Ford and Google have joined together for a non-exclusive joint venture to create self-driving cars with the technology created by Google. The venture will be legally separate from Ford, in part to shield the automaker from liability concerns.
Google is testing a password-free login for users. To login to a Google account, users enter their email address. A notification is then sent to the user’s phone asking them to confirm the sign-in.
A security flaw that lets people bypass Android phone security is discovered by University of Texas researchers. They find that trying to unlock the phone or tablet with an abnormally long password caused the lock screen to crash where the owners use instead of a lock pattern or PIN code. After crashing the lock screen, the researchers get full access to apps, settings and any data stored on the device. The flaw was limited to the most recent version of the mobile operating system, which 21% of users run. Google releases a patch, describing the issue as a “moderate” severity.
Google makes subtle changes to its logo, including a multi-colored mic for voice commands and a four-color “G” logo which replaces the lowercase “g” logo.
Once upon a time, Google was one destination that you reached from one device: a desktop PC. These days, people interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices—sometimes all in a single day.
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) orders Google to remove nine links from its search results that point to news stories reporting on earlier removals of links from its search results. The links relate to a criminal offence that were removed by Google following a request from the individual concerned. According to the ICO, Google argued the articles were an essential part of a recent news story relating to a matter of significant public importance. Despite the ICo recognizing recognises that journalistic content relating to decisions to delist search results may be newsworthy and in the public interest they say the news stories have “an unwarranted and negative impact on the individual’s privacy and is a breach of the Data Protection Act,” and that they must be removed. Google has 35 days to comply.
Google changes its hangouts design for android phones and adds some new features. It is now easier to send attachments. The new design also allows to send more than one photo at a time. Composing messages is more intuitive. The changes also include tweaks that will improve battery life, improve speed and fix a few bugs.
Senior vice president Pichai becomes Google’s CEO. Page:
A key part of this is Sundar Pichai. Sundar has been saying the things I would have said (and sometimes better!) for quite some time now, and I’ve been tremendously enjoying our work together. 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. 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.
Page and Brin found Alphabet to hold all Google-related businesses. Alphabethabet Inc will replace Google as the publicly-traded entity. All shares of Google will automatically convert into the same number of shares of Alphabet — with the same rights. Page:
Google will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet. Our two classes of shares will continue to trade on Nasdaq as GOOGL and GOOG.
All of the businesses that fall under Alphabet will have their own individual chief executives. Page says that with the new structure, the company is planning to implement segment reporting for its fourth quarter earnings results. As such, Google’s financials will be provided separately from other Alphabet’s businesses. Page:
We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for! I should add that we are not intending for this to be a big consumer brand with related products–the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands.
Google announces that users will no longer need to use Google+ to comment on YouTube videos. Horowitz:
In the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google…We want to formally retire the notion that a Google+ membership is required for anything at Google… other than using Google+ itself
A major rally in Google stock pushes the Nasdaq to a second straight record high. The Nasdaq Composite closes at 5210.14 as Google rises 16.26% and closes on an all-time high of $699.92.
Google removes the Chinese name for a South China Sea shoal bitterly disputed by Beijing and Manila from its maps service, following an outcry from Filipinos. The service earlier labelled the shoal as part of China’s Zhongsha island chain, prompting an online campaign demanding that the Internet giant stop identifying the outcrop as part of Chinese territory. Google’s office in Manila:
We’ve updated Google Maps to fix the issue. We understand that geographic names can raise deep emotions which is why we worked quickly once this was brought to our attention.
A user reports that Google’s Photos app, a default on many new Android devices, backs up new photos even if the app is disabled. The issue occurs when users enable the backup feature on their devices, then remove the app – new photos are still sent to Google’s servers, and are visible if the Photos app is reinstalled by the user at a later time. When he contacts the company they say:
The backup was as intended.
Google apologises for its photo recognition software mislabelling a black couple as being “gorillas”.
We’re appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened, we are taking immediate action to prevent this type of result from appearing. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labelling, and we’re looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future. [The Company is] also working on longer-term fixes around both linguistics – words to be careful about in photos of people – and image recognition itself – eg better recognition of dark-skinned faces.
The Court denies a Google appeal that sought to stop a billion-dollar Oracle lawsuit by seeking limits on software copyright protections. The justices decline to disturb an appeals court ruling in Oracle’s favor that reinvigorated the company’s case against Google. 37 packages of prewritten Java programs, known as application programming interfaces, are entitled to copyright protection. Google:
We will continue to defend the interoperability that has fostered innovation and competition in the software industry.
[The result] is a win for innovation and for the technology industry that relies on copyright protection to fuel innovation.
