s only one ISWC, but there might be 300 ISRCs,” says Exactuals chief executive, Mike Hurst.
Publishing technology companies will pay writers and performers based on these identifiers, but they’re struggling to identify and track all of the 700,000 disparate places where the data could be, says McMurtry. Hence the need for r.ai.
The technology is “an open api based on machine learning that matches disparate data sources to clean and enhance it so rights holders can get paid and attribution happens,” says McMurtry.
For publishers, Exactuals argues that r.ai is the best way to track rights across a huge catalog of music and for labels it’s an easy way to provide services like Apple and Spotify with the information they’re now demanding, Hurst said.
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The first thing to understand about media sharing app RapChat is that co-founder Seth Miller is not a rapper and his other co-founder, Pat Gibson, is. Together they created RapChat, a service for making and sharing raps, and the conjunction of rapper and nerd seems to be really taking off.
Since we last looked at the app in 2016 (you can see Tito’s review below), a lot has changed. The team has raised $1.6 million in funding from investors out of Oakland and the midwest. Their app, which is sort of a musical.ly for rap, is a top 50 music app on iOS and Android and hit 100 million listens since launch. In short, their little social network/sharing platform is a “millionaire in the making, boss of [its] team, bringin home the bacon.”
The pair’s rap bonafides are genuine. Gibson has opened or performed with with Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, and Machine Gun Kelly and he’s sold beats to MTV. “My music has garnered over 20M+ plays across YouTube, SoundCloud and more,” he wrote me, boasting in the semi-churlish manner of a rapper with a “beef.” Miller, on the other hand, likes to freestyle.
“I grew up loving to freestyle with friends at OU and I noticed lots of other millennials did this too (even if most suck lol) … at any party at 3am – there would always be a group of people in the corner freestyling,” he said. “At the same time Snapchat was blowing up on campus and just thought you should be able to do the same exact thing for rap.”
Gibson, on the other hand, saw it as a serious tool to help him with his music.
“I spent a lot of time, energy and resources making music,” he said. “I was producing the beats, writing the songs, recording/mixing the vocals, mastering the project, then distributing & promoting the music all by myself. With Rapchat, there’s a library of 1,000+ beats from top producers, an instant recording studio in your pocket, and the network to distribute your music worldwide and be discovered…. all from a free app. Rapchat is disrupting the creation, collaboration, distribution, & discovery of music via mobile
“We have a much bigger but also more active community than any other music creation app,” said Miller.
While it’s clear the wold needs another sharing platform like it needs a hole in the head, thanks to a rabid fanbase and a great idea the team has ensured that RapChat is not, as they say, wicka-wicka-whack. That, in the end, is all that matters.
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“We are committed to providing our customers with safe and secure experiences while using our services. The recent changes to the Microsoft Service Agreement’s Code of Conduct provide transparency on how we respond to customer reports of inappropriate public content,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. The company notes that “Microsoft Agents” do not watch Skype calls and that they can only respond to complaints with clear evidence of abuse. The changes, which go into effect May 1, allows Microsoft to ban you from it services if you’re found passing “inappropriate content” or using “offensive language.”
These new rules give Microsoft more power over abusive users and it seems like Microsoft is cracking down on bad behavior on its platforms. This is good news for victims of abuse in private communications channels on Microsoft products and may give trolls pause before they yell something about your mother on Xbox. We can only dare to dream.
It’s moved beyond tradition and into the realm of meme that Apple manages to dominate the news cycle around major industry events, all while not actually participating in said events. CES rolls around and every story is about HomeKit or its competitors; another tech giant has a conference and the news is that Apple updated some random subsystem of its ever-larger ecosystem of devices and software .
This is, undoubtedly, planned by Apple in many instances. And why not? Why shouldn’t it own the cycle when it can — it’s only strategically sound.
