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Next gen video codec standard group formed by Google, MS, Intel

09/01, 3:11pm

New group attempts to make video codec free from H.264 patent mess

Seven leading Internet companies today announced formation of the Alliance for Open Media -- an open-source project that will develop next-generation media formats, codecs and technologies in the public interest. The Alliance's founding members are Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Netflix. The new Alliance is committing its collective technology to meet growing Internet demand for top-quality video, audio, imagery and streaming across devices of all kinds and for users worldwide.

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Briefly: UK contactless payments increase, Google+ Collections on iOS

09/01, 8:42am

Contactless payments transaction limit increased in United Kingdom

The limit for contactless payments in the United Kingdom has increased. The new limit of £30 ($46) per transaction, up from £20 ($30), applies to payments using contactless cards as well as Apple Pay, though some retailers may have to update their terminals before being able to use the new transaction cap. Trade organization the UK Cards Association now claims the limit increase is more than the average supermarket spend of £25 ($38), reports the BBC, potentially allowing the number of contactless transactions to increase.

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Google brings Android Wear to iOS, LG Watch Urbane supported

08/31, 1:14pm

Upcoming Android Wear smartwatches will work with iPhones

Google is expanding the reach of Android Wear from Android smartphones, by allowing some owners of its smartwatches to connect to iOS devices, confirming earlier rumors. Rolling out today, Android Wear for iOS will allow the LG Watch Urbane to pair with an iPhone 5 or newer running iOS 8.2 or later, though it appears the majority of Android Wear users won't be able to connect their older smartwatches to iOS at all.

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Google advises developers on how to weaken iOS 9 app security

08/31, 6:57am

Temporary fix provided by Google to prevent app advertising from breaking in iOS 9

Google has advised app developers of a way to weaken the security of iOS 9, in order to serve ads to users. A post on the Google Ads Developer Blog offers code to help get around App Transport Security (ATS), a feature in iOS 9 that forces apps to use HTTPS to encrypt data sent over the Internet, with the code disabling ATS so that the apps comply with third-party advertising networks and are able to run some "custom creative code" from Google's own ad servers.

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Google takes on Twitch by launching YouTube Gaming

08/26, 7:33pm

Heavy streaming focus in Google gaming video service

Google has launched its attempt to take on the Amazon-owned Twitch in the gaming video market, with a section of YouTube specially created for gamers. YouTube Gaming is a subsection of the main video service that purely serves video game-related videos to its viewers, including "let's play," walkthroughs, speed runs, and other content, as well as a greater focus on streaming gameplay live from players to their followers.

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Apple, Google, Sony no longer facing more 4g patent troll suits

08/26, 11:22am

Patent troll Acacia and Adaptix shot down in Judge Paul Grewal's ruling

US Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal has shut down a non-practicing entity, or patent troll, seeking to relaunch suits against cellphone manufacturers Sony, Amazon, and Apple, among others, over 4G patents. Patent aggregation company Acacia and subsidiary Adaptix has been denied further suits over new products launched by the companies using the same technology, with the judge saying that it must be satisfied with existing lawsuit results and patent agreements in place.

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Briefly: Google Map Maker relaunches, Samsung Galaxy Note 5 flaw

08/26, 7:58am

Google re-opens Map Maker tool in 45 countries

Google is making its Map Maker tool available to more countries with an increased level of oversight, as part of a second wave of its reopening to the public. Temporarily shut down in May due to cartographical mischief by some users, the tool can now be used in 45 countries, including the United States, with participants able to submit local mapping changes that could be added to the main Google Maps listings at a later time.

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Chrome 46 for Mac claimed to have major performance improvements

08/21, 6:40am

Upcoming update for Chrome browser helps reduce memory, battery usage on Mac

An upcoming update to Google Chrome may allow MacBook users to use their batteries for longer, according to a report. Version 46 is said to have made a number of improvements to the Google-produced browser to solve persistent complaints about the software, including how much memory it uses and other factors that negatively affect the battery life on Mac systems, as well as the overall speed of the browser.

