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Mobile Google CEO Promises 11 Daydream-compatible phones

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Categories
Tech

Hulu hires Google marketing veteran Kelly Campbell as CMO

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At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint occaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga.

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Tech

Google automatically translates local reviews when you travel

We all use user-generated reviews to figure out what points of interest are worth checking out. If you’re traveling in a country where you don’t speak the language, however, the reviews you rely on are usually in the local tongue. Google has a new feature to help you out. The company will now automatically translate reviews into your native language without any effort on your part.

When you use Google Maps or Search to find a place you’re interested in, the reviews will be translated on the fly into the language you have set on your phone. You’ll see a parenthetical note that the review has been translated, but that’s it. No more pasting unfamiliar language into a translation app or — heaven forbid — using a pocket phrasebook to find that sweet photo spot in Italy or the best shawarma place in Istanbul.

This is just another in a line of features Google’s added lately, including a location-sharing feature that you might actually use and tappable shortcuts for its various apps.

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Tech

Google’s next trick for Android is ‘copyless pasting’

Google’s recognition for context goes beyond conversing with Assistant, it would seem. The search juggernaut is working on a feature that “thinks” of what you were looking at in Chrome and makes it available in other apps. It’s called “Copyless Paste” for now and a glimpse at the code documentation should give a few clues as to how it works:

“Provide suggestions for text input, based on your recent context. For example, if you looked at a restaurant website and switched to the Maps app, the keyboard would offer the name of that restaurant as a suggestion to enter into the search bar. The data is indexed locally and never sent to the server. It’s disabled in incognito mode.”

So, it isn’t the same as copying a string of text from a recipe or article and then Android automatically dropping it in an email or a text message, but it still sounds pretty useful. The info won’t leave your phone, either. VentureBeat writes that you can activate the feature if you’re running Chrome Canary on your device, but that you might not notice any changes.

What’s more, the code review suggests that this won’t be available on low-end devices. With I/O coming up next month, it’s pretty likely we’ll hear more about this feature soon, and what it’ll mean in the context of Android O.

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Tech

The Moto Z2 Play looks very familiar

You probably picked up the Moto Z Play for its long battery life, mid-range price and compatibility with Motrola’s flagship modular backs. If you were worried that those components wouldn’t work on the next version of the handset, don’t — leaked images of the Moto Z2 Play from TechnoBuffalo suggest that the device will be almost visually identical to the original. Well, there is one notable change: the Moto Z Play’s square button has been replaced with a round one.

Ultimately, this isn’t too much of a surprise — any drastic changes to the phone’s chassis would have made it incompatible with the battery, camera back and other accessories created for the Moto Z line. Keeping the same shape was important. Unfortunately, beyond form factor and the hard-point connector that confirms mod compatibility, the leak tells us precious little else about the phone. The leaked image’s clock does have a date listed for June 8th, however, which could be a tease, but take that with a grain of salt. If we hear anything, we’ll let you know.

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Tech

Microsoft has a plan to beat Chromebooks at their own game

Microsoft is holding an education-focused event on May 2nd, and speculation has indicated that we might see Windows 10 Cloud for the first time. The software is pegged as a low-resource platform that could compete with Google’s Chrome OS, which has been making big inroads in EDU markets recently. The latest indication of Microsoft’s plan to take Chromebooks on comes from Windows Central, which published a leaked spec sheet showing Windows 10 Cloud minimum specs and performance requirements as compared to Chromebooks.

Assuming this chart is accurate, it gives us a good idea of what sort of hardware we’ll be seeing from Windows 10 Cloud devices. The relatively modest specs include 4GB of RAM, a quad-core Celeron (or better) processor and either 32GB or 64GB of storage — that all sounds a lot like you’ll find in a Chromebook. Microsoft is looking to achieve “all-day” battery life for “most students” and super-short boot and wake from sleep times, as well.

What we’ve seen from Windows 10 Cloud suggests that machines running this new software will only work with Universal Windows Platform apps you get from the Microsoft Store — traditional Windows software will be out. But for a lot of students, that plus the many web-based apps and services out there will be enough to get a lot of work done. In any event, it looks like we’ll know more in less than two weeks, and we’ll be at Microsoft’s event to cover all the news.

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Articles Featured/Opinions

Facebook details its plans for a brain-computer interface

Facebook wants you to use your brain to interact with your computer. Specifically, instead of using something primitive like a screen or a controller, the company is looking into ways that you and I can interact with our PCs or phones just by using our mind. Regina Dugan, the head of Building 8, the company’s secretive hardware R&D division, delved into this on stage at F8. “What if you could type directly from your brain?” she asks.

In a video demo, Dugan showed the example of a woman in a Stanford lab who is able to type eight words per minute directly with her brain. This means, Dugan says, that you can text your friends without using your phone. She goes on to say that in a few years time, the team expects to demonstrate a real-time silent speech system capable of delivering a hundred words per minute. “That’s five times faster than you can type on your smartphone, and it’s straight from your brain,” she said. “Your brain activity contains more information than what a word sounds like and how it’s spelled; it also contains semantic information of what those words means.”

And that’s not all. Dugan adds that it’s also possible to “listen” to human speech by using your skin. It’s like using Braille, but through a system of actuators and sensors. Dugan showed a video example of how a woman could figure out exactly what objects were selected on a touchscreen based on inputs delivered through a connected armband. The armband’s system of actuators was tuned to 16 frequency bands, and has a tactile vocabulary of nine words, learned in about an hour.

This, Dugan says, also has the potential of removing language barriers. “You could think in Mandarin, but feel in Spanish,” she said. “We are wired to communicate and connect.”

