Tag Archives: Google

Google to ban ads on cryptocurrencies, related products
March 14, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google said on Wednesday it will ban advertisements for cryptocurrencies and related content starting in June.

The Google logo is pictured atop an office building in Irvine, California, U.S. August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Under the new policy, the company will ban ads for unregulated or speculative financial products like binary options, cryptocurrency and financial spread betting among others. bit.ly/2Inxgg8

In a separate blog post, Google said it took down 3.2 billion ads that violated its advertising policies in 2017, nearly double the number of ads it removed in 2016.

“Improving the ads experience across the web, whether that’s removing harmful ads or intrusive ads, will continue to be a top priority for us,” Scott Spencer, director of sustainable ads, said. bit.ly/2IoTXQQ

In January, Facebook Inc (FB.O) said it will ban ads promoting financial products and services tied to cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings.

The policy will be implemented across its platforms, including Facebook, Audience Network and Instagram, the company said.

Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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Google raises price of YouTube TV, adds sports, Turner
February 23, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google is raising the price of its YouTube TV online service for new customers as it adds channels from Time Warner Inc’s Turner, National Basketball League and Major League Baseball, the company said Wednesday.

Less than one year after launching YouTube TV, the company is increasing its pricing to $ 40 per month from $ 35 per month as it adds Turner’s channels, which include TNT, CNN and TBS, and soon will be adding MLB Network and NBA TV, the company said.

Google is expanding its offering at a time when a growing number of competing services, such as Dish Network Corp’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Hulu, are vying to win over the growing number of viewers who are cancelling their cable subscriptions to watch their favorite shows online.

The four largest cable and satellite companies lost 1.5 million pay TV customers in 2017.

DirectTV Now has over 2 million subscribers, according to AT&T. Sling TV, Hulu and YouTube TV do not disclose how many users they have, but research firm BTIG estimates they respectively had 2.1 million, 500,000 and 350,000 as of the end of 2017.

The costs for these competing offerings range from $ 20 for Sling TV’s most basic offering of 30 channels to $ 39.99 for Hulu’s one with more than 50 channels and its library of shows and movies, which costs $ 7.99 separately.

Google is betting that its strong sports offering will help win over more subscribers, said Heather Moosnick, director of content partnerships, YouTube TV.

“Sports is really one of the key offerings that a millennial would be willing to pay for a live TV service,” she said.

To that end, Google has targeted sports fans with its TV ads this year. Ninety-six percent of YouTube TV’s ads on television so far this year have appeared during sports programming, including the Super Bowl, according to iSpot.tv, which tracks TV ads.

When Google launched YouTube TV last April it was cautious with how much content it was offering so that it could keep the price low enough to entice cord cutters or people considering cutting the cord, Moosnick said.

At launch YouTube TV offered almost 50 channels in five markets. With these additions, YouTube TV will have almost 60 channels, and be in 100 markets, Moosnick said.

The new pricing will take effect for new users who sign up after March 13, the company said.

Reporting By Jessica Toonkel; Editing by Susan Thomas

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Watch Out, Sony and Microsoft: Google Is Developing a Video Game Streaming Service
February 7, 2018 6:10 pm|Comments (0)

Google, which has largely sat on the sidelines of the video game industry, seems ready to get in the fight.

The company is working on a new service codenamed Yeti, which would let people play games streamed to them online, potentially eliminating the need for a dedicated console like the PlayStation 4 or a high-end gaming computer.

News of the service first broke via The Information. Gaming industry insiders, who were not authorized to speak on-the-record, tell Fortune that Google is targeting a holiday 2019 release for Yeti, though the company is currently behind schedule and that date could shift.

Google recently hired Phil Harrison, a long-time gaming industry veteran. Sources indicate he is closely involved with the project. Harrison spent 15 years as the head of Sony’s network of game studios and three years as a senior member of Microsoft’s Xbox team. Since leaving those companies, he has served as an adviser and board member to various gaming companies.

Google declined to discuss the initiative, citing a company policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation.

