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India-born Sundar Pichai is the new CEO of Google

New York: In a significant restructuring at Google, India-born Sundar Pichai has been named the new CEO of the technology giant as the company co-founder Larry Page on August 11 announced the formation of a new umbrella firm Alphabet, of which Google will be a part.

Page, in a blog post, announced the formation of the new parent company Alphabet, of which he will be the CEO and Google co-founder Sergey Brin will be its President. Chennai-born Pichai, 43, has been named CEO of the new Google, which Page said will be a "a bit slimmed down."

"Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable. So we are creating a new company, called Alphabet. I am really excited to be running Alphabet as CEO with help from my capable partner, Sergey, as President," Page said.

He said Pichai will be a "key part" of the new structure that will "allow us to keep tremendous focus on the extraordinary opportunities we have inside Google." "He has really stepped up since October of last year, when he took on product and engineering responsibility for our internet businesses.

Sergey and I have been super excited about his progress and dedication to the company. And it is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google," Page said. "I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations. I have been spending quite a bit of time with Sundar, helping him and the company in any way I can, and I will of course continue to do that," Page added.
  • Published in World

Google aims to bring smartphone at a price of Rs. 2000

Google is planning to introduce Android smartphones at the price range of Rs 2000-Rs 3000 under its Android One project, in which the company aims to introduce low cost mobile phones for increased net usage.

Financial Times quoted company’s managing director in India and Southeast Asia, Rajan Anandan that “he wants phones using the Android operating system more generally to target the “sweet spot” for mass-adoption in India’s cost-conscious smartphone market of between Rs2,000 and Rs3,000,.”

Google is all set to add an additional new device to its Android One series where smartphones are claimed to receive the latest updates first.

The search giant in association with Indian mobile maker Lava is reported to bring out the forthcoming Android One smartphone on July 14 with a price tag of Rs 12,000.
Unlike the previous Android One smartphones by Micromax, Karbonn and Spice, Lava seems to have indulged along with Google to develop the hardware and software.

This means that the new Android One smartphone will be having improved specifications and an optimised Android OS with applications and services co-developed by Google and Lava.

It is worth noting that during the previous batch of Android One smartphone, the company took devices from original device makers in China and had no control over hardware and software of the phones.

The new Lava Android One smartphone is also said to be coming with a 5 inch display along with a 2 GB RAM which is a significant update over the first set of Android One devices that sported 4.5 inch screen and 1 GB RAM.
  • Published in Technology

Google apologises over PM Modi's image in 'top 10 criminals in India' search results

New Delhi: Internet giant Google on Wednesday apologised "for any confusion or misunderstanding" caused after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's images started appearing in image search results for query on "Top 10 criminals in India".

"These results trouble us and are not reflective of the opinions of Google. Sometimes, the way images are described on the internet can yield surprising results to specific queries. We apologise for any confusion or misunderstanding this has caused. We're continually working to improve our algorithms to prevent unexpected results like this," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Google said that results to the query "top 10 criminals in india" was due to a British daily which had an image of Modi and erroneous metadata.

It said that in this case, the image search results were drawn from multiple news articles with images of Modi, covering the prime minister's statements with regard to politicians with criminal backgrounds, but added that the news articles do not link Modi to criminal activity, and the words just appeared in close proximity to each other.

  • Published in National

Google patents 'creepy' internet toys to run the home

Google's R&D team has looked into making internet-connected toys that control smart home appliances.

The firm has published a patent that describes devices that would turn their heads towards users and listen to what they were saying, before sending commands to remote computer servers.

The three-year old patent was spotted recently by the legal technology firm SmartUp.

It described the proposal as "one of Google's creepiest patents yet".

Privacy campaigners have also raised concerns.

A spokeswoman for Google was unable to say whether this was a product the firm might develop and sell.

"We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with," she said.

"Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications," she added.

Curious face
The patent was originally filed back in February 2012, but has only just been published.

Google describes how the toys would communicate with its servers to control devices in the home
Its inventor is named as Richard Wayne DeVaul, whose job title is "director of rapid evaluation and mad science" at Google X - the firm's secretive "skunkworks" lab.

The patent describes how the toys would include microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet.

It states that a trigger word would cause them to wake up and turn their gaze towards the person addressing them, and would be able to check if the person talking was making eye contact.

