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  1. A rare public spat in the technology industry escalated on Tuesday when Google said it would block its video streaming application YouTube from two Inc devices and criticized the online retailer for not selling Google hardware. The feud is the latest in Silicon Valley to put customers in the crossfire of major competitors. Amazon and Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc, square off in many areas, from cloud computing and online search, to selling voice-controlled gadgets like the Google Home and Amazon Echo Show. The stakes are high: many in the technology industry expect that interacting with computers by voice will become widespread, and it is unclear if Amazon, Google or another company will dominate the space. Amazon?s suite of voice-controlled devices has outsold Google?s so far, according to a study by research firm eMarketer from earlier this year. In a statement, Google said, ?Amazon doesn?t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn?t make (its) Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of (our sister company) Nest?s latest products. ?Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV,? Google said. ?We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.? Amazon said in a statement, ?Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.? It said it hoped to resolve the issue with Google as soon as possible but customers could access YouTube through the internet - not an app - on the devices in the meantime. The break has been a long time coming. Amazon kicked the Chromecast, Google?s television player, off its retail website in 2015, along with Apple Inc?s TV player. Amazon had explained the move by saying it wanted to avoid confusing customers who might expect its Prime Video service to be available on devices sold by Amazon. Amazon and Apple mended ties earlier this year when it was announced Prime Video would come to Apple TV. Not so with Google. In September, Google cut off YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show, which had displayed videos on its touchscreen without video recommendations, channel subscriptions and other features. Amazon later reintroduced YouTube to the device, but the voice commands it added violated the use terms and on Tuesday Google again removed the service. The Fire TV loses access to its YouTube app on Jan. 1, Google said. Amazon has sold that device for longer than the Echo Show, meaning more customers may now be affected.
  2. The government ordered the probe as part of wider media reforms, amid growing concern for the future of journalism and the quality of news following years of declining profits and newsroom job cuts and the rise of fake news SYDNEY: Australia?s competition regulator said on Monday it would investigate whether US online giants Facebook and Alphabet Inc?s Google has disrupted the news media market to the detriment of publishers and consumers. Like their rivals globally, Australia?s traditional media companies have been squeezed by online rivals, as advertising dollars have followed eyeballs to digital distributors such as Google, Facebook and Netflix Inc. The government ordered the probe as part of wider media reforms, amid growing concern for the future of journalism and the quality of news following years of declining profits and newsroom job cuts and the rise of fake news. ?We will examine whether platforms are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media content creators and advertisers,? Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. The inquiry also would study how Facebook and Google operated to ?fully understand their influence in Australia?, he added. A Google spokesman said, ?We look forward to engaging with this process as relevant.? Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The idea for an ACCC investigation was hatched during media reform negotiations in parliament earlier this year, which resulted in a relaxation of ownership laws to allow the country?s big players to boost their market share to better compete against online disruptors. Independent media analyst Peter Cox told Reuters it was unclear what measures the competition regulator could recommend to the government even if it found the country?s media sector was increasingly anti-competitive. ?You could see this as a stepping stone towards another type of reform, such as tax,? said Cox. Jurisdictions around the world, including the European Union, are grappling with how to tax technology giants with global operations. Currently corporate taxes are paid where firms have a physical presence, which allows digital multinationals to book most of their profits where they have set up headquarters as opposed to where they make their money. The Australian probe will have power to demand information from businesses and hold hearings. It is due to make its final report in 18 months.
  3. A still from 'Dear Zindagi' Alia Bhatt-Shah Rukh Khan starrer ?Dear Zindagi? is the most popular movie of the year on Google Play in India, Google announced, followed by ?Moana? and ?Wonder Woman?. 'Photo Editor - Beauty Camera & Photo Filters' and 'Messenger Lite' were top trending apps in 2017, the company said. Locally-developed 'Baahubali: The Game' beat international games like 'WWE Champions', 'Super Mario Run' and 'Pokémon Duel' on Google Play. ?Saahore Baahubali? by M.M. Keeravaani was the most streamed song of 2017, followed by ?Ik Vaari Aa? by Arijit Singh, ?Mercy? by Badshah, ?Main Tera Boyfriend? by Arijit Singh, and ?Cheez Badi? by Neha Kakkar. In the ?top books of 2017? category, ?An Unsuitable Boy? by Karan Johar bagged the top spot. It was followed by ?India 2017? by New Media Wing, ?Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored? by Rishi Kapoor, ?I Do What I Do? by Raghuram G. Rajan and ?Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga? by Sadhguru. Every year, Google publishes a list of most popular apps, games, music, movies and books on its digital distribution service Google Play. At the global front, HBO?s hit show 'Game of Thrones' took the top spot ? for the second year in a row, coming ahead of 'Rick and Morty' and 'The Walking Dead' as the most popular TV shows. Kendrick Lamar's 'Humble' beat Ed Sheeran's 'Shape of You' as Google Play's most streamed song of 2017.
  4. Android users' can wave all their data usage problems goodbye with the launch of Datally ? a smart and simple Android app that helps smartphone users understand, control, and save mobile data. Datally works on all smartphones running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher, and is available on the Google Play Store globally. The app claims to help users solve one of the biggest pains for smartphone users around the world ? worries about data usage. Extensive user research revealed that many smartphone users worry about running out of data. This is an especially acute problem for the newest generation to come online, known as the ?Next Billion Users.? Not only are smartphone users constantly thinking about data balances, but they do not understand where their data is going, nor do they feel in control over allocating data to the apps they really care about. Datally empowers users to solve these problems with four key features: Data Saver Apps frequently use data in the background for updating content and information. Datally?s Data Saverfeature lets users control data on an app-by-app basis, so that data only goes to apps they care about. People testing the app saved up to 30% of mobile data, depending on the way they used Datally. Data Saver bubble Once Data Saver is turned on, Datally?s Data Saver bubble will appear when a user goes into an app that is allowed to use data. Whenever that app uses data, the Data Saver bubble will show the current rate of data usage, and users can easily choose to block that app?s data use if things start to get out of control. The Data Saver bubble is like a speedometer for mobile data. Personalized alerts Datally alerts users when apps start consuming a lot of data, and it allows them to see how much data they?ve used on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Wi-Fi finder There are also times when users want to use more data than they have on their mobile plans, such as when they want to watch HD videos. Public Wi-Fi is an important access point for high-bandwidth connectivity, so Datally?s Find Wi-Fi feature reveals the networks nearby, rated by the Datally community. Once connected, users can rate the Wi-Fi networks themselves based on their own experience.
