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Found 43 results

  1. Facebook has taken the lion's share of scrutiny from Congress and the media about data-handling practices that allow savvy marketers and political agents to target specific audiences, but it's far from alone. YouTube, Google and Twitter also have giant platforms awash in more videos, posts and pages than any set of human eyes could ever check. Their methods of serving ads against this sea of content may come under the microscope next. Advertising and privacy experts say a backlash is inevitable against a "Wild West" internet that has escaped scrutiny before. There continues to be a steady barrage of new examples where unsuspecting advertisers had their brands associated with extremist content on major platforms. In the latest discovery, CNN reported that it found more than 300 retail brands, government agencies and technology companies had their ads run on YouTube channels that promoted white nationalists, Nazis, conspiracy theories and North Korean propaganda. Child advocates have also raised alarms about the ease with which smartphone-equipped children are exposed to inappropriate videos and deceptive advertising. "I absolutely think that Google is next and long overdue," said Josh Golin, director of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google-owned YouTube's advertising and data collection practices earlier this month. YouTube has repeatedly outlined the ways it attempts to flag and delete hateful, violent, sexually explicit or harmful videos, but its screening efforts have often missed the mark. It also allows advertisers avoid running ads on sensitive content—like news or politics—that don't violate YouTube guidelines but don't fit with a company's brand. Those methods appear to have failed. "YouTube has once again failed to correctly filter channels out of our marketing buys," said a statement Friday from 20th Century Fox Film, which learned that its ads were running on videos posted by a self-described Nazi. YouTube has since deleted the offending channel, but the Hollywood firm says it has unanswered questions about how it happened in the first place. "All of our filters were in place in order to ensure that this did not happen," Fox said, adding it has asked for a refund of any money shared with the "abhorrent channel." YouTube said Friday that it has made "significant changes to how we approach monetization" with "stricter policies, better controls and greater transparency" and said it allows advertisers to exclude certain channels from ads. It also removes ads when it's notified of problems running beside content that doesn't comply with its policies. "We are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right." So far, just one major advertiser—Baltimore-based retailer Under Armour—had said it had withdrawn its advertising in the wake of the CNN report, though the lull lasted only a few days last week when it was first notified of the problem. After its shoe commercial turned up on a channel known for espousing white nationalist beliefs, Under Armour worked with YouTube to expand its filters to exclude certain topics and keywords. On the other hand, Procter & Gamble, which had kept its ads off of YouTube since March 2017, said it had come back to the platform but drastically pared back the channels it would advertise on to under 10,000. It has worked on its own, with third parties, and with YouTube to create its restrictive list. That's just a fraction of the some 3 million YouTube channels in the U.S. that accept ads, and is even more stringent than YouTube's "Google Preferred" lineup that focuses on the top most popular 5 percent of videos. The CNN report was "an illustration of exactly why we needed to go above and beyond just what YouTube's plans were and why we needed to take more control of where our ads were showing up," said P&G spokeswoman Tressie Rose. The big problem, experts say, is that advertisers lured by the reach and targeting capability of online platforms can mistakenly expect the same standards for decency on network TV will apply online. In the same way, broadcast TV rules that require transparency about political ad buyers are absent on the web. "There have always been regulations regarding appropriate conduct in content," says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys Inc., a New York customer research firm. Regulating content on the internet is one area "that has gotten away from everyone." Also absent from the internet are many of the rules that govern children's programming on television sets. TV networks, for instance, are allowed to air commercial breaks but cannot use kids' characters to advertise products. Such "host-selling" runs rampant on internet services such as YouTube. Action to remove ads from inappropriate content is mostly reactive because of lack of upfront control of what gets uploaded, and it generally takes the mass threat of boycott to get advertisers to demand changes, according to BrandSimple consultant Allen Adamson. "The social media backlash is what you're worried about," he said. At the same time, politicians are having trouble keeping up with the changing landscape, evident by how ill-informed many senators and congresspeople appeared during questioning of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month. "We're in the early stages of trying to figure out what kind of regulation makes sense here," said Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University in New York. "It's going to take quite some time to sort that out." < Here >
  2. Microsoft brings Windows Defender browser extension to Google Chrome Microsoft prides itself on the security provided in its Edge browser, as well as that offered by Windows Defender to protect Windows against cyberattacks. Now, the company is combining its browser-based security with Defender by bringing Windows Defender Browser Protection to Google Chrome. Windows Defender Browser Protection extension is available as a free download from the Chrome Web Store. According to the listed description, the extension protects your computer against threats such as phishing and websites that trick your machine into downloading and installing malicious programs which can harm it. Microsoft accomplishes this by checking the URL of an opened website with its own database of malicious links. If the URLs match, Windows Defender Browser Protection presents a red warning screen to the user and offers them "a clear path back to safety with one click." It is important to note that given the extension's ability to check every URL with Microsoft's database, it is essentially sending your entire browser history to the company in real-time. That said, this shouldn't be a cause of worry to most because Microsoft's business isn't built on advertising, and the extension itself will likely be beneficial for your computer. You can download the Windows Defender Browser Protection extension from the Chrome Web Store here. Neowin.net
  3. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has warned that Google and Facebook are becoming too big to be governed and could face being dismantled. Internet giants could be forced to pay for the disruption they cause in society and submit to French or European privacy regulations, he suggested. In an interview with the magazine Wired, the president warned that artificial intelligence (AI) would challenge democracy and open a Pandora’s box of privacy issues. He was speaking after announcing a €1.5bn (£1.32bn) investment in artificial intelligence research to accelerate innovation and catch up with China and the US. Mr Macron said companies such as Google and Facebook were welcome in France, brought jobs and were “part of our ecosystem”. But he warned: “They have a very classical issue in a monopoly situation; they are huge players. At a point of time – but I think it will be a US problem, not a European problem – at a point of time, your government, your people, may say, ‘Wake up. They are too big.’ Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said last month he was open to governments regulating tech companies. “[The] question isn't ‘Should there be regulation or shouldn’t there be?’ – it’s ‘How do you do it?’” Mr Zuckerberg said. At the start of this year, billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros added his voice to a chorus calling for major technology firms to be reined in, calling Google and Facebook monopolies in need of regulation. Apple's chief executive Tim Cook has called for more regulation of Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Mr Macron also hinted in the interview that the online giants might be forced to put more money towards compensation for disrupting traditional economic sectors. “We have to retrain our people,” he said. “These companies will not pay for that – the government will. “Today the GAFA [Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon] don’t pay all the taxes they should in Europe. So they don’t contribute to dealing with negative externalities they create. And they ask the sectors they disrupt to pay, because these guys, the old sectors pay VAT, corporate taxes and so on. That’s not sustainable.” He said people should remain sovereign on privacy rules. “I want to protect privacy in this way or in that way. You don’t have the same rule in the US. And speaking about US players, how can I guarantee French people that US players will respect our regulation? So at a point of time, they will have to create actual legal bodies and incorporate it in Europe, being submitted to these rules.” “Not just too big to fail, but too big to be governed. Which is brand new. “So at this point, you may choose to dismantle. That’s what happened at the very beginning of the oil sector when you had these big giants. That’s a competition issue.” Accountability and democracy happen at national or regional level but not at a global scale, he added. “If I don’t walk down this path, I cannot protect French citizens and guarantee their rights. If I don’t do that, I cannot guarantee French companies they are fairly treated. Because today, when I speak about GAFA, they are very much welcome – I want them to be part of my ecosystem, but they don’t play on the same level