Google Suspends Business With Huawei Following US Blacklist

Google has suspended any business with Huawei which demands the transfer of hardware and software products except those covered by open source licenses, said a source on Sunday to Reuters. This has come in a blow to the Chinese firm that the US government has sought to blacklist around the world.

Huawei Technologies will immediately lose access to updates to the Android operating system and the next version of its smartphones outside of China will also lose access to popular applications and services including the Google Play Store and Gmail app.

Details of the specific services were still being discussed internally at Google, according to the source. Huawei attorneys are also studying the impact of the US Commerce Department’s actions, a Huawei spokesman said on Friday. Huawei was not immediately reachable for further comment.

Representatives of the US Commerce Department did not immediately have comment.

Huawei will continue to have access to the version of the Android operating system available through the open source license that is freely open to anyone who wishes to use it.

But Google will stop providing any technical support and collaboration for Android and Google services to Huawei going forward, the source said.

On Thursday the Trump administration officially added Huawei to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the technology giant to do business with U.S. companies.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Blames ‘Headwinds’ For Pixel Smartphone Sales Drop

The Google- made smartphone Pixel’s sales have been falling down said the company executive on Monday at its first quarter earnings call. It pointed out at the company’s way towards the struggle to build a meaningful hardware business.

Though Google is typically tightlipped around such metrics, CFO Ruth Porat shed light on the Pixel struggles to explain its slowing year-over-year growth for “other revenues” – which include revenue channels, like cloud and hardware, that are outside its core advertising business.

“Hardware results reflect lower year-on-year sales of Pixel, reflecting, in part, heavy promotional activity industrywide given some of the recent pressures in the premium smartphone market,” Porat said.

Growth in Google’s “other revenues” slowed from an increase of 35% year-over-year in 2018 to 25% in 2019. The tech giant’s parent company Alphabet saw its stock drop over 7% in after hours trading on Monday.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai also commented on Pixel’s dipping sales.

“Phones definitely across an industry, I think we are working through a phase where there is definite year-on-year headwinds,” Pichai said, never explaining what those “headwinds” actually entail. “But I do think, especially since the ecosystem is constantly pushing it forward, I continue to be excited about the innovation speed.”

The chief exec pointed to the rise of the ultra-fast 5G wireless standard and the rollout of the first foldable phones – which he says “Android plays a big part in driving” – as smartphone developments that excite him most.

Recently, Samsung – the first major smartphone maker to release a foldable smartphone – was forced to push back the release date for its device after early reviewers diacovered mjor hardware flaws. 

Regarding Google’s future smartphone plans, rumors have been swirling that a cheaper version of the Pixel – likely named the Pixel “3a” – will be released in early May.

“We are still in our early days, but our commitment is very strong,” Pichai said of Google’s hardware business.

The future of hardware for Google

Despite Picahi’s optimism, there are still questions about the future of Google’s hardware business.

I was recently reported that the company had trimmed the size of its laptop and tablet hardware departments – a move that one source said would “pare down the portfolio” of products the tech giant launched.

The company’s smartphone group was not included in the “roadmap cutbacks” that Business Insider reported, though Monday’s earnings report shows that the search giant is still having trouble in that area.

Still, despite the Pixel slowing sales, Pichai reenforced the Google’s initial reasoning for building its own, in-house hardware – to ensure its “services are presented to users in the way they are intended to be,” Pichai said.

Only time will tell if and when Google can actually turn its hardware efforts into a real, sustainable hardware business.

Google Removes 100 Apps By Chinese Developer Suspecting Cyber Attack, Data Breach

Google, after suspecting malicious cyber attacks and data breach possibilities is removing apps from a Chinese Android app developer – DO Global – which holds roughly 100 apps in the Play Store with over 600 million installs and is partly owned by Internet major Baidu.

46 apps from DO Global have already been removed from the Play Store and the company intends to ban DO Global overall with more app removals that would follow, BuzzFeed News reported on Friday.

“We actively investigate malicious behaviour, and when we find violations, we take action, including the removal of a developer’s ability to monetise their app with AdMob or publish on Play,” the report quoted a Google spokesperson as saying on Friday. 

The search engine giant is further extending the ban to the Internet giant’s ad products apprearing on Android as well. 

“DO Global apps no longer offer ad inventory for purchase via Google’s AdMob network,” the report said. 

The Chinese company claims to have more than 250 million monthly active users for its apps and the reach of nearly 800 million users through its ad platform on Android. 

“Their removal from the Play Store marks one of the biggest bans, if not the biggest, Google has ever instituted against an app developer,” the report noted. 

