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Best privacy apps, courtesy of Edward Snowden

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Edward Snowden, the whistleblower, has appeared in a video conference this week and has shared with us a few of the apps that you can use to protect your data from being intercepted. As government agencies like the FBI are voicing their concerns over encryption of data, American citizens and citizens from all around the world are becoming more and more aware of the fact that their data is not safe and private. The best apps to protect your data have been recommended by Snowden, and while he did emphasize that they won’t offer complete protection against your data being intercepted, they are useful tools which will help you make secure calls, send messages securely and keep your personal life private, as it should be.

Edward Snowden is behind many leaks that involve the NSA, the National Security Agency of the U.S., the most recent one involving Gemalto, the largest SIM card manufacturer in the world. Snowden released information about how the NSA and its British equivalent managed to steal encryption keys for SIM cards, which would essentially grant them complete access to users’ data over a network. Gemalto, after a brief investigation, stated that their products were safe and users should remain calm because no security threats have been found. Many still remain skeptical, as Snowden released alarming documents showing how the NSA said “we have all the network” during a presentation of their operations. Conspiracy theorists say that the NSA has approached Gemalto and has forced the company into denying the security threat Snowden raised awareness about. Whichever the case may be, the whistleblower has recommended a handful of applications that will help the average smartphone user protect their data from being intercepted.

Snowden emphasized that there are hundreds of apps out there that will protect your data by providing end-to-end encryption. You can do a Google search on the topic and will find that there are indeed many to choose from. End to end encryption means that only you and the recipient can read the data you are sending. While that data travels from point A (you) to point B (the recipient), it can not be accessed by third parties due to encryption. These kinds of apps also offer cloud services, if you look hard enough, which means it stores your information on servers completely encrypted. Let’s start with that.

1. SpiderOak

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SpiderOak is the recommended file sharing application by Edward Snowden, who says it offers a much more secure experience than Dropbox, for example. The servers at SpiderOak do not have the encryption keys in order to access the files you are storing in their servers. The problem with SpiderOak is that it only offers 2 GB storage for free, which means that if you are set on free data encryption, you’re only going to be able to put the more sensitive data in SpiderOak servers. The platform also offers upgrading options and business solutions. If you want a lot of storage, the SpiderOak subscription will set you back $12 a month or $130 a year, and you get 1 TB of storage space. You can get the desktop application from their official website, but there’s also an Android application which you can download from the Google Play Store.

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As part of the editorial team here at Geekreply, John spends a lot of his time making sure each article is up to snuff. That said, he also occasionally pens articles on the latest in Geek culture. From Gaming to Science, expect the latest news fast from John and team.

Android

Airchat, developed by Naval Ravikant, is a social application that focuses on conversation rather than written messages

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Airchat is a recently developed social media application that promotes and encourages users to engage in open and spontaneous conversations.

Last year, a previous iteration of Airchat was released. However, yesterday the team, which included Naval Ravikant, the founder of AngelList, and Brian Norgard, a former product executive for Tinder, rebuilt the application and reintroduced it on both iOS and Android platforms. At present, Airchat is exclusively accessible via invitation. However, it has already achieved a ranking of #27 in the social networking category on Apple’s App Store.

Airchat has a user interface that is visually familiar and easy to understand. Users can follow other users, navigate through a feed of posts, and interact with those posts by replying, liking, and sharing them. The distinction comes from the fact that the content consists of audio recordings for both posts and replies, which are subsequently converted into written form by the application.

Airchat automatically starts sending messages, which you can quickly navigate through by vertically swiping up and down. If you have the desire, you have the option to pause the audio and only read the text. Additionally, users have the capability to exchange photographs and videos. However, it appears that audio is the main point of interest for everyone, and Ravikant explains that it has the potential to significantly change the way social apps function, especially when contrasted to text-based platforms.

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Upon my recent enrollment in Airchat, the majority of the messages I encountered pertained to the application itself. Notably, Ravikant and Norgard actively engaged in responding to inquiries and seeking input from users.

“All humans are inherently capable of harmonious interactions with one another; it simply necessitates the use of our innate communication abilities,” Ravikant stated. “The prevalence of online text-only media has created the false belief that people are unable to get along, when in reality, everyone is capable of getting along.”

