How to remove macOS Sierra and downgrade to El Capitan

Apple’s strategy of making macOS updates available for free from the Mac App Store and providing access to public betas of upcoming new versions has been very successful in encouraging us to keep our Macs updated. However, sometimes enthusiasm for the newest features can get the better of us and we upgrade in haste only to repent later.

There are several possible scenarios in which you may want to reverse and downgrade to an older version of macOS (or Mac OS X). You might install a public beta of a new version of macOS, and then discover it’s got bugs in it which break apps you depend on. And even when you upgrade to a new full version of the OS, you may find that features you relied on work differently or have disappeared.

Regardless of the specifics, the clear solution is to undo the update and revert to the version of macOS you were using before – but that’s sometimes easier said than done. In this article we show you how to downgrade macOS. Read next: macOS Sierra vs Mac OS X El Capitan

How to remove a macOS beta

The guide below works for both beta and full release versions of macOS. But there are some slight differences to the way you will approach the situation.

When you install a beta version of a new macOS upgrade, it’s good practice to install it on a separate hard drive. You can find out how to do that here: How to run macOS from an external hard drive.

That way you can test the beta while keeping your files and data safe from any bugs.

Nevertheless, if you’ve already installed a beta on top of your existing system, the process for reversing it is exactly the same as for a full version. Follow the instructions below to wipe your startup disk and re-install the latest full version of macOS.

Preparing to downgrade macOS

As with anything else, the key to minimising difficulty later is to prepare before you start.

The simplest way to reverse an OS update is to restore from Time Machine. So, if you’re not using Time Machine to make regular backups, start now, before you upgrade.

How to remove macOS Sierra and downgrade to El Capitan: Time Machine

Make sure you have a recent, complete backup of your system. That backup can be on a directly connected external disk, hooked up by USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt. Or it can be on a Time Machine compatible network drive, like Apple’s Time Capsule. If you’re running macOS Sierra, the network drive can use the SMB protocol; older versions of macOS only support AFP for Time Machine backups.

If you’ve got a Time Machine backup and need to revert to an older version of the OS, read the next section. If not, skip ahead to Downgrade without a Time Machine backup.

Restore from a Time Machine backup

Before we begin, it’s important to note that when you restore from a backup, you’ll wipe everything on your startup disk. That means any work you’ve done since you upgraded will be lost. So… back it up.

How to remove macOS Sierra and downgrade to El Capitan: CarbonCopyCloner

You can use Time Machine to do this, too. If you don’t use Time Machine, clone your startup disk to a spare external drive or at the very least make a copy of any files you’ve created or modified since you upgraded. If you’ve got photos in the Photos app and you don’t use iCloud Library, manually export them to an external disk so you can re-import them later.

Once you’ve backed up everything you want to keep from the newer version of the OS, restart your Mac with the Time Machine disk connected and while holding Command and R until you see the Apple logo.

How to remove macOS Sierra and downgrade to El Capitan: Utilities

When the options appear on screen, choose ‘Restore From Time Machine Backup’ and click Continue. Then select the Time Machine disk and select the backup you want to restore from – in most cases, it will be the most recent backup prior to installing the newer version of the OS. Follow the onscreen instructions.

If you backed up files from the newer OS using Time Machine, when your Mac restarts, click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and select Enter Time Machine. You can now navigate to the most recent backup and the files you want and retrieve them.

If you used another tool to back up your files, use its restore facility. If you copied them manually, copy them back.

Downgrade without a Time Machine backup

Do you have a bootable installer of the OS you want to revert to on an external disk?

If so, you can plug that in, select it as the startup disk and reboot. When your Mac has restarted, launch Disk Utilities, select the Erase tab and choose your Mac’s regular startup disk (the one with the new OS on it).

When the disk has been erased, restart while holding down Command-R and select Reinstall macOS from the Utilities window and select your regular startup disk. Follow the onscreen instructions and wait for your Mac to restart.

Normally when you re-install macOS and have a backup, you’d choose the option to migrate data from the backup to the fresh installation, but in this case the backup is a later OS than the one you’ve just installed, so migrating data is likely to lead to compatibility problems. If, however, you have a clone of your Mac’s startup drive from before you upgraded, you could migrate data from that. You’d still be without the files you created while running the newer OS, but you’d at least have a base from which to start.

