Tag: Google+

Google Co-Founder’s ‘Hidden’ Office Discovered After Home Burns Down



Image via chinthamb / Shutterstock.com

Last week, one of the homes belonging to Google co-founder Larry Page went up in flames in Old Palo Alto, California.

Most people noted something else that was strange: that the home was allegedly being used as a “secret” office for the company’s tech workers.

Fortunately, no one was in the building at the time of the fire, which Deputy Fire Chief Kevin McNally said severely damaged the attic, and the back of the first and second stories.

According to reports by Palo Alto Online and The Daily Beast, firefighters had first arrived on scene at about 8:10pm.

Naturally, one of the “hidden” homes of the Google co-founder was a swanky six-bedroom, 5.5-bath cottage worth US$10 million. Rebecca Eisenberg, a former city council candidate and general counsel for Reddit, told The Daily Beast that Page “owns what feels like most of the block.”

While people were initially critical of the amount of resources the fire department dedicated towards the “small fire,” most of the speculation has now gone in the direction of the workers, as per Input.

It’s still unclear why a group of Google executives were working from one of Page’s homes, and if the magnate was hosting over groups of workers in his other homes — and more intriguingly, what for.

Could “secret” Google offices actually be a thing? They may be.

[via Input, cover image via chinthamb / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415832/Google-Co-Founder-s-Hidden-Office-Discovered-After-Home-Burns-Down/

Google-Flavored Potato Chips From The Company Pack A Crunch For Pixel Chip

[Click here to view the video in this article]



Video screenshot via Google Japan

While most tech giants would jump straight into the specifics, the truth is that, for the layperson, explaining how a computer chip works might require a different approach. To promote its first-ever self-designed system on chip (SoC), Google is crisping things up… with puns.

As reported by Android Authority, Google got the Japanese public listening about the all-new, original Tensor chip—designed for the upcoming Pixel 6 series—by rolling out ‘Google Original Chips’ in the country. Only 10,000 packs were made available, with all of them being “Googley Salty”-flavored, whatever that means.



Image via Google Japan

According to Google in Japan, the original chips—presumably both potato and Tensor chips—are “100% Google,” “manufactured completely in-house,” and have “a crispy finish.”



Image via Google Japan

The difference is that the Tensor isn’t a bag of air. First coming to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro this fall, it involved years of experimentation before Google could imbue the chip with the capabilities that the company was previously limited from adding to smartphones. These include giving the Pixel lineup “the most layers of hardware security in any phone,” the ability to take sharp photos from moving images, as well as translating and captioning foreign-language videos in real-time.

[via Beebom and Android Authority, video and images via Google Japan] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415825/Google-Flavored-Potato-Chips-From-The-Company-Pack-A-Crunch-For-Pixel-Chip/

Google May Be Planning To Add Plenty Of Free TV Channels To Chromecast This Fall



Image via Google

It appears that in a bid to push a larger audience to streaming devices like its very own Chromecast, Google is considering adding a whole new lineup of FAST television channels to Google TV as early as this fall.

FAST stands for “free, ad-supported streaming television.” As suggested in its name, it’ll allow audiences to access content for free rather than replicate a model like Netflix’s, which requires payment for an advertisement-free watching experience.

As reported by Protocol, it has been confirmed by various industry sources that the tech giant is liaising with a few companies to put its plans into place.

It seems that it wants to take a step almost backward into a traditional television experience, which brings with it on-screen graphics and commercial breaks (remember those?). But, of course, this will come with the convenience and modern-day technology of an online streaming service.

Right now, there are around 30 streaming apps and channels that can be used with Google TV. These include Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max. Of course, since YouTube is owned by Google, it’s built-in, too.

Gizmodo recalls that live television has its own dedicated menu within Chromecast, but there’s only the option to access it through subscription-based services. The anticipated lineup of “over-the-air channels” will instead be accessible through antenna. This is similar to how LG and Samsung products operate, the news outlet notes.



The Google Chromecast. Image via Google

Although there has been no news or comment from Google, there are rumors that the channels may be announced at the Made by Google event taking place in October. However, there’s also the possibility that the company is waiting for early 2022 to announce this along with its smart television partners.

There’s also the possibility that the rumors may remain simply as that: rumors. But the plans, even at this early stage, already place Google at a position to rival both streaming services and traditional television, hitting two birds with one stone.

[via Gizmodo, image via Google] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415815/Google-May-Be-Planning-To-Add-Plenty-Of-Free-TV-Channels-To-Chromecast-This-Fall/

Google Maps ‘Ghost’ Keeps Talking To Users, App Vows To Bust It



Image via BigTunaOnline / Shutterstock.com

There are sleep paralysis demons, and now, a Google Maps “ghost” that’s haunting people in their waking life.

With Halloween still more than a month away, users were spooked to hear an intermittent voice change from their Google Maps app. The tool would start off speaking in its default voice, before suddenly switching to a male version with a slight East Indian accent, BGR details.

“On my trip home today, it was mostly the woman voice, then suddenly for one instruction, it talked in what sounded like a deep man’s voice with a slight Indian accent,” one person reported on Reddit.

One Twitter user noted that the mysterious voice would keep possessing their voice assistant. “My Google Maps voice keeps going in [and] out of an English woman voice… I don’t know how to fix this or why this has happened… please send help.”

Some expressed feeling “weirded out” and were concerned about their app possibly being hacked. “Nobody would believe me,” said a witness.

