Google tries to fend off man-in-the-middle attacks with a clever workaround

The Google Chrome app on Android.

Google announced today on its Security Blog that it will block sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks starting in June. The hope is that such a move will better protect people from man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.

Embedded browser frameworks allow developers to include web instances in their applications. For example, Spotify uses embedded browser frameworks to allow folks to sign into their Facebook accounts. The idea behind embedded browser frameworks is to improve the user experience by keeping people in an app instead of kicking them to a full browser if they want to sign into a service.

Editor’s Pick

The problem is that a MITM attack can intercept login credentials and second factors. According to Google, it’s unable to “differentiate between a legitimate sign-in and a MITM attack” in embedded browsers. Google’s solution, then, is to block sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks altogether.

As a result, Google wants developers to switch to browser-based OAuth authentication. That way, apps will send users to Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or other mobile browsers if they want to sign into a service.

It might seem more inconvenient relative to how sign-ins work now, but today’s announcement means that people can see a page’s full URL. That way, people know whether the page they’re typing their login credentials into is legitimate or not.

Developers with apps that requires access to Google Account data are encouraged to switch to using browser-based OAuth authentication today.

READ: You can now use your Android phone as a security key: Here’s how to do it

You can play YouTube Music without ads on Google Home speakers

Photograph of Google Home Hub, Home Mini, and Home side by side

Google announced today on the YouTube blog that anyone with a Google Home or Google Assistant-powered speaker can now listen to ad-free music from YouTube Music.

Google notes that you can’t pick and choose which songs or albums you want to listen to — you can only listen to pre-populated playlists. That said, you still have the option to upgrade to YouTube Music Premium for $9.99 each month and get the benefits that come with a subscription. Those benefits include listening to music on-demand, offline listening, and more.

See also: Is YouTube Music worth the switch?

If you already own a Google Home device, open the Google Home app and select Account Settings. From there, tap Music and select YouTube Music as the default music service. If you just got a Google Home speaker, you can choose YouTube Music as the default music service during setup.

You can try out ad-free YouTube Music listening on your Google Home or Google Assistant speaker if you live in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, the U.K., Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, and Austria. The feature will be available in other countries “soon.”

Whether you want YouTube Music as your default music service is another question, however. Even though Google will eventually merge YouTube Music and Google Play Music, the latter’s locker service is still notably absent from the former. Also absent are gapless playback, proper library management, and more.

10 best strategy RPGs and tactical RPGs on Android! (Updated 2019)

final fantasy tactics best strategy RPGs for android
Strategy RPGs and Tactical RPGs are an admittedly niche market. The game play tends to be slower because it focuses more on strategy than it does on sheer action. They operate with a turn-based style of combat and feature a chessboard style map where you move units into tactically advantageous positions to gain the upper hand. There aren’t many available on Android, but some of them are truly excellent. Here are the best strategy RPGs and tactical RPGs on Android!

Banner Saga 1 and 2

Price: $9.99 each
The Banner Saga 1 and 2 are two strategy RPGs. They each feature a variety of playable characters, interesting story lines, and solid combat mechanics. Each title has branching story lines and permanent character death. Thus, your decisions matter in both combat and in the story. The second game adds a little bit from the first game, including a new character race. It’s one of the few mobile games that employs a deep narrative and strategy without freemium elements. They are a bit older and may not display 100% correctly on newer devices with notches and such, but they should otherwise play fine.

Brown Dust

Price: Freemium
Brown Dust is a newer strategy RPG. It also Japanese RPG elements, animations, gacha elements, and story style. The game boasts over 300 mercenaries to collect, upgrade, and fight with. In addition, the grid-based fighting system is traditional strategy RPG. We liked this game for its massive story, the 1,200 stages to complete along with all of the weekly and monthly stuff to do. You will have something to do in this game for a very long time. However, it is a freemium game and it has a lot of those freemium elements, especially with the gacha stuff. Beware of that, but otherwise it’s a good RPG.

Dotomchi Games Collection

Price: Free / $0.99 with in-app purchases
Dotomchi Games has several strategy RPGs worth playing. They include Rebirth of Fortune, Sorceress of Fortune, Mystery of Fortune, Defense of Fortune 2, and Mystery of Fortune 2. They are the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth games in the series. We’re not sure where the first three games are. They all play more or less the same way except Defense of Fortune 2. That one plays a bit more like a tower defense game. They’re inexpensive tactical RPGs. They do have in-app purchases, though. Just a heads up.

Final Fantasy Tactics: WOTL

Price: $11.99
Final Fantasy Tactics is definitely among the best strategy RPGs. It first came out in 1997. It features a long, story-driven campaign complete with video cut scenes. Square Enix added characters along with additional cut scenes for more options and enjoyment. There are also additional jobs and missions to play. The only caveat is that players on budget devices seem to be having some crashing issues on certain missions, so make sure to read through the customer reviews before dropping $11.99 on the game.