You would then manually copy files created while you were running the newer OS from the backup you made before you wiped your Mac’s startup disk.

How to create a bootable installer

Haven’t got a bootable installer? Don’t panic. You can download installers for earlier versions of macOS from the Mac App Store, provided you’ve installed them from there in the past.

So, for example, if you downloaded and installed macOS Sierra from the Mac App Store then installed the public beta of High Sierra and now want to revert to Sierra, you can search for Sierra on the App Store and download it.

How to remove macOS Sierra and downgrade to El Capitan: Installer file

Older versions of macOS won’t appear through normal search, unfortunately, but you can find them in the Purchased section.

Download Yosemite from Purchases

The important bit is that once it has downloaded, it will try to install. Don’t click anything that allows the installation to proceed, just quit the installation and a copy of the OS installer will remain in your Applications folder.

You’ll need to do this before you wipe your startup disk, obviously.

Here’s how to download and create a bootable version of an earlier version of macOS.

Once you’ve created a bootable installer using the instructions on that page, you can follow the instructions above to reverse a macOS upgrade.

Fixing common problems

Reversing an upgrade carries with it a number of wrinkles and pitfalls.

Most of these are due to changes in file formats and settings between versions of the OS. So, for example, if you create a document or work on a file in a new version, whether it’s a beta or full release, of macOS and then try and open it in an older version, it may not work.

To mitigate this, it’s wise to export any documents you’ve created or worked on in the newer OS in a standard file format. So, for example, if you use Scrivener or Ulysses, export documents as RTF files. That way, if the native files don’t survive the reverse upgrade, you’ll be able to re-import the RTF files.

Take screenshots of preferences and settings

Whenever you perform a clean install of macOS, which is what you’re doing here, it’s a good idea to take screenshots of any custom settings you’ve created in apps or in System Preferences. That makes it easier to re-create them later.

You should also make a note of user account and password details for anything you’ve set up while running the new version of the OS. If you don’t use iCloud or Chrome to synchronise bookmarks, it’s a good idea to export those and make a copy.

How to remove macOS Sierra and downgrade to El Capitan: Export bookmarks

And unless you’re using the migrate data option outlined above, you’ll also need installers and licence codes for apps you use. If those are downloads from the Mac App Store, you can just re-download them from the Purchased section in the App Store. If not, make sure you can download them from the vendor’s website. If you don’t use a password manager to store licence codes, make sure you’ve got a copy of them before you start.

Synchronise

If you use Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive or any other form of cloud storage, make sure your data is in sync before you start the process of reversing an upgrade. It’s easy to forget that the files that live in your Dropbox folder, or example, are local files and that while synchronisation is frequent, the loss of an internet connection will prevent it and you could have files in your local folder that haven’t yet been copied to the cloud.

Clicking on the cloud service’s logo in your menu bar should tell you whether synchronisation completed successfully and files are up to date.

If you use Gmail, iCloud mail or any other IMAP server for your email, make sure it’s up to date and any drafts you’ve composed recently have been synchronised. If you use a POP3 account you’ll have to manually back up the mail database and restore it after you reverse the upgrade. Or, if you only have a few messages you need to keep, forward them to a Gmail account – you could set one up especially for that purpose.

[“Source-macworld”]

Stanford University dumps Java as an introductory programming language

It’s pretty much known to anyone in the programming world that Java is one of the hardest languages to learn right off the bat; that is if you’ve never written a line of code in your life. Well, Stanford University agrees, and has decided that to make programming more accessible to its students, something drastic had to be done.

In its latest update to the Programming Methodology course code CS 106J, the University replaced the difficult to master Java language that was present in CS 106A, with the more palatable language JavaScript. Even though to the layman the difference might seem arbitrary just from the namesake; but in reality, this makes programming easier to understand mainly due to the latter having less ‘bloat’ to contend with.

This change was spearheaded by Eric Roberts, an Emeritus Professor, who pioneered the CS 106 series. When he joined the University, programming was still based on Pascal. After Java became a popular language, Stanford enthusiastically transitioned. But according to this Professor, Java is ‘showing its age’, and he has been working on this project for the past five years, writing new textbooks and the like. This move is aimed at completely transition to JavaScript for the CS 106 program because of the fact that according to Roberts, it has become the ‘language of the internet’.

