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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Sign in with Apple coming to every iPhone app: The new privacy login tool explained – CNET

Here’s everything we know about the Facebook and Google rival for iPhone.
Source: CNET

Aptoide, a Play Store rival, cries antitrust foul over Google hiding its app

As US regulators gear up to launch another antitrust probe of Google’s business, an alternative Android app store is dialling up its long time complaint of anti-competitive behavior against the search and smartphone OS giant.

Portugal-based Aptoide is launching a campaign website to press its case and call for Google to “Play Fair” — accusing Mountain View of squeezing consumer choice by “preventing users from freely choosing their preferred app store”.

Aptoide filed its first EU antitrust complaint against Google all the way back in 2014, joining a bunch of other complainants crying foul over how Google was operating Android.

And while the European Commission did eventually step in, slapping Google with a $5BN penalty for antitrust abuses last summer after a multi-year investigation, rivals continue to complain the Android maker still isn’t playing fair.

In the case of Aptoide, the alternative Android app store says Google has damaged its ability to compete by unjustifiably flagging its app as insecure.

“Since Summer 2018, Google Play Protect flags Aptoide as a harmful app, hiding it in users’ Android devices and requesting them to uninstall it. This results in a potential decrease of unique Aptoide users of 20%. Google Play Protect is Google’s built-in malware protection for Android, but we believe the way it works damages users’ rights,” it writes on the site, where it highlights what it claims are Google’s anti-competitive behaviors, and asks users to report experiences of the app being flagged.

Aptoide says Google has engaged in multiple behaviors that make it harder for it to gain or keep users — thereby undermining its ability to compete with Google’s own Play Store.

“In 2018, we had 222 million yearly active users. Last month (May’19), we had 56 million unique MAU,” co-founder and CEO Paulo Trezentos tells TechCrunch. “We estimate that the Google Play removal and flagging had cause the loss of 15% to 20% of our user base since June’18.”

(The estimate of how many users Aptoide has lost was performed using Google SafetyNet API which he says allows it to query the classification of an app.)

“Fortunately we have been able to compensate that with new users and new partnerships but it is a barrier to a faster growth,” he adds.

“The googleplayfair.com site hopes to bring visibility to this situation and help other start ups that may be under the same circumstances.”

Among the anti-competitive behaviors Aptoide accuses Google of engaging in are flagging and suspending its app from users’ phones — without their permission and “without a valid reason”.

“It hides Aptoide. User cannot see Aptoide icon and cannot launch. Even if they go to ‘settings’ and say they trust Aptoide, Aptoide installations are blocked,” he says. “If it looks violent, it’s because it’s a really aggressive move and impactful.”

Here’s the notification Aptoide users are shown when trying to override Google’s suspension of Aptoide at the package manager level:

Even if an Aptoide user overrides the warning — by clicking ‘keep app (unsafe)’ — Trezentos says the app still won’t work because Google blocks Aptoide from installing apps.

“The user has to go to Play Protect settings (discover it it’s not easy) and turn off Play protect for all apps.”

He argues there is no justification for Aptoide’s alternative app store being treated in this way.

“Aptoide is considered safe both by security researchers [citing a paper by Japanese security researchers] and by Virus Total (a company owned by Google),” says Trezentos, adding: “Google is removing Aptoide from users phone only due to anticompetitive practices. Doesn’t want anyone else as distribution channel in Android.”

On the website Aptoide has launched to raise awareness and inform users and other startups about how Google treats its app, it makes the claim that its store is “proven… 100% secure” — writing:

We would like to be treated in a fair way: Play Protect should not flag Aptoide as a harmful app and should not ask users to uninstall it since it’s proven that it’s 100% secure. Restricting options for users goes against the nature of the Android open source project [ref10]. Moreover, Google’s ongoing abusive behaviour due to it’s dominant position results in the lack of freedom of choice for users and developers.We would like to keep allowing users and developers to discover and distribute apps in the store of their choice. A healthy competitive market and a variety of options are what we all need to keep providing the best products.

Trezentos stands by the “100% secure” claim when we query it.

“We think that we have a safer approach. We call it  ‘security by design’: We don’t consider all apps secure in the same way. Each app has a badge depending on the reputation of the developer: Trusted, Unknown, Warning, Critical,” he says.

“We are almost 100% sure that apps with a trusted badge are safe. But new apps from new developers, [carry] more risk in spite of all the technology we have developed to detect it. They keep the badge ‘unknown‘ until the community vote it as trusted. This can take some weeks, it can take some months.”

