Investigations into the latest version of the AOSP source code confirms Pixel 3 branding with special network features.
When a popular smartphone from a renowned manufacturer is due for launch or under development, information about such devices usually creeps up from one of their sources. Sometimes, the websites reveal the information while there are times when a software code for an existing product reveals everything. Apple has had such moments before the launch of the iPhone X, with the HomePod firmware revealing enough about the handset. Something similar has happened from Google, where they have accidentally revealed the name of their next flagship smartphone offering.
If you live and breathe tech, then it shouldn’t be hard to guess that the next flagship Google smartphone will be called the Pixel 3. The source code for the Android P Developer Preview houses a clause that reveals the existence of the Pixel 3. The code mentions a situation related to NetworkScan API, which is stated to be only available in the Pixel 3. It seems that the Pixel 3 will keep on scanning mobile networks to make sure that options are always available. The current Pixel 2 shows results 30 seconds after scanning, which is not the most convenient feature. The feature was discovered by XDA Developer’s Mishaal Rahman.
While this makes sure that Google will be sticking to the Pixel brand for its flagship smartphone(s) for this year, we are still in the dark about the handsets expected launch date. However, as with Google’s tradition, we might see the company unveiling the Pixel 3 in October 2018, just after Apple launches its new iPhones. The Pixel 3 is expected to sport a flagship Snapdragon 845 chipset along with Android P out-of-the-box. Since Google is including support for the notch in Android P, we expect the Pixel 3 to jump in on the notched-display bandwagon.
Google’s Android P Developer Preview 1 has been made available for select Android smartphones.
It’s here and it’s all new. Google’s next iteration of Android — Android P, has broken cover and has been made available to the world of developers and testers. As with all new Android versions, Android P brings in multiple new features and a revamped UI to smartphones relying on Google’s open-source operating system. Therefore, it becomes tempting to try out the latest version of Android P on your smartphone, especially if you are into app development or coding.
Since Android P is only into its first developer preview, getting an access to it for most Android users isn’t possible. As always, Google has limited the trial of Android P to Google-branded smartphones, i.e. the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Additionally, the update cannot be downloaded Over-the-Air (OTA) like stable ROM updates, which means there are a lot of additional steps involved in flashing Android P on your smartphone.
We would like to notify you that flashing your smartphone requires a lot of attention to the steps — missing anyone could lead to bricking your device. Additionally, early tester versions of Android are full of unknown bugs and issues, which could be lead to frequent crashes, thereby making it risky to install the ROM on your primary smartphone.
After this, your Pixel device should reboot and show you the freshly installed Android P Developer Preview 1. For a detailed account of the steps, click here.
Do note that Android P is in its early stages. Therefore, most of the feature that you encounter in this developer build could miss out making it to the final build of Android P, when it gets released later this year. Android P brings certain new features such as a revamped UI, HEIC image compression, indoor mapping using Wi-Fi, native support for display notches and more. For a brief account of all the major new features that Android P brings to the table.
Google’s take on Augmented Reality based messaging allows for content creators to have a green screen effect on their phones.
Augmented reality is the next big thing and all the major names in the technology industry are rushing to jump on the bandwagon. Snapchat initiated the process of commercialising AR for masses, which was followed up by Facebook and all of its subsidiary platforms. Google’s efforts towards a building a social media platform hadn’t borne fruits with Google+, but it hasn’t given up entirely and therefore is using YouTube as a means to keep hold of the market. They rolled out a chats feature to the YouTube app last year and now, there’s Augmented Reality based stories for content creators.
Google’s approach seems to be different to that of Instagram and Snapchat. Instead of providing stickers based on facial recognition algorithms, YouTube’s version of AR-based stories allows content creators to change the background like it’s done through the green screen techniques. Google in one of its recent blog posts states that they are using the power of neural networks to achieve this mobile green screen effect.
