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Google, in its Google Apps Update Blog, announced a new third option to their two-step verification system. The option, which will see a gradual rollout, aims to bolster log-in security with a solution that is surprisingly simple.

Available for both Android and iOS, the new two-step verification gives users an option to verify their log-in activity by either using a Security Key, a verification code sent to their smart device or through a simple prompt.

The pop-up prompt displays a dialogue with your name, profile image, and current location (city), and device you are trying to log-in from. Underneath it is a simple “No, deny sign-in” or “Yes, allow sign-in” to approve the sign-in request.

Google, in their blog post, notes that Android users will need updated version of Google Play Services to use Google prompt while iOS users will need the Google Search app to use Google prompt.

Google default search engine for ios

 

It looks like Google is willing to go to great lengths to keep their search engine at the top of the list in the mobile platform. So much so that they have agreed to share a percentage of their revenue with Apple to keep their search bar up, front, and center.

 

This is according Annette Hurst, Oracle’s attorney during a hearing in federal court. She specified that at one point in time, the revenue share was 34 percent, and in 2014, Google paid Apple US$1 billion.

 

Oracle Corp.’s filed a copyright lawsuit against the search engine giant in 2010 over claims that Google used its Java software without paying for it to develop Android. The damages Oracle seeks may exceed US$1 billion since it expanded its claims to cover newer Android versions.

 

According to Bloomberg, the transcript containing this information has vanished without a trace from electronic court records. This is no surprise as Google has requested for the transcript to be blocked saying the disclosure could severely affect its ability to negotiate similar agreements with other companies. Although the request was denied by the magistrate judge.

 

“The specific financial terms of Google’s agreement with Apple are highly sensitive to both Google and Apple. Both Apple and Google have always treated this information as extremely confidential,” said Google in their filing.

 

google-chrome

It looks like Google is making it even harder for you to associate Google Chrome with the word ‘slow’, as the company is in the process of outfitting their latest compression algorithm, ‘Brotli’, into their already lightweight browser to help boost its webpage loading times.

 

First unveiled in late-September last year, Google says ‘Brotli’ will be approximately 20 to 26 percent more efficient at compressing webpages, compared to Chrome’s current compression algorithm, ‘Zopfli’.

 

“The smaller compressed size allows for better space utilization and faster page loads,” said Zoltan Szabadka, Software Engineer of Google’s Compression Team.

Mobile Chrome users will be in on the fun as well, as Google says ‘Brotli’ will provide “lower data transfer fees and reduced battery use.”

 

If Chrome isn’t your default browser of choice, don’t worry, because according to The Verge, other web browsers such as Firefox will likewise be adopting Google’s ‘Brotli’ compression algorithm in the near future.

 

Google mentioned that ‘Brotli’ is currently in its “intent to ship” phase, which means that you can probably expect it to make its appearance in the next stable version of Chrome.

 

Yes, that’s not an iOS device, but the offline navigation feature works in a similar fashion on iOS devices.

If you happen to be spending this Christmas season travelling overseas without a mobile data plan, you might want to consider updating the Google Maps app on your iOS device to the latest version before you embark on your escapade, as it will allow you to download offline maps for future use.

Once downloaded, you’ll be able to search for local destinations (along with all their contact details and operating hours) and get turn-by-turn navigation without requiring an active Internet connection. And that means you won’t be needing to constantly depend on free Wi-Fi hotspots to get your bearings straight.

The good thing about these offline maps is that you won’t have to worry about them occupying too much of your iOS device’s internal storage over time, as they will automatically be deleted a month after you’ve downloaded them.

Google has already implemented offline navigation into the Android version of Google Maps last month, so there’s really no reason for you to end up losing your way in a foreign country anymore.

A new password-free system is currently being tested by a small group. The project, which was launched by Google, aims to remove what is often the weakest link of any login system, the password, while providing an alternative secure login method that is less troublesome than the current two-factor authentication.

The system is similar to Account Key launched by Yahoo, and once you boil it down, it actually isn’t all that different from the two-factor authentication. Here is how it works: When you log into your account, rather than entering your password, you select a button that sends a push notification to your phone. You then select the push notification, open the app, which asks you if you are attempting to log in. Once you approve the log-in on your phone, the account opens in your browser.

But what if your device is stolen or if your password has been phished? According to Google, your lock screen or Touch ID should be more than enough to activate your phone (You do lock your phone, don’t you?). As a pre-cautionary measure, Google also advises that you sign into your account from another device and remove account access from the device which you no longer in your possession of.

