Specialized Web Directories

Robert Hensonw

Robert Hensonw

Private search engines have seen huge growth over the past few years. Until recently, it was unthinkable that anyone could compete with Google in the search realm. However, there are now many smaller players in the search game that are growing rapidly. Google’s market share has declined from 78.7 percent in February 2017 to slightly below 70 percent in February 2018.

A few of these search engines, including DuckDuckGo and StartPage began as normal search engines with no privacy enhancements. However, after they realized the massive risk associated with storing so much data, they decided to take a different approach.

Your privacy really matters, and these search engines can help you stay private online:

1. Search Encrypt

This private search engine uses local encryption to secure your searches. It combines with AES-256 encryption with Secure Sockets Layer encryption. Search Encrypt then retrieves your search results from its network of search partners. After you’re done searching, your search terms expire so they are private even if someone else has access to your computer.

Search Encrypt is a relatively new addition to this list, but it is growing quickly. Its Alexa Traffic Rank of 878 indicates that it receives millions of visitors daily.


2. StartPage

StartPage uses results from Google, which is a good thing if you prefer Google’s result without the tracking. Ixquick, which is an independent search engine that uses its own results, developed StartPage to include results from Google. Its features include a proxy service, URL generator, and HTTPS support. The URL generator is a unique feature that eliminates the need for cookies. It remembers your settings in a privacy-friendly way.

StartPage is used across the globe, however, it receives a big portion of its visitors from Germany.


3. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is probably the most well-known alternative search engine. Its CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, said, “if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you.” Searches are sourced mostly from Yahoo. One cool feature of DuckDuckGo is what it calls “bangs”. Users can directly search other sites, like Amazon, Wikipedia, Yelp or Youtube, by starting their query with an exclamation mark!

DuckDuckGo recently added a new extension to their product line. It goes beyond keeping your searches private, and grades websites you visit on their privacy.


4. Gibiru

Gibiru sources its search results from a modified Google algorithm. Gibiru’s CEO, Steve Marshall, announced in a press release that his service is exactly what Google was early on. It provides reliable search results without all the tracking that Google does today.

Gibiru positions itself as being “ faster than the NSA Search Engines since it does not install all sorts of personalization and tracking cookies on your system.” Gibiru is outspoken against Google’s ability to manipulate, or censor, your search results.


6. Swisscows

Swisscows is made by Hulbee AG, which is a tech company based in Switzerland. Like other private search engines on this list, this one does not build tracking profiles or use unique identifiers for its users. A key difference from the others though, is that this is a semantic search engine. This means that it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to evaluate the context of a user’s search. As a result, Swisscows offers results that learn to answer your questions — a cool search tool.


7. Yippy

Yippy has an additional feature that automatically categorizes query results. For example, a search for “dogs” displays the top results, but also has categories for Training, Photos, Dog Breeds, Rescue, etc. It doesn’t follow search users around the web with ads. Yippy Inc. also has a search product that competes with Google’s Search Appliance.


8. Bitclave

BitClave is a decentralized search engine built with blockchain to protect user privacy. This search tool empowers consumers by allowing them to choose what info they share with advertisers. BitClave eliminates middlemen in the advertising process, by making the contract directly between the user and advertisers. It then incentivizes users by giving them Consumer Activity Tokens (CAT) for making searches relevant to the advertiser.

9. Qwant

Qwant is a private search engine based in Europe that “never tries to guess who you are or what you are doing.” According to its About page, Qwant never records your searches and never uses your personal data for advertising or other purposes. Qwant has a feature similar to DuckDuckGo’s !bangs which it calls Quick search shortcuts.

Why Do Private Search Engines Matter?

We often hear about internet service providers (ISPs) or the NSA intrusions into citizens’ privacy, but what are we doing about it?

There is an inherent risk in sharing your information with third-parties while browsing the internet. That’s why private search engines are beneficial to users. There is a very little risk that your searches will be leaked to anyone because most private search engines don’t track any information that can link you to your search terms. Beyond that, by searching in private, you aren’t creating filter bubbles that isolate you from any results that may conflict with your beliefs.

It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your information from the websites you visit and the search engines you use. With sites like Facebook and Google drastically improving their tracking capabilities, your data is becoming more spread out across the web.

 Source: This article was published on hackernoon.com By Christian Stewart

A new book shows how Google’s search algorithms quietly reinforce racist stereotypes.

Are search engines making us more racist?

