Tag Archives: Google
This week’s Tech.pinions podcast features Carolina Milanesi and Bob O’Donnell discussing VMWare’s (NYSE:VMW) VMWorld conference, chatting about new multi-language additions to Google Assistant (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), and analyzing a variety of product announcements from the IFA show in Europe, including those from Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGF), Dell (NYSE:DVMT), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Sony (NYSE:SNE), Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) and others.
Disclaimer: Some of the author’s clients are vendors in the tech industry.
Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $ 1 per share and/or with less than a $ 100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.
Google is always modifying its apps and devices with upgrades and new features. The pace of change is so relentless that trying to keep track can be overwhelming. In case you missed them, here are some of the best new features Google introduced during July.
Site Isolation for the Chrome browser
Site Isolation a major security update for the Chrome browser that protects users from malicious websites that steal sensitive data like passwords and encryption keys. Site Isolation puts content from a website’s domain in a sandboxed process that is prevented from sharing memory with other domains. Malicious websites and threats like Spectre can’t steal what they can’t access.
Site Isolation can increase memory overhead by 10 to 13% in some cases. This change produced a flurry of misleading headlines implying the memory increase is some kind of major problem. It isn’t. The increased memory demands are only likely to result in a performance decline for some users in some circumstances. If you’re a Windows user, it’s a simple matter to find out if Chrome is stressing your system memory with the Task Manager. If it is, easy solutions range from closing some tabs to using any one of a number of Chrome extensions that put background tabs to sleep.
Site Isolation is currently operating in Chrome for Windows, Chrome OS, Mac and Linux. Google estimates that 99% of Chrome users on these operating systems are protected. More information about Site Isolation can be found here.
Chrome 68 arrives
Site Isolation wasn’t July’s only security enhancement for the Chrome browser. Warning labels were attached to unsafe websites and users were protected from malicious redirects in Chrome 68 which rolled out several days ago.
While most websites have migrated from the unsafe HTTP network protocol to the much safer HTTPS, some haven’t. Data is sent in clear text over HTTP which means anyone who intercepts it can read it. This is not good if, for example, you enter your credit card information when you buy something online. HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP. Communication between the website and the browser is encrypted and if it is intercepted, it can’t be read without the encryption key.
Chrome 68 adds a “Not secure” warning label in the URL bar at the top of the page on websites that still use HTTP. If you see the label, be aware that any communication with the website is easily stolen.
A website redirect sends the user to a different website or pops up a new window when the user opens a page. Redirects have many legitimate uses, but they are also commonly employed to pop up annoying ads or surreptitiously send users to malicious websites. Chrome 68 interferes with redirects that are frequently used for malicious purposes by opening a window that gives the user the option of moving to the new website or staying where they are.
More information about Chrome 68 can be found here.
Google Maps adds personal recommendations and neighborhood tracking
Google Maps now surfaces information tuned to your tastes and interests with a redesigned Explore tab and a new For You tab. For You also lets you keep track of what’s going on in the neighborhoods where you hang out. Here’s what’s new.
- The Explore tab gives eating and drinking recommendations for any location you choose. Recommendations can be filtered by type of food.
- If you’re trying out the places on a trending list, Maps will keep track of the ones you’ve visited and the ones you haven’t.
- Explore also surfaces upcoming events and activities that can be filtered for the kind of thing that interest you in an area of your choosing.
- Restaurants and bars have a numerical rating that reflects Google’s best guess about whether you’ll enjoy the place. The ratings are ennabled on Android but not iOS and location sharing has to be turned on.
- For You lets you track establishments and neighborhoods. It’s a great way to find out if a new place that caters to your interests has opened in your neighborhood or if something about one of your favorite places has changed.
The revamped Explore tab is available for Android and iOS worldwide. For You is only available for Android in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Japan.
Visual Snapshot brings personalization to the Assistant
Maps wasn’t the only app that received enhanced personalization features in July. Visual Snapshot brings the defunct Google Now’s summary of information that helps you navigating through your day to the Assistant.
Visual Snapshot adds reminders, weather and traffic reports, events on your schedule and more to the Assistant app. It can interact with both Google and third-party apps to corral information from a variety of sources into one convenient location. Visual Snapshot is accessed through an icon that looks like a radiant inbox in the upper right corner of the Assistant app. Tap the icon to see what the Assistant can tell you about the rest of your day.
Google Earth adds a measurement tool
How long is the route you take when you walk your dog? How many acres is your property? What’s the difference between the straight-line distance from your home to your job and the route you actually take to get to work? You can answer all of these questions with Google Earth’s new measurement tool.
Place an anchor on any two points and Google earth will return the distance between them. You can drop a string of anchors on corners and along curves to measure route distances. Enclose a space and Google Earth gives you both the perimeter and the area.
Google Earth’s new measurement tool is available on the web and Android with support for iOS promised sometime in the future.
Waze added to the Android Auto app
Waze was added to Android Auto for in-car displays last July and now it’s finally available for the Android Auto app on phones. Whether you’re using Android Auto on a head unit or a phone, Waze lets you
- Launch navigation by tapping on a pre-programmed destination or by saying “OK Google” to wake up the Assistant.
