Feud Between Apple and Google

Regardless of whether Apple intended to act on Google so abruptly, the two companies seem to be actively working to rectify the situation. Google told The Verge that its “working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption of some of [its] corporate apps, which [it] expect[s] will be resolved soon”. Meanwhile, Apple told Buzzfeed in a statement: “We are working together with Google to help them reinstate their enterprise certificates very quickly.”

Apple offers enterprise certificates to large companies like Google and Facebook for the purpose of distributing apps internally, amongst the companys’ employees that facilitate their jobs. One of the rules of this certificate is that enterprises should not use it to distribute apps to consumers.

Both Google and Facebook were identified as companies doing this and while Facebook’s certificate was revoked yesterday (and has very recently been reinstated), Apple pulled the rug under Google today when it did the same thing.

Following Facebook’s certificate revocation, Apple warned that “any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked.”

So while the rules apply equally to all companies, Apple didn’t hesitate to react to the unintended use of the enterprise certificate with Google. As for misuse of the certificate, The Verge reports that Google and Facebook aren’t the only ones distributing beta apps to consumers. DoorDash, Amazon, and Sonos are all doing the same thing.

Gmail Has Some Updates! Check Them Out Here

Google says that it will soon be rolling out three new Gmail features. Such as in addition to Bold, Italics and Underline, users will also be able to Strikethrough text. “We’ve heard from you that this functionality is critical to quickly and efficiently write emails, especially when you want to visually indicate a change in language.”

These will help users in correcting mistakes and edit while composing a mail. While two of the features come in the form of shortcut buttons, the third one lets you download messages in a different format from Gmail on the web.

Shortcut to undo/redo in the compose window Now it will be easier to undo something right from the compose view. “If you need to undo an action like if you accidentally delete the content of your draft of an email, you can do so straight from the compose view. Anytime you have undo, you want to also have the option of redo, so we’ve added that as well.”

The feature is there along with others under the formatting section while composing the email. Ability to download messages as .EML files in rfc822 format from Gmail on the web.

The .EML format is something that other email clients support and let you view the Gmail message along with attachments on these clients.

“In addition, with this functionality users can now add these downloaded messages as attachments in their emails,” adds the blog post. The G Suit blog post says that the feature will be available within new few days.

Also, all these features will be switched on by default. On a related note, Google in September last year announced that it’s shuttering off its Inbox by Gmail platform four years after the launch.

The firm said that this will bring more focus to Gmail. “As we look to the future, we want to take a more focused approach that will help us bring the best email experience to everyone. As a result, we’re planning to focus solely on Gmail and say goodbye to Inbox by Gmail at the end of March 2019.”

Chromecast Audio Dongle Were A Magical Tool

As for those who already have Chromecast Audio, Google says they will “continue to offer assistance” so you can continue using it as you always do. You can still listen to your music, podcasts, etc but you probably should not expect any more software updates for it. And if you’re still hoping to get one as a “legacy device”, you can probably still find it at some online retailers that still have some stocks remaining.

While most devices now have Chromecast baked in, including the ability to cast audio to speakers, this dongle also had some appealing features on its own. It supported lossless audio so audiophiles could play high quality audio on their speakers. It was also relatively cheap, initially priced at $35 and then slashed down to just $15 each.

When Google introduced the Chromecast Audio dongle, we were a bit skeptical that people would actually want to have an audio-only casting device, especially since Chromecast can cast audio content as well. It looks like a lot of people agreed with that since the tech giant has now officially discontinued the product, marking it as “Out of stock” on the Google Store and other online stores. You can still buy it at some of them but there will be no more devices that will be produced.

The rumor that the Chromecast Audio will be discontinued has been around for a few days but now we have official confirmation from a Google spokesperson that its days are over. They did not give a reason for it other than they are continually evolving their products including those where users can enjoy audio. This is probably code for it didn’t sell as well as expected so might as well not push through with manufacturing it.

Let’s wait and see what are those other “audio products” that Google said they are continuously developing. For now, if you still want to get a hold of Chromecast Audio, you better start scouring those online stores.

Google Radar-Based Hand Motion Sensor Approved By US

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in an order late on Monday that it would grant Google a waiver to operate the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The FCC said the sensors can also be operated aboard aircraft.

The FCC said the decision “will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology.”

Alphabet’s Google unit won approval from US regulators to deploy a radar-based motion sensing device known as Project Soli.

A Google spokeswoman did not immediately comment on Tuesday, citing the New Year’s Day holiday.