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Google, TP Link reveal OnHub smart 802.11ac router

08/18, 1:35pm

Smartphone-controlled router sitting at hub of smart home drive

Advancing its smarthome agenda, Google partnered with networking company TP-Link to debut the OnHub smart router. The new router, controlled by the iOS or Android Google On app, supports Bluetooth Smart, ZigBee/Thread 802.15.4, and Google's Weave, in addition to boasting wireless networking across 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies.

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Google restructures, becomes subsidiary of Alphabet holding company

08/10, 6:08pm

Alphabet umbrella company headed by Sergey, Brin, with Pichai as Google CEO

Google has announced a major restructuring of its business, starting with it being under the control of a new holding company called Alphabet. In a letter to shareholders, also posted to the Google Blog and on the new organization's website, Google founder Larry Page writes that the change is being made in order to make the company "cleaner and more accountable" as a "collection of companies" headed up by Google itself.

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Google rebuts French global 'Right to be Forgotten' request

07/31, 2:23pm

Right to be Forgotten risks serious chilling effect online if performed globally

Google has responded to France's request for the European "Right to be Forgotten" law to be expanded to cover all Google search pages, suggesting it to be a bad idea for Internet users as a whole. French data protection regulator CNIL's formal notice for delisting of requested links has been declared by Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer as a "troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web."

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Opinion: Yesterday's Google+ divorce -- Facebook gets the kids

07/28, 8:23am

Finally you won't be forced to have one

If you have signed up for YouTube, if you've got yourself a Gmail account, or if you have sneezed within 17 miles of a Wi-Fi hotspot, you've been given Google+. We'd say "whether you wanted it or not," but did anyone actually want it? Now the service continues -- sans Google+ Photos -- but it's no longer going to be rammed in the direction of your throat. You can safely sign up for Google's more useful and popular services, and not automatically get this plastic toy in the bottom of the box.

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Google separating Google Accounts, YouTube profiles from Google+

07/27, 7:26pm

Google social network no longer central to Google services

Google is making more changes to the way its services work with its social network, by starting to separate Google Accounts from Google+. In yet another move that suggests Google+ is slowly losing prominence, the search company is starting to decouple its services from the site, with YouTube comments soon to be disassociated with Google+ possibly being the biggest news from the company for today.

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Briefly: YouTube vertical video support, Spotlight Stories on iOS

07/24, 11:05am

YouTube app updated with improved vertical video support

YouTube has made a number of changes to its mobile apps, making it easier to view videos filmed vertically. The iOS and Android apps will now show vertical videos fullscreen when the device is held in portrait mode. The update also introduces the option to receive notifications when certain channels update, such as if a new video is posted, and alterations to the way it displays account information to the user. More video updates were also touted for inclusion in the future, including 3D videos.

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Apple purges Google-owned Nest thermostat from online, retail stores

07/24, 8:56am

Apple has confirmed the pull, but not the fairly apparent reason why

After months of speculation on the future of the product with Apple, the popular Nest smart thermostat -- co-developed by ex-Apple employee Tony Fadell, and now owned by Google -- has been purged from both Apple's online store, and also the retail arm of the company. In its place is now the Ecobee 3 HomeKit thermostat.

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Realmac leverages Google algorithm in OS X Deep Dream image generator

07/22, 9:45am

New app uses complex Google code in easy to use front end

A few weeks ago, Google announced its research into neural networks and image processing. Alongside this news, Google also open-sourced its "deepdream" code that allows anyone with the technical know-how to do the same. Developer Realmac has brought together a Mac app that allows users to make Google deepdream images, coupled with a simple user interface.

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Google to start shutting down Google+ Photos in August

07/21, 9:53am

Social network losing Photos app in favor of recently-launched service

Google is preparing to shut down the photo-sharing section of Google+, in favor of pushing users to the recently-launched Google Photos service. The search giant is warning that it will begin to shut down access to Google+ Photos within the social network from August 1, with users able to transition their existing Google+ Photos over to the new Google Photos from a prompt appearing on their Google+ account page, as well as within the Google+ Photos apps.