- Get video and audio alerts about upcoming problems and find alternate routes on a large map.
- Access your personalized Waze experience and view your ETA panel.
- Report accidents, road hazards or traffic jams through a visual report menu.
Waze for Android Auto is available for Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and up and is optimized for use with a car dock.
“OK Google” no longer needed before every interaction with a Home device
Google rolled out Continued Conversation in late June but it’s such a huge improvement in ease of use for the company’s Home devices that I had to include it here. With Continued Conversation you don’t have to repeat the wake-up phrase before every subsequent command or query once you’ve begun an interaction with the Assistant in Home. The Assistant has an eight-second window during which it will respond to another input without hearing the wake-up phrase. If it doesn’t hear a command or query after eight seconds, it shuts down. The Assistant will also shut down if you say “Thank you” when you’re finished. Talking to the Assistant in Home feels much more like having a conversation than it did before.
Continued Conversation is toggled off by default. You can turn it on through either the Home or Assistant apps on a smartphone, tablet or Chromebook. More information about continued Conversation can be found here.
These seven new features were the most useful for me, but Google added a lot more during July and you may discover something different that makes your life easier or more enjoyable. Take a look at these articles for more of the new features Google added to it’s apps and devices in late June and July.
Picked up by the eagled-eyed 9to5Google, today the Google app was updated to version 8.14 and it contains new code which goes a long way to confirming both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will add what is arguably the range’s biggest omission: wireless charging.
The giveaway in the updated Google App comes via a string of code referencing a new smart ‘Pixel Stand’. This operates like a smart speaker, gaining access to the Google Assistant by pairing with a Pixel while the phone’s display becomes a contextual, glanceable screen in response to the questions asked.
This functionality requires a Pixel owner to give explicit permission to access this data. As the new Google app code reveals:
<string name=”trusted_dock_action_text”>I Agree</string>
<string name=”trusted_dock_cancel_text”>No thanks</string>
<string name=”trusted_dock_message”>Your Assistant can use your personal info to make suggestions, answer questions, and take actions for you when your phone is locked and on your Pixel Stand</string>
<string name=”trusted_dock_title”>Get personalized help when your phone is on your Pixel Stand</string>
But what about the wireless charging part?
This comes together via a previous version of the Google App which the company launched in June. Code within that version gave away that Google is working on a wireless charging dock codenamed ‘dreamliner’. Given neither the Pixel nor Pixel 2 have wireless charging, their development suggested it must be for the Pixel 3. Now we have the ‘Pixel Stand’.
Adding icing to this cake is the prior leak of a Pixel 3XL prototype which was found to have replaced the metal and glass back of the Pixel and Pixel 2 with gloss and matt glass. Apple made a similar transition from metal to glass last year with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X and it was specifically to introduce the conductivity required for wireless charging.
Will this addition be enough to compensate for concerns about the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL’s controversial styling and high prices? Well, the Pixel 2XL combined super slick software with great battery life and a jaw-dropping camera to stand out as the best smartphone of 2017, so I have high hopes…
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has investigated Alphabet’s Google in the past for abuse of web dominance, said on Wednesday he would take a close look at Europe’s recent decision to fine the company 4.34 billion euros ($ 5 billion).
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager addresses a news conference on Google in Brussels, Belgium, July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Speaking at a hearing in Capitol Hill, FTC Chairman Joseph Simons said he had spoken on Tuesday with EU antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager.
“We’re going to read what the EU put out very closely,” Simons told a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.
In addition to the fine, equal to about two weeks’ revenue, EU antitrust regulators ordered Google to stop using its Android mobile operating system to block rivals. The U.S. tech company said it would appeal.
Asked about the dominance of Google and Apple in the smartphone market, Simons said: “There is the two of them so they compete pretty heavily against each other.”
He added that markets dominated by few companies are where antitrust enforcers often expect to find “problematic conduct.”
The FTC had previously investigated Google for abusing its huge market share in web search, but ended the probe in early 2013 with a mild reprimand.
Also at the hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers from both political parties pressed the five agency commissioners to do more to stop robocallers and to ensure better security for sensitive data.
To tackle these and other issues, the commissioners – three Republicans and two Democrats – said the agency needed more resources and more authority, specifically the ability to create rules relatively quickly.
Simons and others also called for legislation to give the FTC the authority to seek civil penalties in the case of a data breach.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Bernadette Baum
PARIS (Reuters) – France’s largest food retailer Carrefour (CARR.PA) is teaming up with Google (GOOGL.O) to boost its online shopping business on its home turf, where rivals are also launching e-commerce offensives.
Carrefour said on Monday that from next year its groceries would be available on the U.S. search engine’s new dedicated shopping site in France, or through Google-operated systems such as connected speakers and voice-assisted devices.
The tie-up comes amid a broader shake-up in France’s competitive food retail market as retailers invest in online platforms and home delivery services to win over clients and ward off in-roads by U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon.
Casino’s upmarket Monoprix chain in March became the first French retailer to agree to sell products on Amazon. Casino also has a home delivery partnership with UK online retailer Ocado (OCDO.L).
