Today’s cache | Apple’s open source project to improve password protection, more

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Today's cache is your daily download of the top 5 updates from the world of technology.

Apple has released a new open source project on GitHub to enhance password manager apps.

Facebook has removed about 190 accounts connected to hate speech group that was planning protests in the light of police violence against black people.

Google shakes up leadership team, and elevates Prabhakar Raghavan as head of search.

Free users of Microsoft Teams can now set up video conferencing.

Lastly, Elon Musk takes a jab at Amazon, calls the retailer a monopoly after it rejected a book publishing submission by Alex Berenson.

Apple’s new open source project aims to improve password protection

Apple has created a new open source project on Github to help password manager app developers collaborate to create strong passwords for users.

The resources in the new project contains some workaround ideas, data and codes.

The workaround ideas, also known as ‘quirks’ in the world of web browser development, are implemented in websites with hard-coded behaviour. Meaning, they have a set pattern that can’t be changed with a universal solution. Quirks help developers find an alternative approach to solve a problem.

Some of the quirks listed on the project includes password setting rules, websites with shared credential backends and change password URLs.

Sharing these quirks with app developers will increase their understanding of website-specific rules and their idiosyncrasies. And in turn help them tailor their apps to improve user experience.

Another impact of releasing this project is that it would help in documenting website-specific behaviours. It will incentivise the website to get upto the mark on password standards.

Password manager apps help users store passwords in a single digital vault to access different sites easily. Most of these protection apps allow sync across multiple devices for a fee.

Some apps also create unique passwords for users. To do this, they need to be sure of the particular website’s password creation policy - - some may need alphanumeric set up, other may need special characters.

So, the effectiveness of the password keeper app is based on how well it integrates with different websites and suits their requirement.

Some of the ways to contribute to Apple’s project are raising compatibility issues with a website, researching and documenting what the right data for a quirk might be, and submitting a pull request on GitHub to add a quirk.

Free users of Microsoft Teams can now create video meetings

Microsoft on Thursday allowed its free users to create video meetings.

Until this update, anyone can be allowed to participate in a Teams meeting, provided they have been invited.

But creating a meeting was kept to Microsoft Teams commercial customers.

With the change, Teams users logged into Microsoft with a free account can create meetings.

Microsoft has rolled out its free Meetings features on June 2, 2020, according to a support update.

Meetings was initially launched in July 2018 as a rival product against Slack. It enabled users to collaborate while working from home.

The latest update will be helpful to thousands of freelancers and small businesses. They will now be able to use the free version of Microsoft Teams to create and attend free online meetings with high-quality audio and video.

However, it is not clear whether this service will continue indefinitely or be available for a limited period for free Microsoft users.

Since the pandemic, people have increasingly adopted various video conferencing options. Zoom continues to be one of the go-to apps for several users to make video calls for free.

In May, Google made its premium video conferencing product free for users. It continues to offer its platform for free to all users with an email address and a Meet account.

Google elevates Prabhakar Raghavan to head search

Google is shaking up the leadership team at the company’s advertising and search teams, Bloomberg reported.

The move brings both the search and advertising divisions of Google under Prabhakar Raghavan.

Raghavan has been leading the advertising division since 2018, and will replace Ben Gomes as head of search at Google. And advertising will be headed by Jerry Dischler, who will report to Raghavan.

A single leader means that the advertising and search will be centralised at Google. But the large ad sales force and the company’s advertising operation will be run by Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer. Schindler will report to CEO Sundar Pichai.

News, Discover, Podcasts and Google Assistant will all come under Raghavan’s leadership as these products are nested under Search.

Raghavan joined Google initially on Search and geo initiative in 2012. He ran Gmail, Docs, Drive and Calendar, and in 2018, took over Ads and Commerce after Sridhar Ramaswamy moved to venture capital firm Greylock Partners.

Prior to Google, Raghavan worked at Yahoo and IBM. He had also taught a course on search at Stanford’s computer science department.

Elon Musk wants to break Amazon’s monopoly

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday tweeted, “time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong.”

Musk’s tweet came in support of Alex Berenson, an author and former reporter at New York Times, who had submitted his book for publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

Berenson said that Amazon had rejected a book he had submitted for publishing.

His book Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns on the COVID-19 pandemic was not offered for sale on Amazon as it did not comply with the retailer’s guidelines. The book questions the deadly nature of the coronavirus as claimed by public health experts.

Musk came in support of Berenson, replying to his tweet with a tag to Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. His critical tweet raises the issue of clout Amazon holds over online publishing.

The ecommerce giant controls about half of all new books sales in the US and nearly three-quarters of ebook sales, according to a research firm Codex Group, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The company also accounts for more a two-thirds of all self-published books in the US, the reported said.

On Thursday, Amazon unblocked the sale of Alex Berenson’s book, the Washington Post said.

Amazon backed away and sent an email to Berenson confirming that it would publish his book, it added.

“Due to the rapidly changing nature of information around the COVID-19 virus, we are referring customers to official sources for health information about the virus. Please consider removing references to COVID-19 for this book,” Amazon’s digital publishing unit wrote.

Facebook removes about 190 accounts linked to hate groups

Social network giant has removed several accounts linked to white supremacist groups that planned to urge members to join protests over police killing black people, according to an AP report.

Some of these groups had asked members to carry weapons, Facebook said.

Most these groups, with accounts on Facebook and Instagram, are connected to two blocked hate groups.

Proud Boys and American Guard were banned on the social network’s platform for violation of rules prohibiting hate speech.

“We saw that these groups were planning to rally supporters and members to physically go to the protests and in some cases were preparing to go with weapons,” Brian Fishman, Facebook’s director of counterterrorism and dangerous organizations policy said.

Facebook did not disclose any details about the account users, or on their plans for protests. The company only said about 190 accounts were removed.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 5:51:45 PM |

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