In April, Google unveiled Project Fi — a new wireless service the company claims will deliver faster speeds and better coverage with a unique, economical approach to pricing. Today, we’re going to take a look at what Google wants to do, and how they plan to pull it off.

 

What Is Project Fi?


Project Fi is Google’s effort to ensure that everyone has access to a high speed wireless network all the time. Because, even in today’s connected world, there are still times when we need information quickly but don’t have a fast enough connection to get it. Project Fi aims to make sure that never happens.

 

In addition to offering high-speed data service, Google also wants to make Fi more affordable, by billing differently than most mobile plans. Instead of paying for a monthly data plan, with outrageous fees if you exceed it, Google will charge you only for the data you actually use, at a predictable flat rate.

 

 

Don’t be mistaken, though: Project Fi is not a wireless carrier in the traditional sense. Google has made it very clear that it’s not interested in competing with established carriers. In fact, it has partnered with two of the top U.S. mobile carriers — Sprint and T-Mobile — to make Project Fi possible, and it relies on their towers for cellular connectivity.

How It Works


Project Fi is a network of networks. It makes sure you’re connected to the best possible network wherever you are. If you’re on Verizon’s network and Fi detects that Sprint has a stronger signal, you’ll be moved over to Sprint to give you the fastest available speed. Throughout a given day, you may be passed between two 4G LTE networks and various public WiFi hotspots — and, in theory, it will be totally seamless.

 

Project Fi makes heavy use of WiFi, connecting your device to “free, open networks that do not require any action to get connected.” So, as you step into the range of a public WiFi network, you’ll be automatically connected — and when the signal begins to weaken, you’ll be passed back over to the fastest available cellular network. And don’t worry: all data sent through open WiFi hotspots is secured through encryption.

 

Google also wants to make you device-independent. With Project Fi, your phone number “lives in the cloud.” You can call and text over WiFi, and you can talk, text, and check voicemail using your phone number on just about any device — Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, or Chromebook. In a sense, Project Fi is Google Voice’s big brother. In face, you’ll be asked to either use or throw out your Google Voice number when you sign up.

 

 

Pricing

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Project Fi takes a “fresh approach” to plans and pricing. There’s only one available plan, and it really couldn’t be much simpler. There’s no annual contract, and the charges are based on usage.

 

The first part of the plan, “Fi Basics,” costs $20 per month. This includes unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international text, “low-cost” international calls,Wi-Fi tethering, and coverage in more than 120 countries.

 

Beyond that, it’s $10 per gigabyte of data. That is, $10 for 1GB, $20 for 2GB, etc.

 

But wait — it gets more interesting. You only pay for the data you actually consume, and you’ll be credited for any rollover data in the next payment period. For example, if you’re on a 2GB data plan ($20/month) and only use 1GB in a particular month, you’ll get $10 back the following month.

 

 

What’s The Catch?

There’s no catch per se — but there are a couple of drawbacks for early adopters.

 

First and foremost, you have to have a Nexus 6. Google says it’s keeping Project Fi exclusive to Nexus 6 owners because the device supports a wide array of LTE networks. Users of other devices will have to wait, sadly.

 

Project Fi also only supports individual accounts at first, and there’s no support for family plans – for now, at least.

 

 

How To Sign Up

project_fi_invite

For the time being, Project Fi is an invite-only program — but you can get on the waiting list today! If you have a Nexus 6 and want to give Google’s network of networks a try, you can request an invite here.

 

 

 

Say you’re in a faraway place on holiday, and you’ll be there for less than a week. You have your first couple of days already packed with activities, and on the remaining day you decide to go to this famous restaurant that is said to blow the minds of even the pickiest of food connoisseurs. And when you get there, you’re greeted with a closed sign on the restaurant, leaving you and your traveling companions feeling gutted and miserable for what remains of the trip. This is inconvenient and frustrating to say the least, and each time it occurs is one time too many. Fortunately, Google intends to prevent this from happening with a recent update to Google Maps.

 

You'll see this when you start your journey so you can decide if you want to call it off. This saves you from potential disappointment, and we all know we want to be saved from that dreaded feeling. <br>Image source: Android Police.

You’ll see this when you start your journey so you can decide if you want to call it off. This saves you from potential disappointment, and we all know we want to be saved from that dreaded feeling.

