Google zooms by Amazon in smart speaker shipments, report says

Enlarge / A Google Home smart speaker.

Google surpassed Amazon in global smart speaker shipments in the first quarter of 2018, according to a report this week from research firm Canalys.

Canalys says Google shipped 3.2 million Google Home and Home Mini speakers over the course of the quarter. Amazon, meanwhile, is said to have shipped 2.5 million Echo speakers.

According to the report, Google jumped from taking 19.3 percent of smart speaker shipments in Q1 2017 to 36.2 percent this past quarter. Amazon accounted for a whopping 79.6 percent of shipments in the year-ago quarter but fell to 27.7 percent in Q1 2018, the report says.

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Edge is still the most efficient Windows browser, but Chrome is getting close

Microsoft’s battery life comparison video.

One of the big advantages that Microsoft has been promoting for its Edge browser is that it’s more battery efficient than both Chrome and Firefox. My own anecdotal experience bears this out; although I use Chrome for most browsing, I’ve found it burns battery faster than Edge under similar workloads. Whenever I’m mobile, I switch to Microsoft’s browser over Google’s.

Microsoft’s own figures use a video-playback benchmark, and the company has duly released a new comparison for the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, version 1803. Edge still comes out ahead—it lasts 98 percent longer than Mozilla Firefox, and 14 percent longer than Google Chrome—but it’s striking that the gap with Chrome has narrowed.

In January, using Windows 10 version 1709, Microsoft’s browser resulted in the battery lasting 19 percent longer than Google’s. In April last year, using Windows 10 version 1703, the Microsoft advantage was

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YouTube Music will replace Google Play Music but won’t kill user uploads

Enlarge / The home screen of the revamped YouTube Music app, running on an iPad. (credit: Jeff Dunn)

Google has confirmed that its revamped YouTube Music streaming service will eventually support key features of its Google Play Music app, including the ability for users to upload music files that may not exist in the service’s streaming catalog.

Google announced an overhaul for YouTube Music last week alongside a price bump for its YouTube Red service. It then began a “soft” rollout of the app for select users on Tuesday.

But the announcement of a revamped YouTube Music app has caused some confusion among those who subscribe to Google Play Music, a streaming music service Google launched in 2011 but has struggled to attract subscribers on the level of category leaders Spotify and Apple Music.

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Google News vs. Apple News on iOS

Google recently introduced a new Google News app with an entirely updated interface and a range of new features that put it on par with Apple’s own News app, including a “For You” recommendation section and “Full Coverage” headlines that present a story from multiple angles.

We went hands-on with Google News to check out the new features and to see how it compares to Apple News, the built-in news app that’s available on the iPhone and the iPad.

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The Google News app is a reimagining and revamp to the existing Google Newsstand Play app that was previously available via the iOS App Store. It’s been entirely overhauled though, with a simple, clean interface that’s fairly similar to the look of Apple News with a dedicated navigation bar at the bottom.

Google News does, however, have an additional section for quickly

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New YouTube Music Premium costs $9.99 monthly, add $2 to get all Red perks

(credit: Flickr: Rego Korosi )

The long wait for YouTube’s revamped music service is nearly over: the company announced on its blog that it will debut the new YouTube Music on May 22. YouTube already has a service by the same name, but this new service overhauls the old one and introduces two new premium services into the mix: YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium.

Let’s break down YouTube Music first: the new music-streaming service will offer free, ad-supported music streaming through a new desktop and mobile app. YouTube emphasizes that “all the ways music moves you can be found in one place” in the new YouTube Music as it gives users access to thousands of playlists, official songs and albums, remixes, covers, live versions, and music videos.

The new app will also have a “dynamic home screen” that provides listening recommendations based on your history, what you’re doing, and

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“Smart diaper” by Alphabet’s Verily would skip sniff test to answer: #1 or #2?

Enlarge / What’s that kid packin’? (credit: Getty | ullstein bild)

Tech companies are always hoping to clear out the competition with their latest wearable. But Alphabet’s life sciences division, Verily, is likely expecting a blow-out with this one.

The company, formerly known as Google Life Sciences, has a patent-pending plan for a wirelessly connected “smart diaper” that would not only alert a caregiver when there’s a new “event” but also analyze and identify the fresh download—i.e., is it a number one or number two? The connected, absorbent gadget will sound the alarm via a connected device and potentially an app, which can catalogue and keep a record of events.

Verily is not the first to try to plumb the potential of derrière devices for babies. Many companies have come before with simple to high-tech moisture sensors—from color-changing strips to wireless alarms. But, Verily argues in

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Google temporarily rolls back Chrome update that broke many Web games

Google is rolling back a recent Chrome browser update that inadvertently broke the audio in many HTML5-based Web games. But the browser maker says it plans to reimplement the feature in October, a move that has failed to satisfy many web-based developers.

