Gmail Introduces New Themes And Emoji


Gmail-Logo.png.CROP_.rectangle3-largeGoogle’s taken notice of your passion for emojis and guess what?

They’re going to make sure you have new ones waiting and available in your Gmail account.

The company made the announcement on Tuesday that it would introduce new emoji that would be similar to those that users employ on their mobile phones and in Google Hangouts.

The new updates to the emoji go hand in hand with the larger part of the update, which will give users hundreds of new choices for themes for their inboxes.

Users will still have the option to utilize their own images if they choose for the background.

The new themes package include high-resolution photographs submitted by Google users to the company.

And to sweeten the situation, users can take advantage of new custom options for the themes like a blur option and an option to add text to the background.

Christopher A. Smith


STUDY: Google’s Manipulation Of Search Results Is Damaging


GooglelogoIn a study conducted by Internet scholar and law professor Tim Wu, it has been found that Google’s deliberate manipulation of its search results is damaging to both its users and its competitors.

The study was funded by the popular consumer review website Yelp, who has a history of being critical of Google’s practices regarding search results.

A prior complaint was made last year over Yelp’s allegations that Google was purposely undercutting Yelp’s search traffic by 20%, even though papers related to that complaint stated that the move hadn’t hurt Yelp’s bottom line overall.

The results claim that Google’s move to assign prominence on its own content over more organic results found by its search algorithm leads to something termed “social welfare” which summed up means that consumers and competitors alike are harmed by the lack of proper and unbiased search results.

The news comes as Google is grappling with similar allegations made in an anti-trust lawsuit by the European Union.

Yelp has added their voice to the allegations by filing a complaint to anti-trust regulators in Europe.

A spokesperson for Google dismissed the study, stating: “This latest study is based on a flawed methodology that focuses on results for just a handful of cherry-picked queries. At Google we focus on trying to provide the best results for our users.”

Christopher A. Smith


Uber Is Acquiring Some Of Microsoft’s Mapping Technology


Uber Is Acquiring Some Of Microsoft's Mapping TechnologyThe online cab-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. has struck a deal to obtain part of Microsoft’s maps technology for their uses.

Reports on Monday stated that Uber would obtain a license to the intellectual property regarding the mapping technology as well as image-analysis software and cameras in addition to a data complex site just outside of Boulder, Colorado.

Uber also plans to hire 100 engineers that are currently with Microsoft’s mapping division.

Kristin Carvell, a spokeswoman for Uber, spoke on the deal and stated: “We’ll continue to work with partners, as well as invest in our own technology, to build the best possible experience for riders and drivers.”

Uber has ramped up its efforts recently to rely less on mapping services provided by Baidu, Apple and Google and to build more capabilities for the technology in-house.

The company has also acquired a start-up in the same field, deCarta.

Uber is also in the running along with other companies to purchase the mapping division of the Finnish telecommunications company Nokia for an estimated $4 billion.

Part of this initiative will benefit their fairly new carpooling service, UberPool.

Christopher A. Smith


Google’s Self-Driving Cars Seen On The Roads Of Mountain View


Google's Self-Driving Vehicles Report 11 Crashes - Google Says Don't Blame It On The CarsGoogle has taken the next step in their ambitious drive to make self-driving cars on the roads a reality — by already having them on the road.

On Thursday, the company announced that their autonomous vehicle prototypes were already out and about on the streets of Mountain View, California.

The vehicle was crafted from scratch, and designed to be self-driving.

The company has been vigorously working towards this since 2009, with Toyota Prius cars and then Lexus SUVs being their first testers.

Those vehicles were modified with special software and hardware.

These new AV’s are the potential template for the car that Google seeks to mass produce in 2020 with the help of auto manufacturers like Volkswagen.

The cars are two-door, and have a maximum speed of 25 MPH in accordance with Google’s directive of safety.

In addition, the autonomous vehicles will have a human driver in a backup role, and a removable steering wheel to go with specialized sensors that can detect movement at great distances no matter the size of the object.

Christopher A. Smith


Google, Amazon, eBay, Etsy And Others Drop Confederate Flag Merchandise


Confederate_Rebel_Flag.svgIn the wake of the racially motivated shooting that took place in a historically African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, online retailers have done away with offering all merchandise with the Confederate flag emblazoned on it.

Amazon, Google, Etsy and eBay have made the decision not to carry these items as the uproar over the flag has dominated discussion after last week’s shooting by a white assailant that took the lives of nine members of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, including their pastor, who was also a state senator.

eBay issued an announcement on Tuesday that it would prevent the sale of items bearing the Confederate flag due to it being in line with their policies prohibiting items for sale that provoke racial animosity.

A spokesman for Amazon also said on Tuesday that they would be removing items with the controversial flag from their website.

Google planned to remove items with the flag from their Google Shopping sites as well as to remove the image of the flag from any of their advertisements.

