Google’s motto “don’t be evil” can only do so much, due to the fact evilness is such a subjective matter. Google is a company of great power; it’s quite possibly the strongest presence on the internet, allowing it to shape and mold the web in many ways. Would they ever do so with bad intentions or selfish motives? A new study from Yelp and legal personality Tim Wu suggest so.
Without a doubt, Yelp is a competitor to Google, so we would keep a careful ear while listening to what they have to say. Tim Wu is a legal scholar and former FTC adviser, though, and he is known for supporting Google back in 2013, after an FTC investigation on the Search Giant’s possibly biased results. We have good reasons to believe he may be commenting objectively.
The problem with Google Search
The study at hand suggest Google is using its insanely popular search engine to control the market and hamper competitors. It’s said Google’s practices harm the consumer instead of offering them the best results possible.
For starters, Google has been offering answers to many questions without ever having to click through any links (search “2+2″ to see an example), hence harming many websites across the internet. Furthermore, the study goes on to mention the inclusion of internally-focused factors in their algorithms. For example, the fact that Google+ content and reviews are much more likely to show up on a search query.
“The main surprising and shocking realization is that Google is not presenting its best product. In fact, it’s presenting a version of the product that’s degraded and intentionally worse for consumers.” – Tim Wu
Yelp’s study involved using a plug-in that stripped Google Search of its OneBox (listings and map pairing). This plugin is said to offer choices that actually benefit the consumer, as opposed to trying to intentionally give you lesser results that would serve the Search Giant in a better way. It turns out the outcomes are insanely different. Yelp surveyed of 2690 people, who clicked the map for location details about 45% more when these extra factors weren’t taken into account. This serves as evidence that Google’s current system is flawed.
Search results without OneBox offer much more reviews and suggestions that actually focus on the consumer. On the other hand, Google presented users with results that would have just a few Google+ reviews. Many of them actually had none.
Is this a bad thing?
Well, we don’t like to think of our beloved Android creators as bad or selfish people, but ultimately this situation probably does harm the consumer in some ways. We also know these claims aren’t exactly lies. They do take into account Google+ content before other sources. Google gives priority to its own services… and what company wouldn’t?
It’s a tricky situation, as we don’t know if Google is exactly to blame here. Do regulations prohibit Google from competing against its challengers? There’s likely a lot of other factors Google considers, which Yelp’s plugin probably didn’t.
Furthermore, who doesn’t like those quick results? I know I don’t want to access a whole website when I am trying to calculate some math, or convert currency (I have used sites that offer incorrect information way too often). Google can be a very credible source, and their knowledge graph is simply stunning. Our favorite tech company could easily argue these tools are much better for the consumer, and to an extent I would definitely agree. Do you?
Google Translate is notorious for spewing out either oddly worded or overly formal results, but the company says it’s getting better thanks to people’s help. Mountain View’s online translator is now more adept at figuring out informal speech — for instance, it can tell if you want to ask “Is everything alright?” when what you’ve typed in has another more literal translation, as you can see below the fold. That’s all made possible by the volunteers who spend time translating phrases and checking the quality of other people’s submissions on the Translate community website. The company promises to incorporate more and more translations over time as its service learns each language better. Hopefully, that means locals won’t look at us funny next time we try to use it overseas.
[Image credit: shutterstock]
Source: Google Translate
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If you’ve been following tech news at all over the last few years, you’ll know that Microsoft has become a smaller and smaller player in the smartphone space with each passing year. While it’s still pushing out brightly coloured Lumia Windows Phones, it’s not really improving things overall for the tech giant, so it’s pretty plain to see that something needs to give – if the rumours that have dropped today are to be believed, that “something” might be pretty drastic. According to @MSFTnerd, Microsoft could be adopting Android as their operating system of choice on smartphones, which would be an huge call given that Microsoft’s biggest ever deployment of Windows, Windows 10, which is to also roll out on Windows Phones, is scheduled to be in a month’s time. Of course, the two plans might not even be related, but it’s impossible to think about one without the other at the moment.
How would this work logistically, you ask? Well, it wouldn’t be a one-way transaction – for Microsoft to use Android, and also bundle its Microsoft apps for Android use, Microsoft would request use of Google‘s Maps, YouTube, and Search – things that Google exceeds in, and Microsoft… less than exceeds in. Obviously, we have to suggest taking this news with a grain of salt (maybe even a bag), but its tantalizing to just consider what a partnership like that would reap.