Some details about Yeti are still fuzzy. It could be a dedicated streaming box or could operate through the company’s Chromecast device. How it will overcome issues of in-game lag is one of the biggest hurdles. But Fortune has learned that several major publishers are working with Google on the project.

Yeti would compete with Sony’s Playstation Now streaming service, which carries a $ 19.95 monthly fee (or $ 100 annual fee). That service, built off of one of the pioneers in game streaming, has not found an especially large audience, in part because of the high price and older catalog of games. Microsoft has previously discussed launching a game streaming service, but has not made any announcements about a new streaming product.

Google has flirted with the game industry before. It almost acquired Twitch in 2014 for $ 1 billion, but the deal fell apart in the final stages. (Amazon would later acquire that game streaming service.) Since then, Google’s YouTube division has dramatically increased its presence in the video game world, live streaming from E3, the video game industry trade show, and enabling live game streaming.

There’s certainly a big financial incentive for Google in video games. The industry saw revenues of $ 36 billion in the U.S. alone in 2017. Globally, it generates over $ 100 billion each year.

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Watch Out, Sony and Microsoft: Google Is Developing a Video Game Streaming Service
February 7, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

Google, which has largely sat on the sidelines of the video game industry, seems ready to get in the fight.

The company is working on a new service codenamed Yeti, which would let people play games streamed to them online, potentially eliminating the need for a dedicated console like the PlayStation 4 or a high-end gaming computer.

News of the service first broke via The Information. Gaming industry insiders, who were not authorized to speak on-the-record, tell Fortune that Google is targeting a holiday 2019 release for Yeti, though the company is currently behind schedule and that date could shift.

Google recently hired Phil Harrison, a long-time gaming industry veteran. Sources indicate he is closely involved with the project. Harrison spent 15 years as the head of Sony’s network of game studios and three years as a senior member of Microsoft’s Xbox team. Since leaving those companies, he has served as an adviser and board member to various gaming companies.

Google declined to discuss the initiative, citing a company policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation.

Some details about Yeti are still fuzzy. It could be a dedicated streaming box or could operate through the company’s Chromecast device. How it will overcome issues of in-game lag is one of the biggest hurdles. But Fortune has learned that several major publishers are working with Google on the project.

Yeti would compete with Sony’s Playstation Now streaming service, which carries a $ 19.95 monthly fee (or $ 100 annual fee). That service, built off of one of the pioneers in game streaming, has not found an especially large audience, in part because of the high price and older catalog of games. Microsoft has previously discussed launching a game streaming service, but has not made any announcements about a new streaming product.

Google has flirted with the game industry before. It almost acquired Twitch in 2014 for $ 1 billion, but the deal fell apart in the final stages. (Amazon would later acquire that game streaming service.) Since then, Google’s YouTube division has dramatically increased its presence in the video game world, live streaming from E3, the video game industry trade show, and enabling live game streaming.

There’s certainly a big financial incentive for Google in video games. The industry saw revenues of $ 36 billion in the U.S. alone in 2017. Globally, it generates over $ 100 billion each year.

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Watch Out, Sony and Microsoft: Google Is Developing a Video Game Streaming Service
February 7, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

Google, which has largely sat on the sidelines of the video game industry, seems ready to get in the fight.

The company is working on a new service codenamed Yeti, which would let people play games streamed to them online, potentially eliminating the need for a dedicated console like the PlayStation 4 or a high-end gaming computer.

News of the service first broke via The Information. Gaming industry insiders, who were not authorized to speak on-the-record, tell Fortune that Google is targeting a holiday 2019 release for Yeti, though the company is currently behind schedule and that date could shift.

Google recently hired Phil Harrison, a long-time gaming industry veteran. Sources indicate he is closely involved with the project. Harrison spent 15 years as the head of Sony’s network of game studios and three years as a senior member of Microsoft’s Xbox team. Since leaving those companies, he has served as an adviser and board member to various gaming companies.

Google declined to discuss the initiative, citing a company policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation.

