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Top Android Arcade Games Under $3 to Keep You Entertained as Quarantine Bleeds Into 2021

McKenzie Elyse

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With recreational activities still under siege by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many are looking to sources of entertainment that can be enjoyed from the comfort of their homes. As smartphones’ processing power increases exponentially, with the newest generation of Samsung Galaxy phones and Apple iPhones recently hitting the market, mobile games are a great way to pass the time. Here are some of the best Android games of 2021 for under $3 so far:

  • Sine the Game: This competitive arcade game boasts a unique concept and compelling visuals. The player controls a sine wave to avoid obstacles, collect orbs, and race to the finish in a gameplay style that reflects traditional platformers. With levels that range from simple to extremely difficult, this game is easy to learn, but tough to master. • $2.99 from Google Play Store
  • Final Freeway 2R: Packaged as a retro-style racing game, Final Freeway 2R blatantly resembles the classic arcade racing games that you played as a child (and probably couldn’t go near now due to the collective heightened germ awareness). Race along in a red sports car toward the finish, complete with cheesy music and bot cars that share the road. • $0.99 from Google Play Store
  • Witcheye: Another retro-inspired platformer arcade game, Witcheye is a platformer that offers familiar 8-bit-style graphics and a quirky storyline. The player acts as the witch, who transforms herself into a hovering eyeball in order to chase down a thief who stole her stash. Swipe up and down to move the eyeball around obstacles and find the sticky-handed knight. • $2.99 from Google Play Store
  • Forget-Me-Not: This Pac-Man-esque game adds novel modes and details to the typical single-screen maze concept, prompting the player to gobble up flowers and obtain a key to reach the next level. Your enemies, which resemble the Pac-Man ghosts, aren’t just out to get you; they are also out to obliterate each other, and often also destroy the walls of the dungeon, reshaping it as you play. • $2.49 from Google Play Store

These are just some among countless amazing Android arcade games available on the Google Play Store. For less than you might spend at an actual arcade, you can download games that reminisce of beloved favorites that have been passed on through the generations.

I'm a copywriter, journalist, and web content creator with a strong passion for my work. Crafting narratives of the world around me brings me an incredible sense of joy — there's nothing I would rather be doing. Besides writing, I enjoy cooking, mixology, music, and my weird cat named Marceline.

Android

Google Introduces ‘Android Ready SE’ to Promote the Adoption of Digital Keys, Mobile ID’s, and Digital Wallets with Added Security

Ben Smith

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While the Android system has garnered wide praise by the Android community over the years for its open nature, the open nature of the system is subject to safety and privacy concerns. Google, however, is always looking at ways to innovate and improve the Android system by making the system faster, more convenient, and most importantly, more secure for their users.

With the expansion of the Android system past just smartphones and into the world of smart devices such as watches, TV’s and even cars, Google has set up the ‘Android Ready SE Alliance’ to offer new Android hardware with improved security functions. The Android Ready SE Alliance builds upon the already existing Secure Element (SE) technology that was first released in 2018 for the Pixel 3 with the Titan M chip and the tamper-resistant key storage for Android Apps through StrongBox.

In the Google Security Blog posting announcing the Android Ready SE Alliance, Google notes that StrongBox and tamper-resistant hardware has become an increasingly important requirement for new Android features related to digital keys for cars, homes and offices, mobile drivers’ licenses, ID’s, ePassports and digital wallet solutions.

While StrongBox and tamper-resistant hardware has become a major need in today’s world as smart devices expand and become a part of daily life, Google believes the SE technology is the perfect security solution for smart devices, as well as identity certification and digital wallet solutions. Google notes that all of these features will need to run on tamper-resistant hardware in order to protect the safety of their user’s data, keys, wallets, and more. The majority of modern Android phones now include the tamper-resistance hardware known as Secure Element (SE) and the company believes that the SE technology is the best path to introduce new consumers to better safety functions.

The aim of the Android Ready SE Alliance is to speed up the adoption of such technologies on Google’s Android platform. Google is allowing developers to develop open-source and ready-to-use applets for SE-capable microchips.

In addition, Google also announced that StrongBox will be applicable to WearOS, Android Auto Embedded and Android TV, and not limited to just Android smartphones or tablets but rather a wide range of Android devices in the Internet of Things device category.

Google has claimed that they currently in development on a few applets for Android devices that will be released according to priority, with mobile drivers’ licenses, identity credentials and digital keys being high in the priority list.  With the company announcing that an applet for the Android Ready SE Alliance is already released to be used by their OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners to produce secure devices, we should begin to see Android Smart TVs and wearables featuring the secure technology in the coming months.

Overall, the aim of the Android Ready SE Alliance is to provide a better guarantee of safety and security to Android users when it comes to using digital wallets, ID tokens, and even keys, allowing for users to do their everyday tasks without ever having to worry about security again.

