You're not supposed to know it, but Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Taboola have been paying the developers of Adblock Plus to stop blocking ads on their respective websites, according to a paywalled article in the Financial Times. The deals are confidential in nature, though FT says it was able to confirm that they do in fact exist. If true, it raises some questions about the transparency of one of the most popular browser extensions ever made.
The latest version of Android climbs to a 1.6 percent share
Google released Android 5.0 Lollipop to the public on November 3. 2014, but in the three months that have passed since then, it never registered a blip on the Android Developers Dashboard, until now. That's because Google doesn't list any versions with less than a 0.1 percent distribution. With the last few days, however, Android 5.0 has gone from virtually non-existent to a 1.6 percent share.
Perhaps unbeknownst to most of humanity, a paid version of Google Earth has been available for the last ten years to anyone willing to fork out $399 per year. We say “unbeknownst to most of humanity” because that is one of the few possible reasons we can think of—apart from Google’s largesse and a poor value proposition—for the vertiginous drop in Google Earth Pro’s price, which is now an unbelievably low $0 per year.
The company has paid out over $4 million in bug bounties since the program’s inception
Now into its fifth year, Google’s bug bounty program has already seen the search engine giant pay security researchers in excess of $4 million for identifying security vulnerabilities in its various products. And according to a recent post on the company’s Online Security Blog, over $1.5 million was paid out in 2014 alone, with the largest single reward during the year being a whopping $150,000. Still not impressed? Well, neither is Google.
Famed Android modder Cyanogen and his self-titled startup could end up with an ally in Microsoft. How so? Word around the web is that Microsoft is a minority investor in a $70 million round of equity financing, which would value the company at around $500 million. However, that's only part of the story. The other part of the emerging storyline has to do with a bold statement recently made by Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster.
Let's get one thing straight -- most businesses would happily switch places with Google based on the financial figures alone. The sultan of search pulled in $66 billion in revenue for all of 2014, up 19 percent year-on-year. That's thanks in part to a strong finish, with Google reporting consolidated revenues of $18.10 billion for the quarter ended December 31, 2014, a jump of 15 percent compared to the same quarter a year prior. Google's profit in the fourth quarter alone came to $4.76 billion, up from $3.38 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, so why are some investors nervous?
Don't expect a patch for WebView in pre-KitKat Android devices
If you own an Android handset running a version of the open source operating system that predates Android 4.3 KitKat, you won't be the recipient of a patch for WebView, a component of Android that developers use to display web content in their apps. WebView is also the backbone of Android's built-in browser in all versions up to KitKat. Nevertheless, Google won't spend time plugging up any security holes for WebView in older Android devices because it's "no longer practical."
Having recently ruffled Microsoft’s feathers by (responsibly) disclosing three unpatched vulnerabilities in Windows to the general public, Google’s Project Zero team has now turned its attention to the other side of the PC-Mac divide. The outfit recently spilled the beans on three zero-day vulnerabilities in Apple’s OS X operating system.
Could you imagine if the suits in charge at Google one day decided that enough was enough, and pulled the plug on all of the company's services, like Gmail and search? While it wouldn't be the end of the Internet, it would certainly be a major inconvenience for many. However, that's not what Google's Eric Schmidt meant when he recently predicted that that the Internet would disappear. So, what was he talking about?