* Limited access to sensors in background
* Restricted access to call logs
* Restricted access to phone numbers
* Restricted access to Wi-Fi location and connection information
* Information removed from Wi-Fi service methods
* Telephony information now relies on device location setting
Android and ios are both completely opaque operating systems... stop pretending they are not.
Not that we shouldn't keep an eye on them, of course. The great bulk of their revenue comes from advertising, which is all about selling users to advertisers. But I don't think Android makes the picture any worse.
The spookiness is even greater for those of us that know what it means to live under repressive regimes.
Honestly Android allows me to tune out of the internet business model a lot easier than iOS. Just dive into permissions and install a system wide adblocker. You can even bypass the app store.
>Google has been able to track your location using Google Maps for a long time. Since 2014, it has used that information to provide advertisers with information on how often people visit their stores. But store visits aren’t purchases, so, as Google said in a blog post on its new service for marketers, it has partnered with “third parties” that give them access to 70 percent of all credit and debit card purchases.
Don't assume people at the top have an agenda that are compatible with yours.
The fact we are enjoying a lot of peace and freedom right now should now be a signal for us to relax : democracy is a system that needs maintenance, not some legacy you can claim ad vitam.
It's our duty as a citizen to always doubt the intentions of those in power. Just like it's a flight intendent duty to check that the planes doors safety are engaged again and again. It's not a moral issue. It's just a technical requirement.
With this philosophy, I’d suggest you’d avoid paying attention to the trajectory of Chinese society, perhaps even more so now that Google plans to get in bed with the CCP’s censorship and dissident quashing regime...
I too hope that Googlers block what their execs are planning to do in China, but we're not there yet, and it should give one pause that their leadership are onboard with doing this in the first place.
From the article I linked, which is an interview with a Googler who helped lead the resistance-
They also tried to downplay the scope and involvement of the project. But that rhetoric dissolved when we found out that leadership had been lying.
What were they lying about?
From the beginning, they told us that Project Maven was a small contract purely for non-offensive purposes. They said that we weren’t building anything custom. They said that this was a one-off project only worth $9 million, and that it wasn’t part of any further collaboration with the Pentagon.
Those all turned out to be lies. On April 12, DefenseOne published an article that landed like a bombshell in the company. Drawing on conversations with Pentagon officials, it revealed that Project Maven was actually a pilot project for future collaborations between Google and the military. In particular, Project Maven was part of Google’s push to win the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.
JEDI is the military’s next-generation cloud that will network American forces all over the world and integrate them with AI. It’s basically Skynet. And all the big cloud providers want to win the contract because it’s worth $10 billion.
When we found out that Project Maven was an audition for JEDI, people started becoming extremely concerned. And as the media attention to the story increased, we learned a lot more. For instance, Diane Greene had told us that the Project Maven contract was only for $9 million, but internally they expected it to increase to $250 million per year. And they weren’t just giving the Pentagon access to open-source software — they were going to build a massive surveillance system that gave military analysts real-time information on people, vehicles, and buildings in a Google Earth–style interface.
Exposing all of those lies damaged leadership on this issue just as much as anything else that we did. That loss of trust really hurt them.
Don't trust Facebook or anything they own.
Thank you for the suggestion. We likely have different ideals about what a healthy version of the future looks like.
> ...selling your information to third parties...
Not what I said. Google’s business model is to extract and store as much information about consumers as possible, enrich and correlate it, and then financially exploit it. Currently the best way they’ve found to do that is targeted advertising.
By doing so, they make this extremely revealing data available to every government in every jurisdiction in which they operate, which is pretty much all of them. They work to normalize this surveillance as inevitable and unstoppable.
Additionally, while it would currently run counter to their business model to sell raw data, there’s nothing to legally stop them, if that business model should change.
Just like Facebook, Google are now very close to market saturation. To keep growth up, they’ll need to increase revenue per user. How will they do that? We don’t know. But there’s a relatively high chance that I’ll like it even less than what they’re doing now.
> ... dumb
Google's business _is_ selling my information to third parties. Don't Apple have a better track record, and a more privacy oriented business model here?
No, Google's business is using your information as a tool to build products it sells to third parties. Actually selling your information, as such, would undermine that business.
Google business is no more about selling your information to other people than a ferryman’s business is selling his boat.
