Like clockwork, the 2016 edition of YouTube’s annual Rewind retrospective video is here to sweep us back through all the whimsy and virality that made its way across the streaming site in the past year. For 2016, YouTube lined up an impressive roster of over 200 creators and artists like Hannah Hart, Casey Niestat, the Slow Mo Guys, Unbox Therapy and (of course) James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke team to recreate the most popular videos, memes and songs from the past year, including the bottle flip heard round the world. The whole package is wrapped up in a new mashup by The Hood Internet and remixed by Major Lazer, but first: the Rock and his infamous fanny pack get to do the intro.
All told, the top 10 videos on YouTube this year had a collective 550 million views for a combined 25 million hours of time spent watching. Adele’s Carpool Karaoke naturally topped the list with nearly 136 million views alone, followed by latecomer Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen with 95 million and homegrown curiosity channel What’s Inside? with nearly 60 million views on its “What’s Inside a Rattlesnake Rattle?” video.
Also new this year: YouTube filmed a couple of the Rewind 2016 scenes in 360 video as a dizzying Easter Egg for the superfans.
Source: YouTube Blog
Nope, we’re not done adding phones to our buyer’s guide. Hot on the heels of inducting the new iPhones (and before that, the Galaxy S7 and HTC 10), we’re tossing in both of the new Google phones, the Pixel and Pixel XL. While we’re at it, we decided the PlayStation VR deserved a spot in our gaming section right alongside other premium virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. At the opposite end of the price spectrum, the $50 Amazon Echo Dot is a great value at that price. Lastly, GoPro — a staple company in this list — earns a spot for its newest flagship action camera, the Hero5 Black. Find all that in more in our buyer’s guide, and stay tuned for our next round of additions, likely sometime after CES.
Source: Engadget Buyer’s Guide
You can now visit New York’s elaborate department store holiday window displays without fighting a billion other tourists. Google’s “Window Wonderland” app lets you visit Barney’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and 15 other stores. The company says it created a new technique to stitch hundreds of high-res photos into “rich, lifelike panoramas.” Viewed on a Daydream or other VR headset, “you can even be surrounded by the sounds and sights of the city streets, taking in the storefront view alongside other onlookers,” Google says.
Some highlights are Lord & Taylor’s “Enchanted Forest” with ice skating bunnies and fishing raccoons, a weirdly unseasonable jungle theme from Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales’ glowing chandeliers and a slightly nightmarish Christmas candy-inspired couture theme from Saks Fifth Avenue. Barney’s, meanwhile has installations from South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and another from visual artist Nick cave around race and gender in sculpture. Both are in support of the #LovePeaceJoyProject charity campaign.
You can listen to audio guides from window designers and learn how they built the intricate, detailed contraptions featured in the displays. And in the spirit of the season, Google is trying to make money by pointing you to a special “shopping gift window” section of the app. To check it out, hit the website, and if you’re on a smartphone, tap the VR button to view it on a headset.
This morning, we’re reading about how Google has upgraded its search app to keep personal information and news events separated, the same company’s attempt to solve router troubles forever… and the Novint Falcon’s transformation from haptic games controller to sex toy.
Your to-go guide
Google’s search app splits up news headlines from your upcoming events.
The automated interests formerly known as Google Now are getting another refresh. In a change that’s rolling out first on Android (soon on iOS) the app will display two different sections of information. Upcoming has all of your personal info, like incoming packages, calendar events and reservations. Feed is where current events, sports and trending updates will go. In the age of personal AI assistants, figuring out a place for different types of info is going to be key.
Technology’s biggest patent fight still isn’t over
Supreme Court sides with Samsung over Apple patent penalty
Samsung’s Supreme Court appeal worked: the justices unanimously voted that the company’s violations of Apple’s iPhone design patents were only valid for a part of a smartphone, not the entire device. This means the $548 million penalty sum will return to the lower courts and be reduced. To what degree, however, is up to the courts. The iPhone’s design is iconic — and that will be noted.
It makes a world of difference
Spotify Connect is live on Sonos
After a short beta period, a feature that lets Sonos owners control their audio gear from within Spotify’s app is available to all. It works across desktop and mobile, and can jump from speakers to headphones with the tap of a button.
