WhatsApp’s latest privacy features include the ability to hide your online status

WhatsApp just introduced several important privacy features including the online status blocking option it recently showed in beta, TechCrunch has reported. The aim is to eventually make WhatsApp "as private and secure as face-to-face conversations," Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post

The new "online presence control" feature allows you to send messages while appearing to be offline. That offers another level of privacy over the ability to hide your "last seen" status from specific contacts, a feature introduced earlier this year. 

You can control the feature in a granular way, deciding which contacts can view your online status and which can't. There are no limits, and you can swap people in and out at any time. The feature will roll out to all users across desktop and mobile, later this month. 

WhatsApp is also testing screenshot blocking for view once messages that disappear after a single view. When those messages were introduced last year, Meta said that you should still take caution as you wouldn't know if someone screenshotted them. A new feature that lets you block such screenshots is now in testing, but the company hopes to get it to all users "soon." 

With the final change, you can leave leave groups privately without sending out a mass notification to everyone else that you're gone — though group admins will still be notified. That should save some awkwardness when it rolls out to the desktop and mobile apps, also later this month. 

Google and Sonos are now fighting over voice assistant patents

Google has sued Sonos, alleging that its new voice assistant violates seven patents related to its own Google Assistant technology, CNET has reported. It's the latest salvo in a long-running smart speaker battle between the companies, with each suing and countersuing the other following a period when they worked together. 

"[Sonos has] started an aggressive and misleading campaign against our products, at the expense of our shared customers," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. 

Sonos' Voice Control assistant arrived in June, letting users give commands with the phrase "Hey Sonos," much like Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant. In the complaint, Google said it "worked for years with Sonos engineers on the implementation of voice recognition and voice-activated devices control in Sonos products... even providing its Google Assistant software to Sonos for many years." 

The fight erupted in early 2020 when Sonos sued Google for alleged patent infringement after the companies had collaborated for several years. Sonos claimed that Google gained knowledge of its technology when they worked together and used that information to develop its own smart speaker line. The company filed another suit in September 2020, claiming that Google infringed on five more patents. 

Google countersued, alleging that Sonos was using Google’s search, software, networking, audio processing and other technology without paying a license fee and made "false claims" about their work together

In 2021, the US International Trade Commission ruled that Google infringed on five Sonos patents. That forced Google to change the way its speakers were set up to avoid an import ban. Most of those were related to the way speaker groups are controlled — for instance, users can no longer change the volume of a group of speakers and must adjust them individually instead. 

"Google previously sued us all over the world and Sonos has prevailed in every decided case," Sonos' chief legal officer Eddie Lazarus told CNET. "[The latest lawsuits] are an intimidation tactic designed to retaliate against Sonos for speaking out against Google's monopolistic practices." 

OtterBox now offers $150 toward iPhone screen replacements

OtterBox is trying to differentiate itself from its rivals by offering up to $150 toward the repair of your iPhone screen if it breaks while using the Amplify or Alpha OtterBox screen protectors, the company said in a press release spotted by 9to5Mac. It's available with the updated OtterBox Protection Program that also covers the case and screen protector, for a price bump of around $5 over the same product with Antimicrobial protection only. 

"Our robust limited lifetime warranty program already covers your case and screen protector, and the OtterBox Protection Program extends that protection to your device screen as well," said OtterBox CEO Jim Parke. 

The extra protection is valid up to 12 months after purchase, and Otterbox promises that you can "easily activate and track coverage, and file a claim through the OtterProtect app." The eligible Amplify and Alpha screen protectors with the coverage range from $40 to $55 — just choose the "Antimicrobial + OtterBox Protection Program" when checking out. 

The insurance won't cover the full cost of an iPhone screen replacement, but it'll certainly make it less painful if you don't have AppleCare. As far as I can see, there aren't many other (if any), screen protectors with similar coverage, other than a few niche offerings. The execution will also be key, but we should see soon enough if filing a claim and receiving payment is as easy as OtterBox says. 

MG’s new all-electric hatchback will cost just $31,400 when it arrives in the UK

Last month, MG revealed the all-electric MG4 hatchback with range of up to 281 miles (on the WLTP system). Now, we know it will be one of the least expensive EVs available in the UK with a starting price of £25,995 ($31,400). It's set to arrive in the UK in September this year.

As a reminder, China's SAIC Motors now owns the MG brand following the collapse of MG Rover in 2005. The vehicles are manufactured in China, but SAIC has a design studio in London. It also has joint venture partnerships with Volkswagen, GM and others to produce branded vehicles in China.

The MG4 first arrived as the Mulan in China, built on SAIC's MSP (Modular Scalable Platform) architecture that will be used on future MG EVs. It'll come in three versions in the UK. The starting SE Standard Range model is priced at £25,995 with a 51kWh battery delivering 218 miles of WLTP range, compared to £36,195 ($43,800) for the ID.3 with a 58kWh battery and 265 miles of range.

