Google sends Project Fi update emails, promises complete invite rollout by mid-summer

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Earlier this month, Google began sending the first invites to users for its Project Fi wireless carrier initiative. Users receiving invites have been rare so far and this evening Google sent an update email to those who requested an invite at launch. Unfortunately, the email being sent to users today doesn’t include an invite, but rather only an update on the process of the rollout.

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Logitech announces new partnership w/ Nest Protect smart smoke detector

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Logitech, maker of the popular Harmony series of remotes, announced in a blog post today that it is partnering with Google-owned Nest for deeper integration between their respective products. Logitech says that owners of the latest Harmony remotes can now have all of their entertainment devices automatically power off when a Nest Protect alert begins to sound.

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Google rebrands Webmaster Tools as ‘Google Search Console’ to appeal to more users

SC_lockupGoogle announced today in a blog post that it is renaming its popular Google Webmaster Tools service to Google Search Console after nearly 10 years of existence. Aside from the different name, no other changes are being made to Google Search Console. Google, of course, updates the service with new features on a regular basis, though.

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YouTube Kids app contains “disturbing and/or potentially harmful” content, alleges FTC complaint

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Google’s family-friendly YouTube Kids app has been hit with a second complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, this time accusing it of containing inappropriate content, including sexually-explicit language and “jokes about pedophilia.” This follows a complaint last month that the app was “deceptive to children” in the way it mixed ads into the programming.

The WSJ reports that the complaint was sent by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy.

Examples of what the non-profit groups found include: explicit sexual language in cartoons; jokes about pedophilia and drug use; activities such as juggling knives, tasting battery acid, and making a noose; and adult discussions about family violence, pornography, and child suicide.

The group created a video (below) illustrating the inappropriate content found …  Read more

High profile internal move supports suggestions that Google has big plans for virtual reality

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Google’s initial play with virtual reality couldn’t possibly have been any more basic: the company’s first headset was quite literally made from cardboard. But suggestions that the company is more serious about VR than Google Cardboard have been backed by a high-profile exec change within the company spotted by Fast Company.

Jon Wiley, the lead designer of Google Search, has transitioned to become lead designer of Google Cardboard […] Wiley’s Twitter profile reflects his new position, and Google confirmed the move, but declined to share details as to when or why it occurred, or who will replace Wiley in his former role. What’s clear is that Google has invested a major design talent in VR.

The WSJ reported in March that Google was working on a new project to build a VR platform based on the Android operating system which would be free for hardware manufacturers, and Google last month announced a ‘Works with Google Cardboard‘ program to unify third-party viewers …  Read more

Google drops Cloud Platform prices across the board, introduces ‘Preemptible Virtual Machines’

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Google has today announced big price drops for all Google Compute Engine Instance types, following the Moore’s law pricing philosophy that the company committed to last year. Effective today, the prices of virtual machines through Google Cloud Platform are dropping up to 30%, and Google is also introducing a new class of preemptible virtual machines that could bring prices even lower in some cases…

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Google uses 86 million photos from popular sites to create stunning time-lapse videos

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Google may have grown increasingly corporate over the years, but I love the fact that it still sets out to do cool things just because it can. Working with the University of Washington, the team found a way to create fully automated timelapse photos of both landscapes and cityscapes using photos pulled in from popular photo-sharing sites like Yahoo’s Flickr and its own Picasa.

First, we cluster 86 million photos into landmarks and popular viewpoints. Then, we sort the photos by date and warp each photo onto a common viewpoint. Finally, we stabilize the appearance of the sequence to compensate for lighting effects and minimize flicker.

The team says that the results are not just fun to watch, but also serve a useful purpose …  Read more

Google to introduce new ‘buy now’ buttons in search results within the coming weeks

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The Wall Street Journal today reported that Google plans to launch a new “buy now” button this week. The button will be incorporated directly into its shopping search results. The report echoes a similar report from The Wall Street Journal earlier this year, in which it was reported that Google wanted to enter the online commerce and more seriously battle Amazon and eBay.

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Report: European mobile networks to block Google & other web ads, threatening free sites

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The Financial Times is reporting that European mobile carriers are planning to block Google and other web ads in order to reduce demands on their networks and break Google’s hold on advertising (via TNW).

According to the story, which cites anonymous sources, the carriers have installed software from Israeli ad-blocking firm Shine in their data centers to block advertising in Web pages and apps, but not social networks.

Many websites, 9to5Google among them, depend on ad revenue to deliver free content to their readers. Any move to block ads could have far-reaching consequences …  Read more

Google’s cute prototype self-driving cars heading out onto real roads for the first time

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Google’s fleet of self-driving Lexus cars have notched up a total of 140,000 miles on public roads, and the company is now ready to begin road-testing its first purpose-built autonomous cars.

We first saw the cute-looking cars almost a year ago, when the company explained that they were not intended to ever make it to public sale. Their purpose is to see how people respond to a next-generation driverless car before later seeking partners to actually bring the technology to market.

We learned earlier this week that Google’s existing Lexus fleet has been involved in three low-speed accidents, none of them the fault of the car, but the company still isn’t taking any chances in this latest phase …  Read more

Google shares government request stats, more details on its fight to protect users in new Transparency Report

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Google this evening released the latest version of its Transparency Report in which it offers up more information regarding emergency disclosure requests and preservation requests. Regarding emergency disclosure requests, Google says it is now reporting requests from governments in every country. Previously, Google only reported requests from the United States.

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