According to Safiya Umoja Noble, a professor of communication at the University of Southern California, the answer is almost certainly yes.

Noble’s new book, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, challenges the idea that search engines like Google provide a level playing field for all ideas, values, and identities. She says they’re inherently discriminatory and favor the groups that designed them, as well as the companies that fund them.

This isn’t a trivial topic, especially in a world where people get more information from search engines than they do from teachers or libraries. For Noble, Google is not just telling people what they want to know but also determining what’s worth knowing in the first place.

I reached out to Noble last week to find out what she had learned about the unseen factors driving these algorithms, and what the consequences of ignoring them might be.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Sean Illing

What are you arguing in this book?

Safiya Umoja Noble

I’m arguing that large, multinational advertising platforms online are not trusted, credible public information portals. Most people think of Google and search engines in particular as a public library, or as a trusted place where they can get accurate information about the world. I provide a lot of examples to show the incredible influence of advertising dollars on the kinds of things we find, and I show how certain people and communities get misrepresented in service of making money on these platforms.

Sean Illing

Who gets misrepresented and how?

Safiya Umoja Noble

I started the book several years ago by doing collective searches on keywords around different community identities. I did searches on “black girls,” “Asian girls,” and “Latina girls” online and found that pornography was the primary way they were represented on the first page of search results. That doesn’t seem to be a very fair or credible representation of women of color in the United States. It reduces them to sexualized objects.

So that begs the question: What’s going on in these search engines? What are the well-funded, well-capitalized industries behind them who are purchasing keywords and using their influence to represent people and ideas in this way? The book was my attempt to answer these questions.

Sean Illing

Okay, so at the time you did this research, if someone went to Google and searched for “black women,” they would get a bunch of pornography. What happens if they type in “white girls” or “white women”? Or if they search for what should be a universal category, like “beautiful people”?

Safiya Umoja Noble

Now, fortunately, Google has responded to this. They suppressed a lot of porn, in part because we’ve been speaking out about this for six or seven years. But if you go to Google today and search for “Asian girls” or “Latina girls,” you’ll still find the hypersexualized content.

For a long time, if you did an image search on the word “beautiful,” you would get scantily clad images of almost exclusively white women in bikinis or lingerie. The representations were overwhelmingly white women.

People often ask what happens when you search “white girls.” White women don’t typically identify as white; they just think of themselves as girls or women or individuals. I think what you see there is the gaze of people of color looking at white women and girls and naming whiteness as an identity, which is something that you don’t typically see white women doing themselves.

Sean Illing

These search algorithms aren’t merely selecting what information we’re exposed to; they’re cementing assumptions about what information is worth knowing in the first place. That might be the most insidious part of this.

Safiya Umoja Noble

There is a dominant male, a Western-centric point of view that gets encoded into the organization of information. You have to remember that an algorithm is just an automated decision tree. If these keywords are present, then a variety of assumptions have to be made about what to point to in all the trillions of pages that exist on the web.

And those decisions always correlate to the relationship of advertisers to the platform. Google has a huge empire called AdWords, and people bid in a real-time auction to optimize their content.

That model — of information going to the highest bidder — will always privilege people who have the most resources. And that means that people who don’t have a lot of resources, like children, will never be able to fully control the ways in which they’re represented, given the logic and mechanisms of how search engines work.

Sean Illing

In the book, you talk about how racist websites gamed search engines to control the narrative around Martin Luther King Jr. so that if you searched for MLK, you’d find links to white supremacist propaganda. You also talk about the stakes involved here and point to Dylann Roof as an example.

Safiya Umoja Noble

In his manifesto, Dylann Roof has a diatribe against people of color, and he says that the first event that truly awakened him was the Trayvon Martin story. He says he went to Google and did a search on “black-on-white crime.” Now, most of us know that black-on-white crime is not an American epidemic — that, in fact, most crime happens within a community. But that’s a separate discussion.

So Roof goes to Google and puts in a white nationalist red herring (“black-on-white crime.”) And of course, it immediately takes him to white supremacist websites, which in turn take him down a racist rabbit hole of conspiracy and misinformation. Often, these racist websites are designed to appear credible and benign, in part because that helps them game the algorithms, but also because it convinces a lot of people that the information is truthful.

This is how Roof gets radicalized. He says he learns about the “true history of America,” and about the “race problem” and the “Jewish problem.” He learns that everything he’s ever been taught in school is a lie. And then he says, in his own words, that this makes him research more and more, which we can only imagine is online, and this leads to his “racial awareness.”