  5. Google made good on its promise to fix the hamburger emoji, which led to an online debacle last month. The people who argued that the cheese goes on top of the burger won, and the emoji has been fixed, according to Emojipedia, a site which tracks the emoji universe and all the changes. The burger emoji has been updated in the Android 8.1. The emoji now matches all its other counterparts where the cheese is on the top. On October 28, a user pointed out: ?I think we need to have a discussion about how Google's burger emoji is placing the cheese underneath the burger, while Apple puts it on top.? The tweet had more than 51,000 likes and 25,000 retweets. Replying to this, Google CEO Sundar Pichai replied he would ?drop everything? to address this issue. As a result, internet started debating over the correct way to stack a cheeseburger. Google even went to experiment with putting the cheese at the bottom, according to one of the users. The update has finally put the debate to rest!
  6. Alphabet Inc said on Tuesday users doing a Google search would now be able to filter results with a new ?finance? tab, which works in the same way that its ?images? or ?news? tab does. The new search navigation tab gives users much of the same information that Google Finance does, including news on a company as well as details on its financials, the company said in a blog post. Alphabet also said it will retire a few features from Google Finance, including the portfolio feature that allowed users to track their investments.
  7. Quartz recently conducted an investigation that revealed some new unsettling information about Android devices that concerns privacy. It was discovered that Google collects location data from cell towers even if you have disabled locations services on your smartphone. © Pexels The data was being shared even after the devices were reset to factory default settings. “Android devices with a cellular data or a wi-fi connection were seen to send the data to Google each time they came within range of a new cell tower — including devices with no SIM cards installed (these offloaded the location data via wi-fi, where available)” the report said. © Android Currently, there is no way for Android users to prevent their location data to be shared with Google unless you remove the SIM card and disconnect your Android smartphone from Wi-Fi. A Google spokesperson pointed out that location data was never used or stored by Google and the company intends to end the practice by the end of November 2017. The company spokesperson said, “In January of this year, we began looking into using Cell ID codes as an additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery. However, we never incorporated Cell ID into our network sync system, so that data was immediately discarded, and we updated it to no longer request Cell ID.” © Google These findings have been a bit worrying especially if you are the kind of person who doesn't like to be tracked. Even though Google is looking to end the practice, this may create a sense of distrust amongst loyal Android users. In a world with an increasing shift toward a society that lives online, this practice by Google gives us nightmares. Google literally knows where you are, at all times! To know more about how Google collects your location data, we suggest you read the full report here. Source: Quartz
  8. Google has been tracking locations of Android phones even with location services turned off, even when no SIM card has been inserted in the phone, an investigation carried out by Quartz revealed. According to the report, Google has been tracking and collecting information including addresses of nearby cell towers since the beginning of 2017. When Quartz reached out to Google, it confirmed the practice. The report states that Google - a subsidiary of Alphabet - has access to data beyond "a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy." "The cell tower addresses have been included in information sent to the system Google uses to manage push notification and messages on Android phones for the last 11 months," Quartz reported, citing a Google spokesperson. However, responding to the queries via email, the Google spokesperson explained; "In January of this year, we began looking into using Cell ID codes as an additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery," adding that the Cell ID information was not incorporated into the Google system and was immediately discarded. Google has stated that the practice of requesting Cell ID information will be discontinued by the end of November 2017. Most modern smartphones track locations to enable applications to send personalised location-based information from weather forecasts to information about nearby business and traffic updates. These permissions can be denied by users not willing to be tracked. However, the practice that Google was indulging in did not give users this option, nor the knowledge that they were being tracked. The investigation discovered that devices that had been factory reset and where location tracking had been disabled were still sending information to Google every time they connected to a new cell tower. In the case of phones without SIM cards, the information was sent to Google every time the device was connected to a WiFi network. Security experts expressed concern as to why the collection of such data was not by consent and the option to opt out was not given to users. "It seems quite intrusive for Google to be collecting such information that is only relevant to carrier networks when there are no SIM card or enabled services," said Matthew Hickey a security expert at Hacker House while speaking to Quartz.
