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Posts Tagged ‘ Google ’

Google Maps now lets you flag places to be wheelchair-friendly. Previously, you had to rely on “Local Guides” – other users – to tell you about places. Now flags can be left permanently to tell others who visit later.

According to Google, nearly seven million places now have accessibility information listed on Google Maps ever since this was implemented yesterday.

That said, everything is about wheelchairs right now – wheelchair-accessible entrances, wheelchair-accessible elevators, wheelchair-accessible seating and wheelchair-accessible parking. What we tend to see more often here are stuff for the visually impaired. We’re sure our fellow Malaysians will get really busy tagging places with blind tracks and Braille on elevator buttons.

Google Glass, Google’s super expensive face computer last received a software update back in September 2014. But today, out of nowhere, almost three years later, Google has rolled out a new firmware (XE23) update for the device, with a list of ‘bug fixes and performance improvements’, and strangely enough, Bluetooth support.

 

There’s also been an update to the ‘MyGlass’ app, Google Glass’ Android companion app. After three years of neglect, the app has now been updated to Android 5.1 compatibility, and it even has Notification Listener Service. This allows the app to sync notifications from the phone to the device, just like Android Wear. It has also been updated to prompt the user to disable the battery-saving Doze mode for the app so it can work when the phone is asleep.

 

 

One of the first things you would do upon performing a clean install of Google Chrome on your PC is to download an ad-blocker extension of some sort, right? Well, you will no longer have to do so come 2018, as Google has confirmed that it will indeed be releasing a version of Chrome with a built-in ad-blocker next year.

 

Chrome’s future ad-blocker will specifically be targeting ads that are defined as ‘annoying’ by the Coalition for Better Ads, including pop-up ads, auto-playing video ads with sound, large sticky ads, and those incredibly annoying countdown ads that force you to wait for an excruciating number of seconds before directing you to your desired page.

 

Keep in mind that Google’s intention here isn’t to purge the internet of all advertisements – only the ones that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards. Not surprisingly, since a large chunk of Google’s revenue does, after all, come from advertising. In the first three months of 2017, Google posted an advertising revenue of US$21.4 billion (approx. RM91.5 billion).

 

“The reality is, it’s far too common that people encounter annoying, intrusive ads on the web–like the kind that blare music unexpectedly, or force you to wait 10 seconds before you can see the content on the page,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy the Senior Vice President of Ads and Commerce at Google.

 

“These frustrating experiences can lead some people to block all ads – taking a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation,” Ramaswamy added.

 

 

 

Google has announced that Android Pay will be available in five new markets: Taiwan, Spain, Brazil, Russia and Canada.

 

So far, Google has officially confirmed that Android Pay is launching in Taiwan. Furthermore, the company unveiled plans to expand its mobile payment app to Canada, Spain, Brazil and Russia.

 

Russia media reports that Android Pay will be available at the following banks: Sberbank Rossii, Alfa-Bank, Raiffeisenbank, and Tinkoff Bank. Android users, which account for 87% of the total smartphone market in Russia, according to XDA, will be able to make mobile payments using the NFC at these banks.

 

Google has not confirmed which banks will support Android Pay in Canada, Spain and Brazil.

 

 

It’s pretty easy to read your emails while you’re on the go, but responding to those emails takes effort. Smart Reply, available in Inbox by Gmail and Allo, saves you time by suggesting quick responses to your messages. The feature already drives 12 percent of replies in Inbox on mobile. And starting today, Smart Reply is coming to Gmail for Android and iOS too. 

Smart Reply suggests three responses based on the email you received:

Once you’ve selected one, you can send it immediately or edit your response starting with the Smart Reply text. Either way, you’re saving time.

 

 

Smart Reply utilizes machine learning to give you better responses the more you use it. So if you’re more of a “thanks!” than a “thanks.” person, we’ll suggest the response that’s, well, more you! If you want to learn about the smarts behind Smart Reply, check out the Google Research Blog.

Smart Reply will roll out globally on Android and iOS in English first, and Spanish will follow in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more languages coming soon!

 

 

In what sounds like the irony of all ironies, a Wall Street Journal report states that Google is planning to add an ad blocker to Chrome browsers – both desktop and mobile versions – and it’s likely that it will be turned on by default.

 

Google’s own ad blocker would filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide a bad experience for users when they’re surfing the web – things like popup ads, those that auto-play videos, and ‘prestitial’ ads – ads that cover the entire page, with a countdown timer before you can close it and actually read the content that you’re after. These standards are apparently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, which deemed these kinds of ads “beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”

Now this all sounds really great to the average consumer, but it does raise a bit of suspicion that Google, which makes money for Alphabet mainly via advertising, would come up with its own ad blocker. This is especially when the company has been working hard to circumvent or even punish users of other ad blockers, the most obvious case would be on YouTube, where users with ad blockers will lose the option to skip ads, some of which are longer than the video they are trying to watch.