The £28,495 ($34,490) Long Range SE model uses a 64kWh battery to go 281 miles on a charge, which takes about 35 minutes to go from 10-80 percent thanks to the 135kW charging capacity. 

And finally, the EV Trophy costs £31,495 ($38,120) and offers 270 miles of range with the 64kWh battery. The extra cash gets you features like an upgraded version of the MG Pilot system (with lane-keeping, blind spot warnings, etc.), a leather interior and more.

As for performance, the highest-powered 201 bhp version with the 64kWh battery can go from 0-62 MPH in under eight seconds, with the top speed limited to 99 MPH. On all vehicles, MG is promising copious storage, an "Active Grille Shutter" that improves aerodynamics, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, Car Play and Android Auto connectivity and more. However, the price will likely be the main draw, particularly as the UK recently eliminated its EV rebate incentive.

MG’s new all-electric hatchback will cost just $31,400 when it arrives in the UK

Last month, MG revealed the all-electric MG4 hatchback with range of up to 281 miles (on the WLTP system). Now, we know it will be one of the least expensive EVs available in the UK with a starting price of £25,995 ($31,400). It's set to arrive in the UK in September this year.

As a reminder, China's SAIC Motors now owns the MG brand following the collapse of MG Rover in 2005. The vehicles are manufactured in China, but SAIC has a design studio in London. It also has joint venture partnerships with Volkswagen, GM and others to produce branded vehicles in China.

The MG4 first arrived as the Mulan in China, built on SAIC's MSP (Modular Scalable Platform) architecture that will be used on future MG EVs. It'll come in three versions in the UK. The starting SE Standard Range model is priced at £25,995 with a 51kWh battery delivering 218 miles of WLTP range, compared to £36,195 ($43,800) for the ID.3 with a 58kWh battery and 265 miles of range.

The £28,495 ($34,490) Long Range SE model uses a 64kWh battery to go 281 miles on a charge, which takes about 35 minutes to go from 10-80 percent thanks to the 135kW charging capacity. 

And finally, the EV Trophy costs £31,495 ($38,120) and offers 270 miles of range with the 64kWh battery. The extra cash gets you features like an upgraded version of the MG Pilot system (with lane-keeping, blind spot warnings, etc.), a leather interior and more.

As for performance, the highest-powered 201 bhp version with the 64kWh battery can go from 0-62 MPH in under eight seconds, with the top speed limited to 99 MPH. On all vehicles, MG is promising copious storage, an "Active Grille Shutter" that improves aerodynamics, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, Car Play and Android Auto connectivity and more. However, the price will likely be the main draw, particularly as the UK recently eliminated its EV rebate incentive.

‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’ multiplayer reveal set for September 15th

Activision and Infinity Ward are set to reveal Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II's multiplayer mode along with other details at the Next showcase event on September 15th. They also announced that the early access beta will start rolling out on September 16 and 17 on PlayStation consoles and arrive in an open crossplay beta to all consoles and PCs starting September 24th.

As shown below, you'll need to pre-order to get the open and early access beta releases, with PlayStation owners getting first dibs. After the early access, PlayStation 4 and 5 users will get the open beta from September 18-20, and then Xbox and PC will get early access (crossplay beta) from September 22-23, with PlayStation getting the open crossplay beta on the same dates. Finally, the open beta (crossplay) will be available on all platforms from September 24-26.

'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II' multiplayer reveal set for September 15th
Infinity Ward

Along with the multiplayer mode, Infinity Ward said it would show "the imminent future of [what] Call of Duty will look like, including many more details regarding Modern Warfare II, information on the next Call of Duty: Warzone, and more on the mobile version of Call of Duty: Warzone (also known as Project Aurora)." It also promised you'd see YouTubers streamers playing the games in real time, along with surprise information. 

If you haven't pre-ordered, you may still be able to get a beta code for early access from various streamers and YouTubers. Modern Warfare II is the successor to 2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, based on the original Modern Warfare subseries launched in 2007. The new title is set to arrive on October 28th and cost $70 across all platforms. 

‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’ multiplayer reveal set for September 15th

Activision and Infinity Ward are set to reveal Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II's multiplayer mode along with other details at the Next showcase event on September 15th. They also announced that the early access beta will start rolling out on September 16 and 17 on PlayStation consoles and arrive in an open crossplay beta to all consoles and PCs starting September 24th.

As shown below, you'll need to pre-order to get the open and early access beta releases, with PlayStation owners getting first dibs. After the early access, PlayStation 4 and 5 users will get the open beta from September 18-20, and then Xbox and PC will get early access (crossplay beta) from September 22-23, with PlayStation getting the open crossplay beta on the same dates. Finally, the open beta (crossplay) will be available on all platforms from September 24-26.