  9. We got the Pixel 2 XL unit for review and since then we've been testing the smartphone for various purposes. The 2017 iteration of the Pixel smartphone has a few updates in its design while It also packs a great camera for a smartphone. The Pixel 2 follows the trend of featuring a full view display while still maintaining a traditional design at the back. The camera on the smartphone has been upgraded and now has the ability to take portrait shots as well. Google has also improved the operating system in almost every way and the Pixel 2 XL performs at par with top-tier smartphones. We recieved the Pixel 2 XL for review purposes and here's what we think about Google's second Pixel smartphone: Design and Display © YouTube We want to talk about the one and probably the only major thing that disappointed us. The Google Pixel 2 XL is not very forward thinking when it comes to design. Sure, the near bezel-less display might be an eye-catcher, however, the back of the smartphone left us a little disappointed. Even though the smartphone feels great to hold in your hand, the design felt uninspired and dated. The Pixel 2 XL has the same hybrid coating on the back of an aluminium body with the same fingerprint sensor and rounded corners. The camera's position has changed and is placed to the right of the phone and the matt grey Google logo has been replaced with a shiny one. The smartphone does look very attractive but somehow did not wow us in terms of design finesse. We now live in a world where Android flagships like the Galaxy Note 8 and S8 turn heads simply because of their design fidelity — Google has to step up their game in this department. The Pixel 2 XL has a 6-inch P-OLED display that has an aspect ratio of 18:9 and fills most of the front real estate with the screen. The bottom bezels have the headphone jack missing and houses a set of two stereo speakers instead. The screen has a resolution of 1440 X 2880 and looks brighter, sharper and more impressive than the original Pixel. When compared to other smartphones like the Note 8 and S8, the display was lacklustre and it was quickly fixed after a swift update by Google. Battery Life The Pixel 2 houses a 3,530 mAh battery that lasted us at least 20 hours on a single charge. We used the phone extensively by streaming music on Soundcloud, responding to emails and instant messages, took many photographs and used it for GPS navigation. We also played one of our favourite games i.e. 'Limbo' for a very long period of time. It should be noted that due to the lack of the headphone jack, we also listened to music using Bluetooth headphones and the smartphone still managed to give us excellent battery life. The Pixel 2 XL also brings back the fast charge feature and we could charge the battery from 1% to 100% in just under two hours. Camera Quality The Google Pixel 2 and XL uses a single primary camera which can also take portrait shots. Google did not include a dual camera setup like their competitors and chose to use a 12.2-megapixel main camera sensor to shoot some amazing images. The superiority in imaging is achieved by post-processing by the software to give images a clearer and sharper feel. The Pixel 2 is also probably the only smartphone camera that can take remarkable low-light images. The Auto HDR+ mode worked like a charm and helped in getting clear and precise low light images. The smartphone can also take 4K video at 30 frames per second which is probably not at par with other flagship devices. The camera lens also has OIS which works in perfect balance with EIS that improves video quality. The eight-megapixel selfie camera is also outstanding, while motion stills are a fun gimmick to use. The selfie portrait mode is probably the best on the Google Pixel 2 when compared to any smartphone on the planet. Here are a few sample shots for your reference: Some amazing shots taken by the #Pixel2XL! #ShotOnPixel #TeamPixel A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (Bhallanator) (@editorinchief) on Nov 22, 2017 at 12:42am PST Not really a selfie kind of guy but the #Pixel2's selfie portrait has got me addicted. #smartphones #teampixel A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (Bhallanator) (@editorinchief) on Nov 6, 2017 at 8:26pm PST The #Pixel2 probably has the best low-light smartphone camera. #Shotonpixel2 #teampixel A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (Bhallanator) (@editorinchief) on Oct 30, 2017 at 5:06am PDT Low light photography on the #Pixel2 is too good. #shotonpixel2 A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (Bhallanator) (@editorinchief) on Oct 27, 2017 at 9:05am PDT OMG #Shotonpixel2 A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (Bhallanator) (@editorinchief) on Oct 27, 2017 at 12:43pm PDT Software and Performance © YouTube Google is known to develop perfect software across all their platforms and the Pixel 2 is no exception. The Pixel 2 XL has the latest version of Android Oreo 8.0 out of the box. The operating system feels smooth, well rounded, stabled and optimised for the smartphone. Android Oreo is entwined with Google Assistant thoroughly and can be easily accessed by squeezing the sides. The Pixel 2 XL is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chipset and has 4GB of RAM. Since the operating system is stock Android, the smartphone feels extremely fast and intuitive. The app management feels extremely fast and this and you will notice it the most when you delete or force quit apps. The Pixel 2 XL may not be packed with hard-hitting specs like the One Plus 5, but it does well when it comes to performance. The Final Say © YouTube If you are an Android fanboy and want a device that is powerful and takes full advantage of Android, The Pixel 2/XL is the flagship device for you. The smartphone may not look like a premium device like the Galaxy Note 8 or the S8, but it performs well where it counts. The Pixel 2/XL probably has the best smartphone camera in the world, and if you like to take a lot of pictures, you can't get a better phone than this. Good battery life, an unbelievable camera and excellent performance still make the Pixel 2 one of the strongest Android flagship phones out there.
  10. The Google logo can be seen at one of its office buildings in Irvine, California, US, August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files WASHINGTON: Google, Facebook, and other tech firms joined global news organizations Thursday in an initiative aimed at identifying "trustworthy" news sources, in the latest effort to combat online misinformation. Microsoft and Twitter also agreed to participate in the "Trust Project" with some 75 news organisations to tag news stories which meet standards for ethics and transparency. "In today's digitized and socially networked world, it's harder than ever to tell what's accurate reporting, advertising, or even misinformation," said Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the project leader. "An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story." Each online platform will develop "trust indicators" to help readers "assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on," Lehrman added. News organizations participating include the Washington Post, Mic and the Independent Journal Review in the US, Canada's Globe and Mail, the German press agency DPA, the Economist, Italy's La Repubblica and La Stampa, and Trinity Mirror, which includes the Mirror newspapers in Britain. Participants agree to core practices including transparency on funding and disclosure of the mission of the organization; details about the journalists behind stories; labelling of opinion and factual articles, and references on how the reporting is carried out. "News consumers need a way to tell media companies what we expect from them, the types of news we can count on and will pay for," said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist, whose philanthropic fund was an early supporter of the effort. Other funding comes from Google, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund, and the Markkula Foundation. 'Authoritative journalism' Google, Twitter, and Facebook have come under fire for allowing the spread of bogus news ? some of which was directed by Russia ? ahead of the 2016 US election and in other countries. Google's vice president for news Richard Gingras said the yet-to-be-determined labels will help the online search giant "to better understand authoritative journalism, and help us to better surface it to consumers." Alex Hardiman, head of news products at Facebook, called the initiative "a great next step in our ongoing efforts overall to enhance people's understanding of the sources and trustworthiness of news on our platform." Greg Sterling, a contributing editor for the Search Engine Land blog, said the effort is good but may be "too complex to accomplish its ultimate objective." "Readers should be able to see what's behind the labelling scheme, but they should be able to tell at a glance whether an item is from a credible source, not have to spend time evaluating it based on a range of factors that may be obscure to them," Sterling wrote.
