Tag: Google

Google Glass killed off

Google's Eric "Google Glass" SchmidtGoogle is ending sales of its Google Glass eyewear, but insists that it will launch the smart glasses as a consumer product one of these days.

Google said that it will instead focus on “future versions of Glass” with work carried out by a different division to before.

But it means that the Explorer programme, which gave software developers the chance to buy Glass for $1,500 will close.

It had been expected that once developers wrote some code to run on Glass it would be followed reasonably quickly by a full consumer launch.

However that did not happen and some feared that it would be it would be left in one of Google’s Beta hells for a thousand years.

Now it seems that that the Glass team will also move out of the Google X division which engages in “blue sky” research, and become a separate undertaking, under its current manager Ivy Ross.

Ross and the Glass team will report to Tony Fadell, the chief executive of the home automation business Nest, acquired by Google a year ago.

Fadell told the BBC   that the project had “broken ground and allowed us to learn what’s important to consumers and enterprises alike” and he was excited to be working with the team “to integrate those learnings into future products”.

Google says it is committed to working on the future of the product, but is not giving any timescale when we will see it or see through it. Intel had pledged to support Google Glass – Tesco launched a Google Glass app earlier this week.

Go figure….

 

IBM predicts future of the car

IBM logoInternational Business Machines (IBM) has commissioned a survey which predicts what cars will be like in 2025.
And unlike other IT companies, such as Google, IBM doesn’t think we’ll have fully automated or autonomous driving.
However, after surveying 175 executives from car manufacturers and other sectors, we will see some pretty big changes when we’re driving up the A34 out of Oxford.
For example, by 2025, a car will configure itself to a driver and passengers.  In addition, it “will learn, heal, drive and socialise” not only with other cars but with the environment too.
Fifty seven percent of those surveyed believe vehicles will be part of a social network sharing weather and traffic conditions, as well as communicating with other vehicles of the same kind if problems develop.
Despite optimistic claims for driverless cars, only eight percent of those surveyed think it will be commonplace by 2025.
But partially automated driving will be pretty common.

 

Google takes aim at five billion people

330ogleSoftware giant Google will introduce a modular mobile phone that it says will be affordable for the five billion people who don’t yet have a smartphone.
Google is increasingly moving into the hardware business.
It will build the machines in Puerto Rico.
According to the BBC, the Google modular phone will include a 3G chip, with a pilot arriving in the second half of this year.
There will be between 20 and 30 clip on modules that connect to a frame, with modules including screen, batteries and cameras.
The modules will connect to the frame using magnets.
There’s no news yet on pricing, but to appeal to the five billion people that don’t have smartphones it will have to be cheap.

 

Google chucks rocks in glass house

obj058aIt seems that there is a large amount of pot calling kettle black when it comes to security.

Last month, Google angered Microsoft by releasing the details of a security vulnerability ahead of Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday. Microsoft said that the patch was set to be released two days after Google went live with the details and that they refused to wait an extra 48 hours so that the patch would have been released along with the details of the exploit.

That would all be fine but Google does not have the same standards for itself. An exploit has been uncovered in Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) – which covers roughly 60 per cent of Android’s install base, according to the Android Developer dashboard – and Google is saying that they will not patch the flaw.

The flaw, which exists in WebView impacts nearly 1 billion users, when using Google’s own numbers as a base along with Gartner figures.

To make matters worse Jelly Bean was first announced in June of 2012, which means that Google is dropping support for its mobile OS less than three years after it was released.

Google is clearly stating that legacy support for the OS is not on their agenda even while phones are still being flogged with Jelly Bean under the bonnet.

The question is why if Google is being such a bastard about its own operating system is it so keen to throw Microsoft under the bus?

