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The Next Web

Google is testing a nifty app comparison feature in the Play Store

There are plenty of sites on the internet where you can compare the specs of gadgets such as phones, laptops, and cameras.But it’s hard to compare apps in the same way. However, Google’s testing a feature in the Play Store that lets you do just that. According to Android Police, if you have this feature, you’ll see a new comparison table below comments on an app’s page. In a GIF obtained by the publication, the section shows VLC pitted against other players with measures such as ease of use, offline playback, casting, and controls listed for evaluating apps against one another. Play Store app comparison experiment   Currently, the Play Store just shows the names of similar apps under an app’s page. [Read: Lenovo Legion 7i review: a great gaming laptop for grown-ups] This is a clever idea because the comparison table lets you check which players have specific features you might care about; the ability to stream or cast in the case of VLC. Android Police noted that the feature is currently visible Play Store version 22.4.28, but will only appear for some users and select apps. Since this is just a test, there’s no guarantee Google will roll it out for all users, but I certainly hope they do.  For more gear, gadget, and hardware news and reviews, follow Plugged on Twitter and Flipboard. Published October 29, 2020 — 09:42 UTC Source linkContinue readingGoogle is testing a nifty app comparison feature in the Play Store

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The Next Web

Google data shows how different 2020 is from other US election years

The political interests of Americans have shifted dramatically in this election year, according to a new analysis of internet searches. The Waves of Interest project tracked Google Search Trends across the previous five election cycles to investigate how public concerns have changed. The data shows a surge in interest in the election process. The top rising search term at present is “electoral fraud,” with a 366% increase in interest at the time of writing, followed by “postal voting,” “opinion poll,” “fact check,” “voting,” and “election.” COVID-19 has also inevitably had a major impact on the public’s political focuses, highlighted by increases in search terms including “vaccine,” “sick leave,” and “unemployment.” [Read: What audience intelligence data tells us about the 2020 US presidential election] In contrast, classic political issues such as foreign policy and education appear to have lost importance for many Americans, while topic peaks in 2020 have been unusually short-lived. “There was basically a new hugely spiking topic every month,” wrote project lead Moritz Stefaner. But, it’s also been really interesting to also “time-travel” back to 2012 when national debt, student loans, legality of cannabis or same-sex marriage were among the most searched topics. pic.twitter.com/MgghNXyjRK — Moritz Stefaner (@moritz_stefaner) October 28, 2020 The collaboration between Google News initiative and data visualization firm explores 69 topics covering the most searched political concepts in the US, subjects from Pew Research Center’s election surveys, and a few manual additions on emerging 2020 issues. The search data is depicted on charts showing how interest has progressed through recent…Continue readingGoogle data shows how different 2020 is from other US election years

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Wired

Chromecast With Google TV Review: A Welcome Streaming Upgrade

I’ve been a Roku user for years, and for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why I would ever need a Chromecast. Why would I want to use my phone to play videos on my TV? It’s awkward. Also, my inexpensive Roku works great, streams from just about every service, and is easier to use. But then Google released its new Chromecast, which offers multiple ways to find and stream content. And after using it for a while, I’m questioning my loyalty to that Roku. For $50—that’s $15 more than the original bare-bones Chromecast—you get the new model with Google TV built in. Google TV is the new name of Android TV, a smart TV platform with a user interface that rivals the usability of a Roku or an Apple TV. For that same $50, you also get a remote control in the box. The Chromecast supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, and streams content at up to 4K resolution. The actual device is pretty too, packaged in a slim, modern oval shape that comes in one of three soft colors, though it will most likely stay hidden from view behind your TV. An Interface Tailored to You The new Google TV interface puts recommendations for movies, shows, and YouTube videos right on the home screen. Photograph: Google Google TV’s helpful interface is its biggest strength against rival streaming devices. It attempts to tailor its suggestions to your preferences, and the guide includes movies and TV shows across all platforms…Continue readingChromecast With Google TV Review: A Welcome Streaming Upgrade

