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Google

Google Built an Escape Room, Making People Use Its Apps To Get Out (adweek.com) 50

An anonymous reader writes: Google France has built an escape room created by We Are Social, called "Premiere Piece," that will open in the heart of Paris. Adweek writes: "The campaign builds on the escape room trend, in which you and a bunch of friends pay to get locked in a room for an hour or two, left to solve puzzles and work in collaboration to find a way out. In 40 minutes, you must solve puzzles with help from apps like Search, Maps, Translate, Photos, Art and Culture and Cardboard, all of which are integrated into the gameplay. In Premiere Piece, visitors must help save a crew of digital artists locked in a workshop, so they can present their painstaking work at an art center in Paris. By working together, participants must unlock an object that completes their masterpiece." Google France was in the news recently for being raided by investigators for unpaid taxes.
Google

Google Now Handles At Least 2 Trillion Searches Per Year (searchengineland.com) 31

Danny Sullivan, reporting for Search Engine Land: How many searches per year happen on Google? After nearly four years, the company has finally released an updated figure today of "trillions" per year. How many trillions, exactly, Google wouldn't say. Consider two trillion the starting point. Google did confirm to Search Engine Land that because it said it handles "trillions" of searches per year worldwide, the figure could be safely assumed to be two trillion or above. Is it more than two trillion? Google could be doing five trillion searches per year. Or 10 trillion. Or 100 trillion. Or presumably up to 999 trillion, because if it were 1,000 trillion, you'd expect Google would announce that it does a quadrillion searches per year.
Cloud

Google Turns Firebase Into Its Unified Platform For Mobile Developers (techcrunch.com) 11

An anonymous reader writes: Google has announced a plethora of new features to Firebase, its cloud services provider that mobile developers can use to power their apps. TechCrunch reports: "In its previous incarnation, Firebase was somewhat similar to Facebook's now-defunct Parse in that it offered a database service, user authentication features and hosting tools. In this new version, Firebase takes many of Google's existing developer tools, like Google Cloud Messaging, and combines them with new and existing Firebase services. With this update, Google is turning Firebase into a unified app platform for its now 470,000 developers on the service (up from 110,000 when it acquired Firebase)." The new Firebase features deeply integrated analytics services, allowing developers to track specific parts of their apps with fine-grained events. Firebase can build audience segments and allow developers to analyze their behavior in even more detail than before, and view how their advertising campaigns are performing. With these audience segments, developers can make remote configuration changes in apps and take advantage of Firebase's new notifications system. This feature is based on Google Cloud Messaging, which is now changing its name to Firebase Cloud Messaging. Google is offering all Firebase users free and unlimited notifications with support for iOS, Android and the Web. They're also integrating its Cloud Test Lab into Firebase for testing mobile apps on real hardware, renaming it the Firebase Test Lab. Other new features include crash reporting, the ability to create dynamic deep links into your app, Firebase Invites for allowing app users to share referral codes, Firebase App Indexing for bringing app content into Google Search, and integration with Google's AdWords and AdMob advertising platforms. Last but not least, Google is introducing new pricing plans for Firebase, including a new free plan, a fixed-rate plan, and a pay-as-you go plan.
Google

Google Launches 'Gboard' Keyboard For iOS, Featuring Built-In Google Search (techcrunch.com) 47

An anonymous reader writes: Google launched a new keyboard application called "Gboard" for iOS today that features Google Search built-in to the keyboard itself. In addition, it offers swipe-based typing and access to GIFs, as well as some basic features like emojis and word predictions. The "G" icon in the upper lefthand corner opens a window for you to search Google without leaving the keyboard and launching a browser or the Google app. From there you can search for things like flight times, news articles, restaurant and business listings, weather and more, and paste that information into your chat with a single tap. The information is presented in a card-style layout. "We wanted to bring the best of Google to Gboard, so you'll see Maps, Translate, image and video search, News and others," says Rajan Patel, head of the product team that developed Gboard. "Initially, Gboard will not surface any information specific to you," he added, hinting that a personalized keyboard is in the works for the future.
Firefox