And now we know that shortly thereafter, he steps into the “Mother” Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and murders nine African-American worshippers in cold blood, in order to start a race war.

So the ideas that people are encountering online really matter. It matters that Dylann Roof didn’t see the FBI statistics that tell the truth about how crime works in America. It matters that he didn’t get any counterpoints. It matters that people like him are pushed in these directions without resistance or context.

Sean Illing

My guess is that these algorithms weren’t designed to produce this effect, but I honestly don’t know. What is driving the decision-making process? Is this purely about commercial interests?

Safiya Umoja Noble

It’s difficult to know exactly what Google’s priorities are, because Google’s search algorithm is proprietary, so no one can really make sense of the algorithm except by looking at the output. All of us who study this do it by looking at the end results, and then we try to reverse-engineer it as best we can.

But yes, it’s pretty clear that what’s ultimately driving tech companies like Google is profit. I don’t imagine that a bunch of racists is sitting around a table at Google thinking of ways to create a racist product, but what happens, however, is that engineers simply don’t think about the social consequences of their work. They’re designing technologies for society, and they know nothing about society.

In its own marketing materials, Google says there are over 200 different factors that go into deciding what type of content they surface. I’m sure they have their own measures of relevance for what they think people want. Of course, they’re also using predictive technologies, like autosuggestion, where they fill in the blank. They’re doing that based on what other people have looked at or clicked on in the past.

Sean Illing

But the autosuggestion tool guarantees that majority perspectives will be consistently privileged over others, right?

Safiya Umoja Noble

Right. People who are a numerical minority in society will never be able to use this kind of “majority rules” logic to their benefit. The majority will always be able to control the notions of what’s important, or what’s important to click on, and that’s not how the information landscape ought to work.

Sean Illing

I’m sure some people will counter and say that these are essentially neutral platforms, and if they’re biased, they’re biased because of the human users that make them up. In other words, the problem isn’t the platform; it’s the people.

Safiya Umoja Noble

The platform exists because it’s made by people. It didn’t come down from an alien spacecraft. It’s made by human beings, and the people who make it are biased, and they code their biases into search. How can these things not inform their judgment?

So it’s disingenuous to suggest that the platform just exists unto itself and that the only people who can manipulate it or influence it are the people who use it when actually, the makers of the platform are the primary source of responsibility. I would say that there are makers, as well as users, of a platform. They have to take responsibility for their creations.

Source: This article was published vox.com By Sean Illing

The brain of the humble fruit fly could hold answers to designing a better search engine. (Mr. Checker, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Fly brain, computers search for similar items using completely different strategies

Sometimes nature knows best — and that's particularly true for search engines. Nothing can beat the brain for its search engine, not even Google.  And scientists are now designing search engines of the future with the brain in mind — the fly brain in fact.

How is the fly brain helping to develop search engines?

The types of search engines the scientists are interested in are those that do similarity searches. Those are the ones that generate suggestions based on your past behavior or online interests. They are often spectacularly wrong – like you just bought a "John Mayer relaxing at home" kinda song — how about this "thumpa thumpa" dance hall techno remix of Lil Kim? 

There is room for improvement in computer-generated similarity searches — from recommended songs to apps to recipes. The current way to find recommendations also takes a lot of computing power.

But flies do this type of search all the time, especially in terms of smells.  A fly will encounter a lot of smells and some mean "food" and others mean "flee." For example, a rotting banana means food. They then have to decide if a new smell, like a rotting kiwi, is similar enough to represent food. So they have to have a program in the brain to do a similarity search. The researchers found out what that was and were able to mimic it in computer software.

How do the flies search for similar smells?

The flies have a way of sensing smells in their brain that is a hierarchy of neurons. There are 50 smell-sensing brain cells called olfactory neurons. They first detect the chemical stimulus of a smell, then they distribute those signals across 50 projection neurons in a particular pattern and finally to 200 Kenyon cells. So the signal is expanded and spread out across the neurons until there is a unique pattern for a smell.

The fact that they basically spread the information over a large number of cells allows a refinement of the information. Here's how Saket Navlakha from the Salk Institute for Integrative Biology explains it: "Let's say you had a hundred people and you wanted to find some grouping of these people into clusters. And you take these hundred people and you put them into a very small crowded room. What the fly is doing is it's taking these hundred people and spreading them out over a football field. You can imagine then that it's really easy to identify groups and delineate the boundaries between groups in the really large space compared to this really compressed space."

