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”]

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”]

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”]

Google lets three enterprise cloud databases loose

Google lets three enterprise cloud databases loose

Promises better performance than AWS.

Google has made three new enterprise database offerings generally available, hoping to lure customers currently on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure platforms over to its Compute Engine service.

The three offerings include the fully managed Cloud SQL Second Generation with MySQL instances, the Cloud Bigtable noSQL wide-column service with Apache HBase compability, and the Cloud Datastore, a scalable, NoSQL document database.

Pricing for Cloud SQL 2nd Generation starts at US$0.015 per hour for 0.6 gigabytes of memory, shared virtual processor, and maximum 3TB capacity for the smallest, db-f1-micro instance.

This goes up to US$2.012 per hour for the db-n-highmem-16 instance, with 16 VCPUs, 104GB of RAM and up to 10TB of storage. In addition, Google charges US$0.17 per GB and month for storage capacity, and US$0.08 per GB and month for backups.

Bigtable nodes cost US$0.65 per node and hour, with a minimum of three required per cluster. Each node can delivery up to 10,000 queries per second and 10 Mbps data transfers.

Storage for Bigtable on solid state disks is charged at US$0.17 per GB and month, with the hard drive equivalent service costing US$0.026 per GB and month. Australian customers pay US$0.19 per GB for up to 1TB of internet egress traffic, which drops to US$0.18/GB for 1 to 10TB, and US$0.15/GB for more than 10TB.

Cloud Datastore is free for up to 1GB of storage, 50,000/20,000/20,000 entity reads/writes/deletes, with additional charges once those limits are reached.

Customers wanting to run their own databases on the Google Compute Engine can now use Microsoft SQL Service images with built-in licenses. Business can also use their own, existing application licenses.

Google claimed that its Cloud SQL 2nd Gen database provides substantially better performance than Amazon’s RDS MSQL Multi-Availability Zone and RDS Aurora databases – up to 16 concurrent threads, as measured with the Sysbench benchmark.

Beyond 16 concurrent threads the AWS databases were slightly better than Cloud SQL 2nd Gen. In terms of transactions per second, Sysbench testing showed AWS Aurora to be the leader beyond 16 concurrent threads.

Some of the performance difference is due to design decisions for the databases: Google’s SQL 2nd Gen emphasises performance and allows for replication lag which can increase failover times albeit won’t put data at risk, Google said.

AWS Aurora, meanwhile, is designed with replication technology that exhibits minimal performance variation and consistent lag.

Google also said the Cloud SQL 2nd Gen replicated database had about half the end-to-end latency for single client threads compared to AWS RDS for MySQL Multi-Availability Zone, at 32.02ms – substantially better than the 70.12ms measured for AWS RDS Aurora.

[“Source-itnews”]

Google Play Music New Release Radio Will Suggest New Music Based on Your Tastes

Google Play Music New Release Radio Will Suggest New Music Based on Your Tastes

Google is rolling out a new feature to the Google Play Music service, called New Release Radio, that offers a personalised mix of newly released songs based on your taste. The feature was first discovered last month when some Samsung Galaxy S8 users reported seeing the new station, but Google has now confirmed that the feature is rolling out for all Google Play Music customers. You can find New Release Radio throughout Google Play Music or by typing “New Release Radio” in the search bar.

The New Release Radio station “uses machine learning to select singles and album releases from the past two weeks based on your listening history and musical preferences,” Google says in its blog post. This sounds similar to a feature recently launched for Apple Music, called My Chill Mix, which suggests a playlist of songs based on your listening habit, but is actually closer to Apple Music’s My New Music playlist.

Back in April, Google joined hands with Samsung that would make Google Play Music the default music player and streaming service on Samsung mobiles and tablets. As part of that partnership, the Internet search giant was able to get feedback on New Release Radio from Samsung users through an early access programme, and so far the responses have been positive, Google says.

