Technology • Internet & Web
Google acquires smart glasses company "North"
Google acquires smart glasses company "North"
Credit: Image Composition: Pendect; Logos via Google & North

On Tuesday, Google announced that it has acquired North, "a pioneer in human computer interfaces and smart glasses," that was founded in 2021.

"They've built a strong technology foundation, and we're excited to have North join us in our broader efforts to build helpful devices and services," so Google's announcement. "North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future."

North has also issued a statement on their website: "We are excited to announce today that North has been acquired by Google. [...] Over the last while, it became clear that aligning with Google would significantly advance our shared vision."

Politics • Asian • India
India bans TikTok, WeChat and 57 other Chinese apps
iPhone displaying the TikTok app
iPhone displaying the TikTok app Credit: Kon Karampelas

The Ministry of Information Technology of India announced Monday the ban of 59 Chinese mobile applications, including TikTok and WeChat. In a press release, the Ministry, states the ban is a response "of the emergent nature of threats" and that the apps "are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.".

At the moment, all listed apps are still available on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store, and it is not clear how the Indian Government plans to enforce the ban.

Technology • Internet & Web
Google to pay publishers for quality news content and absorb paywall costs
Google to pay publishers for quality news content and absorb paywall costs
Credit: Tony Webster (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Google announced on Thursday that it would begin paying publishers to license “high-quality” content in a licensing deal that initially has media groups in Australia, Brazil and Germany signed up.

The first publishers that will be licensing their content are Australian groups Schwartz Media, The Conversation and Solstice Media, Brazil’s Diarios Associados, and Germany’s Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit and Rheinische Post.

Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site. The goal is to let paywalled publishers grow their audiences and open an opportunity for people to read the content they might not ordinarily see.

Technology • Internet & Web
New Google data retention police will delete users' location, web history after 18 months
New Google data retention police will delete users' location, web history after 18 months
Credit: Cesar Solorzano (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Google is switching to an auto-delete setup as its default for web browsing and app history. The company will automatically delete some web and location history after 18 months for new users, and make it easier for existing customers to change their settings.

Previously users had ways to limit data collection and delete history — location history, search, voice, and YouTube activity data — but it was an opt-out experience.

In a blog post, Sundar Pichai CEO of Google stated: "Today, we are announcing privacy improvements to help do that, including changes to our data retention practices across our core products to keep less data by default."

Technology • Internet & Web
Google launches Pinterest competitor named Keen
A look at Google's new product "Keen2
A look at Google's new product "Keen2 Credit: Google / StayKeen

Two teams at Google, Area 120 and PAIR, have launched a Pinterest competitor named Keen to the public. Similar to its competitor the website functions as a curation tool for content on the internet. Keen automatically suggests content based on keywords that the user can then filter. In addition, Keen enables the saving of other content from the web and the collaboration with others. According to the co-founder CJ Adams, the underlying machine learning technologies by the People + AI Research (PAIR) team at Google enable Keen to give better recommendations over time as more content is curated by the user.

Technology • Internet & Web
Surprise cancellation of Google's trial photo printing service
Surprise cancellation of Google's trial photo printing service
Credit: Rebouças

Google has cancelled its automatic, algorithm-based photo printing service just months after it was launched. The subscription photo service was introduced as a trial to US-based Google Photos users and send users physical photos on a monthly bases. Google sent an email to subscribers, announcing the cancellation of the service by June 30: "Thank you for your invaluable feedback these last several months. You have provided us with a lot of helpful information about how we can evolve this feature, which we hope to make more widely available. Please keep your eyes open for future updates. Although we will be ending the trial program, we hope that you have experienced some joy from the prints you received along the way."

Technology • Internet & Web
French court denies appeal by Google against $57m GDPR fine
French court denies appeal by Google against $57m GDPR fine

Google had been fined for $57m by French regulators in January 2019 because the tech company didn't provide "sufficiently clear" information regarding the consent to use private data for targeted advertisements. The highest French court for administrative law has now denied the appeal against the fine and affirmed the jurisdiction of the regulators.

Business • Media & Advertising
Google to ban targeting housing ads based on gender, age
Google stall at an event in Cologne, Germany
Google stall at an event in Cologne, Germany Credit: Rajeshwar Bachu

Google announced it would stop allowing housing, employment and credit ads to be targeted to users based on their postal code, gender, age, parental status or marital status, aiming to protect users from unlawful discrimination.

The new rules will build on top of a policy that already prohibits advertisers from targeting users on sensitive areas, categories related to identity, beliefs, sexuality or attributes such as race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

The new policy will go into effect by the end of the year in the US and Canada.

Politics • European • United Kingdom
UK has provided sensitive medical records to tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Palantir

The government of the United Kingdom has given several technology companies access to medical data which include gender, race, physical and mental health conditions, personal contact details, political affiliation, and other data points. The data-sharing agreements have been published by the website OpenDemocracy and law firm Foxglove. In exchange for the data, the United Kingdom receives "technical, advisory and other support" from Google and the Foundry data management software from Palantir for only £1.