Fire Emblem Heroes

Price: Free with in-app purchases
Fire Emblem Heroes is one of the newer strategy RPGs. It’s a freemium version of Nintendo’s popular series. It features a bunch of characters and music from the series. There’s a new story line for you to play through. There are also a few play modes to keep things fresh. The main game maintains the classic tactical RPG mechanics of the original franchise. The game is also very clean compared to other mobile RPGs. There is also a lot more content now than on release day. It does have a character collecting mechanic. That’s popular in current freemium RPGs. Otherwise, everything in the game is surprisingly good. This is Nintendo’s most profitable game for a reason.

Heroes of Steel

Price: $3.99 / Up to $1.99
Heroes of Steel is a four episode tactical RPG. All four stories add up to about 120 hours of game play. That’s fairly impressive. The game also includes character customization, retro style graphics, tons of loot to find, and a lot more. The combat mechanics are classic tactical RPG, but still pretty simple. It definitely focuses a little more on the narrative. The base game is $3.99. The in-app purchases are for the other four episodes. It is definitely one of the better strategy RPGs.

Kingturn series and Tactics Maiden

Price: Free / Up to $4.99
Kingturn is a series of strategy RPGs that have made a good name for themselves. They feature retro graphics that aren’t the best, but the developers more than make up for it with lengthy, story-driven campaigns. The two main games in the series have more than 130 missions combined. They also include a ton of character classes, abilities, items, gear, and more. It’s not the most complex series of games out there. They do maintain a faster pace than typical tactical RPGs. There is also a newer game in the series. Tactics Maiden is a lot like its predecessors and costs about the same.

Shining Force Classics

Price: Free / Up to $4.99
Shining Force Classics is a remake of the popular strategy RPGs from the SEGA Genesis days. This title includes all three Shining Force games. I played the first two quite a bit when I was younger, but I never gave the third one a real shot. In any case, these are really traditional strategy RPG style games. You recruit characters, save the world, and engage in grid-based combat. Characters can upgrade their class after so many level gains and SEGA left the games relatively untouched from their previous releases. The controls are a bit clunky, but the games play well enough. Each title runs for $1.99 as an in-app purchase or you can buy all three in a single $4.99 bundle.
Shining Force Classics

Terra Battle

Price: Free with in-app purchases
Terra Battle is a unique tactical RPG that does things a little bit differently. The core mechanics are the same as other strategy RPGs, but with scaled back graphics and faster battle mechanics. There are also things like bonus items on the map to give you an advantage over your opponent. Like most, you’ll still have various characters and classes that you can collect, upgrade, and customize. Terra Battle boasts hundreds of game maps and hundreds of characters to collect. The composure is Nobuo Uematsu, popular for his work on the Final Fantasy franchise. It’s a freemium game with frustrating freemium elements, but everything else about it is good.

Ticket to Earth

Price: $4.99
Ticket to Earth is a bit of a wild card in this space. It has all of the core mechanics of a tactical or strategy RPG. However, the game also includes board game elements, match-three elements, and more. For instance, your character walks along a path of the same symbols and colors. The longer the path, the more damage the character does. It’s quite neat, actually. This may even end up on our best match three games list one day. In any case, the game runs for $4.99 with no in-app purchases or advertisements.

If we missed any of the best tactical RPGs or Strategy RPGs for Android, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists.

Auto-crop for documents and receipts coming to Google Photos on Android

Google Photos

If you use your smartphone to take pictures of receipts, invoices, and other documents, you likely know how much of a pain it is to go in and edit those photos so that only the document is visible. What a time suck!

Luckily, Google has got your back and is rolling out a new auto-cropping feature to Google Photos on Android. The app will determine when you are viewing a photo of a document and then suggest you use the new auto-cropping tool.

The tool will also automatically rotate the image if necessary and also brighten it up a bit for clarity. These adjustments happen automatically — all you need to do is tap a button for each category.

Check out how it works in the video below, tweeted out by the official Google Photos Twitter account:

According to the tweet, this new feature is rolling out this week.

Editor’s Pick

It seems like Google Photos will pop up the new toolset when you are viewing a photo that is obviously a document, but it’s not yet clear whether you’ll be able to manually open the new toolset if the app doesn’t detect things correctly. If you can’t manually select the toolset and the app doesn’t recognize the photo is of a document, you’ll be stuck doing things the usual way by manually cropping and adjusting the photo.

If for some reason you’re not already using Google Photos as your default gallery app, click the button below to get started.

Did the Celeron version of the Google Pixel Slate go to tablet purgatory?