Google maps have issue😂 My voice selection is always default (US lady voice).Since yesterday, US lady voice and Indian guy voice navigate on my google maps. I've checked google map setting but it's not my problem! I've found some people have same issue!#googleMaps #issue pic.twitter.com/4yTUj5Mjwh

— 🇯🇵ユニボン🇨🇦 (@Churro_Can) September 15, 2021

While the issue seems to only affect a small group, one Redditor lamented that their “whole work crew noticed it.”

Google is aware of the bug and says a fix is on the way. However, it did not elaborate on what is causing the voice switch. “The team is working on a fix and it will be rolled out soon. Thank you for your patience,” it responded last Thursday.

Have you been followed by the “ghost” of Google Maps? In related news, here’s what’s been following Google Street View to be able to snap photos of places around the world.

My google maps voice keeps going in an out of a English women voice to an Indian man, idk how to fix this or why this has happened pls send help 😭

— Abira (@Abira_r) September 15, 2021

WHY DID MY GOOGLE MAPS VOICE RANDOMLY TURN INTO AN EAST INDIAN MAN TO GIVE ME THE WRONG DIRECTIONS THEN CHANGE BACK INTO THE LADY

— yamy (@amyaliece666) September 14, 2021

So this is weird…while driving with Google Maps giving me directions in a feminine voice with a generic North American accent, it randomly switched to a masculine voice with some sort of South Asian accent…MULTIPLE times? Does this happen to anyone else? Why is it doing this?

— Benjamin Cheung | 張煦 | 장후 (@UBCDrBenCh) September 14, 2021

Am I the only one that has an East Indian voice intermittently jumping in for @GoogleMaps directions lately? #yegtraffic #canada

— Lincoln Ho | Yegventures 🇻🇦🇨🇦🇭🇰 (@yegventures) September 15, 2021

[via BGR, cover image via BigTunaOnline / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415809/Google-Maps-Ghost-Keeps-Talking-To-Users-App-Vows-To-Bust-It/

Google Nest’s Adorable Ads Capture What Pets Are Really Up To When You’re Gone



Image via Made By Google

In an adorable new ad campaign for its Nest security camera and doorbell systems, Google has put the spotlight on our pets and what they get up to when left home alone.

As the system was designed to keep a watchful eye on the house when we’re away, there’s no better way to test it than to observe what our furry friends get up to when they think they’re in the clear.

Antics captured on camera include a solo game of “the floor is lava,” a self-induced sprint circuit triggered by a doorbell, and the classic backyard digging.

Enhanced with quirky illustrated details and text, the short, lively clips are narrated by influencers such as Brittany Broski, Joe Dombrowski, and Alex Toussaint.

This campaign runs mainly on Google’s digital channels, including its accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Videos were crowdsourced from Nest Cam (and pet) owners who used the #CaughtOnNestCam tag on social media.

🐶: To catch a squirrel, I must first become a squirrel!

Have a video of your pets doing something fun that was captured on your Nest Cam? Share it with #CaughtOnNestCam for a chance to be featured. pic.twitter.com/gH29M6LCEn

— Made By Google (@madebygoogle) September 13, 2021

“Throughout the campaign, consumers can post new videos using the hashtag for a chance to see their video featured on @MadeByGoogle,” explained Jed Grossman, executive creative director at Arts & Letters Creative Co., the agencybehind this endearing campaign.

“After finding #CaughtOnNestCam videos online, we were inspired to show the world the magic of the new Nest Cams through the funny things pets do at home when no one is watching,” Grossman told Muse by Clio.

However, the original creator of the hashtag is unknown, and its etymology remains a mystery.



Image via Google

The new Nest lineup includes improvements to its notification system, sleek new designs, and the option of a totally wireless installation process.

There’s the doorbell and camera available from US$180, and the option to include a floodlight in the camera takes it up to US$280.

Check out some of the endearing videos on Made By Google:

🐶: Don’t step in lava! 🌋
🗣: @MrDtimes3

The new #NestCam alerts you about the important things: 👩, 🚗, or 🐕, and 📦 on the new #NestDoorbell.

Share your best Nest Cam pet video with #CaughtOnNestCam for a chance to be featured (and voiced by Joe!) 🐾 pic.twitter.com/7mEwU8skEy

— Made By Google (@madebygoogle) September 1, 2021

🐶Ooooh a package! What’s in it?
🗣@brittany_broski

The new #NestCam alerts you about the important things: 👩, 🚗, or 🐕, and 📦 on the new #NestDoorbell

Share your best Nest Cam pet video with #CaughtOnNestCam for a chance to be featured (and maybe even voiced by Brittany!)🐾 pic.twitter.com/dnaUtIlGD4

— Made By Google (@madebygoogle) August 30, 2021

🦌: 1, 2, 1, 2, aaand POSE!
🗣: @alextoussaint25

The new #NestCam alerts you about the important things: 👩, 🚗, or 🐕.*

Share your Nest Cam footage of animals #CaughtOnNestCam for a chance to have Alex give them a new voice 🐾

*Working internet and Wi-Fi required pic.twitter.com/L2lPfY18Rn

— Made By Google (@madebygoogle) September 3, 2021

Dog: 👀 I know what that doorbell means. Let’s GO!

The new #NestDoorbell can detect a 👩, 🚗, 🐕, and 📦 * so you know exactly when the dog walker arrives.