  11. Israel plans to tax internet giants such as Google and Facebook within a year. Photo: AFP file JERUSALEM: Israel plans to tax internet giants such as Google and Facebook within a year, the head of the tax authority said in remarks published on Wednesday. Israel Tax Authority chief Moshe Asher told Haaretz newspaper that taxing tech giants would make Israel among the ?first? in the world, as the European Union still grapples with the thorny process. ?Our goal is to obtain as much data as we can, even if many of these figures are held outside of Israel,? Asher told the Israeli newspaper. ?Within a year we?ll issue these companies tax bills,? he said. A spokeswoman for the Israel Tax Authority confirmed the report, telling AFP they were ?in a process of creating tax assessments for the multinational companies?, but refused to comment further. In Europe, clashing interests are hindering efforts to form a unified policy. France has led a major push to increase taxes in the European Union on mega tech firms such as Google and Facebook, which are accused of booking huge profits while denying state-coffers much-needed money. But smaller EU member states that serve as low-tax headquarters for the giants insisted that the EU should only approach the issue on a far broader international level. The European Commission, the EU?s executive arm, is due to present proposals for taxing tech giants such as Google and Apple next year. Members of the 35-country OECD, the policy club of industrialised nations, are meanwhile negotiating their own approach to taxing digital companies with hopes for a formal proposal sometime next year.
  12. SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc?s Google reclaimed on Tuesday its spot as the default search engine on Mozilla Corp?s Firefox Internet browser in the United States and other regions as the browser maker stunned Verizon Communication Inc?s Yahoo by cancelling their deal. Google confirmed the move but declined, along with Mozilla, to disclose revenue-sharing terms of the multiyear agreement. Google?s growing spending to be the primary search provider on apps and devices such as Apple Inc?s iPhone has been a major investor concern. Google will be Firefox?s default search provider on desktop and mobile in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said Mozilla spokeswoman Erica Jostedt. Yahoo had been the default in the United States, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Firefox did not have an official partner in Canada. Verizon said Mozilla terminating the Yahoo agreement caught it off guard. ?We are surprised that Mozilla has decided to take another path, and we are in discussions with them regarding the terms of our agreement,? said Charles Stewart, a spokesman for Verizon?s Oath unit, which oversees Yahoo. For a decade until 2014, Google had been Firefox?s worldwide search provider. Google then remained the default in Europe while regional rivals such as Yahoo, Russia?s Yandex and China?s Baidu Inc replaced it elsewhere. Former Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer won a five-year contract with Mozilla in 2014 when Firefox and Google's Chrome browser were battling for users. Chrome?s US market share has since doubled to about 60 percent, according to data from analytics provider StatCounter, with Mozilla, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp browsers capturing the rest. Yahoo paid Mozilla $375 million in 2015 and said that it would pay at least the same amount annually through 2019, according to regulatory filings. Denelle Dixon, Mozilla?s chief business and legal officer, said in a statement that the company had ?exercised our contractual right to terminate our agreement with Yahoo based on a number of factors including doing what?s best for our brand, our effort to provide quality web search and the broader content experience for our users.? She continued, ?We believe there are opportunities to work with Oath and Verizon outside of search.? Yahoo and Google aim to recoup placement fees by selling ads alongside search results and collecting valuable user data. Google said in October that contract changes drove a 54 percent increase in such fees to $2.4 billion in the third quarter.
  13. There is no doubt in my mind that the Pixel 2 XL is a great smartphone. I've been using it for a week and I have not faced a single issue. Having said that, the smartphone has been plagued with a few issues since launch, such as the troublesome OLED display. However, a new problem has been discovered by a Reddit user who claims he received a Pixel 2 XL that did not even have an operating system installed. Something is missing here.. Pixel 2 XL Basically, this is a smartphone from the production line that may have missed the stage where the operating system is installed. This is not the first time a fiasco like this has occurred with the Pixel smartphone. If you do a simple a Google search, you can find one other person who has faced a similar problem. The Pixel 2 XL is not available in India until November 15th and there is no way to say whether this problem might be present in some Indian variants as well. © BCCL The user who suffered the problem went on to add that Google is replacing the device and has been compensated with a Google Play Gift Card. Google is also expediting the shipping of the replacement phone to reduce any inconvenience caused. © BCCL Google has not commented on whether this is a one-off problem or an endemic issue with the Pixel 2 smartphones. Needless to say, Google has to step up their quality control game in order to avoid a PR disaster in the near future that may affect sales. As for this little incident, let us hope that Google puts more work in ensuring that its Pixel 2 XL comes with an OS before it ships out to the owner. Source: 9to5Google
  14. CALIFORNIA: Alphabet Inc's self-driving car unit stopped developing features that required drivers to take control in dangerous situations, its chief executive said Monday, as autopilot reliance left users prone to distractions and ill-prepared to manoeuvre. The decision followed experiments of the technology in Silicon Valley that showed test users napping, putting on makeup and fiddling with their phones as the vehicles travelled up to 56 mph. John Krafcik, the head of Waymo, which was formed in 2009 as a project within Alphabet's Google unit, told reporters that about five years ago the company envisioned technology that could autonomously drive cars on highways as a quick way to get on the market. Other self-driving automakers include similar autopilot features for highway-driving in vehicles, but they require drivers to take over the steering wheel in tricky situations. Waymo planned to do the same. "What we found was pretty scary," Krafcik said on Monday during a media tour of a Waymo testing facility. "It's hard to take over because they have lost contextual awareness." Krafcik said the company determined a system that asked drivers to jump in at the sound of an alert was unsafe after seeing videos from inside self-driving cars during tests. The filmed tests were conducted in 2013, with Google employees behind the wheel. The videos had not been publicly shown until Monday's event, Waymo spokeswoman Lauren Barriere said. The company decided to focus solely on technology that didn't require human intervention a couple of days after the napping incident, said Krafcik, who joined as CEO in 2015. It has also since argued against allowing "handoffs" between automated driving systems and people. "Our technology takes care of all of the driving, allowing passengers to stay passengers," the company said in a report this month. The two drive controls provided to passengers in Waymo's Chrysler Pacifica minivans are buttons for starting a ride and asking the vehicles to pull over at their next chance. Waymo is running a ride-hailing pilot program around Phoenix, Arizona that chauffeurs an undisclosed, but growing number of users in self-driving cars. The service area is limited to well-mapped roads on which Waymo has extensively tested. Krafcik declined to specify when the company would expand beyond the small experiment, saying only that such a moment is getting close. "He reiterated that the company is simultaneously also identifying ways to launch self-driving trucks, municipal transit services and partnerships with carmakers. "We see four potential applications, whether it's Waymo branded or not," he said.
