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2021 App Store Awards
Illinois wants new legislation against Apple and Google.
Image: Apple

Google: Apple shouldn’t ‘benefit from bullying’ over iMessage bubbles

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iMessage bullying
Apple could fix the iMessage problem. It just won't.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Google is once again calling on Apple to adopt a more open text messaging standard after accusing Cupertino of benefitting from bullying.

It comes after a report highlighted the struggle some teens face when using an Android device, which results in broken group chats and green bubbles — as opposed to blue ones — when texting peers who own an iPhone.

A former iMessage manager explained the reasoning behind the differences in Apple’s defense. But some might (rightly) say the arguments hold no value today, with text messaging in a better place than it was when iMessage landed.

Google steps up fight against iPhone by ripping off more Apple features

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Google rips off iPhone features
Spatial audio, unlock with Wear OS, and more on the way.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Google plans to make its latest Pixel and Wear OS devices more compelling alternatives to iPhone and Apple Watch by ripping off some of Cupertino’s most popular software features — including spatial audio and AirDrop.

The Android-maker revealed the long list of improvements, which will span all of Google’s software platforms as well as Windows, this week at the CES trade show in Las Vegas. Here’s what you can expect if you plan to ditch your Apple devices and swap sides.

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Sell your old iPhone today
Yet another regulator isn't pleased.
Photo: Aaron Yoo

Apple’s Tracker Detect app helps Android users spot AirTag spies

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Apple Tracker Detect for Android
Worried AirTags are spying on you? Find them with Tracker Detect.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple on Monday rolled out a brand-new Android app that allows users to identify unexpected AirTags nearby. Tracker Detect can also recognize other Find My-compatible devices from third-party companies.

The app also makes it possible for those who do not own an iPhone or iPad to scan a tracker they have discovered and learn more about it — or disable it so that it can no longer report their location.

iMessage reactions now appear as emoji on Android

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iMessage reaction
But only inside the Google Messages app.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

iMessage reactions now appear as emoji inside the latest version of the Google Messages app on Android.

Prior to this release, Android users saw somewhat lengthy template messages when they received an iMessage reaction from a contact using an iPhone. This change offers a cleaner, much more streamlined experience.

Samsung swipes Safari 15’s only decent change for its own web browser

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Samsung Internet steals from Safari 15
Well, would you look at that.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

There’s not much Apple’s rivals would want to steal from Safari 15 — it’s not exactly the company’s finest (or most popular) browser update. But in true Samsung style, the South Korean firm found one thing worth swiping for its own mobile devices.

The latest version of the Samsung Internet browser gives Galaxy smartphone users the ability to shift the address bar to the bottom of the screen, making it a little more accessible — especially during one-handed use.

Netflix’s Apple Arcade rival launches but iOS support still ‘on the way’

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Netflix’s Apple Arcade rival launches but iOS support still ‘on the way’
Netflix is now also a game service. At no additional cost.
Screenshot: Netflix/Cult of Mac

Netflix’s promised mobile game service launches Wednesday. It’s initially only for Android but the company promises a version for iPhone and iPad is “on the way.”

It will launch with five downloadable games available to everyone with a Netflix subscription. At no extra cost.

WhatsApp rolls out encrypted chat backups on iPhone

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WhatsApp encrypted chat backup
Ensuring only you have access to your chat data.
Image: WhatsApp

WhatsApp’s encrypted backups features is now rolling out on iPhone. Users can create a password to prevent unauthorized access to their chat data, while still uploading it to iCloud or Google Drive for their convenience.

The feature ensures that your WhatsApp chats are protected, even if the backup file itself somehow makes it into the wrong hands.