Share your Nest Cam pet videos with #CaughtOnNestCam for a chance to be featured 🐾

*Working internet and Wi-Fi required pic.twitter.com/wow259S7yW

— Made By Google (@madebygoogle) September 6, 2021

[via Muse by Clio, images via Google] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415767/Google-Nest-s-Adorable-Ads-Capture-What-Pets-Are-Really-Up-To-When-You-re-Gone/

Google Search Finally Gets A Dark Mode, And Minimalists Will Love It



Image via Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

No matter the time of day, dark mode has been taking over screens for years now, and Google is finally catching up. Its search engine, arguably the most-used tool on the internet, is getting a dark theme.

In a new post on Google’s support website, Search product support manager Hung F. announced that the company has started rolling out a Dark version—a highly-requested feature—for Google Search on desktop. The option has appeared for some users, and Google assures a full transition will take place “over the next few weeks.”

By the looks of screenshots shared by some users, the Dark theme is going to be a go-to for many. Why? you ask. The setting dials back on the visual clutter by removing all the colors of the Google logo, while links and buttons gently merge into the charcoal gray background.

Google finally has built in Dark mode 😍 pic.twitter.com/pzQL5JC8mU

— Bereket (@heybereket) September 12, 2021

Google has made this view optional, so worry not if you like the classic rainbow logomark. For now, the dark mode is only available in the desktop version of Search.

To see if you already have access to the Dark theme, scroll down to the bottom of the Google Search homepage, then select Settings > Search settings. If you see an ‘Appearance’ option on the left sidebar, then congrats, you can tap into your leanings to the dark side.

If you have the option and wish to enable this view, select Device default, then Dark, and then click on Save to make it your default setting.

When activated, the Dark theme will appear on the Google homepage, search results pages, Search settings, and other parts of Search.

With all the hours spent staring at the screen at home, grayscale Google would help ease some of the strain from your eyes.

Not sure if it's A/B testing, but I just got a banner to turn on dark mode for Google in Safari. Nothing for iOS yet. #MacOs #Mac #apple pic.twitter.com/b0VmPi6BTF

— John Dennir (@JDennir) September 4, 2021

Google Search finally has a dark mode, here's how to turn it on: pic.twitter.com/SZCmIY2G2V

— FrontEnd Dude | JavaScript (@frontenddude) September 12, 2021

[via Mashable, cover image via Wikimedia Commons (public domain)] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415699/Google-Search-Finally-Gets-A-Dark-Mode-And-Minimalists-Will-Love-It/

‘Hey Google’ Might No Longer Be Necessary To Wake The Virtual Assistant



Image via ID 184791525 © Nikkimeel | Dreamstime.com

Tired of saying “Hey Google” every time you want to turn off the lights or set an alarm on your Google Assistant? Well, according to 9to5Google, an upcoming feature—codenamed ‘Guacamole’—could bring quick phrases to your virtual assistant.

This new feature will allow users to set alarms, control music, get weather information, and more just with key activation phrases. This does mean that the device will likely be “listening” to your speech, waiting to identify an activation phrase even without summoning it using the regular greeting.

While this would strike some as a more convenient way of controlling their smart devices, others have raised concerns that it could further intrude on privacy, a reason many are still hesitant about having virtual assistants at home.

In July, Google told Android Authority that audio snippets are only saved to Google when the Google Assistant detects a hotword. Otherwise, daily conversations won’t be recorded or sent to the company.

It’s possible that the Quick Phrases feature will function similarly, though it does allow for more of everyday conversation to be “listened in” on.

Could Google Assistant save users time by answering their queries just as they’re mentioned in passing conversation? Or would this be seen as even more intrusive, with fears that all speech is being recorded?

As of now, it’s unclear when or if Google will release this new feature. Even so, it’s likely users will have the option of deactivating Quick Phrases, or choosing particular keywords they’d like the virtual assistant to respond to.

[via Android Authority, cover image via ID 184791525 © Nikkimeel | Dreamstime.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415560/Hey-Google-Might-No-Longer-Be-Necessary-To-Wake-The-Virtual-Assistant/

Google Spoofs Apple’s Jony Ive To Boast Pixel 5a’s Present Headphone Jack

[Click here to view the video in this article]



Video screenshot via Made by Google

Apple might have already gone through a handful of keynotes without its former design chief, but fans can hardly forget the calming British voice that soothed them into reaching into their wallets. In a way that’s not too far from the excitement surrounding new iPhones, Apple users were most certainly looking forward to hearing Jony Ive talk during product launches.

And now, if you close your eyes, it almost feels like Apple promos with Jony Ive’s voice are back—thanks to Google. The Apple rival has released a silly advertisement solely focused on the headphone jack, a feature that’s long removed from iPhones, with a narrator that sounds remarkably like Ive.

In a spot filled with marketing fluff, Google seemingly imagines that the respected former Apple executive would be missing the headphone jack. At one point, it, or he, even likens the click of a headphone cable into the outlet to a module connecting to the International Space Station (ISS).

“Calling this perfectly-symmetrical, technological marvel, a ‘headphone jack’ may feel like an understatement… but technically, that’s what it’s called, so… fair enough,” Google jokes in the video’s description. “Behold! The Headphone Jack, on the Google Pixel 5a with 5G.”

