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Monopolies cost Americans $300 a month. We’re no longer the land of free markets | Thomas Philippon

In a reversal from a few decades ago, American consumers are facing oligopolies while Europeans benefit from competition When I landed in Boston in 1999, the United States was the land of free markets. Many goods and services were cheaper here than in Europe. Twenty years later, American free markets are becoming a myth. Internet service, cellphone plans, and plane tickets are now cheaper in Europe and Asia than in the US. In 2018, the twice as much on cellphone services as households in France or the UK. This is…

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Google announces Action Blocks, a new accessibility tool for creating mobile shortcuts

Google today announced Action Blocks, a new accessibility tool that allows you to create shortcuts for common multi-step tasks with the help of the Google Assistant. In that respect, Action Blocks isn’t all that different from Shortcuts on iOS, for example, but Google is specifically looking at this as an accessibility feature for people with cognitive disabilities. “If you’ve booked a rideshare using your phone recently, you’ve probably had to go through several steps: unlock your phone, find the right app, navigate through its screens, select appropriate options, and enter…

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Lenovo slims down its Google smart display

Before there was the Nest Home — heck, before there was even the Google Home Hub — there was the Lenovo Smart Display. The smart screen was far and away the nicest of the original Google Assistant screens, and the partnership between the two companies continues to be fruitful, including the recent Smart Clock, a purpose-built bedside alarm clock. With the Smart Display 7, announced today at IFA in Berlin, the company has slimmed down both the screen size and overall device footprint. At seven inches, it’s smaller than both…

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Amazons Climate Pledges Didnt Stop Employees From Taking to the Streets

Hundreds of Amazon employees were joined by staffers from Google and Microsoft on Friday in a walkout protesting inaction on climate change. The demonstration saw about 1,500 employees take to the streets near Amazons downtown Seattle headquarters. To all the tech workers who can no longer sit at our desks and be silent as we speed toward global ecological disaster, Weston Fribley, a software developer at Amazon, said to the crowd Friday. We are tech workers with a common purpose, acting together to push our companies to take responsibility for…

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Googles SMILY is reverse image search for cancer diagnosis

Spotting and diagnosing cancer is a complex and difficult process even for the dedicated medical professionals who do it for a living. A new tool from Google researchers could improve the process by providing what amounts to reverse image search for suspicious or known cancerous cells. But it’s more than a simple matching algorithm. Part of the diagnosis process is often examining tissue samples under a microscope and looking for certain telltale signals or shapes that may indicate one or another form of cancer. This can be a long and…

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How parking app SpotHero is preparing for an era of driverless cars

On-demand parking app SpotHero wants to be ready for the day when autonomous vehicles are ubiquitous. Its strategy: target the human-driven car-sharing fleets today. The Chicago-based company, which has operations in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C. and Seattle, has launched a new service dubbed SpotHero for Fleets that targets shared mobility and on-demand services. The service aims to be a one-stop shop for car-sharing and commercial fleets to handle all that goes into ensuring there is access and the right number of designated parking areas on any given day…

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WhatsApp reaches 400 million users in India, its biggest market

WhatsApp has amassed more than 400 million users in India, the instant messaging app confirmed today, reaffirming its gigantic reach in its biggest market. Amitabh Kant, CEO of highly influential local think-tank NITI Aayog, revealed the new stat at a press conference held by WhatsApp in New Delhi on Thursday. A WhatsApp spokesperson confirmed that the platform indeed had more than 400 million monthly active users in the country. The remarkable revelation comes more than two years after WhatsApp said it had hit 200 million users in India. WhatsApp —…

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The Unsung 3rd Member of the Apollo 11 Crew Reflects on the 50th Anniversary

On July 21st, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to ever set foot on the moon. The third member of the historic Apollo 11 mission was Command Module Pilot, Michael Collins, whose mission was to bring everyone home. In this animated Google Doodle, Collins reflects on the 50th anniversary of the mission that changed our world forever. Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/michael-collins-reflects-on-50th-anniversary-moon-landing/

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Google launches new Assistant developer tools

At its I/O conference, Google today announced a slew of new tools for developers who want to build experiences for the company’s Assistant platform. These range from the ability to build games for smart displays, like the Google Home Hub and the launch of App Actions for taking users from an Assistant answer to their native apps, to a new Local Home SDK that allows developers to run their smart home code locally on Google Home Speakers and Nest Displays. This Local Home SDK may actually be the most important…

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India is investigating Google over alleged Android abuse

More than 95% of the smartphones that ship in India run Android, according to industry estimates. Now the Indian antitrust watchdog is convinced that the nation should investigate whether Google is abusing the dominant position of its mobile operating system to hurt local rivals. The Competition Commission of India (CCI), the local anti-monopoly regulator, began looking at Google’s Android business in India last year after it received a complaint from unspecified people. Last month, the regulator preliminarily found that Google had abused the dominant position of Android in the nation,…

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Alphabet: Google parent company’s shares drop after latest earnings report

Report comes as company faces internal worker turmoil, and a recent $1.7bn fine from the EU Google shares slumped on Monday after the company failed to beat analyst predictions, following a year of internal turmoil, privacy concerns, and several international fines. The companys stock was down 7% in after-hours trading after it reported first quarter revenue of $36.34bn, lower than the $37.33bn revenue forecast by analysts. The quarter one earnings represent a 17% increase from the same time last year, in which it reported $31.15bn in revenue. In a call…

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The UK’s Tech Backlash Could Change the Internet

British officials took a swipe at global internet giants Monday, suggesting rules that would require the companies to proactively remove content the government views as illegal or “harmful,” and giving the government the right to shut down offending sites. The proposals, contained in a 102-page white paper, are aimed at combating the spread of disinformation, hate speech, online extremism, and child exploitation. If enacted as described, they would constitute some of the most stringent and far-reaching restrictions on internet speech by a major western democracy. But critics said the proposals…

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Say goodbye to Google+

Google's robot assistant can make phone calls for you now.Image: Getty Images / ethan miller Sometimes, making an important phone call to set up an appointment can be inconvenient or nerve-wracking. That, or you just don’t feel like doing it. There’s potentially good news on that front. Google Duplex, a Google Assistant-powered phone call service, is finally coming to devices that the majority of people own. According to Google’s support site, Duplex has started rolling out to iOS and non-Pixel Android devices, as spotted by 9to5Google. SEE ALSO: Say goodbye…

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Report: Googles Waymo seeks outside investment and a sky-high valuation

Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle subsidiary Waymo may raise outside capital for the first time at a valuation “at least several times” that of Cruise, the General Motors-owned autonomous vehicle business worth nearly $15 billion, according to a report published by The Information on Monday. We’ve reached out to our sources to confirm. Waymo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Waymo, which is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary, is a cash-intensive unit. Raising capital from outside investors, a move said to be encouraged by chief financial officer Ruth Porat, would…

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Most Android Antivirus Apps Are Garbage

The world of antivirus is already fraught. You’re basically inviting all-seeing, all-knowing software onto your device, trusting that it’ll keep the bad guys out and not abuse its own access in the process. On Android, that problem is compounded by dozens of apps that aren’t just ineffective—they’re outright phony. That’s the finding of newly published research from AV-Comparatives, a European company that, as its name suggests, tests antivirus products. In a survey of 250 antivirus apps found in the Google Play Store, only 80 demonstrated basic competence at their jobs…

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