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Found 35 results

  1. Google is working on a new operating system — and it has nothing to do with Android. A page has surfaced on the code-sharing website GitHub about the new OS, called — for now, at least — Fuchsia. It's not based on Android, the California-based technology company's mobile operating system used in billions of smartphones around the world, nor does it build upon the Linux kernel. The GitHub page is pretty sparse on explainers: Its description is simply, "Pink + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System)." There has been no official announcement from Google, and it sounds as if the open-source project is in its early days. "The decision was made to build it open source, so might as well start there from the beginning," Google employee Brian Swetland said in an IRC chatlog shared on Hacker News. View the full article
  2. The great deplusification of Google continues as a Google+ has been removed from yet another Google product. This time it's the Play Store, which has dropped Google+ votes from apps and nixed the G+ account requirement from app reviews. There was an entire Google+ focused "People" section on the Play Store that showed apps and ratings from people you follow on Google+. The Play Store also allowed users to "+1" apps on the Play Store, which served as a vote of approval from people you follow. Both features are being stripped out of Google Play, starting earlier this week. The other feature being removed is the requirement to have a Google+ account to leave a Play Store review on apps, games, and media. Several users have reported to Android Police that they can now leave reviews using their regular Google account, where before they were nagged to created a Google+ account. View the full article
  3. Google has been hit by a $6.75 million antitrust fine in Russia for requiring phone manufacturers to preinstall its apps on Android mobile devices. The majority of smartphones and tablets solid in Russia run on Android, and domestic search engine rival Yandex filed a complaint last year that the US company was abusing its position. The fine itself is small — less than what the company makes in an hour, notes Recode — but the decision shows increasing enmity to Google in Europe. One of the many antitrust complaints currently being levied against Google by the EU focuses on the same issue: accusing the company of abusing its dominant position in the market by forcing manufacturers to preinstall its services on Android devices. Unlike the rest of Europe, though, Russia has a viable competitor to Google — Yandex has about 60 percent of the search market in the country. With the shift to mobile, though, the company seems worried it's being out-maneuvered by Google for the future of search. View the full article
  4. Google has taken additional measures to strengthen its data encryption by implementing HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS). While most of Google's data is already encrypted, Google's utilization of HSTS goes a step further by preventing users from mistakenly heading to HTTP URLs by converting potentially unsafe HTTP URLs into more secure HTTPS URLs. For instance, you might accidentally type in a URL without protocols and find yourself redirected to an unsafe destination. HSTS help curb those issues, especially among less internet-savvy users. View the full article
  5. It’s been a busy week for the Google Maps team. As we reported earlier today, the Google Maps apps are getting a Wi-Fi-only mode and the team is also bringing more crowdsourcing tools to the mobile apps. The company kept the biggest announcement for today, though: Google Maps on iOS, Android and the web is getting a new and cleaner look with a more subtle color scheme. The idea behind the new look for the maps is to remove clutter. As Google notes, the team removed road outlines, for example, and also improved the typography on the maps so it’s easier to read street names, points of interest and transit stations. At the same time, the team also decided to try a new way of showing local information on the map. When you zoom in to a city now, you’ll likely see a few areas that are shaded in orange. These are “areas of interest” that feature a large number of hotels, restaurants, music venues or other points of interest. View the full article
  6. The European Commission has added new antitrust charges against Google in the areas of search and advertising as it continues to investigate into the Internet search giant. On Thursday, the EC charged Google in a “statement of objections” that it has placed restrictions on the ability of certain third party websites to display search advertisements from the search giant’s competitors. Google places search ads directly on the its search website but also as an intermediary on third party websites through its “AdSense for Search” platform, according to the Commission. As a result, the company has prevented existing and potential competitors, including other search providers and online advertising platforms, from entering and growing in this lucrative area, according to the Commission. By European Commission rules, a statement of objections is a formal step in its antitrust investigations in which the commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The Commission also added a supplementary statement of objections to earlier charges that it leveled against the company in April 2015 that Google used its dominant position to favor its own comparison shopping product in search results View the full article