The system seems to be working on the same principle as the portrait mode that Google employs on its Pixel 2 smartphone. However, instead of blurring the background, a lot of clever algorithms are working to treat the background as a transparent layer and paste the desired layer of image or video on it. If you are willing to go through the software technicalities in details, refer to the full post here.
Presently, the feature is in a testing phase and is only available in a limited beta release for select YouTube content creators. Google is working with the content creators to gain feedback and improve the system’s tracking capabilities to iron out all the irregularities.
Famous tipster Evan Blass announced that Android 9 will officially be launched in mid-March this year.
Google has a habit of introducing its newer version of its Android every year, and the finalised version of this software generally comes with its flagship phones in October. According to famous tipster Evan Blass, he tweeted that the Android P Preview is targeted for Mid-March ahead of Google’s I/O, which is slated for 8th May this year.
The company usually releases around 4-6 previews of Android before it unveils its final version. Named ‘Android P’ this new update might introduce smaller new features since the main new features generally get announced at Google I/O for the developers. The actual name of this Android P will be named a couple of months after the Google’s I/O event.
Google’s this preview strategy often helps developers to experiment, develop and test their apps with the new features included, and finalise their apps by the time of Android’s official release. The finalised API’s would available after the I/O event later this year. So the new Android 9 or Android P Preview will be witnessed and can be installed by the users under Preview programs in the coming weeks this month.
M-Pesa, which enables customers to transfer money and pay bills via phone, has 27.8 million users in the nation of 45 million people.
Google Play apps and games store has started accepting payments in Kenya through Safaricom’s mobile phone M-Pesa service to boost downloads in a market where many people do not have a credit card.
M-Pesa, which enables customers to transfer money and pay bills via mobile phone, has 27.8 million users in the nation of 45 million people where Google’s Android platform dominates. M-Pesa has been mimicked across Africa and in other markets.
“This is very important to the developer ecosystem in markets where credit card penetration is low,” said Mahir Sain, head of Africa Android partnerships at Google, which is owned by Alphabet.
Safaricom has 13 million smartphones on its network, most of them using the Android platform. It partnered with London-based global payments platform provider, DOCOMO Digital, to enable users to pay through M-Pesa, both firms said on February 22.
Safaricom started M-Pesa in 2007, offering money transfer services to users. It has grown to allow users to make payments for goods and services through thousands of merchants. It also allows users to save, borrow and buy insurance, through partnerships with commercial banks.
Google has removed the ‘View Image’ button from Google Images in view of protecting creators’ copyrights and credits.
You saw some crazy concept car on the Internet somewhere and decide it as your next desktop wallpaper. The procedure to get a good high-resolution photo for nothing — head to Google Images, click on the photo you like and press the ‘View Image’ button to open it in another tab and save it as a wallpaper. However, head over to Google Images and follow the above steps once again — you won’t see the ‘View Image’ button anymore. Yes, that’s not a glitch but Google’s way of securing copyrights and generating revenue for websites that host those images.
“Today we're launching some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites. This will include removing the View Image button. The Visit button remains, so users can see images in the context of the web pages they're on,” wrote Google in a Tweet. However, The ‘Visit Page’ button remains, encouraging users to visit the source website. What this essentially means that in order to download a sought-after photo from the Internet, Google wants users to visit the websites that host these images and bring traction to their pages, thus aiding their businesses. It is also supposed to help with protecting copyrights and licenses of professional photographers and publishers.
However, if you’re worried about the difficulties that Google has implemented in its image search engine, then fret not — there’s still a way to get your photos in the old way on PCs. Simply click on your favourite photo, right-click on it and select the ‘Open image in new tab’ button. The image will open in another tab from where you can do your standard ‘Right-click-to-save-as’ procedure. Most of you must have been following this procedure, which is why the removal of the button might not bother you. In mobile you can long press on the image you will get option to download the image. After all, Google still favours its users and it only requires them to be slightly smart.