“Of course, if our anti-malware systems detect problems, we classify it as ‘critical’ and the users don’t see it at all,” he adds.

Almost 100% secure then. But if Google’s counter claim to justify choking off access to Aptoide is that the app “can download potentially harmful apps” the same can very well be said of its Play Store. And Google certainly isn’t encouraging Android users to pause that.

On the competition front, Aptoide presents a clear challenge to Google’s Android revenues because it offers developers a more attractive revenue split — taking just 19%, rather than the 30% cut Google takes off of Play Store wares. (Aptoide couches the latter as “Google’s abusive conditions”.)

So if Android users can be persuaded to switch from Play to Aptoide, developers stand to gain — and arguably users too, as app costs would be lower.

While, on the flip side, Google faces its 30% cut being circumvented. Or else it could be forced to reduce how much it takes from developers to give them a greater incentive to stock its shelves with great apps.

As with any app store business, Aptoide’s store of course requires scale to function. And it’s exactly that scale which Google’s behavior has negatively impacted since it began flagging the app as insecure a year ago, in June 2018, squeezing the rival’s user-base by up to a fifth, as Aptoide tells it.

Trezentos says Google’s flagging of its app store affects all markets and “continues to this day” — despite a legal ruling in its favor last fall, when a court in Portugal ordered Google to stop removing Aptoide without users’ permission.

“Google is ignoring the injunction result and is disregarding the national court. No company, independently of the size, should be above court decisions. But it seems that is the case with Google,” he says.

“Our legal team believe that the decision applies to 82 countries but we are pursuing first the total compliance with the decision in Portugal. From there, we will seek the extension to other jurisdictions.”

“We tried to contact Google several times, via Google Play Protect feedback form and directly through LinkedIn, and we’ve not had any feedback from Google. No reasons were presented. No explanation, although we are talking about hiding Aptoide in millions of users’ phones,” he adds.

“Our point in court it’s simple: Google is using the control at operating system level to block competitors at the services level (app store, in this case). As Google has a dominant position, that’s not legal. Court [in Portugal] confirmed and order Google to stop. Google didn’t obey.”

Aptoide has not filed an antitrust complaint against Google in the US — focusing its legal efforts on that front on local submissions to the European Commission.

But Trezentos says it’s “willing to cooperate with US authorities and provide factual data that shows that Google has acted with anti-competitive behaviour” (although he says no one has come knocking to request such collaboration yet.)

In Europe, the Commission’s 2018 antitrust decision was focused on Android licensing terms — which led to Google tweaking the terms it offers Android OEMs selling in Europe last fall.

Despite some changes rivals continue to complain that its changes do not go far enough to create a level playing field for competition.

There has also not been any relief for Aptoide from the record breaking antitrust enforcement. On the contrary Google appears to have dug in against this competitive threat.

“The remedies are positive but the scope is very limited to OEM partnerships,” says Trezentos of the EC’s 2018 Android antitrust decision. “We proposed additionally that Google would be obliged to give the same access privileges over the operating system to credible competitors.”

We’ve reached out to the Commission for comment on Aptoide’s complaint.

While it’s at least technically possible for an OEM to offer an Android device in Europe which includes key Google services (like search and maps) but preloads an alternative app store, rather than Google Play, it would be a brave device maker indeed to go against the consumer grain and not give smartphone buyers the mainstream store they expect.

So, as yet, there’s little high level regulatory relief to help Aptoide. And it may take a higher court than a Portuguese national court to force Google to listen.

But with US authorities fast dialling up their scrutiny of Mountain View, Aptoide may find a new audience for its complaint.

“The increased awareness to Google practices is reaching the regulators,” Trezentos agrees, adding: “Those practices harm competition and in the end are bad for developers and mobile users.”

We reached out to Google with questions about its treatment of Aptoide’s rival app store — but at the time of writing the company had not responded with any comment. 

There have also been some recent rumors that Aptoide is in talks to supply its alternative app store for Huawei devices — in light of the US/China trade uncertainties, and the executive order barring US companies from doing business with the Chinese tech giant, which have led to reports that Google intends to withdraw key Android services like Play from the company.

But Trezentos pours cold water on these rumors, suggesting there has been no change of cadence in its discussions with Huawei.