In a post on the Chromium developer forums, product manager John Pallett admits that Google “didn’t do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers using the Web Audio API.” For that reason, the current Chrome version 66 will no longer automatically mute Web Audio objects. Content contained in HTML5’s <video> and <audio> tags will still be silenced, though, limiting the impact of auto-playing audio on what Pallett says is “most media playback” around the Web (which was the original intent of Chrome auto-play policy).

Pallett says this temporary rollback is intended “to give Web Audio API developers… more time

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Google’s AI advances are equal parts worry and wonder

I laughed along with most of the audience at I/O 2018 when, in response to a restaurant rep asking it to hold on, Google Assistant said “Mmhmm”. But beneath our mirth lay a sense of wonder. The demo of Google Duplex, “an AI system for accomplishing real-world tasks over the phone,” was almost unbelievable. The artificially intelligent Assistant successfully made a reservation with a human being over the phone without the person knowing it wasn’t real. It even used sounds like “umm,” “uhh” and tonal inflections to create a more convincing, realistic cadence. It was like a scene straight out of a science fiction movie or Black Mirror.

Malicious Chrome extensions infect 100,000-plus users, again

Enlarge / One the left, a legitimate Chrome extension. On the right, one of seven recently discovered malicious Chrome extensions impersonating it. (credit: Radware)

Criminals infected more than 100,000 computers with browser extensions that stole login credentials, surreptitiously mined cryptocurrencies, and engaged in click fraud. The malicious extensions were hosted in Google’s official Chrome Web Store.

The scam was active since at least March with seven malicious extensions known so far, researchers with security firm Radware reported Thursday. Google’s security team removed five of the extensions on its own and removed two more after Radware reported them. In all, the malicious add-ons infected more than 100,000 users, at least one inside a “well-protected network” of an unnamed global manufacturing firm, Radware said.

Secure browser, weak link

Over the past eight months, malicious Chrome extensions have proved to be an Achilles’ heel for the Internet’s most widely used and arguably

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Tech Tip: Disabling Safari Suggestions on macOS and iOS

Apple’s Safari web browser for macOS and iOS has a variety of amazing features that are often overlooked by users. One of the more powerful features is something called “Safari Suggestions,” which captures what you are typing into the search/address bar at the top of the browser and offers suggestions for websites or articles that may provide the answers you’re looking for. Although you’ll see in the following example that while this feature is very useful, some users just don’t like the extra information provided and want to be able to turn off Safari Suggestions. In this quick Tech Tip, we’ll show you how to disable Safari Suggestions on both Macs and iOS devices.

First, let’s take a quick look at the Safari Suggestions functionality. It can provide useful information by simply typing a few searchable words or letters into Safari’s search/address bar. For example, if we’d like to see how Apple’s

Search suggestions appearing in Safari for the phrase AAPL
Safari Suggestions for the word "praseodymium"
The Search pane in Safari Preferences
Google suggestions and history searches still appear with Safari Suggestions disabled
Safari Suggestions (highlighted in orange) are disabled

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Alexa can open Schlage smart locks

Schlage announced today that users of its Sense and Connect smart locks will now be able to unlock them with Alexa. Users have been able to lock and check the status of their smart deadbolts with Amazon’s digital assistant since October, but unlocking them still required a phone. Now Sense and Connect owners can use any Alexa-enabled device to unlock their doors for them.

Source: Schlage

Hands-On With Android P’s New Swipe-Based Gesture System

Google yesterday introduced the newest version of Android, Android P, at its Google I/O developer conference held in Mountain View, California. Android P includes a few enticing features like a new Dashboard for monitoring usage and an adaptive battery feature for improving battery life, but what was of interest to iPhone users was the new gesture system.

Android P adopts a new gesture-based system interface that’s reminiscent of the interface of the iPhone X, so we decided to download the Android P beta to check it out for ourselves.

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For years, Android has used a navigation system that focuses on three buttons: home, back, and multitasking. That’s gone in Android P, having been replaced with a small oblong button at the bottom of the display that will be familiar to iPhone X users.

Swiping up on the button brings up a

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Google and Apple might lose the infotainment war

Android Auto and CarPlay are both pretty great. You plug your smartphone into your car and you’re greeted with a familiar set of icons. In most vehicles on the road, it’s an improvement. Why wade through a confusing interface, when two of the biggest tech companies in the world have made it easy for you to use the map and media apps you already know. But in the tech world, if you’re not constantly improving, something else will appear and automakers, they’re not sitting around.

Google Introduces News App for iOS to Replace Newsstand

Yesterday at the keynote for Google’s I/O developer conference, the company introduced a News app launching soon for iOS and Android, which will replace the existing Google Play Newsstand app. The app is rolling out some time in the next week, but here are the highlights for what it’ll contain.