  7. Pokémon Go isn’t reading your Gmail. The makers of the hot, new mobile game are fixing a bug that allowed the app to gain full access to users’ accounts, when they signed in using their Google account information. The company claims it didn’t mean to ask for such elevated permissions, and it will now correct this. The app had the power to access your Gmail, your Google Docs, your Google Photos, as well as track your location history, your search history, and more. And this was in addition to the app’s already necessary high-level access to things like your current location, camera, and phone sensors, which are needed for gameplay. The issue was isolated to iOS and only affected those who signed in using Google. Pokémon Go offers two ways to sign up – you can create a “Trainer Club” account by creating a username, or you could sign up using your existing Google account. For those who chose the latter option, the iOS version of the game would then gain full access to your Google account. Not only is that a privacy nightmare of sorts, there was also some concern over Pokémon Go’s close ties to Google, which had built its business on data-mining from its users. Pokémon Go’s creator, Niantic Labs, was spun out of Google/Alphabet last year, and Google still holds a stake in the company. View the full article
  8. Google Fiber launched business class service in November of 2014, after taking a little heat from startups running into the residential Google Fiber terms of service regarding server operation. Originally, the company offered symmetrical gigabit service with an SLA for $100 per month. But in a new announcement by the company, Google Fiber notes that it's introducing three new business class pricing tiers, and in the process raising its rates for business-class customers. Under the new pricing, the company is now offering symmetrical gigabit broadband for $250 per month, a $150 per month mark up suggesting its former $100 price point likely wasn't fully paying the bills for user consumption. But in addition to bumping the price on its 1 Gbps business class offering, Google Fiber says it's offering a 250 Mbps tier for the same price gigabit service formerly was ($100). Users also now have the option of a new 100 Mbps business-class service tier at $70 per month. View the full article
  9. If you signed up for Pokémon Go with your Google account, you might not know it but the game now has "full account access." That can be a major security risk. Adam Reeve, who first documented the issue on his Tumblr blog, said it appears to be a problem isolated to iPhones and iPads. It's not thought to affect Android devices. In our testing on two iPhones, the Pokémon Go app didn't explicitly ask permission for full account access when logging in with a Google username and password. By this point, it should have told us what data the app needs. Instead, it simply skipped straight to the app's terms of service, which makes no reference to the full account access. Under the hood, you've given the app and its creators access to your search history, personal information, Google Photos, everything in Google Drive, search and location history, and more. Not only can the app read your data, inbox, calendar events, and search history, it can also modify it. That's usually reserved for trusted apps, like browsers and mail clients -- such as Google Chrome -- and not games or most other apps. View the full article
  10. Like many forms of encryption in use today, HTTPS protections are on the brink of a collapse that could bring down the world as we know it. Hanging in the balance are most encrypted communications sent over the last several decades. On Thursday, Google unveiled an experiment designed to head off, or at least lessen, the catastrophe. In the coming months, Google servers will add a new, experimental cryptographic algorithm to the more established elliptic curve algorithm it has been using for the past few years to help encrypt HTTPS communications. The algorithm—which goes by the wonky name "Ring Learning With Errors"—is a method of exchanging cryptographic keys that's currently considered one of the great new hopes in the age of quantum computing. Like other forms of public key encryption, it allows two parties who have never met to encrypt their communications, making it ideal for Internet usage. Virtually all forms of public key encryption in use today are secured by math problems that are so hard that they take millennia for normal computers to solve. In a world with quantum computers, the same problems take seconds to solve. No one knows precisely when this potential doomsday scenario will occur. Forecasts call for anywhere from 20 to 100 years. But one thing is certain: once working quantum computers are a reality, they will be able to decrypt virtually all of today's HTTPS communications. Even more unnerving, eavesdroppers who have stashed away decades' worth of encrypted Internet traffic would suddenly have a way to decrypt all of it. View the full article
  11. If you’ve ever tested your internet speeds, you’ve probably used Ookla’s Speed Test or maybe even Netflix’s new Fast.com. There’s also a good chance that you’ve simply Google searched “speed test” to get you to one of those websites. In hopes to court users away from Ookla and Netflix, it looks like Google is building its own internet speed test tool right into search results. First uncovered by Dr. Pete Meyers on Twitter, the speed test function can simply be activated by searching “check internet speed.” As you can see in the screenshot below, the test takes less than 30 seconds and is powered by Measurement Lab (M-Lab). Thanks to this tweet, a Google Support page has also been uncovered, detailing Google’s partnership with M-Lab and how exactly the test works. As of this moment we’re still not sure what the test looks like or how accurate it is. You can try the query for yourself, but it doesn’t appear to be live for most users. In the mean time, you can, however, try out M-Lab’s NDT test for yourself if you’re interested. M-Lab’s testing tool hasn’t been very accurate for me, though, at least not as accurate as Ookla or Netflix’s offerings. View the full article
