After causing a privacy fuss a few weeks ago, Google is back in the news again having been found circumnavigating Apple's Safari browser privacy to track user's surfing habits. On the positive side, it has found new ways to unlock Android phones and added further features for Google+ to keep it gaining in popularity.
Sneaking Around Safari
In the ever-running battle to know what users are doing, Google has been sneakily doing an end-around Apple's security in its iPhone Safari browser. By bypassing the privacy settings, the search company and its ad partners have been able to track the Web-browsing habits of people, without their knowledge.
Google has disabled its feature after it was brought to light by the Wall Street Journal, after being discovered by researchers. Again, it highlights companies will get away with whatever they can, until someone notices. After the recent Path and other user-data kerfuffles,its not a surprise. But why would Apple block Google's action that it carries out happily in other browsers?
Presumably Apple wants to keep any search or advert information that it can gather for itself, something John Battelle has a good read on. Apple's dominance in the mobile browser metrics isn't by accident and the company will play as rough as it can to protect its share.
Unlocking the Mobile Market
Sticking with smartphones, Apple may well win its patent battle to protect the swipe method of unlocking a phone. So, Google is getting ready to go its own way with a range of different methods of activating Android devices. With iPad 3 and Windows 8 tablets on the way, just how many ways are there to unlock a device?
It already has the facial recognition method found in Android 4.0, but could also go with a voice-recognition or audio password system, or by dragging a particular icon to another location. Nothing world-shattering, but in this climate, Google has rushed to the patent office to protect these ideas.
Adding Value to Google Plus
Google seems to be tweaking Google+ on a daily basis now. Now, YouTube has announced yet more improved integrations. For a start, users can now promote their Google+ profiles on their YouTube channel as well as share videos and playlists by other users.
An update to the iOS Google+ app has added instant uploading of photos and up to 15 minutes of video to the service thanks to some ad hoc cloud storage. The uploads happen automatically, if the app is running, but content remains private unless you choose otherwise.
The Android app also had a recent version boost with a number of new features including, performance improvements across the app, a What's Hot section, the ability to view who liked your posts and other tweaks.As Google+'s user base continues to rise, expect to see even more changes to make the service user-friendly and differentiated to its rivals.