A small example of the difference between the two languages makes it pretty clear that it might be time for a change.

Hello World app built in Java:

class HelloWorld {
public static void main(String[] args) {
System.out.println(“Hello, world!”);
}
}

Now that same app built in JavaScript:

alert(‘Hello, world!’);

Although Java currently holds the top spot when it comes to programming languages, making it easier for students to learn programming will encourage them to acquire these skills. Java is being used to program applications for Android amongst other things, which makes it a requirement when working in the programming field. But this change is mainly there to help students get into the concepts behind programming, instead of drowning them in ‘Public Static Void’ like jargon.

With the digital world becoming more enshrined with our daily lives, having more educated people know how to code will only benefit us in the long run. As for how successful this change in language will be at retaining students in the long haul, remains to be seen.

[“Source-neowin”]

Nintendo’s solution for online voice chat feels half-baked

From the moment you pick up a Nintendo Switch, it feels like a magical device. The company nailed the hybrid TV / portable concept and created a genuinely fun console that seemed to shed the awkwardness of the Wii U. Indeed, Nintendo has a habit for making fun consoles — but for the last three generations, it’s failed to build online communication options on par with Xbox Live or PlayStation Network.

Rather than baking voice chat into the Switch itself, Nintendo’s new console relegates the feature to a companion smartphone app. We just tried it out and it works, but it’s messy, confusing and completely unintuitive.

The idea behind the Nintendo Switch Online app isn’t a bad one — it’s designed so players can access game data, communicate with other players and organize online matches with friends even when they are away from their consoles. Each game will have its own in-app hub with a bevy of options. You can use the app to access SplatNet 2, for instance, to view your match history in Splatoon 2, check which multiplayer maps are in rotation, and even use in-game currency to buy new gear for your character.

Most of those features work perfectly well — seeing how much ink I’ve spilled in Splatoon 2 is neat, as is the ability to see how I performed in the last 50 matches — but the communication aspect is where the experience falls apart. Using the Nintendo Switch Online app to join a voice chat in Splatoon 2 is both physically and logistically complicated.

Here’s how it works right now: Players who want to voice chat with friends need to visit the Online Lounge menu of Splatoon 2’s multiplayer lobby and create a room. This opens a private match and sends a notification to the player’s smartphone — where they can then invite friends to join them through their friends list, a shortlist of other players they’ve encountered in other voice chat sessions who aren’t on their friends list or via a link sent out over social media.

Players invited to that voice chat room will see a notification on their Nintendo Switch — but they won’t be able to simply join it by opening the smartphone app alone. Instead, they have to open the app and join the private match through the Splatoon 2 Online Lounge menu. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting or joining voice chat through the Nintendo Switch Online app, you’re going to be juggling your smartphone and your console.

To make the cumbersome experience worse, hosting voice through the smartphone app separates the game’s audio from the chat audio — which potentially creates a situation where a player is wearing multiple pairs of headphones or choosing between hearing the game and hearing their teammates in voice chat. Nintendo and manufacturers like HORI are creating headset accessories that merge the two audio sources together, but that adds yet a third device into the Nintendo Switch-voice juggling act.

There are limitations, too. If users switch to a different smartphone app, they’ll be temporarily removed from voice chat — making it impossible to check text messages without removing yourself from the conversation. The app also requires the screen to stay on at all times, which takes a significant toll on the phone’s battery life. Finally, the chat ends as soon as your multiplayer sessions is over. If you want to use the Nintendo Online app for cross game chat with friends playing other Switch games, you’re out of luck.

At least once everything’s set up the experience works pretty well. While in the lobby in between rounds of Splatoon 2, all players can chat amongst themselves — but when a match starts, each team is automatically sorted into private chat rooms. The voice quality isn’t bad either and seems on par with Skype or other VOIP programs on a smartphone. Unfortunately, it offers few advantages over just using one of those services instead.

It’s early for Nintendo’s voice chat solution — the only game that supports it isn’t even out yet, and the service itself has only been live for a few hours — but at first blush, it’s not off to a great start. The act of juggling menus between two different devices is cumbersome and frustrating, and the entire process isn’t intuitive to new users at all.