Past instances have seen digital entrepreneurs placing their bets on speech as the upcoming significant trend in social media. However, Airchat’s utilization of asynchronous, threaded messages provides a distinct experience compared to the transient live chat rooms that briefly gained popularity on Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. Norgard claimed that this method eliminates the obstacle of stage fright when it comes to participation, as individuals have the freedom to make multiple attempts at producing a message without anybody being aware.

Indeed, he stated that during discussions with the first users, the team discovered that the majority of individuals currently utilizing AirChat exhibit introverted and timid characteristics.

Personally, I have not yet persuaded myself to publish anything. I was primarily intrigued by observing how other individuals were utilizing the application. Additionally, I had a complex emotional connection with the auditory perception of my own speech.

However, there is value in listening to Ravikant and Norgard articulate their perspective instead of solely relying on written transcriptions, as the latter may overlook subtle aspects such as excitement and tone. I am particularly interested in observing how deadpan humor and shitposting are conveyed, or not, in audio format.

I also encountered some difficulty with the velocity. The application automatically sets the audio playing to double the normal speed, which I found to be artificial, especially considering that the main purpose is to promote human interaction. To reset the speed, simply press and hold the pause button. However, when the speed is set to 1x, I observed that I would begin to skim through longer postings while listening, and I would often jump forward before listening to the entire audio. However, perhaps that is acceptable.

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However, Ravikant’s conviction in the efficacy of speech to reduce hostility does not always obviate the requirement for content-filtering functionalities. According to him, the feed operates based on intricate regulations that aim to conceal spam, trolls, and those that either you or they may prefer not to receive messages from. However, at the time of publication, he had not yet replied to a subsequent user inquiry regarding content moderation.

When questioned about monetization, namely the introduction of advertisements, whether in audio format or otherwise, Ravikant stated that the company is currently not under any obligation to generate revenue. (He characterized himself as “not the exclusive investor” but rather as a significant stakeholder in the company.)

“Monetization is of little importance to me,” he stated. “We will operate this project with minimal financial resources if necessary.”

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Pixel 8 Pro runs Google’s generative AI models

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Rick Osterloh, Google’s SVP of devices and services, says the Pixel 8 Pro will be the first hardware to run Google’s generative AI models.

At an event today, Osterloh said the Pixel 8 Pro’s custom-built Tensor G3 chip, which accelerates AI workloads, can run “distilled” versions of Google’s text- and image-generating models to power image editing and other apps.

Osterloh said, “We’ve worked closely with our research teams across Google to take advantage of their most advanced foundation models and distill them into a version efficient enough to run on our flagship Pixel.”

Google improved Magic Eraser, its photo-editing tool, to remove larger objects and people smudge-free using on-device models. Osterloh claims that this improved Magic Eraser creates new pixels to fill in shot gaps, producing a higher-quality image.

Osterloh says a new on-device model will “intelligently” sharpen and enhance photo details, improving zoom.

On-device processing benefits audio recording. The Pixel 8 Pro’s recording app will soon summarize meeting highlights.

Gboard will use a large language model on the Pixel 8 Pro to power smart replies. Osterloh claims that the upgraded Gboard will provide “higher-quality” reply suggestions and better conversational awareness.

Osterloh said an update in December will add on-device generative AI features except for Magic Eraser, which appears on the Pixel 8 Pro at launch.

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Telegram launches a global self-custodial crypto wallet, excluding the US

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Telegram, with 800 million monthly users, is launching a self-custodial crypto wallet. The move will solidify its presence in the vibrant crypto community that has grown from its chat platform and may attract more people to crypto.

Telegram and TON Foundation announced TON Space, a self-custodial wallet, on Wednesday at Singapore’s Token2049 crypto conference, which draws over 10,000 attendees.

Telegram has a complicated blockchain relationship. After the SEC sued Telegram over a massive initial coin offering, the chat app abandoned its Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain project in 2020. The Open Network Foundation (TON Foundation), founded by open-source developers and blockchain enthusiasts, supports the development of The Open Network (TON), the blockchain powering a growing number of Telegram applications, including the wallet.

The Open Platform (TOP) and TOP Labs, a venture-building division, created the TON-based wallet.

TON Space will be available to Telegram users worldwide without wallet registration in November. The U.S., which has cracked down on the crypto industry and promoted many crypto apps to geofence users, is currently excluded from the feature.

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