Google’s automatic image recognition software picks up photographs of two black friends, and marks them as gorillas. The owner of the phone tweets about the occurrence.
What kind of sample image data you collected that would result in this son? Google Photos, y’all fucked up. My friend’s not a gorilla.
Google creates a new start-up company called Sidewalk Labs. Its purpose is to use technology and innovation to improve urban life. Page:
Sidewalk will focus on improving city life for everyone by developing and incubating urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage
At a shareholder’s meeting, Brin discloses that one of Google’s self-driving cars was rear-ended at a traffic signal during the past week. The cars have been involved in 12 accidents while covering more than 1.7 million miles over the past six years.
I’m very proud of the record of our cars. Our goal is to beat human drivers.
In response to a request by Consumer Watchdog’s Simpson that the company release the self-driving cars’ accident reports filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and other government agencies to give the public a better understanding of the risks posed by the vehicles, Brin says the documents wouldn’t disclose anything different from a summary that the company posted online three weeks ago. Google says its self-driving cars have been rear-ended eight times (including the most-recent accident), side-swiped twice and hit by another vehicle rolling through a stop sign. Simpson says the records would shed more light by at least revealing the dates, times and precise locations of each accident. Brin:
I suppose we could give more detail and we are open to that, but you are not going to learn anymore.
Google will test 25 of its self-driving cars on public roads this summer. The cars will have steering wheels and brakes — not what the company envisioned a year ago– and will use the same software as Google’s Lexus RX450h sport utility vehicles, which have already self-driven about 10,000 miles a week in recent months. Convincing the public that driverless technology is safe is one of the hurdles the company must overcome. Project director:
This vehicle could go on a freeway, but when we think about introducing the technology, we want to do that very thoughtfully and very safely.
Fredinburg dies from head injuries after being hit by an avalanche. Other climbers with him are being treated at the Everest base camp. Google lawyer:
Dan Fredinburg, a long-time member of the Privacy organization in Mountain View, was in Nepal with three other Googlers, hiking Mount Everest. He has passed away. The other three Googlers with him are safe and we are working to get them home quickly. Google’s Crisis Response team has launched Person Finder for Nepal, and is working to get updated satellite imagery to aid in the recovery effort. Google.org is committing $1M to the response, and we’ll have gift-matching available soon.
For the sixth straight quarter, Google’s earnings fell below analyst estimates, with earnings per share of $6.57 against analysts expectation of $6.61. But investors were pleased with a healthy bump in the number of paid clicks on Google ads and comments from executives about the growing popularity of ads on YouTube, sending shares up 4% to $567.45 in after-hours trading.
Google launches wireless carrier service named Project Fi.
Project Fi enables us to work in close partnership with leading carriers, hardware makers, and all of you to push the boundaries of what’s possible. By designing across hardware, software and connectivity, we can more fully explore new ways for people to connect and communicate. Two of the top mobile networks in the U.S.—Sprint and T-Mobile—are partnering with us to launch Project Fi and now you can be part of the project too.
Porat is hired as Google’s CFO, two weeks after the previous CFO, Patrick Pichette, announced his decision to retire from the role in a candid memo about work/life balance. She will start May 26. Page:
We’re tremendously fortunate to have found such a creative, experienced and operationally strong executive. I look forward to learning from Ruth as we continue to innovate in our core—from search and ads, to Android, Chrome and YouTube—as well as invest in a thoughtful, disciplined way in our next generation of big bets.
I’m delighted to be returning to my California roots and joining Google. Growing up in Silicon Valley, during my time at Morgan Stanley and as a member of Stanford’s Board, I’ve had the opportunity to experience first hand how tech companies can help people in their daily lives. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get started.
Google announces Android Pay at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new feature is not a new product but a framework that allows secure payments support from other companies which works in physical stores and also apps. It also supports NFC and biometrics.
We are doing it in a way in which anybody else can build a payments service on top of Android. So, in places like China and Africa we hope that people will use Android Pay to build innovative services.
Google is closing its engineering office in Russia, but will continue to have employees in the country to focus on other areas. Google declines to comment on the reason for the closure or how many employees will be affected, but says it is still committed to its users in Russia.
We are deeply committed to our Russian users and customers and we have a dedicated team in Russia working to support them.
A Glass Explorer, Spencer Kleyweg, reports that the Google Glass Basecamps in Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and New York are closing. The Basecamps served as a place for Glass users to get support for their devices, as well as for potential customers to see the device demonstrated in person. Google does not release a statement regarding the closing.