Some details about Yeti are still fuzzy. It could be a dedicated streaming box or could operate through the company’s Chromecast device. How it will overcome issues of in-game lag is one of the biggest hurdles. But Fortune has learned that several major publishers are working with Google on the project.

Yeti would compete with Sony’s Playstation Now streaming service, which carries a $ 19.95 monthly fee (or $ 100 annual fee). That service, built off of one of the pioneers in game streaming, has not found an especially large audience, in part because of the high price and older catalog of games. Microsoft has previously discussed launching a game streaming service, but has not made any announcements about a new streaming product.

Google has flirted with the game industry before. It almost acquired Twitch in 2014 for $ 1 billion, but the deal fell apart in the final stages. (Amazon would later acquire that game streaming service.) Since then, Google’s YouTube division has dramatically increased its presence in the video game world, live streaming from E3, the video game industry trade show, and enabling live game streaming.

There’s certainly a big financial incentive for Google in video games. The industry saw revenues of $ 36 billion in the U.S. alone in 2017. Globally, it generates over $ 100 billion each year.

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‘Who Is Jesus?’ Google Home Couldn’t Answer and People Weren’t Happy
January 27, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

Anger over Google Home’s inability to answer questions about Jesus led the company to bar the device from answering questions about all religious figures, according to a statement released Friday.

Some users became angry when the smart speaker was unable to answer questions such as, “Who is Jesus?” but could respond to similar queries about Buddha, Muhammad and Satan, CNBC reports. Some unhappy social media users alleged that Google was “censoring” Jesus.

Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liason, tweeted a statement by way of explanation on Friday. “The reason the Google Assistant didn’t respond with information about ‘Who is Jesus’ or ‘Who is Jesus Christ’ wasn’t out of disrespect but instead to ensure respect,” the statement reads. “Some of the Assistant’s spoken responses come from the web, and for certain topics, this content can be more vulnerable to vandalism and spam.”

Until the issue is fixed, according to the statement, all responses for questions about religious figures will be temporarily unavailable.

Google’s reliance on “featured snippets” — the pullout information that appears at the top of a page of search results — has gotten the company in hot water before. Inaccurate and offensive information can find its way into featured snippets, which has led Google’s smart products to repeat sometimes inflammatory comments.

Google Home is now responding to questions about religious figures with, “Religion can be complicated, and I am still learning,” users report.

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Google gets into audiobooks as rivalry with Amazon heats up
January 23, 2018 6:00 pm|Comments (0)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google introduced audiobooks to its online store on Tuesday, making its smart speakers and virtual assistant more competitive with Amazon.com Inc’s Echo devices and Alexa voice assistant.

Listening to audiobooks is among the most popular nighttime uses for smart speakers, a burgeoning type of home appliance that provides audio streams of music, news and other data based on user commands to an embedded virtual assistant.

But Google’s Home speakers have lagged Amazon Echo in terms of audiobook features. Amazon-owned Audible, the top provider of audiobooks, has not been supported on Home and other speakers with Google Assistant.

Google launching an audiobooks store widens the battle, which has also seen Google’s YouTube unit stop supporting an Amazon product.

Greg Hartrell, head of product management for Google Play Books, listed subscription-less buying as the top selling point for the new audiobooks store.

“You can buy a single audiobook at an affordable price, with no commitments,” he said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Audible offers one-off purchases, but promotes a $ 14.95 monthly subscription that includes one free download and 30 percent off further purchases. Amazon and Audible did not respond to requests to comment.

Google began selling ebooks in 2010. Hartrell told Reuters in a statement that audiobooks are being added because “our users are asking for them.”

About 16 percent of U.S. adults own a smart speaker, according to an Edison Research survey conducted in late 2017. The firm in conjunction with Triton Digital also found last spring that 30 percent of frequent audiobook listeners had used a smart speaker to take in an audiobook in the previous 12 months.

Audiobook sales surged nearly 20 percent annually for three consecutive years, reaching $ 2.1 billion in 2016, according to the latest Audio Publishers Assn. data.