DO Global was a subsidiary of Baidu until it was spun out earlier in 2018. Baidu retains a 34 per cent stake in the company. 

Google, Amazon Agree To Allow Each Other’s Streaming Media Apps

Google and Amazon announced on Thursday that they are ready to allow each other’s streaming media applications to work on their platforms, putting an end to a spat over video between the two. 

The two said that the official YouTube apps will be available on Amazon’s Fire TV in the upcoming months, allowing users of the Amazon platform to access the music videos, movies, shows and other content from the Google- owned service.

The agreement also enables Amazon Prime members streaming to Chromecast or using Android TV devices to access Amazon’s video content. 

The deal appears to end a spat between the two tech giants that made it difficult or impossible for users of one of the video services to use the platform to access the other’s.

“We are excited to work with Amazon to launch the official YouTube apps on Fire TV devices worldwide,” said Heather Rivera, head of product partnerships at YouTube.

“Bringing our flagship YouTube experience to Amazon Fire TV gives our users even more ways to watch the videos and creators they love.”

Andrew Bennett, head of business development for Prime Video, aid the agreement would “give our customers convenient access to the shows and movies they love… customers will have even more ways to stream what they want, whenever they want, no matter where they are.”

Amazon and Google are in fierce competition over streaming, but their spat had sparked concerns of anti-competitive conduct by locking out an important rival.

The joint statement said Fire TV users will be able to sign in to their existing YouTube account and access their full library of content.

Chromecast users will meanwhile have similar access to the Prime Video catalogue.

iOS Users In The US Reaching Out For Google Duplex

iOS users in the US, moving on from Pixel devices are now getting Google’s voice- calling “Duplex” which allows Artificial Intelligence (AI) mimic a human voice to make appointments and book tables through phone calls. 

The support site for Duplex lists the iPhone as being part of this rollout, with iOS users simply needing Google Assistant installed to get started, 9To5Google reported on Wednesday.

Including New York and San Francisco, Google’s automated calling service has expanded to 43 US states, but was stuck firmly on Pixel handsets until now. 

The exact number of US cities where the functionality is reaching iOS users remains undisclosed. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai introduced Duplex earlier this week in the company’s annual developer’s conference Google I/O and demonstrated how the AI system could book an appointment at a salon and a table at a restaurant. 

In the demo, the Google Assistant sounded like a real person that led to an outcry over the ethical dilemmas raised by tech critics. 

Google however, confirmed later that the system would have a “disclosure built-in” and Duplex would identify itself during interactions. 

The status of a wider roll-out of Duplex to non-Pixel Android users also remains unclear as of now. 

Google Duplex Now Gets Support On iPhone Models

A day ago Google Duplex was spotted to be working on a Samsung Galaxy S10+. The company has now confirmed that several Android phones are getting this feature. Also, Google said that iPhones are also getting Google Duplex support. 

The rollout has already begun, and it will be a while before all compatible devices will see it working. For those unaware, Google Duplex makes calls for hotel reservations and appointment bookings on the users’ behalf, in the US. This feature can be used via Google Assistant.

A Google spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that Duplex has started to roll out on all iPhones with the Google Assistant app installed from this week. This service currently works only in the US region. Duplex has also started rolling out for all Android phones running on Android v5 and above. If you are an iPhone user in the US, install the Google Assistant app from App Store to use this feature. It could be a staged roll out, so you may not find Duplex working right away.

There’s no word on when Google Duplex will be available in India. The feature was unveiled by CEO Sundar Pichai at Google I/O 2018. By the end of the year, it was made available on select Pixel phones, but now a broader rollout is underway. It’s commendable that even iPhone users are getting Duplex support, and we hope that it launches outside of US soon.

For the uninitiated, Google Duplex will enable a robot to make calls to restaurants/ businesses to make reservations/ appointments for the user, on their behalf. Google Assistant will make a call in the background, converse with the representative of the restaurant/ business, understand the context of what is heard over a call, respond accordingly, and make a final reservation. On the Samsung Galaxy S10+, Google Duplex was able to make a reservation in less than six minutes.

Google I/O 2019 Schedule Releases, Will Be Conducted From May 7 – 9, 2019

Google has rolled out a preview of the schedule for Google I/O 2019 which is the year’s edition of annual developer conference. The event will be conducted from May 7 to May 9, 2019 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre near its headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

The opening keynote typically sees Google announcing each new version of its Android smartphone operating system, as well as updates to its many services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Gmail, as well as ongoing projects and research related to augmented reality and AI. This year, CEO Sundar Pichai and his team will almost certainly announce Android Q and preview its features at the opening keynote. Over the rest of the event days, developers will be able to attend briefings and interact with Google engineers to learn about a huge variety of topics.