And of course, it works really well for identification of similarities, in this case in terms of smell.

How do the computer programs that detect similarity work?

Computers do it a totally different way. Instead of expanding the search area, or expanding the room, so to speak, computers try to narrow the scope of the search by putting similar items into buckets, effectively shrinking the room and filling it with similar stuff. And it works decently well, especially because we are rarely looking for exact versions.

Belgium EU Google

Computers do similarity searches by putting similar items into buckets, effectively shrinking the room and filling it with similar stuff. (Virginia Mayo/Associated Press)

This is how Saket Navlakha explains it: "If you're looking for images, then as long as they are close enough to what you're looking for, then the user is going to be happy. And so what this motivated was a different way of trying to solve this problem instead of comparing one at a time."

So computers start with one image, like a rotting banana, and try to slowly narrow down the buckets where they would find things similar to that image, like the bucket labeled "bananas." 

So we see two completely opposite strategies to accomplish the same thing: The fly tries to separate out the things to compare as far from one another as possible to really find the most accurate comparison.The computer tries to reduce down the number of possible things to compare the original too

How much more efficient is the fly search engine compared to our current computer ones?

That's the coolest part. The group that published in Science found that if they make a search algorithm that mimics the fly brain's way of searching through data and compared it to a traditional search engine, the fly was more accurate given the same amount of computing power.

Fruit flies on grapefruit

Fruit flies are more accurate than traditional search engines given the same amount of computing power. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

They haven't tested speed or efficiency yet, but there are all the indications that the fly brain way of searching data will be better at those too.

Is the Fly Brain Search Engine going to replace Google?

It's more likely that the Fly Brain Search Engine will be bought by Google. The team is already in talks to expand the prototype or proof-of-concept to a real application. And it's just a matter of time before computer science can begin to mimic the power of the biological computer – the brain.

Source: This article was published cbc.ca By Torah Kachur

About 62% of PC users opt for Chrome over other browsers. Photograph: Stephen Shankland/Flickr

Chrome browser is fast and capable but it can murder your battery life. Here’s how to help your laptop or tablet last longer

Google’s Chrome browser is used by over 62% of the world’s PC users, but it’s a notorious battery hog that if left to run rampant can reduce your laptop or tablet to just a couple of hours of life. But it doesn’t have to be like that, as Google is making efforts to improve it. In the meantime, here are some tips to get Chrome’s battery usage under control without sacrificing functionality.

1) Update your Chrome

Keep Chrome up to date for the latest in battery, speed and efficiency improvements, as well as security and feature updates. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

This one might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people do not update Chrome. Google’s recent versions of Chrome have become much more efficient and faster.

To check your version of Chrome is up to date, type “chrome://help/” into the address bar and hit enter. It shows a version number and a link to check for and install updates or a notice saying that Google Chrome is up to date. Updating shouldn’t take long and you can continue to use Chrome until it has been downloaded. Then Chrome will reboot, but you won’t have to restart your computer.

2) Suspend those tabs

The Great Suspender will unload the tabs you don’t need right that minute without losing the URL. Photograph: The Great Suspender

One of the best bits of the modern browser is the ability to have multiple tabs. One or two is OK, but when you end up with 20 or so sitting idle in your browser your battery pays the price.

Getting rid of tabs is a good start, but if you don’t want to change your usage, suspending tabs can be even better.

The Great Suspender is the tool you need. If you don’t use a tab for a few minutes, the Great Suspender will unload it, removing its workload on your computer but keeping the tab there ready to go again when you need it. All you have to do is click into the tab to reload it and continue where you left off.

It won’t suspend anything with active input, such as text chats or similar, while you can temporarily whitelist tabs, or permanently whitelist a whole domain so that your Guardian articles never get unloaded, for instance.

Other tab suspender tools are also available on the Chrome store, should the Great Suspender not fit the bill, including those that can suspend a group of tabs and restore them as one complete session.

3) Remove unnecessary extensions


 Remove those extensions you don’t need. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Extensions are part of what makes Chrome great, but each extension added to Chrome can increase its load on your computer, slowing it down and eating more battery life.

Simply disabling or removing them entirely from Chrome, particularly big or feature-packed ones such as those that allow the use of tools offline can dramatically reduce Chromes impact on your PC.