The FCC said the Soli sensor captures motion in a three-dimensional space using a radar beam to enable touchless control of functions or features that can benefit users with mobility or speech impairments.

Google says the sensor can allow users to press an invisible button between the thumb and index fingers or a virtual dial that turns by rubbing a thumb against the index finger.

The company says that “even though these controls are virtual, the interactions feel physical and responsive” as feedback is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching.

Google says the virtual tools can approximate the precision of natural human hand motion and the sensor can be embedded in wearables, phones, computers and vehicles.

In March, Google asked the FCC to allow its short-range interactive motion-sensing Soli radar to operate in the 57- to 64-GHz frequency band at power levels consistent with European Telecommunications Standards Institute standards.

Facebook raised concerns with the FCC that the Soli sensors operating in the spectrum band at higher power levels might have issues coexisting with other technologies.

After discussions, Google and Facebook jointly told the FCC in September that they agreed the sensors could operate at higher than currently allowed power levels without interference but at lower levels than previously proposed by Google.

Facebook told the FCC in September that it expected a “variety of use cases to develop with respect to new radar devices, including Soli.”

The Soli devices can be operated aboard aircraft but must still comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules governing portable electronic devices.

Google Initiative Against Spam in Text Message

Data about spam messages is to improve the search engine giant’s ability to “detect future spam for users”. The company has maintained that Messages is its primary communication solution for its users. Earlier this week, Google announced it was planning to shift its Messages web app — which allows users to manage SMS/MMS messages on their phone from another device — from Android.com to Google.com.

Google has begun rolling out its spam protection feature for Messages after almost over six months of developing it for Android users. Based on reports from a handful of tipsters, that spam protection feature is now going live, though not everyone seems to have it just yet, the Android Police reported late on Friday. Several users were seeing a prompt called “New! Spam protection” soon after opening Messages.

“The change appears to be server-side and in a limited rollout for the time being, as other devices we’ve tested, including my own, don’t have it just yet. When it does hit your device, you should see a notification similar to that above when launching Messages,” the report added. Once introduced, users can disable this feature in the Settings and then in the Advanced menu.

The move is seen as the tech giant’s plan to minimise the use of the word “Android”.

Google CEO and Congress Held An Eye-to-Eye Discussion

Speculation hovering around the bias pertaining in the core of Google’s operation activities have been steered clear by CEO Sundar Pichai in his audacious encounter with the Congress party on Tuesday. Contemporaneously, Pichai also cleansed the air around the company’s privacy approach, data collection vis-à-vis stressing its American roots.

Pichai’s testimony was overshadowed by the memory of his empty chair from a September hearing he skipped. It caps a year filled with setbacks and stumbles that chilled relations between tech giants and Capitol Hill. “It was necessary to convene this hearing because of the widening gap of distrust between technology companies and the American people,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, citing China, antitrust and anti-conservative bias as concerns.

Concerns about Google’s plans to re-enter China, codenamed “Dragonfly,” have upset some employees of company and members of Congress. Pichai has insisted the initiative is an experiment.

“Right now, we have no plans to launch in China,” Pichai said on Tuesday. “We don’t have a search product there. Our core mission is to provide information to users. Getting access to information is an important human right.” Google stopped providing its search engine in China in 2008 after the government demanded results be censored. But the world’s largest internet market is attractive to any global company, and a return could signal Google is prioritizing its business over human rights.

In several exchanges, Pichai described Dragonfly as an “internal effort” and said the number of employees working on it was “limited.” However, he declined to answer direct questions on whether Google staff have stopped working on the project or if he would commit to not launch a product that could be used as a surveillance tool by China.

“As an American company, we cherish the values and freedoms that have allowed us to grow and serve so many users,” Pichai said in opening remarks released by the committee on Monday. “I am proud to say we do work, and we will continue to work, with the government to keep our country safe and secure.”

He also reiterated Google’s support for a national privacy law, which could gain momentum next year, in part because diverse business groups have backed plans that would preempt California’s stringent new privacy law. Such a law would represent yet more regulation of the tech sector, after Google lost a battle earlier in the year to stop Congress from increasing internet platforms’ liability for online sex trafficking.

Pichai isn’t the first tech titan to undergo a grilling on Capital Hill. Two of his fellow CEO’s, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook Inc and Twitter’s Dorsey already endured hours of often-hostile testimony even as trade tensions, European antitrust probes and angry tweets from President Donald Trump accusing the social media companies of silencing conservatives rattled markets.