In a bid to challenge rival Apple Music, Google in May extended its 90-day free trial of Google Play Music to 120 days, or four months, for new subscribers. It also launched Google Play Music All Accessback in April, that gives access to millions of songs similar to Spotify and Apple Music, at an introductory offer of Rs. 89 per month post a 30-day free trial.

[“source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Google to Start Urging SMS Two-Step Verification Users to Shift to Prompts

Google to Start Urging SMS Two-Step Verification Users to Shift to Prompts

There have been plenty of cyber-attacks in the recent past that would make anyone feel the need to add some additional security measures to protect their digital information. Two-step verification (2-SV) aka two-factor authentication is one of these measures being used by tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple over the past few years. Google, in particular, tried to make the whole two-step authentication process simpler last year by introducing ‘prompt’, which does not require users to input an SMS code. But there are some users who still prefer the old SMS route, and for them, Google has a plan to shift them to Prompts.

Starting next week, SMS 2-step verification users will see an invitation to try out Google prompts when the try to sign into, say Gmail, so that they are informed about the new alternative. Essentially, Google prompts simplifies the two-step verification process by removing the need to enter an OTP sent as SMS every time a user is trying to sign into a device. The prompt verification, instead, simply brings a pop-up on a user’s phone with a message “Are you trying to sign-in?” Followed by the device and location from where the sign in is taking place. The approval prompt gives a simple “Yes” or “No, It’s Not Me” option, which a lot simpler than having to input a code.

Google says that one of the reasons behind pushing users to shift SMS two-step verification users to prompt is due to security concerns as text messages and one-time codes are more susceptible to phishing attempts by attackers. “By relying on account authentication instead of SMS, administrators can be sure that their mobile policies will be enforced on the device and authentication is happening through an encrypted connection,” Google says.

The tech giant also updated prompt in February to show more information such as the name and location of the device attempting to sign into your account. For those still using SMS codes, expect to see the prompts preview starting next week. The prompt feature is available to Android as well as iOS users, although iOS users will need the Google search app installed to use prompts.

[“source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Google releases Backup and Sync for Mac and Windows

Google’s Backup and Sync desktop app is now available for download for Mac and Windows after a delay last month. Users now have the power to sync up anything, including photos and videos from cameras, SD cards, and USB devices, instead of their files remaining stuck in one place.

It’s a way to protect files and photos by backing them up, as long as they’re in Google Drive and Google Photos, primarily for consumer users. Business users of G Suite are recommended to keep using Google Drive until a business-focused solution called Drive File Stream comes out later this year. People can sign up for Drive File Stream’s early adopter program though.

Google wrote on its blog, “Just choose the folders you want to back up, and we’ll take care of the rest.” Backup and Sync is available through Google Drive and Google Photos for download.

[“Source-theverge”]

Google is funding the creation of software that writes local news stories

Google’s Digital News Initiative has committed £622,000 ($805,000) to fund an automated news writing initiative for UK-based news agency, The Press Association. The money will help pay for the creation of Radar (Reporters And Data And Robots), snappily named software designed to generate upwards 30,000 local news stories a month.

The Press Association has enlisted UK-based news startup Urbs Media for the task of creating a piece of software that turns news data into palatable content. Once up and running, the team is hoping the software will be able to fill in some of the gaps that are currently being under-serviced as the universal financial strain being experienced by newsrooms around the world deepens.

It’s similar to a model The Associated Press has employed for a while now here in the States, mostly tackling financial and niche sports stories. A quick Google News search of the tell taletagline This story was generated by Automated Insights” reveals hits from news outlets across the U.S.

In a news release heralding the financial commitment, Press Association Editor-in-Chief Peter Clifton called the move a “genuine game-changer,” stressing that the partnership will focus on stories that might not otherwise be written up as local newspapers continue to die off in this massive fourth-estate extinction. Of course, he was also quick to add that the move won’t do away with the human touch entirely.

 Image result for Google is funding the creation of software that writes local news stories

“Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process,” he explained, “but Radar allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually.” People will be involved in the curation and editing of the stories and, hopefully, help limit the possibility of accidentally publishing incorrect information in an era when “fake news” is an equally barbed insult on all sides of the political spectrum.

