Brave, DuckDuckGo just gave you another way to flip Google the middle finger

Brave has announced that its web browser will now allow users to bypass AMP pages hosted by Google, which it claims are harmful to both privacy and the state of the web.

The new De-AMP feature will instead funnel web users to content hosted directly on the publisher’s website, minimizing the opportunity for additional tracking and meddling to take place.

Not to be outdone, rival privacy software company DuckDuckGo rushed to Twitter to reveal that its apps and extensions now offer similar functionality, but the specifics of the implementation are not yet clear.

Google’s AMP troubles

Rolled out in 2015, AMP (short for accelerated mobile pages) is a system whereby stripped-back versions of trending web pages are preloaded and served up via Google servers.

When AMP was first announced, Google said it beleived the system would help ensure rich web content such as video and animation would load rapidly and behave consistently across all platforms, thereby improving the web experience.

However, the scheme has come under criticism from publishers and privacy advocates alike, who say AMP gives Google yet more signals to gobble up in support of its digital advertising business, creates confusion as to the source of information and forces publishers to build their websites to Google’s desired spec.

“AMP harms users’ privacy, security and internet experience, and just as bad, AMP helps Google further monopolize and control the direction of the web,” wrote Brave, in a blog post.

And in a Twitter thread, DuckDuckGo presented a similar justification for its decision to move against the initiative.

“AMP technology is bad for privacy because it enables Google to track users even more,” said the firm. “And Google uses AMP to further entrench its monopoly, forcing the technology on publishers by prioritizing AMP links in search and favoring Google ads on AMP pages.”

Since the launch of AMP, a number of publishers (including Future plc., parent to TechRadar Pro) have abandoned the system. And now, browser vendors like Brave and DuckDuckGo are coming out with their own tools to help web users bypass AMP altogether.

“Where possible, De-AMP will rewrite links and URLs to prevent users from visiting AMP pages altogether,” explained Brave. “And in cases where that is not possible, Brave will watch as pages are being fetched and redirect users away from AMP pages before the page is even rendered, preventing AMP/Google code from being loaded and executed.”

Brave’s De-AMP feature is now available in both Nightly and Beta versions of its browser and will be enabled by default in the next full public release. TechRadar Pro is awaiting further specifics about DuckDuckGo’s efforts.

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Brave, DuckDuckGo just gave you another way to flip Google the middle finger

Brave has announced that its web browser will now allow users to bypass AMP pages hosted by Google, which it claims are harmful to both privacy and the state of the web.

The new De-AMP feature will instead funnel web users to content hosted directly on the publisher’s website, minimizing the opportunity for additional tracking and meddling to take place.

Not to be outdone, rival privacy software company DuckDuckGo rushed to Twitter to reveal that its apps and extensions now offer similar functionality, but the specifics of the implementation are not yet clear.

Google’s AMP troubles

Rolled out in 2015, AMP (short for accelerated mobile pages) is a system whereby stripped-back versions of trending web pages are preloaded and served up via Google servers.

When AMP was first announced, Google said it beleived the system would help ensure rich web content such as video and animation would load rapidly and behave consistently across all platforms, thereby improving the web experience.

However, the scheme has come under criticism from publishers and privacy advocates alike, who say AMP gives Google yet more signals to gobble up in support of its digital advertising business, creates confusion as to the source of information and forces publishers to build their websites to Google’s desired spec.

“AMP harms users’ privacy, security and internet experience, and just as bad, AMP helps Google further monopolize and control the direction of the web,” wrote Brave, in a blog post.

And in a Twitter thread, DuckDuckGo presented a similar justification for its decision to move against the initiative.

“AMP technology is bad for privacy because it enables Google to track users even more,” said the firm. “And Google uses AMP to further entrench its monopoly, forcing the technology on publishers by prioritizing AMP links in search and favoring Google ads on AMP pages.”

Since the launch of AMP, a number of publishers (including Future plc., parent to TechRadar Pro) have abandoned the system. And now, browser vendors like Brave and DuckDuckGo are coming out with their own tools to help web users bypass AMP altogether.

