Google Test of UI For Chrome Android App

Google is testing an update for Chrome, that could introduce an Explore interface. As per multiple reports, the Google Chrome Android app could show a Google Assistant-like layout, which is also available for the latest version of its desktop browser. The feature can be spotted on Google Chrome’s beta version, or the Chrome canary build.

As part of the overhaul, users will be able to access their favourite tabs, as well as bookmarks, both manual and recorded. In addition, users can choose from news, weather, travel options and local services, like other browsers. Currently, the feature shows placeholder sites, that cater to many requirements, where those browsing through Chrome can choose from various categories with the Explore UI. Since there is no official word about the feature’s testing, it remains unknown if Google aims to introduce the feature into the regular Chrome browser for Android.

Google Tez upgraded to Google Pay, unifying Payments Globally

In a bid to increase its market share in India’s payments market, Google today rebranded its payments app Google Tez into Google Pay, introduced new features and widened its scope with new tie-ups. At its annual event ‘Google for India’, the tech giant announced its partnership with private banks, Google Pay will now also have an in-app process for applying for loans for Google Pay customers on partnered banks.

Using the Google Pay app, customers will soon be able to get loans from HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Federal Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank. “In the coming weeks, these customers will be able to use Google Pay to take out a customised loan amount from their banks, with minimal paperwork, and once they accept the bank’s terms, the money is deposited securely and instantly by their bank, into their bank account,” Google’s general manager (payments) Caesar Sengupta said.

Launched first in India last September as Google Tez, the re-branded Google Pay will now be offered in other countries too. Google said it will be unifying all of Google’s payment offerings globally.

“The world has certainly taken notice of India’s digital payments success and our deep investments here with Tez. Many governments are asking us to work with them to bring similar digital payments innovations to their countries,” Google said.

Google says it has 22 million monthly active users on Google Pay who have made over 750 million transactions with average annual transaction of 2 lakh crore.

As its expands the scope of Google Pay, the service will soon be available at over 2,000 online merchants and e-commerce websites including Redbus, BookMyShow, Mi and Goibibo, besides over 15,000 retail stores like Big Bazaar, e-Zone, and FBB.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai had said Tez is central to the company’s India strategy and also key to its global payments push. The payments app has localized, supporting several Indian languages, and is chasing young users with games that offer cashbacks.

VR Science Labs For Students By Google And Labster Illustrates

Virtual reality offers the tantalizing prospect of visiting remote locations from the comfort of your home — but it also has educational and scientific applications, as a collaboration between Google and Labster illustrates. Building on a brief May announcement, the companies today confirmed that Daydream users can start to access some of over 30 “virtual labs” under development by Labster, enabling students to conduct unlimited science experiments without actually using lab resources.

Their collaboration offers a cost- and time-effective way for students to spend more time in laboratories, a requirement for many science degrees. Rather than burning the midnight oil — and school supplies — in an actual lab, students can learn about equipment and run experiments in virtual environments.

Unlike physical labs at schools, which may be limited in the expensive equipment they can afford, Labster’s virtual labs include modern tools, such as DNA sequencers, and microscopes that actually work. The list of VR experiences includes an electron transport chain simulation, cytogenetics, cellular respiration, RNA extraction, gene expression, viral gene therapy, a confocal microscope, invertebrate modeling, and gene regulation — some of which feature game-like human interactions within the labs.

If you’re a Daydream or Lenovo Mirage Solo user who wants to check out the VR labs’ capabilities for yourself, you can try a free sample Labster Daydream app here. The full experience is an educational package that will be licensed and distributed by educational institutions.

Labster says that over 10 schools are initially supporting the Daydream VR experience, including Arizona State University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and McMaster University. Additional colleges in the U.S. and Europe are also expected to begin using the service. Schools interested in licensing the virtual labs can reach out here.


Google Sued For Its ‘Location History’ In California

Google has now been sued for its ‘Location History’ gaffe that affects smartphone users reliant on its ‘Search’ and ‘Maps’ services. According to a report in ArsTechnica, the lawsuit has been filed in California, wherein attorneys argue that Google’s practice of storing user data, even after ‘Location History’ is turned off, is a violation of state law.