Your privacy against non-Google actors is Google's moat. They have every interest in protecting it.
Really? If we're going to be that pedantic, then it's probably more like " Google's business is using your information to build products it sells to third parties." They're not using my information as a tool, they're using my information (location, interests, browsing habits, searches) to sell a product (advertising). At that stage, they _are_ selling my data.
I just wish there was a global "NO NO and NO!" override button for any kind of "help make your service better by using your personal information" feature. Just recently, I discovered that www.google.com was also accessing my Chrome browser's location, and I can not recall when I said "yes" to any such location prompt. It's a bit sad -- I think of these features as being intentionally obfuscated similarly to how Facebook intentionally obfuscates their "account deletion" mechanism.
I'm afraid the majority of people just don't care about these needlessly nosy "smart" systems, and I'm probably going to suffer from it as someone in the privacy-niche.
This is the worst when traveling through Europe. Cross a border and suddenly all Google services are in a language you don't speak.
It is not only the UI language that changes, the search results do as well.
Suddenly something that was easy to find becomes a mess of local results with similar names or machine translated, even though I used the original language name.
It's often a quirk when using CCC (Chaos Computer Club) IP addresses at events in other countries; you'll be looking at google.de for the first couple of days until google correlates enough location data from people that have opted-in to correct the IP location.
On the plus side it means that a personal VPN with no opted-in devices will give you your home-region services (ymmv).
If they had just let the users (rather than Verisign) decide for themselves which apps they trusted, so that every app wouldn't have to pop up i confirmation dialog every time it wanted a network connection, I would be much happier with what we had then than with Android's model.
There is very little real choice for users.
1. tell me I install an app that wants "some list of permissions".
2. let me disable this permission for all apps installed now and in the future.
- Permissions are requested incrementally at runtime. For large apps, a LOT of these permissions depend on corner cases BUT you still declare all the permissions you might ask for.
So maybe I will declare that I might ask to see the content of your screen .. because there is an help menu where I take a video of your screen to send to support after asking you for the permission.
Same for camera .. we might use Google Pay for most cases, but in one of the countries where we have the app, a local player has a very popular solution that scans your credit card. So we declare that we might need Camera because of this sdk.
This is one of the reasons why the previous model where you asked the permissions at install time did not work very well in practice.
I'm amazed this took so long. There have been papers coming out for years demonstrating how to extract all kinds of sensitive information from the vibration sensor.
That suggests that the life of Java as Android's primary language might be really coming to an end, even though Android is very much a platform built on Java/C++ at its core.
1. Break the apps.
Users tend to get annoyed when they upgrade the OS and their apps stop working.
2. Maintain a compatibility shim.
Depending on what the change you're making does, this might not even be possible. Assuming that it is possible, how do you know what needs a shim and what behavior is actually expected?
3. Give up and do something else instead.
Things get worse if you consider that OEMs may want to modify implementations as well, so you'll end up with apps that work, except on some devices. There's no sensible way to prevent app breakage when there are apps depending on your internal (and explicitly private) API; the solution is enforcement.
Of course it's a shame they were available/undocumented in the first place, but at least they are finally fixing this.
Google is promising that now things will be different, take it with the usual skepticism.
Huh - how did you get to this conclusion? What would be the alternative? Do you mean Java was essentially "better" because it had access to all the undocumented APIs while other languages didn't?
Because Linux APIs were never really intended to be called by NDK developers, only the POSIX subset and Android public native APIs.
Likewise with Java, which is only a subset of proper Java.
In any case, it might relate more to an eventual future support of Java 9 module system, where private really means private, than anything else.
That's not even slightly true? Android doesn't pretend to be anything but a Linux system, with all the Linux details shining through in all their glory.
There is a seccomp policy that blacklists some syscalls, but it's only 17 out of 271 for ARM64 and it's things like setuid or reboot which you won't have permission to do anyway. Other than that you're completely free to go nuts with raw syscalls, you're in no way, shape, or form stuck going through a POSIX layer.
These are the only APIs devs are officially allowed to touch.
Anything else is "works on my phone" kind of thing.
It becomes your responsibility to ensure your syscalls match and are available on the kernel you're actually running on which you may be confusing with "not allowed to use".
