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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Facebook Messenger video calling rolls out globally
Facebook is making video calling via the Messenger app available to more users. Previously available in 18 countries, including the United States, the Facebook Messenger video calling has been rolled out globally for iOS and Android users, though some countries will be delayed in receiving the calls due to ongoing work to improve the service's quality in those regions.
Second FTC complaint about YouTube Kids relates to mature content
Google has come under fire again for its YouTube Kids app, this time for offering more serious unsuitable content to children. The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) have complained to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about content on the video streaming service that the organizations deem unsuitable for viewing, including expletives, pedophilia references, and other mature content.
Ad blocking plans could result in request by carriers for advertising revenue cut
European carriers are allegedly working on blocking mobile advertising from major advertising networks, including those from Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. A report claims the current plans to remove the online advertising from smartphone browsers in order to save on bandwidth costs, though it will also apparently have the ulterior motive of trying to force the advertising networks to share some of their revenue with the carriers themselves.
Windows Developers, Mac users forced to install extensions through Chrome Web Store
Google is expanding the reach of a security policy it introduced last year, preventing users from installing Chrome extensions sourced from anywhere but the Chrome Web Store. Initially put in place for Windows users, the rule is now being applied to the browser's developer channel for Windows as well as the main Mac version of the browser, with the changes taking place over the next few months.
Almost 59 percent of European search listing removal requests denied by Google
Google is not fulfilling a high proportion of "Right to be Forgotten" requests, with more than half of requests being denied by the search company. According to its latest Transparency Report, Google has evaluated over 922 thousand requests for the removal of search listings since the program began last year, but out of that figure, 58.7 percent of all requests have been rejected.
Google Fit adds calorie burn, distance estimates, Android Wear widget
The latest update to Google Fit for Android has added the ability to estimate the distance the user has traveled, and using information such as gender, height, and weight from their profile, estimate the calories burned. The update also includes a new widget for use with Android Wear smartwatches, one which provides more details about how far away the wearer is from their daily goal.
Well, there's future potential at least
It is one of the oddities of life that weather forecasts are considered part of the news. Frankly you could well question why sport gets a mention but a summary of weather that hasn't happened yet really is not news. Finally, Google has made a stand: its updated Google News & Weather app for Apple Watch does not include weather.
Autonomous car accidents involved minimal damage, Google claims
Google's fleet of self-driving cars have been involved in a few accidents while driving on public roads, though the number is relatively low. Over the six years of the project, and over the course of 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving, Google reveals the cars have been in a total of 11 minor accidents involving light damage and no injuries, though apparently none of them have been caused by the car itself.
Access to Google Map Maker denied for all while moderation system gets overhauled
Google is temporarily preventing users from being able to access the Map Maker tool, following a series of incidents concerning its misuse. Starting from tomorrow, the tool will be pulled while Google works to add some sort of moderation system to it, in order to avoid further issues such as the recent image of the Android mascot urinating on the Apple logo appearing in Google Maps.
Google Now integrations increase by 70 to 110
Google is increasing the number of cards in Google Now, after adding integrations with 70 more apps to the service, bringing the total number of integrations to 110. The new cards, which will be rolling out to Android users over the next few weeks, will include news notifications from ABC News and Feedly, food reminders from Eat24 and Allrecipes, fitness updates from Runkeeper and Jawbone, and playlist recommendations from Spotify and YouTube, among other new additions.
Google adds LG Watch Urbane to store, discounts Moto 360, LG G Watch R
Smartwatch listings on the Google Store have been updated, with a new Android Wear addition and some price changes. The LG Watch Urbane is available for the first time in the store, priced at $350, while the LG G Watch R has dropped $50 from $300 to $250. The Moto 360 has also been discounted in the store, dropping from $250 to $180.