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Android

Google Fires Second AI Ethicist, Changes Diversity and Research Policies

McKenzie Elyse

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A recent internal investigation at Google has resulted in the second firing of a founding member of Google’s ethical AI development team. Margaret Mitchell was relieved of her position as co-leader of the ethical AI division for “[violating] the company’s code of conduct and security policies,” Google said in a statement. 

Her firing comes just two short months after her colleague and co-leader of the ethical AI team Timnit Gebru was abruptly let go after she attempted to publish research about the unintended consequences of large text processing systems, including those used by the Google search engine. Google did not approve the publication, citing that the paper “ignored too much relevant research.” Gebru had asked for further discussion before retracting the paper, and said that she planned to resign if the company failed to address her concerns. Google refused to meet the conditions and promptly relieved her of her position.

Gebru is a prominent data scientist who specializes in diversity and bias research in AI technology. She is best known for her research that found significant racial bias in facial recognition technology, showing that the algorithms recognize white faces better than black and brown faces. The dispute that led to Gebru’s firing prompted the resignation of two of her coworkers at Google, and sparked a media frenzy that has recently been amplified by Mitchell’s termination.

The investigation against Mitchell found that she had violated company policies by running automated scripts through Gebru’s email while searching for evidence that Google had discriminated against her. Many who witnessed the situation have publicly stated that Gebru was “wronged,” and have suggested that her undue exit from the company may have had a discriminatory basis.

Mitchell tweeted to her followers about her own firing: “I tried to raise concerns about race [and] gender inequity, and speak up about Google’s problematic firing of Dr. Gebru.”

Alphabet’s Google has come under major scrutiny in recent months following the DOJ’s lawsuit accusing the corporation of violating antitrust laws last October. Amid a slew of related lawsuits that paint Google as a monopolistic enterprise, the company has also been the center of a growing debate about its diversity policies and treatment of employees in minority groups. In response to the incidents involving Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, Google has recently implemented diversity and research policy changes in the hopes of preventing similar situations in the future.

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New York Times Investigation Into Capitol Rioter Data Reveals False Claims of User Anonymity With MAID Technology

McKenzie Elyse

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An ongoing New York Times Opinion investigation probing the true nature of location tracking via smartphones has led the Times Opinion journalists to a disturbing discovery regarding the privacy of smartphone users in America:

Anonymity does not exist.

The Privacy Project is a series of articles chronicling a growing body of evidence about just how easy it is for mobile and online users to be tracked by private entities. A subset of articles specifically pertaining to cell phone data and the high potential for its misuse tells the story of a data file obtained by the Privacy Project in 2019 containing more than 50 billion location pings from some 12 million Americans across the country. Charlie Warzel, a key contributor to the Privacy Project series, uses the data to demonstrate how few connections must be made in order for a person’s entire identity, along with their day-to-day activities, to be uncovered.

In the first article in the subset, titled ‘One Nation, Tracked’, Warzel offers a comprehensive look at how one dataset quickly revealed enough information to identify the owner of each phone. Those whose identities were discovered from the data include celebrities and government officials with high security clearances in the mix with average Americans. Warzel even released a spinoff article the same day showing a detailed path of a smartphone connected to someone in Trump’s entourage — an alarming example of how easily parties interested in threatening America’s national security can access sensitive information.

Another recent installment of the One Nation, Tracked subseries unveiled a new dataset obtained following the Capitol siege on January 6th that tracked 130 phones pinged inside the building at the time of the riot. The data revealed that about 40 percent of the pinged phones were near the rally stage before making their way toward the Capitol that day, an undeniable link to those who participated in the march that ended in criminal behavior. 

“While there were no names or phone numbers in the data, we were once again able to connect dozens of devices to their owners, tying anonymous locations back to names, home addresses, social networks and phone numbers of people in attendance” reports the Times Opinion article regarding the dataset

The source who provided the data wanted those who committed acts of treason that day to be brought to justice. They also expressed concern for the vulnerability of the data, citing that they could have just as easily used it for their own insidious purposes rather than bringing it to the Times Opinion reporters.

Using this new dataset, analysts at the Times also discovered a remarkable new piece of information included with the pings: a unique ID tied to each smartphone, and implicitly, each user. 

This ID, it turns out, is essentially a cookie for mobile devices known as a mobile advertising ID, or MAID for short. MAIDs are intended to allow advertisers to more effectively target potential customers by identifying a user with an “anonymous” ID, and allowing marketers to reach mobile audiences with personalized ads based on their consumer habits.

MAIDs are not exactly a new development; Google introduced its Android ID system in 2013, with Apple not far behind. What the Times demonstrates through its data analysis is that this supposedly anonymous technology makes it even easier for users’ identities to be discovered, and calls into question the integrity of the systems that have become a staple in the everyday lives of billions globally. 

All of this information is owned by private organizations in a largely unregulated industry. The Times Opinion article considers how the monetization of user data that has proven to be very identifiable, not to mention alarmingly accessible, could threaten the civil liberties that Americans hold so dear. The Privacy Project highlights growing concerns about surveillance and online privacy laws in America, and hints at an upcoming battle between private data collection entities and regulatory agencies.

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