Google has fingers in lots of pies, but in a few short months it will be pulling one of its fingers out of the digital payments pie. As of March 2, 2015 Google Wallet for digital goods will be no more. After three years of fighting off the competition, the search giant has decided to throw in the towel, get out of the digital payments game and leave it to services like PayPal and Apple Pay.
Starting life as a mobile-based payment system compatible with certain smartphones including the iPhone, Google Wallet allowed payments to be made via NFC. It then evolved into a web-based payment service, but never managed to break out of the confines of the US. In a few short months, anyone using the service to make or receive payments will have to turn to one of the alternatives. But what’s with the sudden shuttering?
After launching alongside Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, Android 5.0 Lollipop is now making its way to the rest of Google's family of smartphones and tablets. So, naturally, you want to get it up and running as soon as possible on your older Nexus devices, now that it is finally ready for prime time. And why wouldn't you? The latest version of Android packs lots of sweet changes, chief among them the new design language dubbed Material Design, the new, faster default runtime called ART, battery life improvements, 64-bit support, beefed-up security, new APIs and much, much more.
There are two ways you get Android 5.0 Lollipop on your Nexus device. You can use the OTA update file to update or the factory image to make a clean install. This article will explain how can leverage both to run the latest version of Android on your Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10.
Privacy is in the news more than ever before, and high-profile companies are falling over themselves to show just how much they care about protecting the rights of their users. We've witnessed all of the transparency reports about government data requests after the Snowden revelations. We've seen Facebook trying to create a safer email standard. We've seen privacy violations by government websites, and we've seen how those in positions of power believe that privacy is not an absolute right.
Google -- ever the master of PR -- thinks that it's time more was done to protect the privacy of internet users; specifically those in Europe. Google feels that the US Privacy Act should be extended to cover citizens of the EU. But what does this actually mean?
The battle for your hard earned money in the music streaming business is heating up, which seems to be a statement I make regularly these days. This time, the offering comes from an unexpected source. While YouTube is a go-to for music videos, it isn't generally thought of for a streaming music source. Or perhaps I'm old.
YouTube is unveiling its new service, Music Key. "You’ve asked us for ways to listen to music without ads, to keep playing music videos even if you lock the screen or start using another app, and to play music even if you’re not connected to the Internet. That’s why today we're introducing YouTube Music Key beta, a monthly subscription service".
One of Android's most attractive aspects is also its greatest weakness. You see, unlike the iPhone and iOS, Google's Linux-based operating system is available to any manufacturer that is interested. This means you can see many Android devices in different shapes, sizes and styles. Hell, hardware aside, even the operating system can be customized. The problem is, with so much different hardware and tweaked software, many phones do not get regular updates -- this is also due to extensive carrier testing. To the average consumer, this is not a huge headache, as app compatibility is generally fine across versions. Where this becomes an issue is when vulnerabilities are discovered -- delays in updates or a total lack of updates can put a user at risk.
Enter the Nexus line of Android devices. Every year, Google hand-selects a manufacturer to build a smartphone running "vanilla" Android, meaning it is pure and not tweaked or customized. These phones (and tablets) are designed to get fast updates directly from Google. This ensures that not only does the user have the latest features, but the safest and newest version of the operating system too. The latest such phone is the Motorola-built Nexus 6 -- named as such for having a 6-inch screen (technically 5.96 inch). Is it the best Nexus yet?
For anyone who has ever been sent MP3 songs or YouTube videos via Email, you may be interested to hear that you can actually play these straight from your Gmail inbox.
It’s also possible to compile all the songs and videos that you’ve ever received into a playlist, meaning you can listen to all your favorite music without having to open another tab or program. Here's how it’s done.
Just in time for Christmas, Google is introducing family games for Chromecast. The diminutive streaming device is more readily associated with watching YouTube videos, but there are a growing number of apps springing up. The latest additions to the selection are a batch of games which can be enjoyed by the whole family.
What's that? The Chromecast has no controller? Far from being a problem, Google sees this as a big advantage: "there's no hassle or expense with extra controllers. Anyone with a phone or tablet can join in". Just as you use your phone or tablet to control media playback, you can do the same to control games, and the built-in sensors found in many handsets mean they work like Wiimote (or Wii Remote if you will insist on proper terminology).