Type “chrome://extensions/” into the address bar and hit enter. Then all you have to do is click the box to either disable them, or the bin icon to remove them entirely. Try disabling them first, and if it doesn’t break anything you use regularly, then trash it. You can always add them back from the Chrome web store if you find you miss them.

4) Stop Chrome running in the background

Stop Chrome and Chrome apps running in the background. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Even once you’ve closed Chrome you might find it sticks around, consuming power unnecessarily. That’s because Chrome can run, often hidden in your system tray on Windows or your Dock on MacOS in support of web apps. Google’s Hangouts chat app, for instance, needs Chrome to run all the time to work. But in doing so it’s eating your laptop’s battery and hogging your computer’s resources.

To stop it from happening on Windows, find the Chrome icon in your system tray on the right-hand side of the screen (usually hidden under the little arrow). Right click on it, and uncheck “Let Chrome run in the background”. An alternative same setting can be found under advanced settings:

Type “chrome://settings/” into the address bar. Hit enter. Click the “Show advanced settings” link to expand the menu, scroll to the bottom and uncheck “Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed”.

To then run all the web apps your might have installed, such as Hangouts or Signal, you’ll have to keep Chrome open. But at least when you close Chrome it really will shut off.

5) Disable Google Drive offline access

Disable Google Drive offline access if you don’t use it. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Another tool Chrome uses for web apps that could be draining your battery life unnecessarily are background pages. They’re loaded in the background, as you might assume, and sit there ready for the web app. Signal’s Chrome app uses one, for instance, but one that is relatively heavy that you may or may not use or know you have enabled is Google Drive offline access for Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings.

It’s only useful for those documents you’ve stored offline and need to edit offline. For everything else it’s just a waste of computer resources.

To turn it off head to drive.google.com, click the settings cog in the right-hand corner and uncheck the box for Offline. It can always be re-enabled should you find you do need it at a later date.

6) Block Flash and make plugins click-to-play


Block Flash from running. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

In general browsing, many of the most demanding and therefore battery-draining elements on a page require a plugin, such as Adobe’s much maligned Flash, to run. By being selective about the plugins that run on a page you can make some of the worst offenders have less of an impact on your computer.

You can manually disable individual plugins, but the easiest way to save battery with plugins is to make them request to run each time. Then you can click and run the ones you want on the page – say for the video you want to see – without letting any of the others run unnecessarily.

Type “chrome://settings/” into the address bar. Hit enter. Click the “Show advanced settings” link to expand the menu and click the box marked “Content settings ... ” under Privacy.

On the latest version of Chrome scroll to “Unsandboxed plug-in access” and make sure the box marked “Ask when a site wants to use a plug-in to access your computer” is checked. It’s also worth checking the box marked “Block sites from running Flash” under Flash, although you may use some sites and services that still require Flash – you can add these as exceptions.

Source: This article was published on theguardian.com

There's no denying that in this day and age, most people rely on portable devices, particularly in running a few errands. As such, battery life of a device can be critical for many individuals.

While one can find quite a few high-end devices in the market, including Apple devices, touting impressive battery capacity, many customers, however, still want to maximize the battery life and lifespan of these gadgets, so they are able to do more with them.

Tech Times reported about Apple's Vice President of software engineering Craig Federighi confirming that force quitting apps does not aid in preserving the battery life of iPhones.

When an iPhone user asked Apple boss Tim Cook in an email if quitting the "iOS multitasking apps frequently" is beneficial to prevent a dead battery, Federighi replied with a concise "no and no" response.

Apple itself has devoted a page laying out a few tips to improve the battery life and battery lifespan of iPhone, iPad and other iDevices.

In its post, Apple defines battery life as the amount of time the device runs before the user needs to recharge it. Battery lifespan, in the meantime, pertains to the amount of time the battery lasts until it needs a replacement.

"Maximize both and you'll get the most out of your Apple devices, no matter which ones you own," it says.

Without further ado, here are a few tips from Apple that may significantly enhance your iDevice's battery life. These tips are not as tough as you think.

Update Your iDevice To The Latest Software

Whether you own an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, iPod Touch, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, updating your device to the latest version of OS X, iOS or watchOS will do the trick. The software updates are packed with advanced energy-saving technologies, so always ensure that your device runs the most recent version.

If you own an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, for instance, you can update your device into the latest software by heading to Settings > General > Software Update.

