Google Officially Introduces Android Oreo

Android users, rejoice: Android Oreo is officially here. Officially introduced by Google yesterday, the new operating system is largely an incremental update that focuses on speed and security improvements. There are, however, a number of useful new features. For one, users will now be able to make use of picture-in-picture to view two apps at once while the addition of little notification dots should prevent you from being overwhelmed by countless announcements. There’s even a full collection of redesigned emojis and a ton of brand new ones, too. Best of all, though? Oreo is already complete: Google is pushing Oreo now to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) while those enrolled in the Android Beta Program will receive the final version of the OS.

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For more, head on over to android.com/oreo.

Google’s New Job Search Lets You Check All Major Jobs Boards

Google has just streamlined your job hunt, removing the need to search through countless job sites. Now all you need to do is type in searches like “jobs near me” and Google will collate relevant job postings from sites such as Monster, CareerBuilder, Facebook and LinkedIn.

You can also search for more specific jobs, like “teaching jobs,” as well as refine your search by location, company, or whether the position is full or part-time — and you can set up alerts.

For some positions you’ll also be able to see the Glassdoor and Indeed ratings for the company, as well as your commute time to your new hypothetical job.

The feature is currently only available in America, but let’s hope they expand it internationally soon.

Think Twice Before You Open That Google Doc

If you can’t trust an official Google login page then what can you trust, eh? An innovative phishing scam briefly spread like wildfire today before being snuffed out by Google – it was using the company’s own security against unsuspecting users.

Here’s how it worked. The chain would start with you receiving an unsolicited email from a known contact. It looked like the standard “invitation to view a document” that compulsive users of Google Docs will know very well. So far, so phishy.

But unlike traditional phishing attacks that try to coax personal details out of you with an official-looking imitation page, this cunning scam took you to a genuine Google login window. Once you signed in, you inadvertently gave access to a malicious third-party app (cunningly named “Google Docs”), allowing it access to your contacts and email, extending the scam go further.

Google is aware of the issue and has already taken steps to close the loophole, writing in a statement on its Product Forums that: “We have taken action to protect users against an email impersonating Google Docs, and have disabled offending accounts. We’ve removed the fake pages, pushed updates through Safe Browsing, and our abuse team is working to prevent this kind of spoofing from happening again. We encourage users to report phishing emails in Gmail.”

Just because the known malicious apps have been closed, doesn’t mean another similar exploit account couldn’t open – so do be vigilant.

If you think you were taken in by the scam, head over to Google’s security page, and remove any connected apps that looks fishy or phishy.

Google Maps Can Now Remember Where You Parked Your Car

Good news for forgetful car owners worldwide: Google Maps can now remember where you parked your car. The feature was originally launched in a Google Maps beta for Android, but has now been officially rolled out onto both Android and iOS versions of the app.

The function’s pretty simple: just save your parking spot, and a label will appear on your map. You also have the option to set a timer (lest you get a ticket), send your spot to a friend, or save a pic of the location.

To get the new feature, simply update Google Maps on your Android or iOS smartphone.

Here Are A Few Google Search Hacks To Make Your Life Easier…

Google search may very well be one of the most critically important inventions of all time. We don’t know about you, but we use it daily in our lives to answer all the questions we can’t, like “How spell bureaucracy?” or “How cook crystal meth?”

Over the years, Google has become so much more than just the world’s premiere search engine. It also offers its own suite of services to help you solve all of life’s questions. It’ll help you figure out math equations, learn new languages, and discover cool new places. For all intents and purposes, it’s a complete guide to our world.

But even if you’re the most seasoned Google pro out there, we’d be willing to bet pretty good coin you don’t know all the tricks.

Get a Random Fun Fact by Typing “Fun Facts” Into the Search Bar

Did you know the piano might be a string instrument? Or that the Powder Monkey is actually the name of a naval gun? Neither did we. As you can imagine, there are literally trillions of fun facts on Google. Type “Fun Facts” into the search bar for a completely random fun fact, and then click the “ASK ANOTHER QUESTION” button at the bottom for more facts. Keep it going until you’re the smartest dude at Quizzo for the rest of your life.

