Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘google’ Category

Game On

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Happy Hump Day.

As Steve Ballmer once said on a Microsoft event stage, “Developers, developers, developers.”

He was huffing and puffing and sweating profusely when he said it, but the sentiment remained the same.

And still relevant.

By way of example, earlier today Bloomberg reported that Apple is working on a new initiative entitled “Marzipan” which is intended to make it easier for developers to build apps, games, etc. for all its main devices “in one fell swoop.” 

In other words, developers will have a new software development kit that will allow them to port their iPad apps to Macs, as opposed to having to write the underlying code twice.

Bloomberg also reports that in 2020 Apple will plan to expand the kit so that iPhone apps can be converted into Mac apps similarly.

By 2021, the idea is that developers will be able to merge iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps into a “single binary,” which would in turn prevent them from having to submit their efforts to different Apple app stores.

On the gaming front, Fortune is reporting that Google is expected to announce a new game streaming service at next month’s Game Developer’s Conference. 

The gaming unit is expected to be a Netflix-like streaming service, building on the success of Project Stream. Games are run on cloud servers and streamed directly to players’ PCs, tablets, TVs, or pretty much anything with a screen. That’s fairly typical with films and programs these days, but the interactive nature of games (and the historically laggy qualities of most internet connections ) have made it impractical.

Lots of competition in them thar game streaming hills: Steam, Epic Games, Sony Playstation, etc.

But it was also a $36 billion business in 2017, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and more and more games will be moving out of retail and into the cloud.

In other words, game on.

Written by turbotodd

February 20, 2019 at 11:55 am

Posted in 2019, app store, apple, google

Tagged with , , ,

Google in the Hot Box

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai is in the hotbox today on Capitol Hill as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee.

I’ve had some of the later testimony on in the background, and there have already been lots of questions about data and data sharing, preloaded apps, privacy, DoubleClick cookies and the merging of offline data (which I found sooo 1999!).

The New York Times is following much more closely, and here are some highlights of what they’ve observed:

Republican lawmakers displayed the party’s growing distrust toward Google, raising a broad array of tough questions on the search giant’s market power, plans to relaunch service in China, and whether the site suppresses conservative content. At the core of their questions was a concern over the company’s commitment to free expression.

Kevin McCarthy, House Republican Leader, had this to say:

“All of these topics — competition, censorship, bias, and others — point to one fundamental question that demands the nation’s attention. Are America’s technology companies serving as instruments of freedom or instruments of control?”

There was also discussion around liberal-leaning biases of employees and whether or not those biases “affect[ed] filtering decisions for its search engine,” a claim many right-leaning leaders have suggested in the past.

Location information was also prevalent, and Texas Republican Ted Poe held up his own smartphone and asked Pichai if Google was tracking his whereabouts if we walked to the other side of the room.

Pichai’s response: “Not by default,” suggesting it depended on the congressman’s app settings.

The Times also observed that Google’s been taking heat both internally and externally for “Project Dragonfly,” it’s initiative to build a censored search engine that could be used in the Chinese market.

My observation: Regulation of American Internet giants is not a question of if, but when, and how much. They’ve amassed too much personal data far too quickly and treated it with reckless abandon, and now the question becomes what measures can an American regulatory regime take that has both teeth for the consumer but doesn’t stifle innovation for industry.  

It’s a tall order and a complicated ask, but they, that’s why all those lobbyists get paid the big bucks! ; )

Written by turbotodd

December 11, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Bigger, Better, Badder Pixels

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Well, uh, that was awkward. 

Just a day after Google had to come clean about its Google+ privacy debacle (and announced the imminent demise of G+ for consumers once and for all), Google announced some new members of its hardware family.

I’m an iPhone guy, but I did purchase a Google Pixelbook chromebook earlier this year that I’ve been very happy with, so at minimum I wanted to pass along the speeds and feeds from yesterday’s Google Pixel 3/XL Android smartphone announcements.

The Verge has this tight breakdown:

The Pixel 3 starts at $799 for 64GB, with the 3 XL costing $899. Add $100 to either for the 128GB storage option. That’s a $150 and $50 premium over last year’s models, respectively.. Core specs for both include a Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM (there’s no option for more), Bluetooth 5.0, and front-facing stereo speakers. Also inside is a new Titan M security chip, which Google says provides “on-device protection for login credentials, disk encryption, app data, and the integrity of the operating system.” Preorders for both phones begin today, and buyers will get six months of free YouTube Music service. The Pixels will officially launch on October 18th.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL both feature larger screens than last year’s models thanks to slimmed down bezels — and the controversial notch in the case of the bigger phone. The 3 XL has a 6.3-inch display (up from six inches on the 2 XL), while the regular 3 has a 5.5-inch screen (up from five inches). Overall, though, the actual phones are very similar in size and handling to their direct predecessors.

And Google’s own blog post explains how the Pixel 3 will help you keep from talking to those undesirable humans you’re trying to avoid:

…Starting out in English in the U.S., Pixel 3’s on-device AI helps you screen phone calls and avoid spam calls. Imagine you’re at dinner with family or in a meeting at work and a call from an unknown caller comes in. Just tap on “Screen call” to find out who’s calling and why, as well as other information (as prompted by you). You’ll immediately see a transcript of the caller’s responses so that you can then decide whether to pick up, respond by tapping a quick reply (e.g., “I’ll call you back later”), or mark the call as spam and dismiss. Processing the call details on-device means these experiences are fast, private to you, and use up less battery.

Second, Pixel users in the U.S. will be the first to get access to an experimental new Google Assistant feature, powered by Duplex technology, which helps you complete real-world tasks over the phone, like calling a restaurant to book a table. This feature will initially be available later this year in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area to help people book restaurant reservations and will roll out to other U.S. cities in the future.