And very nearly all of the time this is a complete waste of everyone's time since the syscalls are a direct mirror of what's in libc anyway just with libc doing the compatibility for you.
But just to really prove that you can absolutely syscall on Android, one of the largest, most widely deployed & shipped NDK/SDK apps does it to workaround a missing futimes in bionic: https://cs.chromium.org/chromium/src/base/os_compat_android....
But pretty much all the "unintended" uses of Android APIs (undocumented or not) have been the most original and best-integrating apps I've seen. It's a pity.
This change is only made because devs used the openness of java in order to access private APIs.
It is ok in some cases, but in others private means private.
Like you would have 'smart' devs manipulating the system resource cache .. even though it is not supposed to be a public API and they can mess up their app very easily if they touch it.
Nothing to do with moving away from Java.
I hope they stay afloat and release a successor to the PH-1.
I got the idea that they were winding down operations, but the unlocked bootloader gave me some hope that I would be able to use this device to learn Android app development.
And here they are, supporting Android P as an OTA update on launch day! I'm typing this on Android P...
You know what mind I would like to control what apps get more resources?
But that kind of low-level stuff isn't something most people care about or want to do. They just want the damn thing to work.
That was like Mac users who said that cooperative multitasking was better because it let games run more smoothly, while technically correct. It was like being happy that your dog pooped on your carpet because now you have free fertilizer.....
Think of it as a resource manager controlled by you, but with the only interface that the general market will be able to use for something with a fair amount of technical nuance - ML.
Its the same thing as using those battery manager task killer apps. For a pixel, those apps will result in worse battery life, because recent android versions manage resource consumption better than users will.
I noticed recently that WhatsApp, Reddit Sync, and a few other apps were draining battery life like crazy. But none of that drainage was being shown in the battery stats.
Google is purposefully hiding how some apps use battery, and it started years ago when they allowed apps to hide under "Android OS" and "System" categories. In more recent versions they "fixed" this by simply not showing the Android OS and System categories in the battery stats anymore.
Google doesn't want to show how some apps use your battery because they drain the battery with similar methods that Google itself uses to drain your battery (by polling your location all the time, etc).
Every new feature comes at a UX cost, and in this case, the cost of the UX outweighs the benefits of you micromanaging your memory footprint.
That's not exactly an easy problem.
Currently used apps
scheduled background work
currently active foreground services like the navigation app you are curently using, the image that is uploading in the background or the music that is playing .. stuff without a visible UI (except for a notification so you know what is going on). All important but not the main thing displayed right now.
You also need to throttle the CPU when the phone runs too hot.
But not run it at minimum speed either because it would make everything laggy.
Also, if you pick up your phone out of your pocket, it automatically wakes up and increase CPU frequency because it is likely you are going to use it.
This is very complex problem, it is ok to let a machine balance this for us.
I use snapchat, but I actually hate the app. It's a bloated memory and battery hog in my opinion. Is Adaptive Battery going to think I love Snapchat and prioritize more system resources for it just because I use it? Cause I want the exact opposite to happen. I want Snapchat using 0% of my system resources except for the few times a day when I check my snaps.
Also I hate losing control of my system in favor of some nebulous decision making criteria I can't control (ML)
It sounds like this feature is exactly made for cases like the one you describe: if you don't use Snapchat throughout the day, it won't stay in memory like it currently does (which seems to be ~ a LRU cache), instead staying in memory only when you're predicted to use the app over and over. (so not Snapchat in your case)
I've seen no evidence of this. Plenty of features that do not work or work poorly are launched every day.
Especially machine learning stuff, which is hard to test for normal (and abnormal) users and debug the recommendations. See e.g. the Nest. I know people who got one and hated it since it never get the hang of their schedules and would make bizarre decisions. Others love them.
In my experience, "personalized recommendations" are universally trash
Check YouTube's "trending" tab and come back here to say if you'd rather have that instead of the personalized recommendations.
It is trash, but that's what you get when you use data based recommendations.
So in practice, the resource usage of Snapchat for you would probably not change at all, but that one game app you downloaded 2 months ago and never played will stop querying the master server every day to serve you more ads.
I hope this stuff is kept out of AOSP. Yes, I know it seems like at least some of the computation happens on-device, but I am not comfortable having it done on a device out of my full control regardless.