Like Apple News, the landing page for Google News is called For You, which is where Google aggregates stories based on your interests. The second tab, Headlines, is strictly about the biggest stories in the world each day. These stories will be the same for everyone within a given geographic region, with no personalized curation at all. Finally, Favorites and Newsstand give you quick access to the publishers you follow, including the ability to subscribe to publications from directly within the app.

For the most part, Google News is a close imitation of Apple News – it has a similar Continue reading “Google Introduces News App for iOS to Replace Newsstand”

New Ways to Explore and Interact with the World Are Coming Soon to Google Maps and Lens

Google announced a series of new features at its Google I/O developer conference that it will add to Google Maps and the Google Lens feature of its Photos and Assistant apps in the coming weeks and months.

During the Google I/O keynote, the company demonstrated augmented reality navigation that combines a camera-view of your location with superimposed walking directions. The feature, which works with a device’s camera, can also point out landmarks and overlay other information about the surrounding environment.

Google Maps is gaining a dedicated ‘For You’ tab too. The new tab will suggest nearby businesses, restaurants, and other activities based on things you’ve rated, places you’ve visited, and other input. The same sorts of inputs will be used in Maps’ new match score, which will predict how much you will like a particular destination and is designed to help make picking between multiple destinations easier. Maps will also

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Google Shows Off Android P With New iPhone X-Style Gestures

At its Google I/O event taking place in Mountain View, California this morning, Google showed off features that are coming in Android P, a new version of Android that’s set to launch this fall.

Google is focusing on three parameters for Android P: Simplicity, Intelligence, and Digital Wellbeing. Android P has a new gesture-focused interface, which is similar to the interface that Apple introduced for the iPhone X. “The new design makes Android multitasking more approachable and easier to understand,” said Android Engineering VP Dave Burke on stage, after explaining that Google has been working on it for more than a year.



Android P does away with the standard three button home, back, and multitasking lineup that’s been available on Android devices for the last several years.

Instead, As with the iPhone X, there’s a little oblong navigation button at the bottom of the screen that enables several gestures like

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Google details new Android P features, including iPhone X-like gesture controls

Enlarge / The insanely colorful Android P Easter Egg. (credit: Android)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—Google I/O 2018 has officially kicked off, and with it comes the traditional release of a new Android developer preview. While Android P, as the next major update is still called for now, still has a long way to go until its final release—Google still has three more developer previews planned, with a final consumer build scheduled for Q3 2018—Google took some time at the keynote of its annual developer conference to detail a few new features Android users can expect to see.

The biggest news in Preview 1 was a new design style that was applied to the notification panel, main settings screen, and some system UI bits.

At Google’s I/O keynote, Android VP of Engineering Dave Burke said the forthcoming update will center on three key pillars: intelligence, simplicity, and digital wellbeing.

Read

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Redesigned Google News uses AI to push most relevant stories to you up front

Enlarge (credit: Google)

At Google I/O today, Google debuted its revamped Google News program that attempts to highlight “the best of what journalism has to offer.” The new program, redesigned using Google’s Material Design, tackles three goals: helping users keep up with stories they care about, helping those users understand stories fully, and making it easier for users to support news organizations they trust.

The company demoed the new Google News during the I/O keynote, showing off many features in mobile-app form. A general briefing sits at the top of the mobile app, highlighting five of the biggest stories happening now that users should know about. Google News users AI to populate the rest of the news feed, picking out news stories from across the web that appeal to you and your interests. It will also feature local stories and events based on your location.

Unlike other news aggregation

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Gmail’s new “smart compose” feature will help you write emails faster

Enlarge (credit: Rom Amadeo)

At today’s I/O keynote, Google announced a new Gmail feature dubbed “smart compose.” This AI-based system will let Gmail users write messages faster by suggesting phrases as they type out emails.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai presented a short demo of the new feature, showing how the AI suggests words and phrases and even completes sentences as you type out messages in a new email window. Smart compose will suggest options for what you may want to say next based on what you’ve already typed. If it works as well as it did in the demo, smart compose should help Gmail users write emails much faster and more efficiently.

We’ve seen features similar to “smart compose” in other contexts, like smartphone messaging apps. However, those apps typically stop at suggesting words and short phrases—Google’s new AI feature for Gmail goes even further to suggest full sentences.

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Google slams “for-profit bail-bond providers,” won’t let them advertise

Enlarge (credit: Thomas Hawk / Flickr)

On Monday, Google announced that it will no longer allow ads from bail-bond companies.

This isn’t the first time Google has singled out an entire industry. In 2016, it banned ads from payday lenders.

In a blog post, the company suggested that such ads constitute a “deceptive or harmful product,” citing a 2016 study concluding that minority and low-income communities are typically most affected by such services. “For-profit bail-bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low-income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years,” Google wrote.

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