“Where possible, De-AMP will rewrite links and URLs to prevent users from visiting AMP pages altogether,” explained Brave. “And in cases where that is not possible, Brave will watch as pages are being fetched and redirect users away from AMP pages before the page is even rendered, preventing AMP/Google code from being loaded and executed.”

Brave’s De-AMP feature is now available in both Nightly and Beta versions of its browser and will be enabled by default in the next full public release. TechRadar Pro is awaiting further specifics about DuckDuckGo’s efforts.

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Google unveils another step in its much-needed privacy boost

Google has announced that its Privacy Sandbox proposal is one step closer to becoming reality as the company is preparing its next stage of trials which will focus on ads relevance and measurement.

For those unfamiliar, the search giant first unveiled its Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) plan to replace third-party browser cookies before announcing Google Topics as part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative as a replacement following backlash on the move. 

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As the name suggests, Google Topics splits the web into different topics and divides users into groupings depending on their interests. Meanwhile, FLEDGE is dedicated to facilitating remarketing or showing ads on websites based on a user’s previous browsing history.

Now though, Google is moving ahead with testing its Privacy Sandbox and developers will be able to begin testing the Topics, FLEDGE and Attribution Reporting APIs in Chrome Canary.

Privacy Sandbox testing

Google plans to begin testing Topics and Fledge with a limited number of Chrome Beta users before making API testing available in the stable version of Chrome once things are working smoothly in Beta according to a new blog post.

The company also plans to begin testing its updated Privacy Sandbox settings and controls that will allow users to see and manage the interests associated with them or turn off the trials altogether.

Product director for Privacy Sandbox, Vinay Goel also provided some sample images of the settings the search giant plans to test in his blog post. In the Privacy Sandbox Beta menu, users will be able to toggle the trials on or off as well as customize their choices for Browser-based ad personalization, Ad measurement and Spam & fraud reduction. Here they’ll be able to remove interests from Topics and edit the list of sites that Privacy Sandbox users to infer their interests.

While Chrome users in the US will be opted in to the latest Privacy Sandbox trials, those in the EU will have to opt in by changing the position of the toggle in settings. This is due to GDPR and other data protection laws that apply to Europeans.

We’ll likely hear more from Google once its initial trials are complete and the company expands them to the stable version of Chrome.

Via TechCrunch

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Windows 11 update gives Paint another brush-up for its menus

Microsoft continues to refine one of its oldest apps in an upcoming Windows 11 update, with Paint seeing more improvements in its design for picking colors, resizing objects, and more.

While Microsoft's recent update brought emojis to Notepad and the return of Windows Media Player, Paint had previously seen a refreshed design to match the overall look of Windows 11, but a dark mode is nowhere to be seen for now.

With Sun Valley 2, the first major update scheduled to come in the second half of 2022, we may see further improvements to Paint to help quickly repair or resize photos to send over WhatsApp.

But these latest changes make us wonder what could be next for Paint, or another app that's yet to receive a similar refresh.


Analysis: Can Maps be next to see a refresh?

Paint refreshed design in Windows 11

(Image credit: Windows Latest)

Now that Paint is about to see more of its context menus get a modern refresh to match its previous updates, a future update of Windows 11 looks to unify more of its older apps with its new ones soon.

With Paint, Snipping Tool, and Notepad all receiving refreshes in their design to match Windows 11, there have also been some apps that have seen a change of name.

Command Prompt recently changed to Terminal, while Groove Music also changed to Windows Media Player.

But there are still other apps that would benefit from a refresh. Maps is a good example, with a design that looks confused, almost Frankenstein-ish that resembles Windows 8, Windows 10, and parts of Windows 11 all in one interface.

Maps app in Windows 11

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The maps displayed in the app are all in low-resolution, so if you're using a PC with a 4K monitor for example, expect to see crooked lines all across your route.

The windows for choosing a route also mimic the look of Windows 8, so if Microsoft is looking at other apps to refresh, Maps is a great candidate, especially when you look at how good the Maps app is in macOS 12 Monterey.