With the new update, Google Maps will now warn you if where you’re going to is going to be closed when you get there. This means taking into account the store of your destination’s operation hours and factoring in your travel time. You can dismiss the warning and continue heading there anyway if you’re just using the place as a landmark, or are meeting someone in the area instead of inside the store itself.

 

When you’re there, keep your location services active and you can ask Google about details on that place without specifying what that place is. The Google search box will take words like “here” or “this place” instead of proper nouns, as long as you’re in or near the place which details you are after. Here are some of the ways you can use this geocontextual features:

  • What is this museum?
  • When does this restaurant open?
  • How tall is this? (when standing next to a tower)
  • When was this built? (for monuments)
  • What’s the name of this church?
  • What’s the phone number for this pharmacy?

 

Unless you are using it in or near globally known landmarks, this may not always work here in Malaysia. <br>Image source: Lifehacker.

Unless you are using it in or near globally known landmarks, this may not always work here in Malaysia.

This may be a feature added in a previous Google app update, the rolling out process may be slow, and some countries – like Malaysia – may not be given the full blanket coverage yet, so expect some bummers when giving this one a go.

Image source: Google.

Emails are one of those things you double- and triple-check before you hit the ‘Send’ button. However careful you are though, the nature and definition of ‘accident’ dictates that every once in a blue moon, you will inadvertently send that cake recipe to your employer instead of your cousin, or send a rant about one of your colleagues to said colleague themselves, or send to a prospective employer an email without your CV attached. And then spend the next few seconds mumbling profanities repeatedly before denial kicks in, and you hope the unintended recipient missed the one you sent in the mountain of other mails that they have to deal with everyday.

Do you wish there was an undo button for emails?

 

If you use Gmail, there is now. Or rather, there has been for the past six years as part of Gmail Labs, only now it’s a regular part of Gmail. You can now tone down that strongly worded email that you sent and fix that misspelling that you only spotted immediately after you clicked on the ‘Send’ button.

 

So how do you make use of this panic button? Go to ‘Settings’ after signing into your Gmail account, and halfway through the list you will see the ‘Undo Send’ section. Enabling it gives you the option to choose between 5, 10, 20 and 30 seconds window of buffering. Save the changes and you should be good to go.

 

The next time you send an email and you have second thoughts immediately after, you’ll have the number of seconds you selected to hit the undo button and decide if you’re changing your mind about something. Remember that this undo feature only adds a delay between the time you hit the ‘Send’ button and when Gmail sends out the email. Gmail can’t take back mails that has already gone into the recipients’ inbox, so if it’s going to take more than 30 seconds before you notice something’s amiss with your mail, then you’re out of luck.

 

Gmail’s Basic HTML Warning

By on June 8, 2015

If you use this URL to open Gmail’s basic HTML interface, you’ll probably see this message:

“Do you really want to use HTML Gmail? You’re about to use a version of Gmail designed for slower connections and legacy browsers. To get all of Gmail’s features, including inbox categories, images, and quick actions, please use the latest version of Gmail (recommended).”

You can click “Take me to latest Gmail” or “I’d like to use HTML Gmail” if you really, really want to use it.

Google's Project Loon proposes internet distributed by hot air balloon

No, we’re not joking. Google is seriously proposing hot air ballon-powered internet access, and has already launched a pilot project in New Zealand with 50 testers trying to connect via a helium-filled, solar powered balloon. One of the Google[X] moonshot projects, there are a couple of videos embedded after the break explaining the issue, and the technology Google wants to use to address it. Project Loon’s playful logo reflects the custom designed antennas users will use to receive their signal from balloons floating twice as high as commercial airplanes fly. The signal goes from ground based antennas, up to the balloon, which use their high-altitude placement to broadcast much further than other methods. In the future, the company envisions cell phone users connecting to the balloons to extend service where none exists today.

According to Google, in “more than half” of the countries in the southern hemisphere and for two out of three people on earth, internet access is far too expensive. It’s trying to set up pilot projects in other countries on the same latitude as New Zealand, so interested 40th parallel south residents should forward this info to the appropriate officials immediately. Meanwhile, curious Kiwis can sign up to take part in the project on its website, or attend the Festival of Flight in Christchurch on Sunday to meet the team and learn more about it.

Update: Check out another video of the launch of the first balloons embedded after the break, shot via Google Glass by Trey Ratcliff and see even more photos on his site Stuck in Customs.