Of course, a lot of this tech is still a few years out. And this is just a small sample of what Dugan has been working on since she joined Facebook in April 2016. She served as the 19th Director of the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and she’s the former head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (no big deal).

The stuff that Facebook is creating at Building 8 is modeled after DARPA, and would integrate both mind and body. “Our world is both digital and physical,” she said, saying there’s no need to put down your phone in order to communicate with the people in front of you. That is a false choice, she said, because you need both. “Our goal is to create and ship new, category-defining consumer products that are social first, at scale,” she said. “We can honor the intimacy of what’s timeless, and also create products that refuse to accept that false choice.”

Categories
Articles Featured/Opinions

Alphabet’s Verily details its research-focused health watch

Google has made a smartwatch, but not the kind you might expect. Verily, the health organisation owned by Google parent company Alphabet, has (finally) announced its ‘Study Watch’ for medical research purposes. It doesn’t run Android Wear, nor does it help you manage the notifications on your phone. Instead, it passively captures health data “critical to the success of continuous care platforms and clinical research,” including heart rate, electrodermal activity (the skin’s ability to conduct electricity) and body movement. It can also produce an ECG, a recording of the heart’s electrical activity, which can sometimes reveal heart problems.

The Study Watch has a circular e-ink display which displays the date, time, and some basic instructions for the wearer. “No other information is provided back to the user,” Verily says in a blog post. The simple interface is designed to maximise performance; the wearable can last a week on a single charge, and comes with “a powerful processor” to run important algorithms. There are no apps, or any other functionality normally associated with smartwatches. That means it can focus on capturing and storing raw data that will be useful for medical professionals.

“While numerous wearables exist in the market, we have a specific need outside of these offerings,” Verily adds. The team hopes the watch will be deployed in large research groups and prove useful as an always-on, continuous health tracking tool. Initially, it will be used in a few smaller studies including the “Personalized Parkinson’s Project,” a multi-year project led by the ParkinsonNet, Radboud University and the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Normally, Parkinson’s patients would have their heart rate variability measured in a hospital — now, the same tests can be run (in theory) anywhere, any time.

The health-focused Study Watch will also play a role in Verily’s “Baseline” study, which aims to track 10,000 participants over five years. The results will, the company hopes, create a ‘baseline’ of health data that can be used to better understand ageing and disease. It’s one of many ambitious Verily projects which include glucose-tracking contact lenses, nanoparticle pillsfor detecting cancer and heart attacks, and bioelectronic medicines. The Study Watch does, by comparison, sound like a more realistic endeavour, if only because Apple and Nokia which now owns Withings  are making similar inroads with their respective smartwatch and health platforms.

Categories
Tech

Nexus 6 review

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[dropcap]D[/dropcap]on’t act so surprised, Your Highness. You weren’t on any mercy mission this time. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by Rebel spies. I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you. In my experience, there is no such thing as luck. Partially, but it also obeys your commands. I want to come with you to Alderaan. There’s nothing for me here now. I want to learn the ways of the Force and be a Jedi, like my father before me. The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

Still, she’s got a lot of spirit. I don’t know, what do you think? What!? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan– What good is a reward if you ain’t around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station ain’t my idea of courage. It’s more like…suicide.

She must have hidden the plans in the escape pod. Send a detachment down to retrieve them, and see to it personally, Commander. There’ll be no one to stop us this time! You’re all clear, kid. Let’s blow this thing and go home! Partially, but it also obeys your commands.

  • Dantooine. They’re on Dantooine.
  • He is here.
  • Don’t underestimate the Force.

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I care. So, what do you think of her, Han? A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master. But with the blast shield down, I can’t even see! How am I supposed to fight? Obi-Wan is here. The Force is with him. But with the blast shield down, I can’t even see! How am I supposed to fight? You are a part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor! Take her away!

Still, she’s got a lot of spirit. I don’t know, what do you think? What!? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan– What good is a reward if you ain’t around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station ain’t my idea of courage. It’s more like…suicide.
You don’t believe in the Force, do you? Obi-Wan is here. The Force is with him. I call it luck. Look, I can take you as far as Anchorhead. You can get a transport there to Mos Eisley or wherever you’re going. What?! The Force is strong with this one. I have you now.

  1. I care. So, what do you think of her, Han?
  2. You mean it controls your actions?
  3. Look, I can take you as far as Anchorhead. You can get a transport there to Mos Eisley or wherever you’re going.
  4. I’m trying not to, kid.

You’re all clear, kid. Let’s blow this thing and go home! But with the blast shield down, I can’t even see! How am I supposed to fight? Alderaan? I’m not going to Alderaan. I’ve got to go home. It’s late, I’m in for it as it is.
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I care. So, what do you think of her, Han? A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master. But with the blast shield down, I can’t even see! How am I supposed to fight? Obi-Wan is here. The Force is with him. But with the blast shield down, I can’t even see! How am I supposed to fight? You are a part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor! Take her away!

Still, she’s got a lot of spirit. I don’t know, what do you think? What!? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan– What good is a reward if you ain’t around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station ain’t my idea of courage. It’s more like…suicide.
You don’t believe in the Force, do you? Obi-Wan is here. The Force is with him. I call it luck. Look, I can take you as far as Anchorhead. You can get a transport there to Mos Eisley or wherever you’re going. What?! The Force is strong with this one. I have you now.

  1. I care. So, what do you think of her, Han?
  2. You mean it controls your actions?
  3. Look, I can take you as far as Anchorhead. You can get a transport there to Mos Eisley or wherever you’re going.
  4. I’m trying not to, kid.

You’re all clear, kid. Let’s blow this thing and go home! But with the blast shield down, I can’t even see! How am I supposed to fight? Alderaan? I’m not going to Alderaan. I’ve got to go home. It’s late, I’m in for it as it is.
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