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This week’s edition of our tech news roundup features a new privacy service from DuckDuckGo, Proton’s acquisition of an encrypted note-taking service, and more.... April 13th Tech news roundup: Baldur’s Gate 3 continue winning, Google Photos now have AI and Windows 10 is patched again

This week’s edition of our tech news roundup features a new privacy service from DuckDuckGo, Proton’s acquisition of an encrypted note-taking service, and more.

DuckDuckGo launches Privacy Pro subscription service

The privacy-oriented search engine, DuckDuckGo, has launched a new subscription service called DuckDuckGo Privacy Pro. This is a 3-in-1 package that comes with the company’s own VPN service that you can use to stay anonymous and secure on the web, a Personal Information Removal tool that can find and remove your personal information like your name, address, etc., on data broker sites. The plan also includes an Identity Theft Restoration service which will help you restore stolen accounts, assist you to recover any financial losses from the hack, and even correct your credit report.

DuckDuckGo launches Privacy Pro subscription service

DuckDuckGo Privacy Pro’s subscription price starts at $9.99/month or $99.99/year. The service is currently available for users in the U.S., and the announcement from the company says that it will expand to more Countries soon.

Google launches improved Find My Device network for Android

Google has announced the availability of an improved Find My Device network for Android devices. It uses a crowdsourced network of billions of Android phones and tablets, to help locate lost and misplaced devices. The Mountain View company says that the network can even locate devices when they are offline, using Bluetooth instead of internet. Google’s Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro can be tracked even if the phone has been powered off, or if the battery is dead. This is possible due to a reserve power function that powers the Bluetooth chip on the devices.

Google launches improved Find My Device network for Android

The Find My Network supports Bluetooth trackers from Chipolo, Pebblebee, eufy, Jio, Motorola, etc. So you can use it to find your house keys, wallets, luggage, etc. You may use the service to share your accessories with your family and friends, for example, to monitor your luggage at the airport. The service also supports headphones made by JBL and Sony. The new Find My Device network is only available for users in the U.S. and Canada at the moment. The new features will make Android’s device tracking similar to Apple’s Find My service that is available on iOS, iPadOS, macOS.

Proton acquires Standard Notes

Proton AG has announced that it has acquired Standard Notes. The company, known for its privacy-focused email service, ProtonMail, has confirmed that the encrypted note-taking app will remain free and open source. Standard Notes will continue to be developed and audited independently.

The app is available across all major platforms including Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS. Users can sign up for a free account with limited features and storage space, or upgrade to a premium plan with more options. Proton says that the pricing of Standard Notes’ premium plans will remain the same, and that it will honor all existing subscriptions.

Microsoft releases new Windows driver to prevent other apps from resetting defaults

Microsoft has released a new driver for Windows 10 and Windows 11 operating systems. It is called the UserChoice Protection Driver. The driver exists to prevent access to registry keys that are associated with UserChoice. These include user-defined options for default programs, such as the web browser, image viewer, PDF Viewer, etc.

Prior to this update, applications could modify the UserChoice registry keys to set the default options. This was a handy way to set the default handlers for different file types. Experts have criticized this snekay move by the Redmond Company. You can disable the UserChoice Protection Driver by preventing it from starting automatically with Windows, or by deactivating the associated UCPD Velocity task in the Task Scheduler.

Google Photos to get AI tools that were exclusive to Pixel phones

Google has announced that it is bringing three AI tools to Google Photos users. It includes Magic Editor, Photo Unblur, Portrait Light and Magic Eraser. These features were previously exclusively available for Pixel phone users and Google One subscribers. In addition to these, Google says it will also bring the following tools to the Photos app: Sky suggestions, Color pop, HDR effect for photos & videos, Portrait blur, Cinematic photos, Styles in collage editor and Video effects.

Google Photos to get AI tools that were exclusive to Pixel phones

Magic Eraser allows users to remove unwanted objects from photos, for example, trees, wires, fences or even other people in the background. Magic Editor can be used for editing certain elements in images. Users can use Photo Unblur to sharpen blurry photos. Portrait Light is handy to adjust the brightness in portraits, and also to change the position of lights.

The fact that Google has made the AI features free is a pleasant surprise. The Google Photos AI tools will be available for iPhones running on iOS 15 or above, and for Android devices running on Android 8 or newer. Some features will require a device with 3GB of RAM, while Magic Editor requires a 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM.

Microsoft patches two zero-day exploits in Windows 10 and 11

Microsoft released the April 2024 security patches for Windows 10 and 11 this week. The updates ship with 150 fixes, including patches for 2 zero-day exploits. The first of the two vulnerabilities, tracked as CVE-2024-26234 was reported by Sophos. This exploit is described as a proxy driver impersonation vulnerability. A malicious driver that is signed with a valid Microsoft Hardware Publisher certificate, could be used to deploy a backdoor that was previously discovered by Stairwell.

CVE-2024-29988 patches a security loophole that could allow attachments to bypass Microsoft Defender Smartscreen warnings when the file is opened. This vulnerability was exploited by a hacking group called Water Hydra, who used it for spear phishing attacks targeting currency trading forums and Telegram channels for stock trading. The attackers had used it to deploy the DarkMe remote access trojan, aka the RAT.

OpenAI improves ChatGPT Plus with GPT-4 Turbo

OpenAI has launched an enhanced version of GPT-4 Turbo for its premium users. It brings improved capabilities in writing, math, logical reasoning, and coding. The new version of the AI’s language model is more responsive, less verbose, and lets you use a more conversational language.

OpenAI improves ChatGPT Plus with GPT-4 Turbo

ChatGPT Plus subscribers can now access the new version of the chatbot that has been trained with data available to the public until December 2023. The company also released GPT-4 Turbo with Vision, which brings support for image recognition to the AI.

Baldur’s Gate 3 wins 5 awards at BAFTA

Baldur’s Gate 3 continues to impress gamers after an overwhelmingly successful launch in 2023. The game claimed 5 trophies at this year’s BAFTA Games Awards including the ones for the best game, the best music, the best narrative, the audience award. Andrew Wincott claimed the best supporting actor award, for his performance as Raphael.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is the first game to win all major GOTY awards in a calendar year. The RPG game has won awards given by the Golden Joystick, The Game Awards, DICE, GDC, BAFTA. It is not surprising that Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of the most played games today, with over 86,000 gamers playing the game on a daily basis.