Avoid Exposing Your iDevice To High Temperatures

Refrain from exposing your device to temperatures higher than 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid damaging its battery capacity. Charging the device and storing it at high temperatures can damage it even more.

Remove The Device’s Case When Charging

Make sure to remove the style case of your device when you are charging it as it may generate excess heat. The heat can have an effect on its battery capacity. When you observe that your device gets hot, you have to take it out from its case.


Charge It Around 50 Percent When Storing The Device

If you would like to keep your device for a long time, you must have it half-charged. Once you store the device fully charged long term, this leads to your device having a shorter battery life. In contrast, whenever you store it fully discharged, the battery could result in a deep discharge state. On top of that, you should also keep it in a moisture-free, cool environment that’s lower than 32 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If, however, you intend to use the device after keeping it for some time, you may need to charge it for 20 minutes with the original adapter prior to using it.

Optimize Your iDevice’s Settings

The following techniques are surefire ways in optimizing the device’s battery life:

1. Adjust the brightness of your screen. You have to enable the auto-brightness of your device or dim its screen.

2. Make use of Wi-Fi rather than a cellular network when accessing data on your iPhone or iPad, since Wi-Fi connection consumes lesser power as opposed to the latter.

For your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, in the meantime, you have to turn off your Wi-Fi when you are not using it, as it eats up power. It may also help if you quit apps and disconnect peripherals that are not in use. Ejecting an SD card on your laptop can likewise help save your laptop's battery life.

Activate Your Device’s Low Power Mode

The Low Power Mode is a handy feature introduced with iOS 9. When your iPhone, for instance, goes down to 20 percent and 10 percent, it will allow you to enable this feature with only one tap. You can also manually configure it by heading over to Settings > Battery.

Activating the Low Power Mode of the device will significantly lessen its brightness, reduces the system animations and optimizes its performance. This will instantly be switched off when you recharge your phone.

Check Out Your Battery Usage

You are able to analyze your battery usage by going to Settings > Battery.

Moreover, you can further optimize your device’s battery life by carrying out these strategies:

1. Disable the feature allowing apps to refresh in the background by heading to Settings > General > Background App Refresh.

2. Turn off a particular app’s Location Services by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

3. Disable your push notifications on a particular app by going to Settings > Notifications. Hit the app and switch it off.

4. Switching on the Airplane mode can also help big in maximizing the battery life of your device when you are in an area with low or without cell coverage.

Don’t Charge The Device To A Computer That’s Turned Off

If you want to charge your iDevice to a computer via a USB, you need to make certain that the laptop or desktop isn’t turned off or set in a standby or sleep mode. This way, you can prevent the device’s battery from draining.

There you have it: the quick and easy tips to boost the battery life and battery lifespan of your iOS device.

Source: This article was published on techtimes.com By Dave Calpito Tech Times

The Cool Google Tools You Didn't Even Know About Until Now

Practically everyone knows that Google is the world's largest search engine. In fact, most people who own a computer or a mobile device are pretty familiar with other popular Google products too, such as YouTubeGmail, Chrome Web Browser, and Google Drive

It turns out that when it comes to Google, the tech giant has a lot of different products. Over the past 18 years of its short lifespan, Google has created over 140 products.

While using that many tools is probably overkill, it's always worth looking into the ones that could really help solve problems you regularly have, save time you'd rather not waste or accomplish something more creatively and efficiently.

Here are some Google tools that most people don't talk about much, but would be extremely handy to use in a wide range of situations.

1- Google Keep

Google Keep

Google Keep is a beautifully designed, visual note-taking app that can help you keep all your notes, to-do lists, reminders, images and all sorts of other tidbits of information organized and easy to view. The card-like interface makes it super intuitive to use, which you can customize any way you want by adding labels and colors.

Need to record some audio for a reminder? Or have a shopping list that you and your family members need to access and edit as you pick things up? Google Keep lets you do it all. You might just find that it's one of the most useful note-taking apps out there. More »

2- Google Goggles

Photo © Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Ever wished you could do a Google search for something according to what it looks like because you can't for the life of you remember what it's called? Well, Android users, you're in luck—because Google Goggles is an image-driven search engine that actually lets you snap a photo and use it to search for information about it. (Sorry iPhone users, Google Goggles isn't available on your platform!)

