Tech round-up for August 15: Google tracking, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Fortnite on Android, Fortnite job interview, EGLX Gaming Expo in Toronto

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is big and beefy, Fortnite gets released for Android devices while an agency is conducting interviews in the free-to-play game, and the EGLX Gaming Expo will be back in Toronto this October. But first, what’s going on with Google tracking people?

Is Google tracking you? It’s complicated, but it shouldn’t be

There’s been lots of talk in the past couple of days about whether Google is tracking you.

An Associated Press story reported that even after users turned off “Location History” in Google Maps, their Android phones still collected information about where they had been.

The problem is a misunderstanding of settings and preferences, and with how software developers create labels for their applications.

“Location History” is a setting for Google Maps. It’s very specific to that application. And it’s a setting that is tied to your Google Account, and can be active across all devices on which you use Google Maps.

You can disable that setting, and Google Maps will no longer record your location or movement.

But other apps have their own settings that may or may not tag your location.

There is a way to disable all of this, though, and that’s through your device settings. The label for that setting is “Location Services” on iOS devices, and “Security & location” on Android devices running 8 (Oreo).

Google told the AP that it was providing, “clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

I believe that Google is providing the tools and controls.

I don’t think they are doing a very good job of being clear about any of it, though.

Samsung shows off Galaxy Note 9

In nearly every sense of the word, the Galaxy Note 9 is big.

Big screen (6.4 inches, the largest screen offered in a handset), big battery (4,000 mAh will last a while and Samsung has improved its safety certification processes to avoid a repeat of the Note 7 recall), big storage capacity (128 GB standard, upgradeable to 512 GB, with a microSD slot that can add 512 GB for a total of 1 TB).

Big on features, too.

Samsung unveiled the new premium handset in New York last week, and one of the coolest things that’s been added is Bluetooth connectivity to the S Pen stylus. That means you can use it as a remote shutter when taking a selfie, or to control your presentation deck when you’re at the front of the boardroom.

You can still use the S Pen as a stylus, too, for taking notes or doodling on a picture.

Something else that makes the Note 9 an appealing option for power users is that you don’t need a dock to use it like a computer, you can simply plug it into a monitor and connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

The camera has the same dual-aperture lens that was introduced with the Galaxy S9 Plus and adds a “flaw detection” feature that will notify you if there’s something wrong with the picture you’ve taken so you can get another shot.

The Note 9 is priced at a premium, though. The 128 GB model is $1300 and the 512 GB is $1630.

For comparison, the iPhone X is at $1320 for 64 GB and $1530 for 256 GB.

Pre-ordering the Note 9 before August 23 will get you a pair of Samsung’s Gear IconX wireless earbuds (worth $300 in stores). The handset will be released on August 24.

In Canada, only the 128 GB model will be sold by carriers. It will be available in “Midnight Black” or “Ocean Blue”.

The 256 GB model will be available only from Samsung in “Midnight Blue”, either online at Samsung or in Samsung Experience stores.

Fortnite comes to Android

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world right now.

It’s so popular that it may be causing carpal tunnel syndrome in MLB pitchers.

It’s so popular that players at the World Cup worked into their post-goal celebrations physical moves from the game.

Fortnite’s main game is a battle royale, where a group of up to 100 players are dropped into a map to fight it out until there’s only one left. The hook is that the area progressively shrinks in size, and if you’re outside the zone you take damage and die.

While it’s been playable since last year on game consoles (PS4, Switch, Xbox One), Windows computers, and mobile devices running iOS, it was just last week that Samsung announced a limited exclusive on Android devices.

Other Android users looking to play Fortnite can sign up to be emailed an invitation to download and play.

Fortnite is free to play, but you can spend real money to customize your character. For Cdn$35 you can get 2500 V-Bucks, and the cost-per-buck goes down as you buy more, so $80 will get you 6,000 V-Bucks.

Items, from costumes to tools to emotes cost between 200 and 2000 V-Bucks.

Agency holding job interviews in Fortnite

Fortnite is so popular, that French ad agency Dare.Win is conducting interviews while playing the game.

The six-month internships are based in Paris and agency rep Brouchon told AdAge, “We’d love to meet and welcome some foreign students. The more cultural diversity you have, the stronger you get.”

Dare.Win counts PlayStation among its clients. Others include Netflix, Spotify, Ubisoft, and YouTube.

EGLX Gaming Expo returns to Toronto this fall

Tickets are on sale now for the EGLX Gaming Expo, which takes over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from October 26 to October 28.

The expo promises dozens of playable games from major publishers and indie developers, as well as art, toy, and collectible vendors. Plus, Toronto Maple Leaf right winger Mitch Marner will be appearing on Sunday, October 28.

Two video game tournaments are also being held at the expo.

The Canada Cup 2018 will feature gamers going head-to-head playing fighting games including Tekken 7, Super Smash Bros, and Street Fighter V.

Also being staged is the Canadian national qualifying finals for the World Electronic Sports Games with a prize pool of Cdn$150,000.

Weekend passes for the EGLX Gaming Expo are only $60 with early bird pricing, and an entire family (two adults, two kids) can get in for $85 a day.

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