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Facebook Portal is the social media giant’s entry into the hardware realm. Facebook launched both Portal and Portal+, their new voice-controlled, video-calling device that comes in-built with Amazon’s Alexa and pre-orders start today. It supports media streaming through Spotify and Pandora, plays videos through Facebook Watch and you can scroll through photos in an album of your choosing. Unlike the other devices, its smart assistant capabilities are thrown at the back and the focus is put on its video calling features.

Portal is a sleek device that has a video camera and a screen that will make chats with friends and family look great if we didn’t know who made it but we know and they don’t carry a good reputation with protecting its user’s privacy. But if you are one of those “I don’t have anything to hide” and don’t care about your privacy, then this device is for you.

For a moment, let’s ignore the fact that it’s made by Mark and give it benefit of doubt, is it still worth it? The only reason to get one is if you make so much video calls that you’re willing to put your money in a device dedicated to that job and give it a permanent spot in your abode. But then again, this space is already crowded by even smarter devices that can do everything Portal does and more.

Here are my two cents regarding all these “third screens”: even if I put aside the privacy worries they present, I’m still not wowed. I spend every day of my waking hour looking at screens, be it my phone, my tablet, my laptop and the television. I get the convenience they bring but the thought of looking at another screen isn’t appealing to me, yet. When will our eyes get the break they deserve from the multiple screens that are constantly demanding for attention?

Google+ shuts down as a consumer product

This came after Google found a long-running bug that may have exposed user’s data to third parties. It wasn’t a breach as there was no evidence of misuse but Google refused to disclose the bug to avoid the public backlash it was going to get similar to Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Google+ will become an enterprise product after shutting down the consumer-facing parts for good.

Google will probably pay the price for this data exposure and US state attorneys have already taken an interest with one senator calling the cover-up “pretty outrageous”. In comparison, Google is receiving less outrage from users than Facebook since the search giant company provides genuinely useful services. Facebook gives its users less (features imported from other social networks); they like it less and end up trusting it less. Following that security debacle, Google issued stricter guidelines for developers of apps that aren’t email or productivity who have access to Gmail. Also, Play Store apps that want to access SMS data and call logs will have to first be the default apps.

Interesting Reads: The many annoying ways Google forced users onto Google+ and Life among the last Google+ users

Interesting Tweet:

Microsoft really does love Linux and wants to protect it

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced it’s joining the Open Innovation Network, a coalition of companies formed in 2005 to help the growing open source movement protect itself from patent attacks.

Microsoft is making its 60,000 patents available to the group to help those companies defend themselves against infringement lawsuits. Microsoft has been moving in this direction of embracing the open source community for a while now, even acquiring Github, but this is such a strange turn-around from when former CEO Steve Ballmer called Linux a “cancer”

Social Media

  • Facebook’s Messenger is getting the unsend feature – they’re currently prototyping this feature that was previously only available to Mark Zuckerberg. This comes 6 months after he retracted his messages.
  • Instagram for Android will now support third-party authentication apps. This support was only available to iOS users but now, Android users will be able to use authentication apps like Google Authenticator. To enable it, you’ll go to the “Settings” menu and choose two-factor authentication from the “Privacy and Security” section. Do so right now, it’s imperative. Download a 2FA app and then enable this option on Instagram.
  • Too lazy to read your saved articles on Pocket (we are all guilty of this), the app will read them out to you just like podcasts – Pocket has improved its article listening feature with text to speech service Polly with a more human-like voice and the update is available to both its iOS and Android apps. 
  • If you’ve been on Twitter lately, you know how its official account has been pretty active but this tweet is next level

Andy Rubin is Pivoting

The second version of the Essential phone by Andy Rubin is going to be a phone that will heavily rely on voice commands and AI. It will come packed with a small screen and book appointments; respond to emails and text messages all on its own.

Streaming Services

  • New York-based lyrics platform Genius has partnered with Apple Music to show lyrics and annotations for thousands of hit songs. This makes Apple Music the official music player for Genius. Apple Music subscribers who visit Genius will be able to play songs right from the song page after signing up into their Apple Music account. Genius will still continue to power Spotify’s popular ‘Behind the lyrics’ feature.
  • YouTube is at war with creators who post duplicated content in an effort to reduce the uploading of spammy content by preventing them from monetizing those videos. Creators are being removed from YouTube’s Partner Program for duplicative content such as auto-generated videos, videos uploaded many times by multiple users if you’re not the original creator and videos uploaded in such a way that is trying to get around YouTube’s copyright tools

Interesting Reads:

Distract

  • And this too..hmmmmmh

  • It turns out moons can have their own moons – they are called moonmoons. Who knew?
  • This is trippy

  • After all this reading, go listen to this weird playlist, it will bring you back to life, pun intended…

Previous Editions of Clicked can be read here.

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