  15. The most exciting smartphone release remaining for 2017 is Google's second iteration of Pixel and it has been touted to have one of the best smartphone cameras. Google's first flagship device was one of the best Android devices one could buy and there is no doubt in our head that the Pixel 2 would achieve the same feat. The Pixel 2 is about to launch in India on November 1st and will start at Rs 61,000 for the 64GB model. The Pixel 2 and Pixel have many similarities but the two are largely different from one another. The Pixel 2 might look very similar but it is thinner and a bit wider than its predecessor. Google has clearly refined the newer Pixel phone in order to make it look fresh and here's what we feel makes it different from the original Pixel smartphone. Speakers © BCCL The original Pixel device lacked the one feature we wanted: Stereo speakers. We often browse the web for videos, music and other forms of entertainment which require good quality audio. We either used headphones or a Bluetooth speaker to amplify the sound for a better experience. However, all of that changed when Apple introduced stereo speakers to the iPhone 7. The original Pixel smartphone lacked speakers that could deliver quality sound and that has changed with the Pixel 2. The Pixel 2 has stereo speakers to complete the experience we always wanted from an Android smartphone. It also means Google had to ditch the headphone jack because of limited real estate. No Headphone Jack © BCCL With the introduction of stereo speakers, Google had to sacrifice the headphone jack which in our opinion was not a positive move. However, the Pixel did not use quality audio hardware in the first place to give great audio output from the 3.5mm headphone jack. Wireless audio has not made the required leaps to give us an audio experience similar to what you get from analogue technology. Sound quality over Bluetooth is always sacrificed and is also unpractical when you are surrounded by audio systems that don't support Bluetooth. Most people already own headphones or speakers that make use of the headphone jack and the Pixel 2 just made our lives even more difficult. Camera © BCCL Google Pixel already had one of the best smartphone cameras on the planet but Google went a step further by making it even more powerful. The incremental upgrades such as optical image stabilisation and portrait shots using a single lens have made it one of the best smartphones ever. The Pixel 2 camera even scored 98 on DxO mark's ratings which is the highest ever by any smartphone. The Pixel 2's aperture has also increased now at f/1.8, which helps in reducing the pixel size in the sensor. The Pixel 2 is also far better in taking low-light pictures which is partly due to Google's camera algorithm improvements. This is where Google has made the biggest change when it comes to upgrades on the Pixel 2. Water Resistance One of the highest requested features for the Pixel 2 was water resistance. The 2016 Pixel lacked waterproofing and it was a huge disappointment especially since every other flagship device in the same price bracket was offering the feature. Both Pixel 2 and 2 Xl come with water and dust resistance rating of IP67. The Pixel 2 can survive in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. It Has Squeezable Sides The Galaxy Note 8 has a dedicated button for its virtual assistant and now Google has implemented Active Edge to make it easier for people to launch Google Assistant. Google bought a big chunk of HTC's workforce and its no secret Google borrowed HTC's squeezable feature. Google's Active Edge allows you squeeze the sides of the Pixel phone to quickly launch the Google Assistant. This is one of the biggest change we have seen from the predecessor and it's probably a really convenient one. This would come handy as you won't have to long hold the home button to launch the virtual assistant anymore. This would also be beneficial when you are driving and need to access Google Assistant and can't look away from the road.
  16. Google is creating an even more secure login process for users at high risk of online attacks, according to The Verge. On Tuesday, Google announced the launch of a new "advanced protection" setting for Google accounts, which makes it harder than ever for hackers to break into sensitive data on Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube or any other Google outfit. The feature focuses on defending against phishing, accidental sharing, and fraudulent access to accounts and has been introduced for users such as journalists who need to protect their sources or election officials. The programme will use 'security keys', which are small USB or wireless devices required to sign into accounts. Google says they?re the most secure version of two-step verification; they use public key cryptography and digital signatures to confirm a person?s identity. Security keys can be fiddly, so Google says they?re for users who don?t mind carrying them around, using the Chrome browser on desktop, and using Google apps, as the key won?t work with the iPhone?s mail, calendar, and contact apps, The Verge reported further. The 'advanced protection' users will also have extra steps placed during the account recovery process, which will include additional reviews and requests about why a user has lost access to their account. The feature also automatically limits full access to Gmail and Google Drive for specific apps. Earlier this year, Google said it planned to upgrade its two-factor authentication tool after several high-profile hacks, including to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta?s Gmail account in 2016. Google says it will constantly update the security of accounts signed up for the programme. The feature is available to anyone with a regular Gmail account.
  17. WASHINGTON: Google said Tuesday it would offer stronger online security for "high risk" users who may be frequent targets of online attacks. The US technology titan said anyone with a personal Google account can enroll in the new "advanced protection," while noting that it will require users to "trade off a bit of convenience" for extra security. "We took this unusual step because there is an overlooked minority of our users that are at particularly high risk of targeted online attacks," said a Google security blog post. "For example, these might be campaign staffers preparing for an upcoming election, journalists who need to protect the confidentiality of their sources, or people in abusive relationships seeking safety." Google will require these users to log into their accounts with a physical USB key which will be part of two-factor authentication, to guard against fraudulent access. "An attacker who doesn´t have your security key is automatically blocked, even if they have your password," the statement said. Google will provide additional monitoring for these accounts and limit access to sensitive applications, aiming to protect against impersonation and "phishing" to gain access to an account. "Sometimes even the most careful and security-minded users are successfully attacked through phishing scams, especially if those phishing scams were individually targeted at the user in question," the company said. Phishing is the use of deception to gain confidential information such as usernames, passwords, bank account details and credit card numbers. In one of the most highly publicized phishing attacks, Hillary Clinton´s campaign chairman John Podesta gave up his password to a hacker, resulting in a series of embarrassing leaks during the 2016 presidential race.
