Google’s Tilt Brush debuted in September 2014 as a virtual reality painting experience — immersion with the creative simplicity of MS Paint, as The Verge put it. They’ve added more in-game tools and hosted the odd art exhibit in the two-year interim. But as more VR headsets filter into players’ hands, the game will soon get a big feature: Multiplayer. There’s no release date yet, but here’s a few things to look forward to while we wait.
It seems obvious to stuff a bunch of gamers into a single (digital) room and let them collaborate. But there are some lovely little touches to emphasize the painting, not the people: Each player is represented by a simple neon outline of a headset, preserving the sort of bodiless anonymity that draws the focus back to creating. You can even decorate each other’s headsets, so expect the playful innocence of mustaches and fairy wings until less mature gamers inevitably invade Tilt Brush.
There are a few other features coming that aren’t tied to multiplayer, like a poseable mannequin and letting players make crude animations, zoetrope-style: Adding doodles frame-by-frame on the outside of a wheel and “spinning” it.
Another tool on the horizon is the portal brush, which uses the HTC Vive’s cameras to let you peer into the real world. Of course, these are all just experiments that may or may not make it into the game, but since the team keeps putting out niche features like the audio reactive brushes, we could see any of these come out in a future update.
Via: The Verge
Source: Google blog
Google has been all about change for its suite of productivity apps this week, and now we’re seeing what happens when some of the disparate services combine. On Android, Maps and Calendar are joining forces to give a quick visual reference for where your various appointments will take place. You need to be signed into both apps with the same account, of course, but other than that it all seems pretty easy to set up and use. Just put the event’s address in the “where” box when creating a Calendar entry and you should be good to go according to Google’s Keyword blog. Maps information has cross-pollinated into Calendar previously, so it’s pretty cool to see this go the other way, too.
Source: Google Keyword blog
It’s that time of the year when tech companies trot out their newest wares hoping to cash in on the holiday season buying spree and Google is no different. On October 4th the search giant is holding an event to show off, well something, but most likely some new phones. The company is mum on the details but of course that hasn’t stopped the rumor and leak machines from spinning up and pumping out what we can expect from the Android maker’s celebration of consumerism.
After years of branding their reference design Android phones, “Nexus” it looks like Google is taking a cue from its high-end Chromebook line. The company is expected to announce not just one, but two new “Pixel” phones. Expect to see a five-inch Pixel and a 5.5-inch Pixel XL for fans of cramming giant gadgets into their jeans. Both phones are expected to sport 4GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 821 processor, 12-megapixel camera, fingerprint sensor (expected to remain on the back like the 2015 Nexus) and hopefully better battery life. The Pixel will have a 1080p display while the XL will mostly likely have a quad HD screen.
Rumors also suggest the headphone jack isn’t going anywhere. Which is nice because it’ll be one less adapter you’ll have to drag around town. All that technology and access to music via legacy products will cost a premium though. According to Android Police, the HTC designed Pixel phones will start at $649. (Ouch.)
Running those yet-to-be-announced-but-yeah-we-know-they’re-coming-phones will be Android Nougat 7.1, an update to the recently launched OS. While point-one updates are usually about bug fixes, this one is rumored to bring round icons and a redesigned launcher to the Pixels. Whether these new features will make their way to older Nexus phones remains to be seen.
The expected announcements won’t just be focused on phones. There’s a good chance that the Amazon Echo competitor Google Home will show up on stage. Announced at I/O this past summer, the voice-based Bluetooth speaker/assistant is expected to cost $129. No rumors on a launch date, but logic says that it’ll launch sometime before the holiday season.
Continuing with the in-home technology announcement fun, Android Police reports that a more robust version of the Chromecast is in the cards. The awesomely named, Chromecast Ultra will stream 4K and UHD content though it will cost $69. It’ll join the cheaper Chromecast line that streams 1080p and audio.
And finally, there are reports that Google will launch another router to join the OnHub. But instead of being a hub just for networking and IoT, the rumored Google WiFi (clearly the company ran out of cool names after the Chromecast Ultra) will compete with the Eero home networking mesh system. It’s also expected to have smart features to control your connected home. The system will be sold on a per unit basis so users can add coverage to their home on an ad hoc basis, each fetching $129.
There are some rumbling that Google will announce a third operating system. The hybrid of Chrome OS and Android is allegedly being built for laptops and tablets, and will bring together the best of both worlds. Recently Chrome OS got access to the Google Play store. But Andromeda might be a more robust solution. The company is expected to announce the OS with it launching sometime next year.