playing field as the other players in the digital or traditional economy.” He added: “All I know is that if I don’t, at a point of time, have this discussion and regulate them, I put myself in a situation not to be sovereign any more.” The president envisaged a European sovereignty in AI. “Artificial intelligence is a global innovation scheme in which you have private big players and one government with a lot of data – China. My goal is to recreate a European sovereignty in AI, especially on regulation. You will have sovereignty battles to regulate, with countries trying to defend their collective choices,” he said. “AI will raise a lot of issues in ethics, in politics, it will question our democracy and our collective preferences. For instance, if you take healthcare, you can totally transform medical care, making it much more predictive and personalised if you get access to a lot of data. We will open our data in France. “But the day you start dealing with privacy issues, the day you open this data and unveil personal information, you open a Pandora’s box, with potential use cases that will not be increasing the common good and improving the way to treat you. “In particular, it’s creating a potential for all the players to select you. This can be a very profitable business model: this data can be used to better treat people, it can be used to monitor patients, but it can also be sold to an insurer that will have intelligence on you and your medical risks, and could get a lot of money out of this information. The day we start to make such business out of this data is when a huge opportunity becomes a huge risk. It could totally dismantle our national cohesion and the way we live together. “This leads me to the conclusion that this huge technological revolution is in fact a political revolution.” Mr Zuckerberg, while accepting a need for regulation, warned last month against governments micromanaging tech companies, and how they handle privacy breaches, hate speech and offensive content. He attacked Germany’s new Network Enforcement Act, under which technology companies must immediately investigate hate speech complaints, delete hateful content within 24 hours or face fines of up to €50m. Source
  4. Google has banned the term "Kodi" from the autocomplete feature of its search engine. This means that the popular software and related suggestions won't appear unless users type out the full term. Google has previously taken similar measures against "pirate" related terms and confirms that Kodi is targeted because it's "closely associated with copyright infringement." In recent years entertainment industry groups have repeatedly urged Google to ramp up its anti-piracy efforts. These remarks haven’t fallen on deaf ears and Google has made several changes to its search algorithms to make copyright-infringing material less visible. The company demotes results from domain names for which it receives many DMCA takedown notices, for example, and it has also removed several piracy-related terms from its autocomplete feature. The latter means that when one types “pirate ba” it won’t suggest pirate bay. Instead, people see “pirate bays” or “pirate books” as suggestions. Whether that’s very effective is up for debate, but it’s intentional. “Google has taken steps to prevent terms closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete and Related Search,” the company previously explained. “This is similar to the approach we have taken for a narrow class of terms related to pornography, violence, and hate speech.” When the piracy filter was first implemented, several seemingly neutral terms such as BitTorrent and uTorrent were also targeted. While these were later reinstated, we recently noticed another autocomplete ban that’s rather broad. It turns out that Google has recently removed the term “Kodi” from its autocomplete results. While Kodi can be abused through pirate add-ons, the media player software itself is perfectly legal, which makes it an odd decision. Users who type in “Kod” get a list of suggestions including “Kodak” and “Kodiak,” but not the much more popular search term Kodi. Kodiak? Similarly, when typing “addons for k” Google suggests addons for Kokotime and Krypton 17.6. While the latter is a Kodi version, the name of the media player itself doesn’t come up as a suggestion. Once users type the full Kodi term and add a space, plenty of suggestions suddenly appear, which is similar to other banned terms. Kokotime Ironically enough, the Kokotime app is frequently used by pirates as well. Also, the names of all of the pirate Kodi addons we checked still show up fine in the autosuggest feature. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t document its autocomplete removal decisions, nor does it publish the full list of banned words. However, the search engine confirms that Kodi’s piracy stigma is to blame here. “Since 2011, we have been filtering certain terms closely associated with copyright infringement from Google Autocomplete. This action is consistent with that long-standing strategy,” a spokesperson told us. The Kodi team, operated by the XBMC Foundation, is disappointed with the decision and points out that their software does not cross any lines. “We are surprised and disappointed to discover Kodi has been removed from autocomplete, as Kodi is perfectly legal open source software,” XBMC Foundation President Nathan Betzen told us. The Kodi team has been actively trying to distance itself from pirate elements. They enforce their trademark against sellers of pirate boxes and are in good contact with Hollywood’s industry group, the MPAA. “We have a professional relationship with the MPAA, who have specifically made clear in the past their own position that Kodi is legal software,” Betzen notes. “We hope Google will reconsider this decision in the future, or at a minimum limit their removal to search terms where the legality is actually in dispute.” Source
  5. With all the hoax headlines, election meddling, clickbait and conspiracy theories, the internet is starting to look more like a misinformation superhighway – and that's a problem for the digital giants who make billions of dollars a year off that ecosystem and are now facing pressure over its misuse. This week, Google Inc. announced a US$300-million investment in a slate of programs to come to the aid of news publishers – an industry that's struggling partly because companies such as Google and Facebook control the majority of digital advertising revenues. Because the content publishers create fuels Google's advertising business, it is in its interest that those publishers survive, said chief business officer Philipp Schindler during the Tuesday announcement. "If you don't grow, we don't grow," he told a media audience in New York. As part of the new Google News Initiative, the search giant owned by Alphabet Inc. is launching efforts to fight fake news and introducing tools for publishers to help them attract more paying subscribers and analyze data about their readers. "We don't shy away from our responsibilities," said Richard Gingras, the head of Google News, in an interview with The Globe and Mail this week. The Google News Initiative includes a new effort to display sources that people subscribe to more prominently in search results. What's your approach to giving primacy to reliable information? I think it is important to recognize that Google is a search engine that should allow anyone to find anything in the corpus of expression. Google is not the oracle of absolute truth. It's important for society to understand where the bad information is out there. What we will always do is bias the efforts as best we can toward authoritative content – particularly in the context of breaking news events, because major crises do tend to attract the bad actors. How do we better understand the nature of those events, such that we can identify them as they're happening – at global scale – and then shift our systems into a mode where they do bias more toward authority? Which is not necessarily relevant or wise in other situations that aren't breaking news events. This all taps into concerns about the authenticity of information online. Our view of the digital ecosystem as a whole is changing. Facebook is under extreme pressure this week, but there are also larger questions about the responsibility of the digital giants to clean up the information ecosystem. Those of us, like Google, that do play important roles in the ecosystem, it's absolutely appropriate that we be scrutinized. It's up to us in how we address these things. When looking at the digital players, it's important to recognize that not all platforms are alike. With Google Search, Google News, our platform is the open web itself. We're not arbiters of truth. We're not trying to determine what's good information and what's not. When I look at Google Search, for instance, our objective – people come to us for answers, and we're very good at giving them answers. But with many questions, particularly in the area of news and public policy, there is not one single answer. So we see our role as [to] give our users, citizens, the tools and information they need – in an assiduously apolitical fashion – to develop their own critical thinking and hopefully form a more informed opinion. Every one of those words is important in guiding us in what we do, particularly in this environment of misinformation. Here in Canada, the Heritage Minister has been reviewing our cultural policy, which affects the news industry and others, and that has sparked more discussion about the state of news media. The Minister said last week that the digital giants – Facebook and Google – should play a direct role in supporting local journalism, because these are not neutral platforms. She suggested, rather, that they have a responsibility to the countries in which they operate – especially considering how big a slice of overall digital advertising spending they command. What do you think about that? I want to be careful in my understanding of what is meant by direct involvement. … We don't think it's appropriate for Google to step into the environment of actually funding content. We're loath to get into the role of Google deciding which news organizations might