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Google takes on iBeacon with cross-platform Eddystone beacons

07/15, 9:06am

Bluetooth LE beacons using Eddystone will work with iOS, Android devices

Google is going after Apple's iBeacon by revealing a new standard for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons. Eddystone is claimed to be an open BLE beacon format that will be platform agnostic, allowing it to work with Android, iOS, and other operating systems, with Google supplying APIs and resources for developers and hardware manufacturers to create new apps and beacons using the format, as well as to make existing beacons compatible with a firmware update.

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Hands On: Field Trip 1.4.0 (OS X, iOS)

07/14, 9:53am

Surely it should be better than this

When Google first brought its "guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you" to the iPhone, Android users were calling it a wondrous app and we believed it right up until now when we installed Field Trip 1.4.0 on a shiny new iPhone 6. Field Trip is meant to point out interesting things wherever you are, like a tour guide with Google's search engine behind it. Maybe we just live in a really boring area but still, we didn't expect it to make things up.

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Briefly: YouTube 60fps mode on mobile, White House lifts camera ban

07/02, 6:29am

Google adds 60fps viewing mode to iOS, Android apps

Google has updated both its iOS and Android apps to allow for playback of 60fps content, reports The Next Web. Originally introduced in October for videos viewed in the browser at 1080p and 720p resolutions, and also implemented for live streams, the 60fps clips can be viewed on a smartphone or tablet, with the majority of the higher frame rate content consisting of gameplay videos.

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Railroad crossing locations to be highlighted in Google Maps

06/29, 12:43pm

Notifications of upcoming railroad crossings an attempt to lower yearly death count

Drivers using Google Maps for navigation will soon find they will receive more notifications regarding rail crossings. The Federal Railroad Administration is said to be working with Google to add the locations of all grade crossings in the United States to the navigation app, with the turn-by-turn instructions also set to receive extra audio and visual alerts when nearing crossings, in a bid to lower the number of accidents at crossings.

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Pointers: Go Further with Syncing Google and Apple Calendars

06/29, 8:33am

More on making Apple Calendar and Google Calendar play nice

Last week Pointers covered scratching an itch that had come up for us: the need for certain people to see our calendars despite their being on Google and our being on Apple Calendar. The short version is that you can do it but it's a bit fiddly and involved a workaround. It turns out, though, that we need a longer version because all that worked fine when these people were in our group company Google Calendar. Now the people who needs to see it the most are not: they're remote workers and what they really require is to have our calendar appear alongside their own.

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Google's Sidewalk Labs launches big city free Wi-Fi program in NYC

06/27, 12:52pm

Mayor's office estimates pylons will bring in $500m in advertising

Google's Sidewalk Labs, the search engine giant's first project to modernize the urban landscape has launched an effort in New York City for wide, free broadband. The company announced yesterday that it has partnered with several companies and investors to implement the LinkNYC network through a combined effort called Intersection.

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Google attacked by privacy advocates over Chromium voice prompt code

06/24, 2:14pm

Addition of voice search trigger command to Chromium causes outcry

Google has come under fire from privacy campaigners, for automatically installing an audio monitoring tool as part of Chromium, the core of Chrome. Developers discovered the browser was automatically downloading and installing code that listens to the user's voice for the voice search trigger "OK Google," something that is allowed within the main Chrome browser, but not within the open source Chromium browser.

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Hands On: Google Calendar 1.1.0 (iPhone)

06/24, 10:58am

Walk, don't run to this update

Sometimes, Apple's automatic updating of apps is handy because there are versions you know you ought to have, but you'll get around to it later, or when they add something big. Google Calendar 1.1.0 for iPhone is not a big update. It's a good one, but it's not compelling. It's also still on iPhone alone, not iPad, which is a curious omission.

