Apple Created Technology to Preserve Privacy and Help Ad Clicks



One of the reasons people use ad-blockers is because ads are annoying. Ads clutter up websites, autoplay, and track where you go online. They stick unwanted cookies on your computer. These are some of the many reasons why people avoid ads.

Apple has created a new technology to allow attribution of ad clicks on the web while preserving user privacy.

We propose a modern way of doing ad click attribution that doesn’t allow for cross-site tracking of users but does provide a means of measuring the effectiveness of online ads. It is built into the browser itself and runs on-device which means that the browser vendor does not get to see what ads are clicked on or when purchases are made.

Apple points out that today’s practice of ad click attribution “has no practical limit on the bits of data, which allows for full cross-site tracking of users using cookies.” Apple notes that this is privacy invasive, “and thus we are obliged to prevent such ad click attribution from happening in Safari and Webkit.”

Apple used the following principles when designing the Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution technology:

  • Users should not be uniquely identified across websites for the purposes of ad click attribution.
  • Only websites that users visit should be involved in measuring ad clicks and conversions.
  • The browser should act on behalf of the user and do its best to preserve privacy while reporting on ad click attribution.
  • The browser vendor should not learn about the user’s ad clicks or conversions.

I like that Apple is doing something to protect user’s privacy. Those who use Safari can rely on their browser to reduce the amount of data that websites suck up via ads or ad clicks. This technology will stop cross-site tracking from happening.

The Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution has three steps:

  • Store ad clicks. This is done by the page hosting the ad at the time of an ad click.
  • Match conversions against stored ad clicks. This is done on the website the ad navigated to as a result of the click. Conversions do not have to happen right after a click and do not have to happen on the specific landing page, just the same website.
  • Send out ad click attribution data. This is done by the browser after a conversion matches an ad click.

People who use Safari can try out the Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution as an experimental feature in Safari Technology Preview 82+.


Don’t be lost for (foreign) words with Pocketalk



Us Brits aren’t known for our linguistic abilities shamefully relying on our continental cousins to speak English rather than learning the local lingo. Fortunately, we can now cover our embarrassment by using the Pocketalk Voice Translator, a two-way voice translator that instantly translates between 74 languages.

The winner of the ‘Innovation Award in Mobile Computing’ at IFA 2018, Pocketalk lets you both talk naturally. You say what you want in your language and Pocketalk says the same thing in their language…and they can talk right back at the Pocketalk, which converts their response into your language. Genius!

The Pocketalk is small and compact, with a small screen to show a text version of the conversation. There are three different finishes – gold, black and white – and battery life is around 7 hours in use, with 10 days in sleep mode.

The Pocketalk does need a data connection to work and this can be WiFi, built-in mobile data or a personal hotspot. Of course, it uses “AI” to do the translation but the “Pocketalk Voice Translator with Built-In Data” comes with two years of free mobile data in over 120 countries. There are no monthly subscription fees for the first twenty-four months.

Yes, there are apps that do a similar function, but the Pocketalk is a dedicated device for the task and comes with noise-cancelling microphones, betters speakers and specialised software.

Noriyuki Matsuda, CEO and founder of parent company Sourcenext, said, “The need to connect cultures and make the world feel a little smaller is stronger than ever and that’s exactly our goal with this device. We developed Pocketalk to help people of all backgrounds providing them with an instant open line of communication and foster a mutual understanding and respect among different cultures. When you have the right tools, language is a gateway and not a barrier.

That might be true but when you need directions to the nearest toilet, Pocketalk will do brilliantly.

Pocketalk is available now from Amazon UK and Amazon US for GB£259 and US$299 respectively.


The Studio is in the Container #1369



The studio has been torn down and today I am working from a makeshift setup. Still fighting the cough and had to edit out most of the hacks on you today. I have gotten back some feedback on Huawei and while I do not agree with everything the listener accused me of I am sure today’s commentary will get some response. Three more shows here in Hawaii.

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FCC Chairman Recommends Approval of T-Mobile and Sprint Merger



FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made a statement (PDF) in which he approved of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. In the statement, he says his approval came after the two companies made some commitments regarding their 5G network. FCC Office of Commissioner Brendan Carr also made a statement (PDF) approving the merger.

VentureBeat provided a good summary of what commitments T-Mobile and Sprint will make:

  • 97% U.S. population coverage within three years of the merger’s close, including 85% of rural Americans
  • 99% U.S. population coverage within six years of the merger’s close, including 90% of rural Americans
  • A guarantee that 90% of Americans will have mobile broadband access at 100Mbps or more, with 99% able to access speeds of 50Mbps or more
  • A guarantee that at least two-thirds of rural Americans will have access to high-speed, mid-band 5G
  • An agreement to divest Boost Mobile to retain competitiveness in the prepaid wireless segment
  • Billions of dollars in penalties to the FCC if the merged “New T-Mobile” fails to follow through on these commitments.

Not everyone is happy about this merger. Bloomberg reported that the U.S. Justice Department is against approving the T-Mobile and Sprint merger. According to Bloomberg, “someone familiar with the review” said the reason was the DOJ feels the companies do not go far enough to resolve antitrust concerns.

Makan Delrahim is the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division and the person who can put a stop to the merger. The DOJ reviews if a merger would hurt competition and raise prices for customers. The T-Mobile and Sprint merger would combine the number 3 and number 4 wireless carriers in the U.S., leaving just three national competitors.

Bloomberg says it is rare for the Justice Department and the FCC to diverge on a merger. It seems like there is a good chance that the merger will not be approved. I also think that people who are currently using either T-Mobile or Sprint might feel anxious about how the merger could affect the quality and cost of their service.


Flic 2 Launches on Kickstarter



Flic smart buttons first appeared at CES 2015 and since then, they’ve made steady progress as a useful element of a smart home solution. CES 2018 saw the introduction of the Flic Hub which eliminated the need for a nearby smartphone to process activity.

Flic buttons are little rubberised push switches that use Bluetooth to communicate with the complementary Flic smartphone app (or Flic Hub), which then initiates actions based on rules created in the app. There’s lots of flexibility built into the app so the Flic can turn on lights or make Skype calls – all kinds of things.

Flic 2 is coming to Kickstarter on Tuesday and the Swedish team is promising a brand new open platform to encourage community development and integration with other smart home systems. The buttons themselves have been improved with a new design, improved range, better tactile response and a three-coloured LED for additional feedback.

The Flic buttons will support Bluetooth HID (Human Interface Device) meaning the Flics can emulate keyboards, mice, gamepads and other devices. Maybe you want a button to do a screen grab – that’s when you could use HID to “press” PrtScn.

Although I don’t have a Flic Hub, I understand it has a IR port and can control TVs, set-top boxes and media players – anything that has an IR remote control. It would be handy to power everything down without having to find all the remote controls at the end of the day.

If you are interested in more details, you can sign up here (disclosure: this link will get me some Flic brownie points), or you can wait for Flic 2 to launch on Kickstarter at 1600 BST  / 1100 EST on 21st May 2019. Looks like there’s some good value early bird specials.

In particular, I’m hoping there will be good integration with Samsung’s SmartThings. Fingers crossed.


Google is Tracking a History of Things You Buy



Google has a sketchy history when it comes to privacy. It turns out that Google has been tracking a history of things you have purchased – even if you bought those things in a store or from Amazon.

CNBC reported that there is a page called “Purchases” that shows a list of the things you have bought. The list can go back for years.

It appears that Google is getting information from people’s Gmail accounts. If you’ve ever had a digital receipt sent to your Gmail account – that information was tracked and saved by Google.

“To help you easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings, and subscriptions in one place, we’ve created a private destination that can only be seen by you,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC. “You can delete this information at any time. We don’t use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads, and that includes the email receipts and confirmations shown on the Purchase page.”

While it is good that Google isn’t looking at your Gmail for the purpose to show you ads – that doesn’t make what Google is doing acceptable. It is not clear how long Google has been collecting data about the things people purchase.

It also isn’t easy to find out what information Google has collected about what you have purchased. You can view it here. CNBC reports that there is no way to delete the information in Purchases without also deleting them from Gmail.

Personally, I don’t believe Google is tracking people’s purchases because Google wants users to “easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings and subscriptions in one place”. Google is collecting data about the things you buy because Google is greedy and doesn’t care that its actions are an invasion of privacy.


Last Live Show in Hawaii #1368



Last Live show here in Hawaii, which as you would expect was full of issues of the stream going down. Never fails when you want to have fun things go sideways. Well anyway it will be fun calling the cable company and downgrading the speed tomorrow. Audio show continues next week. That said there are some pretty serious stories in today’s show that should invoke some reaction by all of you. See you Monday Audio only.

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