get financial support and which not – and what kind of journalism gets financial support and which not. Our view is: Let's focus on the foundational aspects that allow that to happen – by anyone who's in a position journalistically to take advantage of those capabilities and create high-quality journalism. One of the announcements this week was a new program called Subscribe with Google, allowing readers to sign up for a subscription to a news outlet more quickly through their Google account. Reports have suggested that when customers take that route, Google takes a 5 to 15 per cent cut. Why? It was not a core objective on our side that we now want to be in the subscription business. We don't look at this as a new revenue stream. Our driving objective is … to drive additional subscription success and create sustainable models for news. The revenue shares are extremely generous – we're simply looking to cover our cost of operation, whether that's credit card fulfilment or what have you. We have the ability – we know the users, we have their credit cards in some cases – to make those processes friction-free. Data are hugely valuable to publishers. Advertisers are demanding information about audiences when they buy advertising from publishers, so that ads are targeted. When people are subscribing through their Google accounts – and are logged in across devices to those news subscriptions by virtue of being logged into their Google accounts – who owns that data? Publishers require access to data about their readers. How does that work when the relationship with those readers is managed through Google? That's a very important question, and I want to be very clear here. This is not an opportunity for Google to take more data. The fact is, this is still the publisher's site. These are the publishers' users and subscribers. They get all the data they currently get and more. There's no diversion of any underlying behavioural data about the users. That all will continue to operate the way it operates today. What's the larger philosophy behind all of these announcements this week? We understand how important journalism is to our societies, how important it is to the health of our democracies. The only way we're going to get to a better place as a society is for folks to work together. I mean tech companies like Google, various platforms, the publishing community, the journalism community – the public policy community, for that matter. We're only going to be successful with this if we can build strong, productive relationships with these stakeholders, particularly the publishing community. There are some who will see this effort – or any effort by Facebook or Google in relation to journalism – as part of a broader strategy to avoid being regulated into more strict management of content on their platforms. How do you respond? I'll get back to a core point about what motivates us, because I think it's important. Are we doing these things because it's a good idea and important for society? Of course. Does it build better relationships? Of course. The core objective through the Google lens is simply this: It's recognizing that Google, as a company, our success is tied to the success of the open web as a platform. If there isn't a rich ecosystem of content out there, then the value and relevance of Google Search itself goes down. And the use of our ad platforms … is dependent on their success in that environment. So yes, we have high-minded objectives with this. But these are also practical realities of our business – where the objectives of publishers and the objectives of Google, this is where they come together. How do we create an open web that can support quality journalism in a highly sustainable way? Source
  6. YouTube will increase the number of ads that some users see between music videos, part of a strategy to convince more of its billion-plus viewers to pay for a forthcoming subscription music service from the Google-owned video site. People who treat YouTube like a music service, those passively listening for long periods of time, will encounter more ads, according to Lyor Cohen, the company’s global head of music. “You’re not going to be happy after you are jamming ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and you get an ad right after that,” Cohen said in an interview at the South by Southwest music festival. Cohen is trying to prove that YouTube is committed to making people pay for music and silence the “noise” about his company’s purported harm to the recording industry. The labels companies have long criticized YouTube for hosting videos that violate copyrights, and not paying artists and record companies enough. YouTube will provide a necessary counterweight to the growing influence of Spotify Technology SA and Apple Inc., which own the leading online music services and generate significant revenue for the industry, Cohen said. YouTube generated an estimated $10 billion in revenue last year, almost all from advertising, and could make even more if it sells subscriptions. Pay for Play Paid online music services are the fastest growing segment in the U.S. YouTube has tried to sell its users paid music services in the past, with little to show for it. Most of those efforts predate Cohen, who joined YouTube in 2016 after about 30 years in the record business, including stints as a road manager for Run-DMC and a senior executive at Warner Music Group. This time will be different, Cohen says. The new service, which is already being used by thousands of Google employees, will “frustrate and seduce” users of YouTube’s free service. It will include exclusive videos, playlists and other offerings that will appeal to die-hard music fans. YouTube has already been funding the production of videos, taking fans behind-the-scenes with artists like rapper G-Eazy and Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello. Cultural Shift The new approach marks a big cultural shift for YouTube and its parent. Google, a division of Alphabet Inc., has sustained the most popular video site and search engine in the world by prioritizing free, easy-to-use services. “Our top priority at YouTube is to deliver a great user experience, and that includes ensuring users do not encounter excessive ad loads,” the company said. “For a specific subset of users who use YouTube like a paid music service today -- and would benefit most from additional features -- we may show more ads or promotional prompts to upsell to our paid service.” Cohen said he prevailed upon his colleagues and bosses to make some changes to “be good partners” to the music industry. They will “smoke out” people who can afford to pay for a subscription and shepherd them to the new service. “There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers,” Cohen said. “Once we do that, trust me, all that noise will be gone and articles people write about that noise will be gone.” The music industry is hoping YouTube will invest enough to compete with Spotify and Apple Music. Record companies used to criticize Spotify for giving away too much for free as well, but the Stockholm-based music service has converted almost half of its users into paying subscribers by limiting what’s available for free. YouTube plans a significant marketing campaign to back the new paid service, Cohen said. The growth of paid streaming services has revived music industry sales after more than a decade of decline. Advertising-supported services contributed less than 10 percent of recorded music revenue in the U.S. in the first half of 2017, according to an industry group. “They will appreciate in time the advertising,” Cohen said. “Everyone is drunk on the growth of subscription.” Bloomberg.com
  7. Google’s new policy prohibits promotion of guns, bump stocks. At least one video gun blogger ditched YouTube for PornHub . YouTube, a popular media site for firearms enthusiasts, this week quietly introduced tighter restrictions on videos involving weapons, becoming the latest battleground in the U.S. gun-control debate. YouTube will ban videos that promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories, including bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire faster. Additionally, YouTube said it will prohibit videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms. The video site, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has faced intense criticism for hosting videos about guns, bombs and other deadly weapons. For many gun-rights supporters, YouTube has been a haven. A current search on the site for “how to build a gun” yields 25 million results, though that includes items such as toys. At least one producer of gun videos saw its page suspended on Tuesday. Another channel opted to move its videos to an adult-content site, saying that will offer more freedom than YouTube. “We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement. “While we’ve long prohibited the sale of firearms, we recently notified creators of updates we will be making around content promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms and their accessories.” YouTube has placed greater restrictions on content several times in the past year, responding to a series of issues with inappropriate and offensive videos. Most of those changes involved pulling ads from categories of videos. Google is more reluctant to remove entire videos from YouTube, but has been willing to do so with terrorism-related content. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry lobbying group, called YouTube’s new policy “worrisome.” “We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales,” the foundation said in a statement. “We see the real potential for the blocking of educational content that serves instructional, skill-building and even safety purposes. Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square. The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech.” The firearms decision comes days before Saturday’s March For Our Lives, a rally organized by survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. The new YouTube policies will be enforced starting in April, but at least two video bloggers have already been affected. Spike’s Tactical, a firearms company, said in a post on Facebook that it was suspended from YouTube due to “repeated or severe violations” of the video platform’s guidelines. “Well, since we’ve melted some snowflakes on YouTube and got banned, might as well set IG and FB on fire!,” Spike’s wrote on Facebook, where it has over 111,000 followers, referring to the social network and its Instagram app. A YouTube spokeswoman said the channel has been reinstated after it was mistakenly removed. InRange TV, another channel devoted to firearms, wrote on its Facebook page that it would begin uploading videos to PornHub, an adult content website. “YouTube’s newly released released vague and one-sided firearms policy makes it abundantly clear that YouTube cannot be counted upon to be a safe harbor for a wide variety of views and subject matter,” InRange TV wrote. “PornHub has a history of being a proactive voice in the online community, as well as operating a resilient and robust video streaming platform.” PornHub didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the matter. Last month, gun control activists escalated the pressure on tech giants for giving a platform to the National Rifle Association. A flurry of businesses cut ties with the pro-gun group after the deadly Parkland school shooting. Companies with streaming services, such as Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and YouTube, declined to remove the NRA channel. Source