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Briefly: Showtime on Hulu, Google makes Undo Send a Gmail feature

06/24, 10:39am

Showtime heading to Hulu in early July as $9 monthly add-on

Hulu is providing its subscribers with access to Showtime, thanks to a deal between the two services. The extra viewing option will offer on-demand streams of every original Showtime original series, with access to new episodes as they premiere, all through the Hulu app. Showtime will be available in early July and will cost an extra $9 per month on top of the $8 Hulu basic service charge, making it $2 cheaper than signing up for the standalone Showtime service.

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Free advertising-supported playlists added to Google Play Music

06/23, 10:31pm

Google adds free option to music streaming service before Apple Music launch

Google is attempting to increase its user numbers for its Google Play Music service, barely a week before Apple is scheduled to launch its own streaming music service. A free version of the service is now available in the United States, one that matches Spotify by providing periodic advertising during music playback, though unlike the main Google Play Music All Access subscription, it doesn't provide a high level of customizable music playback options.

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Pointers: Syncing Google and Apple Calendars

06/22, 3:10pm

How and why to get them working together

Stop us if you've heard this one: we want to share our calendar with someone, but we don't want them to know precisely what we're doing. We need them to know we're a bit busy on Tuesday morning but, on balance, we'd rather they not be able to tell that it's our DUI court case. To be fair, they don't want to know either.

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Pointers: Blogging with Blogger and Wordpress by Email

06/15, 7:55am

Blog from wherever you are

The single most common reason you don't blog more is that it's a pain coming up with things to say. You're on your own with that –– though see the book that's coming out of our MacNN Summer Project for a lot of help –– but the second most common reason is more fixable. This second reason is that it's a chore going back to your Mac to write a blog and if you could just do it from anywhere, you'd do it more.

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Google takes on Twitch directly with YouTube Gaming launch

06/12, 4:15pm

YouTube Gaming to collect together all video game streams, videos in one place

Google is attempting to fight off the influence of Twitch on the gaming video market, by launching its rumored game-focused extension of YouTube. Going live this summer in the United States and the United Kingdom, YouTube Gaming will use a new app and website separate from YouTube itself, which will be used to collect together all the live and recorded gaming content in one place, instead of requiring users to search through entire YouTube video catalog.

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French data regulator orders Google to expand 'Right to be Forgotten'

06/12, 10:03am

CNIL gives Google 15 days to implement search removal requests globally

Google is facing pressure to implement its "Right to be Forgotten" measures on all sites around the world, instead of just the European versions. French data protection regulator CNIL has demanded that Google allows European users to request the removal of certain search results in all global Google search sites in the next 15 days, or face the prospect of having sanctions imposed on the company's activities.

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Briefly: Google Slides wireless update, Twitch adds private messaging

06/11, 11:23pm

Google adds Chromecast, AirPlay support to Slides apps

Google Slides, the search company's presentations app, has been updated to allow presentations to be shown wirelessly. Both the iOS and Android versions of the app have been given support for AirPlay and Chromecast, letting users take advantage of streaming devices such as the Google Chromecast to show their presentation on a television or alternative display, without needing to hook up a computer.

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Briefly: YouTube gains 8K videos, PlayStation Now on Samsung TVs

06/10, 9:43am

First 8K-resolution video posted to YouTube

YouTube is starting to show videos filmed in 8K-resolution, five years after it added support for 4K content. Appearing in the YouTube resolution settings as 4320p, 9to5google reports the label was added only recently, though Google claims the 8K video support has been available as long as 4K. The first 8K video, "Ghost Towns," was filmed on a Red Epic Dragon 6K instead of an 8K-capable device, with After Effects used to stitch together multiple videos to reach the resolution, instead of losing quality by scaling up the 6K content.