  18. The Google logo is pictured atop an office building in Irvine, California, US August 7, 2017. Photo: Reuters WASHINGTON: Google has discovered that Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Gmail, Google search and other products, The Washington Post reported on Monday. The ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated entity that bought ads on Facebook Inc, which may indicate a broader Russian online disinformation effort, the paper reported. Google runs the world?s largest online advertising business and YouTube is the world?s largest online video site. Google, owned by Alphabet Inc, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the story. Google has downplayed the possibility of Russian influence on its platforms, but launched a probe into the matter, according to the Post. Both Twitter Inc and Facebook have said that Russia bought ads and had accounts on their platforms. Meanwhile, Congress has started multiple investigations into the Russian interference in the 2016 election, with lawmakers on both political sides saying Russia intended to sow discord in the United States, spread propaganda and sway the election to elect President Donald Trump. Google officials are expected to testify publicly before both the House and Senate intelligence committees on Nov. 1 alongside Facebook and Twitter about Russian attempts to use their platforms to influence the election.
  19. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83 percent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites. Photo: Reuters File WASHINGTON: The US Federal Communications Commission said late on Friday it had approved Alphabet Inc?s application to provide emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico through balloons. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83 percent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites. Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to ?support licensed mobile carriers? restoration of limited communications capability? in Puerto Rico. Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he was forming a Hurricane Recovery Task Force with an emphasis on addressing challenges facing Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. ?It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services,? Pai said in a statement. Separately, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a Twitter posting late on Friday that he had a ?great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities. Next steps soon to follow.? Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Inc, said on Friday the company would send more battery installers to Puerto Rico to help restore power after Hurricane Maria knocked out all power on the island over two weeks ago. Musk said he was diverting resources from a semi-truck project to fix Model 3 bottlenecks and ?increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas.? In late September, Tesla said it was sending hundreds of batteries that can store power generated by solar panels to Puerto Rico to provide emergency help in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
  20. For all those of us who were confused about Google's decision to drop headphone jacks from the new version of its Pixel smartphone, the company has given a clarification for it. In a statement to Tech Crunch, Google product chief Mario Queiroz said "The primary reason [for dropping the jack] is establishing a mechanical design path for the future.? ?We want the display to go closer and closer to the edge. Our team said, ?if we?re going to make the shift, let?s make it sooner, rather than later.? Last year may have been too early. Now there are more phones on the market.? Google launches new phones, speakers in hardware push The Pixel phones lack the brand lustre and market share of similarly priced smartphones The headphone jack is a single purpose port and it takes a lot of space on a smartphone, according to the company. The move was ?absolutely? a driving factor in the company?s decisions to launch its own AirPod competitor, the Pixel Buds, according to Queiroz. On October 5, Google on unveiled the second generation of its Pixel smartphone along with new voice-enabled home speakers, redoubling its commitment to the hardware business as it competes with a surge of devices from Apple Inc and Inc. Google?s new products, including a Pixelbook laptop, wireless earbuds and a small GoPro-like camera, showcase Google-developed operating systems and services, notably the voice assistant. That means usage of those devices should stoke the company?s core ad sales business as buyers of the hardware using Google services like search and maps. Speaking at the launch in San Francisco, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh said the new products ?perfectly demonstrate our strategy of re-imagining hardware from the inside out.?
  21. Google announced their latest flagship offering two days ago and ever since the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL was made official, the search engine giant has been targeting iPhone users. The new line of Pixel smartphones have a sleek new design and have improved in a number of key areas to convince iPhones users to switch. © Google The Pixel 2 phones have their own identity and a large part of Google's marketing strategy has to do with people ditching their iPhones. Even at the press conference, there were many subtle digs at Apple in order to differentiate the two products. Apple is the world leader in smartphone sales and hardware companies will do anything to dethrone the Cupertino giant. Apple's iPhone 8 and 8 Plus has not challenged the status quo but they are still great phones in their own right. However, Google's Pixel 2 has been generating a lot positive buzz thanks to what Android has to offer. Software on smartphones is the key to success, a model Apple has pioneered ever since the launch of the original iPhone. Google's Pixels phones deliver a similar experience and are the only high-end Android device that will get OS updates as soon as they are available. Google believes that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are the best Android phones in the world right now and rightfully so. Google has marketed the Pixel smartphone as if the only worthy competitor is the iPhone. © Google The Pixel 2 and 2 XL ships with an adapter that lets iPhone users transfer all their data in under 10 minutes. It is a USB-A to USB-X adapter that allows the Pixel 2 to communicate with the iPhone. The fact that Google opted to include this adapter clearly shows that the company is going after iPhone users who might be looking for something different. Google is also utilising Youtube influencers and bloggers to get their point across. These YouTube stars are promoting the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL to their fans with the hopes that they would switch smartphones. iPhone users tend to stick with their smartphones and upgrade to the latest Apple device simply because transferring data is a painstaking ordeal. Apple users tend to feel comfortable switching between two iPhones simply because their data can easily be transferred. By including a dongle, Google has removed that barrier and made it easier for iPhone users to switch. It is hard to say whether this strategy will actually work, however, there's always an iPhone user out there who desires a change and the Pixel 2 might be it.