  12. Products from Symantec that are supposed to protect users have made them much more open to attack, according to Google. Researcher Tavis Ormandy has spotted numerous vulnerabilities in 25 Norton and Symantec products that are "as bad as it gets," he says. "Just emailing a file to a victim or sending them a link to an exploit is enough to trigger it -- the victim does not need to open the file or interact with it in any way." Symantec has already published fixes for the exploits, so users would do well to install them immediately. Google's Project Zero team searches for "zero-day" code flaws and gives companies 90 days (plus a two week grace period) to fix them. In this case, Ormandy published the blog post shortly after Symantec pushed the fixes, saying the antivirus company did resolve the bugs "quickly." However, he excoriated Symantec for the danger of the errors and its incompetence in allowing them. In one case, he found a buffer overflow flaw in the company's "unpacker," which searches for hidden trojans and worms. "Because no interaction is necessary to exploit it, this is a wormable vulnerability with potentially devastating consequences," he says. "An attacker could easily compromise an entire enterprise fleet." He added that the unpackers have kernel access, which is "maybe not the best idea." View the full article
  13. Using two-step authentication, normally a code from an app or texted to you, is a crucial, but highly irritating, part of logging into all manner of things. From banking, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Yahoo to World of Warcraft, Steam and Xbox Live, two-step authentication is seen as the way to make our insecure username and password system slightly safer. Most rely on typing in a freshly generated six or eight-digit code after having logged in with a username and password. Now Google is attempting to make the whole process less irritating and much faster, using a push notification which users can simply accept to login. View the full article
  14. Global ad provider Google has come out in favor of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The web giant's general counsel Kent Walker noted in a blog post that the agreement "is not perfect" and decried the lack of transparency that has dogged the process, but argues that it "recognizes the Internet's transformative impact on trade." "The Internet has revolutionized how people can share and access information, and the TPP promotes the free flow of information in ways that are unprecedented for a binding international agreement," Walker writes. "The TPP requires the 12 participating countries to allow cross-border transfers of information and prohibits them from requiring local storage of data. These provisions will support the Internet's open architecture and make it more difficult for TPP countries to block Internet sites." View the full article
  15. Today, we’re announcing a variety of new protections that will help keep Gmail users even safer and promote email security best practices across the Internet as a whole. New tools and industry standards make email even safer On Safer Internet Day this year, we introduced a new visual element to Gmail that lets users know when they’ve received a message that wasn’t delivered using encryption or if they’re composing a message to a recipient whose email service doesn’t support TLS encryption. It’s the red lock icon featured below: View the full article
  16. As the battle between iOS and Android rages on, it can be said that both operating systems are wonderful. True, Apple's offering allows more timely updates, but Google's mobile OS is available to many manufacturers for various device types. It is clear why Android is the most-used mobile operating system in the world -- it allows affordable devices, while Apple simply doesn't. Today, Google shocks the tech world by releasing the first official Developer Preview of Android N -- the successor to the wonderful Marshmallow. It is available for many Nexus devices, and you can install it now. Google even shares a handy how-to guide below. "Today we're happy to announce a Developer Preview of the N release of Android! We're doing something a little different this year by releasing the preview early… really early. By releasing a 'work in progress' build earlier in development, we have more time to incorporate developer feedback. Also, the earlier preview allows us to hand off the final N release to device makers this summer, so they can get their hands on the latest version of Android earlier than ever. We’re looking forward to getting your feedback as you get your apps ready for N", says Dave Burke, VP of Engineering, Google. View the full article
  17. In the grab bag of Google/Alphabet's big projects for 2016 is Project Abacus. It's basically the company's plot to kill the password in cold blood, by replacing it with smartphone user authentication via an uncrackable collection of biometric readings. Abacus would lock or unlock devices and apps based on a cumulative "trust score" -- as your phone continually monitors and recognizes your location patterns, voice and speech patterns, how you walk and type, and your face (among other things). Like many things Google, it sounds miraculous. Your phone will just know it's you. And infosec pundits who believe we're stuck in password-hell Groundhog Day because "regular" people won't do security if it's inconvenient, will rejoice. Former Googler Chris Messina sounded ecstatic about it on Twitter, saying that Abacus would beat the current gold standard, two-factor authentication, since losing access to SMS wouldn't break the whole system. Cisco engineer Shawn Cooley countered him saying, "very cool until I break my leg or hand & can't auth to any services to get healthcare info since my behavior is diff." Messina said, "you presume that your health records aren't being managed by Verily. You would be wrong." During its first public demo at Google's I/O conference, Regina Dugan claimed that with its "trust score" method, Project Abacus "may prove to be ten-fold more secure than just a fingerprint sensor." And it's easy to believe this could be true. View the full article
  18. Your prayers have been finally answered – that is, if you asked for Google to come to New York City with free Wi-Fi for all. Because that’s totally happening this year, and it’s all part of Google’s grandiose plan to bring free Wi-Fi to the world. According to Bloomberg, Google has already set up a company that’ll handle the free Wi-Fi job in the Big Apple. Sidewalk Labs is the Google-backed startup that will turn 10,000 of New York’s old phone booths into ad-supported Wi-Fi pylons this September. View the full article