This week, the 2018 Game Developers Conference is going on and there’s a bunch of news coverage about various aspects of the show. There are all of the pre-written embargo bits about big titles and high-profile indies, there are the trend pieces and, of course, there’s the traditional ennui-laden “who is this event even for” post that accompanies any industry event that achieves critical mass.
But the absolute biggest story of the event wasn’t even at the event. It was the launch of Fortnite and, shortly thereafter, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on mobile devices. Specifically, both were launched on iOS, and PUBG hit Android simultaneously.
The launch of Fortnite, especially, resonates across the larger gaming spectrum in several unique ways. It’s the full and complete game as present on consoles, it’s iOS-first and it supports cross-platform play with console and PC players.
This has, essentially, never happened before. There have been stabs at one or more of those conditions on experimental levels, but it really marks a watershed in the games industry that could serve to change the psychology around the platform discussion in major ways.
For one, though the shape of GDC has changed over the years as it relates to mobile gaming, it’s only recently that the conference has become dominated by indie titles that are mobile centric. The big players and triple-A console titles still take up a lot of air, but the long tail is very long and mobile is not synonymous with “casual gamers” as it once was.
“I remember the GDC before we launched Monument Valley,” says Dan Gray of Monument Valley 2 studio ustwo. “We were fortunate enough that Unity offered us a place on their stand. Nobody had heard of us or our game and we were begging journalists to come say hello, it’s crazy how things have changed in four years. We’ve now got three speakers at the conference this year, people stop you in the street (within a two-block radius) and we’re asked to be part of interviews like this about the future of mobile.”
Zach Gage, the creator of SpellTower, and my wife’s favorite game of all time, Flipflop Solitaire, says that things feel like they have calmed down a bit. “It seems like that might be boring, but actually I think it’s quite exciting, because a consequence of it is that playing games has become just a normal thing that everyone does… which frankly, is wild. Games have never had the cultural reach that they do now, and it’s largely because of the App Store and these magical devices that are in everyone’s pockets.”
Alto’s Odyssey is the followup to Snowman’s 2015 endless boarder Alto’s Adventure. If you look at these two titles, three years apart, you can see the encapsulation of the growth and maturity of gaming on iOS. The original game was fun, but the newer title is beyond fun and into a realm where you can see the form being elevated into art. And it’s happening blazingly fast.
“There’s a real and continually growing sense that mobile is a platform to launch compelling, artful experiences,” says Snowman’s Ryan Cash. “This has always been the sentiment among the really amazing community of developers we’ve been lucky enough to meet. What’s most exciting to me, now, though, is hearing this acknowledged by representatives of major console platforms. Having conversations with people about their favorite games from the past year, and seeing that many of them are titles tailor-made for mobile platforms, is really gratifying. I definitely don’t want to paint the picture that mobile gaming has ever been some sort of pariah, but there’s a definite sense that more people are realizing how unique an experience it is to play games on these deeply personal devices.”
Mobile gaming as a whole has fought since the beginning against the depiction that it was for wasting time only, not making “true art,” which was reserved for consoles or dedicated gaming platforms. Aside from the “casual” versus “hardcore” debate, which is more about mechanics, there was a general stigma that mobile gaming was a sidecar bet to the main functions of these devices, and that their depth would always reflect that. But the narratives and themes being tackled on the platform beyond just clever mechanics are really incredible.
Playing Monument Valley 2 together with my daughter really just blew my doors off, and I think it changed a lot of people’s minds in this regard. The interplay between the characters and environment and a surprisingly emotional undercurrent for a puzzle game made it a breakout that was also a breakthrough of sorts.
“There’s so many things about games that are so awesome that the average person on the street doesn’t even know about,” says Gray. “As small developers right now we have the chance to make somebody feel a range of emotions about a video game for the first time, it’s not often you’re in the right place at the right time for this and to do it with the most personal device that sits in your pocket is the perfect opportunity.”
The fact that so many of the highest-profile titles are launching on iOS first is a constant source of consternation for Android users, but it’s largely a function of addressable audience.