The good thing about the Google Pixel Slate is its processor choices — $599 gets you in the door with a Celeron processor, while spending more gets you beefier processors. The bad news is that the Celeron variant hasn’t been available since, well, not long after the Pixel Slate’s October 2018 launch.

Keep in mind that the Celeron version — the version that costs $599 to $699 with different RAM and storage amounts — is only available on the Google Store. Best Buy and Amazon also offer the Pixel Slate and sell the $799 Core m3, $999 Core i5, and $1,599 Core i7 versions.

Curiously, 9to5Google noticed that an advertisement that ran on its site didn’t mention the $599 Celeron version. Instead, the ad stated that the Pixel Slate started from $799.

When 9to5Google reached out to Google for comment, the company said: “We’re currently out of stock of some Pixel Slate variants, and don’t have an estimate of when they will be available for purchase again. We’ll keep the site updated when more information becomes available.”

Editor’s Pick

As for why we haven’t seen the Celeron version for almost half a year, one theory is that the Pixel Slate’s lukewarm reception may have postponed stock replenishment. Even though our own Lahn Nguyen mostly enjoyed his time with the Pixel Slate, the same can’t be said about other reviewers who found it to be lackluster.

Also, 9to5Google pointed out that product reviewer Marques Brownlee got his hands on the Celeron version of the Pixel Slate and didn’t recommend the device to anyone. Perhaps the Celeron processor simply wasn’t powerful enough for day-to-day use.

Android Authority reached out to Google for comment. The company reiterated its original statement sent to 9to5Google.

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Google Pixel 3 XL international giveaway!

It’s time for the Sunday giveaway! Like every week, we’re giving away another a brand new Android phone to one lucky Android Authority reader.

A big congratulations to the winners of last week’s Umidigi F1 Play giveaway, Roberta F. from the U.S., Joelle P. from France, and Vijay K. from India.

This week we’re giving away a brand new Google Pixel 3 XL, brought to you by the Android Authority app!

If you’re looking for the best way to stay up to date with, look no further than the AA app for Android. Available for free in the Google Play Store, the official AA app is the fastest way to get all the latest news, rumors, tips and tricks, and device reviews on your mobile device.

It’s fast, looks good, and gives you breaking Android news at your fingertips — what more could you want?

While the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL may not rival the Galaxy Note 9 in terms of specs, these phones improve on the very aspect that made the Pixel 2 so great — the camera. They still sport the same single rear cameras as the Pixel 2, but there are a ton of camera software improvements here. Top Shot mode takes multiple pictures of your subject and recommend the best one. Night Sight mode also brings next-level low-light photography thanks to computational photography.

They both have 18:9 screens (well, 18.5:9 for the XL), yet they still look very different from one another. The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch Full HD+ screen that makes it look like a smaller Pixel 2 XL, while the Pixel 3 XL has a big ol’ notch at the top of its screen. Both phones also come with Qi wireless charging support, no headphone jack (womp womp), and still manage to squeeze in front-facing speakers.

To learn more about the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL, head to our related coverage below:

Enter the giveaway here

Google Pixel 3 XL international giveaway!

Don’t miss: Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC earbuds giveaway

Winners gallery

Terms & conditions

  • This is an international giveaway (except when we can not ship to your country).
  • If we can not ship to your country, you will be compensated with an online gift card of equal MSRP value to the prize.
  • We are not responsible for lost shipments.
  • We are not responsible if your giveaway prize malfunctions.
  • You must be age of majority in your country of residence.
  • We are not responsible for any duties or import fees that you may incur.
  • Only one entry per person; please do not enter multiple email addresses. We will verify all winners and if we detect multiple email addresses by the same person you will not be eligible to win.
  • We reserve all rights to make any changes to this giveaway.
  • This giveaway is operated by Android Authority.
  • The prize will ship when it is available to purchase.

More: Android Authority international giveaway FAQs

Google is going all-in on the squircle icon for the Play Store

Google Play Store app Pixel 2 XL AA 3

In the image above you’ll see quite a few app icons on the Google Play Store. The Starbucks one is a circle, PUBG Mobile is a square, and the Lyft icon is a squircle — albeit a different squircle shape as compared to the Loffee app.

Google wants to do away with this disparity between icon shapes on the Google Play Store. In a new post on the Android Developers Blog, Google lays out the new rules for developers when it comes to their app and game icons — and it’s going to be all squircle all the time.

Editor’s Pick

Starting in April 2019, developers will have the ability to upload new icons for their apps that will conform to the new squircle shape. As of May 1, new apps submitted to the Google Play Store will not be accepted if they don’t follow the new icon guidelines. By June 24, 2019, all icons that haven’t been updated to the new format will be converted to legacy icons — eliminating the ability for developers to update them.