If Google does unleash all that gear on the public October 4th, it’s going to be one the largest hardware releases ever for a company that’s known more for indexing the internet and creating the operating system on your exploding Samsung phone.
Whatever happens, we’ll be there reporting the news as it unfolds.
Search for a college or university with Google and you’ll soon see a new results card. These small, mobile-friendly summaries include graduation and acceptance rates, the average post-grad salary and the normal fees for undergraduate tuition. All of the stats are being pulled from the US Department of Education’s “College Scorecard” site, meaning they’re reliable and easy to compare. Of course, you’ve always been able to find this information yourself — it just took a little longer rooting around the web. Now, it’s easier to retrieve some quick, top-level information.
So whatever you value the most — be it projected earnings, or cheaper fees — you can surface this information almost immediately. Which sounds pretty useful, whether you’re just starting to think about your options, or narrowing down some colleges you’ve been deliberating for months.
Source: Google (Blog Post)
The “Ok Google” command has expanded since the debut of Android KitKat, allowing devices to respond in various smart ways to those two words. Now, Google Maps on Android has this ability too, whether you’re in the middle of a road trip or doing something else. Once it’s enabled in settings, you can choose whether it works only while Maps is open or from any screen. Say the magic phrase then follow it up with something like “find a gas station” or “How’s traffic ahead?” and it will let you know.
Existing Google Maps voice commands like “What’s my ETA?” work too, plus new addition like the ability to turn traffic display on or off. You can control whether or not the phrase works on your phone via settings in the Google Search app (make sure you have the latest version for that and Maps first), to turn on “Ok Google” everywhere, or just in Maps, if you’d prefer it that way. You can find a list of commands here, or just give it a try and see what works.
Whether or not you use the voice commands, it’s another example that while the Google Now / Now on Tap branding may be taking a backseat, the features are actually spreading further throughout the OS. Google’s new Assistant AI helper is built around conversational responses to any “Ok Google” query, and we’re expecting to hear more about it during the October 4th “Made by Google” event.
Source: Google Maps Blog
Given the number of tech companies that call California home, it’s no surprise the state has been quick with forward-thinking legislation to support the development of self-driving vehicles. And almost four years to the day since driverless trials on public streets were first approved, a new bill has been signed off by Governor Jerry Brown that permits autonomous car tests without a human passenger overseeing proceedings.
Rather than applying throughout the Golden State, the bill is specific to a pilot project headed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. At San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch business park, EasyMile’s 12-seater shuttles will ferry workers around the site, which will include travelling on some public roads. The approval also covers GoMentum Station: A ghost town within the Concord Naval Weapons Station where Honda has been testing its driverless car technologies. Recently, Uber-owned Otto also signed up to test self-driving trucks on the site.
Google and Apple have also expressed interest in the naval base testbed, according to the transport authority. Apple’s autonomous plans are still the subject of much speculation, but in the immediate future, Google seems like a natural partner. Manual controls including a steering wheel and pedals are not required in test vehicles under the new bill (since there won’t be anyone on hand to use them), but for safety’s sake cars must not exceed 35MPH during trials.
Google has been testing versions of its cute little driverless pods without any form of manual controls for some time now, as it’s of the opinion that humans are simply not a “reliable backup” to its self-driving smarts.
Via: The Mercury News
Source: California Legislative Information
Waze Rider, the ride-sharing version of the popular Google-owned navigation app, is now open to the general public in the Bay Area. After several months in private beta, the Wall Street Journal reports that Google is ready to open up its casual carpool competitor to Uber and Lyft.
There are some appreciable differences between Waze Rider and its more established rivals, however. For starters, Google only allows drivers and riders to take two trips per day. Drivers only make $0.54 per mile, so they’re only getting reimbursed for the mileage rather than turning a profit. While both of those features keep the service limited to commuters for now, they also skirt the regulations that Lyft and Uber are now subject to. According to the Journal, drivers only need to submit their general schedule and their home and work addresses to sign up. Google says it has no current plans to require background checks, proof of insurance or car photos because the platform is only meant to fill empty seats with riders heading the same way.
A Journal reporter who took a test ride from San Francisco to Oakland noted the app still had some bugs — namely that the driver couldn’t use Waze’s actual navigation service during the trip, but it was otherwise uneventful. That trip also paid out $6.30 to the driver and only cost the rider $3, which is a bargain compared to the estimated $23–30 cost for a rush hour Lyft or Uber.