[via TNW, video and cover image via Made by Google] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415531/Google-Spoofs-Apple-s-Jony-Ive-To-Boast-Pixel-5a-s-Present-Headphone-Jack/

Google Trains AI To Upscale Tiny, Blurry Shots More Impressively Than Other Tech



Image via Google AI Blog

While Google recently updated its Photos app with massive enhancement upgrades, it appears that it’s working on a much more powerful photography upscaling system that can turn tiny 64-pixel images into incredibly convincing, super-res photos.

The ways Google’s Brain Team does this are pretty intriguing. While most would imagine that upgrading an image’s quality goes something along the lines of enhance, enhance, enhance, the AI seemingly reduces the quality of a photo before adding boosters.

Detailing in a blog post on “High Fidelity Image Generation Using Diffusion Models” from July, which was recently picked up by DPReview, Google developed a new pair of AI tools to increase photos’ resolution via selective destruction and repair.

First up, the technology applies pure Gaussian noise to a low-res photo, and then sponges up all the grain with noise reduction in a step known as Super-Resolution via Repeated Refinements (SR3). This apparently leaves a result that’s four times the resolution of the original.



Image via Google AI Blog

It then fills the output image with more Gaussian noise and blur using Cascaded Diffusion Models (CDM) in what it calls “conditioning augmentation,” and repeats the process, ultimately creating a quality that beats existing AI upscaling techniques like BigGAN-deep and VQ-VAE-2 “by a large margin.”



Image via Google AI Blog

All this sounds counterintuitive, and the video below illustrates how selective destruction might actually be practical.

Video via Google AI Blog

Google’s Brain Team explains that the super-resolution tool “achieves strong benchmark results… for face and natural images.” The AI is able to scale up low-resolution images by four to eight times, effectively transforming a 64 x 64-pixel photo into a remarkable 1,024 x 1,024-pixel picture.

Technology like this has great potential in restoring old family pictures and enhancing medical imaging, and thankfully, we’re already seeing a semblance of these tools in the Google Photos app.

[via DPReview and PetaPixel, images via Google AI Blog] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415520/Google-Trains-AI-To-Upscale-Tiny-Blurry-Shots-More-Impressively-Than-Other-Tech/

Google Pays Apple $15 Billion To Remain As Default Search Engine In 2021



Image via Yeamake / Shutterstock.com

Every year, Google has to cough up quite a bit of its budget to Apple in order to ensure that it retains its place as the default search engine on iOS and macOS devices. In 2017, it was reported that the search giant paid US$3 billion.

Four years later, that amount has quintupled.

Sitting five times heavier at an estimated total sum of US$15 billion, this transaction was noticed by Ped30. In the investor note, Bernstein analysts also reveal that the number is predicted to reach a potential US$20 billion next year. However, the memo states that it’s “not implausible that Google could revisit its strategy.”

It has also been reported that Toni Sacconaghi, Bernstein analyst, feels that it’s likely that Google keeps paying up just to ensure that “Microsoft doesn’t outbid it.”

There are two potential risks to this; the first being a regulatory risk. It’s not likely to hit Apple anytime soon, but “adverse ruling” could see a 4–5% impact on the tech giant’s gross profits. The second is that Google may choose to stop paying altogether, as mentioned above.

An earlier interview with Apple’s senior director of global privacy, Jane Horvath, reveals the reason that Apple keeps Google close by, despite growing privacy concerns. “Right now, Google is the most popular search engine. We do support Google but we also have built-in support for DuckDuckGo, and we recently also rolled out support for Ecosia.”

That being said, as far as search giants go, Google still largely dominates the scene. As mentioned, alternatives like DuckDuckGo and Ecosia do exist, but to reach the level that Google has won’t happen overnight, even if the latter ultimately decided that the billions of dollars weren’t worth it.

But frankly, there doesn’t seem to be much of a risk of Bing becoming the ultimate go-to, is there?

[via 9to5Mac, image via Yeamake / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415477/Google-Pays-Apple-15-Billion-To-Remain-As-Default-Search-Engine-In-2021/

Google Reveals It Made 4,500 Changes To Search Tool In 2020



Image via chinthamb / Shutterstock.com

Google had spent the better part of the lockdown in 2020 on self-improvement, it seems. On Monday, the tech giant shared that it had made 4,500 “improvements” to the search tool last year alone.

The announcement was made in a new blog post about Google’s fully-redesigned ‘How Search Works’ portal, which outlines how its algorithm scours the web to give you the information you need “from the moment you start typing in the search bar to the moment you get your search results.”

The site “gives an overview of the technology and work that goes into organizing the world’s information, understanding what you’re looking for and then connecting you with the most relevant, helpful information,” Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for Search explains.

2020 appears to be Search’s most productive year yet, with 4,500 updates made to the tool’s ranking system, user interface, and more. Search Engine Land notes that this is a steep contrast to 10 years before, when Google reported about one update to Search per day—which, if you think about it, is also pretty ambitious. The company has become far more goal-oriented through the years, jumping to about 3,200 improvements to Search in 2019.

Some of the tweaks and revamps from that year, as we reported in 2020, include a refresh to the desktop search results page design with noticeable domain names and brand icons, simplified Google Images cards, prompts for more refined queries, and even accessibility to 50 new AR animals.

Google says additions to Search are “rigorously tested” by thousands of highly-trained Search Quality Raters from around the world, who rely on a detailed set of publicly available guidelines for quality assurance.