I spoke to Apple VP Greg Joswiak about Apple’s place in the industry. “Gaming has always been one of the most popular categories on the App Store,” he says. A recent relaunch of the App Store put gaming into its own section and introduced a Today tab that tells stories about the games and about their developers.
That redesign, he says, has been effective. “Traffic to the App Store is up significantly, and with higher traffic, of course, comes higher sales.”
“One thing I think smaller developers appreciate from this is the ability to show the people behind the games,” says ustwo’s Gray about the new gaming and Today sections in the App Store. “Previously customers would just see an icon and assume a corporation of 200 made the game, but now it’s great we can show this really is a labor of love for a small group of people who’re trying to make something special. Hopefully this leads to players seeing the value in paying up front for games in the future once they can see the craft that goes into something.”
Snowman’s Cash agrees. “It’s often hard to communicate the why behind the games you’re making — not just what your game is and does, but how much went into making it, and what it could mean to your players. The stories that now sit on the Today tab are a really exciting way to do this; as an example, when Alto’s Odyssey released for pre-order, we saw a really positive player response to the discussion of the game’s development. I think the variety that the new App Store encourages as well, through rotational stories and regularly refreshed sections, infuses a sense of variety that’s great for both players and developers. There’s a real sense I’m hearing that this setup is equipped to help apps and games surface, and stayed surfaced, in a longer term and more sustainable way.”
In addition, there are some technical advantages that keep Apple ahead of Android in this arena. Plenty of Android devices are very performant and capable in individual ways, but Apple has a deep holistic grasp of its hardware that allows it to push platform advantages in introducing new frameworks like ARKit. Google’s efforts in the area with ARCore are just getting started with the first batch of 1.0 apps coming online now, but Google will always be hamstrung by the platform fragmentation that forces developers to target a huge array of possible software and hardware limitations that their apps and games will run up against.
This makes shipping technically ambitious projects like Fortnite on Android as well as iOS a daunting task. “There’s a very wide range of Android devices that we want to support,” Epic Games’ Nick Chester told Forbes. “We want to make sure Android players have a great experience, so we’re taking more time to get it right.“
That wide range of devices includes an insane differential in GPU capability, processing power, Android version and update status.
“We bring a very homogenous customer base to developers where 90 percent of [devices] are on the current versions of iOS,” says Joswiak. Apple’s customers embrace those changes and updates quickly, he says, and this allows developers to target new features and the full capabilities of the devices more quickly.
Ryan Cash sees these launches on iOS of “full games” as they exist elsewhere as a touchstone of sorts that could legitimize the idea of mobile as a parity platform.
“We have a few die-hard Fortnite players on the team, and the mobile version has them extremely excited,” says Cash. “I think more than the completeness of these games (which is in and of itself a technical feat worth celebrating!), things like Epic’s dedication to cross-platform play are massive. Creating these linked ecosystems where players who prefer gaming on their iPhones can enjoy huge cultural touchstone titles like Fortnite alongside console players is massive. That brings us one step closer to an industry attitude which focuses more on accessibility, and less on siloing off experiences and separating them into tiers of perceived quality.”
“I think what is happening is people are starting to recognize that iOS devices are everywhere, and they are the primary computers of many people,” says Zach Gage. “When people watch a game on Twitch, they take their iPhone out of their pocket and download it. Not because they want to know if there’s a mobile version, but because they just want the game. It’s natural to assume that these games available for a computer or a PlayStation, and it’s now natural to assume that it would be available for your phone.”
Ustwo’s Gray says that it’s great that the big games are transitioning, but also cautions that there needs to be a sustainable environment for mid-priced games on iOS that specifically use the new capabilities of these devices.
“It’s great that such huge games are transitioning this way, but for me I’d really like to see more $30+ titles designed and developed specifically for iPhone and iPad as new IP, really taking advantage of how these devices are used,” he says. “It’s definitely going to benefit the App Store as a whole, but It does need to be acknowledged, however, that the way players interact with console/PC platforms and mobile are inherently different and should be designed accordingly. Session lengths and the interaction vocabulary of players are two of the main things to consider, but if a game manages to somehow satisfy the benefits of all those platforms then great, but I think it’s hard.”
