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Google shut down a secret Android location

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Google:  Have you ever been using your Android phone in a particular spot where coverage is spotty? On the flip side, have you ever used your Android phone and thought to yourself, “Wow, coverage here is awesome!” Chances are good, Google knows about both of those times.

In fact, according to a new report from Reuters, Google actually used that information to help U.S. wireless carriers know where their coverage was good — and where it needed some work. This program — known as Mobile Network Insights — was previously unheard of until Reuters obtained information about it.

However, the program itself is no longer operating since Google shut it down in April of this year. Although the company did not say as much, it’s a good bet that Google turned Mobile Network Insights off as a preemptive move against the public finding out about it and being displeased with its existence.

To aggregate all the information about network service, Google compiled anonymous location and service data from Android phones across the United States. It only obtained this info from users who gave permission for the company to do so (by opting-in to sharing location history and usage and diagnostics with Google when you first set up your Android device) and didn’t collect any personal identifying info about any users.

Despite the seemingly-innocuous service, which apparently was only ever intended to show to the wireless carriers, pretty much anything Google does with user data is under scrutiny at the moment. With Google making headlines over data collection this year — especially when it comes to things like the GDPR — it was a wise move for Google to shut down Mobile Network Insights before someone found out about it and made it public.

According to Reuters, the wireless carriers are unhappy with the removal of the service, though, as it helped them plan network upgrades.

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TikTok owner ByteDance plans to launch music streaming

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(Reuters) – TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co Ltd is in talks with big music labels – Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music – for global licensing deals to include their songs on its new music subscription service, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

ByteDance is looking to launch its music streaming as soon as next month, initially in emerging markets such as India, Indonesia and Brazil, before a future opening in the United States, the FT reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

In addition to on-demand music, ByteDance’s app will include a library of short video clips for listeners to search through and synch to songs as they listen, the report added.

ByteDance has not given a name to its music app yet and pricing remains unclear, although it is expected to cost less than the $10 a month charged by Spotify Technology SA, Apple Inc and others in the United States, according to the report.

The company was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.

(Reporting by Anurag Maan in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Apple announces press event on Dec. 2

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Apple will host an event on Dec. 2

Apple just announced a press event that it will hold at 4 p.m. ET on Dec. 2 in New York City. The event will be focused on “honoring our favorite apps and games of 2019.” A tagline on the invite says “Loved by millions. Created by the best.”

Apple typically issues a press release detailing its favorite apps and games of the year annually, but this time there may be some sort of awards ceremony instead of just a release. New products are not expected at the event.

Reports had suggested Apple was planning to hold some sort of press conference in October, although the company ultimately announced and released products instead of holding a splashy event. Recent announcements included the new 16-inch MacBook Pro and new AirPods Pro with noise cancellation.

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Samsung’s Star Wars-themed Galaxy Note 10 Plus

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With the impending December 20th release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker looming like a nearby Death Star, Samsung has announced a Star Wars-themed Galaxy Note 10 Plus that’s giving off some major Kylo Ren energy. It will be on sale in the US on December 13th for $1,299.99.

The phone looks really slick. I love the red lightsaber-style S Pen. It’s a black Note 10 Plus with a First Order emblem on the back and red trim on the buttons and around the camera. In the Kylo Ren-themed box, you’ll also get black Galaxy Buds with a red inner casing, a Ren-themed leather phone case, and a Ren-themed “metal badge.”


Samsung says the phone will come with exclusive Star Wars-themed wallpapers, shutdown animations, icons, and sounds.

With a price tag of $1,299.99, it’s a little more expensive than a base Galaxy Note 10 Plus — which you can buy on Samsung’s website at a sale price of $839.99 — but the extra Star Wars-themed goodies might make the extra cost worth it.

Samsung says bundle will be available in Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UAE, the UK, and the US. In select markets, it will be available starting on December 10th, which is a bit sooner than the US release date.

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