[via Search Engine Land, cover image via chinthamb / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415402/Google-Reveals-It-Made-4-500-Changes-To-Search-Tool-In-2020/

Google Planned To Bring Android Gaming To PC & Mac, Court Documents Reveal



Image via Castleski / Shutterstock.com

In the Epic Games versus Google lawsuit, more and more is coming to the surface. And now, a whole new can of worms is open, revealing otherwise confidential Google plans: a cross-platform gaming suite.

While Stadia aims to bring something similar to Chrome and Android, the plans outlined by the search giant would incorporate native apps to Apple and Microsoft’s systems.

Named ‘Games Future’, it was planned to become the biggest gaming platform in the world. Developers would be able to utilize it to target both PC and Mac users, and the games would also be able to take a luxurious pick of Google’s strong cloud services to offer a multi-platform experience, accessible through a single controller.

Epic versus Google comes as a case of Epic filing a complaint, similar to the one it made against Apple, claiming that the two companies were sustaining a monopoly on in-app purchases. This is done through requiring users to make payments via Google or Apple’s internal systems, and the company then gets a cut of the earnings.

A cut of 30%, to be exact, a number deemed extortionate by 36 US states, who teamed up to sue the company for it.

In more court evidence that was revealed recently, it was shown that Google has even considered going as far as buying most, if not all, of Epic, all in the name of eradicating competition.

The documents detailing plans for Games Future show that Google was considering building a satellite e-sports tournament system linked to YouTube, and a sneaky look at what it planned gaming on a smart display to look like.

They also evidence that the company has been exploring the option to bring “emulated, native and streamed games” to Windows. Android apps would therefore be able to run via on-device emulation.

While not impossible now, it’s only through third-party apps. Coincidentally, this feature is being implemented in Windows 11, coming this fall via the Amazon App store.

Google versus Amazon, or vice versa, or both—now that would certainly be another one to watch.

Google Vision Game Plan Mul… by GMG Editorial

[via Gizmodo, image via Castleski / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415358/Google-Planned-To-Bring-Android-Gaming-To-PC-Mac-Court-Documents-Reveal/

Google Bans Apps From Location Tracker That Allegedly Sells Users’ Whereabouts



Image via Proxima Studio / Shutterstock.com

This week, Google reportedly announced that it had taken action against a company that was selling the location data of Android users. The firm, named SafeGraph, was providing data sets to other companies, which it gathered by embedding its code in other software developers’ apps.

According to an investigation by Motherboard, the company markets its data sets to governments and a wide range of organizations, though it also sells on the open market—meaning anyone could get hold of the information.

It seems that even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and at least one county health department had been using the app to gather data as part of the response effort to COVID-19.

“They are willing to sell extremely fine-grained data and anyone with a credit card can start buying it,” Zach Edwards, a researcher, told the site.

Google said that it sent a seven-day warning in June to all apps working with SafeGraph, as per CNET. These apps have to remove SafeGraph’s code, and failing to do so would result in facing enforcement on the Google Play marketplace.

When Motherboard purchased US$200 worth of location data from SafeGraph last year, the information reportedly included points of interest for the area selected, as well as additional details such as the subsequent destinations visitors headed to.

In Edwards’ own investigation, he found that the app could fetch data from a small doctor’s office, showing how SafeGraph could even target extremely specific locations, which further reduces users’ anonymity.

Currently, it’s unclear if the app has heeded Google’s warning and stopped gathering users’ data from Android smartphones. With the company placing its tracking code in a large number of apps, it’s inevitably more difficult to check if it’s stopped completely.

[via CNET and Motherboard, cover image via Proxima Studio / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415228/Google-Bans-Apps-From-Location-Tracker-That-Allegedly-Sells-Users-Whereabouts/

YouTube To Start Paying Creators $100 To $10K A Month For Short Videos

[Click here to view the video in this article]



Photo 214439111 © Vladyslav Yushynov | Dreamstime.com

Internet users aren’t just looking for bite-sized news in the form of tweets and the ilk, but videos are also becoming more condensed to capture the waning attention of audiences. If you’ve been on the internet in the past year, and more specifically on TikTok, this wouldn’t be a strange concept.

YouTube, pioneering platform for original videos, is hoping to attract the gaze of a new generation of viewers. After launching TikTok competitor ‘Shorts’ in the US this year, it is now starting a fund to incentivize creators to produce short-form clips. Like regular-length YouTube videos, how much they’re paid depends on engagement and viewership, though YouTube says they can earn between US$100 and US$10,000 a month.

Beginning this month, YouTube will reach into a US$100 million YouTube Shorts Fund and extend a payment to thousands of eligible creators. This will take place monthly over the course of 2021 to 2022. YouTube says payments could fluctuate from month to month based on “audience location and the number of creators making Shorts.”

Similar to TikTok videos, YouTube shorts are bite-sized looping clips, and viewers can scroll up to view the next video. Users can also react to them by liking, disliking, or adding comments.

To be entitled to the fund, creators have to be at least 13 years old, live in eligible countries like the US and UK, and have at least one eligible Short in the last 180 days, among other criteria. Most importantly, perhaps, is that channels need not be monetized to qualify for this payout.

For more details on eligibility, and to find out more about the fund, please head here.