Legacy icons will be embedded as designed into a white squircle, to keep things more uniform. Check out how it all looks below (the original icon is on the left, the correctly redesigned icon is in the middle, and the legacy icon is all the way to the right):

In addition to this new squircle shape, Google will no longer allow icons to involve transparencies.

Google points out that this new policy only applies to the Play Store when viewed on Android, your desktop browser, or on Chrome OS. The Play Stores on Wear OS, Android TV, and Android Auto will not be beholden to the new design policy.

NEXT: How to download the Google Play Store

Google is working to bring Nintendo Switch controller support to Chrome

It should come as no surprise that Google is diving deep into gaming. Between Project Stream and leaked information about Project Yeti, it’s clear that the search giant is trying to change the future of gaming. As we quickly approach Google’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) announcement, ChromeUnboxed discovered signs that the company might soon add Nintendo Switch support to Chrome.

Several days ago, before the teaser trailer was released, ChromeUnboxed found commits to Chromium that mentioned adding Switch controller support over Bluetooth and USB to Chrome. The list of controllers includes the Switch Pro (USB and Bluetooth), Joy-Con L & R (Bluetooth), and the Charging Grip (USB).

Looking through the documentation, it looks like the implementation is still a bit buggy. Below is a snippet of the Chrome bug report:

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can be paired over Bluetooth and used as a standard gamepad on desktop OSes. It is currently enumerated in Chrome but is unusable due to incorrect mappings for the D-pad and analog axes. Chrome should add a mapping for this popular device.

The Switch Pro controller is usable when connected by USB or Bluetooth,
but defaults to a Bluetooth-only mode. This CL adds methods for
recognizing Switch Pro controllers, sending the vendor-specific packets
used for USB initialization and haptics, and reading controller data

Editor’s Pick

There’s still a lot of unknowns. We know that “Yeti” was referenced in Chromium so there’s a good chance that the console will run Chrome. By adding Switch controller support to Chrome, it would most likely allow users to play with their pre-existing gaming accessories.

We will likely learn the answer to this question and more at GDC. Google’s event is set to take place live from the Gaming Developer Conference on March 19.

Rumored mid-range Pixel phones might be called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

While we’re still digging through the first Android Q beta releaseXDA-Developers noticed that a few lines of code in the new release might reference the two rumored mid-range Pixel smartphones.

Spotted in a class in the ConnectivityMonitor app, a few lines of code list available Pixel smartphones and their codenames. The code snippet also mentions two “B4S4” devices that have “sargo” and “bonito” codenames, which we’ve seen in previous reports.

Sargo also shows up within a library used by the camera app in Android Q, this time accompanied by the name “Pixel 3a XL.” That doesn’t confirm that “sargo” is this so-called Pixel 3a XL, but it might be safe to assume that the Pixel 3a XL is the name of the larger mid-range Pixel smartphone.

Editor’s Pick

If that’s the case, then the smaller mid-range Pixel smartphone is called the Pixel 3a. The naming seems a bit random, but it’s not as awkward to say as Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite are.

When we can expect the Pixel 3a and 3a XL is a different story. Both phones visited the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a few weeks back, a good sign that the phones will be announced in the near future. Then again, Google’s request for confidentiality on the FCC listings lifts August 24.

The good news is that we already have a good idea of what to expect from the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. The two phones reportedly look like their higher-end cousins, save for a few hardware changes. We also expect the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor, 4GB of RAM, and at least 32GB of storage.

NEXT: Everything new in the first Android Q developer preview

Google’s new Lookout app uses AI to assist the blind and visually-impaired

Announced during 2018’s Google I/O developer conference, Google’s Lookout app is finally available on the Google Play Store.

Anyone can use the app as they see fit, but Google is primarily targeting the blind and visually-impaired with Lookout. After selecting a mode in Lookout, the app then senses where and which objects objects are in the real world. Lookout uses spoken words to alert you about the location of, for example, a chair in the living room or a bathroom in a store. The app can even detect text in a book or on a sign and speaks those words.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Google Lens features similar underlying technology. It sounds like Google made some tweaks to that technology to make it work differently for Lookout.

Screenshots of Google's Lookout app Google

Keep in mind, Lookout works best when your Android phone is either worn around your neck or placed inside a shirt pocket and the camera positioned outward toward the world.

Editor’s Pick

When Google announced Lookout, the company said it’ll use machine learning to improve the app’s detection accuracy. In the meantime, users are encouraged to submit feedback to Google’s Disability Support team and let them know about the app’s strengths and shortcomings.

Lookout is available as a free download at the link below. The app is available only for Pixel smartphones in the U.S. running Android 8.0 Oreo and newer, though Google said Lookout might “soon” work on more devices, countries, and platforms.