Email Productivity Applications Collect Users’ Personal Information to Sell to Third Parties

There are many email productivity applications that help manage and organize your inbox. While useful, they come at a costly price for your privacy. According to Motherboard’s Joseph Cox, many of these apps can scan through people’s emails and sell their data for profit. Some worth mentioning include Cleanfox, Slice, and Edison. On Edison’s website, the company states that it “accesses and processes” users’ emails, this similar statement used for the apps Cleanfox and Slice.

These types of applications scan people’s personal inboxes for emails that contain information such as package tracking notifications and receipts to record how much people spend as well as what they are purchasing. Once this data is collected, these application companies sell this information to e-commerce and finance companies that have an interest in such trends. However, they sell an anonymous version of the information. 

A spokesperson from Edison told Business Insider that their software “automatically recognizes commercial emails and extracts purchase information,” while disregarding any emails that include personal or work related matters. Slice’s parent company, Rakuten, stated that the reason as to why they collect people’s data is for market research purposes and – contrary to what we may believe – that they do value protecting their users’ privacy. 

Foxintelligence’s CEO Edouard Nattée stated in an email to Business Insider that new users are notified when their data is pulled from “transactional emails”, further stating that the information collected remains anonymous. While anonymized data may seem secure, data breaches that give access to the exact data can help cybercriminals trace information back to its original source. 

New and Exciting Updates to Google Lens That Will Help on Your Next Outing

On Tuesday, May 7th, during a Google I/O event, Google revealed that they will be updating their Lens technology. This new update to the Lens technology will use artificial intelligence, which would give you the ability to actually “see” what you see when looking through the app on your phone.

One such update that Google revealed was adapted towards people who enjoy the experience of eating at restaurants. Users will have the ability to point their phone’s camera at the bill in a restaurant, and the update will be able to determine how much to split with friends and how much to leave as a tip. This update was said to be released later this month and would help out with any difficulties that might come along with a dining experience.

Some other updates that the Lens will have are:

  • People will be able to point their phones at a text in foreign language and the Lens will be able to translate it and read it out loud in whichever language they choose.
  • Users will be able to point their phone camera at a restaurant menu and the update will let the user know which dishes are popular. In addition, if you tap on the highlighted dish, it will show pictures of that particular dish that others have tried.
  • People will have the ability to learn how to prepare a dish. If you were to point the camera at a recipe, it will show a video of how the food is prepared.

Facebook Messenger Will Allow 10 Minutes for its ‘Unsend’ Feature

Ever been in that situation where you mistakenly send a message to the wrong person? Well, fear not! Facebook Messenger has created an Unsend feature on its iOS app for the new 191.0 version.

According to notes from the app update, Messenger will soon implement the feature, giving its users 10 minutes to delete messages sent over its app, so you can rest easy knowing those messages can be resent to the right person.

The app notes are mentioned as follows:

Coming soon: Remove a message from a chat thread after it’s been sent. If you accidentally send the wrong photo, incorrect information, or message the wrong thread, you can easily correct it by removing the message within 10 minutes of sending it.”

The feature was revealed back in October as just a prototype, but is well on its way for use in the next available app update.

As of now, Facebook-owned platforms Instagram and WhatsApp both include their own Unsend feature.

Can Working Out Really Get You Cryptocoins?

What if we were to tell you that there is an iPhone app that will give you cryptocoins in exchange for walking 1000 outdoor steps? Do you think you’d get out and walk the dog a bit more often? Maybe go on a run? An app called Sweatcoin has risen to the top of the App Store charts since they launched in 2017. For every 1000 steps you take, you’re awarded coins that can be exchanged for goods or services.

More than 5 million users have accumulated on the app in the past year and revenues increased by 266% in the last quarter alone. Not only does the app gain 2 million active weekly users, but it’s still continuing the grow making it one of the fastest-growing fitness apps in the App Store. As of this week, it’s #2 in the Free Apps section with the Google Arts & Culture app beating it out in the first place.

How the Sweatcoin App Works:

By signing up for the app, you agree to connect your health and fitness data and your GPS. Once connected, the app tracks how many steps you take in a day and rewards you with monetary “sweat” value, according to your movements. For every 1,000 steps recorded, the app will pay out .95 in “sweatcoins”. Users can later trade these coins in for fitness gear, workout classes, gift cards, and a number of other offerings. While it tracks all of your steps, the only valid steps are the ones taken outside (monitored by GPS).

While I’m mentioning the pros, I should talk about the downsides. The free version that you signed up with will only give you a maximum of five coins a day. However, there is a way to get more coins, but you’re going to have to fork over some of those sweatcoins to get you in the upper tiers. These tiers allow a higher level of steps per day, getting you to your reward much quicker.

It was mentioned in this article that the startup has now raised its own coin to the tune of $5.7 million in seed funding from Goodwater Capital. This led to the round Greylock, which participated in Discovery Fund, Rubylight, Seedcamp and SmartHub, as well as a number of angels, including Justin Kan and Rain Lohmus.

While the overall concept is fabulous, there are some complaints on the app as stated in this article, such as, “The biggest downside for me was feeling like Sweatcoin’s behavioral engineering cheapened important experiences. When I used the app, instead of concentrating on the friends I was walking with, I kept checking to see how close I was to be able to redeem my sweatcoins for that Fitbit. No trinket or gift card is worth that distraction.”