Just point your camera at a famous sculpture, a landmark at a specific location, a product you're using, or anything else to see if Google Goggles has it included in its vast database. You can also use it on barcodes and QR codes to find more information about products as well as related products. More »

3- Google Forms

Google Forms
Screenshot of Docs.Google.com/Forms

Many people are already very familiar with Google Docs, Google Sheets and even Google Slides in Google Drive, but do you know about Google Forms? It's just one other amazing tool that's somewhat hidden beneath all the others, which you can access in your Google Drive account by clicking the More option whenever you go to create a new type of file.

Google Forms makes it ridiculously easy to create surveys, questionnaires, multiple choice quizzes, subscription forms, event registration forms and more that you can share via a share Google link or embed anywhere on a website. You also get to see the information you collect in an organized analytics format that allows you to get close up to the details and a bigger picture glimpse of your responses. More »

4- Google Duo

Google Duo
Screenshot of Duo.Google.com

One of the most frustrating things about video messaging apps is that there are too many that require a certain device or an and corresponding user account. Want to to FaceTime with someone? You're out of luck if the person you want to FaceTime with doesn't have an iPhone! Love Snapchat's video call feature? Good luck video chatting with your mom if you have to first instruct her on how to create a Snapchataccount.

Google Duo is a simple one-to-one video calling app that just requires a phone number to get started and access to your contacts to see who else is using Google Duo. Tap a contact name to instantly call them. The app uses Wi-Fi or your data plan to bring video to the forefront on its super simple, super intuitive interface so you can talk and see each other face to face in real time. More »

5- Google Wallet

Google Wallet

When it comes to shopping online, sending money to someone, or receiving money from someone, it helps to keep it as simple and as easy as possible. Google Wallet works with any debit or credit card, allowing you to securely send money online (even via your mobile devices through the official app for iOS or Android) to someone just by knowing their email address or phone number. You can also request money through Google Wallet and have it automatically transferred to your bank account.

Google Wallet can help take the pain out of splitting restaurant bills, pitching in with others to buy a gift, planning a group trip and so much more. And if you use Gmail, you can easily attach money using Google Wallet to pay for something via a simple email message. More »

6- Inbox by Gmail

Inbox by Gmail
Screenshot of Google.com/Inbox

If you're a fan of Gmail, then you'll love Inbox by Gmail — a tool Google developed based on everything known about how people use Gmail. It's a slick, visual platform that makes it easy to view, organize, and respond to your email messages both on the web and on mobile devices with apps available for both iOS and Android.

In addition to making Gmail a lot easier to manage, other tools like reminders, bundles, highlights and a "snooze" button are worked into Inbox in a way that combines email management with other important tasks and organizational features. While there may be a slight learning curve to getting to know the platform and all it has to offer, going back to plain old Gmail would probably be out of the question once you're familiar with how Inbox works. More »

Source: This article was published on lifewire.com by Elise Moreau

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 13:12

Apple iPhone X (2017) rumors and news

Apple’s next iPhone isn’t supposed to arrive until much later in 2017, but that hasn’t stopped legions of fans from fervently speculating about it. Things may be a little different this year, as it’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Rumors suggest we may see up to three models — the iPhone 7S, the 7S Plus, and the iPhone X (aka, the iPhone 8). The latter is expected to be an expensive, technical showcase phone released as a celebratory model.

If you want to learn more about the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, head over here. A lot of this information out there is up in the air, but what we’re hearing is keeping us interested. Very interested. Here’s what we’ve learned so far about the iPhone X.


For some time now, we’ve been hearing rumors the iPhone X will have a curved edge-to-edge or bezel-less screen, potentially with OLED technology. However, this may have changed following the completion of the iPhone X’s early developmental stages.

The latest report comes from JPMorgan by way of 9to5Mac, and speculates that the iPhone X will receive an edge-to-edge display somewhat similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S8. The top and bottom bezels would still be fairly prominent, but the screen would wrap around the sides of the device. A sketch provided with the report shows the fingerprint sensor mounted within the display, though an associated spec sheet leaves it as an unknown with a literal question mark.

JPMorgan’s track record when it comes to rumors is spotty at best. Last week, the company claimed out of nowhere that Apple was planning to unveil the iPhone X at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. That would be an unprecedented and shocking move considering all the supposed production troubles the phone has run into, and the threat that it might actually be delayed until next year. Keeping that in mind, it would be wise not to take these rumors at face value.

However, if JPMorgan’s report holds true, it would mean Apple has retired its plan of a display covering the entire front of the device. Back in April, Bloomberg reported the company was testing a screen that measured out to be larger than that of the iPhone 7 Plus, but could be contained in a body the size of an iPhone 7.

