Tag Archives: Google+

Google Wifi now available in Canada

Google Wifi, the mesh router that Google unveiled first last October, is now on sale in Canada. The router sells either individually for $179 CDN, or in a 3-pack for $439 CDN, which is pretty close to U.S. pricing given current exchange rates. The Wifi solution’s mesh networking approach means it can seamlessly pair with other units to extend coverage throughout a house, without sacrificing signal strength, and while also handing off connections from one device to the next with such smooth transitions that you won’t notice the change even if you’re on a VOIP call when it happens.

The Wifi router does indeed provide strong coverage, based on my short tests, but the most interesting thing for users who might not necessarily need improved coverage is that it also comes with a companion mobile app, which makes it incredibly easy to manage tasks that typically aren’t all that user-friendly when it comes to home networking solutions. The app lets you do things like prioritize certain devices for when there isn’t enough bandwidth to go around, see exactly what devices are connected, toggle and schedule access for specific devices and groups of devices, designate others as network managers and more.

Google’s industrial design means these puck-like little cylinders won’t ruin your home decor if you place them around your house, rather than hidden away, which is basically the worst thing you can do if you’re hoping for good, consistent and far-ranging Wi-Fi coverage.

Unlike with other home networking devices you may have used that offer dual-band, Google Wifi won’t make you pick one band (either 2.4GHz or 5GHz) among two separate networks. The idea is you never think about what you’re connecting to what, but the result is just that your devices are always getting the best possible speeds available given network conditions. Google sorts this out using its own machine learning algorithms, which are actually also predictive – meaning they can anticipate upcoming busy times on certain bands and adjust connections in anticipation so you don’t encounter any problems.



If UX and network quality aren’t reason enough (and the fact that competitor Eero doesn’t currently sell to Canada directly), then there’s another reason Canadians should take note of Wifi’s launch: Canadians helped build it in a big way. Every aspect of the tech, from hardware, to software, to the companion app, was worked on to a “significant” degree by Google’s engineering team in Waterloo.

Wifi goes on sale today at the Google Store online, as well as at Best Buy Canada, Staples Canada and Walmart Canada, and Google says more retailers will follow.


Google Wifi now available in Canada


Google becomes first foreign internet company to go live in Cuba

After former President Obama reopened America’s diplomatic relations with Cuba, businesses started looking for opportunities to make inroads to the island nation. Google was one of these, with Obama himself announcing it would come to help set up WiFi and broadband access there. Cuba’s national telecom ETECSA officially inked a deal with Google back in December, and today, they finally switched on the service, making the search giant the first foreign internet live on the island.


To be fair, Google already had a headstart when it made Chrome availablein Cuba back in 2014. The servers Google switched on today are part of a the Google Global Cache (GGC), a global network that locally stores popular content, like viral videos, for quick access. Material stored in-country will load much quicker than Cuba’s existing setup: Piping internet in through a submarine cable connected to Venezuela. Many Cubans can only access the web through 240 public access WiFi spots scattered through the country, according to Buzzfeed. While this won’t bring Cuban internet near as fast as American access, it’s still a huge step forward.



Bringing down the language barriers – making the internet more inclusive

There are currently over 400* million Internet users in India, but with only 20% of the population fluent in English, most Internet users have significant language barriers to getting the full value of the Internet. A speaker of Indian languages like Hindi or Tamil still has trouble finding content to read and or use services that they can use in their own languages.

To build rich and empowering experiences for everyone means first and foremost making things work in the languages people speak. Today, we’re taking a huge step forward by launching new set of products and features that will empower the Internet ecosystem to create more language content and better serve the needs of a billion Indians who’re coming online rapidly.

Neural Machine Translation: The world’s content, in your language
Starting today, when you use Google Translate, you might notice that the translation is more accurate and easier to understand, especially when translating full sentences. That’s because we’ve brought our new Neural Machine Translation technology to translations between English and nine widely used Indian languages — Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalam and Kannada.

Neural translation is a lot better than our old phrase-based system, translating full sentences at a time, instead of pieces of a sentence. It uses this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to be more like a human speaking with proper grammar. This new technique improves the quality of translation more in a single jump than we’ve seen in the last ten years combined.

Just like it’s easier to learn a language when you already know a related language, we’ve discovered that our neural technology speaks each language better when it learns several at a time. For example, we have a whole lot more sample data for Hindi than its relatives Marathi and Bengali, but when we train them all together, the translations for all improve more than if we’d trained each individually.

But how does this make the whole web better for everyone — Chrome has it covered!