A spokeswoman for Etsy also confirmed on Tuesday that it would remove items bearing the flag from their site, citing that it would fall under their own policies regarding items that promote hatred of a certain group.

These online companies join Sears, Kmart and Walmart in banning these items in response to the growing public uproar and unease.

Christopher A. Smith


Free Radio Comes To Google Play Music


Users Can Now Pre-Register For Apps In The Google Play StoreGoogle is making a stealthy entry into the streaming music service industry in a bid to snare a position among established and future competitors.

The company announced that it will offer ad-supported radio through its existing Google Play Music service.

The feature will showcase stations based on the songs that users like and recommendations from another service, Songza, which makes playlists of songs based on user activities and moods.

Google is making the move to attract more users who either have never made use of the service, or, more frequently, have shunned the service once they first open it and view a prompt for payment, causing them to close the app.

Zahavah Levine, vice president of partnerships with Google Play, said in regards to the change: “We think that by giving users a taste of Google Play Music, through the ad-supported tier, more users will ultimately become paying subscribers.”

Despite that, the service has seen their amount of users increase mightily in the past year.

With their eyes on Apple gearing up for the release of their own streaming music service at the end of the month, Google is aiming to gain further ground in an already crowded field.

Christopher A. Smith


Gmail Now Offers “Undo Send” Feature


Gmail-Logo.png.CROP_.rectangle3-largeThe email that we wished we didn’t send out.

It’s happened to many of us – typing up an email and clicking “send” before you finished a vital point.

Or perhaps you’ve fallen prey to the “reply all” situation at work that leaves everyone feeling a bit off-base.

Google has now added a new feature to its email service that could render those situations null and void.

The company announced that it had added a new feature to Gmail entitled ‘Undo Send.

The service comes after years of research and development, as well as some testing within Google Labs.

The Undo Send feature allows users to select a delay time ranging from five seconds to thirty seconds.

It’s available for both the mobile and desktop versions of Gmail.

In order to use it, you have to enable the action within your settings using the general tab.

This new feature may undoubtedly save a lot of people from some sitcom-esque situations.

Christopher A. Smith


Street View Patent Appeal Rejected By Supreme Court


GooglelogoGoogle received a defeat on Monday at the hands of the United States Supreme Court after it decided to not hear a case involving their Street View service.

The case, Google Inc. v. Vederi LLC, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-448, was brought to the high court on an appeal from Google over allegations that they infringed on four previous patents with the release of their Street View service.

The lawsuit was filed by Vederi, LLC back in 2010.

Specifically, Vederi felt that Street View infringed on their StreetBrowser service that they filed a patent for back in 2000, which deals with navigating created images of geographical locations via computer.

In 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made a ruling that overturned a district judge’s decision in favor of Google.

The Supreme Court’s decision to decline hearing the case came after being advised by the Obama administration not to do so.

The case will now return to the lower courts for possible further appeal if Google so chooses.

Christopher A. Smith 


Google Is Now Removing Revenge Porn Links From Their Search Results


GooglelogoGoogle is now making sure that revenge porn will no longer be readily found in their search engine results, causing a slight sigh of relief from those that the behavior was directed towards.

Over the next few weeks, Google will implement a web form that will let people make the request to get rid of results that show them naked or in sexually explicit and compromising situations they did not agree to become public.

In a blog post by Google, they explained part of their reasoning with the following: “Revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims — predominantly women.”

The new policy will have some limits and bear a resemblance to those already in place concerning the removal of bank signatures and account numbers from search results.

Google’s move in this regard is highly significant and represents the rising tide of those looking to strictly outlaw revenge porn – several states have created laws against it, and the United Kingdom has instituted a similar law.

While it’s still difficult to prosecute someone responsible for publishing it, Google’s policy makes it one of the biggest online platforms to institute a ban on revenge porn, along with Twitter’s own recent policies.

Christopher A. Smith


Nest Labs Introduces New Home-Security Camera And Storage Service


Fallout Of Google's Acquisition Of Nest: "Internet Of Ads"Google’s latest partner via acquisition, Nest Labs, has put its entire product line under some significant revisions.

The overhaul includes a new home-security camera and a video storage and management service.

The news was announced at a special event held in San Francisco, California.

Nest made these changes to get more customers in line with their philosophy of modernizing their home equipment.

To that end, they made these revisions in conjunction with Dropcam. another security startup company acquired by Google last year.

The Nest Cam has its origins in Dropcam’s own product but comes equipped with higher resolution and improved night vision.

It’s also more slimmed down in terms of the body of the camera itself.

There’s also an internal tool that lets the user highlight areas for the camera to focus on. The base price is $199, and the video storage comes as a monthly plan costing $10 per month.

Nest plans to team up with insurance companies American Family Insurance Co. and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. on offering their customers the camera and their improved Protect smoke alarm at a discounted price, along with discounts as an incentive in a rewards program.

Christopher A. Smith