  8. Google’s 2017 Android Security report is out, and alongside it, the company’s head of Android security David Kleidermacher has claimed that “Android is now as safe as the competition” despite high profile security issues that have dogged the platform for years, including the past 12 months. Kleidermacher’s claim comes during a tour of the media relating to the release of Google’s latest security review and as many around the internet are keen to point out, it’s not entirely accurate. For starters, a huge number of Android devices do not support Full Disk Encryption, something that is standard on iOS devices and has been for a number of years, too. As the folks over at AppleInsider note, Google appears to be pinning its hat on Google Play Protect, a mechanism by which the company checks apps that are uploaded to the Play Store in an attempt to weed out those that are up to no good. The good news is that it’s removing massive numbers of apps, but that’s also bad news in itself. The fact they were there in the first place is surely a concern for all working in Google’s Android Security team. Google noted that it removed 39 million bad titles automatically, so another ten million filtered out on the device means Google Play Protect managed to strain 49 million sewer downloads out of what it was actively delivering to users on Google Play. Google also points out that “devices that downloaded apps exclusively from Google Play were nine times less likely” to be compromised, something that backs up Apple’s belief that the idea of allowing the side-loading of apps is a recipe for disaster. While the App Store is not immune to having bad apps slip through the net, it’s fair to say the numbers are minuscule compared to those causing chaos on Android devices the world over. The real issue Google faces is the way Android updates are handled or, rather, not handled. Devices fall out of support far too soon after their release and some simply never receive major software updates. Security updates are more free flowing, but even they cease being released alarmingly quickly, something Google continues to try and address with limited success. Ultimately, until Google finds a way of forcing Android updates into devices quicker, and for longer, it will always be playing security catch-up. 2018 Security update availability report by Security Lab Redmondpie.com
  9. Apple is now the only company more valuable than Amazon. Amazon has surged 35 percent this year, dwarfing Alphabet's 4 percent gain. Meanwhile, Facebook's slide has dropped its value back below Berkshire Hathaway. Amazon has passed Alphabet and now trails just Apple among the list of the world's most valuable companies. The e-commerce giant rose 2.7 percent on Tuesday lifting its stock market value to $768 billion. Alphabet, the parent of Google, fell 0.4 percent and is now valued at $762.5 billion. While the U.S. tech mega-caps have rallied in the past year, Amazon's performance has dwarfed them all, with the stock surging 85 percent over the past 12 months, including 35 percent to start 2018. Investors have been piling into Amazon, betting that the company's growing and very profitable cloud computing business will provide the cash needed for investments in original content, physical stores and continuing to build data centers and warehouses. Meanwhile, Facebook's plunge has dropped the social network's market value below Berkshire Hathaway. Facebook, now the seventh most valuable company, has lost over 9 percent of its market capitalization in the past two days following revelations on Friday and over the weekend that Cambridge Analytica had misused data tied to 50 million Facebook users. Microsoft is the fourth biggest company by market cap, followed by China's Tencent. Source
  10. Tech giant said to begin sharing data on potential customers. Publishers have pushed for new tools to find readers who pay. Google users who subscribe to newspapers will find articles from those publications appearing higher in their search results, part of the tech giant’s efforts to help media companies find and retain paying readers, according to people familiar with the matter. The Alphabet unit will also begin sharing search data that show who’s most likely to buy a subscription, said the people, who asked to be anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Google executives plan to disclose specific details at an event in New York on March 20, according to the people. Google declined to comment. The moves could help publishers better target potential digital subscribers and keep the ones they’ve already got by highlighting stories from the outlets they’re paying for. The initiative marks the latest olive branch from Silicon Valley in its evolving relationship with media companies. Several publishers, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Washington Post, are focusing on getting readers to pay for their content as it becomes more difficult to support newsrooms with advertising revenue. Many have been pushing Google and Facebook for new tools to drive subscriptions, arguing they should help support trusted journalism at a time when their platforms have been exploited to publish fake news. Facebook recently made major changes to its News Feed algorithm that are expected to shrink publishers’ online audiences. But it’s helping publishers in other ways. In October, the company began a test to support paywalls in Instant Articles, letting publishers process payments directly and keep all of the revenue. In February, Facebook announced a program to help metro papers build subscriptions. Apple, meanwhile, bought Texture, a digital magazine service, this week in what the company said was a sign that it’s committed to supporting quality journalism. Click Policy Last year, Google changed its “First Click Free” policy that led some media outlets with strict online paywalls to appear lower in search results. Now, instead of requiring publishers with paywalls to provide at least three free articles per day, media companies can decide how many articles to let Google users read without paying. While tech giants try to forge closer business ties with media outlets, the revenue flowing to publishers remains relatively small. Facebook and Google, which also owns YouTube, represent just 5 percent of publishers’ total digital revenue, according to Digital Content Next, a trade group representing the Financial Times, Bloomberg News, New York Times and other publishers. Google’s AMP program, which hosts articles on its servers instead of publishers’ websites so they load faster, has won praise for helping drive more subscriptions, but “revenue has been slow to build,” the group said in a January report. Google shares rose 0.5 percent to $1,144.24 as of 9:33 a.m. in New York. The stock is up about 9.5 percent this year. Source
  11. Yesterday, XDA Developers confirmed that popular theming app Substratum wouldn’t work in Android P, with or without root. In response to this, Substratum launched a Change.org petition to try to convince Google to add non-system overlay support into Android P. Since Android P is still technically only in preview, there is a chance Google could change the code before public release. Yesterday, we revealed that the Android P developers preview launched at the beginning of the week prevents the use of themes and overlays. This means popular theming app Substratum (and its sister app Andromeda) will not work on Android P. Even with root access, the future version of Android, as it is right now, will only allow overlays from the system itself. Substratum is a popular app, with nearly a million users and over 500,000 installs from the Google Play Store. Since the CM Theme Engine is gone, Substratum is the app of choice for Android enthusiasts to customize the look of their devices. With Google taking away the ability for Substratum to function, users are getting pretty upset. In the Facebook comments of our own article on the topic, some heated words were thrown around, with some users saying they will switch to iOS if Substratum isn’t supported in Android. We now have word from Substratum itself on the topic. As one would expect, the team is quite upset about Android P prohibiting its work. Christopher Kardas, the PR and Community Connections Manager for Substratum, says, “[Google blocking Substratum] changed everything for the hundreds of thousands of people that want to install custom themes from the Play Store without rooting their device. That means no more rootless Substratum. No more custom themes. It’s all gone.” In response to Google, Substratum launched a Change.org petition. As of this writing, it already has nearly 1,800 signatures, which isn’t bad for 24 hours. It certainly can’t hurt to let Google know how much theming Android means to the community. If you feel inclined to do so, throw your signature on the Change.org petition here. You can also let Google know how you feel by starring the Google Issue Tracker here. Androidauthority.com
