Tech Digest daily roundup: Google adds encryption to Android messages


Google’s Android phone system is adding encryption for its mainline messaging app. A standard of Apple’s iMessage system for years, the feature has until now been absent from the default app from Google. Google’s version depends on something called Rich Communication Services, which the company introduced in 2019. But like iMessage, it will be active only if both users have it turned on and have wi-fi or data. Users will be able to tell because the “send” icon will have a small padlock on it. Otherwise, as with iMessages, the advanced chat features on Google’s app will fall back on to regular short message service (SMS) messaging. BBC 

The Oculus Quest 2 may be the bestselling VR headset to date, but all those users are now going to have to reckon with Facebook ads within their VR games. The social media giant has announced that ads are being tested in a number of VR applications on its Quest and Quest 2 headsets. It’s an unsurprising move for a company whose business model is largely based on targeted advertising across its many platforms (whether Facebook, Instagram, or otherwise) though one that is sure to irk some VR enthusiasts. A blog post by Oculus confirms that “a small test of in-headset ads” is beginning in select VR titles, including area shooter Blaston. While the Facebook-owned company did start testing ads in Oculus mobile apps back in June, it’s only now that we’re seeing “the next phase of that exploration”. Tech Radar 

A train has set off from Euston station this morning attempting to break a 36-year-old speed record for the 401-mile journey between London and Glasgow. Avanti West Coast, which runs services from the capital to Manchester and Scotland is vying to beat the existing record of 3 hours 52 minutes and 40 seconds.  The attempt will be made by a tilting “Pendolino” train brought into service by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains almost 19 year ago. An “Advanced Passenger Train” set the record in December 1984, averaging 104mph between the two cities. The prototype was developed by British Rail but abandoned shortly afterwards as the nationalised company focused on diesel-power high speed alternatives such as the InterCity125 and 225. Telegraph 

A new report says Apple’s App Store in China removed 27 apps related to the LGBTQ+ community and claims the tech giant is ‘actively helping governments around the world’ isolate, silence and oppress people – a claim Apple vehemently denies. The research, published by digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future and China-based GreatFire, notes that the App Store in China has seen the removal of 27 LGBTQ+-related apps, second behind Saudi Arabia with 28. Included among the 27 apps are Transgender Dating & Chat App, Lesly (a lesbian dating app) and the mobile game Candy: LGBTQ+ love stories. Daily Mail

Spotify have announced the launch of a new Greenroom feature, a live audio platform similar to Clubhouse. The news comes after the streaming services acquired the company behind audio app Locker Room back in March. A new blog post on their website explained: “Since bringing the Locker Room app into the fold, we’ve been working to expand its capabilities, with the goal of creating a live audio experience that will delight creators and listeners everywhere. And we wanted to do it with a Spotify twist that operated as an extension of the app already loved by 356 million listeners. NME

Chris Price
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