[via Insider, cover photo 214439111 © Vladyslav Yushynov | Dreamstime.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415055/YouTube-To-Start-Paying-Creators-100-To-10K-A-Month-For-Short-Videos/

Google Unveils 1st Phone Chip, Giving Pixel ‘Most Layers Of Security’ In Market



Image via Google

Google is undeniably a tech powerhouse, and having to rely on others would bog it down eventually. It’s thus custom-built its first System on a Chip (SoC) for Pixel phones, gearing up to take on Apple and Samsung.

The all-new chip, called ‘Tensor’, will first power the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro heading for launch this fall, Google announced on Monday. Years in development, it aims to not only make the Pixel “even more capable,” but also finally introduce features, personalization, flexibility, and capabilities Google has always dreamed of but had been limited by existing technology.



Image via Google

For one, it means a more powerful security core that—coupled with Titan M2—gives Pixel 6 “the most layers of hardware security in any phone,” potentially rattling the iPhone’s advantage in security.

“What we’ve built is a mobile AI computer,” Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google, told Insider. He added that “hardware limitations, system computing limitations” were in the way each time the company pushed to make the Google smartphone better. “[That has] prevented us from innovating even further with [artificial intelligence] and [machine learning] on device.”

Already paving the way in the realms of photography and speech recognition, Google aspires to make its best AI qualities shine through the Pixel 6’s camera and language translation skills. Insider reported that Osterloh demonstrated Tensor’s ability to capture sharp photographs from moving images, such as a scene of a toddler playing. A French-language video was also translated and captioned in English in real-time, while the video was playing.

Google additionally shared that Tensor would make UI features move more fluidly in an “incredibly natural” way. This is evident with ‘Material You’, the new design language that allows users to overhaul their phones’ entire visual system.

Video via Google

“You’ll see [Tensor] in everything from the completely revamped camera system to speech recognition and much more,” Google teased in its blog post. “So whether you’re trying to capture that family photo when your kids won’t stand still, or communicate with a relative in another language, Pixel will be there — and it will be more helpful than ever.”



Image via Google

[via Insider, images via Google] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415033/Google-Unveils-1st-Phone-Chip-Giving-Pixel-Most-Layers-Of-Security-In-Market/

Google Just Made A Breakthrough ‘Time Crystal,’ Apparently. Now What?



Image via Google

According to fresh-baked research straight out of the oven, Google’s quantum computer has apparently just managed to build a ‘time crystal’—in order words, a new type of matter which throws Newton’s first law of motion right under the bus.

“An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion,” states the law. Events happen due to energy exchanges; for example, ice melts in water because of an energy exchange (heat) from the water to ice. Entropy remains the same if no processes are happening, and increases when they do.

Put simply, time crystals ignore this concept. They can be used in processes without succumbing to entropy; without losing or using energy.

The Next Web explains this using the analogy of a snowflake which “constantly cycled back and forth between two different configurations” whenever it “wants” to. It refers to the time crystal as being able to have its cake and eat it too. And the fact that this can occur inside an isolated system means that it can have and eat the cake, then make it reappear for an indefinite amount of time without using up any energy.

Before ruminating on what comes next, it’s important to note that it hasn’t been truly confirmed if Google has indeed created a time crystal, or if it even belongs to it. The research is yet to be peer-reviewed. But the prospect of a time crystal finally de-myths the existence of one, which has been hypothesized since 2012 but never proven.

So if it really is a time crystal, what does this mean for us? Quantum computers are designed for wildly challenging problems such as warp drives, interstellar travel, and medical breakthroughs. The discovery of such a crystal could work countless miracles and provide breakthroughs in virtually any field.

[via SlashGear, image via Google] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/415013/Google-Just-Made-A-Breakthrough-Time-Crystal-Apparently-Now-What/

Google Offers A Free Service That Gives You A 2nd Phone Number, Blocks Robocalls



Image via Photo 151770917 © Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com

While governments are working to fend off illegal robocalls, some are still filtered through to the annoyance and deceit of many. What you can do to weed them out is get a second phone number—and it’s free.

As detailed by USA Today, Google provides a free lesser-known service that gives you a new phone number for international and domestic phone calls, text messages, and voicemails. Depending on your needs, you could use it to mask your existing number or make it a burner number for potential spammers.

Google Voice can be installed via iOS or Android devices, or accessed through desktops. To proceed, you’ll just need to sign in to your Google account, and you’ll be shown a list of numbers to choose from.

Why get a secondary number? You might ask. There are myriad reasons. First off, there could be occasions (read: always) when you don’t want to share your real number with someone. For instance, you might have a business that requires a phone number; an alternative number would certainly come in useful.

You could even give away this other number so your personal one doesn’t get shared between advertisers or hackers, which would eliminate the number of robocalls you get.

Lastly, you could use Google Voice when you’re switching phone providers and would like to retain your old number. To port numbers over to Google Voice, the company charges a US$20 fee.

The tool is currently only available in the US. For more information on how to use Google Voice, check out USA Today’s full guide.



Image via Google Voice

[via USA Today, cover images via various sources] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414909/Google-Offers-A-Free-Service-That-Gives-You-A-2nd-Phone-Number-Blocks-Robocalls/

Google Search Is Now Explaining Why You Were Shown Specific Results



Image via ReaLiia / Shutterstock.com

If the sort of results that show up in your Google search queries puzzles you, you can actually find out more by clicking on the three dots beside each link. The ‘About This Result’ feature was rolled out as early as February, and now, Google is offering more context by revealing why certain results are being displayed.

