Google’s self-driving simulator apparently plays a big role in the development of the company’s autonomous vehicle technology despite its cadre of cars being tested on actual roads. In its latest project report, the tech leviathan has revealed that it travels 3 million virtual miles every single day — enough to circle the equator five times every hour — to refine the features of its self-driving software. That simulator requires loads of computing power, but if there’s any company with the data centers capable of keeping it running, it’s Google.
The Big G uses it to extensively test any changes to its software before rolling updated versions out. For instance, the simulator runs Google’s latest software to drive the routes the company’s actual cars had previously driven to see if there’s a change in their behavior.
Here’s one example:
…to make left turns at an intersection more comfortable for our passengers, we modified our software to adjust the angle at which our cars would travel. To test this change, we then rerun our entire driving history of 2+ million miles with the new turning pattern to ensure that it doesn’t just make our car better at left turns, but that the changes creates a better driving experience overall.
Besides recalling old routes, Google also regularly creates scenarios with the simulator to fine-tune certain features. In the past, the company tapped into that ability to conjure up thousands of situations wherein its vehicle has to do a three-car merge to make sure its technology has truly mastered the skill. If the simulator proves that the self-driving software still needs more tweaking, though, then Google’s engineers can make changes before it makes its way to the current crop of vehicles under testing.
Things don’t change often in the world of Google Hangouts, so every time we see a cool new feature arrive it’s worthy of celebration. It is the IM service all Android users have by default, after all (whether you use it or not).
Reports of Hangouts version 7.0 rolling out have started hitting the web. But there’s more than just a lucky number to this upgrade. Google has graced us with a couple features that many of us have actually been hoping for.
The first one (and the coolest, in my opinion) is the implementation of quick replies. What this does is allow you to reply to a Hangouts message without having to go into the app. When you receive an instant message notification, simply hit the reply button and a floating screen will show up. Type in your message and send away without having to go away from what you were doing.
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There’s also a new option that allows you to create conversation shortcuts on your home screen. Simply open a Hangouts conversation, hit the 3-dot menu button in the top-right corner and select “Save to Home Screen”. An icon with your contact’s profile picture will show up in your home screen so you can message away quicker than ever.
Both great additions, right? I am a huge Hangouts user, so these are definitely welcomed improvements by my book. Are you as excited about them? Be patient, as these updates roll out periodically. If you just can’t wait, though, here is a link to download your APK file. Enjoy!
Google is testing a new feature allowing users to login to their Google account on a PC, Mac or Chromebook without the need of their password. Google believes people have too many passwords these days to remember and wants to help solve that problem. Here’s how it works.
When logging in, users will be prompted for just their email address. Once entered, Google will send a notification to your connected smartphone (must be connected to the Google account in which you’re trying to login). When you see the notification on your smartphone you’ll have to confirm that it’s you and then Google will automatically authorize you the entry on your computer. No password needed.
Users will most likely have to set up the device in which they want to authorize prior to trying out the feature. There’s also a rumor floating around that the feature may only work with Nexus devices.
Although this requires more steps and is a bit more time-consuming than just entering your passcode, it saves people from having to memorize another code. It’s great to see that Google is working on this and it may come in handy if you forget that passcode you recently changed. Let’s just wait and see if we actually get it.
Come comment on this article: Google is testing a new login feature
Following a slew of tech CEOs coming out against anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, Sundar Pichai published his first essay on Medium tonight. Like Mark Zuckerberg and others his words stand in contrast to those of Donald Trump and others who suggest the country close its doors to immigrants from certain places or religions. According to Pichai, “Let’s not let fear defeat our values. We must support Muslim and other minority communities in the US and around the world.”
The exec did not mention Google by name in the post (or say why he posted it on Medium, with only a link to it from Google+), but did try to explain why he’s saying this now, and why he waited.
I debated whether to post this, because lately it seems that criticism of intolerance just gives more oxygen to this debate. But I feel we must speak out — particularly those of us who are not under attack. Everyone has the right to their views, but it’s also important that those who are less represented know that those are not the views of all.
Noting his own story of moving to the US from India, he called for America to remain a land that provides opportunities to and gains strengths from immigrants. While saying that Google is “urgently working to become more diverse,” (oh?) he pushed for a mix of backgrounds that he says will lead to a better outcome for everyone.
Any series of essays and internet videos are unlikely to extinguish Presidential campaigns that rely on fear mongering, bombastic statements and dog-whistle racism to garner attention, but it’s good to have an idea of where everyone stands on these issues.
[Image credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
Source: Sundar Pichai (Medium)
After the latest update, Google Chrome for Android has received Safe Browsing – something that has been available for the company’s desktop software for years. The new security feature will protect mobile devices against malware, unwanted software and social engineering websites.
You don’t need to update your Chrome browser to get this Safe Browsing client, as it comes bundled up with Google Play Services version 8.1 by default. If you have Chrome version 46 and up, you can relax because now you will see a red warning page if you stumble upon a page that is a privacy scare or consumes data and eats your battery.
“Social engineering—and phishing in particular—requires different protection; we need to keep an up-to-date list of bad sites on the device to make sure we can warn people before they browse into a trap. Providing this protection on a mobile device is much more difficult than on a desktop system, in no small part because we have to make sure that list doesn’t get stale.”
