Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘google

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

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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

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Google’s Freaky Deaky

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Happy Hump Day.

First, it’s been a while since I wrote much about golf, and The Player’s Championship starts tomorrow at TPC Sawgrass, so I thought I would start with my list of likely winners (and in no particular order): Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, and Jordan Spieth. 

Now watch none of those win because *I* called it! 

Now, back on the tech front, Facebook has announced a sweeping new reorganization, according to Recode, appointing Chief Product Officer Chris Cox to now lead Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, and Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer to oversee AR/VR, AI, and Facebook’s foray into the blockchain.

Back over on the subcontinent, Walmart has agreed to a $16 billion deal to buy a majority stake in India’s Flipkart. Flipkart is an Indian e-commerce company based out of Bengaluru, 

According to a report from CNBC, Wallmart said it would acquire an initial stake of roughly 77 percent in Flipkart, while the remainder of the business would be held by existing investors.

More details:

Walmart said in a statement that its long-term aim would be to support Flipkart’s transition into a publicly-listed subsidiary. The retailer said it expects India’s e-commerce market to grow at four times the rate of the overall retail industry.

Walmart’s president and chief executive, Doug McMillon, said the investment in Flipkart was part of the company’s aim to invest in India’s fast-growing economy.

“India is one of the most attractive retail markets in the world, given its size and growth rate, and our investment is an opportunity to partner with the company that is leading transformation of e-commerce in the market,” McMillon said in a statement.

As for Google’s announcements at the first day of Google’s developer confab, Google I/O, yesterday, get ready to take some notes.

Google announced: Android P; AD-2, an Android TV streaming HDMI stick (for developers only, for now); App Bundles (lets Android devs define which parts of an app to download on a specific device); Android Jetpack (set of components to speed up app development); ML Kit (an SDK for devs to add AI smarts to iOS and Android apps).

That’s just some of what was announced. 

The most impressive demo at Day 1 was of Google Duplex, where the company demoed the Google Assistant calling another human to make reservations for a hair cut appointment. If watching that demo didn’t completely freak you out and, at the same time, be excited about watching as our robot overlords prepare to take over, I don’t know what will.

You can read more about how it works here.

Written by turbotodd

May 9, 2018 at 9:08 am

Posted in 2018, facebook

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Google Input/Output

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Google I/O, the company’s annual developer confab, kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday, May 9th) in Mountain View.

The Verge provided a preview, and indicated there would be new news across the Google and Alphabet board, including information about its new wearable platform, Wear OS; Google Assistant to Android TV; Google Home; Google Play; and Search.

On the Android front, The Verge reports the new version will be called simply, “P,” and is “focused on making room for the now pervasive display notch on full-screen smartphones, giving users more granular privacy settings, and unifying and simplifying the design language and usability of menus, docks, and settings screens.”

On the AI front, The Verge says to expect more details on Google Lens, and the TensorFlow platform and Tensor Processing Unit chips (which are at the core of Google’s specially designed AI training systems).

And for Google Wear (rebranded from Android Wear), the Wear OS has been in developer preview and is expected to have improvements to battery life and more inclusion of Google Assistant features.

Also expect some new news about Google Assistant more broadly, and the accompanying Google Home hardware family, as well as info on Google Photos, News, Play and the company’s new gaming startup, Arcade.

You can check out the full Google I/O schedule here.

Written by turbotodd

May 7, 2018 at 9:27 am

Posted in 2018, android, developers

Tagged with , , ,

Google’s New Machine for Learning

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The Verge is reporting that Google has introduced a new artificial intelligence/machine learning training website for anyone looking to learn about machine learning concepts, and develop and hone their machine learning skills.

According to the report, the site also features a free course called “Machine Learning Crash Course,” one based off an internal Google course that was originally designed to give the company’s employees a practical introduction to AI and machine learning fundamentals.

The course lasts roughly 15 hours, and includes interactive lessons, lectures from Google researchers, and over 40 exercises. The Verge reports that it is designed for newcomers with no machine learning  experience.

Written by turbotodd

March 1, 2018 at 9:11 am

Chrome’s New Ad Blocking

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TechCrunch is reporting that Chrome’s built-in ad blocker will go live tomorrow, the first time Google will automatically block some ads in Chrome.