Apple may not be an official sponsor of GDC, but it is hosting two sessions at the show, including an introduction to Metal 2, its rendering pipeline, and ARKit, its hope for the future of gaming on mobile. This presence is exciting for a number of reasons, as it shows a greater willingness by Apple to engage the community that has grown around its platforms, but also that the industry is becoming truly integrated, with mobile taking its rightful place alongside console and portable gaming as a viable target for the industry’s most capable and interesting talent.
“They’re bringing the current generation of console games to iOS,” Joswiak says, of launches like Fortnite and PUBG, and notes that he believes we’re at a tipping point when it comes to mobile gaming, because mobile platforms like the iPhone and iOS offer completely unique combinations of hardware and software features that are iterated on quickly.
“Every year we are able to amp up the tech that we bring to developers,” he says, comparing it to the 4-5 year cycle in console gaming hardware. “Before the industry knew it, we were blowing people away [with the tech]. The full gameplay of these titles has woken a lot of people up.”
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, the ‘battle royale’ style game where everyone tries to be the last player standing while scrounging for supplies to keep them alive, has launched on Android in Canada MobileSyrup reports, which could presage a future release in the U.S.
The arrival of the mobile version of the game more generally known as PUBG coincides with it reaching the 5 million player milestone on Xbox, where it’s been available since late last year after debuting on the PC in early access earlier in 2017. It’s not cross-play compatible, unlike Fortnite, however, so if you’re playing the Android version you’ll be matched up against others with the app, which is published by Chinese Internet giant Tencent.
This Android port wasn’t developed by original PUBG studio Bluehole, but they say they oversaw the creation of this mobile version. Based on early testing with a Pixel 2 XL, it looks and feels a lot like the original.
PUBG doesn’t have quite the hype of Fortnite right now, since that’s begun a cross-platform play mobile beta and also Drake just played a session with one of the most popular professional esports players in the world. But a mobile version close at hand (and available now, if you’re Canadian) is reason to get excited.
Supernova, a startup operating out of Prague in the Czech Republic, is on a mission to accelerate the app development workflow of mobile designers and developers. More than three years in the making — and the brainchild of co-founder Jiří Třečák — the Supernova Studio macOS app promises to automatically convert mobile app designs created in Sketch, a popular vector design tool, into native UI code, thus bridging the gap between prototyping and design, and front-end development.
Třečák says Supernova points to a burgeoning trend where automation is being employed in code generation in order to address the increasing demand for new software and apps, coupled with a worldwide shortage of developers. He also admits the idea and early versions of Supernova was born out of his own frustration as a mobile app developer that saw every new project employ a lot of repetition.
“I want to free up developers to spend more time on the interesting stuff,” he tells me before launching into an impressive demo of Supernova Studio.
Presuming your Sketch project is relatively well organised, Supernova Studio takes your designs and converts them into native and production components such as buttons, labels, images, tables and more. However, it is Studio’s employment of what Třečák describes as “highly advanced heuristics and analytics” (he is far too straightforward to call it AI) that enables the automatic export of assets, localizations, animations, code and more, without a developer. This potentially saves a ton of work, while the Supernova founder is particularly proud of the quality of code and project organisation that Supernova spits out.
“Supernova empowers designers and developers to bring designs to life,” he says. “Today, the designer prepares an app design, hands it off to the developer who manually codes each screen. This is where the back and forth starts such as colors, responsive layouts, buttons, animations and all the tedious work which goes into front end development. In some cases, this process can take weeks or months”.
In contrast, Supernova Studio attempts to automate this transition, allowing the developer or designer to choose which components correspond to their respective design elements, before creating the code, resources and everything required for front end app development. “Studio can save up to 50 percent of dev time on every app built,” claims Třečák.