Alphabet Inc’s Google, meanwhile, has been pushing to roll out new shopping services to retailers such as Walmart (WMT.N), enabling them to list products on a special shopping site or Google Assistant on mobile phones and voice devices.
The U.S. firm hopes the program will allow retailers to capture more purchases on mobile phones or smart home devices. The Carrefour deal marks the first partnership in France.
The companies said in a statement they would open an innovation lab in Paris this summer, in partnership with Google Cloud, for research into artificial intelligence that can be used in consumer services.
Google will also roll out its G Suite productivity tools – where it rivals Microsoft Office – to the entire Carrefour group and its 160,000 employees, the companies said.
Reporting by Sarah White and Pascale Denis; Editing by Mark Potter
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 109th birthday of physician Virginia Apgar, who developed the scale doctors still use to quickly gauge the health of newborn babies: the Apgar score.
The Apgar score a 0-10 scale with five criteria: Appearance (skin color, ranging from blue or pale to a healthy flesh color), Pulse, Grimace (response to stimulation, ranging from no response to an unhappy expression to full-fledged crying), Activity (arm and leg movement), and Respiration. (Conveniently, those words spell out APGAR.) Most healthy babies score a 7 or above, and anything below a 3 requires immediate medical care.
Apgar graduated from medical school in 1933. During her residency, the chairman of surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian medical center steered her toward anesthesiology, partially because surgery was an especially difficult field for women to find career opportunities in at the time, but also reportedly because he believed she had what it took to advance the field in important ways. Anesthesiology had, until recently, been the domain of nurses, but by the late 1930s had become complex enough to require physicians, and the medical field was working hard to catch up.
By 1938, Apgar was the director of a brand-new division of anesthesia at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she spent the next decade running the department, developing a residency program to train new anesthesiologists, and treating patients.
Apgar was a faculty member at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in the early 1950s when she noticed that although the infant mortality rate was improving, that was mostly due to interventions after the first 24 hours. Within that crucial window of time 24 hours after birth, there had been no change in infant mortality since 1930. Apgar wanted to know why the medical field hadn’t gotten better at saving newborns – and how to fix it. The result was the Apgar score.
Later in her career, Apgar advocated for universal vaccination against rubella to help prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease, which causes miscarriages or severe birth defects. She also worked to promote testing for birth defects.
She died in 1974 at the hospital where she attended medical school and spent two decades of her career.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) on Monday launched a spinoff of its Android operating system for home appliances and other machines, following mixed results with Android offshoots for cars, smartwatches and televisions.
‘Android Things’, which arrives as Google opens its annual conference for developers, could bring its Google Assistant virtual helper to refrigerators and robots and familiar designs to cash registers and vending machines.
“The goal is to enable them to be built faster, cheaper and more secure,” said Venkat Rapaka, a product management director at Google.
Android derivatives aim to provide users with a consistent interface across devices, while Google and its business partners benefit from a standard way to distribute their applications.
Though Google does not charge hardware manufacturers for Android, it expects to generate a return as consumers use new gadgets to use search, watch videos on YouTube and buy content from its Play Store.
The Android operating system powers many of the world’s smartphones and drives consumers to Google’s cash-minting apps.
But Google has struggled to extend Android’s dominance into other areas over the last four years, technology and financial analysts said.
“If you’re charitable, you say it’s early,” said Richard Kramer of Arete Research. “If you’re not, you say Android is irrelevant outside phones.”
Android Automotive is not yet deeply embedded in any cars. Shipments of smartwatches with Google’s Wear OS were outnumbered five-to-one by rival Apple Inc (AAPL.O) devices last year, according to research firm IDC. Four times as many smart TV shipments last year had Samsung’s (005930.KS) operating system as Android TV, according to IHS Markit.
In each category, Google’s Android system posted less market share last year than manufacturer-customized Android variants, which are less fruitful for Google because they typically are not pre-loaded or compatible with its apps.
Android variants thrive in China, where Google does not operate.
Google also has been slowed by resistance from carmakers to hand over a key interface, smartwatches from consumer electronics brands that failed to attract mass appeal and TV software that manufacturers found too rigid, analysts said.
Google officials said the spinoffs have momentum. Activations of Wear OS devices rose 70 percent late last year compared to the year-earlier period. Android TV activations doubled last year compared to the year before, while vehicles with Android embedded should arrive next year, company officials told Reuters.
South Asia and Latin America are bright spots, they said. Android TV had “tremendous traction over the last year” from Asian cable and satellite operators seeking it for set-top boxes, said Google product management director Shalini Govil-Pai.
Android Automotive was gaining attention from Indian automakers and from Brazil, said Patrick Brady, a Google engineering vice president.
Google says it will guarantee three years of free security patches to hardware makers and paid extended options. It is also considering automated security scans of device makers’ apps.
Health technology startup Byteflies, an Android Things tester, said it viewed the system’s optional integration with Google’s cloud computing service and the large Android developer community as big advantages.
Reporting by Paresh Dave, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien
(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google said on Wednesday it will ban advertisements for cryptocurrencies and related content starting in June.
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
(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
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.