Via: Wall Street Journal
There may now be an easier way to implement advanced machine learning models in your projects. Google has opened up its Cloud Machine Learning to all businesses in a public beta, after a few months of testing it in private alpha. The tool makes it easier to train models at a much faster rate, and is integrated with the Google Cloud Platform. This has applications for businesses in areas such as customer support (learning how to automate responses to a variety of queries and complaints) or any kind of repetition-heavy task.
In a blog post, Google described how its customer Airbus Defense and Space used the tool to automate the detection and correction of satellite images that contain imperfections such as cloud formations. According to the blog, an Airbus employee said Google’s tool “enabled us to improve the accuracy and speed at which we analyze the images captured from our satellites. It solved a problem that has existed for decades.”
That speed and ease of use are what really stands out about Google’s algorithms. To facilitate adoption, the company also launched a Machine Learning Advanced Solutions Lab that gives companies access to a Google engineer to help solve complex problems. It also debuted a Cloud Start program for businesses to learn the basics of the public cloud and how to identify opportunities to implement machine learning.
Google is also introducing a certification program to teach people how to “design, train and deploy accurate machine learning models.” The curriculum will be taught by Googlers, and is based on internal education methods.
While this news may mean more to startups and other enterprise users, Google’s apparent efforts to mainstream machine learning will affect a far larger audience. The company also announced today that it will implement the advanced learning method in its popular Docs, Drive and Calendar services to make them more productive. It also isn’t the only tech titan to be trying to simplify artificial intelligence adoption. Facebook has already publicly shared its AI bot-building code, as well as its similarly smart image recognition tech.
Twitter has been struggling lately. It’s been battling flat user growth, declining profits, an executive exodus and generally bad PR — especially around its handling of abuse. Many have speculated for months that Twitter should just sell itself. And, if the rumor mill is to be believed, the company is indeed looking for ways to make that happen. According to reports from CNBC, TechCrunch and Bloomberg, the social media giant is in the crosshairs of at least five suitors: Google, Salesforce, Microsoft, Verizon and Disney. Here’s a look at all five — plus one we came up with ourselves — to see what a Twitter acquisition could do for them.
Image credit: Morris MacMatzen / Reuters
Even though Google is a titan in many fields — search, mobile and maps, among others — it hasn’t done so well in social. Its first attempt was Orkut, which faded into obscurity despite some isolated popularity in Brazil. There was Wave, a real-time messaging platform that was so confusing the project flatlined almost as soon as it launched. There’s also Buzz, a now-discontinued social network which integrated directly with Gmail — a move that unfortunately resulted in users being able to see their friends’ and families’ email contacts.
And, of course, there’s Google+, the company’s most notable attempt yet at a becoming a social network. But even that has proved something of a disappointment. It doesn’t help that tactics like forcing everyone to use it for other Google services have been alienating for some. Today, many of its features feel more disconnected than they used to. Google Plus is now a place for discussion groups than a traditional social network.
Basically, then, for Google to acquire Twitter, which already has over 313 million users, would be an instant boon. It would give the search giant the social cred it’s been chasing for so many years. Plus, Google has a little something called YouTube to help Twitter with its video streaming ambitions.
Image credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters
Out of all the companies whose names have been floated as possible suitors, the unlikeliest is probably SalesForce. Known mostly for customer-relations management software, it’s decidedly enterprise-focused. At first blush, its interest in Twitter seems odd.
Yet it might not be. SalesForce already tried and failed to buy LinkedIn (Microsoft was the winner in that particular contest), so it would seem the company has long wanted to cash in on social. Plus, one of the features of its software is a plug-in that tracks mentions of brands on social media. SalesForce could leverage Twitter’s role as a customer communications tool to boost its own sales-and-marketing arsenal.
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Microsoft has never done particularly well at social. In 2011 it launched So.cl, a “search-based social network” that lets you share search results with friends, but it’s been unpopular, to say the least. Aside from that, most of the company’s investment in this space has been through acquisitions. A few years ago, it bought Yammer (a sort of Twitter for business), and it picked up LinkedIn earlier this year. Microsoft also tried and failed to buy Facebook back when it was a startup, but that obviously didn’t go as planned.
Acquiring Twitter would be the easiest and fastest way to make headway in social, but for Microsoft the deal would mean more than that. Despite a string of well-reviewed products like the Surface Book that have helped get consumers excited about Microsoft, the company may still seem stodgy to some, especially compared with younger rivals like Google and Facebook. Though Twitter itself is now a large, publicly traded company that doesn’t necessarily know what it’s doing, its user base is at least younger and more media savvy than Microsoft’s. That might be just what Satya Nadella and co. are looking for.