According to the official Google I/O 2019 schedule preview this year’s opening keynote will take place in the amphitheatre at 10:00am PDT on Tuesday, May 7 (10:30pm IST). That will be followed by a separate developer keynote. After that, there will be simultaneous tracks of sessions throughout the day, on diverse topics including Google stadia, Material design, voice interaction experiences, self-driving cars, digital payments, machine learning, Chrome, Google Maps, Google Assistant, Android TV, marketing through the Google Play store, and much more.

On May 8, similar sessions through the day will be held around Digital Wellbeing connected homes, Google Cast, AR applications, machine learning, Android apps for cars, AR experiences for Google Maps, interactive Google Assistant games, IoT storage, smart displays, and Android machine learning.

The last day is May 9, which starts with even more sessions including Android security, Web apps, the Android Q UI, fairness in machine learning, improving Web app performance, dark themes, AMP for email. Chrome OS apps, and user app engagement. While some sessions over all three days are targeted at beginners, several will be very specific deep dives for advanced and experienced developers.

Google will also host a less formal “fireside chat” session where attendees will be able to interact with Google’s experts, as well as an improv comedy session and a concert for entertainment. Throughout all three days, there will also be Sandbox, Codelabs, and Office Hours sessions where attendees can get hands-on with Google products and services, experiment with ready-made coding kiosks, and receive one-on-one feedback and specific advice from Google staff.

The information released so far is just a preview, and more sessions might be added between now and the official start of the event. The schedule does not give away any announcements about new products, services or features that Google might make, except to acknowledge Android Q. We might or might not see new devices such as the rumoured Google Pixel 3 Lite smartphone and the secretive Google Fuchsia OS Project. We can expect some updates to features demonstrated in previous years, including the AI- powered Google Duplex, real- time voice translation, and AR in Google Maps. 

Google Bans 2.3 Billion Misleading, Inappropriate Ads To Secure Web

Google announced on Thursday that it has banned 2.3 billion misleading ads that violated its advertising policies in 2018 and has inteoduced 31 new policies. In its 2018 “Bad Ads Report”, the Internet giant said six million bad ads were banned everyday.

“At Google, we take our responsibility to help create a healthy and sustainable advertising ecosystem that works for everyone, seriously. Our ads are meant to connect users with relevant businesses, products and services; but bad ads ruin the experience. “We, at Google, have been working towards protecting the users, advertisers and publishers by investing significant technological resources,” Scott Spencer, Director of Sustainable Ads, Google, said in a statement. 

Through its “Bad Ads Report”, the tech titan shares key actions and data to keep the ecosystem safe through its policies across platforms. “This will continue to remain our top priority as bad ads pose a threat to users, Google’s partners, and the sustainability of the open web itself,” Spencer added. The company also identified and terminated almost one million bad advertiser accounts, which is nearly double the amount that were terminated in 2017. 

Nearly 734,000 publishers and app developers were terminated from the Google ad network and ads were removed completely from nearly 1.5 million apps. Google also took more granular action by taking ads off nearly 28 million pages that violated the publisher policies.

Nintendo Likely To Come Up With Its VR Cardboard Headset

Nintendo Co.’s Switch hybrid is trying hands on virtual reality games. The Nintendo Labo VR Kit lets gamers make a headset using cardboard so that the device can be slided in to create a ‘basic VR technology’. 

It’s reminiscent of Google’s Cardboard, which turns smartphones into VR goggles and was introduced almost five years ago. Priced at $80, Nintendo’s VR kit includes an alien shooting title and an ocean swimming simulation. It goes on sale April 12.

“We wanted to design an experience that encourages both virtual and real-world interactions among players,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s chief, said in a statement Thursday.

Nintendo’s VR headset doesn’t require a strap-on to stay affixed. Instead, users hold it up to their eyes with one hand and control games with the other. That suggests a focus on more casual, shorter experiences and a device that’s meant to be easily shared among a group. Spending on VR and augmented reality will grow 69 percent this year to $20.4 billion, with hardware accounting for half of that, according to IDC.

The new product is Nintendo’s first move into VR in more than two decades, after the 1995 Virtual Boy flopped with consumers. With the Switch entering its third year, Nintendo is facing increasing pressure to boost the device’s appeal beyond its core user base of loyal gamers.

The shares of Nintendo were down 1 percent in early trading in Tokyo, erasing some losses after the announcement.