They note that this is not an alternative to AdBlock Plus or uBlock Origin, but rather Google’s effort “to ban the most annoying ads from your browser.”

Uh, that would be all of them, wouldn’t it?

The user experience will go a little something like this: If you end up on a site where Chrome’s blocking ads, you’ll see a small pop-up in Chrome that allows you to sidestepFull page ads, ads with autoplaying sound and video, and flashing ads will be targeted by Chrome’s ad filtering, which will hopefully result in less of these annoying ads on the web. the ad blocker and allow ads for that site.

The Verge reports Google will be selecting for specific types of ads:

Full page ads, ads with autoplaying sound and video, and flashing ads will be targeted by Chrome’s ad filtering, which will hopefully result in less of these annoying ads on the web.

This should be fun.

Written by turbotodd

February 14, 2018 at 11:39 am

Samsung Theatre, RSS-Less Google

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Anybody watch that Samsung Galaxy S4 launch last night on the Webcast from Radio City Music Hall in New York City?

Well, the latest episode of Smash it certainly was not.  I think the entire show could probably have used a dramaturg, but hey, what do I know? The last show I saw at Radio City Music Hall was Iron Maiden sometime around 1985.

But, if Samsung doesn’t exactly have a handle on the number of the thespian beast, they certainly do seem to have learned how to make smartphones.

Once I got past all the drama last night, I was ready to shell out a few hundred bucks to move back into the smartphone camp (I’m currently carrying an LG feature phone from Verizon, because unlike most people, I actually still use my cell phone to TALK to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.)  I currently depend on an iPod Touch 5th gen for most of my tablet computing (news consumption, email, calendaring, shooter games, travel, etc.)

But at some point, I’m going to create my own harmonic computing convergence and try to come back to one device.

Of course, the price point for an unlocked Galaxy S4 will likely require a second mortage, and that’s if you can even find one.

So I’m also keeping an eye on the downmarket players like BLU Products, a little known player from whom I recently ordered an unlocked feature phone for $35 that I now use as my bat phone.

BLU is introducing a whole slate of new smartphones in April, entitled “Live View,” “Life One,” and “Life Play,” all of which will allegedly be sold unlocked on Amazon and range between $229 and $299.

The Life View model will include a 5.7-inch display (bigger than the Galaxy 5 at 5 inches), a 12-megapixel rear/5-megapixel front camera, 1GB RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, and also a 2,600Ah battery for those lonnngg plane rides to Bangalore.

I imagine that phone will be “good enough,” and you can learn more here on Engadget.

What’s apparently not good enough for Google is having an RSS reader. It was just announced that Google Reader was going to be taken out back to the Google woodshed and shot, as of July 1 of this year, a resultant casualty of Google’s annual “Spring Cleaning.”

To whit I ask, couldn’t they have found something less useful to “clean?”

Not to pile on, but this is a really dumb move for Google, if not for the bad PR value alone (and there’s been plenty of that). Google Reader was a beloved product, if only by the niche social digerati — you know, all those massive influencers with a big social media megaphone.

For my money, it’s a jaded move — Google’s not making any money off Reader, and RSS feeds are notoriously difficult to measure, so why not bury it in the Mountain View backyard? On the other hand, it would be nice for them to keep a useful tool that helps we bloggers keep our blogging sanity, and Reader does/did? just that.

C’est la Google vie…I’ve turned to Feedly online and on the iPod, and Reeder on the Mac, to assuage my soon-to-be Google Readerless existence.  So far, I’m digging the newspaper-ish like layout.  I just hope I can learn how to add and subtract feeds as easily as I was able to on the Google Reader cloud.

As for my post-SXSW-partum depression, the sun’s shining in Austin and I plan to get out and play some golf this weekend.  But I’ll just say this: For me, Best SouthBy ever.  I saw a lot of great speakers and sessions, talked to a lot of cool and interesting people, consumed some of my native city’s great food and drink, and enjoyed myself all the way around.

And for those of you who made it to the IBM party at Haven Saturday night, well how about that?  Definitely NOT your father’s IBM.

The bar she has been raised.

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