  12. We expected Android P to land in mid-March, possibly as a whimsical reference to Pie day (3/14), but it turns out we don't have to wait this long. Android P is now official and as with years past, we're getting the first developer preview today with zero allusion as to what the full name might be. The image above could be a bit reminiscent of popsicles, but that's possibly Google just trolling everyone. There are many new features and APIs available to developers, but before we get started on that, let me answer your most urgent questions: Yes, the P developer preview images should land today and they'll be available along with the instructions here. No, there won't be an easy OTA beta to join, so you'll have to flash the image manually on your device. The devices supported are: Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, and obviously the Android Emulator. Handy links for developers: P Preview site, P Preview timeline, new features and APIs, API reference, API 28 support library, feedback, bug report. Now that this is clear, let's take a look at what's new with Android P. The focus is on providing developers with more tools to make use of modern smartphones and on introducing new capabilities for apps. Here's a run of the most important features: Display cutout support (aka notch support): like it or not, devices are launching now with a cutout in the display and Android P will make it easier for developers to optimize their apps' look to either force a fullscreen layout around the notch or keep the content separate from the status bar and notch. Multi-camera API: on devices with two or more cameras, developers can get streams from all of them simultaneously and call a logical or fused stream. Better messaging notifications: in the notifications for messaging apps, developers can properly show images and stickers, display full conversations with contact names, and suggest smart replies (like the Reply app but natively). Indoor positioning: P is adding support for the IEEE 802.11mc WiFi protocol (WiFi RTT) which lets apps measure their distance to an access point and by using triangulation, it can deduct the indoor position up to one or two meters. Open Mobile API for NFC payments: apps will be able to access secure elements and enable smart card payments. Data cost and JobScheduler: using network status signals coming from the carriers, JobScheduler can check what an app's pending task is and manage it by defering large requests on a congested network or prefetching things when the network is unmetered. ImageDecoder: a replacement to BitmapFactory, it provides better decoding, scaling, post-processing, and support for animated images. And there are more from a new Neural Networks API 1.1 to HDR VP9 video support, HEIF image encoding, and improvements to autofill, fingerprint authentication, ART performance, Kotlin optimization, and power efficiency. But perhaps the most interesting bits announced today are the limitations Google is putting with P going forward: We've known for a while that in November 2018, Google Play will require all app updates to target Android Oreo (API 26) and above. The P developer preview will get the wheels in motion by warning users each time they install an app that targets a platform earlier than Android 4.2 (level 17). With subsequent dev previews, this limit will be raised. Access to non-public APIs will be restricted gradually, as previously announced, so developers will have to migrate their apps to use a public equivalent or reach out to the Android developer team to request new APIs for their use case if they're not available yet. And as previously spotted, idle apps won't have access to the mic, camera, or sensors in the background. We'll have more detailed posts later to delve into each of these features so keep your eyes open for the next few days and don't forget to send us any tips if you spot something new in Android P after installing the developer preview. Androidpolice.com
  13. Chrome extensions are very useful pieces of software. They allow users to fix issues in Chrome that the developers do not plan on resolving, add new features to the browser, or increase security as you browse the web. All of these benefits, though, come with a downside. This is an increase in memory, CPU utilization, and potential bugs that may occur due to conflicting extensions. This is where the Extensity Chrome extension comes in. Extensity is an extension manager for Chrome that allows you to easily list, enable, & disable extensions installed in Chrome. Even better, Extensity allows you to configure Profiles that consist of a specific group of enabled and disabled extensions. This way you can create a profile for web development or infosec that contain different groups of enabled/disabled extensions and switch between them as necessary. The memory consumption of Chrome extension Before take a look at Extensity, it is important to understand why this extension is so useful. While extension conflicting with each other do exist and extension icons can quickly take up too much space, the main reason to manage and optimize your Chrome extensions is to reduce the amount of memory Chrome uses. For example, below is an image of the Chrome Task Manager with one browser window and a single tab open to Google.com. This windows shows that Chrome is using about 70 MB of memory. Now I personally have 24 extensions installed in Chrome, with the majority disabled until I need them. To give a dramatic example of what Chrome's memory consumption looks like when all 24 extensions are loaded, you can see the image below. With all of the extensions loaded, Chrome is now using approximate 446 MB with only one Window open to a single tab of Google. As you open more browser windows and more tabs, this memory consumption will increase and begin to use up a large amount of memory. This is where Extensity comes in. How Extensity helps you manager your Chrome extension As you can now see, while extensions add wanted behavior to Chrome, they can quickly use up a lot of your computer's memory. To resolve this, we can use Extensity to only enable extensions when we need them and disable all the rest. To get started, install Extensity from the Chrome Web Store. When Extensity is installed, a new icon will appear in your Chrome toolbar as shown below. Extensity Button If you click on this icon, it will open a list of all the installed extensions and apps. You can then use this list to quickly enable or disable any extension. Extensity Extension List To disable an extension, simply click on it and it will become greyed out to indicate that it is disabled. To enable an extension, simply click on one so it becomes bolded as shown at the top of the list above. It is important to note that when you click on an extension, its status changes immediately and does not require the reboot of Chrome. At the top of Extensity's extension list is a variety of buttons that you can use to perform various quick tasks. Extensity Header Buttons Starting from left to right, is a toggle to quickly enable/disable any currently enabled extensions, a button that opens the Chrome extension list, a button for the Profiles screen, and a button for the options screen. The other three buttons are simply to share the extension on social networks. The options page also allows you to configure various settings on how Extensity operates or displays the extensions. Some of the options I recommend enabling include "Show header at the top", "Group Apps and Extension", "Show Search Box", and "Show enabled Extensions at the top". Extensity Options Page If you click on the Profiles button, you will be brought to a screen where you can create various profiles, or groups, of enabled and disabled extensions. You can use these profiles to make groups of extensions that are commonly used together and pertain to a particular task. For example, you could create a default profile for extensions that you commonly use, another for web development, and another for security research. Extensity Profiles Page You can then quickly use these profiles to switch between sets of enabled extensions. For example, I have a "development" Profile that contains all of the web developer extensions that I use. As I do not use these often, I created a profile that can enable these extensions, and disable the rest, as needed. For example, below is how the Chrome task manager looks with only the extensions enabled that I routinely use. Notice that the memory consumption is much less than if I had all 24 extensions enabled, while still having the other disabled extension accessible if needed. Commonly Used Extensions Enabled Now that you understand how Extensity works, the memory consumption of extensions, and how you can organize extensions into groups that are only enabled when you need them, you can begin to optimize the performance of Chrome Bleepingcomputer.com
  14. IBM and Intel recently debuted similarly sized chips QUANTUM UPGRADE Google’s 72-qubit quantum chip (shown) could become the first to perform a calculation impossible for traditional computers. LOS ANGELES — Quantum computers are bulking up. Researchers from Google are testing a quantum computer with 72 quantum bits, or qubits, scientists reported March 5 at a meeting of the American Physical Society — a big step up from the company’s previous nine-qubit chip. The team hopes to use the larger quantum chip to demonstrate quantum supremacy for the first time, performing a calculation that is impossible with traditional computers (SN: 7/8/17, p. 28), Google physicist Julian Kelly reported. Achieving quantum supremacy requires a computer of more than 50 qubits, but scientists are still struggling to control so many finicky quantum entities at once. Unlike standard bits that take on a value of 0 or 1, a qubit can be 0, 1 or a mashup of the two, thanks to a quantum quirk known as superposition. Nicknamed Bristlecone because its qubits are arranged in a pattern resembling a pinecone’s scales, the computer is now being put through its paces. “We’re just starting testing,” says physicist John Martinis of Google and the University of California, Santa Barbara. “From what we know so far, we’re very optimistic.” The quantum supremacy demonstration could come within a few months if everything works well, Martinis says. Google is one of several companies working to make quantum computers a reality. IBM announced it was testing a 50-qubit quantum computer in November 2017 (SN Online: 11/10/17), and Intel announced a 49-qubit test chip in January. < Here >