I believe the computation is done fully locally, as for "tracking", every single OS has a history of what applications you've launched recently, how is that any different?
This is much richer data than a list of recently used apps, right? Do OSs also record that information?
> Actions take advantage of machine learning to surface your app to the user at just the right time, based on your app's semantic intents and the user's context.
"Semantic intents" are basically Android intents. So yes, it's more than just what app you are in, but rather which window of the app you are in. There is also user context, which is things like what time it is or what other apps you have opened.
All this is fed to a model that basically practice, given the current context, what other intents you may need. It's nothing really out of the ordinary.
The commenter tries to imply it that it tracks every input, which is unfounded.
Edit: Also there is now a 4 notification icon limit with the clock on the left, whether you have a notch or not. I often have a lot more than 4 notification icons up (1) (esp since a couple are permanent from background apps) and the rest will just disappear under a dot-dot icon.
(1) - 3 email account alerts, Trillian, SMS, Ebay, and a Photos alert on my phone right now. Half aren't visible.
* Wi-Fi RTT sounds pretty neat, I had not heard of that before.
* Shutting mic, camera and sensor data off for idle/background apps is neat, though I'm shocked that wasn't an option before.
I wonder if they'll ever get around to letting the user limit or deny internet access to applications, something that Cyanogen/Lineage has had for years.
What do I do now if I want a skype or wechat voice call in the background while using the phone normally?
Most popular apps already use foreground services for use cases like yours. This restriction is to prevent dodgy spying apps that recorded without user knowing about it.
I opened a link from fb messenger in chrome. The back button is still there, and clicking it returned me to messenger. So yes I believe so.
I thought I'd miss it. I didn't. Now I wouldn't need it on Android.
And in cases where one app does activate another, you can go back one step by tapping the top-left corner of the screen. There's only one level of "app back", but that's plenty since iOS doesn't tend to jump you between apps a lot, and because that navigation isn't co-mingled with other "back" operations.
Meraki's control software is sort of able to triangulate a device, but because how spotty WiFi can be sometimes, it's absolutely not perfect.
I hope not. The bezel has a very real purpose: a place to hold it without your fingers interfering with the screen, whether by activating a touch or just plain blocking the view. I have an older Android with ~5mm of bezel on all the sides and ~8mm of thickness, and trying to get a good grip while not activating or blocking the screen is hard enough. I remember being handed an iPhone 6, and trying not to drop it was the most difficult part. Holding something that thin is just not comfortable, as is trying to pick it up off a flat surface.
You'd basically push buttons and the status bar into the bezel, then use the sides much like the Galaxy Edge does.
In short there is a 4 notification icon limit now with the clock on the left, whether you have a notch or not. I often have a lot more than 4 notification icons up (esp since a couple are permanent from background apps) and the rest will just disappear under a dot-dot icon.
I dislike the notch, but it isn't very annoying. You still got your status stuff on the top left and right. However, if I'd be having my device in landscape it'd thoroughly annoy me no matter what. It destroys the device symmetry!! However landscape is a niche for me; I don't watch many videos.
I do think your comment hits the nail though. Apple gets away with all kind of innovations: TouchBar, butterfly keyboard, no 3.5 mm...
The butterfly keyboard was an unnecessary attempt at thinness. The laptop did not need to be thinner for ergonomic reasons.
The touchbsr generates a lot of nerd rage but most people don’t really care about the function keys.
But now that Apple has sadly made cutouts ok, OEMs are going to implement them whether we like them or not.
I really hope that they are a fad that dies in a quick although very painful fire BUT right now Google needs to add support for it.
Which they did.
I strongly suspect that this is a gradual rollout. Maybe that force checking if an update is available allows to force enroll ? that's how I saw the update and I now that Google has moved in this direction for the most impatient users.
Those few "images" in the article were ~40Mb, come on.
It might be a better developer experience than Android overall but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
The only reason I stay with Android is Google Fi.
I find my Pixel 2 XL more usable and reliable than my iPhone X and Project Fi has saved me countless hours sitting in phone shop offices waiting for SIM cards in every new country I visit. The UI may not be quite as snappy as my iPhone but I don't feel it really holds back my use of the device at all and battery life is actually better and it recharges faster.