Previously, users expanding upon a result before clicking into the webpage would be able to discover a summary of the site, when it entered Google’s index, and if it’s encrypted, Fast Company shares. In an announcement published on Thursday, Google says it is adding a new section to the panel, called ‘Your Search & This Result’, to explain its side of the story: how its algorithm picks these results for you.

Naturally, content is displayed based on whether a page’s keywords match your search, but Google also looks around for related terms you might not have included in your query. For instance, if you look up “how to cook fish in the oven,” the search engine will additionally cull the web for pages with relevant terms, like “bake” and “recipe.”

Google says it also considers recommending pages linked up by other pages if they contain matching keywords. “It can also be a helpful indicator of whether online content creators tend to regard the page as useful for that topic,” explains Google product manager Elizabeth Tucker.

Finally, Google also takes note of how relevant a page might be locally, such as if the content uses your native language or is specific to your country and location. It finds that this would be helpful for users who need to find out location-varied details like “where can I get vaccinated?

While ‘About this Result’ won’t affect search results moving forward, Google emphasizes the importance of providing transparency so users can find out ways to generate more accurate results. Tucker detailed in a press briefing, “The goal here really is to help people understand results and find results that are helpful for them.”

Google has already begun rolling out the section, but it should be widely phased in by next week.

Image via Google



Image via Google



Image via Google

[via Fast Company, images via various sources] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414884/Google-Search-Is-Now-Explaining-Why-You-Were-Shown-Specific-Results/

Google Joins Olympics Hype With Adorable, Largest-Ever Interactive Doodle Game

[Click here to view the video in this article]


Video screenshot via Google Doodles

Google has joined the Tokyo Olympics fever with its largest-ever interactive Doodle game.

Aptly named the Doodle Champion Island Games, users can play as ninja cat Lucky as she competes in various mini-games in order to win the title of a sporting champion.

Created by Tokyo-based animators from STUDIO4°C, the game feels familiar to the 16-bit mini-games we used to play in the early days of the internet.

Soak in the nostalgia as you travel around the island to partake in Olympic activities such as table tennis, skateboarding, archery, and other challenges. Users can also pick one of four color teams to participate in the global rankings.

Can’t wait to get started? Head over to the game here, or watch the adorable trailers below.

[via CNET, cover image via Google Doodles] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414870/Google-Joins-Olympics-Hype-With-Adorable-Largest-Ever-Interactive-Doodle-Game/

YouTube Is Rolling Out A ‘Super Thanks’ Feature For Viewers To Tip Creators



Image via YouTube

Until now, content creators on YouTube have turned to third-party plugins or websites such as Ko-fi to allow fans to thank them for their work through donations. Starting this week, viewers will be able to tip their favorite creators directly from YouTube through the site’s all-new ‘Super Thanks’ feature.

Although the new feature is still in beta testing, it will be rolled out to thousands of creators across 68 countries, and by the end of the year, YouTube plans to make it available to all creators in the YouTube Partner Program.

According to Engadget, in the US, viewers will have the option of tipping creators US$2, US$5, US$10, or US$50 at a time. Once payment is completed, an animated GIF of balloons will float across the viewer’s screen, with YouTube highlighting their comment and amount donated.

As with other tools on the site such as Super Chat and Super Stickers, YouTube will take a 30% cut of all donations.

With YouTube facing serious competition from short-video platforms such as TikTok, or streaming sites such as Twitch, it’s no wonder it has stepped up to make it easier for content creators to earn directly on the site.

Now, creators won’t have to rely on third-party sites to fund their productions, with fans being able to contribute directly while watching the videos. For more information, head here.

[via Engadget, cover image via YouTube] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414838/YouTube-Is-Rolling-Out-A-Super-Thanks-Feature-For-Viewers-To-Tip-Creators/

Google Sued By Three Dozen States For Allegedly Monopolizing Play Store


Image via TY Lim / Shutterstock.com

This week, 36 US states teamed up to sue Google over alleged anti-competitive tactics related to the firm’s Google Play Store.

New York, Utah, North Carolina, and 33 other states filed the complaint in a federal court in San Francisco, focusing mainly on Google Play Store’s 30% commission fee on app purchases, which the states deem too large.

“Unbeknownst to most consumers who own a mobile device running Android, every time they purchase an app from the Google Play Store, or purchase digital content or subscriptions within an app, up to 30% of the money they pay goes to Google,” said the complaint.

According to Mashable, the tech giant immediately responded in a blog post, saying its Play Store offers “more openness and choice than others,” not-so-subtly referring to the Apple App Store.

Previously, Fortnite game developer Epic had sued Google over similar anti-competitive behavior, but later filed a suit against Apple for the same complaint.

This has led Google to look to Apple’s commission policies as a defense, saying the latter charges a similar percentage of fees on iOS purchases within the Apple App Store. Google also said most developers on the Play Store don’t pay a fee at all.

As noted by Mashable, this lawsuit isn’t the only antitrust complaint Google is fighting. Last year, the Department of Justice and 12 states filed a joint suit alleging Google had a monopoly over web search results.

While it remains to be seen if the federal court will approve of the lawsuit, it’s certainly telling that over 30 states have joined forces to challenge Google’s alleged anti-competitive stance.