Find Your Flight Info Easily

Speaking of traveling, flying itself isn’t always the easiest task. However, if you’re signed in to Gmail and type “Flight Status” into the search bar, Google will display all of your flight information, including your confirmation number, terminal, and even your seat number.

Get Time in a Different Time Zone

From the streets of Tokyo to the hills and valleys of Napa, we want to leave footprints everywhere. As everyone knows, the least fun thing about traveling is adjusting to the time zones in other places. If you’re planning for your trip and want to figure out how far ahead or behind you’ll be, it’s as simple as typing “Time in [City].” Google will automatically return the time in that particular city without having to make you look through pages of information or do awkward math calculations.

Get a Customer Service Phone Number by Searching “Customer Service [Company Name]”

This one is about as basic as it gets, but it’s an invaluable tool if you need to get in contact with a company’s customer service department. Rather than have you Google the name of the company and then spend another half hour skimming through their website for their bust customer service contact, Google will display relevant information if you simply search “Customer Service [Company Name].” If they list it, Google will provide it without the hassle.

Graphing Calculator

When we were growing up, calculus was the bane of our existence. And spending the money on those old TI calculators didn’t help things, either. Well, for all you new-gen calc nerds and engineering students, Google search bar actually doubles as its very own graphing calculator. The coolest thing is there’s no secret to it. Just plug your equation into the search bar and watch Google give you the coordinates and draw the graph. Calc nerds rejoice!

Searching For Things “Near Me” (Or By a Certain Location)

This may or may not be a little creepy, but if you search for anything (restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, bars, etc.) with “near me,” Google will give results based on your current location. If you’re going to be traveling, or just want to see what there is to do in a certain city, you can do that, too. For instance, let’s say you’re traveling to Berlin and want to find the best tourist attractions in the city. Typing “Attractions Berlin” will allow Google to curate a special list of the top attractions for you to check out in Berlin.

Type “Flip Coin” to Bring up Google’s Coin Toss Simulator

We won’t say this is the most revolutionary thing Google has ever done, but it’s definitely the most revolutionary thing they’ve done for those Friday nights where you and your buddies can’t settle on one set of plans and also don’t know what loose change is. Need to decide whether to bet it all on black or red? Leave it up to Google fate. Need help picking the next bar? Problem solved. Steak or chicken? Google’s got you, fam. Just open up the search bar, type “Flip Coin,” and watch Google work its magic.

Track a Package Immediately

Keeping track of your packages before they hit your door can be a hassle. You used to have to find out whether they went out via USPS, UPS, or FedEx, and then go to the respective websites and enter in the tracking information. Now, all you have to do is copy the tracking number and paste it directly into a Google search. Google will automatically recognize the format of the number and spit your tracking information directly into the search results screen. How cool is that?

Calculate Your Tip With “Calculate Tip [$$$]”

Search the app store on your phone and you’ll find dozens—seriously dozens—of apps to help you figure out how much to tip your server or bartender. Rather than waste time (and space) on a silly app, just type in “Calculate Tip [Bill Total]” into the search bar. A screen pops up that’ll help you toggle the percentage. The coolest thing about it is that it’ll also split a bill for multiple people with the click of a button.

Get a Word’s Definition

This one is invaluable. If you ever want to know the definition of a word without having to go to dictionary.com or Merriam-Webster or, God forbid, a book, just search “Define [Term]” and Google will find and highlight the definition for you.

Google Wants To Help You Get Solar Panels

Google wants to help you do your bit for renewables. The company has updated its Project Sunroof tool to include 3D models of 60 million rooftops across all 50 states. The company has looked at things such as local weather, how many pesky trees might be blocking sunlight, and how much solar energy a rooftop can generate, and offers owners frank advice over whether it’s worth them joining the clean energy revolution.

The take-home headline from the update? Seventy-nine per cent of rooftops analysed are “technically viable” for solar panels. If you live in Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada or New Mexico, your home is very likely to fit into that category (90% of the buildings studied), whereas if you’re in Pennsylvania, Maine or Minnesota things look decidedly less sunny (just above 60%).

Top of the list of cities overall is Houston, Texas which – according to Google’s data – could provide a whopping 18,940 gigawatt-hours of energy per year. The company estimates that a single gigawatt-hour is enough to power 90 homes for a year, meaning that cities such as Los Angeles (14,905GWh), Phoenix (11,686GWh) and San Antonio (10,648GWh) could make a huge impact if every viable building joined the solar party.