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Briefly: Google security and privacy tool, Facebook encrypts emails

06/02, 6:58am

Google creates My Account tool to manage security, privacy settings

Google is making it easier to manage the security and privacy of a user's account, by bringing everything within the same page. The new My Account site allows users to manage their Google account's privacy settings, device activity and notifications, and other settings that apply across all Google services. Privacy Checkup and Security Checkup tools also aim to simplify the process, taking users gradually through the account settings. A second site, privacy.google.com, has been created to explain what Google does with user data, how it is secured, and other similar queries.

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Google I/O: Project Vault puts computer into microSD card

05/29, 4:52pm

Embedded computer adds extra security to memory cards

Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) has come up with a way to protect a user's data more securely with hardware that works with existing smartphones and tablets. Project Vault takes the form of a microSD card, and though any device will be able to recognize it as a standard memory card, it will in fact hold a computer dedicated to protecting any data stored within it from any potential users of the device who aren't the owner of the card.

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Hands On: Google Photos 1.0.0 (iOS)

05/29, 4:08pm

You will swap to this from Apple Photos – but think it through first

It's not as if Apple owns the rights to the word "photos," but with the new Google Photos 1.0.0 for iOS launch, there are going to be some short but confusing conversations. Are you going to store your photos in Photos or in Photos? Look into Google's offering, and you will immediately decide to move to it -- but if you look even a tiny bit further, the decision is less clear. We think Google has big and compelling advantages, but Apple has some too -- and in the end, the best result may be that both companies force each other to get better.

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Briefly: Apple retakes top brand from Google, best service from CR

05/29, 11:57am

Apple once again top global brand, with 'brand value' at $247 billion

With a staggering "brand value" growth rate over the last decade of 1,446 percent, Apple was again awarded the "top global brand" for the fourth time in the last five years in the latest BrandZ brand value report by marketers Millward Brown. Google had captured the top spot away from Apple last year, but the iPhone maker's stellar sales performance over the past year saw its "brand value" rise 67 percent to $247 billion, compared to an overall brand value rise of 14 percent in 2015, and 126 percent over the last 10 years.

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Google I/O Briefly: Chromecast updates, HBO Now, offline app modes

05/28, 9:05pm

Chromecast APIs aim to improve second-screen gaming

Google is giving developers even more ways to create content that works with Google Cast and the Chromecast streaming dongle. A new set of Remote Display APIs released in beta for Android and iOS will allow for developers to set up a better second screen experience than currently available, such as displaying the controls and some important information for a game on a smartphone or tablet while the main game is displayed on a connected television.

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Google I/O: Google Cardboard upgraded, brought to iOS

05/28, 6:47pm

Google VR efforts include multi-camera rig, Jump Assembler, YouTube hosting

Google spent some time during its Google I/O keynote talking about its virtual reality efforts. Google Cardboard has received an update, with the budget VR headset now able to work with iOS devices, while its other video-related efforts involve a new design of camera system that has the support of camera producer GoPro, and the incoming addition of true stereoscopic VR video to YouTube.

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Google I/O: Google Now on Tap to provide context-aware suggestions

05/28, 3:52pm

Google Now in Android M will use currently-used apps as search query prompts

Google Now is receiving a hefty upgrade in Android M, allowing it to understand more context-sensitive queries, as well as being more generally available to users. Now on Tap will allow users to trigger the Google Now voice prompt by tapping the home button for help, regardless of whether the user is on a website or an app, with users able to easily return to what they were doing once their query has been answered.

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Google I/O: Brillo, Weave revealed as Internet of Things projects

05/28, 2:06pm

Brillo is stripped-down fork of Android with networking, voice support

Google has unveiled its attempt to help development of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, by launching Project Brillo. Based on core components of Android, the IoT operating system is designed to run on low-powered devices, and includes native support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, and other Android functions in order to make communications between devices as simple as possible.

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Google I/O: Google Photos available now on Android, iOS [u]

05/28, 1:57pm

Offering spun off from Google +; brings auto-tagging, computer vision

[Updated with iOS version availability] At today's Google I/O keynote, the search giant unveiled Google Photos. The new service by the company allows web-based users, as well as Android and iOS device owners, a file repository and discovery utility for unlimited photos up to 16MP, and 1080p videos, for free. Included in the service is automatic video tagging, advanced search, privacy measures for shared pictures, and album creation.