Thad McIlroy, an online book industry consultant, said audiobooks represent the only publishing category with “strong growth” so it makes sense for Google to challenge Amazon despite having a weak ebooks business.

Google-purchased audiobooks can be accessed through Google Play Books on the web, apps for Android and iOS devices or through Google Assistant in speakers, Android smartphones and “soon” cars with Android Auto, Hartrell wrote.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Susan Thomas

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​Google moves to Debian for in-house Linux desktop
January 19, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Video: Supercomputing has an undisputed champion — Linux

Google has officially confirmed the company is shifting its in-house Linux desktop from the Ubuntu-based Goobuntu to a new Linux distro, the DebianTesting-based gLinux.

Margarita Manterola, a Google Engineer, quietly announced Google would move from Ubuntu to Debian-testing for its desktop Linux at DebConf17 in a lightning talk. Manterola explained that Google was moving to gLinux, a rolling release based on Debian Testing.

This move isn’t as surprising as it first looks. Ubuntu is based on Debian. In addition, Google has long been a strong Debian supporter. In 2017, Debian credited Google for making [sic] “possible our annual conference, and directly supports the progress of Debian and Free Software.”

Debian Testing is the beta for the next stable version of Debian. With gLinux, that means it’s based on the Debian 10 “Buster” test operating system.

Google takes each Debian Testing package, rebuilds it, tests it, files and fixes bugs, and once those are resolved, integrates it into the gLinux release candidate. GLinux went into beta on Aug. 16, 2017.

Don’t bother looking for this new Linux distro. You won’t be able to find it. GLinux, like Goobuntu before it, is strictly for internal Google use.

Linux is not Google’s only desktop operating system. Google also uses macOS, Windows, and the Linux-based Chrome OS across its fleet of nearly a quarter-million workstations and laptops. Google isn’t using its mysterious Fuchsia operating system in production.

To manage its desktop operating systems, Google uses the Puppet DevOps tool. Specifically, Google works with the Standalone (Masterless) Puppet mode.

Google’s IT staff uses Pupper’s Standalone approach for two reasons. Standalone doesn’t require a large infrastructure of Puppet configuration servers. Instead, the desktops pull the cryptographically verified configuration files from a web host, then verifies the data locally, and applies the configurations. In addition, by not using a server-client model, this enables the company to commit to its BeyondCorp access model, which does away with using internal networks for corporate access.

BeyondCorp is Google’s enterprise security model, which uses the concept of zero trust networks. It works by shifting access controls from the network perimeter to individual devices and users. This enables employees to work securely from any location without a traditional virtual private network (VPN).

For Goobuntu, and now gLinux, Google uses PXE to netboot the standard Linux desktop installer image. These new Linux images are automatically built in the form of compressed tar-format archives. These images are then placed on an HTTPS server alongside Debian pre-seed files that automate the host setup portion of the installation. This installation process is integrated with Puppet and host update infrastructure to ensure every desktop is configured as intended at install. This allows Google to reinstall gLinux from the network in about 30 minutes.

Google wouldn’t say what desktop environment gLinux will be using. It’s believed, however, that it will use GNOME, backed by the Wayland display server.

Google wouldn’t officially comment on when the changeover from Goobuntu to gLinux would be completed. Sources say it should be well under its way by this summer.

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Google, Temasek coming in as new investors in Indonesia's Go-Jek: sources
January 18, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O), Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd and Chinese online platform Meituan-Dianping are investing in a fundraising round of Indonesian ride-hailing start-up Go-Jek, sources familiar with the matter said.

Go-Jek’s existing investors such as global private equity firms KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) and Warburg Pincus LLC are also participating in the funding round of Go-Jek, which is raising about $ 1.2 billion in total, the sources said.

Google, KKR, Warburg and Temasek [TEM.UL] declined to comment. Meituan-Dianping and Go-Jek did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The people declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Additional reporting by Julie Zhu in HONG KONG; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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These are Google Android 8.1's five best features
December 29, 2017 6:00 am|Comments (0)

I’ve been using Android 8.1 for several weeks now on my Pixel 2 smartphone, and I’m impressed.