Mozilla Launches Test Pilot, A Firefox Add-On For Trying Experimental Features (thenextweb.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Test Pilot, a program for trying out experimental Firefox features. To try the new functionality Mozilla is offering for its browser, you have to download a Firefox add-on from testpilot.firefox.com and enable an experiment. The main caveat is that experiments are currently only available in English (though Mozilla promises to add more languages "later this year"). Test Pilot was first introduced for Firefox 3.5, but the new program has been revamped since then, featuring three main components: Activity Stream, Tab Center and Universal Search. Activity Stream is designed to help you navigate your browsing history faster, surfacing your top sites along with highlights from your browsing history and bookmarks. Tab Center displays open tabs vertically along the side of your screen. Mozilla says Universal Search "combines the Awesome Bar history with the Firefox Search drop down menu to give you the best recommendations so you can spend less time sifting through search results and more time enjoying the web."
Communications

Panama Papers Affair Widens As Database Goes Online (bbc.com) 100

In late April, it was reported there would be a huge new 'Panama Papers' data dump on May 9th. The report did not disappoint as today the Panama Papers affair has widened, with a huge database of documents relating to more than 200,000 offshore accounts posted online. The database can be accessed at offshoreleaks.icij.org. The papers were leaked by a source known as "Jony Doe," and the papers belonged to the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) decided to make the database public despite a "cease and desist" order issued by the law firm.
Google

Google Testing a Radical Change By Turning People's Search Results Black (telegraph.co.uk) 107

Google may have plans to do a visual tweak to its search results. The company appears to be testing black search result links since the weekend, according to multiple reports. While some users are pleased with this tweak, many users have already posted their grievances on Google help forums. Some users note that it has become hard to tell which links they have already clicked. The Telegraph reports: Google puts a lot of thought into the exact colours it uses in its services -- and for a good reason. A few years ago its A/B test of different shades of blue -- nicknamed "50 shades of blue" -- earned the company an extra $200 million (£138 million). Designers at Google couldn't decide between two different blues, so they decided to test 41 shades between each blue to see which users preferred. In the test, Google showed each shade to one per cent of its users, and found that users were more likely to click on a slightly more purple shade.
Open Source

DuckDuckGo Is Giving Away $225,000 To Support Open Source Projects (businessinsider.com) 62

An anonymous reader writes: Google Search competitor DuckDuckGo announced it will be giving away a total of $225,000 to support nine open source projects, each project will receive $25,000. DuckDuckGo said it performed 3 billion searches in 2015. It differs from many other search engines as it offers private, anonymous internet search. It doesn't gather information about you to sell ads to marketeers, like Google. Instead, it shows generic ads as it's part of the Microsoft/Bing/Yahoo ad network. It also has revenue-sharing agreements with certain companies in the Linux Open Source worlds, and makes money from select affiliate links. The $225,000 DuckDuckGo is giving away is chump change compared to the $100 million Google gives away in grants ever year. However, for the select projects, it should still be very beneficial. Last year, DuckDuckGo gave away a total of $125,000 to open source projects, so it's nice to see them donate an extra $100,000 to a good cause.
Biotech

In Search Of A Healthy Gut, One Man Turned To An Extreme DIY Fecal Transplant (theverge.com) 136

Josiah Zayner writes: Arielle Duhaime-Ross at The Verge followed Dr. Josiah Zayner, a former Scientist at NASA turned BioHacker, as he attempted the first ever full-body microbiome transplant. She writes "Over the course of the next four days, Zayner would attempt to eradicate the trillions of microbes that lived on and inside his body -- organisms that helped him digest food, produce vitamins and enzymes, and protected his body from other, more dangerous bacteria. Ruthlessly and methodically, he would try to render himself into a biological blank slate. Then, he would inoculate himself with a friend's microbes -- a procedure he refers to as a 'microbiome transplant.'".
Microsoft

Microsoft Limits Cortana Search Box In Windows 10 To Bing and Edge Only (venturebeat.com) 361

