Dear digitally-inclined readers,
Here’s what happened this week:
Google added Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe to the SERP this week on both desktop and mobile. While we’ve seen Google turn their Doodles into games from time to time and introduced the coin flip in 2014, it looks like they’re literally getting back in the game. Search Engine Land has the full story:
“Harking back to the original Windows 3.0 Solitaire card game, Google is now making it possible to play the game via its search results, in addition to Tic-Tac-Toe.
According to an annnouncement today on the Official Google Blog, searches for “solitaire” or “tic-tac-toe” will deliver both games directly within desktop and mobile search results. (The announcement says the games are live now, but neither game surfaced when I did Google searches for solitaire or tic-tac-toe.)
Google shared an image of what the Solitaire game looks like on mobile:
The announcement also included the following animated image to show how Google’s Tic-Tac-Toe game works.
In addition to the new games, Google teased out two of its previously released Easter eggs, telling users to search “what sound does a pig make” and reminding them to try its “flip a coin” search feature that was part of the Google Search App updates from 2014.”
2. America’s National Parks, Digitized
Two days ago, Google enabled users to see some of America’s national parks, from wherever they are. The Google blog has more:
“Starting today anyone can take a virtual tour of some of our most breathtaking National Parks, no matter where you are, with Google’s The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks.
This Google Arts & Culture exhibit and interactive documentary in honor of this month’s NPS Centennial is available on the web and in the Google Arts & Culture App oniOS/Android. You can immerse yourself in 360-degree video tours through some of the most remote and breathtaking places in five different National Parks. And if you want to learn more about what you’re seeing, you can browse the fascinating archive of artifacts from the National Parks’ many museums.
At each park, a local ranger guides you through places most people never get to go — spelunking through ancient caves at Carlsbad Caverns, flying above active volcanoes in Hawai’i, and swimming through the coral reefs of the Dry Tortugas in Florida.”
3. What’s up, WhatsApp? Messaging App Gives Data to Facebook Without Permission
WhatsApp users got a wake-up call this week upon realizing that the messaging service will be giving phone numbers and other information to Facebook, two years after it was acquired by the original social network in 2014.
The Wall Street Journal has the story:
The change, also designed to let its more than one billion users communicate with businesses, is likely to raise privacy concerns and rankle users who relied on WhatsApp’s previously stated assertion that it was built “around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible.”
“Even as we coordinate more with Facebook in the months ahead, your encrypted messages stay private and no one else can read them. Not WhatsApp, not Facebook, nor anyone else,” WhatsApp said in the blog. “We won’t post or share your WhatsApp number with others, including on Facebook, and we still won’t sell, share, or give your phone number to advertisers.”
Still, on Thursday, many privacy advocates like Brussels-based EDRi recommended users switch to another encrypted texting and calling app, Signal, which former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden recommends. “This kind of sudden and immediate change to how personal data is collected and used, thrust upon millions of users with a flourish of PR and new legal language, is much too common in our current data-driven environment,” said Michael Zimmer, associate professor at the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.”
Stay aware, stay wary,
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