In fact, if every one of those cities maxed out on solar panels, Google estimates that eight million homes could be powered for a year. Wowsa.

Of course, it’s beyond Google’s power to install solar panels on every house, but it is at least making it as easy as possible for conscientious Americans to explore the possibility. Just head to the Project Sunroof website, enter your address, and the tool will provide estimates of how much energy you can generate, alongside the cost of leasing or buying the panels.

Google & Levi’s Will Sell A $350 “Smart” Jean Jacket

There are devices you wear on your wrist or maybe strapped around your arm, but Levi’s and Google have gone a step further in the realm of so-called “wearables” with a jacket that wirelessly connects with the user’s smart phone.

The Levi Commuter Trucker Jacket is designed to let cyclists change the song or get directions with a swipe or a pat on the cuff, using special material developed by Google’s Project Jacquard division.

The jacket is made from conductive yarns that are woven into the clothing, and can register touch inputs like a screen. A tag clipped on the cuff wirelessly connects the yarns in the jacket to the user’s mobile device.

When it comes time to wash it, wearers remove the tag and throw the jacket in the laundry like other denim clothing (though there will inevitably be those folks who accidentally toss the tag in the wash as well).

Right now the jacket can only control music and give the wearer map updates, but the two companies hope to add more features eventually, reports The Verge from Austin, where the two companies showed off the jacket this week at SXSW.

It’s unclear when the garment will be available to the masses — though it was originally slated for spring — it will cost $350.

The delay is likely due to the fact that it seem there’s still some work to be completed on the app, The Verge reports.

“We’ve been going through continuous consumer wear testing to refine the jacket and its abilities,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge. “We want to be sure we take the time to get it right and provide a great experience for people.

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By 2030, You’ll Be Living in a World That’s Run by Google

Larry Page, one of Google’s two co-founders, once said off-handedly that Google is not about building a search engine. As he said it, “Oh, we’re really making an AI”. Google right now is all about building the world brain that will take care of every person, all the time and everywhere.

By 2030, Google will have that World Brain in existence, and it will look after all of us. And that’s quite possibly both the best and worst thing that could happen to humanity.

To explain that claim, let me tell you a story of how your day is going to unfold in 2030.

2030 – A Google World

You wake up in the morning, January 1st, 2030. It’s freezing outside, but you’re warm in your room. Why? Because Nest – your AI-based air conditioner – knows exactly when you need to wake up, and warms the room you’re in so that you enjoy the perfect temperature for waking up.

And who acquired Nest three years ago for $3.2 billion USD? Google did.

You go out to the street and order an autonomous taxi to take you to your workplace. Who programmed that autonomous car? Google did. Who acquired Waze – a crowdsourcing navigation app? That’s right: Google did.

After lunch, you take a stroll around the block, with your Google Glass 2.0 on your eyes. Your smart glasses know it’s a cold day, and they know you like hot cocoa, and they also know that there’s a cocoa store just around the bend which your friends have recommended before. So it offers to take you there – and if you agree, Google earns a few cents out of anything you buy in the store. And who invented Google Glass…? I’m sure you get the picture.

I can go on and on, but the basic idea is that the entire world is going to become connected in the next twenty years. Many items will have sensors in and on them, and will connect to the cloud. And Google is not only going to produce many of these sensors and appliances (such as the Google Assistant, autonomous cars, Nest, etc.) but will also assign a digital assistant to every person, that will understand the user better than that person understands himself.

The Upside

I probably don’t have to explain why the Google World Brain will make our lives much more pleasant. The perfect coordination and optimization of our day-to-day dealings will ensure that we need to invest less resources (energy, time, concentration) to achieve a high level of life quality. I see that primarily as a good thing.

So what’s the problem?

The Downside

Here’s the thing: the digital world suffers from what’s called “The One Winner Effect”. Basically it means that there’s only place for one great winner in every sector. So there’s only one Facebook – the second largest social media network in English is Twitter, with only ~319 million users. That’s nothing compared to Facebook’s 1.86 billion users. Similarly, Google controls ~65% of the online search market. That’s a huge number when you realize that competitors like Yahoo and Bing – large and established services – control most of the rest ~35%. So again, one big winner.