As per the lawsuit filed last Friday by a user named Napoleon Patacsil, Google has been accused of breaching California’s constitutional right to privacy, as well as the California Invasion of Privacy Act. Seeking class-action status, the lawsuit will cover ‘Location History’ infringement under ‘Android Class’ and ‘iPhone Class’, so as to cover all smartphone users that have faced the issue.

While Google did not comment on the lawsuit, it did update its policy on the Location History practice, soon after the issue was first reported by the Associated Press. As per the company’s new policy, the Google website states that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.”

In a detailed investigation AP found that Google kept storing ‘Location History’ from Android devices and iPhones, even after users activated privacy settings on their devices. Confirmed in tests by Princeton University, it was found that certain Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking for user permission.

The issue affects both iPhone users that rely on the Google’s location services as well as over 2 billion Android phone owners.


UIDAI In Contact List-Blame Taken By Google

Last week, many Android users found UIDAI’s helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number mysteriously saved in their contact list by default. Shortly after the reports emerged, Google clarified that it inadvertently coded the numbers into the SetUp wizard of Android in 2014 and has since been present through syncing. The search giant also said that it would fix the error in its next Android update and also said that users can delete the number if they wished.

Prior to Google’s statement, UIDAI came under fire for including an old Aadhaar helpline number in users’ contact lists without their knowledge. The UIDAI also clarified that it did not ask any manufacturer or telecom operator to facilitate this inclusion. In fact, the UIDAI released another statement on Sunday reiterating Google’s mistake and warning people about attempts by “Aadhaar opponents” who have been using this old UIDAI number to spread rumours and “scare mongering” against Aadhaar.

“UIDAI condemns the vested interests who tried to misuse Google’s “inadvertent” act as an opportunity to spread rumours and go around fear-mongering against Aadhaar. Rumours are being floated in some social media such as Twitter and WhatsApp that this number has ‘mysteriously popped up on mobile devices and will be harmful, Aadhaar data has been breached, etc., and therefore, the helpline number should be deleted immediately.'”

The Unique Identification Authority of India added that an old helpline number, and an outdated one at that, cannot cause any harm. The UIDAI is now urging everyone to delete the old Aadhaar helpline number and update it with the new 1947 number. Notably, a separate report by Business Today claims that Google may not have acted on its own accord but rather on the directive of the Manmohan Singh government. Back in 2013, DoT had instructed telecom companies to map short code ‘1947’ to UIDAI’s toll free number. The timing of this letter and Google’s coding is suspicious, the report said.

Once again, the UIDAI reiterated that Aadhaar is safe and secure and that the rumours of Aadhaar database being breached are completely false. Notably, this statement comes not too long after TRAI chairman RS Sharma posted his Aadhaar number on Twitter and challenged hackers to harm him. This allowed people to find out Sharma’s contact details and other personal information like his PAN card number, his frequent flier number and even his WhatsApp profile picture.

Sharma, however, stated that these details did not harm him and only proved his point that Aadhaar is secure. Just days after Sharma’s tweet, the UIDAI advised Indians against sharing their Aadhaar number in public.

Google Has Been Working On Software That They Hope Will Eventually Replace Android

For more than two years, a small and stealthy group of engineers within Google has been working on software project, known as Fuchsia, was created from scratch to overcome the limitations of Android as more personal devices and other gadgets come online.  It’s being designed to better accommodate voice interactions and frequent security updates and to look the same across a range of devices, from laptops to tiny Internet-connected sensors. Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai has set his company in this direction – toward artificial intelligence services that reach consumers everywhere. Yet its prime operating systems, which depend on scores of hardware partners, haven’t kept up.

Here’s what’s already known about Fuchsia: Alphabet’s Google started quietly posting code online in 2016, and the company has let outside app developers tinker with bits of the open-source code. Google has also begun to experiment with applications for the system, such as interactive screen displays and voice commands for YouTube.

But members of the Fuchsia team have discussed a grander plan that is being reported here for the first time: Creating a single operating system capable of running all the company’s in-house gadgets, like Pixel phones and smart speakers, as well as third-party devices that now rely on Android and another system called Chrome OS, according to people familiar with the conversations.

