Headlines 

Most Android Antivirus Apps Are Garbage

The world of antivirus is already fraught. You’re basically inviting all-seeing, all-knowing software onto your device, trusting that it’ll keep the bad guys out and not abuse its own access in the process. On Android, that problem is compounded by dozens of apps that aren’t just ineffective—they’re outright phony. That’s the finding of newly published research from AV-Comparatives, a European company that, as its name suggests, tests antivirus products. In a survey of 250 antivirus apps found in the Google Play Store, only 80 demonstrated basic competence at their jobs…

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Google Assistant inserts itself into classic movies in Oscars ads

Just as mobile phones would’ve saved a lot of trouble in Seinfeld, Google’s Assistant would’ve been a saviour in so many classic films. That’s the subject of the tech giant’s new ad for its voice-activated assistant, which aired during the 2019 Oscars on Sunday night. In the ads, Google Assistant steps in for HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and helps Marion Crane avoid the motel in Psycho. In Scream, Drew Barrymore uses a Nest camera to ward off Ghostface, while Lyft is used to get out of an annoying…

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Odds and Ends 

Google ends forced arbitration for employees

Google is finally ending forced arbitration for its employees. These changes will go into effect for both current and future Google employees on March 21. While Google won’t reopen settled claims, current employees can litigate past claims starting March 21. For the contractors Google works with directly, it will remove mandatory arbitration from their contracts. The caveat, however, is that it won’t require outside firms that employ contractors to do the same. Still, Google says it will notify suppliers so that they can see if that approach would work for…

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Google built an entire theme park ride in the CES parking lot

For a lot of companies, the whole point of CES is to get attention — and in this sea of noise, that’s tougher than it might sound. Someone else will always have a bigger screen, or a prettier booth, or a better celebrity guest. So Google tried something a bit… different this year. They built a friggin’ theme park ride. They built a two-story building right in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, and the ride takes up the entire upper floor. From the pre-ride line…

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Odds and Ends 

Argo AI acquires permit to test autonomous vehicles in California

Argo AI, the self-driving car startup that burst onto the scene in 2017 with $1 billion in backing from Ford, has obtained a permit to test its autonomous vehicles in California. The permit, issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, is for one vehicle and two drivers. Unlike other self-driving car companies, California isn’t the first, or even third, market where Argo AI is testing its tech. The company, founded by former Google self-driving project veteran Bryan Salesky and Uber Advanced Technologies Group’s former engineering lead Peter Rander, has…

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LinkedIn now requires phone number verification for all users in China

LinkedIn’s China site looks and functions just like LinkedIn everywhere else, except now it asks users in the country to verify their identities through phone numbers. The American company is requiring both new and existing users with a Chinese IP address to link mobile phone numbers to their accounts, TechCrunch noticed this week. LinkedIn had for months told its China-based users to provide mobile number details before sending them to the main page, but it had mercifully kept a little “Skip” button that let users avoid the fuss — until at least…

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Why Silicon Valley needs more visas

Henrique Dubugras Photo courtesy of Flickr/jvoves While it might sound counterintuitive, immigrants create more jobs and make our economy stronger. Research from the National Foundation of American Policy (NFAP) has shown that immigrant-founded billion-dollar companies doubled their number of employees over the past two years. According to the research, “WeWork went from 1,200 to 6,000 employees between 2016 and 2018, Houzz increased from 800 to 1,800 employees the last two years, while Cloudflare went from 225 to 715 employees.” We’ve seen the same growth at Brex. In just one year…

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Adorable kid tries to train his Google Home, and it does not go well

Ever feel like you’re more advanced than technology? This little kid can relate. A young, very patient boy was spotted in his kitchen talking to his family’s Google Home, desperately trying to impart some wisdom. He begged the device to repeat him so that he could teach it some brand new skills, saying, “I’m telling you stuff and you don’t know what it is… Can I please train you because you don’t know what stuff is?” The boy then realized maybe Google should help him, too, since he “doesn’t even…

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Google CEO admits company must better address the spread of conspiracy theories on YouTube

Google CEO Sundar Pichai admitted today that YouTube needs to do better in dealing with conspiracy content on its site that can lead to real-world violence. During his testimony on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, the exec was questioned on how YouTube handles extremist content that promotes conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and, more recently, a Hillary Clinton-focused conspiracy theory dubbed Frazzledrip. According to an article in Monday’s Washington Post, Frazzledrip is a variation on Pizzagate that began spreading on YouTube this spring. In a bizarre series of questions, Rep. Jamie Raskin…

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The Monopoly Man Showed Up At Googles Congressional Hearing Today

The Monopoly Man aka Rich Uncle Pennybags aka Ian Madrigal in costume videobombed Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s congressional hearing today and the video and freeze frames are kind of hilarious. More seriously, lawmakers grilled Pichai on issues related to data privacy and anti-competitive market behavior as well as Google’s plans in China. Back to Madrigal, he actually took over the ‘Pennybags’ character from Amanda Werner, who is now a strategy director at Revolution Messaging and was often seen in Washington in the backgrounds of various trials and US political events.…

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Google You Owe Us claimants arent giving up on UK Safari workaround suit

Lawyers behind a UK class-action style compensation litigation against Google for privacy violations have filed an application requesting permission to appeal against a recent High Court ruling blocking the proceeding. In October Mr Justice Warby ruled the case could not proceed on legal grounds, finding the claimants had not demonstrated a basis for bringing a compensation claim. The case relates to the so called ‘Safari workaround’ Google used between 2011 and 2012 to override iPhone privacy settings and track users without consent. The civil legal action — whose claimants refer to themselves as ‘Google…

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Google finally adds consumer customer support with Google One

You may recall my tale of woe from last year when I recounted how I was locked out of my Google account for a month. It was a tough time, made all the more frustrating because there wasn’t any customer support to contact. That is changing for Google One users though, and it’s about time. I received an email this week from Google informing me that my paid Google storage had been upgraded to Google One, Google’s freshly designed storage options announced last May. It comes with twice the storage,…

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‘Not OK, Google!’ San Francisco Google employees walk out in protest of sexual harassment

Google employees across from the San Francisco Ferry Building.Image: jack morse / mashable On an unusually warm Nov. 1 morning in San Francisco, scores of Google employees walked out of their downtown office in protest.  The staged walkout had come together quickly, and followed the Oct. 25 news that Google execs paid Android creator Andy Rubin $90 million after determining that allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him by an employee were likely credible. Those leaving their desks on Thursday in SF were but one part of a global effort…

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Envoy raises $43 million to digitize your office

The office might not seem like an area in desperate need of disruption, but Envoy — a Silicon Valley company used to sign in over 100,000 visitors at offices across the world each day; and a TechCrunch SF office neighbor! — has raised $43 million to do just that. The company started life five years digitizing the sign-in book with a simple iPad-based approach, and it has moved on to office deliveries with an automated system that simply involves scanning a barcode. In both cases, alerts are routed directly to…

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