Because why talk to even yet another human to make a restaurant reservation when your Google Assistant can do all the work?

Written by turbotodd

October 10, 2018 at 9:44 am

Posted in 2018, google, privacy, smartphone

Tagged with ,

Google Hides A Bug

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Happy Monday.

If it’s Monday, it must be a security and/or privacy breach day!

In today’s privacy cluster—— spotlight, The Wall Street Journal informs us that Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network — and then opted not to disclose the issue this past spring.

According to the story, the company did so “in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage.”

This from the very same company that refused to send a very senior executive to the recent tech hearings on Capitol Hill (as opposed to Facebook and Twitter, who sent their COO and CEO, respectively).

Here’s the rundown on the core of the technical glitch and failed response:

A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue, according to the documents and people briefed on the incident. A memo reviewed by the Journal prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger “immediate regulatory interest” and invite comparisons to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica….

….The internal memo from legal and policy staff says the company has no evidence that any outside developers misused the data but acknowledges it has no way of knowing for sure. The profile data that was exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status; it didn’t include phone numbers, email messages, timeline posts, direct messages or any other type of communication data, one of the people said.

The PII crown jewels, if you will.  

In response, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is going to announce “a sweeping set of data privacy measures that include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+.”

To which millions of tech geeks like myself around the globe publicly ponder, “Is Google+ even still a thing?!!”

So you think that Google search history of yours that you wouldn’t want your spouse or closest friends and colleagues to see is still safe?!!

Think again.

Want to send Serge and Larry and the gang a message?  Go to the following page and delete your entire Google history:

https://myactivity.google.com/delete-activity

Written by turbotodd

October 8, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Posted in 2018, google, privacy

Tagged with , ,

Google’s Getting AMPed

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How about that gold medal for America’s own Chloe Kim in the halfpipe snowboarding competition in Pyeonchang.  She was flyin’ like an eagle, in spire of the harsh winter winds.

Keep on truckin’, US of A.

Meanwhile, over at the Alphabet, Google has unveiled some new capabilities that seemed to be aimed squarely at Snapchat and Instagram in some friendly competition of their own.

The new capabilities, as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal, let publishes create visual-oriented stories in a mobile-friendly format not dissimilar from Snapchat and Instagram. 

Starting today, publishers can try out the developer preview of AMP stories, which include swipeable slides of text, photos, graphics and videos.

The Journal writes that “AMP stories are reminiscent of the immersive, vertical stories pioneered by Snapchat,” but that AMP stores don’t yet allow advertising to be incorporated, suggesting that Google is in the process of “building support for ads but didn’t disclose a time frame.”

It’s only a matter of time.

Written by turbotodd

February 13, 2018 at 9:31 am

Smarter Chips

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Couldn’t help but notice these two in-the-same-orbit headlines from Amazon and Google re: their own AI chips.

First, in The Information, it’s being reported that Amazon is developing a chip designed for AI to work on the Echo and other hardware powered by Alexa. 

They report that the chip should allow Alexa-powered devices to respond more quickly to commands, by allowing more data processing to be handled on the device than in the cloud. 

It seems the cloud’s edge is moving back towards the center.

And at Google, according to a post in the Google Cloud Platform blog, the company’s cloud Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) are available in beta to help machine learning experts train and run their ML models more quickly.

Some speeds and feeds deets:

Cloud TPUs are a family of Google-designed hardware accelerators that are optimized to speed up and scale up specific ML workloads programmed with TensorFlow. Built with four custom ASICs, each Cloud TPU packs up to 180 teraflops of floating-point performance and 64 GB of high-bandwidth memory onto a single board. These boards can be used alone or connected together via an ultra-fast, dedicated network to form multi-petaflop ML supercomputers that we call “TPU pods.” We will offer these larger supercomputers on GCP later this year.

Written by turbotodd

February 12, 2018 at 4:28 pm

A Pixel at a Time

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You know that whole Yahoo! data breach thing, the one where the company late last year revealed that a 2013 hack exposed the private information of over 1 billion users…yeah, well, Verizon (which bought Yahoo!, has revised the impact of the breach, suggesting that it impacted all 3 billion of its users.

While you get your head around that, a friendly reminder that former Equifax CEO Richard Smith testified on Capitol Hill yesterday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

On September 7, Equifax announced it had suffered a massive cyber breach in which the Social Security numbers, names, birthdates, and addresses of 145.5 million Americans were stolen.

How did Smith explain the hack? Equifax had learned of a weak spot in the Apache Struts software in a key computer system back in March, but never patched it. Smith then laid blame on a faulty scanner and a single Equifax staffer responsible for mishandling patches.

In a company of 9,900 employes, a single individual person was in charge of its patching process.

According to a C|NET report of the testimony, several House committee members suggested federal laws to regulate credit monitoring companies like Equifax.

Don’t hold your breath.

But if you do, let it go starting around 12 EST today, especially if you’re an Android, because Google is hosting an announcement event with news on the Android, smartphone, Chromebook, and related fronts.

Gizomodo’s sneak peak suggests that new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones will be on offer. Also rumoured, a new Google Home Mini (think Google’s version of the Echo Dot) as well as a pricey Google “Pixelbook” that is expected to have a $99 optional Pixelbook Pen and a 360-degree hinge that allows the device to morph instantly into a tablet.

There’s also talk of a new Daydream VR headset, and possibly even more support for the increasingly popular Google Assistant.

The clock is ticking…you can follow the action starting at 9 AM PDT on The Verge.

Written by turbotodd

October 4, 2017 at 10:10 am

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