To double check that you are protected against phishing attempts and online scares, all you need to do is, go to Chrome’s Settings > Privacy menu and ensure that Safe Browsing is enabled.
Google Safe Browsing currently protects over a billion users on the web by blocking tons of malware, social engineering, and bloated software. It’s been available on desktop platforms for years, but now Google is bringing that extra layer of security to mobile devices, too.
Google Play Services 8.1 brings support for Safe Browsing, and the first app to support it is, of course, Google Chrome. It’s on by default, and just like on the desktop version of Chrome, if you try to visit a malware-infected site with Safe Browsing on, Chrome will block the website and prompt for your permission before going any further.
While Chrome is the first official browser to support this, I’d imagine we’ll see other third-party apps and OEMs start to bake it into their own web browsers, too.
source: Google Security Blog
Come comment on this article: Google Safe Browsing comes to Android and Google Chrome in latest Play Services update
The latest update for Hangouts on iOS won’t tell you this, but Google’s instant messaging app will play nicely with your Apple Watch now. What the change log does say, however, is that you can now reply to notifications in-line — but that means following up via Apple’s wearable is an option. You can pick from a handful of pre-written responses, but those don’t include canned messages for telling your coworker to bring funky-flavored KitKat bars from Japan to CES. No, that’s where using voice dictation comes in, silly. If your iOS gizmo hasn’t updated yet, we’ve got you covered at the source link below.
Running out of storage space on a phone is a major pain point that affects millions of Android users across the world. Google understands that, and has come up with a simple solution that helps free up storage space on one’s phone.
Google has pushed a major update for Google Photos, which introduces two new features to the gallery app. While one feature helps free up space from your phone’s internal storage, the other allows users to downgrade previously uploaded “Original” images to “High quality”.
First up, Google has introduced the “Free up space” feature, accessible from within the app’s settings menu. Simply activate the feature and Google Photos will remove from your device copies of photos and videos that have already been backed up on the cloud. Alternatively, Google can keep a close eye on when phone’s storage space runs low, and then proceed to remove backed up copies of photos and videos that are older than 30 days.
Users can still access their entire media collection from within the Google Photos Android or iOS apps, or using the web app, as long as they are connected to the internet.
Version 1.9 of the Google Photos app also introduces a simple way to downgrade all your original quality photos, which you have uploaded before, to compressed high quality photos. Before this update, users had no way to have their previously uploaded photos get compressed to the smaller “high quality” standard. Do keep in mind that storing original quality photos still count against your storage space, whereas high quality photos have free unlimited storage.
Apart from adding these two features, the updated Google Photos app fixes a bug that prevented users from deleting photos stored on the microSD card, resulting in a frustrating experience for users who would continue to see photos in the gallery despite having deleted them.
Previous updates to Google Photos added features such as Chromecast support, labels and sharing, etc. The gallery app was originally released in May 2015, and has since surpassed 100 million active users, a metric that’s even more relevant than app downloads.
The latest version of Google Photos for Android is already rolling out, and is coming soon to iOS.
Fragmentation in Android is a huge problem. As I mentioned in my things Android should steal from iOS article, fixing fragmentation was a big part of it. Google agrees and plans on fixing the situation by co-developing new chips and other sensors.
Google has reportedly talked to some microchip makers about developing chips based on Google’s own preferred designs. The main reason for this is to make Android a little bit more like iOS. They figure that if they can control the hardware and the software, Android will be a much simpler OS to update and keep control of.
In theory, it should work pretty well, Apple is doing a great job at it. However, Android has many other manufactures using it, while Apple is the only one using iOS. I’m sure any sort of effort to uniform the updating process will be beneficial to Android users, but I just don’t see it ever being as easy as how Apple makes it seem.
Come comment on this article: Google plans on attempting to end fragmentation in Android by controlling the hardware
Halloween is but a day away, and to celebrate the season several developers are slashing down their apps on Google Play to as low as $.49, with the majority hovering around the $.99 range. Considering that some of these apps price as high as around $7 normally – there’s some great deals here.
Most of these are games not apps, though there are a few fitness apps thrown in, many of which have a game-like twist, such as Zombies Run.
- Call of Duty Black Ops Zombies – $1.99, was $6.99
- Left in the Dark – $.99, was $4.99
- Zombies, Run! 5k Training – $.99, was $1.99
- The Walk: Fitness tracker game – $.99, was $2.99
- 7 Minute Super Hero workout – $.99, was $2.99
- Forever Lost: episode 1 – $.99, was $3.11
- Greedy Spiders 2 – $.49, was $.99
- Vampires: Todd and Jessica – $.99, was $4.99
- Dark Arcana: The Carnival – $.99, was $4.99
- Nightmares: Davy Jones – $.99, was $4.99
- Mystery of the Opera – $.99, was $4.99
- Abyss: Wraiths of Eden – $.99, was $4.99
- Twin Moons – $.99, was $4.99
- Fairy Tale Mysteries 2 – $1.99, was $4.99
- Grim Legends 2 – $1.99, was $4.99
- Time Mysteries 2 – $.99, was $4.99
- Deadly Puzzles – $.99, was $4.99
In addition to the games available through this sale, Amazon also has its own offer for those interested. And for those that aren’t necessarily looking for just sale items, be sure to check out Joe’s list of best horror games, and his list of best apps with Halloween in mind.
What do you think of the apps listed above, any of them you’d recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments.