Google Bans Payday Loan Ads, Netflix Petitioned Over VPNs… [Tech News Digest]
Google hates payday loans, Netflix faces complaints about VPN bans, Google wants to live on your iPhone, the best iOS weather app lands on Android, and the Assassin’s Creed movie trailer.
Google Bans Predatory Financial Services
Google is banning companies who offer payday loans from advertising with the company. This crackdown applies specifically to “ads for payday loans and some related products,” which means any where “repayment is due within 60 days of the date of issue”.
Plenty of financial services and loan companies will still be able to use Google to advertise its products, but, in the U.S. at least, Google is also banning ads for “loans with an APR of 36% or higher”. Which is an excessive amount of interest to charge, no matter which way you look at it.
In a Public Policy Blog post announcing the rule change, David Graff, director of global product policy at Google, said:
“When reviewing our policies, research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users so we will be updating our policies globally to reflect that.”
The ban will come into effect on July 13, 2016. Google is at pains to state that “companies offering loans such as Mortgages, Car Loans, Student Loans, Commercial loans, [and] Revolving Lines of Credit (e.g. Credit Cards)” will not be affected.
Users Beg Netflix to Leave VPNs Alone
The Internet has done what it always does when it wants to voice its opposition to something these days… write a strongly worded letter. Otherwise known as a petition. The latest imposition to rouse people from their stupor being Netflix’ blocking of most VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).
Netflix started cracking down on people using the service through a VPN at the start of 2016. While we believe this effort will ultimately fail , it’s left us with just a handful of VPNs which still work with Netflix . And people who pay for Netflix each month aren’t happy.
This led to 45,000 of them signing a petition asking Netflix to reconsider its position. The petition was organized by OpenMedia, an organization working to safeguard the open Internet. The ultimate message being that “we shouldn’t have to choose between Netflix and privacy”.
Now, petitions rarely do any good, because it’s easy for companies to ignore even the biggest collection of signatures. However, this is a reminder that lots of people use VPNs for lots of different reasons, and Netflix ignores their collective voice at its own peril.
Gboard Sneaks Google Onto Your iPhone
Google has released a new keyboard app just for iOS. Called Gboard, it lets you “search and send information, GIFs, emojis and more, right from your keyboard”. The idea being to save you from having to switch apps in order to share pertinent information with family or friends.
Right now, if someone was to ask you the address of somewhere you’re meant to meet, you would close the text, open up Google, search for the address, copy it to your clipboard, and paste it into the message. With Gboard, you can search directly from your keyboard, and send them with one click.
This is so simple yet effective, it’s a wonder no one (especially Google) had thought of it until now. Unfortunately, for the time being Gboard is only available on iOS and only in the United States. So, Android users and/or people elsewhere need to keep doing things the hard way.
Dark Sky Weather App Lands on Android
Dark Sky, one of the best weather apps available for iOS, has finally landed on Android. Dark Sky offers extremely detailed weather forecasts, utilizing hyperlocal data to create forecasts for specific times, rather than mere hours or days.
As well as these up-to-the-minute forecasts, Dark Sky offers maps showing weather patterns stretching from the past into the future, and radar screens showing the path of storms as they develop and swirl.
On iOS, Dark Sky isn’t available for free, but is paid for by a one-time fee of $3.99. On Android, Dark Sky IS available for free, but the best features are only accessible via an in-app purchase priced at $2.99-per-year. Which isn’t going down too well with users.
Watch the Assassin’s Creed Movie Trailer
And finally, the first trailer for the new Assassin’s Creed movie has made its debut on YouTube. Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, Assassin’s Creed tells the story of Callum Lynch, who is forced to relive the memories of his ancestors using a machine called the Animus.
While the film itself looks promising, the trailer leaves a lot to be desired. Most trailers are accused of revealing too much of the plot these days, but this one commits the opposite crime. Gamers aware of the Assassin’s Creed series this is based on will understand it just fine, but everyone else will be left scratching their heads wondering what on earth is going on.
Assassin’s Creed is due to be released on December 21.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Do you welcome Google’s ban on payday loan ads? Are you annoyed at Netflix for blocking VPNs? Will you be installing Gboard on your iPhone? Which weather app do you currently use? Will the Assassin’s Creed movie succeed or suck?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.
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