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That’s where Chrome’s built-in Translate functionality comes into play. Every day, more than 150 million web pages are translated by Chrome users through the magic of machine translations with one click or tap. The Chrome team and the Google Translate team have worked together to bring the power of Neural Machine Translation to web content, making full-page translations more accurate and easier to read.

Today, we’re extending Neural Machine Translation built into Chrome to and from English for the same nine Indian languages (Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil Telugu and Hindi). This means higher quality translations of everything from song lyrics to news articles to cricket discussions.

Being able to type in your language of choice is as important as understanding content on the web. Today, we are ramping up support to include 11 new languages to the list of 11 existing Indian languages —with transliteration support—including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, and Gujarati.

Gboard has all the things you love about your Google Keyboard — speed and accuracy, Glide Typing and voice typing — plus Google Search built in. It also allows you to search and use Google Translate right in your keyboard (just tap the “G” button to get started). And—as a reminder—Gboard already has a Hinglish language option for those of you who often switch back and forth between Hindi and English.

With today’s update, we’ve also dropped in a new text editing tool that makes it easier to select, copy and paste, plus new options for resizing and repositioning the keyboard so it fits to your hand and texting style. And to top it all off, this Gboard update comes with some under-the-hood improvements including better accuracy and predictions while you type

Like Google Indic Keyboard, Gboard has auto-correction and prediction in these new languages, plus two layouts for each—one in the native language script and one with the QWERTY layout for transliteration, which lets you spell words phonetically using the QWERTY alphabet and get text output in your native language script. For example, type “aapko holi ki hardik shubhkamnay” and get “आपको होली की हार्दिक शुभकामनायें ”.

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Google’s three Pixel 2 devices will be as powerful as the Galaxy S8

Google is expected to launch at least two Pixel 2 phones this fall, although some say it has three devices in the making. A new leak indicates that all these three Android gadgets will be as powerful as the Samsung’s hot Galaxy S8, as they’re all going to be based on the same flagship mobile platform, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835.

Just like with recent Pixel 2 leaks, this detail comes from Google’s AOSP code, and was first discovered by WinFuture.

Walleye and Muskie are the known code names for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, respectively. Taimen, meanwhile, is also a codename for a third new Google device that might be launched this year.

At this time, it looks like all three devices will make use of the Qualcomm MSM8998 chip, which just so happens to be Qualcomm’s best system-on-chip platform for Android devices. The Snapdragon 835 is one of the most powerful mobile processors out there, at least when it comes to Android devices, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see Google eyeing Qualcomm’s silicon for its high-end Pixel phones.

Google already confirmed earlier this year that the Pixel 2 phones will arrive in the fall, just as anticipated. The company also said they’ll be competing in the high-end sector, just like their predecessors. That means the Pixel 2 devices will have to offer high-end design and top-shelf specs to go against the Galaxy S8 or the iPhone 8.

Other details about Google’s upcoming Pixel 2 devices have not been leaked, aside from the processor that should power them.


Google’s three Pixel 2 devices will be as powerful as the Galaxy S8


Google to reportedly unveil an ad-blocking feature for its Chrome browser

Google plans to introduce a new ad-blocking feature to its Chrome browser, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal which cite sources familiar with the company.

The ad-blocker, which would be available as a default setting for both mobile and desktop, could spell the end of certain online adverts which many users claim disrupt their browsing experience, the paper said, citing sources familiar with the company.

Targeted adverts are likely to be those featured in a report released last month by the Coalition for Better Ads, a U.S. and European industry group, the Journal suggests. These include six desktop and twelve mobile web ad experiences which it said fell below the threshold of “consumer acceptability,” such as pop-ups and auto-playing video ads.


Under one potential iteration of Google’s plans, the ban could extend to all advertising that appears on sites with offending ads, rather than just the offending ads specifically.

The reports claimed that the plans could be announced and rolled out in weeks – or withdrawn entirely.

Google refused to confirm the claims, saying “we do not comment on rumor or speculation.”

However, the technology company, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., said it had been working to explore new ways of improving the browsing experience for users.

“We’ve been working closely with the Coalition for Better Ads and industry trades to explore a multitude of ways Google and other members of the Coalition could support the Better Ads Standards,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC Thursday.

To read the original article from the Wall Street Journal, click here.

Google launches Areo, a food delivery & home services app for India

Google seems to have silently launched a new food delivery and home services aggregator called Areo for the India market. The app is available as a free download on the Google Play store and is currently operational in Bengaluru and Mumbai.

Areo aggregates food dishes and home services across various local service providers, allowing users to order food or schedule appointments with a local beautician, electrician, painter, cleaner and plumber among others. The app was first spotted by The Android Soul.