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Tech Radar

Nitro PDF suffers massive data breach, exposing Microsoft, Google, Amazon documents

The Australian company behind the popular PDF software Nitro PDF has suffered a data breach that also impacts many other well-known organizations including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Case and Citibank. As reported by BleepingComputer, Nitro PDF is used by over 10 thousand business customers and 1.8m licensed users. However, the company also offers a cloud service that can be used by customers to share documents with coworkers as well as with employees at other organizations. In an advisory published on the investor relations section of its site, Nitro Software informed its customers that it had suffered a “low impact security incident” though no sensitive financial data was impacted, saying: “Nitro’s investigation into the incident remains ongoing. There is no evidence currently that any sensitive or financial data relating to customers has been impacted or that any information has been misused. Nitro has elevated its monitoring and security protocols and has not identified any further malicious activity connected to the incident.” Nitro Software data breach Although Nitro Software claims that no sensitive financial data was lost as a result of the breach, the cybersecurity firm Cyble has revealed to BleepingComputer that the company’s user and document databases as well as 1TB of documents allegedly stolen from the company are being sold online in a private auction starting at $80,000. According to Cyble, the user credential database table contains 70m user records which contain the email addresses, full names, bcrypt hashed passwords, titles, company names, IP addresses and other system data from Nitro…Continue readingNitro PDF suffers massive data breach, exposing Microsoft, Google, Amazon documents

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VentureBeat

Google open-sources MT5, a multilingual model trained on over 101 languages

Not to be outdone by Facebook and Microsoft, both of whom detailed cutting-edge machine learning language algorithms in late October, Google this week open-sourced a model called MT5 that the company claims achieves state-of-the-art results on a range of English natural processing tasks. MT5, a multilingual variant of Google’s T5 model that was pretrained on a dataset covering 101 languages, contains between 300 million and 13 billion parameters (variables internal to the model used to make predictions) and ostensibly has enough capacity to learn over 100 languages without significant “interference” effects. The goal of multilingual AI model design is to build a model that can understand the world’s over 7,000 languages. Multilingual AI models share information between similar languages, which benefits low-resource languages and allows for zero-shot language processing, or the processing of languages the model hasn’t seen. As models increase in size, they require larger datasets that can be laborious and difficult to create, which has led researchers to focus on web-scraped content. MT5 was trained on MC4, a subset of C4, a collection of about 750GB of English-language text sourced from the public Common Crawl repository. (Common Crawl contains billions of webpages scraped from the internet.) While the C4 dataset was explicitly designed to be English-only, MC4 covers 107 languages with 10,000 or more webpages across all of the 71 monthly scrapes released to date by Common Crawl. There’s evidence that language models amplify the biases present in the datasets they’re trained on. While some researchers claim that…Continue readingGoogle open-sources MT5, a multilingual model trained on over 101 languages

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Engadget

Google pulls popular Android apps that collected kids’ device data

It’s not always easy for app creators to avoid violating kids’ privacy, and a few of those developers are learning this first-hand. TechCrunch reports that Google has removed Princess Salon, Number Coloring and Cats & Cosplay, Android apps with a combined 20 million Play Store downloads, after the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC) found they were violating Google’s data collection policies. It wasn’t the app-specific code that led to the takedowns, though — rather, it was the frameworks that powered them. The apps used versions of Unity, Appodeal and Umeng whose developer kit versions reportedly collected Android ID and Android Advertising ID (AAID) info. If an app sends the AAID alongside other persistent data, including the Android ID, it’s possible to violate Google’s privacy protections and track users, a major issue for apps aimed at pre-teen audiences. Source linkContinue readingGoogle pulls popular Android apps that collected kids’ device data

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VentureBeat

Can the Department of Justice teach Google how to share?