Relegating the chat functions to a separate device is a strange decision, too. Competing services like Xbox Live and PlayStation solved the puzzle of online multiplayer voice chat years ago. Nintendo seems to be reinventing the wheel for no reason.

It’s worth noting, however, that the Nintendo’s Switch Online services are technically in beta and won’t have a full feature launch until early 2018. With any luck, the company will iron out the kinks by then. For now, however, Nintendo’s solution for online voice chat is cumbersome, unintuitive and weird. Unfortunately, that’s classic Nintendo.

In this article: av, editorial, games, gaming, multiplayer, nintendo, splatnet, splatnet2,splatoon2, voicechat
[“Source-engadget”]

Google brings its GIF-making Motion Stills app to Android

Google last year introduced an app called Motion Stills that aimed to help iOS users do more with their Live Photos – including being able to crop out blurry frames, stabilize images, and even turn Apple’s Live Photos format into more sharable GIFs. Today, Google says it’s bringing Motion Stills to Android, along with a few changes.

Obviously, Android users aren’t in need of a Live Photos image editing tool. Live Photos, after all, are a format Apple introduced back in 2015, allowing iPhone users to snap photos that animate with a touch.

And with the introduction of iOS 11 later this year, Apple is rolling out a number of built-in tools for editing Live Photos, further eliminating the need for third-party applications in order to do things like cropping, picking out a key photo, or applying effects – like the new loop effect that will make your Live Photos play more like a GIF.

It makes sense, then, that Google would now find a use case for some of its Motion Stills technology on its own Android platform.

The company says the Android app includes a new recording experience where everything you shoot is immediately transformed into short, sharable clips. To use this feature, you simply capture a Motion Still with a tap, like taking a photo. If that sounds a lot like Google is introducing its own take on Live Photos, well…you’d probably be right.

Another new feature called Fast Forward lets you reduce a longer recording into a short clip, as well. This works with recordings up to a minute long, and the video is processed right on your phone. You can adjust the playback speed from 1x to 8x after recording. Google details some of the technology it’s using to make this possible, including how it encodes videos with “a denser I-frame spacing to enable efficient seeking and playback;” and the use of “adaptive temporal downsampling in the linear solver and long-range stabilization.”

Or, in human speak, it’s making more stable, smoother clips you can easily share with friends, even if the original footage was super shaky.

The company shows this off in a sped-up clip of a bike ride over a dirt path:

Meanwhile, in terms of turning regular recordings into GIFs, Google introduced new technology as well. It says it redesigned its existing iOS video processing pipeline to use a streaming approach that processes each video frame as it’s recording. It then stabilizes the image while performing the loop optimization over the full sequence. Again, translated, this means you can quickly make a recording and immediately get a smoothed-out GIF to share as a result.

The company says the new app is meant to be a place where Google can continue to experiment with short-form video technology, and hints that some of the improvements may make their way to Google Photos in the future.

The Motion Stills app for Android is available as a free download on Google Play and works on Android 5.1 and higher.

[“Source-techcrunch”]

You Might Own A Software Company, You Just Don’t Know It Yet

Image result for You Might Own A Software Company, You Just Don't Know It YetAs an entrepreneur, whether you’re big or small, there’s a good chance you’re sitting on a successful software idea. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to develop software that can maximize the value of the business you’re already doing.

For Dan Martell, who was named Canada’s top angel investor in 2012 and is the founder of three successful companies, one of his biggest ideas came out of a small fix he created for his everyday work life. Dan would spend hours responding to professionals who were trying to network with him—and the process of scheduling a time to talk was a hassle. So Dan created some simple software that solved the problem.

The result was an award-winning software application called Clarity.

“It was never meant to be an ‘idea,’” Dan says. “Clarity was just a way for me to schedule phone calls from people who were emailing me asking to pick my brain… and then it became a 50,000-person expert network.”

Your idea is what counts. You don’t need to be a technical person or a computer programmer to come up with the next big software solution. Given today’s easy-to-use, pre-built software building blocks, just about anyone can assemble a new application.

Dan continued, “The technology has become essentially ‘modularized.’ When Clarity was built, the first version, we used just three API modules: Stripe for payment, Facebook for the account, and Twilio for the connectivity. That was it…and it was built within a day.”

Those three pieces were all it took for professionals to connect, setup a meeting, and pay each other for the expert advice they needed. Dan is confident you can bring your idea to life with the same ease.