  22. geo_embedgallery SAN FRANCISCO: Google on Wednesday unveiled new versions of its Pixel smartphone, the highlight of a refreshed line aimed at weaving artificial intelligence deeper into modern lives. Google software and artificial intelligence were common threads in the gamut of new devices it unveiled to step up its challenge on the hardware front to rivals such as Apple and Amazon The new Pixel 2 and larger Pixel 2 XL are the first Google-made phones to be released since the California tech giant announced the acquisition of key segments of Taiwan-based electronics group HTC. The upgraded smartphones will be available for order as of Wednesday in six countries starting at $649 for five-inch display Pixel 2, and $849 for the six-inch Pixel 2 XL. The new aluminium-body smartphones along with Google's upgraded connected speakers and new laptop computer all aim to infuse artificial intelligence to make the devices more user-friendly, built around the Google Assistant ? the rival to Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana and others. Google vice president Rick Osterloh said Google's new devices "are simple to use and they anticipate your needs." Osterloh told the product launch event in San Francisco: "You interact with your devices naturally with your voice or by touching them." Google, by bringing in a team of engineers from HTC, aims to emulate the success of Apple iPhones by controlling the hardware as well as the software used in the premium-priced handsets. The revamped camera in the smartphone retains a single lens but seeks to improve images via "computational photography," an artificial intelligence tool that can enhance pictures. Analyst Ian Fogg of IHS Markit said in a tweet that the new smartphone "adds incremental improvements on the great v1" while noting that "Google's challenge is to solve production limits which hurt the original." Fogg said the use of computation to improve images with a single lens "is technically impressive." Mini speaker, mini camera Google announced a slimmed down version of its connected speaker called Google Home Mini starting at $49 in the United States, stepping up its challenge to market leader Amazon. The new Google Home Mini is available for pre-order in the seven countries where the device is offered and will go on sale in stores October 19, the company said. The new speaker, which responds to voice commands using artificial intelligence, is less than half the price of Google's first generation speaker and makes this "more accessible to more people," said Google hardware designer Isabelle Olsson. A premium version of the speaker ? a $399 Google Home Max unveiled Wednesday ? offers more power and audio quality for music aficionados. The new Google Clips camera ? one of the surprises of the event ? "looks for smiles (and) moments, because the software is in the camera," said Google product manager Juston Payne. "It's like having my own photographer shooting and choosing my best moments for me," Payne said of the $249 device. Another surprise from the event was the wireless Pixel Buds, which can deliver audio from a smartphone and also include the Google Assistant and real-time translation. A demonstration at the event included a two-way conversation with one person speaking English and the other Swedish. "The camera and the earbuds were really held up as examples of what the company can do by leveraging the Google Assistant," said Ross Rubin of Reticle Research. A new Pixelbook laptop was touted as a "high performance" computer powered by its Chrome operating system and designed as a rival to Microsoft's Surface and Apple's iPad Pro. With a 12.3-inch display, the device is a convertible PC that can be used as a tablet and is sold starting at $999 for US customers. 'AI-first world' Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said the new devices showcase the tech giant's artificial intelligence. "We've been working hard continuing our shift from a mobile-first to an AI-first world," he said. "We are working on software and hardware together because that is the best way to drive computing forward." The launch comes in the wake of Apple's announcement of a new line of iPhones, and Amazon's upgrades to its Echo speakers powered by its Alexa digital assistant "It is a portfolio designed to take Google into more parts of your life, particularly in your home," Reticle Research analyst Ross Rubin said of the array of devices the internet giant unveiled on Wednesday. "Amazon is focusing on a range of price points and designs; Google is focusing on a range of experiences." COVER IMAGE: The new Google Pixel 2 XL smartphone is seen (front-side) at a product launch event at the SFJAZZ Center, October 4, 2017. AFP/Elijah Nouvelage
  23. SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc?s Google on Wednesday unveiled the second generation of its Pixel smartphone along with new voice-enabled home speakers, redoubling its commitment to the hardware business as it competes with a surge of devices from Apple Inc and Inc. Google?s new products, including a Pixelbook laptop, wireless earbuds and a small GoPro-like camera, showcase Google-developed operating systems and services, notably the voice assistant. That means usage of those devices should stoke the company?s core ad sales business as buyers of the hardware use Google services like search and maps. Speaking at the launch in San Francisco, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh said the new products ?perfectly demonstrate our strategy of re-imagining hardware from the inside out.? The Pixel 2 smartphone comes in two sizes, with comparable features, including aluminium bodies and no traditional jacks for headphones. Prices for the base model start at $649 (490.18 pounds), while the high-end version starts at $849. The phones will be available Oct. 19. The Pixel phones lack the brand lustre and market share of similarly priced smartphones such as the Apple iPhone or Samsung Electronics Co?s Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones. Still, the original Pixel?s camera and software drew acclaim from reviewers, many of whom expect the line to become a robust competitor at the high end of the Android smartphone market. Pixelbook, priced at $999, is the first laptop powered by Google Assistant and will support Snap Inc?s Snapchat, the company said. The keyboard folds behind the screen to turn the 12.3-inch touchscreen into a tablet. It will be available in stores from Oct. 31. Google Home Mini, one of the new speakers, is priced at $49 in the United States and would rival Inc?s popular Echo Dot. It will be available Oct. 19. The Home Max, with dual woofers for more powerful sound, is priced at $399 and with availability by the end of the year. The Pixel Buds, which are priced at $149, arrive in November. Clips, which is pocket-sized camera with object detection and automatic recording capabilities, ?soon? goes on sale for $249, Google said. Videos last only a few seconds and do not contain audio. The Pixel smartphone debuted a year ago, with analysts estimating sales of more than 2 million, pushing Google to record amounts of non-advertising revenue. Google?s ?other? revenue category, which includes both hardware and sales of online storage services, accounted for about 12 percent of overall sales in its most recent quarter. Last month, Google expanded its hardware development capabilities by picking up a 2,000-person smartphone engineering team at HTC for $1.1 billion. ?It?s pretty clear Google is serious about hardware,? said Avi Greengart, research director at consumer data firm GlobalData. ?Given that there is a Pixel 2, and given the financial investment, there must be a longer-term strategic intent.? HARDWARE CHIEF HAS SECOND GO Google moved into smartphones five years ago with the $12.5-billion purchase of Motorola Mobility. But Motorola?s hardware team, under Osterloh, and Google?s Android mobile operating system division remained independent. Google wanted to avoid giving it a special advantage and protect its relationships with Samsung, LG and other distributors of Android. The company later sold the Motorola smartphone business. Osterloh, now working inside Google, moved to bring in-house the HTC team Google contracted to design the Pixel. He enjoys a strong relationship with Hiroshi Lockheimer, the Android division head. The pair have been friends since working together for several years at Good Technology in the early 2000s. Protecting relationships with others in the Android ecosystem has become less of a concern. Samsung ratched down the rivalary with Google after the firms agreed to a major patent licensing deal in early 2014. Other vendors have seen their market share dip. Google?s eye is now on Apple, whose iPhone has become the smartphone to beat. The first Pixel debuted a year ago with a significant marketing push: during the last three months of the year, Google spent an estimated $110 million to air 12 Pixel-related commercials, according to data from advertising measurement firm Apple spent $147 million during the same span, said. Apple has sustained its TV time throughout the last year, while Google?s efforts have tapered off. In the speakers market, Google?s personal-assistant lags Amazon?s Echo devices in market share, according to investment bank Cowen & Co. Last week, Amazon released several new models of the Echo, including one with a display as it tried to find a place in every niche. Rishi Chandra, vice president of product management for Google?s Home hardware unit, said in an interview that Google was being ?a little bit more thoughtful? than the online shopping company. ?Amazon is taking a broad approach,? Chandra said. ?We?re going to iterate until we have a good product story to tell.?