Co-founder Anton Derlyatka also told TechCrunch he’d like to “even include the ability to pay taxes with sweatcoin” in the future. Another co-founder Oleg Fomenko also mentioned plans to develop an “open-source blockchain DLT technology that will allow Sweatcoin to be traded like any other major crypto- or fiat currency.”

“It’s a tool, a hack, to help all of us, not just the select few, to remain fit,” said Oleg Fomenko.

If you’re interested in the app you can download it on either iOS or on Google Play and start earning your sweat equity today.

Telegram Hits 100M Monthly Users and 15 Billion Encrypted Messages Daily

While encryption has always been a big topic in IT, certain devices and applications have recently been under harsh scrutiny over the fight to decrypt user-messages. With recent terror attacks, there has been a hefty amount of light shed on the topic and has prompted many well-known CEO’s to speak out, including Pavel Durov of the Telegram app.

Telegram is a popular messenger app that was created in 2012 to encrypt messages after Edward Snowden’s NSA and PRISM revelations. Durov announced that after just two and a half years Telegram has acquired 100,000,000 monthly active users; 350,000 new users each day and 15 billion messages generated on the daily. Each message is sent through a secure, encrypted system.
With the recent world events, the app has been accused of “facilitating and hiding terrorist communication.” It has been a huge debate, considering the need to protect public safety. Durov says in a recent interview, “Privacy, ultimately, is more important than our fear of bad things happening, like terrorism.” While most of the tech world has gathered behind statements such as Durov’s and that of Apple CEO, Tim Cook, there have been mixed emotions about creating backdoor access to customer information. Durov firmly stands behind his policies and those of other tech-giants in efforts to protect the security of their users.

Apple Music may be changing the music game

After twelve years of iTunes dominating the music purchasing world, it may have to settle for second best come June 30th. Going against what Steve Jobs had refused to believe in regards to music streaming, Apple is answering to the growing demand for all-you-can-access music. In August, Apple paid $3 billion to buy headphone maker Beats and Beats Music, a $10/month subscription service to unlimited music. The reveal of ‘Apple Music’ was the most talked about announcement at Apple’s Keynote developer’s conference yesterday in San Francisco.

iPhone6-3Up-AppleMusic-Features-PR-PRINT-1
Apple Music as shown at Keynote Developer’s Conference on June 8th, 2015.

 

In an April 2003 press release, Apple’s late-CEO, Steve Jobs said, “Consumers don’t want to be treated like criminals, and artists don’t want their valuable work stolen.” For this reason, iTunes was able to satisfy the needs of both the artist and consumer by pricing each individual song at 99 cents, eventually raising the price to $1.29. In 2013, realizing that they needed to move with the times, Apple launched iTunes Radio in hopes of attracting the Pandora radio listeners. As an option, iTunes featured a “Buy Now” button if the listener wished to purchase a song. The response to iTunes Radio was not as hot as Apple had hoped and the demand for song downloads fell, two factors that played a significant role in the purchase of Beats Music. With the writing on the wall, digital downloads no longer make sense for the consumer that wants an instant connection anywhere he/she goes.

Beats Music is known for its impeccable ability to recommend songs and playlists. Currently, it’s most well-known feature is on its homepage – In what seems to be a music version of the game Mad Libs, you can fill out ‘the Sentence’ with key information including who you’re with, where you are, and what genre of music you’d like to listen to. With this, it is said to create and suggest a personalized playlist based off of your mood.

Beats Music was competing with 6 other top online streaming sites before the acquisition in August 2014: Pandora and Spotify take the lead while SoundCloud, Rhapsody, Rdio, and Jay-Z’s Tidal follow behind. Before Apple unveiled its plans to purchase the online streaming site, Beats Music saw a drop in unique visitors while Pandora and Spotify seemed to flourish. Although Apple is stepping into the game late, they sit on a huge stockpile of cash (As of March 2015, $193.5 billion) and that gives them an incredible advantage. Pandora and Spotify are still trying to figure out ways to become profitable, and as long as Apple continues to prosper with their hardware sales, operating Apple Music as a subscription service shouldn’t do any harm. In fact, with Beats Music’s unique set of qualities and Apple’s name backing them, it is expected to shoot them back up to the top – perhaps even changing the music business in its entirety. If Apple is able to convert even a fraction of iTunes listeners into Apple Music monthly subscribers, it would lead the number of worldwide music subscribers into the 100 Million range, which then serves as a turning point for streaming music to be looked at as a sustainable business model. Apple also has over 800 million payment relationships with current Apple ID users, which will work in their favor when Apple Music launches.

Since the purchase of Beats Music, iTunes and Beats have remained separate entities. Aside from promoting Beats Music through the app store and Beats Headphones/Speakers in Apple Stores, the two have not really joined paths. Apple’s announcement solidified the disintegration of Beat’s Music’s solo-identity. By embedding Beats Music into the current Music app as was announced, Beats Music features will automatically come with iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macs. Apple Music is also expected to have a streaming radio station, Beats 1, that will be hosted by high-profile DJ’s.

Apple has always had a knack for inducing ‘ah-ha’ moments in consumers and helping them realize the benefits of each new piece of technology that they release. I anticipate a Beats/Apple Music resurgence with help from the $700 billion entity.  Throughout the years, Apple has earned a reputation for revolutionizing ideas that have already been introduced, a feat that is formidable for most other companies.  Beats Music via Apple looks like it will be a welcome change to the world of music.