Group chats can be chaotic enough without unwanted participants poking around. That’s why it would be nice to have an extra layer of security to keep all that hot gossip contained. To that end, Google has opened a beta program allowing users of the Messages app on Android phones to sign up to encrypt their group chats.
Google announced the beta in May. For participating Android users, chats in encrypted messages will display lock icons next to their chat bubble. End-to-end encryption has been enabled in Google’s Messages app for texts between individual users, but once this beta test is complete, full end-to-end encryption will also be extended to group chats.
Google began testing end-to-end encryption in Messages in 2020, bringing greater security to users of Android’s default texting app. This latest step is a win for Android, but it’s also part of the company’s ongoing efforts to push adoption of the RCS communications standard for text messaging across all devices. For months, Google has been at war with Apple’s use of SMS and MMS sending standards for cross-platform communications. Google’s encryption only works on RCS, not for messages sent via SMS.
Here’s some news from the world of consumer technology.
Apple’s headset technology gets a new name
According to leaks reported by Bloomberg, Apple has rebranded its software platform to run augmented and virtual reality apps. It’s a small gesture that may indicate that Apple is getting closer and closer to the final announcement of its long-awaited mixed reality headset. The new name, xrOS, replaces the previous working moniker of RealityOS.
Leaks on the helmet have been leaking steadily for months. As with Apple, no details or features have been officially confirmed. However, the new name would imply that the headset and the app running on it will have both AR and VR functionality – a combo known in the industry as extended reality or mixed reality. There are no hints of a release date either, although it seems increasingly likely that Apple will announce the device sometime next year.
Whatever Apple’s offering will likely go hand-in-hand with Meta’s recently announced Meta Quest Pro AR-VR headset. Sony’s PlayStation VR2 system is also expected to ship next year. Virtual reality is about to get very crowded, whether or not consumers want to fully immerse themselves in the technology.
New Gorilla Glass
Good news for chronic phone breakers: a new, more powerful version of Gorilla Glass may be hitting a screen near you soon. Corning, the company that makes Gorilla Glass, showcased its new Victus 2 material this week in product videos where it performed tests simulating the cracking of glass against concrete. The company claims the new formulation withstood a three-foot drop onto the reputedly unforgiving surface. (That’s 3.28 feet in American.) That might not seem like a lot, but hopefully it might alleviate some of that dread you feel when you accidentally throw your phone while trying to pull it out of your pocket. of your pants.
The company claims that the Victus 2 material can withstand an extra meter if it falls on asphalt or a surface softer than concrete. Glass hasn’t made its way into any new phone models; look for it in next year’s handset crop.
While shopping online recently, you’ve probably noticed these buy now, pay later options at checkout. As the name suggests, these services allow you to buy what you want and pay it back over time, in installments. Do it on short notice and you can avoid the interest charges that come with credit cards. It’s an attractive option for cash-strapped shoppers looking to make a big purchase. The thing is, people don’t use BNPL services just to buy expensive items. They are also increasingly using them for basic necessities like gas and groceries.
This week on WIRED’s Gadget Lab podcast, we talk about the buy now, pay later business model and what it means for your wallet.
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