Facebook buys into video

thumb-mark-zuckerberg-facebook-pro-4566In a bid to outdo Google’s YouTube, Facebook said yesterday it had bought San Diego company QuickFire.
QuickFire is a private company so financial details of the deal are unavailable.
The company makes technology that reduces the bandwidth to look at films online without compromising on quality.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook said in a prepared statement that video was an “essential part” of Facebook which currently has 1.3 billion people online which use it.
The 20 strong team will move into Facebook’s HQ in Menlo Park, California.
According to Facebook itself, more people now upload videos to the social networking site. Facebook is looking for advertising dollars – YouTube turns in a pretty penny for its owner Google by leveraging video ads as lead ins to music and videos.

 

Only 10 percent of cloud apps are secure

Every silver has a cloudy liningNew research has found that only one in ten cloud apps are secure enough for enterprise use.

According to a report from cloud experts Netskope, organisations are employing an average of over 600 business cloud apps, despite the majority of software posing a high risk of data leak.

More than 15 percent of logins for business cloud apps used by organisations had been breached by hackers.

One in five businesses in the Netskope cloud actively used more than 1,000 cloud apps, and over eight per cent of files in corporate-sanctioned cloud storage apps were in violation of DLP policies, source code, and other policies surrounding confidential and sensitive data.

A quarter of all files are shared with one or more people outside of the organisation, and of external users with links to shared content, almost 12 percent have access to 100 or more files.

Netskope CEO Sanjay Beri said that 2014 left an indelible mark on security – between ongoing high-profile breaches and the onslaught of vulnerabilities like Shellshock and Heartbleed, CSOs and CISOs had more on their plate than ever.

“These events underscore the sobering reality that many in the workforce have been impacted by data breaches and will subsequently use compromised accounts in their work lives, putting sensitive information at risk,” he added.

The research also found that the most insecure apps were primarily linked with marketing, finance and human resource software, while cloud storage, social and IT/app management programmes had the lowest proportion of insecure apps.

“Employees today have shifted from thinking of apps as a nice-to-have to a must-have, and CISOs must continue to adapt to that trend to secure their sensitive corporate and customer data across all cloud apps, including those unsanctioned by IT,” Beri continued.

Google Drive, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Gmail were among the apps investigated.

Google’s search share falls

330ogleA report said that Google lost US search share in December while Yahoo gained share for the first time in a long time.
The report, from Statcounter, said that in December Google managed to grab 75.2 percent of US searches, with Microsoft’s Bing coming in second at 12.5 percent and Yahoo third with 10.4 percent.
Google had been the default search engine for people using the popular Firefox browser until last month, when Firefox instead struck a deal with Yahoo.
Firefox is not the most popular browser and held  12 percent of internet usage in December 2014.
Statcounter compiles its figures by surveying 15 billion page views a month to ver three million sites.  It does not record figures for Western Europe.

 

NSA spys on Wikileaks

spyGoogle has told WikiLeaks that on Christmas Eve the Gmail mailboxes and account metadata of a WikiLeaks employee were turned over to law enforcement under a US federal warrant.

WikiLeaks journalist and Courage Foundation acting director Sarah Harrison displayed a redacted copy of the warrant during her presentation on source protection at the Chaos Communications Congress yesterday in Hamburg, Germany.

The warrant was dated for execution by April 5, 2012 by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and it was apparently part of the continuing investigation by the Justice Department into criminal charges against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

It is not clear whose e-mail was searched and details were not provided, and Wikileaks is a little er secretive about who works there. According to a statement on the organisation’s website, “Given the high level assassination threats against WikiLeaks staff, we cannot disclose exact details about our team members.”

A Google spokesperson said in a statement: that it did not talk about individual cases to help protect all its users.

When it received a subpoena or court order, Google check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. And if it doesn’t, it asks that the request is narrowed.

“We have a track record of advocating on behalf of our users,” a spokesGoogle said.

This is the second time a US warrant has been served at Google for data from someone connected to WikiLeaks. A sealed warrant was served to Google in 2011 for the email of a WikiLeaks volunteer in Iceland. The Justice Department has also previously sought to get metadata from WikiLeaks-connected Twitter accounts, and won a court battle with Twitter three years ago to force it to hand it over.