Will robotic writers replace or simply support the work of their human counterparts? A little bit of both, probably. Human news writers regularly point out that AIs tend to lack nuance and a flare for language in the stories they churn out. That’s probably a fare criticism, but it’s easy to see how the rise of robotic news could be a justification — if not a direct cause — for further job loss in the industry. If writers are going to be let go anyway, surely having some software to fill in the gap will help cushion the the blow.

[“Source-techcrunch”]

Google Talk Is Officially Dead, Switch to Hangouts Complete

Google Talk Is Officially Dead, Switch to Hangouts Complete

It was inevitable that Google would one day start cutting down its confusing array of chat-based applications, and the Internet search giant has done just that. The company has finally killed off its Google Talk service and has replaced it with Hangouts, keeping true to the promise made back in March.

Google Talk, aka Gchat or GTalk, which came into existence back in 2005, is among the company’s oldest messaging applications that has been in a state of limbo given the various new messaging apps that the company has introduced including the more recent Google Allo. Killing off GTalk essentially means that anyone who was still using Google Talk rather than Hangouts will now be forced to shift to the latter to continue messaging on Gmail. The transition will go through smoothly and you’ll find all your chat contacts now in Hangouts.
Even though Gchat may be gone now, you’re still left with a number of chat-based services from Google to suit your needs. It’s also perhaps not a bad thing as not only does Hangouts cater to modern sensibilities with chat bubbles and GIF support, but also allows Google to focus more of its resources on its remaining apps. It’s a major step in the company’s effort too streamline its services.

Google in March also announced that it would drop support for carrier SMS on Hangouts and would instead be shifting it to Android Messages. The company in recent months has been trying to rewire Hangouts to serve G Suite and enterprise users, much like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and making it the default chat for Gmail is an effort towards the same. The same month, the company also rolled out Hangouts Meet video conferencing service along with text-based messaging service Hangout Chat for enterprise users.

 

 

[“source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Google Cloud SQL provides easier MySQL for all

Google Cloud SQL aims to provide easier MySQL for all

With the general availability of Google Cloud Platform’s latest database offerings — the second generation of Cloud SQL, Cloud Bigtable, and Cloud Datastore — Google is setting up a cloud database strategy founded on a basic truth of software: Don’t get in the customer’s way.

For an example, look no further than the new iteration of Cloud SQL, a hosted version of MySQL for Google Cloud Platform. MySQL is broadly used by cloud applications, and Google is trying to keep it fuss-free — no small feat for any piece of software, let alone a database notorious in its needs for tweaks to work well.

Most of the automation around MySQL in Cloud SQL involves items that should be automated anyway, such as updates, automatic scaling to meet demand, autofailover between zones, and backup/roll-back functionality. This automation all comes via a recent version of MySQL, 5.7, not via an earlier version that’s been heavily customized by Google to support these features.

The other new offerings, Cloud Datastore and Cloud Bigtable, are fully managed incarnations of NoSQL and HBase/Hadoop systems. These systems have fewer users than MySQL, but are likely used to store gobs more data than with MySQL. One of MySQL 5.7’s new features, support for JSON data, provides NoSQL-like functionality for existing MySQL users. But users who are truly serious about NoSQL are likely to do that work on a platform designed to support it from the ground up.

The most obvious competition for Cloud SQL is Amazon’s Aurora service. When reviewed by InfoWorld’s Martin Heller in October 2015, it supported a recent version of MySQL (5.6) and had many of the same self-healing and self-maintaining features as Cloud SQL. Where Google has a potential edge is in the overall simplicity of its platform — a source of pride in other areas, such as a far less sprawling and complex selection of virtual machine types.

Another competitor is Snowflake, the cloud data warehousing solution designed to require little user configuration or maintenance. Snowflake’s main drawback is that it’s a custom-build database, even if it is designed to be highly compatible with SQL conventions. Cloud SQL, by contrast, is simply MySQL, a familiar product with well-understood behaviors.

 

 

 

[Source:- IW]