What do you think about Microsoft using Android as its operating system of choice? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
The post Hype train engaged: Microsoft could be adopting Android on its future smartphones appeared first on AndroidSPIN.
Google certainly hasn’t forgotten the Nexus 7, more specifically the 2013 edition. The latest build now available is Android 5.1.1 (LMY48G). There isn’t an OTA yet, so your only option for now is manually flash via fastboot. If you you have done this before, which I am sure most of you have, then this should be a breeze. Remember to download the system images under the code name “razor”.
For those who don’t want to get their hands dirty, be sure to check your device every so often to see if the build is available via Settings > About Tablet > System Updates.
As always when performing updates of any kind, be sure to backup any data you don’t want to loose just incase things go haywire during the update.
Come comment on this article: Google releases Android 5.1.1 build LMY48G for Nexus 7 (2013)
Yelp really, really isn’t a fan of Google’s search rankings, and it’s making sure that you know it. The location-based service has partnered with net neutrality pioneer Tim Wu on a study alleging that Google is “knowingly degrading” search results by peppering the findings with hits from its own services, such as Google+ reviews. The research project notes that test subjects were 45 percent more likely to click search results when they were purely “organic” (that is, more objective) versus the usual Google-influenced material. This is reportedly proof that Google is compromising the quality of your searches for the sake of helping its own business, and Yelp goes on to liken the Mountain View team to the monopolies of AT&T and Microsoft.
Those are some pretty serious accusations, but it doesn’t take much to poke holes in the study. To start, there’s an elephant in the room: Yelp has a vested interest in portraying Google as anti-competitive, since that lends fuel to antitrust cases which might force Google to give alternatives a higher ranking. There’s a concern that Yelp’s data team is crafting worst-case scenarios that don’t really match up with your real-life experience. Whether or not you believe Google when it tells us that Yelp is relying on “flawed methodology” and “cherry-picked queries,” it’s hard to deny that profit motivations taint the data.
Also, the researchers don’t present the findings in their full context. Yelp is quick to say that people are more likely to engage with the results when third-party links get better treatment, but it’s not giving a good sense of the scale. As Danny Sullivan explains to Motherboard, 45 percent more than a tiny amount doesn’t mean anything. Also, this doesn’t mean that the competing services are actually better, or that you’d see the same problem with a wider range of queries and a much larger population. While this doesn’t eliminate the worry that Google is stifling rivals by downplaying their pages, it’d likely take a much broader, more neutral analysis to justify those fears.
[Image credit: Shutterstock]
The Federal Railroad Administration and Google are entering into a new partnership to help make the roads just a little safer. As part of a project between the two organizations, Google will include grade crossing data in their Google Maps platform for all rail crossings in the country. More importantly, Google plans to add in audio and visual alerts for drivers using the navigation feature available on their smartphones.
According to the FRA, rail crossing deaths had been on a decline, from around 12,000 per year in the 1970s down to only about 2,000 per year more recently. However, in 2014 the trend inexplicably reversed with a 9 percent increase in accidents. These resulted in 270 deaths, compared to 232 in 2013, and 843 injuries. The FRA says grade-crossing accidents are the second highest cause of rail deaths after trespassing incidents.
The data being added to Google Maps will cover approximately 130,000 crossings on public roads and 85,000 crossings on private roads.
The FRA says they have also reached out to other mapping software companies like Apple, MapQuest, TomTom and Garmin to try to get similar data into their products along with the alert system.
Sarah Feinberg, the acting administrator for the FRA, says
“The vast majority of these accidents and deaths are preventable. In some cases, maybe a driver intends to beat the train, thinks they are familiar with the route or still have time to cross. But there are many cases where drivers lack situational awareness, because it may be dark or the route is unfamiliar.”
Feinberg says it made more sense to provide grade-crossing data to Google, and others, to be incorporated into their products rather than trying to get users to access it using the FRA’s own app.
