Super-App Race, third-party Apple App Store & Google's Infinity Scroll

December 16, 2022 by
Super-App Race, third-party Apple App Store & Google's Infinity Scroll
Lighthouse IT Solutions, Matthew Almendinger

The Lighthouse IT Podcast - December 16th, 2022

This week, Matt & Griff discuss Google's infinity scroll, Waze being folded into Google Maps, Microsoft's Teams 2.0, Twitter and their drama, Apple allowing third-party app stores, new attempts to ban TikTok, Amazon and TikTok attempting to copy each other's homework, and much more!

Listen here!


Google News:

To infinity scroll, and beyond

  • Google switching to continuous scrolling for desktop Search results
  • Oct 2021, this had happened for mobile
  • Search has famously shown 10 blue links, though you've long been able to go up to 100 results per page
  • Google says, "you'll now be able to see up to six pages of results" after reaching the bottom of a search results page, which is marked by a loading indicator and presumably faster than finding and clicking 'Next'
  • For mobile, the company previously said that "most people who want additional information tend to browse up to four pages of search results"
  • Goodbye 'Gooooooooogle Next>"


Google is rolling out new topic filters for mobile search

  • The carousel underneath the Search bar has been redesigned and makes use of pill-shaped buttons that are accompanied by blue icons. Books, Finance, Flights, Images, Maps, News, Shopping, and Videos having matching icons, with Google tending to show one or two those traditional filters first
  • In addition, Google is now surfacing related topics to help you drill down. "You can add or remove topics, which are designated by a + symbol, to quickly zoom in or backtrack on a search"
  • Looking for food near you? Add a 'Healthy' tag and maybe remove 'Fast'


Waze has miles of overlap with Google Maps...

  • We talked last podcast about some Google Maps updates, and we mentioned Waze. Turns out, Waze is owned by Google, and has largely been left alone
  • Though now, Google has now decided to merge the 500 person team into Google's Geo division
  • The Waze merger comes as part of Google CEO Sundar Pichai's cost-cutting mission over the last few months, which has so far killed Google Stadia, Project Loon, half of Area 120, and the Pixel laptop division and might even be coming for the (poorly monetized) Google Assistant
  • Google says it "remains deeply committed" to the Waze app, though, it seems like Waze may simply be folded into Google Maps...


Microsoft News:

Another "Everything App", but this time for Microsoft

  • Microsoft considers a 'super app' for iPhone as it fails to outbid Google for default search deal
  • On Apple platforms, Microsoft's Bing is at an inherent disadvantage because of a multibillion-dollar deal between Apple and Google. Through this deal, Apple makes Google's search engine the default on all of its platforms. The deal between Google and Apple, however, is facing an increasing amount of antitrust scrutiny
  • This so-called 'super app' would combine things like shopping, messaging, web search, newsfeeds, and more into a single app for iPhone and Android. This would emulate a mobile strategy that has worked for Tencent, referring to the incredibly popular WeChat app
  • Microsoft executives want the app to boost the company's multibillion-dollar advertising business and Bing search, as well as draw more users to Teams messaging and other mobile services


One step closer to Microsoft Teams 2.0

  • We mentioned a few months ago that Teams was turning into a Discord and Facebook Groups competitor
  • Well Microsoft has officially taken the best parts of Teams and is packaging them up for groups and communities to use freely
  • The new community feature allows groups to use the calendar, meeting, and chat features of Teams
  • Microsoft has created a set of templates for Teams users to quickly create communities, and these groups will be limited to the free consumer version of Teams at launch, which was Dec 7th
  • Microsoft is entering a crowded market, but it believes Teams has something different to offer. They are targeting "a set of communities who are looking to get things done"


Remember the acquisition of Activision by Microsoft?

  • Well, it still ain't done. And it might not ever be
  • FTC has proposed that it will likely block the merger and file an antitrust lawsuit to prevent the $69billion merger
  • The merger is one of the biggest in the gaming world and represents some incredible titles and IPs that would be in Microsoft's hands


Lawmakers in the U.S. are aiming to ban TikTok

  • The bill comes after years of broad concern about potential Chinese government influence on the company
  • TikTok has insisted U.S. user data is safely stored outside of China, which it says should keep it out of reach of government officials
  • The new bill would ban "all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern"
  • The ANTI-SOCIAL CCP ACT - which stands for Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party


Apple plans to support sideloading and third-party app stores by 2024

  • This is in response to regulations from the European Union, such as the Digital Markets Act
  • Apple has always kept the position that third-party app stores and sideloading apps from outside the App Store would pose security and privacy risks for iPhone owners
  • The company is discussing the possibility of still requiring outside apps to be 'verified' by Apple, with specific security requirements


Twitter News:

The race to dethrone Twitter and capitalize on its new chaotic ownership

  • Employees at Meta are racing to rollout a feature called Instagram Notes, where people can share short messages on the photo-sharing site with their followers and friends. Though, this is from employees reporting this at Meta and not Meta themselves
  • Former Twitter workers have begun projects for what they say could be the next Twitter. Start-ups like Post and niche services like Mastodon and Hive Social have also reared their heads, as has the microblogging platform Tumblr
  • None of these have seen huge adoption, but they have gotten many more users than they had on average in the months prior to all this Twitter drama


Twitter will eventually increase its character limit to 4,000

  • Elon has confirmed that normal tweets will no longer be capped at 280 characters
  • Expanding from 140 in 2017 to 280, this jump to 4,000 characters would eliminate the idea that Twitter is a short-form platform


A relaunch of Twitter Blue

  • Twitter announced over the weekend that it plans to relaunch its Twitter Blue subscription service
  • It will offer users a verified blue checkmark after they have been 'reviewed' (It isn't clear what the account review involves, though subscribers will need to verify a phone number)
  • and other perks such as the ability to edit tweets and upload 1080p videos
  • Also, Twitter Blue will relaunch with a higher price of $11/month for iPhone users after Musk criticized Apple's 30% commission take from in-app purchases


Amazon is turning into TikTok and TikTok is turning into Amazon

  • We talked a few months ago about the shopping feed (similar to how TikTok videos are displayed) that Amazon would be introducing, and it is now here
  • It allows you to see items in the video and pull up their product page as an overlay
  • Thing is, TikTok is doing nearly the same thing by trying to introduce a shop feature their app
  • Who will win? Place your bets now


Maybe be careful with claiming that ransomware receipt

  • The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC - which is funny to say quickly) wants to remind individuals that paying a ransom to the wrong group could land you into legal trouble
  • OFAC maintains a list of sanctioned businesses that US entities are not allowed to transact with
  • There's some obvious ones like basically all of North Korea, but there's also some ransomware gangs like Conti
  • OFAC isn't specifically going after businesses in these cases (probably because, let's be real, it's pretty tough to track), but reminds businesses to be careful


COVID-bit: Nothing to do with COVID-19, everything to do with a BA hack

  • Designed to steal data from air-gapped networks
  • This week's airgap attack uses radio (like what we've seen in the past) but targets the CPU's switch-mode power supply (SMPS, if you're following at home)
  • In a nutshell, using spikes in CPU core load, research Mordechai Guri was able to generate low-frequency radio patterns
  • These low-frequency radio patterns also conveniently showed up in the 0-60Khz range, which is easily sampled with the microphone of a phone or laptop
  • Using a wire loop plugged into the audio jack, your mobile phone or laptop can actually take these radio frequencies (since the audio device on your computer/phones uses analog pressure converted to an electromagnetic signal - this basically jumps that process direct to EMS), the data could be received (one-way) and recorded, then analyzed
  • Okay but realistically who does this affect? If you aren't working in a secure data center, this is really just cool. But it also is a great illustration of how the security bar moves constantly
  • If you're worried or do work in a secure environment, consider the following:
    • Add radio shielding to the secure area
    • Generate counter-surveillance radio
    • Increase the airgap beyond 2 meters
    • Run random processes on secure devices
    • Lock CPU frequency