At the time of the writing this article, Areo has signed up partners like UrbanClap and Zimmber for home services and Freshmenu, Box8 & Faasos for food ordering.

Notably missing from the list however are prominent players like Zomato and Swiggy in food delivery and Amazon-backed Housejoy in home services.

One can either search for any specific dish or choose any specific partner to browse through dishes and schedule deliveries by paying online or use cash on delivery. Strangely, we noticed that Google has partnered with TimesofMoney’s DirecPay for online payments on Areo rather than using its own payment solution.

“We are constantly experimenting with ways to better serve our users in India. In this case, Areo makes everyday chores and ordering food easier by bringing together useful local services like ordering food or hiring a cleaner in one place.” a Google spokesperson told in a statement to ETtech.

A Google spokesperson said they are currently not charging partners for this service but they are yet to respond to our queries on how these partners were selected or do they plan to charge these partners in the future.




Authorities say they have found the killer of Google’s Vanessa Marcotte

Authorities have arrested a man suspected of killing Vanessa Marcotte, a 27-year-old Google employee who went out for a jog one afternoon and never came back.

Angelo Colon-Ortiz, 31, has been charged with aggravated assault and battery and assault with attempt to rape, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. announced Saturday. Early told reporters during a news conference that a murder charge is expected to be filed.

“We got him,” Early told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “We’re very comfortable that we’ve got Vanessa Marcotte’s killer.”

The arrest comes eight months after Marcotte’s body was found about half a mile from her mother’s house in Princeton, Mass., where she was visiting for the weekend. The health-care account manager for Google was last seen about 1 p.m. Aug. 7. Massachusetts State Police K-9 teams discovered her body in a wooded area later that night, the Boston Globe reported.

Investigators have received more than 1,300 tips from the public, but a break in the case happened after a state police trooper spotted a dark sport-utility vehicle driven by a man who matched the suspect’s description, according to the district attorney’s office.

The trooper wrote the license plate number on his hand and later tracked down the man’s address. The trooper went to the man’s home in Worcester, Mass., not far from Princeton. There, Colon-Ortiz provided the officer with a DNA sample, the district attorney’s office said.

The DNA matched a sample taken from Marcotte’s hands. Police believe that Marcotte fought her attacker, scratching his face, neck and arms, the AP reported.

“It’s through her determined fight and her efforts that we obtained the DNA of her killer,” Early told reporters.

Colon-Ortiz is being held on a $10 million bail and will have his first court hearing on Tuesday.



Google to fix diversity problem with outpost for black colleges

Four years ago, Google began sending engineers to historically black colleges such as Howard University for its Google in Residence program, an attempt to improve its recruiting from these campuses, prepare students for Google’s peculiar hiring practices and inject their computer science courses with more of the up-to-date skills that Silicon Valley needs.

Now, it is trying the reverse, starting an on-campus outpost known as “Howard West” that brings students from Washington to Mountain View, Calif., for three months of computer science classes, one-on-one mentorships with black Google tech employees, and even the Googleplex’s famous free food and shuttles. Faculty will come with them, spending an “externship” teaching and learning alongside Google engineers.

The new program, announced Thursday, is the search giant’s latest effort to try to boost its stubbornly low numbers of black employees, which account for just 1 percent of its technology employees — the same number as in 2014 — and only 2 percent of its employees overall, according to the company’s most recent diversity report. Besides its Google in Residence program, the company has expanded its recruiting to a broader range of schools, trains its workers on “implicit biases” and re-examines resumes to make sure recruiters don’t overlook diverse talent.

“We’d been focused on narrowing or, really, eliminating the digital divide,” said Bonita Stewart, vice president of partnerships for Google, in an interview. “Now we’re seeing there’s an opportunity to look at the geographical divide. By having this immersive program, we will have the opportunity to focus on the hard technical skills, but more important are some of the softer skills, in terms of working and understanding the Valley culture.”

As part of the new program, rising juniors and seniors will spend three months in classes at a dedicated space on Google’s campus. Tuition will be paid for by Howard and private donors; funding will also cover their housing and a summer stipend. The program is likely to include events such as networking sessions with Howard alumni throughout the Valley, opportunities to shadow Google employees, and formal and informal conversations about their experiences. It launches this summer with 25 students from Howard University, but the aim is to expand it next year to other historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs.

Howard University President Wayne Frederick said he hopes the program will help retain students in computer science programs who might not have the financial means to remain. “A large number of our students are Pell Grant-eligible, and support is a real concern,” Frederick said. “This also helps address their ability to matriculate more quickly.”