 

China says Gmail users must lump it

330ogleAccess to Gmail for Chinese users remains restricted but now a state owned newspaper has offered words of advice on the matter.

Global Times, which is controlled by the Chinese authorities, said if the government has indeed blocked access to Gmail, then there must be good reasons – such as “newly emerged security reasons”.

The editorial said it that is the reason for the service not working, users “need to accept the reality of Gmail being suspended in China”.

But the editorial is interlarded with ifs and buts.  It suggests that there may be a technical glitch on Google’s side.  And it said the Western press has accused the government of strengthening cyber censorship.

“The issue at heart is to what extent Google is willing to obey Chinese law, on which China’s attitude is steadfast,” it continued.

Chinese law was the reason that Google decided to quit the mainland in 2010.

Global Times accuses Google of running into conflict with other authorities.

“China welcomes the company to do business on the prerequisite that it obeys Chinese law; however, Google values more its reluctance to be restricted by Chinese law, resulting in conflict.”

Analysts tip tablet sales

new-ipadDespite evidence that sales of tablets showed signs of decline in 2014, one market intelligence is bucking the trend by predicting healthy sales in 2015.

ABI Research said that although 2014 was “lacklustre”, it predicted that there will be solid growth during the next five years with shipments of tablets close to 290 million units in 2019.

But the growth is not for every vendor – Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Google will show year on year falls in shipments.

On the other hand, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft and Samsung are predicted to show higher volumes in 2014.

Senior analyst Jeff Orr doesn’t have good news for Apple.  He said: “Historically, Apple has counted approximately 35 percent of its iPad sales in the last calendar quarter of the year.  Unless Apple can pull off a 32+ million unit quarter, sales for 2014 will be down for the first year since the iPad launched.”

He said that Apple probably shipped 68 million iPads in 2014, but managed to sell 74 million in 2013.

On the operating systems front, Android has 54 percent of branded tablets, Apple iOS has fallen to 41 percent, and Windows 8 has a meagre five percent of shipments.

Cheap Chromebook wave approaches

chromebookA number of vendors plan to release large screen Chromebooks in the first half of 2015 with prices set to challenge Wintel based notebooks.

Google has laid out a reference framework for Chromebooks which means they will cost less than $300 per unit, according to a report from market intelligence firm Digitimes Research.

Dell and Acer will take the lead in cutting prices, with the former introducing a 15.6-inch Chromebook and Acer will introduce a model with the same size screen early next year.

Both are set to use Intel’s Broadwell-U microprocessor and the prices will mean stiff competition as Microsoft wants its hardware partners to produce notebooks costing less than $250.

However, Microsoft cannot hope to get hardware vendors to make Windows 8.1 with Bing machines for the same price point and with similar performance. Although Microsoft has cut licensing fees for Windows in an attempt to beat off competition from Chromebooks, the bill of materials to make notebooks precludes screens 15 inches and above.

China blocks Gmail

Photo of China from satellite - Wikimedia CommonsReports said that the Chinese government blocked access to Gmail accounts on Friday in a bid to further throttle Google.

A freedom of speech group, GreatFire.org, claimed the government was making an attempt to wipe out any Google presence in mainland China, according to a Reuters report.

While practically all of Google’s services have been throttled in mainland China, its email service Gmail was available to people until a block was imposed on Friday.

That block is still in place today. The Chinese government operates a regime which some have dubbed the Great Firewall of China which prevents citizens from seeing internet content that it doesn’t like.

China does not officially admit that it censors some internet services and maintains that it’s all in favour of foreign investment.

Apart from Google.

Driverless cars could kill off ambulance chasers

 ambulanceOne of the first casualties from the introduction of driverless cars could be the end of ambulance chasing personal injury lawyers.