You Need a Microscope, Not a Time Machine

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to go back to 1999 to turn a simple idea into a success. Today’s business environment is just as fertile. Dan says that’s because each level of innovation “unlocks” the next one.

“That’s what gets me excited,” Dan explained, “because I believe most companies have an opportunity to look at software. If you’re a successful company, then there’s something you’re doing—a process, a system, a methodology—that’s working for you.”

It’s just a matter of figuring out what you’re already doing right, picking apart why and how it works, and then developing that into a platform other businesses can use. Most important of all, when you craft your idea, avoid the distraction of the digital.

It’s About Solutions in the Real World, Not Programming

The technical term for this kind of business model is SaaS—Software as a Service.

Cloud-based service companies have been the textbook examples for this kind of service, and yet the definition has continued to widen as new types of businesses expand into the digital realm.

This even includes the now-famous taxi service Uber. “A lot of people didn’t think Uber was a big idea, since it was such an analog, off-line interaction,” Dan says. “People were [obsessed with] the ones and zeros,” instead of the world-changing potential of drivers and riders physically meeting up in the real world. The software just initiates the connection and secures the payment.

So find the idea first, then attach the digital relevance. You also don’t have to worry about fulfilling everything yourself. Dan says it’s key to remember that Uber is the world’s largest taxi service, but it doesn’t own any taxis. Just as Airbnb works like a massive hotel chain, but doesn’t own any rooms or hotels. That’s what makes service-based software so efficient at solving problems.

Dan says creating this kind of software is within anyone’s reach, especially if you have experience or already own a business. “If you already have a customer base, then build software that’s relevant to them… and then you have ready, built-in customers.”

Use SaaS to Boost the Value of Your Company

Dan is walking proof that software builds up business value. In 2009 he decided to expand the reach of his consulting business, which he did by creating a software platform that made it easy to network with other small businesses in San Francisco. The result was his first SaaS company, called Flowtown, and its value grew over three years as it added more than 50,000 users.

This value can add a consistent boost to your revenue, especially if you’re in a cyclical or seasonal business. Or you can cash it out completely, as Dan did when he sold Flowtown for a tidy sum to Demandforce.com.

Now it’s your turn. SaaS could be the perfect opportunity for you to take what you already know and transform it into software.

Even though people tend to fixate on the legendary stories—like the 18-year-olds who built Facebook—Dan wants to assure seasoned entrepreneurs that hard-won business experience is still the best path to success.

“It’s not about being technical anymore,” Dan says. “It’s about do you know how to build a business, do you know how to present a compelling offer to the right customer in the right market. I think software enhances all of your current business efforts by adding a much better upside.”

For more valuable insights, check out Dan Martell’s popular Youtube channel.

Garrett Gunderson is the founder and Chief Wealth Architect of WealthFactory.com, and a financial advocate for entrepreneurs.

[“Source-forbes”]

Google Allo v14 Brings Message Reactions, Under-the-Hood Enhancements

Google Allo v14 Brings Message Reactions, Under-the-Hood Enhancements

While we still await the much-delayed Web client of Google Allo, version 14 of the messaging app has now started rolling out for Android and brings message reactions to the platform. Currently, the latest update is not showing up for us but it is expected to be rolled out by the search giant in phases to the users.

Now, just like on Facebook Messenger, users can give emoji reactions to particular messages within the chat and once there are multiple reactions, the count of the reactions starts showing up beside the message. Amit Fulay, head of Google Allo, announced the new feature in his tweet saying, “Latest #GoogleAllo version out today! You can react to messages in chat (tap the heart to like them)”

Notably, unlike Facebook Messenger, Allo users can only react to messages with a heart-shaped emoji as of now. Fulay has suggested that there are more “under-the-hood enhancements” that come with the update but we will have to wait to figure out other notable additions. For now, there’s now word on when the updated app will hit iOS.

To recall, Google said in May that the Web client of the Allo app will be released in a month or two but recently clarified that it will take “few more weeks” to be made available. Nick Fox, VP, Communications Products at Google, said in a tweet in May: “I’m using Web client every day and loving it. Team is working hard to get it out ASAP [As Soon As Possible], but we’re still a month or two from public release.”