'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II' multiplayer reveal set for September 15th
Infinity Ward

Along with the multiplayer mode, Infinity Ward said it would show "the imminent future of [what] Call of Duty will look like, including many more details regarding Modern Warfare II, information on the next Call of Duty: Warzone, and more on the mobile version of Call of Duty: Warzone (also known as Project Aurora)." It also promised you'd see YouTubers streamers playing the games in real time, along with surprise information. 

If you haven't pre-ordered, you may still be able to get a beta code for early access from various streamers and YouTubers. Modern Warfare II is the successor to 2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, based on the original Modern Warfare subseries launched in 2007. The new title is set to arrive on October 28th and cost $70 across all platforms. 

Samsung rolls out Android 13-based One UI 5 beta on Galaxy S22 smartphones

Samsung has launched its Android 13-flavored One UI 5 OS in beta for Galaxy S22 smartphones, the company announced. Much like Android 13 itself, most of the changes are minor, with some cosmetic improvements along with enhancements for security, notifications, the camera and more. However, Android 13 may offer significant improvements for foldable phones like the Galaxy Fold 4 set to arrive at Samsung's August 10th Unpacked event. 

Samsung is getting its OS updates out more quickly, as One UI 5 launched over a month earlier than UI 4 did last year. It takes advantage of Android 13's theme makeover with 12 new color options for the home screen, icons and quick panels. It also lets you save a bit of space by stacking widgets, while adding accessibility options like a Magnifier tool to zoom in on texts and objects. It also adds a system that can read your keyboard entry out loud. 

Samsung rolls out Android 13-based One UI 5 OS beta on Galaxy S22 smartphones
Samsung

You'll also see Android 13 updates like new notification settings that require apps to request permission before sending notifications. A new security dashboard can check perform a security and privacy check, and you'll be able to setting your preferred language on an app-by-app basis. 

Android 13's foldable enhancements appear designed for devices like the Fold 3 that have different sizes, resolutions and pixel densities on the inner and outer displays. Samsung already offers that feature for the Fold 3, but native Android 13 support might open up more options like enhanced productivity tools.

We'll find out more in a few days at Unpacked, set for August 10th at 9am ET. Meanwhile, if you live in the US, South Korea or German and have a Galaxy S22, you can try out the One UI 5 update using the Samsung Members app — just bear in mind the usual risks of using beta software.

Samsung rolls out Android 13-based One UI 5 beta on Galaxy S22 smartphones

Samsung has launched its Android 13-flavored One UI 5 OS in beta for Galaxy S22 smartphones, the company announced. Much like Android 13 itself, most of the changes are minor, with some cosmetic improvements along with enhancements for security, notifications, the camera and more. However, Android 13 may offer significant improvements for foldable phones like the Galaxy Fold 4 set to arrive at Samsung's August 10th Unpacked event. 

Samsung is getting its OS updates out more quickly, as One UI 5 launched over a month earlier than UI 4 did last year. It takes advantage of Android 13's theme makeover with 12 new color options for the home screen, icons and quick panels. It also lets you save a bit of space by stacking widgets, while adding accessibility options like a Magnifier tool to zoom in on texts and objects. It also adds a system that can read your keyboard entry out loud. 

Samsung rolls out Android 13-based One UI 5 OS beta on Galaxy S22 smartphones
Samsung

You'll also see Android 13 updates like new notification settings that require apps to request permission before sending notifications. A new security dashboard can check perform a security and privacy check, and you'll be able to setting your preferred language on an app-by-app basis. 

Android 13's foldable enhancements appear designed for devices like the Fold 3 that have different sizes, resolutions and pixel densities on the inner and outer displays. Samsung already offers that feature for the Fold 3, but native Android 13 support might open up more options like enhanced productivity tools.

We'll find out more in a few days at Unpacked, set for August 10th at 9am ET. Meanwhile, if you live in the US, South Korea or German and have a Galaxy S22, you can try out the One UI 5 update using the Samsung Members app — just bear in mind the usual risks of using beta software.

YouTube testing ‘pinch to zoom’ feature for Premium users

YouTube has quietly introduced an experimental feature called pinch to zoom exclusively for Premium users, Android Police has reported. It lets you zoom into the video player and then pan around to look at different parts of the screen, both in portrait or full-screen landscape view, as shown below. 

If you're a Premium user, you can try it out by tapping your profile photo and hitting "Your Premium benefits," opening the "Try new features" section and enabling the zoom function. It might take a while for the feature to kick in, but once it's active you can zoom in at up to 8x. 

YouTube testing 'pinch to zoom' feature for Premium Users
YouTube

In the past, YouTube tested interesting features like picture-in-picture with random users and beta app testers. In 2020, though, it launched experimental features for Premium users, letting them try out new options before anyone else. Several experimental features have made their way to the Premium app, including easier playlist management and browser-based voice search. The new feature will be available until September 1st and is only supported on Android devices for now.