“We work with three of top six mobile OEMs in the world. Huawei is not one of them yet,” he tells us. “Our Shengzhen office had been in conversations for some months and they are testing our APIs. This process has not been accelerated or delayed by the recent news.”

Source: TechCrunch

2019 Genesis G90 review: Luxury's most screaming deal? – Roadshow

Genesis’ largest, most luxurious offering is priced to move, but does it really need to be?
Source: CNET

Africa Roundup: Jumia’s post-IPO earnings, Gokada’s $5.3M raise, Facebook’s fake-news purge, Joe Montana’s fintech investment

Jumia held its first post-IPO earnings call and weathered a short-sell assault in May, with Wall Street showing confidence in Pan-African e-commerce company.

On the numbers, key takeaways were that Jumia’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) — the total amount of goods sold over the period — grew by 58 percent to €240 million. Marketplace revenue grew 102 percent to €16 million, and gross profits as a percentage of GMV grew by 6.5 percent in Q1 2019.

Overall, Jumia’s operating losses for the period widened to €45.4 million from €34.3 and negative EBITDA increased to €39.5 million from €30.2.

So the startup’s still losing money — see the big losses reported in the IPO filing — but is improving its ability to earn.

CEO Sacha Poignonnec also shared a longer-term revenue strategy on Jumia’s Q1 earnings call. The startup plans to convert its JumiaPay and Jumia Logistics capabilities to standalone services across Africa.

Founded in Lagos in 2012, the company currently operates multiple online verticals in 14 African countries — from B2C consumer retail to travel bookings.

For Jumia, going public has been an up and down affair. After becoming the first tech startup operating in Africa to list on a major exchange (the NYSE in April), the company saw its share rise 70 percent after listing on the NYSE in April at $14.50.

Then in May, Jumia’s stock tumbled when it came under assault from a short-seller Andrew Left, who accused the company of fraud. On the earnings call the startup’s CEO responded to the short-seller claims saying, “Jumia stands by our prospectus and audited financials…and will not be distracted by those who look…to profit at our expense.” Poignonnec later took to media and refuted claims as “market rumors rather than facts.”

Citibank analyst Andrew Howell published his own response, much of it discrediting the Citron Research.

Overall, Wall Street seemed confident in Jumia’s post-IPO results and outreach, with Raymond James and Berenberg upgrading their Jumia stock recommendations to buy-equivalent ratings. Jumia’s stock has remained stable since, closing at $25.81 Monday.

When it comes to e-commerce in Africa, Jumia may face stiffer competition from DHL. The shipping giant teamed up with MallforAfrica to expand its Africa eShop app to 20 countries in May.

DHL went live with the digital retail app in April, bringing more than 200 U.S. and U.K. sellers — from Neiman Marcus to Carters — online to African consumers.

Africa eShop operates using startup MallforAfrica.com’s white label fulfillment service, Link Commerce.

There’s a competitive e-commerce scenario brewing between the two platforms. DHL Africa eShop touts itself as “Africa’s Largest Online Shopping Platform.” Jumia said, “We believe that our platform is the largest e-commerce marketplace in Africa,” in its SEC F-1 filing.

DHL’s partner for the new app, MallforAfrica, brings experience collaborating with a number of big-name retailers, including Macy’s and Best Buy. MFA’s payment and delivery system serves as a digital broker and logistics manager for big-name retailers to sell goods in Africa.

As for the global e-commerce names, Alibaba has talked about Africa expansion, but for the moment has not entered in full.

Amazon offers limited e-commerce sales on the continent, but more notably, has started offering AWS services in Africa.

With Jumia’s commitment to offer its logistics and payments capabilities as services, DHL and MallforAfrica could be on a footing to compete Jumia. All three could also find themselves either competing (or working with) big e-commerce names entering Africa.

For the moment, DHL’s Africa eShop expansion creates additional choice on overlapping product categories with Jumia, while offering African consumers more price competition in the operating countries it shares with Jumia. These currently stand at 10: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Cameroon, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Senegal and Ghana.

There’s been a lot of market movement in Africa’s motorcycle ride-hail space over the last year-plus. Uber  began offering a two-wheel transit option in East Africa in 2018, around the same time Bolt (previously Taxify) started motorcycle taxi service in Kenya.

Uganda-based motorcycle ride-hail company SafeBoda moved into Kenya in 2018 and last month raised a Series B round of an undisclosed amount on plans to further expand into in East Africa and Nigeria.