I do think this new gesture stuff they added to Android P is kind of dumb though and seems like a cheap and failed effort to copy some buzz from Apple.
(HDR VP9 Profile 2 is isted as a new feature, as per "Android 9 adds built-in support for HDR VP9 Profile 2, so you can now deliver HDR-enabled movies to your users on HDR-capable devices." yet I wonder if this is effectively a telco-friendly video codec not widely used by media publishers or creators?)
You should be exporting a "master" file from your editor and getting your delivery platform (or at minimum a dedicated transcoding app) to output to the various profiles.
Also, exporting HDR content isn't as simple as changing your export setting. HDR changes the way you handle content from the earliest moments of data capture; the real question is how you choose to crush the high dynamic range down to a standard dynamic range for everyone else.
And Compressor for Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Media Encoder CC for Premiere Pro CC are effectively integrated (or some of the export code) for such a function - or are launched via the apps when you ‘Export’ or ‘Share’, although this can depend upon your CC plan or whether you have purchased/installed Compressor, or not.
The ‘crushing the HDR’ is a good point, I’ll have to look up how this codec handles DR and colour gamet :)
Disc: Googler but nowhere close to Android.
Wait what, did someone trademark this name?
It was invented by Frank Epperson, who left stirring sticks in fruit juice that was left to freeze. He called it the Eppsicle, as a combination of Epperson + icicle, but his kids started calling it "Popsicle" (as they called him Pop), and the name stuck. The name is now owned by Unilever.
Aside from the unnecessary jargon, this irks me how it portrays the user as some passive consumer. It really drives home how Google is, first and foremost, an advertising company.
Compare Apple's ad copy: https://developer.apple.com/ios
> Siri can now intelligently pair users’ daily routines with your apps to suggest convenient shortcuts right when they’re needed. Use the Shortcuts API to help users quickly accomplish tasks related to your app, directly from the lock screen, in Search, or from the Siri watch face.
See how this is much more respectful of the user, by treating her as an active entity? Overall, Apple's copy is less jargon-y and terrible too: https://developer.apple.com/ios/whats-new.
The Android.com page is more similar to Apple's:
> App Actions predicts what you’re about to do, so you get to your next task more quickly. If you do something like connect your headphones, the playlist you were listening to earlier is front and center. 
Both things that I quoted are for developers:
> Siri can now intelligently pair users’ daily routines with your apps to suggest convenient shortcuts right when they’re needed.
The Android.com copy you quote, by contrast, is directed to users ("connect your headphones").
I get apple is for developers too but they word things in the most utopian way it's almost like they believe they're in a Utopia.
Even Balmer-era Microsoft never put out developer materials with anything as user-hostile as saying that a feature "drives engagement." It's a Freudian slip revealing that in the Google ecosystem, the user is the product, not the customer.
It's all dependent on frame of reference. Nobody reads Google's developer blog looking for user centric stuff, it's being pitched to devs and their metrics
It's amusing that you're taking a quote from the Android Developer blog (a blog, you know, for developers) and trying to misconstrue it as a public facing comment for users.
Here's their public facing comment that is aimed at users:
Android 9 also helps you get things done faster with App Actions, which predicts what you’ll want to do next based on your context and displays that action right on your phone. Say it’s Tuesday morning and you’re preparing for your commute: you’ll be suggested actions like navigating to work on Google Maps or resuming an audiobook with Google Play Books. And when you put in headphones after work, you may see options to call your mom or start your favorite Spotify playlist.
I did no such thing--to the contrary, my point is that how Google talks about users "behind their back" reveals a lot about how it views users as passive eyeballs. Note that the Apple copy I linked is from Apple's developer site as well.
LTE doesn't work, but hey, 15.1.
Whats really scary is that the official Samsung Touchwiz ROM stopped getting updates two years ago and is stuck on 5.1 I think. Ain't it great when hobbyists support a device for over 3 major revisions past when the billion dollar manufacturer that made it stopped updating it less than five years after it was released.
Ah, XDA, where critical features become optional.
Also it's not clear if the old style of switching "opened" apps will still be there? Because the new one with the full screen preview seems more flashy but less practical(think alt+tab vs win+tab on Windows).
Also note that they're only circular on Pixel.
I'm really against the idea of having a uniform shape for all apps, it makes it harder to quickly locate them.