And he should know. Prior to Supernova’s recent funding round, which saw the nascent startup pick up $500,000 led by Credo Ventures (disclaimer: the VC firm that backed by defunct startup), Třečák and his company was bootstrapped for several years, relying on revenue brought in by developing mobile apps for clients, with the help of early versions of Supernova, of course.
What Supernova isn’t is a full app or website creation tool that negates the need for developers entirely, products that often have a poor reputation within the development community for their cookie cutter approach and low-quality and bloated code. In contrast, the front end code and assets that Supernova generates is designed to be handed off to a developer to write the required logic and ‘wire up’ the app to backend code and databases, but with one repetitive and laborious step less than the current designer/developer workflow.
“We’ve automated the layout, resources, localizations, animations and pretty much everything UI-wise so the user just chooses which platform (either iOS, Android or React Native) and clicks export. At that point, the production code is ready,” adds Třečák.
Alongside Supernova Studio is Supernova Cloud, a collaboration platform where designers and developers can gather feedback directly from their teams or clients, make design adjustments and repeat the process until they are satisfied. “Contrary to other collaboration solutions, Supernova Cloud allows users to review real, working apps which are ready to be immediately converted to code, without compromise,” explains Třečák.
Supernova Cloud is free enabling you to collaborate, comment and share app designs. Supernova Studio is available for a monthly or yearly subscription starting at $39/month or $396/year.
Spotify announced today the launch of a new tool called Line-In that will allow its 160 million users to offer input about the music data it has on file, like genre, mood, explicitness and more. The goal is to leverage the wisdom of the crowds in correcting and expanding Spotify’s data over time, which could give it a competitive advantage against rival services like Apple or Pandora, for example.
Notes Spotify in its FAQ, by confirming the data describing music, the company will be able to improve the experiences of the users and artists on its service. Users will also benefit from the feature because they’ll be able to learn more about the music than what’s available in the app today, thanks to community participation.
The tool is currently only available to desktop users, and is accessible by clicking on the three dots next to Artist, Album or Song, then choosing “Suggest an Edit.”
Users can offer edits on a variety of data categories, including explicitness, genre, aliases, languages, mood, tags, artist roles and external URLs. However, they won’t be able to correct song or album titles, even if they’re wrong or contain “extra messy information,” Spotify says. Instead, the content partners have to fix this sort of metadata. But the company notes it’s building an interface to gather this feedback as well, so it can be sent “up the chain” to the label or artist to fix.
In addition to correcting erroneous information, Spotify users can also confirm the data already on file is correct.
Beyond contributing data by searching for artists from the Line-In homepage, users can also opt to take quizzes to share their knowledge or track mood or explicitness, while contributing data. The surveys are presented as multiple choice, with “none of the above” as the default selection and an option to skip questions you don’t know. (You don’t know if you get the questions “right” at the end, or how your answers compare to others’.)
The company also is crowdsourcing for information on whether or not an album has been added to the wrong artist’s page, or when albums from different artists have been mixed together on a single page. To fix this, you’ll go to the “Artist Roles” section on the album page, and correct the “main artist” by marking an “X” next to the wrong item, and clicking “Add Credit” to add anyone who’s missing.
Broadly, Line-In will appeal more so to hardcore music fans — particularly fans of a given artist or genre who want to ensure the data is accurate and complete.
The tool itself was publicly announced today, but had been in testing since last fall. Spotify says more features will come to Line-In over time.
Though there are some comparisons to a service like Wikipedia, which also relies on user contributions from editors, Spotify says Line-In is not a wiki, but rather a crowdsourced editing tool. It’s a nuanced difference, perhaps, but it doesn’t appear that a single user’s input would change the metadata on its own.