So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, a one-winner market tends to create soft monopolies, in which one company can provide the best services, and so it’s just too much of a hassle to leave for other services. Google is creating such a soft monopoly. Imagine how difficult it will be for you to wake up tomorrow morning and migrate your e-mail address to one of the competitors, transfer all of your Google Docs there, sell your Android-based (Google’s OS!) smartphone and replace it with an iPhone, wake up cold in the morning because you’ve switched Nest for some other appliance that hasn’t had the time to learn your habits yet, etc.

Can you imagine yourself doing that? I’m sure some ardent souls will, but most of humanity doesn’t care deeply enough, or doesn’t even have the options to stop using Google. How do you stop using Google, when every autonomous car on the street has a Google Camera? How do you stop using Google, when your website depends on Google not banning it? How do you stop using Google when practically every non-iPhone smartphone relies on an Android operating system? This is a Google World.

And Google knows it, too.

Google Flexes it’s Muscles

Recently, around 200 people got banned from using Google services because they cheated Google by reselling the Pixel smartphone. Those people woke up one morning, and found out they couldn’t log into their Gmail, that they couldn’t acess their Google Docs, and if they were living in the future – they would’ve probably found out they can’t use Google’s autonomous cars and other apps on the street. They were essentially sentenced to a digital death.

Now, public uproar caused Google to back down and revive those people’s accounts, but this episode shows you the power that Google are starting to amass. And what’s more, Google doesn’t have to ban people in such direct fashion. Imagine, for example, that your website is being demoted by Google’s search engine (which nobody knows how it works) simply because you’re talking against Google. Google is allowed by law to do that. So who’s going to stand up and talk smack about Google? Not me, that’s for sure. I love Google.

To sum things up, Google is not required by law to serve everyone, or even to be ‘fair’ in its recommendations about services. And as it gathers more power and becomes more prevalent in our daily lives, we will need to find mechanisms to ensure that Google or Google-equivalent services are provided to everyone, to prevent people being left outside the system, and to enable people to keep being able to speak up against Google and other monopolies.

So in conclusion, it’s going to be a Google world, and I love Google. Now please share this answer, since I’m not sure Google will!

‘Forbes’ Names the World’s Most Reputable Companies in 2017

Forbes has recently announced its annual list of the World’s Most Reputable Companies for 2017. Complied with the help of The Reputation Institute, the list highlights the top 100 companies based on feedback collected from over 170,000 respondents familiar with the brands. The Reputation Institute also tracks the company’s perception in seven categories, products & services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance, scoring them under the RepTrak Pulse measurement system.

For the second time in a row, Swiss timepiece aficionados Rolex tops the list with a RepTrak Pulse score of 80.38. Following in second is the LEGO Group with 79.19; The Walt Disney Company with 79.19; Canon with 78.28; and Google with 78.22. This latest ranking is based on surveys collected in Q1. Take a look at the top 10 below, and head over to Forbes for the full 100.

The World’s Most Reputable Companies in 2017 – RepTrak Pulse Score
1. Rolex (80.38)
2. LEGO Group (79.46)
3. The Walt Disney Company (79.19)
4. Canon (78.28)
5. Google (78.22)
6. Bosch (78.13)
7=. Sony (77.74)
7=. Intel (77.74)
9. Rolls-Royce Aerospace (77.66)
10. adidas (77.27)

You Can Now Shop With Google Home

In an effort to compete even more closely with the likes of Amazon’s Alexa-assisted Echo, Google Home owners can now shop on their devices via the Google Assistant. Whereas Amazon’s devices shop, obviously, via the e-commerce giant, Google Home instead works with participating Google Express retailers, including the likes of Costco, Whole Foods, Walgreens, PetSmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Once set up via the Google Home app, ordering is easy — users simply say something like “Okay Google, order paper towels” and the Home will do exactly that.

The new shopping feature is available now and, to encourage owners to use it, Google is waiving any additional service and membership fees on orders placed through April 30. And, according to Google, the new feature “is just the beginning of what’s possible for shopping with the Google Assistant” — the tech giant is promising to add even more features and enable purchases for other apps and services in the months ahead.