Many people accuse me of being both paranoid and a hypochondriac. Well, they are probably right; I tend to get caught up in the media hype and ignore common sense. Am I likely to catch Ebola on Long Island? No, but that did not stop me from buying masks and gloves from Amazon. Hell, after the Fukushima disaster I bought iodine pills too. Do I feel stupid afterwords? A bit, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
While Ebola in the USA is not probable, it is a disaster in Africa. Remember, love and humanity are borderless, and even though these Africans are not our countrymen, they deserve our support and compassion. Today, Google announces an initiative to raise money and fight the horrific virus. Will you give to the cause?
Google is widely regarded as being one of the controllers of the internet. It is by far the most popular search engine and if a site does not appear in the first few pages of results, it may as well not exist. But Google is far from being the only gatekeeper to the internet; Facebook is increasingly vying for that crown, whilst making efforts to make access more secure through Tor. But what does this mean?
Facebook accounts for a terrifying percentage of web traffic -- it is the second most visited website in the world according to Alexa. This means that it has a huge influence online, giving the social network the opportunity to shape the web and holds great sway in determining which sites, services, and stories rise to popularity. To many people, this influence is all but invisible, and this is perhaps the most concerning part of the story. So how does Facebook's influence present itself?
On November 9, 1989, twenty-five years ago today, the Berlin Wall was torn down. Many young women and men nowadays either weren't born yet or were too young to understand it. I fell into the latter; in elementary school, my teacher taught us that this wall was bad and that it was torn down. I did not understand Communism or inequality -- my simplistic understanding was just that people should be free to move about and interact with each other.
Fast-forward to 2014 and quite frankly, my simplistic view hasn't changed much; I still want people and information to flow freely. Sadly, issues with borders still exist; both literally and figuratively. A wall definitely exists in countries like China and North Korea, but it is designed to keep information and ideas out. Luckily, the Internet is the great equalizer and companies like Google are working to knock down, or at least weaken, these walls erected by censoring and oppressive forces. Today, the search-giant unveils a very special "doodle" and guest blog post by German musician, Nils Frahm.
As a web user it's very easy to feel like just another cog in the financial machine. Visit just about any website and you'll encounter ads. These generate revenue that's needed to pay for developers, writers, servers and so on, but the likes of YouTube, which rely on user-generated content, can quickly generate large profits thanks to the costs to revenue margins. Now video streaming service Hang w/ is bucking the trend and sharing profits with its users.
The platform exists as an iOS and Android app, and enables users to broadcast to users around the world as well as conducting video chats. It has managed to earn itself celebrity endorsement from the likes of Cheech and Chong (oh, yes), 50 Cent, Soulja Boy, Timbaland, and Ultimate Poker, and has helped to drive 22 million downloads for major shareholder MEDL Mobile. Recognizing the fact that it is users creating content, Hang w/ now shares 25 percent of its advertising revenue with users.
Google Cloud’s long-awaited price cuts have finally been announced with various new features coming as part of the decreases that follow earlier cuts by its two main competitors in the space in Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
The search giant cut some products by almost 80 percent and added direct peering, container scheduling and a new container engine built on Google’s Kubernetes technology.
The basketball season is freshly underway in the US and NBA fans are waiting to see how their respective teams do. While many have a general idea of which will be good and which may just not pan out, there are always surprises.
For those NBA fans who are eying an Android TV device like the Nexus Player then Google has sweetened the offerings a bit. Folks will now get access to live basketball games on the set-top box, though a subscription is obviously required.
With the increased popularity of the cloud, lines are becoming blurred between what is local and what is stored online. One of my favorite cloud services is Google Drive, as it integrates perfectly with Chrome OS, while also working well with both Windows and OS X.
It can be problematic though, when I am navigating Drive in the browser, and want to open a file. Sure, I can save the file locally, but this is tedious and messy -- my desktop is full of such files. Today, Google blurs the lines even further, allowing both Windows and OS X programs to be launched directly from the Chrome web browser with an extension.
Working in conjunction with Google, Canonical is launching a public beta of Ubuntu for Google Cloud Platform. These are part of the Certified Public Cloud (CPC) programme which means that the cloud versions of Ubuntu will be updated just about as quickly as the regular ground-tethered versions. Images for Utopic Unicorn, TrustyTahr, and Precise Pangolin releases are now available on Google Compute Engine.
The Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, 12.04 LTS releases benefit from the regular five years of maintenance and security updates, while 14.10 has a shorter shelf-life. Taking Ubuntu to the cloud serves as an alternative to the likes of Azure for anyone looking to venture into cloud platforms without breaking the bank.