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Microsoft has announced a big change for how the Cortana search box in Windows 10 will work going forward: all searches will be powered by Bing and all links will open with the Edge browser. This is a server-side change going into effect today. Once it takes effect on your Windows 10 computer, Cortana will no longer be able to serve up results from third-party search providers, like Google or Yahoo, nor take you to a third-party browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Ryan Gavin, Microsoft's general manager of search and Cortana, said in a Windows blog post announcing the change, "Unfortunately, as Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana. The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable. The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can't depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser. The only way we can confidently deliver this personalized, end-to-end search experience is through the integration of Cortana, Microsoft Edge and Bing -- all designed to do more for you."
Google

Google Search Will Soon Include Live TV Listings (fortune.com) 36

An anonymous reader writes: Google announced users will soon see live TV listings within their search results. Fortune writes, "Pretty soon, you will be able to Google the name of a television show or movie and see live air times for that content within the search results." The announcement was made at the National Association of Broadcasters conference. "What we're seeing is that more and more, viewers are turning to their phones to find out what to watch, where to watch it and when it's available -- in fact, searches for TV shows and films on mobile have grown more than 55% in the past year alone," Google said in a blog post announcing the new feature. Google Search users will have the option of clicking an "edit provider" link that will allow them to enter their specific cable provider when they search for the name of a TV show or movie. There's no specific date for when the feature will be launching, just that it will be launching "soon."
Education

UC Davis Spent $175,000 To Bury Search Results After Cops Pepper-Sprayed Protestors (theverge.com) 340

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The University of California, Davis spent at least $175,000 to improve its reputation on the internet after images of campus police pepper-spraying protestors went viral in 2011, according to documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee. The money went to public relations firms that promised to clean up the university's search results. One company outlined a plan for "eradication of references to the pepper spray incident," according to the documents, and was eventually paid nearly $93,000, including expenses, for a six-month campaign in 2013. After that, the Bee reports, the university paid $82,500 to another PR firm to create and follow through on a "search engine results management strategy." The latter firm was later given thousands more in other contracts to build a university social media program, and to vet its communications department.
AI

Microsoft Launches Cognitive Services Based On Project Oxford and Bing (venturebeat.com) 21

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has announced updates to its portfolio of machine learning tools at its Build conference in San Francisco. Previously, they had fallen under the Project Oxford name, but now they are being rebranded to Microsoft Cognitive Services. According to Microsoft senior program manager Cornelia Carapcea, there are now 22 APIs available in Cognitive Services. There are also prices for the new services, along with APIs made available from Microsoft's Bing search division. Developers can try out these services for free.
Android

Oracle Seeks $9.3 Billion For Google's Use Of Java In Android (computerworld.com) 343

angry tapir quotes a report from Computerworld: Oracle is seeking as much as $9.3 billion in damages in a long-running copyright lawsuit against Google over its use of Java in Android, court filings show. Oracle sued Google six years ago, claiming the search giant needs a license to use parts of the Java platform in Google's market-leading mobile OS. The two companies first went to trial in 2012, but the jury was split on whether or not Google's use of Java was protected by "fair use." Now they're headed back to the courtroom for a new trial scheduled to begin May 9, where Oracle's Larry Ellison and Google's Eric Schmidt will be present. Currently, the sum Oracle is asking for is about 10 times as much as when the two companies went to trial in 2012.
Google

Uber Recruiting Engineers By Randomly Sending Coding Game To Play During Rides (businessinsider.com) 27

An anonymous reader links to a Business Insider report: Uber has found a new way to lure engineers to work for the fast-growing startup. The taxi-aggregator service tests coding skills of select riders during their ride. Uber insists that it is not using individual information to identify recruits, but are just identifying geographies where tech jobs are concentrated to find candidates. "The option to play gives interested riders the opportunity to show us their skills in a fun and different way -- whether they code on the side or are pursuing a career as a developer," a Uber spokesperson said. If they accept the test, Uber challenges the ride with three coding problems to solve, each with a 60-second countdown, and scores them based on their answers. Uber is not the only Silicon Valley giant which has found a "creative" way to hire people. Last year, we saw Google offer at least one person a job based on his search queries.

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