The next big thing in teledildonics
Computer Love: Novint Falcon (NSFW)
The Novint Falcon debuted as a haptic joystick in 2005, and despite a lot of enthusiasm, never made it to market in a big way. Now, it’s had something of a resurgence, but this time as a sex toy. In this edition of Computer Love, Executive Editor Christopher Trout investigates whether its hardware is up to the task.
An end to “Have you tried switching it off and on again?”Review: Google WiFi
Google WiFi is a solid choice if you’re looking for a router that mixes smart design with simple features and solid performance,. However, users who like to get their hands dirty may prefer the control and flexibility of more conventional products. For the rest of us, Google WiFi will likely provide an easy transition to the connected home. Check out our full review.
Somehow it’s not just an endless RIP list
The top ten Twitter conversations in 2016
The clock is almost up on 2016, and not a moment too soon. Twitter has a round up of the top conversations from this year, including Game of Thrones, Brexit and Black Lives Matter in its Moments format. Of course, it wasn’t all death and politics — remember, Leo finally won an Oscar.
But wait, there’s more…
- Constant updates and online functionality pushed Bungie out of making ‘Halo’ games
- Chance the Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’ is the first streaming-only album up for a Grammy
- Apple’s TV single sign-on feature is live
If there’s a regular bane in Android phone owners’ existence, it’s the never-ending stream of app updates. Even though they’re smaller than full downloads, they still chew up a lot of data — just ask anyone who has sucked down hundreds of megabytes updating a new phone. Google’s engineers have a better solution, though.
They’re introducing a new approach to app updates that promises to radically shrink the size of updates with “file-by-file” patching. The resulting patches tend to be about 65 percent smaller than the app itself, and are sometimes over 90 percent smaller. In the right circumstances, that could make the difference between updating while you’re on cellular versus waiting until you find WiFi.
The technique revolves around spotting changes in the uncompressed files (that is, when they’re not squeezed into a typical app package). Google first decompresses the old and new app versions to determine the changes between files and create a patch. After that, updating is just a matter of unpacking the app on your device, applying changes and compressing it again.
Don’t expect to see this when you tap the “update” button, at least not yet. Google is currently limiting the new patching approach to automatic updates, since it needs extra processing power and might take additional time on older hardware. Your brand new Pixel XL should blaze through it, but someone’s aging Moto G might take longer. Performance will improve over time, however, so you might well see this expand to all updates once baseline performance is high enough.
Source: Android Developers Blog
Formatting and inserting citations are some of the worst parts of writing a term paper. But Google wants to help make that tedious process a little less soul-crushing. An upcoming update to G Suite will toss those attributions in as a footnote for a Doc, Sheet or Slide with a single tap. It’s thanks in part to how the new, contextual “Explore” tab Google launched earlier this year works. It’s a little confusing though, because screenshots in the blog post are from mobile web and there isn’t any clarification if this is a desktop option as well.
But beyond that, the feature will format the citations in APA, Chicago or MLA styles. So, no matter what your professor requires you’re probably covered here. This starts rolling out tomorrow for folks using G Suite for Education. You know, just in time for that final paper you’ve been putting off all semester long.
Source: G Suite blog
When we reviewed the Chromecast Ultra, one of our biggest gripes was the dearth of 4K content to justify it — not even Google’s own movie store had material to watch. The company is fixing that glaring omission, though. As of now, Google Play Movies & TV carrying over 125 4K movies in the American and Canadian stores. You’ll have to buy them (no 4K rentals yet), but you can choose from big-name movies like Captain Philips, Star Trek Beyond and The Secret Life of Pets. If you own a Chromecast Ultra, you’ll even get a free movie (from a handful of approved selections) as a reward for your early adopter status.
You’ll need to own a 4K-capable device to watch, of course. Besides the Chromecast Ultra, Google is pointing to newer Sony TVs and the Xiaomi Mi Box 3 as examples of hardware that can handle Google Play’s higher-resolution catalog. This isn’t an exclusive list, of course, and Google is quick to add that 4K titles will come to other countries in the future.