Google’s Parent Alphabet has a plan to Eliminate Mosquitoes Worldwide

Google parent company Alphabet has its life sciences division focused on forcing a mass mosquito extinction. In the California city of Fresno, researchers are breeding and setting loose sterilized mosquitos that could help wipe out the larger population, according to a new report on the early testing of the program.

Like the buzz of an obnoxious fly, it’s a headline that’s hard to ignore, if only because it seems so strange. And sure, mosquitos are annoying. But this isn’t overkill. The bloodsucking insects are a public health issue as disease-carrying, infection-spreading pests responsible for disseminating serious and sometimes deadly illnesses such the Zika virus, malaria, and the dengue virus.

Alphabet has been moving into health and life sciences for a while, with an eye toward partnerships in wearables with companies like Fitbit but also with Verily, which it rebranded from a moonshot to a full division within Alphabet, when Google divided a number of departments amidst its 2015 rebranding.

There’s still at least one unknown in this plan: the exact role mosquitos play in the global ecosystem. It’s not a topic that’s ever been studied in great enough detail. But one thing no one will miss, in addition to those itchy bites, is the threat of a global mosquito-borne epidemic. We can do without those just fine.

Apple Eulogized Google as the Safer Haven for Data Loggers

Praising the safer platform of the Google, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Google search engine on Sunday night, defending its billion-dollar deal with Google, underscored the humungus efforts put in by Google for safeguarding the Safari data and cloud data of the customer.

Apple that keeps Google Search a default search platform on its devices. “I think their search engine is the best. But two, look at what we’ve done with the controls. We have private web browsing, we have intelligent tracking prevention. “What we’ve tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through their course of the day. It’s not a perfect thing, but it goes a long way in helping,” Cook told the Axios technology correspondent.

Google will reportedly pay Apple a whopping $9 billion in 2018 to remain the default search engine for iPhone’s Safari browser on iOS. According to Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall (via Business Insider), this number would only continue to grow, potentially leading to a payment of $12 billion in 2019. Cook has opposed privacy practices of some big tech companies, like Facebook, in the past, calling them a form of “surveillance”.

When it comes to regulating the tech companies, Cook said while he is “not a big fan of regulation,” but there comes time to “admit when the free market is not working”. “I think it’s inevitable that there will be some level of regulation. I think Congress and the administration at some point will pass something,” Cook said. “This is not a matter of privacy versus profits, or privacy versus technical innovation. That’s a false choice.

“Your device has incredible intelligence about you, but as a company I don’t have to have that,” the Apple CEO added. On a question on diversity at workplace, Cook said the Silicon Valley has been open and accepting to many different people from different walks of life. “But I agree 100 per cent from a gender point of view, that the valley has missed it and tech in general has missed it,” he said.

Google changes sexual harassment policies, a week after the protest

Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Thursday it would change the way it handles sexual harassment claims, a week after 20,000 of its workers around the world walked off their jobs to protest its response to such issues.

Arbitration will become optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, Google said, enabling lawsuits on those matters. It also said employees who fail to complete mandatory sexual harassment training will be docked in performance reviews.

“We recognise that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that,” Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said in a note addressed to employees. “It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

Pichai’s actions respond to a couple of the five major requests made by employees during last week’s protests. They had called on Alphabet to add an employee to its board and share gender-related pay data, neither of which Pichai addressed.

Walkout organizers applauded the progress on sexual harassment but said they would not let up on the other issues.

“They all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top, organizer and Google employee Stephanie Parker said in a press release.

“We demand a truly equitable culture,” Parker said.

Google noted its chief diversity officer would continue to lead monthly discussions with Pichai on topics of diversity and equity. The company also said it would publicly release its harassment, discrimination and retaliation policies.

Employees who organised last week’s demonstrations estimated that 20,000 workers participated across Alphabet offices in five continents. A New York Times report spurred the protests after it revealed that Google gave a $90 million exit package to a top executive in 2014 after he was accused of sexual harassment.

Pichai said on Thursday that Google would provide more details about the outcome of sexual harassment investigations, as well as improve handling of cases by allowing victims to be accompanied by a support person.

Google will investigate complaints made by its contractors against employees and require that suppliers investigate complaints against contractors, the company said.

Employees now must do sexual harassment training annually, instead of every two years currently.

In addition, the company will expect its leaders to create environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is “strongly” discouraged. “Perpetrators” had been drinking in about 20 percent of the harassment cases at Google, it said.

Google described two-drink limits or drink ticket systems as potential solutions.

“We will impose more onerous actions if problems persist,” Google said.