Tech Grate

Oh look - a self-professed geek commenting on all things tech!!

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Google Providing Merchants With A Customer's Information After Each Google Play Purchase

Jesse Wilson:

Each time somebody buys my Android app, [Google] tell me their name, email address and postal code. They don’t know that they’re giving me this information, and I don’t want to have it.

This is a situation that worries me greatly. 

As a developer, I agree 100% with Jesse: I never asked for this information, I have no need for it, and I simply do not want to be a custodian of such information. 

As a consumer, this is distressing on many levels:

  1. There is no fair warning that this information will be transferred to a merchant with each transaction.
  2. Trusting my personal information to Google, Inc. is one thing. But with this system, users are unknowingly having to trust their information to a third party. There’s no way to know what security measures that third party might have in place. As an example, if the email address used by that person/company to receive such transactional receipts has a weak password and is hacked, the hacker would potentially have access to the personal information of everyone who has purchased that item.
  3. In the case of Android applications, the proprietor has gained my personal information without requesting the appropriate permissions via the app. 

There would (rightly) be a massive outcry if credit card companies provided such information to a corner store each time a customer bought a loaf of bread. What makes buying items from Google Play any different?

Frankly, this situation makes me think twice about what items I purchase on the Play Store, and as both a consumer and developer I implore Google to rectify this situation immediately. 

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Google Discovered a Bug in Android 4.2

We discovered a bug in the Android 4.2 update, which makes it impossible to enter December events in optional fields of the People app (this bug did not affect Calendar). Rest assured, this will be fixed soon so that those of you with December birthdays and anniversaries won’t be forgotten by your friends and family.

So that’s one. What about all the others?

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The Wii U's Uphill Battle

MG Siegler:

The issue I see is that all of these consoles are now trying to do everything (YouTube, Hulu, movies, music, etc) and what’s likely to be showcased is that tablets/smartphones do these things better. That just means the gaming experience will have to be that much better on the consoles — especially when you need to continue to convince people to spend $60 on individual games. We’ll see.


My Android 4.2 Thoughts


  • Text is noticeably sharper across native UI elements. I think there’s still further progress to be made in this area, but the improvements here are a great step forward.
  • The new multitasking animations are very slick.
  • Multiple user support on tablets is a great feature.
  • Photospheres are fantastic, and could be a real killer feature going forward.
  • The Swype-style keyboard works really well.
  • The Gallery app has been tightened up nicely.
  • I’m excited to see what comes of the multiple-screen and Miracast features going forward.
  • Some welcome new security features.
  • The refined clock widget looks great.


  • Daydreams. They work just fine, but I do find it very strange that they don’t function out of the box, and you must both enable and configure them. Given this, I can’t imagine many muggles will ever see them. I’m sure this will evolve into a cool feature for the fridges of tomorrow, but I don’t envisage using it much currently.


  • I really don’t like the lock screen widgets. Some of my major gripes: the camera shortcut is now removed from the lock screen; the UX flow for adding widgets is vastly different compared to on the launcher; the widget ‘pages’ now have rounded corners. Finally, I can’t shake the feeling that if someone is willing to have their inbox/calendar available insecurely on a lock screen widget, why wouldn’t they just disable the lock screen entirely and get to their home screen faster?
  • The notification preferences look good, but usability wise they are a bit of a mess: clicking my profile image does nothing useful unless I’m on a tablet with multiple users; Airplane mode is an actionable toggle; Brightness spawns overlayed UI; and the rest of the items are just shortcuts to pages in the Settings. I’d have preferred each option on this shade be a toggle. As it stands, I don’t see much point in this notification shade.
  • The camera app changes in every release, but it’s still yet to reach the point where it is great IMO. 
  • Creating good photospheres can be a really finicky and slow exercise.
  • Why this policy of linking the Gmail app and OS releases rather than releasing the updated Gmail app via the Play Store? Swipe-to-archive requires some new 4.2 specific system API? Puh-lease. I can understand the need for a separate Gmail app for 2.x users, but surely all versions of Android 4.0 (arguable 3.0) and above should be using the same version of Gmail. Google advise developers to take this course of action with their apps, and they should be setting an example here.
  • The Clock app received some long overdue love, but I don’t much fancy its UI. It feels a bit like its trying a touch too hard to be stylish at the expense of usability to me. Certainly, alarms should have more prominence IMO.
  • I’ve definitely experienced quite a few more stability issues than under 4.1. The Gallery app in particular seems to FC very often when loading a photosphere. 
  • Sometimes I find pressing the power button does not wake the screen as quickly as it did previously. This delay is annoying, because I often find myself pressing the button again thinking the button press hasn’t registered, only to find the screen powering on and then off again. 
  • It is disappointing that this is seemingly the end of the line for my much beloved Nexus S, but I do appreciate support for it had to end at some point.
  • I can’t shake the feeling that something about Android 4.2 just feels a little rushed. Also, it does not feel like a unanimous step forward, as Android releases always have previously for me.

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GTA V: Bigger Than ALL the Games

Jason Schreier:

According to Rockstar, Grand Theft Auto V's Los Santos is bigger than Red Dead RedemptionSan Andreas, and Grand Theft Auto IV combined.

As a gamer, this does not excite me in the least. I played all three of those games through to completion, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t want any of them to be any bigger or longer.

Personally speaking, this increased size makes the thought of playing GTA V even more daunting for me, because I can’t see myself being able to find the time to enjoy the game as is intended. I appreciate many will disagree with me here.

Furthermore, if I were a Take 2 shareholder, I would be screaming blue murder at this news. Spending five years developing a single game is madness. Given Take 2 remain largely a one-trick pony, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect a new entry in the franchise every two to three years.