The document suggests the device could respond both by speaking back and by expressing "human-like" expressions of interest, curiosity, boredom and/or surprise.

"To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head and/or focus its gaze on the user," Mr DeVaul wrote.

"To express curiosity, [it] may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm."

Bedroom commands
Drawings show that the machine could be made to look like a bunny rabbit or teddy bear, and the text suggests other alternatives that include dragons and alien life forms.

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it.

"Young children might find these forms to be attractive," it says.

"However, individuals of all ages may find interacting with these anthropomorphic devices to be more natural than interacting with traditional types of user interfaces."

The movie AI featured a "super" teddy bear that interacted with its owners
The document suggests the toys could be used to control a wide range of devices, from televisions and DVD players to home thermostats, motorised window curtains and lights.

It adds that they might prove so popular that families would wish to buy several, placing them around the house including inside their bedrooms.

The idea echoes the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Steven Spielberg's 2001 movie AI.

But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay.

"The privacy concerns are clear when devices have the capacity to record conversations and log activity," said its director Emma Carr.

"When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line.

"Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy. It is simply unnecessary," she added.

The idea risks evoking memories of the evil toys in the video game Five Nights at Freddy's
The Center for Democracy and Technology - a research group that helped shape child protection laws in the US - said that parents would have to be "especially vigilant" over the coming years, whether or not Google ever put such toys on sale.

"In general, as technology moves forward, markets will offer a steady stream of products that push or even break mainstream social norms - on privacy as well as other things," said its director of European affairs, Jens-Henrik Jeppesen.

"Responsible companies will understand they need to provide full transparency about how such devices handle data.

"Some consumers may find such products appealing - I suspect most will not," he added.

Hi-tech dolls
Google is not the first firm to see the appeal of a family-friendly voice-activated control for the home, as an alternative to using remote controls or smartphones.

Amazon already sells the Echo in the US - a cylindrical internet-linked device that can be used to control music playback, check the weather and order food.

A marketing video for the device shows children using it.

Amazon launched the Echo in the US last November
But the fact that it does not look like a toy may have helped it become relatively uncontroversial.

By contrast, Mattel's recent announcement of Hello Barbie - a doll that uses a wi-fi connection and voice recognition to chat with young girls and recall things they said in earlier conversations - has prompted a backlash.

A lobby group called the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has launched petitions calling for the toy firm to drop the idea.

The petitions have attracted more than 42,000 online signatures.
  • Published in Technology

Google rolls out new Fi wireless mobile phone service

Google Inc on Wednesday launched a new U.S. wireless service that switches between Wi-Fi and cellular networks to curb data use and keep phone bills low.

The service, Google's first entry into the wireless industry, will work only on the company's Nexus 6 phones and be hosted through Sprint Corp and T-Mobile's networks, Google said in a statement.

The service, called Project Fi, will automatically switch between the two networks and more than 1 million open, free Wi-Fi spots, depending on which signal is strongest.

 The service will cost $20 a month plus $10 per gigabyte of data used. Customers will get money back for unused data.

Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of products, said at a Barcelona conference last month the company was preparing to experiment with a mobile network, but that it did not intend to disrupt the wireless industry.

The service will be available on only one device and has limited carrier coverage, so it will not make Google a major wireless industry player, said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner.

If successful, however, Google's service could pressure wireless providers to further lower prices and better adapt to the rise of tablets and wearable devices, Blau added. Though some carriers, such as T-Mobile and AT&T Inc, allow unused data to roll over, most mobile plans require customers to pay for a set amount of data each month.

But Google first has to "test out features they think are going to differentiate themselves," Blau said, such as being able to transition from network connectivity to Wi-Fi.

If Google is able to provide those features, "it's very possible they could become a major wireless player in the future," Blau said.

Phone numbers will live in the cloud so that consumers can talk and text on any connected tablet, Google said.

The company already has a strong presence in the mobile market through its Android operating system, which hosts some of the most popular apps, such as Gmail and Google Maps.

Google shares rose 1.27 per cent to $549.81 at mid-afternoon.

  • Published in Technology

Now Check Your Yahoo Account on Gmail

No matter how many email addresses you have, a new Gmail app makes it possible to see all your mail accounts (even @yahoo and @outlook) on Gmail itself.