Google certainly isn’t the first major video provider with 4K movies — Netflix, Vudu and Hulu have beaten it to the punch. However, this is a big deal if you thrive in the Google ecosystem. You now have a go-to place for premium 4K video right from the get-go, without having to turn to third-party services.
Source: Google Blog
Add emoji to the many languages Google can understand. Starting today, if you tweet an emoji at Google, the company’s Twitter account will reply back with a link to a relevant local search result and a celebratory GIF.
If you were hankering for some tacos, for example, you could just tweet “🌮 @google” and wait for a reply. The company says it supports 200 emojis so far, along with some “easter eggs,” according to Mashable. It’s not exactly useful — it’s much easier to just type actual letters into Google — but it’s a fun feature that could distract your friends for a few minutes. It could also be a way for Google to get a sense of what emoji people actually use for whenever they implement emoji support in its search apps.
We speak emoji. Let’s talk. 🙌 #KnowNearby pic.twitter.com/HjIMs3KPKe
— Google (@Google) December 6, 2016
@Devindra You were looking for babaganoush recipes right? Here’s a few: https://t.co/awzEqdsMAJ
— Google (@Google) December 6, 2016
@Devindra Need a breath of fresh air? https://t.co/y4o1t0lpit #KnowNearby pic.twitter.com/TnD7TdWyrL
— Google (@Google) December 6, 2016
@Terrortola Let’s give ’em something to taco-bout. https://t.co/MKVjm8oYWm #KnowNearby pic.twitter.com/fCEX1WfJ6O
— Google (@Google) December 6, 2016
The feature isn’t completely foolproof. It won’t be too long before you run into simple emoji that Google should really get the hang of. For example, my expression upon reading about this news for the first time:
@Devindra 🤐 Hmm. Try another emoji! Hint: #KnowNearby
— Google (@Google) December 6, 2016
Google would love for its flagship, search-focused app to be the first thing anyone tapped after unlocking their smartphone, so the company is making a few changes to the app’s front page in order streamline how you get your information. Starting with today’s update, Google has helpfully broken up the information cards on the main feed into two main categories: current topics and upcoming events.
Now, instead of one lengthy feed below the search box, opening the Google app presents you with one tab for all the news, sports, detailed weather and other topics it thinks you care about, as well as a second tab for all your upcoming trips, calendar appointments and important emails. Google says the feed will get smarter and more relevant the more you use it, but you can also update your interests in the app settings. The Upcoming tab will also deep-link into things like boarding passes, flight info or even package tracking information.
According to Google, the update lands on the Android version of the app today, and the same features are “coming soon” to the iOS version.
Google has made it a point to run as much of its business on renewable energy as possible, and it looks like the company is close to reaching its ultimate goal. The internet pioneer now expects that all of its offices and data centers will be relying on purchased solar or wind power by some point in 2017. This isn’t the same as directly powering facilities with eco-friendly energy (logistics and the nature of electrical grids makes that difficult), but it does mean that Google is funding enough projects to offset its massive power demands — 5.7 terawatt-hours in 2015.
To help mark the milestone, Google is also increasing the transparency of its green energy plans. It’s publishing an Environmental Report that outlines how well it’s doing, and it’s running a dedicated environment website that showcases its efforts to reduce energy use and otherwise protect Earth. Also, this doesn’t mean that Google is resting on its laurels. It’s broadening its purchases to make sure that renewable power is available every hour of every day, and it plans to shift more of its attention to buying energy in the regions where it operates.
The plan scores environmental and marketing points, of course, but Google also believes it makes financial sense. The costs of solar and wind power are falling dramatically, and their prices are much more stable than carbon-based sources like coal. If Google can both lower the overall price of energy and reliably predict the costs of running a given facility, it stands to both save money and eliminate anxiety over price surges. And the company is quick to emphasize that it wants the whole planet to run on clean energy. While it isn’t alone in spurring the use of renewable energy (Apple has been a prominent advocate of green power, for example), its efforts could go a long way toward making the technology accessible in places where it just wasn’t an option before.
Via: New York Times, The Verge
Source: Google Blog, (PDF)