In Lagos, there’s already motorcycle ride-hail company Gokada, which raised a $5.3 million Series A round in May.

Gokada  has trained and on-boarded more than 1,000 motorcycles and their pilots on its app that connects commuters to moto-taxis and DOT– approved helmets.

The startup has completed nearly 1 million rides since it was co-founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh  — a Bangladeshi entrepreneur. Gokada will use the financing to increase its fleet and ride volume, while developing a network to offer goods and services to its drivers, Saleh told TechCrunch in this exclusive.

Gokada differs from other ride-hail ventures in that it doesn’t split fare revenue with drivers. Gokada charges drivers a flat-fee of 3,000 Nigerian Naira a day (around $8) to work on their platform. The company looks to generate a larger share of its revenue from building a commercial network around its driver community.

More American sports celebrities are getting involved in African tech. Serena Williams invested in Andela, NBA star Andre Iguodala joined Jumia’s board, and in May, NFL hall-of-famer Joe Montana invested in African fintech startup Chipper Cash.

The Africa focused no-fee, cross-border payment startup raised a $2.4 million seed round led by Deciens Capital.

The payments company also persuaded 500 Startups and Liquid 2 Ventures — co-founded by Joe Montana — to join the round.

Chipper Cash’s Ugandan chief executive, Ham Serunjogi, pitched the U.S. football legend directly.

Based in San Francisco — with offices in Ghana and Nairobi — Chipper Cash has processed 250,000 cross-border, P2P transactions for more than 70,000 active users, according to Serunjogi.

In conjunction with the seed round, Chipper Cash is launching Chipper Checkout: a merchant-focused, C2B mobile payments product.

This side of the startup’s offerings isn’t free, and Chipper Cash will use revenues from Chipper Checkout  to support its no-fee, Africa mobile money business.

Chipper Cash will expand beyond its current operations in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda within the next 12 months.

Finally, in May Facebook week purged a network of hundreds of pages, groups and Instagram accounts it labeled as producing “coordinated inauthentic behavior” toward Africa.

The activity originated in Israel and was largely targeted toward Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger, and Tunisia.

It was mostly political in nature and primarily paid for by Archemedes Group, a global political consulting firm, Facebook said.

The affair highlighted a pattern of fake news on social media platforms rearing its head in Africa. Cambridge Analytica, backed by U.S. big-data billionaire Robert Mercer, was found to have been involved in elections in Kenya and Nigeria before its controversial role directing pro-Brexit and pro-Trump online activity in 2016. Facebook later banned Cambridge Analytica from its platform.

Social media driven fake news — primarily on Facebook and WhatsApp — became such an issue in Kenya’s 2017 elections the country’s parliament passed a bill in 2018, with specific punitive measures, to combat it.

Facebook has prioritized growth in Africa and grown Africa users to over 200 million and Facebook owned chat-tool, WhatsApp, is the most downloaded messenger app on the continent.

But Facebook’s recent Africa account purge shows when Facebook travels, so too does its list of pros and cons, including the ability of global actors to use it for nefarious uses in local settings.

More Africa Related Stories @TechCrunch

African Tech Around The Net




Source: TechCrunch

China blocks CNN’s website and Reuters stories about Tiananmen Square

CNN’s website is currently blocked in mainland China, after it published a story about today’s 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre as one of its top headlines. The site is usually accessible in China, according to historical data from GreatFire.org.

Matt Rivers, a Beijing-based reporter, noted the blocking of the site on Twitter, writing that “the government here is near obsessive about limiting conversation on this topic.

Information about the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstration, which ended when the government ordered troops to fire on activists, is suppressed in China, but the country’s censorship apparatus begins intensifying its efforts at eradicating any mention of the events in the weeks leading up to its anniversary each year.

Earlier today, financial information provider Refinitiv also took down Reuters stories related to Tiananmen Square from its Eikon information terminal, following an order from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the government’s Internet regulation and censorship agency. The CAC told Refinitiv it would suspend its service in China if did not comply with the order.

Even though the stories were only supposed to be blocked in China, Reuters reported today that some users outside of China also said they could not see them, though the reason for that is unclear. (Early versions of the Reuters story about the suspension were themselves removed from Eikon, too).