The push to get Google Assistant everywhere continues in 2018.
Google doesn't usually have a big presence at CES, but that's changed in a big way this year. You can't help but notice that the monorail circling the Las Vegas Convention Center bears huge letters saying "Hey Google!" Just below, Google has set up a huge, multistory monument to the Google Assistant booth in the convention-center parking lot. It's still under construction so it's hard to say exactly what's going on in there. (Also, there's a superfluous spiraling slide on the side of the booth and a weird Google Assistant ball-pit game near the convention center's main entrance.)
Even though Google hasn't done much at CES in recent years, it makes sense for the company to make a big splash this year. (We've reached out to Google to ask about its showy CES display this year and will update when we hear back.) Earlier this week, the company announced it has sold "more than one" Google Home device per second since the Home Mini launched in October. That works out to about 6.4 million Home devices in the last few months -- and that's not including the original Home speakers that have been sold since it arrived in the fall of 2016. In fact, Google says it has sold "tens of millions" of Home devices.
Google doesn't typically release hardware-sales numbers, but it's not a stretch to imagine Google Home is the company's best-selling hardware product. And it's also in heated combat with Amazon and Alexa for voice-assistant dominance. Amazon is still in the lead, but the low-priced Home Mini has undeniably made Google Assistant a serious competitor to Alexa -- not to mention the fact that it's baked into most modern Android phones now.
With a successful 2017 behind it, Google is using CES to keep the pressure on Amazon going forward. The company probably won't announce new hardware this week; instead, we'll hear about new partnerships with third-party hardware makers. Amazon has been doing that with Alexa for a while now, but it's relatively new territory for the Assistant. Given the huge range of companies here in Vegas, it's a sure bet that many of them will be highlighting how they're putting Google's smarts into their products.
More smart speakers is a certainty, but CES is, above all else, a TV show -- it wouldn't be surprising to see TV sets with Google Assistant built in. Not from Samsung, which will likely continue to push its lesser Bixby voice assistant, but it might make sense for other companies like Hisense, TCL or Vizio to offer a voice assistant built into their TVs. Some of Sony's TVs already have Google Assistant, and LG just announced that some of its 2018 sets would as well. (LG, in particular, appears to be making a big push on AI and virtual-assistant features, judging by the ads up at the convention center, even if Google isn't mentioned by name.) Google has tried many times to get its software onto the biggest screen in your house (remember the mess that was the original Google TV?), and it seems the Assistant might be the best way to achieve that.
Headphones are another likely area where we'll see Google Assistant expand this year. Thus far, there haven't been too many headsets beyond Google's own flawed Pixel Buds, but the company did make a big deal out of the Assistant showing up in Bose's QuietComfort 35 II Bluetooth headphones this fall. We'll have to wait a few more days to see if any others bake the Assistant into their products -- but with Alexa making its way to more headsets, you can be sure Google wants its voice assistant there too.
We can't forget that every year, CES becomes a bigger showcase for automakers, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Google Assistant show up there as well. Hyundai has already announced it would put the Assistant in its connected cars, and plenty other automakers are using Android Auto. An update to that core software could likely bring forth the full power of the Assistant for drivers.
Having Google Assistant on more hardware is important, but it's just as important that it can work with all the other "smart" devices that are making their way into people's homes. Google says the Assistant now works with more than 1,500 devices from 225 brands -- enough that the average consumer won't have a hard time finding what she needs when upgrading her home. And if there's one trend that's been everywhere at CES the past few years, it's connected-home devices. There's no doubt that many of the ones worth paying attention to will work with Google.
Given that many companies big and small will be talking about Google Assistant at CES this year, the company probably didn't need to build a huge playground in the middle of the CES parking lot or cover the monorail with ads. But, after a 2017 that saw Google Assistant emerge as the first real contender to Alexa, the company could start out the year by grabbing all the CES attention for itself. Many of the biggest names in tech don't go all-in at CES anymore -- if Google Assistant (or its bizarre but intriguing edifice in the parking lot) can steal the show, it'll be the talk of Vegas for the next week.