According to one of the people, engineers have said they want to embed Fuchsia on connected home devices, such as voice-controlled speakers, within three years, then move on to larger machines such as laptops. Ultimately the team aspires to swap in their system for Android, the software that powers more than three quarters of the world’s smartphones, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The aim is for this to happen in the next half decade, one person said.

But Pichai and Hiroshi Lockheimer, his deputy who runs Android and Chrome, have yet to sign off on any road map for Fuchsia, these people said. The executives have to move gingerly on any plan to overhaul Android because the software supports dozens of hardware partners, thousands of developers – and billions of mobile-ad dollars.


Google Announced Android Dev Summit, On November 7-8

Google I/O was just a few months back, but Google has another developer-focused event coming up later this year. The Android Dev Summit will be a smaller event that eschews the flashy demos and giveaways that attract non-devs to I/O. It’s happening at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on November 7-8.

At the event, developers will get to know Android and the engineers who build it through a keynote, fireside chats, and office hours. It’s billed as a more intimate setting than I/O where developers will be able to talk with Googlers about apps and the direction of Android.

This isn’t the first time Google held an Android Dev Summit, but it has never been a guaranteed yearly event like I/O. The last one was in 2015, and it also happened at the Computer History Museum. Google promises more details on registration for the Dev Summit soon, but there probably won’t be a ton of space. Interested parties are advised to follow the Android Dev twitter account for updates.


Google’s Rajan Anandan Took An Responsibility Of Non-Profit Organisation To Nurture The Indian Start-Up Ecosystem

Mr Anandan would spearhead TiE Delhi-NCR’s initiatives through mentoring, networking and education, funding and incubation.

Mr Anandan takes over from Pramod Bhasin, founder of Clix Capital, after his successful two-year stint as the president at TiE Delhi-NCR – a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship.

“TiE Delhi- NCR is the largest, among the most active and highly rewarded chapter of TiE. It has taken huge strides in nurturing and transforming Delhi-NCR’s start-up spirit with marquee programmes bridging the gap of networking, funding and mentoring,” said Mr Anandan.

“While I’ve been actively involved in the start-up ecosystem, I am eagerly looking forward to my new role in a year where TiE’s biggest event – TiE ‘Global Summit’is coming to town on November 29 and 30,” Mr Anandan added.

With an industry experience spanning over two decades, Mr Anandan has an in-depth understanding of the start-up economy, having enabled diverse sectors with his mentorship and investments.

His prior associations include Microsoft India, Dell India and McKinsey & Company.

“Rajan’s first-hand experience of working closely with the founding teams of start-ups as an investor would be providing a huge fillip to TiE Delhi-NCR,” said Geetika Dayal, executive director of TiE Delhi-NCR.

Google’s Trouble Game Is Still On In The EU

Google is back with its certain requiremts that the EU’s chief competition regulator doesn’t agree with. The requirement is  that Google Chrome and Google Search must be preinstalled else they will not be allowed to run the Google Play Store.

The punishment to be presented by Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition chief, is a fine expected to reach into the billions of dollars. This isn’t the first time Google has had trouble in the EU. Back in 2016, Google was ordered to stop offering a financial incentive to OEMs to offer Google Search exclusively on Android smartphones. Following that, Google was fined $2.7 billion by the European Commision for manipulating shopping search results. Now we’re seeing something similar again, as Google has been accused of basically strongarming device OEMs to preinstall Google applications on Android smartphones. If they don’t, they will not be able to use the Google Play Store, which will basically shut a device out from the market.

Google will be facing a fine, but they will also have to change how they treat preinstalled applications as well. The upcoming ruling could mean that either Google loses the right to force these preinstalled applications to be present on Android smartphones, or the company may have to offer up an easy way to switch to alternative search engines and browsers. While it’s a good thing for consumers, it may cause Google to rethink its profit strategy on Android. With Google Search offered up by default, Google can learn more about users and offer up targeted advertisements – where the company’s true profits lie. The same goes for Google Chrome. If consumers turn to alternative browsers then the company cannot gather data on your browsing habits.

“Nobody is forced to take Google’s apps, but if you want to have certain apps you have to have the whole suite,” said Jakob Kucharczyk, the vice president for competition and EU regulatory policy for the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a trade group that represents Google. That helps Google “make sure they can fund the open source in first place,” he said.