Google, which just announced a “fully functional” prototype of its self-driving car, is looking for auto industry partners to bring the technology to market within the next five years.

According to legal blogger Eric Turkewitz, who is a a personal injury lawyer with the Turkewitz Law Firm in New York, the  matter of lawsuits regarding the cars will, he thinks will be reduced by the number of collisions due to human error.

“Each year about 30,000 people will die in the US from car crashes, and about two million are injured, and that is after considering a significant drop in fatalities from safer cars and seat belts over the prior decades.”

The cars will see the other cars/pedestrians and slow down or stop despite the daydreaming, being drunk, or having a snooze. The number of deaths will be reduced. Your insurance premiums will be theoretically reduced.

“And that meanest the need for my services as a personal injury attorney will be reduced,” he sadly said.

What might save his job is the fact that regulators and insurance companies are reluctant to embrace even incremental steps that allow hands-free driving.

Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who predicts hands-free driving systems will not be offered soon because of legal and insurance barriers.

Federal safety regulators say they still need to do more research on the potential safety and benefits of autonomous technology. Odd really, they didn’t do that when the car first came out.

Google sues Mississippi Attorney General

516EDMTJSNLGoogle has sued the attorney general of Mississippi accusing him of conspiring with the movie industry.

The search engine claims that Jim Hood had been improperly influenced by major Hollywood studios that are trying to crack down on the distribution of pirated movies on the Internet.

The lawsuit also questioned the authority of state law enforcement officials to regulate Internet service providers.

Hood and Google have been at war for a while now. Hood issued a 79-page subpoena in October, asking that the company turn over information about its search engine and sales of illegal drugs, pornography and other materials. He suggested that the company was knowingly profiting from such sales and demanded a response from Google by early January.

However during the Sony hack Emails and other records showed how the movie industry, through a nonprofit group it funded, had hired the former attorney general from Mississippi, whom Hood used to work for, to put pressure on Hood to attack Google.

The Sony emails also showed how the major movie studios, working through the Motion Picture Association of America, had created what they called Project Goliath, to press state attorneys general to question, subpoena and sue the company.

All this is a bit tricky for Hood to squeeze out of – although he did have a go. Hood said Google was using its deep pockets in an attempt to “stop the State of Mississippi for daring to ask some questions.” Nevertheless, he said he would call the company and try to work out a deal.

It also accused Hood of essentially acting as a pawn for the MPAA., arguing that. Hood “took these actions following a sustained lobbying effort from the Motion Picture Association of America.”

The MPPA, which was clearly caught out, went onto the attack with its usual bile about how Freedom of Speech is being used as a shield for unlawful activities and “the Internet is not a license to steal.”

However if the case gets to court, it could be a mess for the studios. You can hardly play the victim when you are buying politicians to bully those who disagree with your business model.

Google creates nightmare for business sites

 nightmareThe search engine Google is about to name and shame any site which does not use the HTTPS security protocol.

For years, it has been enough for site users to build their websites using HTTP with only those who run financial transactions needing the more secure protocol.

Now Google is proposing to warn people their data is at risk every time they visit websites that do not use the “HTTPS” system.

If implemented, the developers wrote, the change would mean that a warning would pop-up when people visited a site that used only HTTP to notify them that such a connection “provides no data security.”

The team said it was odd that browsers currently did nothing to warn people when their data was unprotected.

“The only situation in which web browsers are guaranteed not to warn users is precisely when there is no chance of security,” they wrote.

HTTPS uses well-established cryptographic systems to scramble data as it travels from a user’s computer to a website.

However, website operators might have a few problems when it comes to adopting the HTTPS system, but could see traffic plummet if they do not.

Currently only about 33 per cent of websites use HTTPS, according to statistics gathered by the Trustworthy Internet Movement which monitors the way sites use more secure browsing technologies.

Many large websites and services, including Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook and GMail, already use HTTPS by default. In addition, since September Google has prioritised HTTPS sites in its search rankings.