Mike Blake / Reuters
If you think Verizon is just a plain old wireless carrier, you have it wrong. The company has had its sights set on the media space for a while now. Last year it bought AOL (Engadget’s parent company), and a few months ago it announced its intention to buy Yahoo. (The purchase isn’t set to close until 2017.) Both deals were made in the name of increasing Verizon’s advertising portfolio.
And, seeing as Twitter is a pretty big media company in its own right — it’s often the place to go for breaking news, and the company has recently made a push around livestreaming — it could fit right into Verizon’s video ambitions. Plus, let’s not forget that Twitter is yet another source for advertising revenue. With all of these companies under one umbrella, Verizon might have enough ammo to compete against the likes of Google and Facebook.
Jacky Naegelen / Reuters
Another strange potential bedfellow in this Twitter acquisition rumorfest is Disney. To be fair, CEO Jack Dorsey is on Disney’s board, so they’re already friendly enough that getting early-stage discussions off the ground may have been easier than it would have otherwise. Also, Disney owns several media entities like ABC and ESPN, so having Twitter would be great as an in-house marketing tool.
The issue here is that Twitter is also used by its rivals — you know, Fox, CNN, Comcast, and every other brand on earth — and those companies might not feel so great having their engagement analytics in the hands of the competition. Twitter’s poor history of handling abuse complaints might not sit well with Disney’s squeaky-clean image either.
Fantasy pick: Amazon
Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters
While Amazon wasn’t named as a potential buyer, a Twitter acquisition would make some sense for the Seattle-based company. Sure, it’s largely known as an e-tailer, but Amazon has shown it isn’t afraid to experiment. It’s dabbled in hardware — the Kindle and Echo come to mind — and it’s making a strong play in video streaming too. And that video isn’t limited to just Prime subscribers: Amazon is also dabbling in live video after acquiring Twitch two years ago. Buying Twitter would provide yet another live vertical for Amazon and, of course, access to one of the world’s largest social networks. It might seem odd, but Amazon isn’t a normal company. And lest you forget, CEO Jeff Bezos already owns the Washington Post, indicating he might well have media mogul aspirations.
Regardless of who ends up owning Twitter, it seems clear that somebody will eventually need to buy it, if only to keep it alive. On Monday, Twitter was the place on the internet to congregate during the US presidential debate. It was a firestorm of heated commentary — lively, interactive and emotional. It is this quality that has made Twitter such an effective launchpad for political movements like the Arab Spring. The company might have problems making money and gaining users, but its value to modern society is clear. Let’s hope somebody can keep it going.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has never let the truth get in the way of an angry rant. So it goes with this week’s conspiracy theory of choice. At a rally in Wisconsin last night, Trump boasted that a “Google poll” showed he won Monday night’s debate over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton despite the fact that Google’s search engine is biased against him.
“A new post-debate poll, the Google poll, has us leading Hillary Clinton by two points nationwide,” Trump said (as reported by the Washington Post), “and that’s despite the fact that Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton. How about that.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard these claims — in June, a video went around claiming that Google’s autocomplete results for Donald Trump skewed negative, while searching for Hillary Clinton didn’t do the same. The crux of that argument was that searching for “Donald Trump rac” would suggest “Donald Trump racist,” but searching for “Hillary Clinton cri” didn’t suggest “Hillary Clinton criminal” or “Hillary Clinton crimes.”
Google quickly responded with details on how autocomplete works. “The autocomplete algorithm is designed to avoid completing a search for a person’s name with terms that are offensive or disparaging,” the company wrote. “We made this change a while ago following feedback that Autocomplete too often predicted offensive, hurtful or inappropriate queries about people.”
Crimes or criminal are two words that are filtered out of autocomplete — you get the same result regardless of who you search for. Searching for “Ted Kaczynski cri” doesn’t add crimes or criminal to autocomplete, same as when you search for Hillary Clinton.
However, Trump has proven to be all about claiming the scales are tipped unfairly in his favor, so it’s not surprising to see him trot out this tired old claim again. And it’s a bit of a stretch to think he’d understand how autocomplete works, even if he read Google’s blog post. Maybe his 10-year-old son, who’s so good at cyber, can help him out.
— Jen Lewis (@thisjenlewis) September 27, 2016
Via: The Daily Dot
Source: The Washington Post