This may surprise you (or not), but I am a total bore at parties. I usually don't speak much, and if I do, it is surely something that isn't interesting. Why is this? Well, I usually don't have anything to say, nor do I really care for banter. This is probably why I rarely get invited to parties!
Today, Google launches a new way for party-poopers like me to seem more interesting than they actually are. How? By sharing fun facts on various topics on the search engine. These interesting and enjoyable facts can be found when searching, and then used in conversation later. For example, Google shares that strawberries aren't actually berries -- I didn't know that, but now I do!
It's only a matter of weeks since we were talking about the impending arrival of Instant Tethering. This delight of technology makes it possible to quickly and painlessly share a data connection between devices, and now it's officially available to Pixel and Nexus devices.
To use Google's explanation, Instant Tethering means "you can automatically share a cellular data connection between certain Pixel and Nexus devices via Wi-Fi when they're signed in to the same Google Account." Now the rollout is official, and many people are able to make use of this very handy feature.
The days of dedicated satnavs are surely numbered, with the likes of Waze and Google Maps bringing turn-by-turn directions to smartphone owners for free. The feature set for these apps just keeps on growing, and Google Maps now includes a new Lists feature which lets you use the app to create and share lists of places.
There are lots of possible uses for Lists -- Google suggests using it to create your bucket list of places to visit, but it's better used to draw up a list of places to visit on vacation, say, and then share it with friends who are planning a similar trip. While lists can only be created in the iOS and Android app, they can also be viewed on the desktop.
The Email Privacy Act (HR 387) has passed through the House of Representatives for the second time. It's an attempt to update the now-ancient Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) from 1986 which gave cause for concern as it grants the government the ability to access emails and data older than 180 days which is stored on third-party servers without the need for a warrant.
The Email Privacy Act changes that. Privacy advocates are currently celebrating the fact that the updated Act has been approved by the House, but it now needs to pass through the Senate -- where it already faltered last year. Google is among those to welcome the Act's progress.
A huge proportion of web traffic comes from mobile devices these days, and this means people are often trying to access online articles when they have a slow data connection. For this reason, Facebook introduced Instant Articles, and Google introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages.
Both of these technologies allow for near-instantaneous loading of pre-cached, optimized articles on mobile devices, but they have a problem. Both mask the original URL which can make it difficult to share interesting articles with others. Google has seen the problem and made an important change to the way AMP works, helping to increase trust.
A US judge has ordered Google to comply with FBI search warrants which ask for customer emails that are stored outside of the US. This is in stark contrast to a recent case in which a federal appeal court ruling concluded that Microsoft did not need to comply with such orders.
The FBI issued a warrant in relation to a fraud case, and Google argued that because the emails in question were stored on foreign servers, the authorities should not be able to seize the data. However, Google has been told that transferring the emails to another server for investigation by the FBI does not constitute seizure, but conceded it was a potential invasion of privacy.
This Sunday, many people around the world will tune into Super Bowl LI. The annual NFL championship has become something of a holiday in the USA, as people have parties and cook special foods. In fact, some people are more interested in the eating aspect (and commercials), as opposed to the actual football game. While I personally enjoy watching the big game (Jets fan rooting for Falcons), I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also excited for chicken wings and taco dip.
If you will be cooking or preparing snacks for the Super Bowl, Google has a new way for you to interact with online recipe searches. When using the company's search app for food recipes, you will be treated to an all-new carousel interface.
The measure of Apple fiscal first quarter 2017 isn't record revenues ($78.35 billion) but comparison to major competitors: More than three times Google ($26.06 billion) or Microsoft ($24.1 billion). Amazon announces tomorrow, Groundhog Day. Will the retailer's CEO, Jeff Bezos, see his shadow? The 3x multiplier nearly applies to net income: $17.89 billion, versus $6.64 billion and $5.2 billion, respectively, for the two rivals. Looked at differently, compared to Apple's same quarter in fiscal 2010, seven years later, profits exceed total revenues ($15.68 billion). That's an astounding comparison.
The results defy pundits' prognostications, including my own, about gravity pulling the company back to Earth. iPhone, as major source of revenue, can only stay up for so long, before slowing smartphone sales wreck havoc. That said, credit where it's due: CEO Tim Cook is, as I've asserted before, a logistics and manufacturing genius. He is a strategist, but not an innovation leader like predecessor Steve Jobs. Cook masterfully manages his inheritance, but he, nor Apple observers, should get lost in the quarter's glow: iPhone remains boon and bane.
There is a curious phenomenon on iOS -- Google's apps are often better on Apple's mobile operating system than on Android. It is for this reason that users of the search-giant's services can be perfectly content using an iPhone or iPad.
Google Chrome is a very popular web browser on iOS, with many folks choosing it over Safari. I prefer Apple's own browser, but I digress. The Chrome browser is largely open source, as it is based on the Chromium project -- except for the iOS variant, that is. Today, for the first time ever, the iPhone and iPad version of the browser is open source too.
With web browsers being among the most frequently used pieces of software out there, it's little wonder that there is so much concern about security surrounding them. Browser plugins can be a major security worry, and with Chrome 57 Google has taken the strange decision to block users from disabling them or changing their settings.
While this is not the same as preventing users from changing the settings for extensions, or removing them, it still has important implications -- particularly if a security problem should be discovered in a plugin Google bundles with Chrome.
Have you ever been extremely dissatisfied with the refresh/reload performance of your web browser? Yeah, me neither. Quite frankly, I never gave much thought to it. Google has noticed, however, and it has improved the reload performance with Chrome 56.
The search giant did not discover the deficiencies of the reload feature on its own, as Facebook apparently tipped Google off to it. You see, the social network noticed that the Chrome web browser was less efficient compared to other browsers, and now Google has rectified it.
Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year to encompass all of Asia), is literally a celebration of the beginning of a new year. One thing that makes the Lunar calendar more exciting than the Gregorian, is the use of representative animals. For instance, last year was the year of the monkey, while the upcoming year will represent the rooster.
To celebrate the new year and the animal that says "cock-a-doodle-doo," Google will be hosting a special website with an interactive calendar. The site is designed to respect Lunar New Year traditions and customs, while also educating those that are unfamiliar with them. While the actual start of the "Year of the Rooster" is January 28th, the worldwide festivities begin the day prior and last until February 2nd.
A key obstacle that mobile users encounter is clicking a link only to be greeted by the offer to install an app. The relatively slow process of visiting Google Play to download and install an app means that many people simply don't bother -- and this is something that Instant Apps should help with.
The Instant Apps feature was announced last year at Google I/O, and there was much excitement at the prospect of 'streaming' apps on demand. Now Google has started live tests of Instant Apps for Android so you can try out the feature with the likes of BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope and Viki.
For Google, Chromebooks have not been quite the success the company was hoping for, firmly remaining a niche product. As part of a drive to boost popularity, the company announced last year that it planned to bring Android apps to Chromebook.
But there is, of course, the question of which Chromebooks this means: and now we know the answer. Google has published a list of devices that will support Android apps, as well as revealing that all new Chromebooks will have the feature.
Google has big plans for creating a range of smart tools for the Raspberry Pi, and is asking users what they would like to see.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation says the search giant is developing tools covering AI and machine learning, and potentially areas such as robotics, IoT, 3D printing, home automation, wearables, and drones.