After a year-long investigation into Google’s dominance in search and online advertising, the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company this past week. The most recent of its kind against a major technology company, the suit is another example of the federal government’s increased attempts to flex regulatory power over big tech. For those of us who have been paying attention, the lawsuit isn’t a surprise. As a search engine optimizer, my job is to beat search engines, and Google is our behemoth. No modern business can survive without showing up in Google, so specialists in my industry anticipate every algorithm update, scour Google’s webmaster guidelines, and experiment with thousands of keyword searches to understand what makes Google tick. But in addition to all I’ve learned about search algorithms over the past decade, I’ve also had a front-row seat to Google’s transformation from a democratic landscape that rewards relevance and quality into a pay-for-play machine that increasingly rewards, well, Google. The impact of Google’s dominance in search has been mostly felt by advertisers. Over time, Google has quietly increased the number of paid ads that appear above organic results, increasing competition between advertisers and making it more difficult for brands investing in SEO to earn site traffic without paying. These competitive market dynamics continue to drive up the cos per click. With Google owning 90% of the search engine market share, advertisers with smaller budgets have few viable alternatives. Many companies run unprofitable ad campaigns just to…Continue readingCan the Department of Justice teach Google how to share?

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The Next Web

How to stop Google self-preferencing? Europe may not be the model

After a wide-ranging 16-month investigation, a congressional subcommittee examining dominance in the technology industry last week recommended more than two dozen updates to the U.S. antitrust system, including implementing nondiscrimination rules that would limit “preferential or discriminatory treatment” by dominant platforms. But such rules can be hard to enforce, experts said, and attempts by the European Union to spur competition with Google through measures of this sort have fallen short. “We’re thrilled with the report. We think now the question is, What are they going to do about it?” said Kamyl Bazbaz, vice president of communications at DuckDuckGo, a competing search engine. (Full disclosure: DuckDuckGo has donated to The Markup.) The week before the antitrust committee released its report, DuckDuckGo complained that Google had shut it out as a potential default search engine for Android phones in most of Europe during a process meant to improve competition. That process was developed by Google in response to findings by the European Commission that Google had been abusing its dominance by requiring Android phone manufacturers to pre-install the Google search app and Chrome browser with Google set as the default search engine. Google’s solutions Google appealed the decision but also introduced a menu of four search providers that users can choose from when they set up their phones. Search providers had to bid to be included. Privacy-protecting DuckDuckGo lost the September auction in all but four countries, and Ecosia, a nonprofit search engine that puts revenues toward planting trees, won a single…Continue readingHow to stop Google self-preferencing? Europe may not be the model

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Tech Radar

Google is making it easier for retailers to promote their holiday deals

As retailers begin making plans for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the 2020 holiday shopping season, Google has announced that it will make it easier for consumers to find the latest deals and promotions using its search engine and other tools. According to the search giant’s Holiday Shopping Study, last year 40 percent of global shoppers turned to its services to find the best deals and compare product prices at retailers. Since more users have turned to online shopping during the pandemic this year, retailers will need to be able to adapt quickly in order to meet consumer demand. In order to help retailers ensure that all of their doorbuster and evergreen deals will be seen by consumers, Google will make promotions available to all US retailers. Retailers can also expect faster average approval times and easier editing features for promotions.  Manager of search marketing at Urban Outfitters, Emily Kucyk explained in a press release how faster approval times helped improve the performance of the retailer’s promotions, saying:  “Running promotions on Google helped us exponentially grow demand and ROI. The faster approval times also drove sales volume for our flash sales because we didn’t miss a portion of the day awaiting review.” Google is also expanding promotions to more surfaces by adding annotations to products on promotion when they appear in both free listings and ads in the Shopping tab, Google Images on mobile and local inventory ads on Search. As a result, retailer’s promotions will show up in more…Continue readingGoogle is making it easier for retailers to promote their holiday deals

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Engadget

Google Fi’s phone subscription gets you a Pixel 4a for just $15 per month

The phone insurance is priced at $6 per month, and you can opt out of it. That would let you pay $9 per month for the two years, adding up to just $216 to own a phone that sells for $349. The only risk there is that if your phone gets damaged or lost, you’d still be on the hook for the subscription payments no matter what. Source linkContinue readingGoogle Fi’s phone subscription gets you a Pixel 4a for just $15 per month