If you like the idea of Google Assistant but didn’t like the fact that it was tied to the Pixel range, there's some good news. Google has announced that the handy helper is making its way to all Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Android 7.0 Nougat smartphones.
The roll out starts this week, and brings Siri- and Cortana-like voice control to millions of Android users. Earlier today at MWC 2017 in Barcelona, the newly-announced LG G6 became the first non-Pixel device to offer Google Assistant, and Google now says that the feature is coming to "eligible Android phones running Nougat and Marshmallow with Google Play Services".
Not content with publishing details of an unpatched Windows bug, Google has now gone public with a security vulnerability in both Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. Going under the description of "Type confusion in HandleColumnBreakOnColumnSpanningElement", the bug has the potential to allow an attacker to execute malicious code.
The vulnerability has been assigned the code CVE-2017-0037, and details of the flaw have been published under the terms of Google's Project Zero. Microsoft was notified about the problem 90 days ago, and as the company failed to patch it Google has made the problem public.
Just last week we were talking about Google's championing of RCS (Rich Communication Services), the successor to SMS. Now the company has renamed its Messenger app to Android Messages as it aims to become not just the default SMS app, but the default RCS app for Android users.
The name change also helps to better differentiate the app from others that had the same name -- such as Facebook Messenger, which is shortened to just Messenger on shortcuts. At the same time, the change is likely to cause a degree of confusion thanks to the sheer number of messaging apps Google now has.
After two years of research, Google has shown that it has successfully broken SHA-1 encryption. The company is yet to release details of how it achieved the first SHA-1 "collision", but has released a proof of concept.
In keeping with its own disclosure policy, details of how the encryption was effectively broken will be released after 90 days. In the meantime, you can take a look at two specially-crafted PDF files that have identical SHA-1 hashes but different content (the definition of a collision).
Any website that allows contributions from visitors -- whether it is a platform such as Twitter or a site that has a comments section -- has to contend with the problem of abuse, swearing and harassment. Manually keeping on top of this sort of content can be a hellish task, but Google and fellow Alphabet subsidiary Jigsaw have launched a new technology called Perspective to help automate things.
The technology uses machine learning to identify what are being called "toxic comments" (defined as "a rude, disrespectful, or unreasonable comment that is likely to make you leave a discussion") so they can be dealt with appropriately.
Google's Gboard keyboard made its debut on iOS, and it was a few months before the company brought the app to its own Android platform. Today a major update to the iPhone version of the keyboard sees the arrival of voice typing, meaning that users will be able to dictate messages rather than typing by hand.
In addition, the update introduces new emoji, support for additional languages, as well as easy access to Google Doodles and information about them.
The Oscars are this Sunday, and I have seen a grand total of zero of the films nominated for Best Picture. Isn't that a shame? This is because of a few factors -- the theater is too expensive nowadays, and I simply haven't had the time. Not to mention, none of this year's nominated films particularly interest me. Oh well.
To celebrate the much-anticipated award show, the folks over at Google have created a leaderboard for the nine Oscar "Best Picture" nominated movie trailers. The search giant explains that the rankings are comprised of views "including both studio channels and popular aggregators." The ranking is not at all surprising, with the overall most-watched film trailer getting a lot of hype lately.
Emails to customers reveal that Google plans to kill off Google Site Search this spring. While customers who have paid for the service will continue to have access to it, no new licenses or renewals will be sold after 1 April, 2017.
As reported by Fortune, customers will be migrated to Google's ad-supported Custom Search Engine once their license or search limit expire. The move illustrates Google's on-going and growing reliance on advertising income, and it's something that is unlikely to be well-received by web users who are already sick of being inundated with ads.
Believe it or not, in 2017, file-sharing between individuals is not a particularly easy affair. Quite frankly, I had a better experience more than a decade ago sending things to friends and family using AOL Instant Messenger. Nowadays, everything is so fragmented, that it can be hard to share.
Today, Google unveils yet another way to share files. Called "Upspin," the open source project aims to make sharing easier for home users. With that said, the project does not seem particularly easy to set up or maintain. For example, it uses Unix-like directories and email addresses for permissions. While it may make sense to Google engineers, I am dubious that it will ever be widely used.
Users of Google and Bing will find it more difficult to track down illegal content via the search engines after Google and Microsoft signed up to a voluntary code of practice. The deal means that pirate search results will be demoted in results in the UK, making it less likely that searchers will click on them.
The two technology companies have been in talks with the entertainment industry to find a way to stem the flow of illegal content that's available online. As well as protecting the rights of copyright holders, it is hoped that the new arrangement will help to protect users, as websites that deal in pirated material often pose a security risk.
Google publishes details of Windows bug after Microsoft misses 90-day Project Zero disclosure deadline
Google's Project Zero has proved controversial on several occasions already, with the search giant publicly revealing details of software bugs when companies fail to fix them. Now the project has unearthed a bug in Windows, and as Microsoft failed to patch it within 90 days of being notified, details of the flaw have been made available for everyone to see -- and exploit.
A problem with the Windows Graphics Component GDI library (gdi32.dll) means that a hacker could use EMF metafiles to access memory and wreak all sorts of havoc. While Microsoft has issued Security Bulletin MS16-074, Google's Mateusz Jurczyk says it failed to properly address the problem -- hence the public outing of the bug.
Ads -- be they on TV, on the web or in apps -- can be deeply annoying, hence the prevalence of ad-blocking software. But there are some ads that you can't always avoid, such as those tacked onto the beginning of YouTube videos; not all ad-blocking software is made equal, after all.
If this is a bugbear of yours, there's good news on the horizon. While YouTube is not ditching ads altogether, the 30-second monstrosities which cannot be skipped are being dropped.
Around the world, there are many people with hearing impairments. This doesn't mean that they are necessarily deaf -- they may instead have severe hearing loss. Someone in my family, for instance, has to wear hearing aids. For these people, captioning on videos (text displayed on screen) can be a necessity, making it possible to enjoy a TV show or movie. Heck, it can be used by people without hearing issues too; they may need to mute their TV as to not wake family members.
Nowadays, captioning extends to internet videos too, including the very popular YouTube. In fact, today, Google announces that it has exceeded 1 billion captioned videos! While this is certainly an amazing accomplishment, the service's automatic speech recognition can sometimes be very wrong -- even comically so.
Voice assistants are all the rage nowadays, with hardware like Amazon Echo becoming very popular in homes. While some people are fearful of such devices because they are always listening for commands, some consumers are willing to trade their privacy for convenience. In other words, since consumers aren't required to buy such a device, they are empowered to make that decision with their wallets.
One alternative to Amazon's solution is Google Home. The search-giant's device is essentially the same concept as Echo -- an always-listening assistant ready to serve you. Today, Google announces that its assistant-focused device is gaining a really great new feature -- shopping. Consumers can leverage their voices to buy goods -- no need to go to their laptop or smartphone.
A potential successor to SMS has received strong backing from Google as it partners with Telenor to launch RCS messaging in Europe and Asia. Rich Communications Services is more feature-rich than traditional SMS and Google's latest partnership sees the technology spreading outside of the US and Canada.
With support for features such as group chat, read receipts and high resolution image sharing, RCS has a lot going for it. There's just one catch. In integrating RCS support into Android, Google is providing the "upgraded SMS experience" through its own Messenger app.