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Google’s Project Treble to Speed Up Android Updates

Google's latest attempt to get makers of Android phones and tablets to roll out updates faster is called Project Treble, and it's intended to remove an entire category of partners from the update pipeline.

Treble, announced on Friday ahead of next week's Google I/O developers conference, will make it possible for device manufacturers like Samsung and Motorola to push OS updates to their users without waiting for an updated version of the firmware that controls the devices' chipsets.

Android is an open source operating system, so phone makers are free to modify and test it to suit their hardware. That means it looks very different on each mobile device that runs it. Since Pixel phones are designed and supported by Google, they run a version of the OS with few modifications. Meanwhile, Motorola also installs skin-less versions of Android on its phones, while Samsung and Amazon tweak their version of the OS to the point that it barely resembles the version running on the Pixel.

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Every time there's an update, the companies not only have to ensure that it works with their modified version, but they also have to wait for chip makers like Qualcomm to ensure that it's compatible with the phone's modem, processor, and other components. Finally, they have to work with the mobile carriers to push out an update.

That lengthy process means Android is woefully fragmented compared to iOS, a fragmentation that reportedly makes Google quite upset. Just 7 percent of Android users are running the latest version, Android 7.0, compared to 79 percent of iOS users who are running iOS 10.

By removing the chip makers from the update process, Google hopes to speed it up. Major chip makers like Qualcomm and Sony are already on board with the Treble project, and Google says that it will roll out with the next version of Android, codenamed Android O.

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Facebook mistakenly leaked developer analytics reports to testers

Set the “days without a Facebook’s privacy problem” counter to zero. This week, an alarmed developer contacted TechCrunch, informing us that their Facebook App Analytics weekly summary email had been delivered to someone outside their company. It contains sensitive business information including weekly average users, page views, and new users. 43 hours after we contacted Facebook about the issue, the social network now confirms to TechCrunch that 3 percent of apps using Facebook Analytics had their weekly summary reports sent to their app’s testers, instead of only the app’s developers, admins, and analysts. Testers are often people outside of a developer’s company. If the leaked info got to an app’s competitors, it could provide them an advantage. At least they weren’t allowed to click through to view more extensive historical analytics data on Facebook’s site. Facebook tells us it has fixed the problem and no personally identifiable information or contact info was improperly disclosed. It plans to notify all impacted developers about the leak today and has already begun. Below you can find the email the company is sending: Subject line: We recently resolved an error with your weekly summary email We wanted to let you know about a recent error where a summary e-mail from Facebook Analytics about your app was sent to testers of your app ‘[APP NAME WILL BE DYNAMICALLY INSERTED HERE]’. As you know, we send weekly summary emails to keep you up to date with some of your top-level metrics — these emails go to people you’ve identified as Admins, Analysts and Developers. You can also add Testers to your account, people designated by you to help test your apps when they’re in development. We mistakenly sent the last weekly email summary to your Testers, in addition to the usual group of Admins, Analysts and Developers who get updates. Testers were only able to see the high-level summary information in the email, and were not able to access any other account information; if they clicked “View Dashboard” they did not have access to any of your Facebook Analytics information. We apologize for the error and have made updates to prevent this from happening again. One affected developer told TechCrunch “Not sure why it would ever be appropriate to send business metrics to an app user. When I created my app (in beta) I added dozens of people as testers as it only meant they could login to the app…not access info!” They’re still waiting for the disclosure from Facebook. Facebook wouldn’t disclose a ballpark number of apps impacted by the error. Last year it announced 1 million apps, sites, and bots were on Facebook Analytics. However, this issue only affected apps, and only 3% of them. The mistake comes just weeks after a bug caused 14 million users’ Facebook status update composers to change their default privacy setting to public. And Facebook has had problems with misdelivering business information before. In 2014, Facebook accidentally sent advertisers receipts for other business’ ad campaigns, causing significant confusion. The company has also misreported metrics about Page reach and more on several occasions. Though user data didn’t leak and today’s issue isn’t as severe as others Facebook has dealt with, developers still consider their business metrics to be private, making this a breach of that privacy. While Facebook has been working diligently to patch app platform privacy holes since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, removing access to many APIs and strengthening human reviews of apps, issues like today’s make it hard to believe Facebook has a proper handle on the data of its 2 billion users.

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