  15. Touchscreen and convertible PCs are very popular, growing much faster than the relatively stagnant PC market. 6 years ago Microsoft embraced the trend with an OS and browser designed for touch first, but the company was probably a bit ahead of its time, with Windows 8 failing to appeal to consumers, and its very good IE Metro browser subsequently dying with the operating system. Microsoft’s Edge browser, like Windows 10, took many steps back from Windows 8, and is designed more for mouse and keyboard usage than touch. Even worse is Google’s Chrome, the world’s most popular browser with more than 60% market share, which features tiny UI elements with no concessions towards the increasing number of users with touch screens. It appears that is slowly changing, however. First, we heard that Chrome may soon get Pull to Refresh on the desktop, and now XDA-Developers report that in early builds of chrome the top-chrome-md flag can now makes the browser a lot more touchable. On Chrome OS you can now edit chrome://flags#top-chrome-md and select touch, and see a number of changes to the top bar. The tabs become larger and taller, the close buttons more prominent, the New Tab button larger and the address bar more rounded. The changes are only available on ChromeOS at present but are expected to come to Windows when Google completes the coding work. Of course ideally, a browser should be built from the ground up for touch, such as IE Metro, but hopefully, Chrome will become good enough in the near future that it will no longer be missed. Mspoweruser.com
  16. DTube is more than a YouTube alternative DTube is more than a YouTube alternative YouTube is the world's largest video hosting platform but will it keep its position or will it drop in user popularity? And if it does, which service will pick the number one spot then? DTube is a decentralized video platform that utilizes the Blockchain and P2P technology. The first thing that I noticed when I visited the start page of the platform was that it listed Dollar amounts underneath each video. The main interface of DTube displays hot, trending and watched videos on the start page. You can run searches, or use the menu to explore trending tags and account related listings such as the "watch later" or "watch again" video lists. A click on a video opens it in the interface and videos start automatically or manually. So far, no difference to how sites like YouTube operate. Some videos may take a moment before they start, but I'm not entirely sure if that is a DTube issue or was caused on my end. DTube raises some questions: How is DTube content monetized if there are no ads (there are no ads)? Where are videos hosted? Are there restrictions in regards to videos that you can upload to the service? How are videos ranked? DTube is an ad-free platform. It uses the Steem blockchain to keep records. STEEM's advantages over comparable blockchain solutions is that it is entirely free. This means that users don't have to make initial deposits and that there are no transaction fees. Videos uploaded to DTube earn Steem crypto-currency rewards for seven days. DTube uses decentralized storage powered by IPFS to store videos. Video publishers are not the only users who earn money on DTube. Users who leave comments may earn money too. Content creators may create accounts on DTube and upload videos to the service. DTube supports regular, and NSFW videos; the latter is hidden by default but can be unlocked with a click on the settings icon and the NSFW Videos > Show in the menu that opens when you do. The service claims that there is no content moderation (manual or through algorithms) by the makers of the service and that users are in control by using the upvote/downvote functionality. The reliance on users to moderate content works right now. You don't find unpleasant videos showcased under trending or hot videos What about downsides? There is not too much content on the video platform yet. While the situation improves with every passing month, content is nowhere near the level of YouTube or other popular video hosting sites. Closing Words DTube gets a lot of things right. It is a decentralized platform without censorship or algorithms that artificially change the rankings if videos. It is ad-free, but creators and users may still earn revenue when they interact with the service. The main downside right now is that it lacks content. It offers a good selection of content in niche categories such as cryptocurrency but lacks content in other areas such as gaming, fitness, or music. You will find videos but not the sheer mass of content that is uploaded to YouTube every day. Now You: Which video platform do you favor, and why? Source PS: You can also try BitChute - in case if you don't like YouTube/DTube for various reasons....
  17. Which extensions you can use on Chrome I would like to use an extension in Chrome but it is unticked and greyed out so it will not allow me to use it! All because this extension was not from the Chrome Web Store! What a bunch of BS. Does anyone know a way to enable this extension? Thank you.
  18. The Case Against Google

    Critics say the search giant is squelching competition before it begins. Should the government step in? Shivaun Moeran and Adam Raff met, married and started a company — thereby sparking a chain of events that might, ultimately, take down this age of internet giants as we know it — because they were both huge nerds. In the late 1980s, Adam was studying programming at the University of Edinburgh, while Shivaun was focused on physics and computer science at King’s College London. They had mutual friends who kept insisting they were perfect for each other. So one weekend, they went on a date and discovered other similarities: They both loved stand-up comedy. Each had a science-minded father. They shared a weakness for puns. In the years that followed, those overlapping enthusiasms led to cohabitation, a raucous wedding and parallel careers at big technology firms. The thing is, though, when you’re young and geeky and fall in love with someone else young and geeky, all your nerdy friends want you to set them up on dates as well. So Adam and Shivaun, who took Adam’s last name after marriage, approached the problem like two good programmers: They designed a dating app. The app was known as MatchMate, and the idea was simple: Rather than just pairing people with similar interests, their software would put together potential mates according to an array of parameters, such as which pub they were currently standing in, and whether they had friends in common, and what movies they liked or candidates they voted for, and dozens of other factors that might be important in finding a life partner (or at least a tonight partner). The magic of MatchMate was that it could allow a user to mix variables and search for pairings within a specific group, a trick that computer scientists call parameterization. “It was like asking your best friend to set you up,” Shivaun told me. “Someone who says, ‘Well, you probably think you’d like this guy because he’s handsome, but actually you’d like this other guy because he’s not as good-looking, but he’s really funny.’ ” Within computer science, this kind of algorithmic alchemy is sometimes known as vertical search, and it’s notoriously hard to master. Even Google, with its thousands of Ph.D.s, gets spooked by vertical-search problems. “Google’s built around horizontal search, which means if you type in ‘What’s the population of Myanmar,’ then Google finds websites that include the words ‘Myanmar’ and ‘population,’ and figures out which ones are most likely to answer your question,” says Neha Narula, who was a software engineer at Google before joining the M.I.T. Media Lab. You don’t really care if Google sends you to Wikipedia or a news article or some other site, as long as its results are accurate and trustworthy. But, Narula says, “when you start asking questions with only one correct answer, like, Which site has the cheapest vacuum cleaner? — that’s much, much harder.” For search engines like Google, finding that one correct answer becomes particularly difficult when people have numerous parameters they want satisfied: Which vacuum cleaner is cheapest but also energy-efficient and good on thick carpets and won’t scare the dog? To balance those competing preferences, you need a great vertical-search engine, which was something Adam and Shivaun had thought a lot about. Soon the Raffs began daydreaming about turning their idea into a moneymaker. They didn’t have the funds to compete with huge dating sites like Match.com, so they applied for a couple of patents and began brainstorming. They believed that their vertical-search technology was good — better, in fact, than almost anything they had seen online. Best of all, it was built to work well on almost any kind of data set. With just a bit of tinkering, it could search for cheap airline tickets, or great apartments, or high-paying jobs. It could handle questions with hard-to-compare variables, like what’s the cheapest flight between London and Las Vegas if I’m trying to choose between business class or leaving after 3 p.m.? As far as they could tell, their search technology performed better on such problems than Google did, which Adam discovered when he tried to buy an iPod online. “I spent half an hour searching Google for the lowest price, and it drove me completely mad,” he told me. It was impossible for him to figure out which sites were selling iPods and which were selling accessories, like headphones or charging cords. Or Google would show Adam one price, but then the actual price was completely different. Or there was an extra charge for shipping. It seemed to Adam his technology would do a much better job. [...] Please, if interested, read this rather long, yet worth-your-time, article < here > Thank you.