A Survata survey finds that respondents give a score of 7.39 for how much they fear Google having their private data, on a scale of one-10 with 10 being the highest level of fear. The same respondents give a score of 7.06 for the fear level of the NSA having their private data. Just over half of the respondents, more of whom are female than male, are aged 13-24. Company official:
Survata was surprised to see respondents said they’d be more upset with a company like Google seeing their personal data than the NSA…One guess is that respondents assume the NSA is only looking for ‘guilty’ persons when scouring personal data, whereas a company like Google would use personal data to serve ads or improve their own products.
Assange writes in When Google Met Wikileaks that he met Schmidt while under house arrest in in mid-May 2011 in Norfolk. Schmidt had requested the meeting. He says Schmidt and Cohen, the head of Google Ideas and a former State Department official (government bio here), were writing a book and wanted an interview. Schmidt, his (then) partner Shields, Cohen, and book editor Malcomson, who would later join the State Department as a speechwriter, turned up at their mid-June appointment:
At this point, the delegation was one part Google, three parts U.S. foreign-policy establishment, but I was still none the wiser.
They talk about geopolitics and Schmidt refuses a request to leak to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks later attempts to contact the State Department to give a heads-up on the early publication of the group’s book. They are eventually contacted by Shields. Assange:
It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, D.C., including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel.
Schmidt discusses the impact of mobile technology in the world, and the competition between Apple and Google, in a “Bloomberg TV” interview.
Ten years ago, nobody in our audience was sitting with a mobile phone next to their bed. The internet access was largely in people’s offices and occasionally in homes. The internet has helped improving connectivity. This connectivity and mobile revolution has changed everything.
At least five million Gmail addresses and passwords appear on a Russian Bitcoin forum site. Google says they have no evidence of a server breach, and the list appears to be a collection of passwords exposed in previous hacks and are likely on users’ own computers, not Google’s systems. Google spokeswoman Caroline Matthews:
We have no evidence that our systems have been compromised.
The company also says that the authenticity of the list has not been proven. Google is warning affected users to take steps to further protect their Gmail accounts, like creating a stronger password and using an extra security feature called “two-step authentication.”
Google teams with Abbvie and Calico in order to develop new treatments for diseases prevalent among the elderly. Arthur Levinson:
Our relationship with AbbVie is a pivotal event for Calico, whose mission is to develop life-enhancing therapies for people with age-related diseases. It will greatly accelerate our efforts to understand the science of aging, advance our clinical work, and help bring important new therapies to patients everywhere.
Google provides the option to speak with your smartphone. The feature to chat with your phone is called Google Now and is available for download in the app store for both Android and Apple devices.
Once you sign up and register, Google guesstimates your interests with Google Now “cards” that show up in the Google app, spotlighting everything from weather, local movie showtimes, articles Google thinks you’ll be interested and upcoming concert info.
Martinis joins Google, to aid in a project to build a quantum computer. The computer will be able to use quantum physics to solve problems more quickly than conventional computers. Martinis has spent more than a decade working on improving quantum computing, and has built some of the largest, most error-free systems of qubits, the basic building blocks that encode information in a quantum computer.
We would like to rethink the design and make the qubits in a different way. We think there’s an opportunity in the way we build our qubits to improve the machine. Martinis has taken a joint position with Google and UCSB that will allow him to continue his own research at the university.
Wyler leaves Google to work with Space Exploration Technologies Corp. In his departure, he takes rights to certain radio spectrum that could be used to provide Internet access. This could hurt Google’s aspirations in this area in the short term, but there are many alternatives to spreading Internet connectivity globally.
Adwords launches Call Conversions to identify and measure the amount of calls that are placed from ads on a companies business post or blog. The system allows advertisers to see which keywords and which ads are bringing in the most clients and customers.
Prior to website call conversions, we didn’t have the ability to track ROI when prospects clicked through our ads and called our sales center. Website call conversions [have] enabled us to better attribute lead and sales activity to the correct AdWords campaign after seeing a 79 percent increase in the total calls attributed to AdWords.
Google may give out accounts to kids under the age of 13 for GMail and YouTube. This will allow children to use the features without lying about their age. The Company may also installing a dashboard for parents to oversee their kids’ activities, as well as a change to Google’s current policy of entering birth dates only on personal computers. Google would expand the birth date requirement onto its Android software for those signing up for an account. YouTube would see similar parental control add-ons for children’s accounts.
Reuters takes Google’s driverless car for a test drive.
Changetip is now available for You Tube. This is a bitcoin feature that allows anyone to send a reward or tip for a great video. Nick Sullivan, ChangeCoin’s founder and CEO:
We believe people are basically good and we let them show their appreciation directly in everyday social media interactions. That’s why we call ChangeTip a ‘love button’ for the Internet.
