Chrome ‘OK Google’ hotwording extension sparks new privacy concerns, confusion (Update: Chromium team backpeddals)

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Update: What’s that? Oh, just the smell of change. After initially standing firm on its implementation of the hotwording module and proprietary Google extension being automatically downloaded in new installations of the Chromium open source browser, a wave of criticism has led to the team pulling it out of Chromium 45 and onwards. The module that manages whether the hotword listening extension is enabled will be “disabled by default” and the proprietary technology that actually listens for “Ok Google” will not download. A member of the team says simply:

In light of this issue, we have decided to remove the hotwording component entirely from Chromium. As it is not open source, it does not belong in the open source browser.

The original story continues below.

It all started with a blinking LED light. Ofer Zelig wrote on his blog today about an odd case where the LED light on his computer, that turns on whenever the microphone or camera is activated, seemed to blink every few seconds or so while he was working on his PC. He investigated in the Windows Task Manager to look for any process that might be to blame – no dice. He shut down some suspicious processes that might have been causing it and says he didn’t have any malware installed, but still to no avail. Turns out, the culprit was none other than Google’s Chrome browser…

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Acer launches Chromebase with optional touch display for $329/$429 in US

Acer Chromebase Front Facing Left

First announced in April, Acer is today officially launching its Chromebase all-in-one (DC221HQ) for customers in the US. Two models are available, one with a touch display for $429 and another without the touch display for $329.   

Specs for both models include a 21.5-inch 1080p HD display, NVIDIA Tegra K1 quad-core processor, 4GB RAM, 16GB SSD, a built-in webcam, a stand that tilts 15 to 75 degrees and offers VESA mount compatibility, and, of course, Chrome OS. You’ll also find the usual USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, Bluetooth, and WiFi offerings.

The non-touch screen version of the new Acer Chromebase is available through retailers this month for $329, while the multi-touch model will ship next months or $429.

More images and the full press release is below: Read more

Google announces 17 new Android Wear watch faces from recognizable brands (Gallery)

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Google has today announced the introduction of 17 brand new watch faces for Android Wear, spanning brands such as Rubiks, Hello Kitty, Angry Birds, and more. Google says that there are already more than 1,500 watch faces available to customize your device, and now — lucky you! — there are 17 more options to choose from… Read more

Google is taking applications for creators to test the Jump virtual reality rig

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Project Jump is Google’s committal to making virtual reality go mainstream by making it cheaper and easier for anyone to produce VR video, and as reported by TechCrunch it’s going to let a lucky few take a Jump rig for a spin this summer. The company has a form up where interested creators can explain why they deserve to be one of the lucky few – it’s two pages long with some basic biographical questions and an essay section.

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Moto G (2015) seemingly leaks from multiple sources, isn’t very exciting

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The 3rd generation Moto G (2015) is likely to be just around the corner, along with the much-rumored 3rd generation Moto X (2015). And while we got what is probably a nice peek at the upcoming Moto X thanks to Upleaks last weekend, this weekend a couple of other sources are sharing some information about the lower-end budget phone from the Lenovo-owned company. Sadly, at least based on this information, the Moto G (2015) seems to be a bit of a snooze fest… Read more

European Commission to hit Google with fines ‘large enough to act as a deterrent’ in antitrust investigation

A neon Google logo is seen as employees work at the new Google office in Toronto

The long running antitrust case faced by Google in Europe appears to possibly have an end in sight at long last. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the European Commission was preparing to file antitrust charges against the company, some five years after the investigation started. Now, Bloomberg reports that Google has been told by the European Commission to expect large fines as part of the probe.

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Double Review: The G2 & P2 are two great Google Cardboard viewers from DODOcase (Giveaway!)

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DODOcase is known for their cases, but you may not have known that they also make a line of Google Cardboard viewers (which I guess could also be considered “cases” using a looser definition of the word). A couple of newly-revised viewers, models G2 and P2, are scheduled to start shipping in the next few weeks, and we thought we would give them a look. And while we can’t say that DODOcase is bringing anything revolutionary or groundbreaking to the VR scene with these pieces of cardboard, they’re definitely good options if you’re wanting to get started with Cardboard-enabled apps… Read more

Purported ‘Galaxy S6 Edge Plus’ leaks, doesn’t help clarify Samsung’s plans for the Note line

 

We’ve been following the rumor of Samsung launching a larger Galaxy S6 Edge on-and-off for some time now with heavy doses of skepticism, and today we got another peak at what’s purporting to be what is being called the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus — and it looks exactly like a stock image of regular the Galaxy S6 Edge sans a speaker hole.

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ASUS ZenFone 2 Review: One of the best budget Android smartphones despite its build and bloat (Video)

ASUS Zenfone 2 Review! - YouTube 2015-06-19 12-50-17

I first took a look at the ZenFone 2 when it was announced back at CES, and I remember standing at the ASUS press conference actually very impressed with what ASUS managed to do here. While many that I talked to immediately discounted the device — because, well, it is another ASUS ZenFone — I stood behind it as someone who had actually tried it out first-hand. The phone packs some great hardware, and while it was assumed that this was just going to be another underwhelming mid-range handset to clutter the 2015 lineup, I thought this one actually deserved a second look.

Four months after the phone’s announcement in January, it finally went up for sale for North American customers on Amazon. There are two variants here, the first being a lower-end model that costs just $200 and sports 16 GB of storage, and the second is the 64 GB model, coming in at $300. We’re going to be taking a look at the higher-end model in this review, and that’s worth noting because storage space isn’t the only differentiator between these two devices. The high-end $300 model also sports a better processor, as well as that record-breaking 4 GB of RAM…

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