Ford vehicles equipped with the automaker’s SYNC 3 infotainment system will soon have access to a new voice-powered driving assistant behind the wheel – Sygic’s new aptly named “Driving Assistant.” The feature, which works with Sygic’s GPS navigation app, is described as a “voice-controlled co-driver that helps the driver identify nearby rest-stops, restaurants, hotels” and more. It’s accessible via a tap of an actual physical button on the steering wheel, and works in 24 languages, speaking out results to help keep driver eyes on the road.
Sygic’s mobile navigation app already works with Ford’s SYNC 3 AppLink feature, which essentially projects an app’s contents from your mobile screen to the in-car infotainment display. But the Driving Assistant is a new add-on for Ford vehicles specifically for now that lets you do things like ask for traffic info, parking advice, gas prices, specific destination locations or even route changes while driving with verbal commands.
If it sounds like an Alexa specifically built for the car, that seems to be what it’s intending. Other companies have actually brought Alexa to vehicles (including, in fact, Ford) but the Amazon voice companion is very specifically bound to the home, and it’s feature set is not at all directly connected to the experience of driving a car on the road. Garmin’s Alexa-powered in-car gadget uses the voice assistant and its own skill to provide navigation, but Sygic’s offering is only about getting you from point A to point B, so its purpose-built nature could be an advantage here.
A lot of drivers would likely still rather rely on their own native Maps apps and navigation services, which is why we continue to see Android Auto and CarPlay roll out to more vehicles, but if done well, a dedicated voice companion seems like a logical thing to employ while driving in order to minimize distraction and still get where you need to go, when you need to get there.
While some carmakers and others worry about Google’s domination in mapping and how that will play out in the auto industry, we are continuing to see announcements that point, if not to Google’s influence growing, its place in the market and how some may be testing the waters for more.
Today, Ford announced that it is integrating the Waze traffic and navigation app into its Sync 3 AppLink platform, making the app usable and navigable with touch and voice commands (“Talk to Waze”) through the in-car display system for the first time globally to all iPhone. Availability will start in April.
AppLink services are notable in that they help create a more seamless experience for smartphone users, to essentially access their apps on their car dashboards in the same way that they would on their phones. The bonus is that you get a larger screen and the use of your car’s sound system — making for a more natural and easier experience. In addition to the voice commands, users will get extra features such as additional navigation support with estimated carpool lane arrival times.
“We know that people enjoy a range of navigation apps to help them reach their destination safely and more efficiently and have worked closely with partners to make this happen,” said Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services, in a statement. “With the SYNC 3 AppLink platform, drivers can access their favourite apps safely and seamlessly while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”
The move is a long time in coming. The effort was actually first announced a year ago, at Mobile World Congress, by way of SmartDeviceLink, the consortium started by Ford and Toyota (and including other carmakers) to build more seamless bridges between smartphone apps and in-car displays. Ford has had availability for Waze for Android, meanwhile, since last year. Then, Ford hinted in January of this year that the integration was finally coming.
There are several other apps getting announced in the AppLink update today. Namely, the audio-on-demand podcast app Acast; the BPme gas stations finder and payment app; Radioplayer; and Cisco’s WebEx meetings app are all also coming to the platform. But given that there are over 100 million users of Waze, making it the world’s biggest navigation app based on crowdsourced information, it’s the more significant of the group.
The move is an important step for both Ford and Google for other reasons, too.
For Ford, it will help make its Sync 3 service more attractive to would be car buyers and existing owners (Ford says its 2018 model year vehicles running SYNC 3 version 3.0 or greater will be able to run Waze on its touch screen at launch. Other SYNC 3-enabled Ford vehicles can receive an over-the-air update or an update via USB to enable Waze functionality.) Ford tells me that there are currently 2 million AppLink users worldwide, which is a relatively small number considering that annually there are over 6 million Ford vehicles sold each year, and that AppLink has been around for years.
There are already a number of other navigation services available for Sync 3 and AppLink, with the selection varying by region. (In the UK, for example, options include Glympse, Sygic and Cityseeker.) But there is nothing currently on the market with the brand pull and use of Waze. Given that navigation is one of the more popular services on AppLink, having Waze availability is an important option.