[via Mashable, cover image via TY Lim / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414637/Google-Sued-By-Three-Dozen-States-For-Allegedly-Monopolizing-Play-Store/

Google Drive Is Getting A Makeover With Faster, Highly Integrated Desktop Client



Image via Jirapong Manustrong / Shutterstock.com

Google declared at the beginning of this year that it planned to refresh the current Drive desktop client, starting with renaming Drive File Stream to ‘Google Drive for desktop’.

Now, more changes are beginning to unfold. The old ‘Backup and Sync’ app is being unified with ‘Google Drive for desktop’, which has added an automatic Google Photos sync function to create an even more integrated user experience. This is a welcome change after Photos was estranged from Drive in a previous update, leaving desktop users no choice but to only access it through a browser. And, if users prefer, they can sync with Apple Photos too.

As a user named Anthony has discovered and reported to 9to5Google, version 49 of ‘Google Drive for desktop’ allows up to four accounts to be accessed at the same time without having to log in or out. This multi-account function, extremely helpful for those who use Google for both personal and enterprise purposes, was quietly rolled out to a select few users.

Also, users can now choose to stream or mirror local folders (such as Desktop) to Drive. These new implementations mean that instead of constantly having to download and upload files, users can now enjoy a more convenient experience. Which, when working from home became the norm for us, became all the more important.

Version 49 of ‘Google Drive for desktop’ has not yet been rolled out for most users, with the company stating that it would “share more details later this year on how Backup and Sync users can get started with Drive for desktop.”

[via 9to5Google, image via Jirapong Manustrong / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414630/Google-Drive-Is-Getting-A-Makeover-With-Faster-Highly-Integrated-Desktop-Client/

Google Takes Down Apps with Over 5.8M Downloads For Stealing Users’ Passwords


Image via BigTunaOnline / Shutterstock.com

Google has removed nine Android apps from the Google Play Store, following analysts identifying that the apps were secretly nicking users’ Facebook passwords. In total, the apps had over 5.8 million downloads worldwide.

According to T3, the “trojan” apps enticed users into entering their Facebook login information to bypass in-app advertisements.

Russian anti-malware software company Dr. Web was the first to raise the alarm, as per Ars Technica. The malware had been found in a wide range of fully functional apps, ranging from exercise to photo editing and daily horoscopes.

Google has since permanently banned the apps’ developers from the Play Store entirely, ensuring they won’t be able to sneak any malware in future apps.

To be safe, it’s best to check your smartphone for any of the following apps, and delete them immediately should you come across them: App Lock Keep, Lockit Master, Horoscope Pi, App Lock Manager, PIP Photo, Processing Photo, Rubbish Cleaner, Inwell Fitness, and Horoscope Daily.

If you suspect your details have been compromised, be sure to change your Facebook login details and activate two-factor authentication, if possible.

[via T3, cover image via BigTunaOnline / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414586/Google-Takes-Down-Apps-with-Over-5-8M-Downloads-For-Stealing-Users-Passwords/

Google Polishes Even Your Oldest, Most Hopeless Images With New Photos AI


Image via Google AI Blog

Smartphone photography has come a long way, and you can now easily peer back at your albums for a well-needed swig of nostalgia. However, that doesn’t mean old pictures taken back in 2010 are memories lost. If artificial intelligence is able to restore a Rembrandt painting to immense detail, so, too, can it revive your old photos.

Google has introduced a couple of impressive AI image enhancement tools in the latest version of the Google Photos editor that speedily wring out excess noise and blur in photos, even if they look like they were taken from a camera circa World War II.

As noted by Forbes, the ‘Sharpen’ and ‘Denoise’ algorithms work in spite of the quality of the camera that was used to take the photos.

The ‘Denoise’ feature relies on a multi-layered “pull-push” technique comprising simple methods to clean up the graininess of images. And since it is powered by basic tools, users can have their old photos polished without lag time.

What’s more surprising is that the ‘Sharpen’ tool is run on a counterintuitive ‘Polyblur’ process that combats mild blurring by adding more blur.


Image via Google AI Blog

View some comparisons below.


Image via Google AI Blog


Image via Google AI Blog


Image via Google AI Blog

[via Forbes, images via Google AI Blog] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414534/Google-Polishes-Even-Your-Oldest-Most-Hopeless-Images-With-New-Photos-AI/

YouTube Theatre To Open With 6,000 Seats For Live Entertainment


Image via YouTube Theatre

With the world slowly returning to normalcy, YouTube is once again embracing live entertainment events. The Google-owned video platform is now partnering with Hollywood Park, a 300-acre space in Inglewood, California, to host its live venue.

According to Engadget, YouTube Theatre will feature a three-story, 6,000 seater arena for live events, ranging from traditional concerts to eSports competitions. The 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium, home to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, is also situated at the same venue.

Collaborating with Live Nation, YouTube Theatre has lined up an impressive list of acts to perform starting in September this year. From Pitbull to Trippie Redd, TLC, and One Direction star Louis Tomlinson, the new arena is sure to attract throngs of fans once it opens its doors.

In YouTube-like fashion, the theater will also consist of interactive components for fans. The venue will feature a huge exterior screen where guests can mirror themselves and view clips on. Chances are Google will also use it as an advertising platform for its range of services and goods.


Image via YouTube Theatre


Image via YouTube Theatre

[via Engadget, images via YouTube Theatre] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414494/YouTube-Theatre-To-Open-With-6-000-Seats-For-Live-Entertainment/