  19. View Image is a browser extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that adds a "view image" button to Google Images so that users can click on it to display the image directly in the browser. Google removed the view image button from its image search engine Google Images recently after the company came to an agreement with Getty Images. The button loads the image that is displayed directly. This gives users options to look at it more closely and to download it to the local device that they use. While it is still possible to to do after the removal of the button on Google Images -- users can still right-click on the image and select "open image in new tab" or a similar option -- view image made the whole process easier and many Internet users probably don't know that they can open the image through the context menu. We suggest that you use a different image search engine such as Startpage instead. You can view images directly on Startpage and images do get opened through a proxy so that your IP address is not revealed to the site hosting the image. View Image extension View Image is a new browser extension for Firefox and Chrome that adds the button to Google Images again. The extension should work in compatible browsers such as Opera or Vivaldi as well, and the functionality of it is identical. Closing Words Google users who used "view images" in the past regularly to load images in a standalone tab may use the View Image browser extension to restore the functionality. Most users don't need it probably though as it is still possible to right-click on images to load them individually. The extension does require access to your browsing data on all Google sites and the code is available on GitHub. Ghacks.net
  20. Want to work for Google?

    CEO touts 'jobs for thousands' in $2.5bn US expansion plan Google talks up job creation as part of its plans to extend its US datacenter operations. Amazon and Apple aren't the only tech giants drumming up news about creating jobs in the US. Google CEO Sundar Pichai says his company's $2.5bn datacenter expansion across the US will create thousands of jobs in engineering, operations and sales. Google will be expanding its offices and datacenters in 14 states across the US, Pichai said in a blogpost detailing a groundbreaking event for a new datacenter in Clarksville/Montgomery County in Tennessee. Google announced plans in 2015 to build the Tennessee datacenter in a former semiconductor manufacturing facility. The $2.5bn will go on opening or expanding datacenters in Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and Oklahoma. The search and advertising giant is also opening or expanding offices in California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. "In these locations, there will be jobs for thousands of people in a variety of roles -- engineering, operations, sales and more," wrote Pichai. The expansion will mean Google has operations across 21 states, consisting of six datacenter campuses, which employ about 1,900 people, and 17 offices. Google planned for the Tennessee facility to be powered by renewable energy and an existing on-site power substation. At the time the estimated investment was $500m. The company also announced a $300,000 Google.org grant to Goodwill of Middle Tennessee for adding new digital skills training to its workforce-development program. The scheme includes new local scholarships for Google's IT Support Professional Certificate. Apple in January announced plans to create more than 20,000 jobs and invest $350bn over the next five years. The iPhone maker will spend $10bn on new datacenters. Amazon also expects to create 50,000 jobs at one the 20 US sites it has shortlisted for its second headquarters. < Here >
  21. Google's got a new chatbot that can fool your friends into thinking it's you Keeping up with the frantic pace of online chat can be stressful, but Google is testing a new tool called Reply that will take the hassle out of keeping up. Reply will work with popular apps including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter and Slack, interpreting what your friends are saying and suggesting replies based on your usual conversation style. Reply will also incorporate other information you've handed over to Google, such as your location and daily schedule, to give automated replies an extra twist of authenticity. Speak for yourself If you use the Gmail mobile app you'll be familiar with Smart Replies – the short suggested responses that sometimes appear when you read a message. For example, if someone asks you if you're going to the cinema later, the app might offer the options 'Yes, I'm coming', 'No, I'm not', and 'Yes, see you there'. If you tap one, the app will open a reply window with the text already completed, ready to be edited or sent. As the name suggests, Smart Replies are adapted over time to reflect the way you write. According to an email sent to testers and published by by Android Police, Reply will go a step further, pulling in appointments from your calendar and even adapting responses based on where you are. "When you’re driving, Reply can silence your phone and tell people who message you that you can’t chat right now," says the email from Google's testbed for experimental tools, Area 120. The app will also give you a kick if you're running late: "When you get an urgent message like 'We’re waiting for you!' Reply can make sure to get your attention even when your phone is silent." Smart Replies have to be confirmed before they're sent, but according to Area 120's testing email, Reply responses will be "literally one click away". If you're the hands-off type, you might be able to subcontract a sizeable chunk of your social life – and if it works as well as advertised, your loved ones won't even know. SOURCE
  22. Google Fuchsia Release Date, News And Rumors. The future of Google’s Android-Chrome hybrid OS In early October 2017, we expected Google to reveal a new operating system that has been rumored and reported for almost two years: ‘Google Andromeda,’ a merging of its Android and Chrome operating systems (OS) in a way we've never before seen. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and today we know that project as ‘Google Fuchsia,’ which is very much still in the works – and publicly. Fuchsia is expected to become Google’s singular platform for laptops, phones and tablets running its software. Whether its running the full-fat version of Google Docs, fully leveraging Google Drive or finding your favorite app from the Google Play Store, you’ll be able to do it all from any Google Fuchsia-powered device. What’s more, you’ll be able to pick up from exactly where you left off on each app easily from any other Fuchsia device. For as excited as we are about Fuchsia, even with running early versions and the like, we’re still in the early days of Fuchsia – likely a year out from seeing Google laptops and phones alike run on this OS. That’s plenty of time to gather all the latest info and speculate! So, join us as we explore what Fuchsia is, what its capabilities are and how it might affect both Chrome OS and Android – and Google’s rivals – whenever it releases. Cut to the chase What is it? An Android-meets-Chrome, multi-device operating system When is it out? An early form is available on Chromebook Pixel now What will it cost? Likely nothing, as is with Android and Chrome A Google Pixelbook running an early version of Fuchsia OS (Image Credit: Ars Technica) What is Google Fuchsia? Again, Google Fuchsia is a hybrid OS that is still very much in development. The entirety of Fuchsia OS is comprised of two distinct but connected user interfaces (UI): a phone-centric one codenamed ‘Armadillo’ and a traditional desktop UI known as ‘Capybara’ internally, according to 9to5Google. So far, more is known about the mobile version of Fuchsia than the laptop one, but ArsTechnica was recently able to get Fuchsia running on a Google Pixelbook in an awfully early state. This approach to OS design is very similar to Microsoft’s, in which Windows 10 exists within PCs, phones, tablets and game consoles with very specific interfaces tailored to those devices. However, all of those different interfaces are built upon the same root code, known as a kernel, allowing them to run the same apps. In the case of Fuchsia, that kernel is known as ‘Zircon’, 9to5Google reports, and it’s designed to be consistently upgradeable and safe from applications accessing it constantly, adding an extra layer of security and eliminating situations in which apps are rendered incompatible with OS updates. Whether it’s in the