It’s not so much that Android 8.1 is a big jump forward for most end-users. It’s not. Google’s major 2017 Android improvements came with Android 8.0. With a smartphone containing a Pixel Visual Core chip, it’s a dramatically different story.

1) Visual Core

The Visual Core is Google’s first custom-designed consumer processor. It’s a dedicated image processing chip. Today, it’s only in the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Tomorrow, it may be appearing in other smartphones.

CNET: Google Pixel 2 XL review: Promising phone with new caveats

With Android 8.1, the Visual Core chip has been activated and the results are dramatically better photos. First, it takes much faster High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos. By taking a series of photographs in micro-seconds, HDR-enhanced cameras do a much better job of capturing the full range of darkest blacks and lightest whites than older digital cameras.

With Google’s HDR+, your smartphone camera takes a rapid burst of pictures. The Visual Core chip then combines them five times faster than previous generation of processors into one superior picture. You may not notice the speed, but what you will notice is how much more detail you’ll get from low-light photographs.

You used to only be able to take HDR+ photos using the Google photo app. Now, third-party camera apps, which use the Android Camera application programming interface (API), such as Instagram and Snapchat, can also take advantage of HDR+’s superior processing for better photos.

2) Neural Network API

Any device which can upgrade to Android 8.1, which for now are the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, the Pixel 1 and 1 XL, the Pixel C tablet, and the Nexus 6P and 5X, can make use of Google’s Neural Networks API (NNAPI). While as a user you won’t notice anything immediately from this improvement, Android developers will. NNAPI is designed to make it possible to run machine-learning (ML) on mobile devices. This API provides a base layer, higher-level, ML framework. This, in turn, can be used by Google’s TensorFlow Lite.

What this means for you as a user is you can expect to see some very interesting smart applications coming your way soon. For example, by this time next year, you can expect speech recognition and language translation apps, which will approach Star Trek-levels of coolness.

3) Bluetooth battery levels measurements

Do you get sick and tired of not knowing if your Bluetooth earphones or headset are about to die on you? I know I do. With Android 8.1, you’ll find a Bluetooth battery display in the Bluetooth settings. I’d still rather have it on the top status bar, but this is a lot better than fumbling with my Bluetooth gadgets.

4) Better screen management

On some smartphones, notably the Pixel 2 XL, some people were seeing screen burn-in. If you don’t recall this ugly blast from old style CRT display’s past, screen burn happens when the same screen elements — such as the navigation icons or the clock — are always on. After time, these elements are “burned” into the display so their ghostly presence remains even when they should be gone.

With Android 8.1, smartphones now vary how these are displayed. The result? The end of screen burn.

5) New look

There aren’t any major changes to the interface, but there are some useful ones. These include the Pixel Launcher. This makes it easier than ever to access Google search functions and installed apps. Android’s quick settings are transparent now so you can still see a hint of the main screen beneath it. There are also new launcher themes.

All-in-all, Android 8.1 is a good step forward. What I’m really looking forward to though is seeing more smartphone vendors bringing it to their flagship phones. Thanks to Google’s Project Treble.

TechRepublic: Android Oreo rollback protection prevents hackers from exploiting past vulnerabilities

Before Treble, which first appears in Android 8.0, when Google launched a new Android version, the chip OEMs, such as Mediatek and Qualcomm, had to add drivers so their silicon could run it. Then the device vendors added their customizations. Finally, the carriers had to bless the update. Then, and only then, could you get a new version of Android on your old phone. What a mess!

Project Treble has redesigned Android to make it easier, faster, and cheaper for manufacturers to update devices to a new version of Android. It does this by separating the device-specific, lower-level software — written mostly by the silicon manufacturers — from the Android OS Framework.

By working with the chipset OEMs, the vendor interface is validated by a Vendor Test Suite (VTS). In short, Google is cutting out some of the fat, which makes Android updates so slow.

If the phone vendors cooperate by not adding too much of their own spice to the stew, many of you may finally see Android 8 and 8.1 on your phones before I’m writing about the release of Android 9.

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