After announcing it is the first major email provider to adopt Internet Engineering Task Force’s standards for accepting e-mail addresses that contain non-Latin characters the Company announces it will reject some email address requests that might be spam using the Unicode Consortium’s specification for mixed-character sets as a guide. The Company notes that to be able to offer email addresses in any character set would requires every web form and email provider to accept them:
That’s obviously a tough hill to climb. The technology is there, but someone has to take the first step.
Google invests $300,000,000 in FASTER, an underwater cable that will connect Japan and the United States in order to make internet connections faster in Asia.
At Google we want our products to be fast and reliable, and that requires a great network infrastructure, whether it’s for the more than a billion Android users or developers building products on Google Cloud Platform. And sometimes the fastest path requires going through an ocean.
Google announces that sites that use HTTPS encryption will rank higher on search results than sites that use HTTP. This is done in an effort to make the internet more secure. They say the initial boost in search rank is small, but they hope to increase it in the future:
We’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.
A representative of General Motors says they are testing three pairs of Glass to see what uses it has in their manufacturing process. He says about a dozen employees have used Glass on the factory floor and they may expand the project in the future:
We’ve barely touched the frontier of what this type of technology can provide to manufacturing.
Google develops the technology to scan Gmail accounts for photos that show evidence of child abuse. The existence of the software is revealed by police when it leads to the arrest of a pedophile in Texas. Google says they have the right to scan emails sent using their server:
A person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.
Google sends a letter to European data regulators saying they find it too challenging to enforce the ‘right to be forgotten’ regulation a European Union court established. The ruling says that people should be able to request that inaccurate search results about them be removed from search engines. However, Google says in the letter that people often misrepresent their situation to get legitimate results removed:
Some requests turn out to have been made with false and inaccurate information. Even if requesters provide us with accurate information, they understandably may avoid presenting facts that are not in their favour.
Google sells a barge it placed in Portland Harbor in late 2013, which was intended to be a fun place for people to go and learn about Google services. A towing service takes the barge away to be dismantled for scrap. A spokesperson from the city of Portland expresses disappointment:
I was hoping for something to come from this. Everybody was waiting to see what was actually going on.
Bluebox Security releases a report that shows that Android’s application ID system does not properly check to make sure application IDs are legitimate. This makes it so that, for instance, a fake Google Wallet application could be created to steal people’s money:
Every Android application has its own unique identity, typically inherited from the corporate developer’s identity. The Bluebox Security research team, Bluebox Labs, recently discovered a new vulnerability in Android, which allows these identities to be copied and used for nefarious purposes.
A federal judge dismisses Google’s bid to dismiss a privacy lawsuit. The lawsuit arises when Google creates a unified policy to merge data from all of its services. The judge dismisses part of the lawsuit that involves users who switched to non-Android devices after the policy change:
Like Rocky rising from Apollo’s uppercut in the 14th round, plaintiffs’ complaint has sustained much damage but just manages to stand
Over a dozen homeowners in Kansas City, Missouri file complaints alleging that Google Fiber installation damaged their property. The complaints include damaged lawns, driveways, and utility lines. A Google spokeswoman says they try their best to leave people’s property in better condition than it is in when they arrive:
Our crews also take that extra step to make sure that’s done. There are several steps along the way that we undertake to make sure folks are happy, and hopefully through that, they see Google as a company that wants to take care of people.
However, she admits that sometimes minor damage occurs to lawns and gardens that takes time to fix:
There are times we have to replant grass or a tree or something, and when you replace vegetation, it’s not going to have the same luster as it would have had for a long time before that.
Google is making web pages load faster with a new image format called WebP, which shrinks the size of graphic files by 35%. So far, Google has changed the Google Play store and Chrome Web store to the new format, while Facebook, Netflix, and eBay have begun supporting it. At its I/O developers conference last month, Google announced that it has converted most of YouTube’s thumbnail images to WebP, improving the site’s load time by 10%. Google says that alone has saved users a cumulative 140,000 hours each day.
The European Comission announces that Google agrees to classify games that offer in-app purchases as paid instead of free, even if they do not require any payment upfront. This is done to comply with a European Commission guideline set to prevent children from accidentally making in-app purchases:
Google has decided on a number of changes. Implementation is underway and will be completed by the end of September 2014. These include not using the word “free” at all when games contain in-app purchases, developing targeted guidelines for its app developers to prevent direct exhortation to children as defined under EU law and time-framed measures to help monitor apparent breaches of EU consumer laws.
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