[“source-gadgets.ndtv”]

AI Will Be Part of Almost Every New App by 2020, Claims Gartner

AI Will Be Part of Almost Every New App by 2020, Claims Gartner

Signifying the growing popularity of Artificial Intelligence (AI), global research firm Gartner has predicted that AI will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product and service by 2020.

Owing to its market hype, almost all established software vendors are working to introduce AI into their product strategies which is creating considerable confusion in the process.

The term ‘artificial intelligence’ was not even in the top 100 search terms on gartner.com in January 2016 but by May 2017, it ranked at number 7, indicating the popularity of the topic.

“As AI accelerates up the ‘Hype Cycle’, many software providers are looking to stake their claim in the biggest gold rush in recent years,” said Jim Hare, Research Vice-President, Gartner, in a statement.

“AI offers exciting possibilities, but unfortunately, most vendors are focused on the goal of simply building and marketing an AI-based product rather than first identifying needs, potential uses and the business value to customers,” he added.

Instead of using cutting-edge AI techniques for every solution, Gartner recommends vendors to use the simplest approach that can do the job.

“Software vendors need to focus on offering solutions to business problems rather than just cutting-edge technology. Highlight how your AI solution helps address the skills shortage and how it can deliver value faster than trying to build a custom AI solution in-house,” suggested Hare.

The survey also indicated that lack of necessary staff skills was the top challenge in adopting AI in the organisations.

Gartner said that AI can greatly augment human capabilities and the combination of machines and humans can accomplish more together.

[“source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Oreo or Oatmeal cookie; dessert name of Android O is not decided yet

Oreo or Oatmeal cookie; dessert name of Android O is not decided yet

Later, we came across a report suggesting that instead of Oreo, Android O would be known as Oatmeal cookie. Then again a source claimed that Android O would be called Oreo. So you can understand the confusion. However, it seems like Google itself is confused about the name of the company’s latest version of Android OS. We say this as a Google employee has said that the company is yet to decide the name of Android O.

The revelation has been made in an AMA session (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, which was held by software engineers from Google. However, the employee has assured that the search engine giant will decide on the dessert after which it’s going to name the next major iteration of Android by the end of this summer. Other than that, the team also confirmed the color of the notification shade in the latest developer preview of Android O is not a bug.

It was supposed to be whiter than the Android Nougat. The reason behind is that Google wanted to match the look of the notification shade and the Quick Settings section of the OS. There is some good news for Google Pixel and Pixel XL owners as well. After receiving the Android O update, they could experience better audio quality from Bluetooth headphones and earphones. However, the engineers from Google have mentioned that not all of the software additions will be available in the aforementioned smartphones.

[“source-gizbot”]

Software emissions fix for three million Mercedes diesels

Mercedes flags

Three million Mercedes-Benz owners in Europe will be offered a software fix for their diesel cars.

Daimler, which owns the luxury car maker, has been under intense pressure from police and prosecutors.

Authorities are investigating the possible manipulation of diesel exhaust emissions in passenger cars.

A Daimler spokesman said the software fix, which will cost about 220m euros (£195m), was not linked to the police investigation.

He said the “voluntary service measure” was to cut nitrogen oxide pollution.

“The service actions involve no costs for the customers. The implementation of the measures will be starting in the next weeks,” Daimler said.

The measures come after German MPs last week questioned Mercedes-Benz executives about emissions.

At the time the carmaker agreed with the transport ministry to undergo another round of emissions tests.

In May German police searched 11 offices of the carmaker as part of an investigation into possible fraudulent emissions data by employees.

A total of 23 prosecutors and 230 police officers took part in the search in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Berlin, Lower Saxony and Saxony.

[“Source-bbc”]

Google Quantum Computing Services Said to Be Available to Researchers

Google Quantum Computing Services Said to Be Available to Researchers

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Google is offering science labs early access to its quantum machines
  • Google in May introduced a chip, called Cloud TPU
  • In 2014, Google unveiled an effort to develop its own quantum computers

For years, Google has poured time and money into one of the most ambitious dreams of modern technology: building a working quantum computer. Now the company is thinking of ways to turn the project into a business.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has offered science labs and artificial intelligence researchers early access to its quantum machines over the internet in recent months. The goal is to spur development of tools and applications for the technology, and ultimately turn it into a faster, more powerful cloud-computing service, according to people pitched on the plan.