Operation Lifesaver president Joyce Rose notes,
“It’s another tool in the toolbox to make the public safer. This is going to help raise awareness about where crossings are and, hopefully, remind drivers to act safely as they approach.”
source: The New York Times
Come comment on this article: Federal Railroad Administration to partner with Google on grade-crossing data
Google has added an interesting tweak to their current crop of Android apps; splash screens with the Google logo. If you’ve updated and used some of Google’s Android apps lately, you may have noticed a brief splash screen upon opening the apps. The screen is simple, displaying the app’s logo and Google’s brand logo at the bottom, but it definitely creates a slight delay when opening the app. That’s not a good thing.
Most of us want our apps to open as quickly as possible, but Google wants to give themselves and other developers a chance to push some brand recognition. They’ve even changed Android’s app developer guidelines to suggest making a brief splash screen while an app initializes, recommending a concise logo or tagline without flooding the screen with too much text.
It’s not completely clear while Google is doing this, although it could have to do with trying to maintain brand recognition and loyalty through Google services, not just Android. That is, after all, where Google’s actually making money off of this whole “smartphone” thing. So far there aren’t any other major apps that have followed suit, at least not that I can find, but if Google wants to set this precedent we might end up seeing this become common practice for Android apps.
Out of the apps I’ve tested, I’ve seen the splash screens on YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Drive. Gmail, Inbox, and Google’s Play suite of apps (Play Music, Play Games, etc.) launch straight into the application without any sort of delay. Resuming an app if you’re multitasking also doesn’t appear to have changed, so you’ll only have to see the splash screen if the app is starting up after being closed in the background.
With that being said, there’s a good chance that Google will update all of their apps to include this splash screen, and I just haven’t gotten those updates yet. You know how Google is with updates.
If you have any Google apps on your phone, test them out and see if a splash screen is showing up for you. Let us know which apps are affected in the comments.
via: Pocket Now
Come comment on this article: Google adding logo branding to app splash screens on Android
Frustrated with the Google Hangouts app on iOS from time to time? Us too. Mountain View updated the mobile software today with a refreshed UI and more. First, you’ll likely notice the new coat of Material Design paint that tidies things up a bit. Heck, even the dialer got a redesign. There’s also a new quick compose button that allows you to quickly send messages to the folks you chat with often. Access to images from the gallery, camera or emoji library is easier too, and you can now send multiple photos at once. The update includes the usual bug fixes and performance improvements, and the latter hopefully remedies a few of the headaches some of us at Engadget HQ have been experiencing lately. The goods are available now at iTunes, and the Android version is said to arrive shortly.
Via: Sky Ortiz (Google+)
Since 2010 a lawsuit between Oracle and Google has been wending its way through the court system as the two tech giants battle it out to determine whether Google will have to pay Oracle for the use of Java code in the Android operating system. The latest stop was the Supreme Court where Google hoped the justices would hear an appeal concerning the ability of APIs to be copyrighted. The justices declined to take action to overturn a May 2014 appeals court ruling that favored Oracle.
At the appellate court level, the justices had determined that 37 APIs were entitled to copyright protection. Until then the concept of APIs being protected by copyright had been unsettled. Given how the software world is moving increasingly to the use of APIs to enable interactions between different systems and programs, the ruling could have a far-ranging impact.
Even though the Supreme Court let stand the ruling that APIs are protected by copyright law, Google has a separate argument pending in which they argued that even if the code making up the APIs were subject to copyright protection, Google could still use it without paying a fee under fair use provisions. The original jury trial was deadlocked over the fair use argument and the issue still has to be retried.
At stake is $1 billion that Oracle claims Google owes for the use of the Java code in Android.
source: Wall Street Journal
Come comment on this article: Supreme Court inaction is good news for Oracle in case against Google
Google has just released an updated factory image for the Wi-Fi Nexus 7 (2013), which was posted earlier today as Android 5.1.1_r6 carrying build LMY48G. While no exact changelog has been posted at this time, this minor update will likely only contain a few small bug fixes. The update is only available for the Nexus 7 (2013) for right now, but this might mean that more Nexus devices will see this small update in the future.
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As always, we’ll be sure to let you know if this build makes its way to any other device. For now, if you absolutely need this new version running on your device as soon as possible, you can head to the source link below to download the new factory image. If you aren’t sure how to flash a factory image, though, be sure to check out our walkthrough. The guide was designed specifically for Android 5.0 Lollipop, but the same overall process should apply. Just remember that things can go wrong, so be sure to flash at your own risk.