Google Brings More Pixel-Exclusive Features to All Android Phones

Google Brings More Pixel Features to All Android Phones

Google’s promotional video for the Assistant’s new Reminders ability.

If you’ve ever wanted to bring up your reminders on your smart display a little more easily, Google added a Reminders hub to the Assistant. You can pull it up by saying, “Open my reminders,” and the Assistant will present you with the list of things you reminded yourself to do. Eventually, the Assistant will start to offer suggestions for reminders based on your activity.

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There are also some changes coming to Android Auto, which I wrote about in more depth here.

The accessibility features will be rolling out this week, with Google’s other Android features landing in the coming weeks.

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Microsoft Just Released Its Slick New Photos App to Windows 11 Insiders

Microsoft Releases Slick New Photos App to Windows 11 Insiders

The visual design of the Windows 11 Photo app has gotten a complete overhaul, with Microsoft touting new rounded corners and the use of Mica material design language throughout, which allows the app to dynamically change its color palette to more closely match your PC’s theme (light mode or dark mode) and wallpaper. Microsoft says the Windows 11 Photos app has also gotten bolder typography to help make finding settings and various albums easier too.

New Windows 11 Photo app UI

The new Windows 11 Photo app’s UI, with Dark mode on.
Screenshot: Microsoft

But the changes to the new Photos app aren’t purely skin deep either, as the photo viewer features a new edge-to-edge layout with an updated toolbar up top for all your core photo editing tools, with a filmstrip down below to make navigating through your photo roll that much simpler. And when you just want to see your pics without any other distractions, you can easily hide the Photos app’s toolbar and filmstrip by clicking directly on the photo viewer.

Inside the updated toolbar, Microsoft offers standard editing tools including crop, rotate, and touch-up, along with a button to view a picture’s metadata and a heart icon so you can quickly mark your favorite pics. And for people who want to see a bunch of photos at once (maybe to compare various edits of the same pic), Microsoft added a new multi-view mode too.

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Multi-view mode in the Windows 11 Photos app.

Here’s what the new Photo app’s multi-view mode looks like.
Screenshot: Microsoft

However, as someone who often relies on more powerful photo editing software for both work and personal content, my favorite new feature might be the Photo app’s new button that allows you to select an image and then send it to Photoshop Elements, Picsart, or other third-party image editors with a single click. Currently, in Windows 10, I typically have to right-click the thumbnail of an image and then use the “Open with” command to send an image to Photoshop, which isn’t terrible, but it gets kind of clunky when you’re doing it 30 or 40 times in a row. That said, at least for now, it seems like only a handful of third-party image editors work with the Photo app’s new launcher button, though Microsoft does claim wider support for more apps is on the way.

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New options and settings in Windows 11 Photos app

Here’s a sample of the options and settings in the Windows 11 Photos app.
Screenshot: Microsoft

If you want to try out the new Windows 11 Photo app, Windows Insiders should be able to download the latest update to the Windows 11 beta today, though if you prefer to wait for Windows 11’s official release, you’re going to have to sit tight for another couple weeks until the OS gets officially released on October 5.

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Microsoft Will Take the Wraps Off Windows 11 Hardware On Sept. 22

Microsoft Announces Hardware Event Sept. 22

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Microsoft could also use its September event to announce the Surface Book 4. Windows Central reported that it might not get the Surface Book moniker, however. Instead, Microsoft could rebrand it as the Surface Laptop Pro. The company could also update its Surface Pro lineup to showcase Windows 11.

Invitations have been sent out to the press, and Gizmodo will be covering the event right here. Be sure to join us on Sept. 22 to see everything Microsoft announces.

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Apple’s Not Digging Itself Out of This One

Apple, however, has made the argument that it has set up multiple fail-safes to stop this situation from ever really happening.

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For one thing, the CSAM hash database encoded into future iPhone operating systems is encrypted, Apple says. This means that there is very little chance of an attacker discovering and replicating signatures that resemble the images contained within it unless they themselves are in possession of actual child porn, which is a federal crime.

Apple also argues that its system is specifically set up to identify collections of child pornography—as it is only triggered when 30 different hashes have been identified. This fact makes the event of a random false-positive trigger highly unlikely, the company has argued.

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Finally, if other mechanisms somehow fail, a human reviewer is tasked with looking over any flagged cases of CSAM before the case is sent on to NCMEC (who would then tip-off police). In such a situation, a false-positive could be weeded out manually before law enforcement ever ostensibly gets involved.

In short, Apple and its defenders argue that a scenario in which a user is accidentally flagged or “framed” for having CSAM is somewhat hard to imagine.

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Jonathan Mayer, an assistant professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, told Gizmodo that the fears surrounding a false-positive may be somewhat overblown, though there are much broader concerns about Apple’s new system that are legitimate. Mayer would know, as he helped design the system that Apple’s CSAM-detection tech is actually based on.

Mayer was part of a team that recently conducted research into how algorithmic scanning could be deployed to search for harmful content on devices while maintaining end-to-end encryption. According to Mayer, this system had obvious shortcomings. Most alarmingly, researchers noted that it could be easily co-opted by a government or other powerful entity, which might repurpose its surveillance tech to look for other kinds of content. “Our system could easily be repurposed for surveillance and censorship,” writes Mayer and his research partner, Anunay Kulshrestha, in an op-ed in the Washington Post. “The design wasn’t restricted to a specific category of content; a service could simply swap in any content-matching data base, and the person using that service would be none the wiser.”

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The researchers were “so disturbed” by their findings that they subsequently declared the system dangerous, and warned that it shouldn’t be adopted by a company or organization until more research could be done to curtail the potential dangers it presented. However, not long afterward, Apple announced its plans to roll out a nearly identical system to over 1.5 billion devices, in an effort to scan iCloud for CSAM. The op-ed ultimately notes that Apple is “gambling with security, privacy and free speech worldwide” by implementing a similar system in such a hasty, slapdash way.

Matthew Green, a well-known cybersecurity professional, has similar concerns. In a call with Gizmodo, Green said that not only is there an opportunity for this tool to be exploited by a bad actor, but that Apple’s decision to launch such an invasive technology so swiftly and unthinkingly is a major liability for consumers. The fact that Apple says it has built safety nets around this feature is not comforting at all, he added.

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“You can always build safety nets underneath a broken system,” said Green, noting that it doesn’t ultimately fix the problem. “I have a lot of issues with this [new system]. I don’t think it’s something that we should be jumping into—this idea that local files on your device will be scanned.” Green further affirmed the idea that Apple had rushed this experimental system into production, comparing it to an untested airplane whose engines are held together via duct tape. “It’s like Apple has decided we’re all going to go on this airplane and we’re going to fly. Don’t worry [they say], the airplane has parachutes,” he said.

A lot of other people share Green and Mayer’s concerns. This week, some 90 different policy groups signed a petition, urging Apple to abandon its plan for the new features. “Once this capability is built into Apple products, the company and its competitors will face enormous pressure — and potentially legal requirements — from governments around the world to scan photos not just for CSAM, but also for other images a government finds objectionable,” the letter notes. “We urge Apple to abandon those changes and to reaffirm the company’s commitment to protecting its users with end-to-end encryption.”

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