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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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Google Assistant inserts itself into classic movies in Oscars ads

Just as mobile phones would’ve saved a lot of trouble in Seinfeld, Google’s Assistant would’ve been a saviour in so many classic films. That’s the subject of the tech giant’s new ad for its voice-activated assistant, which aired during the 2019 Oscars on Sunday night. In the ads, Google Assistant steps in for HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and helps Marion Crane avoid the motel in Psycho. In Scream, Drew Barrymore uses a Nest camera to ward off Ghostface, while Lyft is used to get out of an annoying…

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Google ends forced arbitration for employees

Google is finally ending forced arbitration for its employees. These changes will go into effect for both current and future Google employees on March 21. While Google won’t reopen settled claims, current employees can litigate past claims starting March 21. For the contractors Google works with directly, it will remove mandatory arbitration from their contracts. The caveat, however, is that it won’t require outside firms that employ contractors to do the same. Still, Google says it will notify suppliers so that they can see if that approach would work for…

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Google built an entire theme park ride in the CES parking lot

For a lot of companies, the whole point of CES is to get attention — and in this sea of noise, that’s tougher than it might sound. Someone else will always have a bigger screen, or a prettier booth, or a better celebrity guest. So Google tried something a bit… different this year. They built a friggin’ theme park ride. They built a two-story building right in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, and the ride takes up the entire upper floor. From the pre-ride line…

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Argo AI acquires permit to test autonomous vehicles in California

Argo AI, the self-driving car startup that burst onto the scene in 2017 with $1 billion in backing from Ford, has obtained a permit to test its autonomous vehicles in California. The permit, issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, is for one vehicle and two drivers. Unlike other self-driving car companies, California isn’t the first, or even third, market where Argo AI is testing its tech. The company, founded by former Google self-driving project veteran Bryan Salesky and Uber Advanced Technologies Group’s former engineering lead Peter Rander, has…

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LinkedIn now requires phone number verification for all users in China

LinkedIn’s China site looks and functions just like LinkedIn everywhere else, except now it asks users in the country to verify their identities through phone numbers. The American company is requiring both new and existing users with a Chinese IP address to link mobile phone numbers to their accounts, TechCrunch noticed this week. LinkedIn had for months told its China-based users to provide mobile number details before sending them to the main page, but it had mercifully kept a little “Skip” button that let users avoid the fuss — until at least…

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Why Silicon Valley needs more visas

Henrique Dubugras Photo courtesy of Flickr/jvoves While it might sound counterintuitive, immigrants create more jobs and make our economy stronger. Research from the National Foundation of American Policy (NFAP) has shown that immigrant-founded billion-dollar companies doubled their number of employees over the past two years. According to the research, “WeWork went from 1,200 to 6,000 employees between 2016 and 2018, Houzz increased from 800 to 1,800 employees the last two years, while Cloudflare went from 225 to 715 employees.” We’ve seen the same growth at Brex. In just one year…

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Adorable kid tries to train his Google Home, and it does not go well

Ever feel like you’re more advanced than technology? This little kid can relate. A young, very patient boy was spotted in his kitchen talking to his family’s Google Home, desperately trying to impart some wisdom. He begged the device to repeat him so that he could teach it some brand new skills, saying, “I’m telling you stuff and you don’t know what it is… Can I please train you because you don’t know what stuff is?” The boy then realized maybe Google should help him, too, since he “doesn’t even…

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Google CEO admits company must better address the spread of conspiracy theories on YouTube

Google CEO Sundar Pichai admitted today that YouTube needs to do better in dealing with conspiracy content on its site that can lead to real-world violence. During his testimony on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, the exec was questioned on how YouTube handles extremist content that promotes conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and, more recently, a Hillary Clinton-focused conspiracy theory dubbed Frazzledrip. According to an article in Monday’s Washington Post, Frazzledrip is a variation on Pizzagate that began spreading on YouTube this spring. In a bizarre series of questions, Rep. Jamie Raskin…

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