Chrome OS Flex, Android Privacy, Google Drive, More: Wednesday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, February 16, 2022


Ars Technica: Google turns old Macs, PCs into Chromebooks with Chrome OS Flex. “Chrome OS Flex is basically the official Google version of CloudReady, which Google acquired when it bought Neverware in 2020. Flex allows individuals, schools, or businesses to download Chrome OS onto a USB drive for free (CloudReady charges a fee and annual subscription rate to schools and businesses, respectively) and install it onto their Mac or Windows PC. The OS could also be booted from a USB drive instead of installed or launched via network deployment by an IT department.”


Google Blog: Introducing the Privacy Sandbox on Android. “Today, we’re announcing a multi-year initiative to build the Privacy Sandbox on Android, with the goal of introducing new, more private advertising solutions. Specifically, these solutions will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID. We’re also exploring technologies that reduce the potential for covert data collection, including safer ways for apps to integrate with advertising SDKs.”

The Verge: Google Drive’s new filters that make search easier are rolling out to everyone. “Search chips, a feature that’s supposed to make it easier to search for files in Google Drive, is becoming available to all Workspace users, including G Suite Basic and Business users. It was first released as a beta in November and should let you narrow down your search results by location, file type, date modified, people, tasks, and shared label.”


BuzzFeed News: Lyra Health, Which Provides Therapy For Google And Facebook Employees, Is Facing Concerns Over Privacy And Treatment. “In interviews with BuzzFeed News, 18 users, therapists, and former Lyra employees voiced concerns about some of the company’s business practices, including its productivity-based bonus structure for therapists and its use of patient data. Some of the people who spoke to BuzzFeed News for this story did so under the condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions from their employers or former employers.”

TIME: Why a Russian Invasion of Ukraine Would Be a Big Test for Google Maps. “With the prospect of a major European war greater now than at any point in recent memory, Google needs to be every bit as—if not more—aware of its response to the potential impacts of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as any sovereign nation. As one of the most powerful companies in the world, Google Maps is often treated as the ultimate authority in mapping. Google has the potential to legitimize the illegal actions of hostile nations.”

TechCrunch: Shortwave wants to bring back Google Inbox. “Google’s Inbox experiment was a glorious thing while it lasted. Launched as an invitation-only service in 2014, it was the company’s next-gen email client. Because it was so good, it’s no surprise Google shut it down in 2019. Thankfully, though, a group of ex-Google/Firebase employees is now resurrecting the Inbox experience — with a bit of the Slack user experience mixed in, too.”


Reuters: Dutch foundation seeks consumer damages over Apple, Google app payments . “Apple… and Google face a potential class action lawsuit in the Netherlands over app store charges, after a foundation headed by Dutch entrepreneur Alexander Klöpping began gathering claimants. The action, which still faces legal hurdles before any court hearing, reflects growing criticism over how much the two firms charge developers for payments on their app stores, while the Netherlands has become increasingly popular as a jurisdiction to pursue complaints against multinational firms.”

Washington Post: Senators unveil children’s online safety bill after months of pressure on Silicon Valley. “Co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the Kids Online Safety Act would require online platforms to provide parents and minors younger than 16 with ‘easy-to-use’ tools to keep them safe, limit screen time and protect their data. It would demand companies create tools to allow parents to track how much time their kids spend on a service, or to opt out of features such as autoplay that might extend time online. Companies would also have to offer parents and minors the ability to modify tech companies’ recommendation algorithms, allowing them to limit or ban certain types of content.”


NiemanLab: “It’s O.K. to abandon ship”: How to critically evaluate scientific claims before pursuing a story. “Our inboxes are full of them — press releases, pitches, and other media calling some scientific event ‘a breakthrough,’ ‘a game-changer,’ or ‘a paradigm-shifter.’ Scientists, investors, and analysts flood our Twitter feeds, cheerleading a preprint or singing some company’s praises, even when there is little to no data to back up those claims. Figuring out whether something is newsworthy can be hard. But, as science journalists, we need to examine these statements, and decide: Is this worth covering? If so, how do we do so objectively, without accidentally becoming a mouthpiece for hyperbolic claims?”


Mashable: 11 extraordinary underwater photographs that bring the depths to you. “The winners of the annual Underwater Photographer of the Year competition have been announced, annually diving into the dark depths to introduce us to a world beneath the surface of oceans, pools, rivers, and lakes. Celebrating underwater photography since 1965, the UK competition features 13 categories including wrecks, portrait, wide angle, macro, behaviour, and marine conservation.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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