For Google, the deal will mean more Waze usage, which in turn will help the app perform better. And it gives the company some more headway into the market at a time when reports are surfacing of tensions between it and automakers. Notably, a Ford spokesperson tells us that Ford is the first OEM to integrate Waze, and Ford is the first to integrate Waze for iOS for in-vehicle use.
“Waze works as a personal heads-up from 100 million of your friends on the road – and now that will include the many Ford drivers who will be able to safely access our app while on the move through the car display,” said Jens Baron, product lead, In-Car Applications, Waze, in a statement. “Waze is more than just red lines on the map. It reflects a huge community of drivers on the go, outsmarting traffic together all around the world.”
The Waze/AppLink deal seems a far cry from the big partnership that Google and Ford tried to strike to develop autonomous cars, back in 2015 and early 2016.
That deal, apparently, never really took off in part because of differences over what form the partnership should take, a slow “frenemy” approach of sniffing each other out or something much bigger from the start. Sources have told us, and other reports also allege, that this helped contribute to Mark Fields stepping down as CEO of Ford.
In that context, it’s interesting to consider that this Waze integration is finally rolling out. It’s but a step for Waze iPhone app users, but one that could help lay the groundwork for or signal more trust and collaboration between the two down the road.
Ah, 2007: the days when Windows Vista was all the rage (or inducing rage), the Apple TV was brand new and music download stores were the hottest way to get the latest albums. Apple certainly remembers that year… and would like you to move on. The c…
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer app and its lightweight uTorrent counterpart are susceptible to particularly nasty hijacking flaws. Google researcher Tavis Ormandy recently detailed a host of DNS rebinding exploits in Windows versions of the software that…
Spotify so far has been content to partner far and wide on hardware, via its Spotify Connect platform, which allows anyone building a connected speaker, mobile device or piece of AV equipment to turn their gadget into a Spotify speaker. But a new job listing suggests it will soon build hardware of its own, and it’s looking for people to help make that happen. The job listing, spotted by… Read More
The Essential Phone is currently in the midst of being rolled out in a range of new colors, including three that will be released excessively on Essential’s own website, with a staged release schedule that began Thursday. On Friday, however, Essential revealed a surprise fourth new color, “Halo Gray,” which will be exclusive to Amazon and which is now available to… Read More
When you're creating 3D models or otherwise running intensive tasks, you want to wring every ounce of performance out of your PC as possible. It's a good thing, then, that Microsoft has released a Windows 10 preview build in the Fast ring that inclu…
Microsoft is now ready to polish your job applications — the company has released its LinkedIn-powered Resume Assistant for Office 365 subscribers. The AI-based helper sifts through LinkedIn profiles to find prominent examples of work experience an…
Windows 10 S was supposed to be Microsoft's firm answer to Chrome OS, offering comparable security (by limiting you to Microsoft Store apps) while running more powerful software. However, its implementation for home users has been ham-fisted: you hav…
Microsoft’s Slack competitor, Microsoft Teams, rolled out its biggest update since the software’s launch last year, the company says. The focus of the new set of features is allowing users to better work with apps – something Microsoft Teams accomplishes via integrations, new search and discovery features, commands, and more.
Some of the features are, in fact, quite… Read More
Spotify has been working on building out its podcast business, and now offers a large catalog of shows (including our own Original Content, which you should definitely check out). Today, it’s debuting a new “multimedia format” that adds visual elements to podcasts (as well as audiobooks, news bites, and other audio, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s just call all… Read More
While it's no longer a novelty to run Android apps on your Chromebook, that doesn't mean they run well. To date, most of those apps pause when you switch away — fine for a phone, but not what you'd expect on a computer with a multi-window interface…
If you've ever wanted to try Apple's graphical interface on the Lisa, the computer that preceded the Mac, you've been relegated to either using an emulator or (if you're lucky) tracking down one of the rare, expensive machines. Thankfully, it's abou…