The new app, part of an endeavour by Google to be a one-stop email shop, is available for Android devices. The new upgraded Gmail app lets users see mail even from non-Gmail accounts, GMANetwork reported.

The upgrade should be convenient for students and workers with multiple email accounts, software engineer Regis Decamps was quoted as saying.

'However many email addresses you have, today's improvements to the Gmail app for Android make it easy to manage all your mail from all your accounts while you're on the go,' Decamps said.

Also, he said one could view and respond to all emails from other accounts using the 'All Inboxes' option -- without having to hop between accounts.

Even better, the new app allows threaded conversations even for non-Gmail accounts. This keeps messages organised and gives a user the context needed to reply to long email threads.

'Now messages from your Yahoo, Outlook.com and other IMAP/POP accounts will get the same special treatment, appearing neatly stacked as one conversation,' Decamps said.

The new app also features smarter search and better auto-complete. Other features include larger attachment previews and the ability to save to Drive with a single tap.
  • Published in Technology

Google reaffirms its commitment to Glass

Despite suspending sales of Glass and ending the Explorer program last January, Google is still actively developing its wearable eyewear technology, according to Eric Schmidt, quoted in the Wall Street Journal. After the relative disappointment of the first version, the Glass project's long-term goal remains unchanged: to develop a consumer-ready wearable with broad mainstream appeal.

On April 5, 2012, Google co-founder and X Lab director Sergey Brin set the internet abuzz by wearing the first connected glasses prototype in San Francisco. The Glass project advanced into the test phase, sparking the curiosity and enthusiasm of tech fans around the world.

For Google, the idea was to create a portable technology capable of delivering instant access to multiple connected services through voice commands and gestures on a miniature touchpad.

In terms of hardware, the first Google Glass was equipped with 16GB of storage, a 5MP camera, a small projection screen (equivalent to a 25-inch HD display seen from eight feet away) and a micro USB port for charging. The device also included a bone conduction transducer, which allowed the wearer to listen to music without headphones.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible, Google Glass could be used as a standalone device or in tandem with the MyGlass smartphone app for Android and iOS.

A limited prototype

Aside from privacy concerns and criticism of its geeky appearance, the first Google Glass was held back by its limited functionality. For most users, the device was useful only for shooting photos and videos, searching the web and holding video chat sessions.

Initially available only to a community of "Explorers" (mainly developers), Google Glass went on sale to the general public in 2014 with a steep $1,500 price tag. In January of this year, Google withdrew the device from the market without specifying the details of the project's future.

The next version of Glass, which Google is said to be developing behind the scenes, will need to be more compact and discreet, perhaps through a design that could be clipped onto ordinary eyewear. Google is also focusing on making the next version more affordable and improving its battery life, display quality and sound quality, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Strategy for the Glass project is currently overseen by Tony Fadell, the head of Google's connected home division, Nest, which already sells smart thermostats and smoke detectors.

  • Published in Technology

Google adds 31 Indian heritage sites to the Google Maps

Google has started expanding the reach of its virtual tours on Google Maps. Starting from today, the Search giant will add 31 Indian heritage sites on Google Maps and Google Cultural Institute. This will allow people all over the world to virtually visit these sites and get a panoramic view of the structure and places nearby.

Google was able to pull this off with the assistance of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), as well as Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation, Maharashtra Tourism and Karnataka State Archaeological Department.

The new 360-degree view will now be available at heritage sites like the Gateway of India, Sun Temple, Mysore Palace, Nalanda University, the Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, and the Thanjavur Temple amongst others. The inclusion of these 31 heritage monuments will take the total count of ASI sites to 127.

"Since last year, we've been working with the Archaeological Survey of India and other partners to bring more of India's heritage online for the world to see. We hope the latest panoramic imagery will help people learn about India's rich history through exploring some of our country's archaeological and architectural treasures on Google Maps and the Google Cultural Institute," said Rajan Anandan, Vice President and Managing Director, Google India and South East Asia.

Recently, Taj Mahal was crowned as the third most virtually-visited site in Asia and it achieved this feat within the first year of its online presence. With new mediums like these India can boost its tourism sector which will in return provide a lot of revenue and simultaneously generate employment within the country.

  • Published in Technology
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