But regardless, it's encouraging to see the company constantly refine and improve its older apps for a new Windows release, and with Paint looking more like an app for 2022, hopefully we'll see Maps see the same kind of attention soon.

Via Windows Latest

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Windows 11 update gives Paint another brush-up for its menus

Microsoft continues to refine one of its oldest apps in an upcoming Windows 11 update, with Paint seeing more improvements in its design for picking colors, resizing objects, and more.

While Microsoft's recent update brought emojis to Notepad and the return of Windows Media Player, Paint had previously seen a refreshed design to match the overall look of Windows 11, but a dark mode is nowhere to be seen for now.

With Sun Valley 2, the first major update scheduled to come in the second half of 2022, we may see further improvements to Paint to help quickly repair or resize photos to send over WhatsApp.

But these latest changes make us wonder what could be next for Paint, or another app that's yet to receive a similar refresh.


Analysis: Can Maps be next to see a refresh?

Paint refreshed design in Windows 11

(Image credit: Windows Latest)

Now that Paint is about to see more of its context menus get a modern refresh to match its previous updates, a future update of Windows 11 looks to unify more of its older apps with its new ones soon.

With Paint, Snipping Tool, and Notepad all receiving refreshes in their design to match Windows 11, there have also been some apps that have seen a change of name.

Command Prompt recently changed to Terminal, while Groove Music also changed to Windows Media Player.

But there are still other apps that would benefit from a refresh. Maps is a good example, with a design that looks confused, almost Frankenstein-ish that resembles Windows 8, Windows 10, and parts of Windows 11 all in one interface.

Maps app in Windows 11

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The maps displayed in the app are all in low-resolution, so if you're using a PC with a 4K monitor for example, expect to see crooked lines all across your route.

The windows for choosing a route also mimic the look of Windows 8, so if Microsoft is looking at other apps to refresh, Maps is a great candidate, especially when you look at how good the Maps app is in macOS 12 Monterey.

But regardless, it's encouraging to see the company constantly refine and improve its older apps for a new Windows release, and with Paint looking more like an app for 2022, hopefully we'll see Maps see the same kind of attention soon.

Via Windows Latest

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Twitter rolls back another terrible feature update in new speed record

In record time, Twitter has rolled back a feature that would force you to either look at two timelines or only view the 'Top Tweets' timeline, to the scorn of users.

For almost a week, users would have to switch between two timelines as they would scroll to see what new tweets were there from their brands and friends – myself included.

But it got to the point where I would be scrolling for five minutes, not realizing that I was on the 'Top Tweets' feed, not the 'Latest Tweets' feed.

It's a ridiculous design decision that didn't go down well with its many users. While there were some self-congratulatory tweets from designers at Twitter praising this reversal, I can't help but wonder if this was a feature purposely designed to annoy users for a short time, or communication of what users want in features at the company, has hit a new low.

Leave our feeds alone Twitter

I had spoken before about how much I hated this new feature, and I wasn't alone. Executives at Twitter were replying to others in how they were working on an alternative to this change in the feed, and we didn't have long to wait.

The alternative turned out to be Twitter reversing its decision to push 'Top Tweets' as if nothing happened. But it's an example of a feature that shouldn't have been there in the first place. Its change made no sense, and from a usability angle, it didn't give any benefits to the user.

See more

Having two timelines was confusing, and the added fact that the 'sparkle' icon on the top right, would give you the option to show one feed that no one wanted, was another baffling decision.

Every user on Twitter has different feeds from everyone else. It's what makes the social platform unique – its algorithm and the people you've decided to follow shape your interests while discovering new voices.

But features like this hinder the experience massively, and I'm not aware of anyone who likes to use the 'Top Tweets' feature. Twitter is a platform that many folks use to catch up on the latest news, regardless of the topic – it's not a magazine highlighting the last few days.

Hopefully, when the company realizes this, we will see less of these useless features and others that we can benefit from, such as an edit button.