A Google presentation slide, obtained by Bloomberg News, details the company’s quantum hardware, including a new lab it calls an “Embryonic quantum data center.” Another slide on the software displays information about ProjectQ, an open-source effort to get developers to write code for quantum computers.

“They’re pretty open that they’re building quantum hardware and they would, at some point in the future, make it a cloud service,” said Peter McMahon, a quantum computing researcher at Stanford University.

These systems push the boundaries of how atoms and other tiny particles work to solve problems that traditional computers can’t handle. The technology is still emerging from a long research phase, and its capabilities are hotly debated. Still, Google’s nascent efforts to commercialize it, and similar steps by International Business Machines, are opening a new phase of competition in the fast-growing cloud market.

Jonathan DuBois, a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said Google staffers have been clear about plans to open up the quantum machinery through its cloud service and have pledged that government and academic researchers would get free access. A Google spokesman declined to comment.

Providing early and free access to specialized hardware to ignite interest fits with Google’s long-term strategy to expand its cloud business. In May, the company introduced a chip, called Cloud TPU, that it will rent out to cloud customers as a paid service. In addition, a select number of academic researchers are getting access to the chips at no cost.

While traditional computers process bits of information as 1s or zeros, quantum machines rely on “qubits” that can be a 1, a zero, or a state somewhere in between at any moment. It’s still unclear whether this works better than existing supercomputers. And the technology doesn’t support commercial activity yet.

Still, Google and a growing number of other companies think it will transform computing by processing some important tasks millions of times faster. SoftBank Group’s giant new Vision fund is scouting for investments in this area, and IBM and Microsoft have been working on it for years, along with startup D-Wave Systems.

In 2014, Google unveiled an effort to develop its own quantum computers. Earlier this year, it said the system would prove its “supremacy” – a theoretical test to perform on par, or better than, existing supercomputers – by the end of 2017. One of the presentation slides viewed by Bloomberg repeated this prediction.

Quantum computers are bulky beasts that require special care, such as deep refrigeration, so they’re more likely to be rented over the internet than bought and put in companies’ own data centers. If the machines end up being considerably faster, that would be a major competitive advantage for a cloud service. Google rents storage by the minute. In theory, quantum machines would trim computing times drastically, giving a cloud service a huge effective price cut. Google’s cloud offerings currently trail those of Amazon and Microsoft.

Earlier this year, IBM’s cloud business began offering access to quantum computers. In May, it added a 17 qubit prototype quantum processor to the still-experimental service. Google has said it is producing a machine with 49 qubits, although it’s unclear whether this is the computer being offered over the internet to outside users.

Experts see that benchmark as more theoretical than practical. “You could do some reasonably-sized damage with that — if it fell over and landed on your foot,” said Seth Lloyd, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Useful applications, he argued, will arrive when a system has more than 100 qubits.

Yet Lloyd credits Google for stirring broader interest. Now, there are quantum startups “popping up like mushrooms,” he said.

One is Rigetti Computing, which has netted more than $69 million from investors to create the equipment and software for a quantum computer. That includes a “Forest” cloud service, released in June, that lets companies experiment with its nascent machinery.

Founder Chad Rigetti sees the technology becoming as hot as AI is now, but he won’t put a timeline on that. “This industry is very much in its infancy,” he said. “No one has built a quantum computer that works.”

The hope in the field is that functioning quantum computers, if they arrive, will have a variety of uses such as improving solar panels, drug discovery or even fertilizer development. Right now, the only algorithms that run on them are good for chemistry simulations, according to Robin Blume-Kohout, a technical staffer at Sandia National Laboratories, which evaluates quantum hardware.

A separate branch of theoretical quantum computing involves cryptography – ways of transferring data with much better security than current machines. MIT’s Lloyd discussed these theories with Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin more than a decade ago at a conference. The pair were fascinated and the professor recalls detailing a way to apply quantum cryptography so people could do a Google search without revealing the query to the company.

A few years later, when Lloyd ran into Page and Brin again, he said he pitched them on the idea. After checking with the business side of Google, the founders said they weren’t interested because the company’s ad-serving systems relied on knowing what searches people do, Lloyd said. “Now, seven or eight years down the line, maybe they’d be a bit more receptive,” he added.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]