Source: TechCrunch

Apple Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR: First look

Apple has two new products it announced at WWDC 2019: The Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR. Both cost thousands of dollars and aren’t for the average consumer, but that doesn’t mean you won’t stop ogling them.
Source: Digital trends

The One Free Press Coalition Spotlights Journalists Under Attack

Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered columnist for *The Washington Post*, remains atop the list, as does independent Tanzanian journalist Azory Gwanda.
Source: Wired

XDR vs. HDR: Why Apple’s new 1,000 nit 6K monitor is such a big deal

Apple just made professionally calibrated HDR monitors a lot more affordable with its Pro Display XDR. The specs sound impressive on paper, but are Apple’s ambitious claims really that big of a deal?
Source: Digital trends

Why GM and Fiat Chrysler are buying Tesla’s regulatory credits

One of the more opaque segments of Tesla’s business just became a little more transparent. Recent  filings show that GM and Fiat Chrysler have bought zero-emissions vehicle credits from Tesla, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Tesla’s ZEV credit program isn’t a secret. The company has brought in nearly $2 billion in revenue since 2010 when it started selling regulatory credits to automakers that needed to offset sales of polluting vehicles in the U.S. And it’s a revenue stream that has been either lauded or criticized for years now as analysts and the media debate whether this helps or hurts Tesla’s bottom line.

But little was known, until now, about who was doing the buying and why — beyond the assumed reason to offset sales of vehicles that produce tailpipe emissions.

Bloomberg found recent state filings in Delaware that reveal a little bit more about Tesla’s ZEV customers. GM and FCA both disclosed in separate filings in Delaware that they reached agreements to buy federal greenhouse gas credits, also known as ZEV credits, from Tesla. FCA has four separate filings that disclose agreements to buy credits from Tesla in 2016, 2018 and again this year.

Tesla declined to comment.

Meanwhile, GM’s first and only credit purchase has been more recent and with a specific mission in mind. GM already produces an all-electric vehicle, the Chevy Bolt, and until recently was making a plug-in hybrid, the Chevy Volt. These sales would seem to be more than enough to offset sales of its vehicles with tailpipe emissions.

And it has been. GM contends this is an insurance policy against future regulatory uncertainties.

“We do not need credits for compliance today, but purchasing credits is permitted under the regulations and is used as an insurance policy against future regulatory uncertainties,” a GM spokesperson said in an emailed comment.” The filing is a routine procedure that is used to protect interests in performance of contractual obligations.”

Typically, the ZEV credits have been purchased to meet California’s (and a handful of other states) stricter emissions regulations. GM’s comments seem to be aimed at protecting against federal regulations, even amidst efforts by the Trump administration to rolls back fuel economy and clean air standards that would presumably be friendlier to automakers.

But as Bloomberg and even Tesla’s own CFO Zachary Kirkhorn has noted, these ZEV credits stand to become a bigger part of Tesla’s business. A recent EPA report found that most large automakers used banked credits, along with technology improvements, to maintain compliance in model year 2017. Three large manufacturers achieved compliance based on the emission performance of their vehicles, without using additional banked credits, according to the EPA. The graph below, from the EPA’s report, shows how automakers have complied.

However, the EPA notes, 92% of those credits are set to expire at the end of 2021 if they’re not used. The EPA added that more than half of the current balance is held by three manufacturers, and the availability of these or future credits is inherently uncertain, suggesting a run on ZEV credits in the future.

Source: TechCrunch

iOS 13 will let you bypass the App Store download cap when on a cellular connection


Just a few days ago, Apple bumped up the limit on how big of an app you can download from the App Store while on a cellular connection, increasing it from 150MB to 200MB. As we noted at the time, it’s always seemed a bit silly that there was no way to acknowledge the file size and bypass the limit — to effectively say “Yeah, yeah, I know. Let me download it anyway.”

Looks like Apple agrees.

As spotted by 9to5Mac, iOS 13 (or, at least, the just-released developer beta version of iOS 13) gives you the option to download large apps over cellular should you choose to do so. Whether you’ve got the monthly bandwidth to spare or you just need a big ol’ monster app/update now (lack of WiFi be damned), iOS 13 seems much more willing to get out of your way.

A new screen in the settings menu reveals three options:

  • Always allow
  • Ask if over 200 MB
  • Ask first (prompting you to make sure you know you’re on a cell connection, even if the download is under 200 MB)

The prompt also offers to hold off a large download for now, automatically downloading it the next time you’re on WiFi.

iOS 13 shipped as a private developer beta today. The public beta is expected to roll out in July, with a full release sometime this fall.

Source: TechCrunch