Exposure, experience

The idea began after Frederick made some visits to Silicon Valley companies in 2014 and recognized the gulf between the two cultures. “Until you actually walk around and see it in action, I don’t think you really get it,” he said. A medical doctor, he recognized the value of more clinical experience earlier in medical students’ education, something that could be applied to computer science majors, too. At an event, he met Stewart, a Howard alumna who herself had seen the opportunity for HBCUs to get an outpost at the Googleplex after her office in New York provided space for the Cornell Tech program and the nonprofit Black Girls Code.

“We thought by moving it out west and creating this more immersive environment, we could perhaps accelerate our diversity effort in a new and interesting way,” Stewart said.

The new program could also help fix some concerns about the company’s Google in Residence program. In a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story early last year, a former Google engineer cited the difficulty of luring Google employees to Howard’s campus in Washington, which took them out of the regular promotion and evaluation cycles back on campus. The new program would allow engineers to remain local as they got involved in the program.

It could also help expose students earlier to the culture shock that awaits some of them when they come to Silicon Valley. One black student said she was startled by how homogeneous the area was on a visit and noted the playground-style perks at tech campuses armed with ping-pong tables didn’t interest her. “Slides are not really appealing,” she told Bloomberg. “There are not a lot of people of color in the Valley — and that, by itself, makes it kind of unwelcoming.”

Diversity experts briefed on general details about the program said that while the concept is intriguing, there are also important questions to consider about how to prepare students for the experience. “I don’t know how many of the cultural nuances everybody has thought through,” said Freada Kapor Klein, who co-chairs the Kapor Center for Social Impact and founded a summer math and science program for low-income, underrepresented high school students of color. “Students are coming from … a predominantly people-of-color campus and being parachuted into a an overwhelmingly white, Asian and male environment.”

Others agreed that the program’s success will lie in its details — as well as in how well it translates to hires. Data shows there are proportionally more students of color graduating from computer science programs than are being hired by big firms, making the real problem not the pipeline, but a lack of hiring, said Ellie Tumbuan, a principal at Vaya Consulting, which assists clients with diversity issues in the Bay Area. “Everyone is understanding that it’s more important to build long-term relationships,” she said. “The real commitment comes with what are you actually going to do about hiring.”



I Had to Leave Google to Succeed As an Entrepreneur

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “What advice would you give your 22-year-old self today?” is written by Pete Johnston, CEO of Lystable.

I always knew that I was not going to spend my life working for someone else, but it took a while for me to get to the point where I could actually build my own company. Throughout this process, I received two key pieces of advice—one personal, one professional—that I would give to my 22-year-old self.

My background is in graphic design, and after graduating from university I took a couple of freelance and agency gigs before landing at Google. It was a great job, but I knew that it was going to hard for me to settle there. I had just never found my groove in a company, and so was always looking for what my next thing would be. I felt that I just needed the right idea. In all my jobs, I’d experienced the pain points involved in managing freelancers, and this experience, combined with exposure to all the entrepreneurs succeeding through programs like Google Campus and Google Ventures, inspired me to found Lystable.

Armed with this inspiration, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I was on my own, without many connections or much experience, but I managed to wrangle a meeting with the managing director of Techstars London, an organization that helps entrepreneurs build their startups. He was upfront with me, saying that I would never get into Techstars as a solo founder with no product, no team, and no business plan. My cozy job at Google, where I got three free meals a day and stayed squarely in my comfort zone, was beginning to look pretty nice. But after a number of weeks and grueling interviews, Techstars decided that they liked my idea. I was told during my final interview that if I wanted to pursue it, I needed to hand in my notice to Google the following day.

I made the decision to leave the Google mothership and venture into the unknown for the first time. Everyone around me thought I was crazy. My mother couldn’t believe I left a job that paid well and enabled me to support myself. I knew that founding a startup would be risky and involve a different pace of life, but I still wasn’t totally prepared for the intense, draining experience of going through an accelerator program as a solo founder, with no one to share the burden of brutal feedback.

At Techstars, I was introduced to a veteran in the startup space who generously met with me on a regular basis. He said to me, “Look, it’s going to be scary. This is normal. All passionate startup founders go through this, and you can’t give up. Keep going.”

This was what my younger self needed to hear. There are countless moments of doubt and fear as an entrepreneur. I know it sounds simple, but “don’t give up” was a piece of advice that got me through the intense ups and downs and reminded me that I could start a company. The unknown used to be something I feared. But now I welcome it, since I know I have a great team and network behind me.