YouTube has withdrawn its app from Amazon’s smart platform following Google’s fight with Amazon.
In the world of consumer technology, apps play an important role and decide the rise or demise of a particular platform. Google’s YouTube is currently the biggest source of video content on the web and every platform provides an app to access it — except for Amazon, whose Fire TV stick and Echo Show tablets are currently witnessing the withdrawal of the app.
The removal of the app is Google’s way of retaliating to Amazon’s refusal of selling Google’s products and services on their e-commerce platform. Google had been in talks with Amazon for reaching an agreement on selling their products on their marketplace while Google would make available Amazon’s content on their devices such as Chromecast and others. Google had also been looking forward to providing their apps on Amazon’s Fire TV platform. However, neither party could reach a conclusion, leading to the Search giant pulling off the support for YouTube from Amazon’s latest range of Echo smart devices.
In an interview to The Verge, YouTube said, “We’ve been trying to reach an agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other’s products and services. But Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast, and Google Home doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products. Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”
Currently, Fire TV owners can access the website version of YouTube from browsers such as Firefox and Silk. Another way to keep using YouTube is to prevent updating the firmware so as to keep the app working.
Google has taken down an extension of its Chrome browser which was reportedly to be secretly mining cryptocurrency using the CPU power of the users.
Archive Poster, a widely used extension which allowed Tumblr users to "reblog, queue, draft, and like posts right from another blog's archive" was said to be hijacking the CPUs of over 1,05,000 users to secretly mine Monero cryptocurrency.
The extension kept mining the cryptocurrency until the browser was open and did not prompt any permission from the users. The process is popularly known as cryptojacking. Besides, there is no option for the user to shut the process but to uninstall the extension or close the website executing the process.
After the extension was taken down, another extension ‘[SAFE] Archive Poster’ has emerged. Offered by ‘Archive Poster’, the extension does not provide any screenshot of how it works, which raises serious concerns about the reliability of the extension.
Google claimed that "Tacotron 2" can detect from context the difference between the noun "desert" and verb "desert" and alter its pronunciation accordingly.
In a major step towards its "AI first" dream, Google has developed a text-to-speech artificial intelligence (AI) system that will confuse you with its human-like articulation.
The tech giant's text-to-speech system called "Tacotron 2" delivers an AI-generated computer speech that almost matches with the voice of humans, technology news website Inc.com reported.
At Google I/O 2017 developers conference, company's Indian-origin CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the internet giant was shifting its focus from mobile-first to "AI first" and launched several products and features, including Google Lens, Smart Reply for Gmail and Google Assistant for iPhone.
According to a paper published in arXiv.org, the system first creates a spectrogram of the text, a visual representation of how the speech should sound.
That image is put through Google's existing WaveNet algorithm, which uses the image and brings AI closer than ever to indiscernibly mimicking human speech. The algorithm can easily learn different voices and even generates artificial breaths.
"Our model achieves a mean opinion score (MOS) of 4.53 comparable to a MOS of 4.58 for professionally recorded speech," the researchers were quoted as saying.
On the basis of its audio samples, Google claimed that "Tacotron 2" can detect from context the difference between the noun "desert" and the verb "desert," as well as the noun "present" and the verb "present," and alter its pronunciation accordingly.
It can place emphasis on capitalised words and apply the proper inflection when asking a question rather than making a statement, the company said in the paper.
Meanwhile, Google's engineers did not reveal much information but they left a big clue for developers to figure out how far they have come in developing this system.
According to the report, each of the '.wav' file samples has a filename containing either the term "gen" or "gt."
Based on the paper, it's highly probable that "gen" indicates speech generated by Tacotron 2 and "gt" is real human speech. ("GT" likely stands for "ground truth," a machine learning term that basically means "the real deal".)