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Google I/O: Android M previewed with Android Pay, other improvements

05/28, 1:16pm

Android Pay, fingerprint recognition support arriving in Android M

Google has introduced a number of changes it is introducing to the next version of Android at Google I/O today. The developer preview of Android M this time is said to be focused on "improving the core user experience," taking some of the functions introduced by device manufacturers into their smartphones and incorporating them into the stock operating system, as well as making other usability changes.

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Briefly: Roboto font now open source, Amazon ebook changes

05/27, 4:36pm

Google makes Roboto font open source

Roboto, the font used throughout Android, Chrome OS, and a number of other Google products has been made open source. Originally released under the Apache license as part of Android 4.0 in 2011, Google has now made it, and the toolchain used for its creation, into an open source project hosted on Github. Google has also added Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek characters found in Unicode 7.0, with the total number of glyphs increased from approximately 13,000 to more than 40,000 as part of the effort.

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Google 'smart toy' patent under fire from privacy groups

05/25, 9:57am

Patent for responsive toys with microphones, cameras deemed creepy by critics

A recently published patent from Google is drawing concern from privacy groups. The patent for "Agent Interfaces for Interactive Electronics that support Social Cues" effectively describes a toy or doll that can analyze a user's speech and body language to determine if it is being communicated with directly and respond accordingly, with law-related tech company SmartUp describing it as "one of Google's creepiest patents yet."

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Google 'Project Fi' invites to be sent out by mid-summer

05/22, 5:04pm

High number of Project Fi invite registrations causes delay in SIM deliveries

People registering for an invite into the recently-launched Project Fi, the Google-created wireless carrier, may have a bit of a wait before they will receive their SIM cards and be able to use the service. An email sent out to users suggests that it won't be able to get everyone currently signed up for the carrier until 'mid-summer' at the latest, due to the virtual network's overwhelming demand from potential subscribers.

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Android M could be revealed with fingerprint reader API next week

05/22, 12:36pm

Expected Android unveiling at Google developer conference may include biometric security API

The next version of Android could ship with native fingerprint authentication, bringing it in line with iOS devices, according to reports. Android M, the next version of Android expected to be announced at next week's Google I/O developer conference, could include an API that allows developers access to the functionality from within their apps, potentially making it easier for device producers to add a fingerprint reader to their devices using a common interface.

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Google reportedly working on Internet of Things operating system

05/22, 8:42am

Brillo software for the Internet of Things may launch at Google developer conference

Google is planning to make its mark on the Internet of Things, by reportedly offering its own operating system. The search company is said to be working on "Brillo," software The Information reports would be capable of running on smart devices, such as refrigerators and light bulbs, with extremely low power and RAM requirements, potentially as low as 64MB or 32MB of memory in some cases.

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Briefly: Skrillex Editions smartphone cases, Sling TV on Android TV

05/21, 9:57pm

Google, Skrillex release Live Cases for Android smartphones

Google has unveiled a set of limited-edition cases for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones, designed in partnership with Skrillex. The Editions cases include early access to an album, a short-cut button that takes users to Skrillex's YouTube music feed, and a companion live wallpaper that updates throughout the course of the day with images shot from a specially-launched balloon satellite named after Skrillex's dog, reports Phone Arena. The cases are being sold through the Google Store for now, but the official Android blog suggests it may be available elsewhere in the future.

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YouTube adds 60fps live streaming option, new advertising units

05/21, 3:54pm

Google takes on Twitch by offering live streams at 1080p 60fps

Google is making a number of small changes to YouTube, that will likely be welcomed by advertisers and gamers alike. YouTube's live streaming capability will now include support for 60fps streams, making it more suitable for gaming, while the initial advertising preroll that runs before many videos will now allow users to find out a lot more information about the advertised products, as well as making it easier to purchase.

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