mobile or desktop orientation, Fuchsia is laden with Google’s Material design found all over its Android and Chrome OS products. Shadows are a big focus on the design aesthetic, using a new renderer known as ‘Escher’ to do the job. The result is an interface with more depth to its look than traditionally flat OS products. Google Fuchsia as it appears on a smartphone device. Fuchsia is also heavily focused on a cards-based interface, in which every app you open appears inside one of these cards – plus, you can place multiple apps into a single card. This orients the user around tasks at hand rather than apps. From there, the OS revolves quite a bit around Google Assistant more deeply accessing your apps and information to provide even more thorough actions and insights. Google has referred to these apps and pieces of information as ‘entities’, according to a GitHub developer page, and on Fuchsia they’re all accessible by Google Assistant. Finally, Fuchsia wants to be the best cross-device OS to date. To achieve this, Fuchsia uses a new tool known as ‘Ledger’ by the GitHub community. Ledger, once you’re signed into a Google Account on a Fuchsia device, will automatically save your place in all installed apps across all Fuchsia devices. All in all, Fuchsia is Google’s attempt to get the best of Chrome and Android into a single operating system that’s more efficient both while you’re using it and when you’re away – not to mention in between those states or between devices. Google Fuchsia Release Date Since August 2016, the Google Fuchsia release date has been rumored several times – only to turn out untrue. These rumors have generally cropped up before Google’s big Google IO developer event in California or, in the case of last October, when we know a big hardware release is imminent. Sadly, the latest treasure trove of Google Fuchsia information from ArsTechnica’s hands-on time with the OS doesn’t contain any hints toward a possible release date. However, the outlet does go out of its way to note just how early in development the OS looks and feels. This should help frame our expectations for when we should expect to see Fuchsia on shelf-ready devices: most likely not before 2019. That doesn’t mean that we won’t see the OS at all in 2018, as Google could choose to preview it somehow this year in preparation for a wider release next year. At any rate, keep it locked to this page as we draw closer to a possible release date and therefore might have some new information for you. What could Fuchsia mean for Android and Chrome – and Windows and macOS? From what we're hearing, Fuchsia seems to be Google's response to Microsoft and Apple's united platforms with one of its own. In turning Android into one of the two biggest smartphone platforms and later popularizing Chrome OS – and its extensible web-based productivity programs – in the classroom and workplace, Google itself has become a major player on all platforms. Again, from the sound of it, Fuchsia is going to accomplish much of what Microsoft and Apple already have in Windows 10 and iOS-to-macOS Sierra Continuity, respectively, but in a very Google way. It's easy to expect access to Google's inimitable search and data-tracking at your fingertips – Google Assistant and ‘entities’, anyone? – which it would tout as better than Microsoft and Apple's, and an interface that changes based on the device from which it's accessed. Will this eventually mean the end of Android and Chrome? In name, most likely, but their principles will almost certainly live on – there's too much solid foundation not to build on top of them. Just look at the Material design language found throughout these early builds of either version of Fuchsia. The end result, likely to be seen in a preview form later this year and in purchasable devices in 2019, will be just one platform for Google to worry about. With Fuchsia, Google will be able to push new updates and features to all versions at once, simplifying support as well as user understanding. With that, Google will become that much more formidable a foe to Microsoft and Apple, and that much appealing an option to Android and Chromebook users all over. Who knows, perhaps it will be enough to bring people over from the other side of Microsoft and Apple’s fences. SOURCE
  23. Nest Labs will no longer develop smart home products as a mere subsidiary of Alphabet. It's joining Google, which intends to integrate its technology into Nest products. "The goal is to supercharge Nest's mission," Google said in a Wednesday blog post. Both Alphabet subsidiaries have already been integrating their hardware and software products together. But moving forward, Google's AI and voice assistant technology will be "at the core" of new products developed under the Nest line. The decision also gives some clarity to Nest, which is best known for its smart thermostats. In 2014, Google shelled out $3.2 billion to buy the company in a move that should've also supercharged the smart appliance maker. But the deal has struggled to pay off. One problem is that Nest and Google overlap in the smart home space as subsidiaries under Alphabet. For instance, the two were reportedly developing a software product with similar functions and the same name, Weave. In 2016, Nest also faced negative press for failing to introduce new products. In that same year, the company's original CEO Tony Fadell left. Since then, Nest has developed some new tech, including a smart doorbell that's slated to ship in March. On Wednesday, Google revealed that Nest sold more devices in 2017 than the previous two years combined. However, in an interview with CNET, Nest's current CEO Marwan Fawaz said it had shipped 11 million products to date — not exactly an incredible amount, given that its smart thermostat first went on sale in 2011. The two companies are coming together as they face stiff competition from Amazon and Apple in the smart home market. Google has been responding by selling its smart speakers under the Google Home line. The company sold "tens of millions" of them last year. Article
  24. Google has released Chrome 64 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, bringing a stronger pop-up blocker, over 50 security fixes, and more mitigations for the Spectre attack. As Google promised last year, Chrome 64 introduces a stronger pop-up block to protect against sneaky tactics that lead users to unwanted content through redirects. The abusive experiences that the blocker targets are practices often used by shadier sections of the web, including ads or parts of a page that create bogus site warnings and error messages, 'close' buttons that that do something other than close a page element, and play buttons that open third-party sites offering to download an app. Google is also offering feedback to site owners through the Abusive Experiences Report in Google Search Console. The report indicates if their site has displayed any of the abusive behavior and offers advice to improve the experience for users. Site owners will soon need to contend with the Ad Experience Report too, which is part of the new ad-blocking system Google is bringing to Chrome. Google revealed in December that from February 15 Chrome will remove ads that don't comply with standards overseen by the Coalition for Better Ads. "Starting on February 15, in line with the Coalition's guidelines, Chrome will remove all ads from sites that have a 'failing' status in the Ad Experience Report for more than 30 days," Google said. The stable Chrome 65 release is scheduled for March 6, so Google will be activating the ad-blocking system in Chrome 64. The Coalition for Better Ads this month kicked off the Better Ads Experience Program, which certifies that publishers agree to its standards. Sites that violate the standards are included in the Ad Experience Report, where site owners can submit their site for a reassessment after fixing the offending ads. Chrome 64 also contains 53 security fixes, among them 24 bugs reported by third-party researchers. So far, Google has paid out $22,000 to researchers for the bugs, including a $2,000 bounty to GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) for a medium-severity WebAssembly flaw. Finally, Chrome 64 brings some of Google's fixes for the Spectre attack that can be used against browsers. Google in January advised customers they could use Chrome's optional site-isolation feature to mitigate the attack, and flagged additional mitigations in Chrome 64 via the browser's V8 JavaScript engine. It has detailed some of these changes. The company will be adding more mitigations in future. Article