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WhatsApp update is borrowing another feature from Messenger and Instagram

WhatsApp is testing a feature where you can react to a message with a heart emoji, similar to a feature in both Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

Meta owns all three of these messaging apps, yet there are users who don't have all of these apps installed on their devices. But there's a need for similar features across these apps, as long as they make sense, and reactions are a good example of this.

Reacting to messages is a useful way of replying to someone without typing out a sentence. It can inform the sender that you've seen the message, but you don't have time to reply to anything substantial as yet.

Currently in testing for the desktop app of WhatsApp in version 2.2208.1, you can try out the feature on Windows 11 and macOS.


Analysis: When features from other apps work well

WhatsApp Desktop reactions

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp all fall under the same umbrella as Meta, the parent company headed up by Mark Zuckerberg.

Every app either is a messaging app or has messaging features. But in some way, these are all used by its users, and some features work better on different platforms, from iOS to Windows.

Stories are a great example of this – they don't make sense for WhatsApp, yet it's on the app in the 'Status' tab. But for Instagram, it does make sense, and it works well for its users, as it's a great way of sharing photos and videos in short bursts.

For reactions, it's another feature where it helps to reply to a message quickly, without using your keyboard, and for WhatsApp it makes sense.

Taking features from other apps should only occur if they work towards the app's intended purpose, and with how a user interacts with the app in question.

While Stories didn't work for WhatsApp, reactions do, so it'll be interesting to see what other features from Messenger and Instagram carry across in the coming months.

Via WaBetaInfo

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Microsoft is making another big change to Windows 11

It appears Microsoft is making a big change to one of Windows 11’s most useful features, with a redesigned Task Manager appearing in a new preview build.

Preview builds of Windows 11 are made available to select users who have signed up to be ‘Windows Insiders’. They can check out new and upcoming features, while pointing out any issues or bugs, giving Microsoft a good idea of the kind of reception the new feature will get, while also having any problems pointed out and fixed, before it gets rolled out to all Windows 11 users.

As Windows Central reports, the latest build, 22538, comes with a tweaked Task Manager with a new design that’s more in keeping with the rest of Windows 11’s look. Not only does it now look more like it belongs in Windows 11, the tabs for switching between views are no longer at the top of the app. Instead, they run down the left-hand side as a menu, much like most modern Windows 11 apps.

Microsoft hasn’t mentioned any tweaks to the Task Manager, and it appears that the version in build 22538 is extremely early, as it’s not fully functional. If you rely on Task Manager, as many of us do (it’s a handy tool for closing unresponsive programs or checking how your system is running), then give Windows 11 build 22538 a miss for now.

Still, it gives us an idea of what Microsoft is planning for the iconic Task Manager.


Analysis: tweak carefully

We’re always pleased to hear that Microsoft is working on improving its legacy apps and bringing them in line with Windows 11. Many of the apps that come with Windows 11, such as Paint, have appearing in various versions of Windows for decades now, so many of them are well overdue a facelift, while also getting added features to make them more useful.

Task Manager is one such tool. It’s been a staple of Windows releases since Windows NT 4.0 back in 1996, and it’s one of the most useful tools included in the operating system. When you press Ctrl + Shift + Esc, Task Manager will appear and show all the apps, services and processes that are currently running on your PC.

If your PC is running slowly, checking Task Manager is a good way to see if there’s a particular app that’s causing issues. Also, if an app crashes and becomes unresponsive, opening up Task Manager allows you to close it.

It’s packed with handy features, many which haven’t changed in years, and while Microsoft’s moves to make it fit in more with Windows 11’s overall look is to be welcomed, we’d also urge caution. When tweaking such a useful legacy app, Microsoft needs to be careful not to drop handy features or simply the app too much – as it could frustrate users who have come to depend on Task Manager.

Microsoft does need to ensure that the look and feel of Windows 11 remains consistent over both new apps and older ones as well, but it also needs to make sure that doesn’t come at the cost of usability.

Hopefully, we’ll get a clearer idea of what Microsoft is planning to do with Task manager in Windows 11 in upcoming Insider builds.

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