  24. SAN FRANCISCO: Google?s announcement that it was planning to launch a smart video camera as part of its push into hardware sent shares of action camera maker GoPro Inc down more than six percent on Wednesday. Google Clips will be the first standalone camera from the search and advertising company, which has expanded its hardware business over the last year. Its signature feature draws on machine learning technology to automatically begin recording when notable actions are detected. Those could include a child cracking a smile or a dog entering the frame. It was one of a suite of new products unveiled by Alphabet Inc?s Google on Wednesday. Its move into smartphones, speakers and laptops has put the search giant into competition with Apple Inc and Inc. Clips, which Google said is ?coming soon,? takes on compact cameras such as GoPro?s Hero5 Session and Snap Inc?s Spectacles as each strives to make the process of recording video simpler and more mobile. GoPro stock closed down 6.3 percent at $10.39. Shares of Snap, which derives revenue mostly from ad sales on its social media app, dropped 0.75 percent to $14.53. Google?s camera has a traditional shutter button. But users may also clip the camera onto an object and have Clips automatically record ?stable, clear shots? of familiar faces set by the user, the company said. Each shot lasts seven seconds, and the battery survives about three hours in the smart-capture mode, according to Google. ?We hope Google Clips helps you capture more spontaneous moments in life, without any of the hassle,? Google Clips product manager Juston Payne wrote in a company blog post. Footage wirelessly downloads through an app for Google, Apple and Samsung smartphones. Video can be stored to an unlimited online storage locker provided by Google, and high-resolution photos can be cut from the clip. At $249, it is comparable to GoPro?s $299 Hero5 Session, which can be controlled by voice for handsfree usage. Snap?s Spectacles, which are sunglasses with a video camera on one corner, records a 10-second video after the press of a button on the frame. They cost $129. Session and Spectacles are typically used outdoors, whereas Google said its devices ?works best when used at home with family and close friends.? GoPro and Snap have not released smart-capture capability.
  25. Last night, Google announced a range of products that expand their ecosystem to a wider spectrum and most of them look impressive. However, in tandem with their last year's plans, Google won't be bringing most of these amazing products to India. If you were looking to integrate Google's home devices to your house, well, you're out of luck. Here are the spectacular devices India truly needs but won't be making an appearance in the Indian markets anytime soon. Google Home Mini © Google Google announced their virtual assistant speaker last year and last night the company introduced a miniature version of the Google Home. Amazon just announced the Echo Dot for India and the Home Mini is clearly a worthy competitor. However, as of now, Google has no plans to introduce this device to India. The Home Mini has a circular shape and can produce 360-degree sound just like the Amazon Echo. The device will come in three colours i.e. Charcoal, Coal and Coral. Google Home Max © Google Google Home Max is the larger version of last year's Google Home that looks like a beautifully-designed speaker and is wrapped in fabric to give it an urban feel. The speaker can be placed on a surface both horizontally or vertically. The big speaker also has a new feature, i.e. Star Sound that adjusts the listening experience according to the environment. The speaker uses machine learning to tailor the sound according to the acoustics of the room and deliver a superior audio experience. The Max launches in December and will come in two colours: charcoal & chalk. The device will launch for $399 and will only be available in the US, initially. Pixelbook © Google Google also announced a laptop to further enhance their ecosystem and is a direct competitor to Apple's MacBook Pro and Microsoft's Surface laptops. It is the lightest laptop ever made by Google. It is 10mm thick and weighs only 1 KG. According to Google, the Pixelbook is the first convertible laptop that feels natural to use. The laptop comes with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. The laptop can be charged for just 15 minutes and it will yield a working time of full two hours. If you own a Pixel smartphone, the laptop also supports instant tethering i.e. you won't need to toggle the portable hotspot feature in order to access the internet. The Pixelbook also supports a stylus that offers 60 degrees of angular awareness and 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity. The laptop will start retailing for $999 and the Pixelbook Pen costs an additional $99. Google also announced their flagship smartphone alongside with a range of products. In India, the Pixel 2 will be priced as follows: Pixel 2 64GB (Rs 61,000), Pixel 2 128GB (Rs 70,000), Pixel 2 XL 64GB (Rs 73,000), Pixel 2 XL 128GB (Rs 82,000). Pre-orders commence on 26th October 2017, and the Pixel 2 will be available in over 1000+ stores across the country and online retail stores starting November 1st and the Pixel 2 XL will be available for sales in 1000+ stores and online starting November 15th, 2017. You can read all about the Pixel 2 and 2 XL here.