The second important piece of advice was about how to approach my product. In the early days of Lystable, the Techstars London managing director told me to throw out the rulebook. I was accustomed to a somewhat rigid corporate environment, and he wanted to make sure that I didn’t limit myself.

That advice still rings true for me today, more than I ever thought possible. For example, Lystable is currently tackling payments from our companies to freelancers this quarter, and originally I thought something as transactional as this was going to be simple. I was totally wrong—we ended up needing to find more creative solutions to the problem.

These two pieces of advice—don’t give up and completely ignore the rulebook and conventions already in place—have had a profound influence on who I am as an entrepreneur. If I hadn’t listened to these lessons, I’d most likely be back at a nice comfy corporate job, wondering about what could have been.



Internet Saathi: How Google is connecting women of rural India to the Web

The Internet in India is not just a commodity now, it has become a part of our lives so much so that it transcends from a tool to an emotion. Right from the days of dial-up connections to Reliance Jio, the Internet is something that the country has adapted to in a much aggressive way. India is among the top five countries of the world with an active Internet user base of more than 367 million and post-Reliance Jio, it has only risen.

While all these numbers hold to be true, they do not give us the whole picture. Most people in India actually don’t know the power of the Internet neither they have the means to harness it. Rural India holds an estimated population of more than 906 million but only has 17 percent active Internet users. In comparison, the urban populace has been clocked at 444 million with 60 percent active Internet penetration. Sadly, for every 10 male internet users in rural India, there’s just one woman who gets to use it. This is where Google’s Internet Saathi comes into play, which was originally announced back in 2015 by its CEO Sundar Pichai.

Google invited PCMag India to a trip down to Sewa Ka Pura village in Dholpur district of Rajasthan where it is running its Internet Saathi programme. Here we managed to capture a snapshot on how this programme is connecting the women of rural India to the world wide web.

What is Internet Saathi?

As the saying goes by, when you teach a man, you’re only teaching a single individual, but if you educate a woman, you’re empowering a family, a nation. Under Google India’s Helping Women Get Online initiative, the Internet Saathi programme was launched in July 2015 and is backed by Tata Trusts. The programme is aimed at connecting women of rural India to the Internet while bridging the digital gender divide in the country. Google provides resources such as the devices and training while Tata Trusts ensures that the programme reaches the right village and oversees its implementation.

Through Internet Saathi initiative, women ambassadors also known as ‘Saathi’, train and educate women across Indian villages on the benefits of the internet in their day-to-day life. Google says that the programme has already helped over 2 million women covering ten states and 60,000 villages where its active, get online. From teaching them about how to use a smartphone to helping them search online, Internet Saathi opens up a new window for the women in rural parts of the country.

How does the Internet Saathi programme work?

The whole process begins with the identification of potential villages where the programme can be introduced. Next, Google along with Tata Trusts identifies women who have basic reading and writing capabilities along with a curiosity to know more. After narrowing down to the potential Saathis, Google begins their training which lasts for two to three days. After the training, these Saathis begin to train other women, first across their own village and afterwards moving to the villages in the neighbourhood.

During the course of their training, the Saathis are introduced to the world of Internet and smartphones. They’re trained to hold the smartphone correctly, to power it on and off, to lock and unlock it, go about the interface, to use the camera, to use the calculator, to search for anything using Google Chrome and even text through WhatsApp.

“I saw a smartphone for the very first time during Internet Saathi training. At first, I thought, I might get an electric shock, that the phone would get damaged. I was scared and held the smartphone the wrong way, first time I picked it up,” remembers Parvati Khushwa, an Internet Saathi from Sewa Ka Pura village in Dholpur district of Rajasthan.

“Previously, my husband had a phone with buttons,” she says, referring to feature phones, “ but he did not let me touch that phone because it might get broken and said what could I do with the phone anyway?”

Google, in their training, encourages the women to learn more and more about the benefits of the Internet and smartphone in general and lets the Saathis adapt to it.

In what way do the Internet Saathis use Google’s services?

Rural areas in India are mostly focused on two things — cattle farming and agriculture with women managing the household chores as well. With Internet, there’s a whole new world out there waiting for these people. Parvati saw a paper plates making machine on the Internet and thought that as Ram Niwas (her husband) who was now recovering from his illness, couldn’t work out in the fields, maybe buying the machine would help them make some money. She sourced the plates making machine from Agra in Uttar Pradesh and bought it. Both of them learned how to make plates from the machine by watching videos from the Internet.

Parvati also taught a couple to use the internet which led them to discover about various different food recipes. The couple has now setup a food stall at their village where they sell different varieties of snacks which more than makes up for their survival.



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