Technology • Internet & Web
Google faces $5 billion lawsuit over alleged tracking in incognito mode
Screenshot of Google Chrome in Incognito Mode
Screenshot of Google Chrome in Incognito Mode

The law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner has filed a class-action lawsuit in California claiming that Google continues to track users in the incognito mode of Google Chrome. The lawsuit claims that the incognito mode would "intentionally deceive consumers" by suggesting that no tracking would happen, while analytics data is still sent to websites via Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager. The law firm seeks a minimum of $5 billion in damages. Google themselves stated that they "strongly dispute these claims and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them".

Technology • Internet & Web
Patrick Pichette named chairman of Twitter

Twitter announced today Patrick Pichette would replace Omid Kordestani as Chair of the Board.

Omid Kordestani stepped down as Twitter’s executive chairman, effective June 1, but will remain on the board as a non-employee director.

Pichette has served as Twitter's lead independent director since Dec. 31, 2018, and previously was Chief Financial Officer of Google.

Education • University Education
Princeton University announces first black valedictorian

Princeton, one of the eight Ivy League colleges, has announced its first black valedictorian in its 274-year history. Nicholas Johnson, a Montreal native, is majoring in financial engineering and operations research and has previously worked as a software engineer at Google.

"It feels empowering. Being Princeton's first Black Valedictorian holds special significance to me particularly given Princeton's historical ties to the institution of slavery," Johnson told CNN.

Google announces May 22 as a worldwide company holiday
Googleplex Campus
Googleplex Campus Credit: Google (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Google's Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai announced today the company has asked employees to take a day off on May 22. The announcement, via a memo sent to employees, stated: “I know many of us have been running hard non-stop for weeks now and may be experiencing some burnout,”.

The company said it would begin reopening more offices globally as early as June, but most employees would likely work from home until the end of 2020.

Business • Economy
Microsoft announces investment of $1.5 billion in Italy
Art for Microsoft “Ambizione Italia“ plan
Art for Microsoft “Ambizione Italia“ plan Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. today announced a $1.5 billion, five-year investment plan in Italy starting with the launch of its first datacentre region in Ithe country.

The announcement comes a week after Amazon Web Services opened a datacentre region in Milan, while in March, Google'sealed a partnership with Telecom Italia to expand cloud business operations in the country.

Technology • Internet & Web
School buses to provide free WiFi to homebound students and residents
School Buses equipped with WiFi bring internet to residents
School Buses equipped with WiFi bring internet to residents Credit:

School buses in various American cities are being equipped with WiFi to provide free WiFi to communities that are lacking proper internet access. The initiative gets help from companies like Google, AT&T and the Duke Energy Foundation. WiFi school buses are currently deployed in many states, among them North Carolina, Texas and Ohio.

In a statement, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper stated “In many communities, school buses are already delivering meals to students and their families. Now they’re delivering Wi-Fi for online learning".

Technology • Internet & Web
Google Meet premium now free for everyone
Google Meet premium now free for everyone

In a statement released on Wednesday, Google announced that Google Meet, their premium video conferencing tool, would be free for everyone starting early May. Access to Meet will be opened gradually and meetings up to 100 people will be free until September.

Technology • Internet & Web
Germany backs Google and Apple app to trace coronavirus infections

Germany changed course over which type of smartphone technology to use to trace coronavirus infections, backing an approach supported by Apple and Google instead of an initiative called Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT).

Health Minister Jens Spahn and Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff Helge Braun told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the German Government now favors a "decentralized software architecture" that would see data stored on users' phones instead of on a central database.

The Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) has Germany's Fraunhofer HHI research institute and the Robert Koch Institute public health body as key players.

Technology • Games
YouTuber calls gamers to help build the entire Earth in Minecraft on a 1:1 scale

The YouTuber PippenFTS aims to recreate the entire Earth in the online game Minecraft in life-size. With the help of two mods, called "Cubic Chunks" and "Terra 1-to-1" respectively removing the size limits of the Minecraft worlds and converting Google Maps earth data into Minecraft maps, the YouTuber has re-created the earth in a Minecraft world. In his proposed second steps he calls for players to get together and hand-build all human-made structures, which were not added by the mods itself. The players organize in a Discord which already has over 40,000 members and the video with the call for participation broke the 5 million views.

Google cancels in person attendance to developer conference I/O due to Covid-19

All ticket holders will be refunded by March 13 and are getting the option to purchase a ticket for the 2021 edition of the conference. Google says they will "explore other ways" in order to reach out to the developer community. The cancellation follows the guidance of health authorities such as the WHO as a precaution to stop the coronavirus from spreading further.

Google announces roll out of free access to premium Hangout software to enable remote work and schooling

The company announced that they'll enable access to advanced hangout functions for all existing G Suite and G Suite Education customers. This means that video calls can be recorded and saved, videos can be streamed for up to 100,000 viewers per domain and video calls can have up to 250 participants. The company said that they want to enable schools to continue education even when physical teaching is not possible due to health concerns with corona.