  19. Google knows that its Chrome browser is a serious consumer of RAM, but the development team is reportedly very aware of this, and are working on lowering Chrome's RAM consumption. Thanks to a Reddit AMA session, a Chrome for Android engineer said: "We are actively working on reducing battery usage and we are looking into when Chrome is in the foreground and in the background. Since its inception Chrome has been focusing on security and performance of the web across all supported platforms. Performance sometimes has come at the cost of resource usage, but given the importance of the mobile platform this is one of the top things we are looking into". View the full article
  20. Mobile networks in Europe plan to start blocking online ads to target Google’s stranglehold on digital ad revenue, according to a report in the Financial Times. The newspaper says that “several” carriers have installed ad-blocking software — developed by an Israeli company called Shine — in their data centers, and plans are afoot to switch the technology on by the end of the year. The software stops most ads from loading, though “in-feed” ads like the ones you find on Twitter or Facebook aren’t affected. Citing a source at one European carrier, the report suggests that the network will introduce an opt-in ad-free service initially, but is also considering extending it to its entire network automatically. It’s not clear whether this would be a paid or free offering, but ultimately it’s designed to target the major online ad companies such as Google. View the full article
  21. Android 5.0 "Lollipop" was released about half a year ago, and while its adoption rate was much slower in the beginning, it has now spiked to almost 10 percent of the Android market, according to the latest platform distribution numbers from Google. Google usually releases a major platform, to which it gives a dessert-themed name, and then iterates on it with bug fixes and a few minor feature additions. In this case, we have "Lollipop," which includes Android 5.0 and the recently released Android 5.1. There may or may not be an Android 5.2 as well, depending how big of a change Google plans for Android 6.0 and whether it needs to delay it in order to implement those major changes. However, chances are that Google is now trying to keep a major-version-per-year schedule, and it should release a preview of Android 6.0 at the next Google I/O event, while the stable version could arrive late fall this year. Until then, we have only Android 5.0 and Android 5.1 (Lollipop), which currently represent 9.0 percent and 0.7 percent of the Android market, respectively, for a combined total of 9.7 percent. That's definitely nothing to be proud about, because it could be years by the time the vast majority of users are on the Android 5+ platforms. By then, 10 percent of users could be on Android 8.0. View the full article
  22. Surprise! Did you think Google's Wireless service was going to take a while to get here? According to The Wall Street Journal, the service could launch as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22. Google has publicly talked about plans to launch an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) wireless service in March and said the service would see the light of day in "the next few months." "Google Wireless" (not necessarily the official name) will resell network access to Sprint and T-Mobile, but with a few twists. The Journal says the system will seamlessly switch between T-Mobile, Sprint, and Wi-Fi (including for calls), depending on what is available, and that—get this—customers will only have to pay for the data they actually use, rather than purchase a set amount of data every month. View the full article
  23. Google is cracking down on ad-injecting extensions for its Chrome browser after finding that almost 200 of them exposed millions of users to deceptive practices or malicious software. More than a third of Chrome extensions that inject ads were recently classified as malware in a study that Google researchers carried out with colleagues from the University of California at Berkeley. The Researchers uncovered 192 deceptive Chrome extensions that affected 14 million users. Google officials have since killed those extensions and incorporated new techniques to catch any new or updated extensions that carry out similar abuses.   View the full article  
  24. CAPTCHAs are an unfortunate side effect of the internet. They're those irritating collection of numbers and letters morphed into some Surrealist dreck that leaves us guessing, and guessing, and guessing. Google wants to improve all of that with updates to reCAPTCHA, a one-click solution for telling websites that you are, in fact, a human being. Wouldn't abandoning those Dali-like distortions defeat the purpose of protecting websites from bots? Not really, Google says, because the old CAPTCHA system wasn't working that great anyways: While the new reCAPTCHA API may sound simple, there is a high degree of sophistication behind that modest checkbox. CAPTCHAs have long relied on the inability of robots to solve distorted text. However, our research recently showed that today's Artificial Intelligence technology can solve even the most difficult variant of distorted text at 99.8% accuracy. Thus distorted text, on its own, is no longer a dependable test. View the full article
  25. Since 2004, Google has been paying Mozilla a ton of money each year—estimated at around $100 million—for the privilege of being the default search engine used in the Firefox browser. This contribution represented the lion's share of Mozilla's income, something in the ballpark of 85 percent. That deal, last renewed for a three-year period in 2011, has come to an end, and this time it won't be renewed. Mozilla announced today that the free browser vendor is switching to a range of different search providers. In the US, Firefox will now default to using Yahoo (which continues to be powered by Microsoft's Bing engine); in Russia it will use Yandex, and in China, Baidu. View the full article
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