Perhaps the logic here is that Google comes up with its own ad blocker so as to quell the growth of other ad blockers. Google apparently pays to be part of an ‘Acceptable Ads’ program by the makers of AdBlock Plus, a popular ad blocking extension on its own Google Chrome browser. This obviously costs money, and maybe what Google’s top people have in mind is that their own ad blocker would stop users from using other ad blockers, saving them the cash that would otherwise be spent on paying to be an ‘acceptable ad’.

But on the flip side, if Google becomes an ad blocker itself, it could then charge other advertisers it makes money out of even more exorbitantly, once they have to also start paying to be an ‘acceptable ad’ in addition to just being an add taking up space on a web page. This sounds a tad hypocritical, and will likely be a step to be criticized by other advertisers.

All speculation aside, the Wall Street Journal’s sources say that details are still being ironed out, and if it comes to pass, Google could announce it within weeks. Google itself declined to comment when contacted by the Wall Street Journal.

Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. Enter the Google Assistant, which is conversational, personal and helps you get things done—from telling you about your day to taking a selfie. The Assistant is already available on Pixel, Google Home, Google Allo and Android Wear. Now we’re bringing it to even more people. Starting this week, the Google Assistant is coming to smartphones running Android 7.0 Nougat and Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Whether you need to know how to say “nice to meet you” in Korean or just a simple reminder to do laundry when you get home, your Assistant can help. With the Google Assistant on Android phones, you have your own personal, helpful Google right in your pocket.

And here are a few other things to try out—just long press on the Home button or say “Ok Google” to get started:

  • What’s my confirmation number for my London flight?
  • Take me to Museu Picasso.
  • Show my photos of sunsets in Tahoe.
  • Do I need an umbrella today?
  • Turn on the living room lights.

The Google Assistant will begin rolling out this week to English users in the U.S., followed by English in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as German speakers in Germany. It will continue to add more languages over the coming year.

The Google Assistant will automatically come to eligible Android phones running Nougat and Marshmallow with Google Play Services. You’ll also see the Google Assistant on some newly announced partner devices, including the LG G6.

Three months ago, Google announced it would in early 2017 launch support for high-end graphics processing units (GPUs) for machine learning and other specialized workloads. It’s now early 2017 and, true to its word, Google today officially made GPUs on the Google Cloud Platform available to developers. As expected, these are Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs, and developers will be able to attach up to eight of these to any custom Compute Engine machine.

 

These new GPU-based virtual machines are available in three Google data centers: us-east1, asia-east1 and europe-west1. Every K80 core features 2,496 of Nvidia’s stream processorswith 12 GB of GDDR5 memory (the K80 board features two cores and 24 GB of RAM).

 

ou can never have too much compute power when you’re running complex simulations or using a deep learning framework like TensorFlow, Torch, MXNet of Caffee. Google is clearly aiming this new feature at developers who regularly need to spin up clusters of high-end machines to power their machine learning frameworks. The new Google Cloud GPUs are integrated with Google’s Cloud Machine Learning service and its various database and storage platforms.

 

 The cost per GPU is $0.70 per hour in the U.S. and $0.77 in the European and Asian data centers. That’s not cheap, but a Tesla K80 accelerator with two cores and 24 GB of Ram will easily set you back a few thousand dollars, too.
 

The announcement comes only a few weeks before Google is scheduled to host its Cloud NEXT conference in San Francisco — where chances are we’ll hear quite a bit more about the company’s plans for making its machine learning services available to even more developers.

If your daily routine involves accessing Gmail through Google Chrome on a system that’s running on Windows XP or Vista, you might want to consider transitioning over to newer pastures soon, as Google has recently announced that Gmail will no longer support Chrome browsers that are running on version 53 and below beginning December 2017.

Why are Gmail users on Windows XP and Vista being singled out? Because the most recent (and very last) Chrome version that was released for the aforementioned two operating systems is version 49. Google officially stopped churning out updates for Chrome browsers on Windows XP and Vista in April 2016.

Of course, if you’re still adamant on sticking with Windows XP and Vista, you will still be able to access Gmail via Chrome, just that you will automatically be redirected to the basic and less secure HTML version of the service in December 2017.

Not entirely sure if your Chrome browser is updated to the latest version? Google will prompt you to have it updated via a banner that will be displayed at the top of the Gmail web interface beginning this Wednesday, February 8, 2017. If you don’t see it, it could mean that your browser is already running on version 53 and above – or that you’re running on Windows XP or Vista.

Google’s Chrome browser has always been open source on Android and PC, but never available on iOS. This is because Apple demands that browsers use its own WebKit platform instead of their own rendering engines, so Google can’t just use its typical code base for iOS Chrome. However, that’s all changing today, as Google has just added the iOS Chrome code into Chromium.

Not only should this speed up the development of Chrome for iOS, Google also points out that as all of the company’s usual Chromium tests now apply to the iOS code, it’ll also be easier to implement cross-platform features, which means more frequent updates that will help the iOS browser more closely match its Android counterpart.