Having tested various models, Apple decided to adopt a flat OLED screen on the iPhone X, according to anonymous sources talking to MacOtakara. The screen will be underneath a 2.5D piece of glass, and mounted inside a stainless steel chassis, with another piece of glass on the rear.

It might be curved. Bloomberg reports that Apple is testing prototypes with glass that slightly slopes on the front and back (the new OLED screen itself is flat, while the cover glass curves into a steel frame).

The screen may or may not be curved, but it’s likely to still be bezel-less. An image created by designer Benjamin Geskin on Twitter shows how the phone may look with a full-length screen and is based on sketches apparently made by a factory employee with knowledge of the iPhone X’s design. The screen stretches all the way to the bottom of the phone’s front panel, and a bezel at the top contains several sensors and a dual-lens front camera. On the rear is another dual-lens camera, but this time it’s mounted vertically.

Many reports suggested Apple is still finalizing the design for the new iPhone, such as this one from Mac Otakara which states that while there was a prototype built without a home button, it may not end up being a part of the final design. The site subsequently published another rumor on this subject, indicating Apple has chosen the designs which will move forward to the next stage of development.

A patent discovered by Apple Insider suggests that Apple has considered moving the front-facing sensors to underneath the display. For a closer look, you can check out U.S. patent No. 9,466,653, titled “Electronic devices with display-integrated light sensors.” These reports corroborate rumors brought to light by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, who was among the first to say the iPhone X also may not have a single bezel — that plays well with the idea of a single sheet of glass. The entire front of the device could be one giant display, and the Touch ID sensor would be embedded in the screen itself. This has been reiterated in The New York Times, which sourced two anonymous Apple employees.

The Wall Street Journal corroborated other rumblings about the iPhone X’s display, home button, and more. The iPhone X will reportedly feature a curved OLED screen similar to those on Samsung’s Galaxy S8 devices and it will also do away with the physical home button. And it will launch alongside two other smartphones. Analyst Ming-Chi Kou agreed, saying the iPhone X could see the elimination of the iconic home button and Touch ID sensor in favor of “virtual buttons” at the bottom of the screen. MacOtakara’s sources have also said the iPhone X will have a software home button, inside a so-called function area along the bottom of the phone.

The screen size of the new iPhone has been the subject of some debate, but it seems as though most reports agree to the size of 5.8 inches (like the Galaxy S8). Previously, Nikkei Asian Review suggested that the display would instead be 5 inches, however, the outlet, which is known for iPhone leaks, has since changed its tune in a revised report.

Kuo reports that the virtual buttons will take up part of the iPhone X’s screen, a rumored 5.8-inch OLED panel with a resolution of 2,800 x 1,242 pixels — a figure now agreed upon by Nikkei. And he believes the phone “will come with other biometric technologies that replace the current fingerprint recognition technology.” Kuo notes the overall footprint would be comparable to the 4.7-inch TFT-LED iPhone, though with a measurably larger display size and battery life.

Although going back to glass may seem like an odd retro move for Apple, it would also open up possibilities like wireless charging, which is nearly impossible to achieve with an all-metal device. Moreover, Kuo suggests that higher-end models of future iPhones will likely use stainless steel in their cases — so look out, world. We’re about to get real fancy.

OLED technology

One rumor that constantly crops up is the possible use of an Organic LED (OLED) screen on the iPhone X. OLED screens can offer deeper blacks and are often thinner than LCDs, and Apple has used this technology before with the Apple Watch. AMOLED is a different type of OLED, and Samsung, as well as many other manufacturers, have been using it on Android smartphones for years.

Using OLED on an iPhone is increasingly likely thanks to an April report from Nikkei and Bloomberg claiming Apple placed an order for between 70 million and 100 million OLED panels from Samsung. According to the publication, the South Korean company will be the sole producer of screens for the device. Nikkei attributes the news to one of Apple’s suppliers and said Samsung could produce as many as 95 million panels for the new iPhone before the end of 2017. Still, Apple is reported to be testing both OLED and LCD panels, curved and flat, as recently as the beginning of March.

Not only could the display be OLED, but it could also be True Tone, according to a report from MacRumors citing Barclays bank. The only Apple device with a True Tone display is the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. True Tone basically changes the white balance of the display depending on the ambient light. If you’re in a room with an orange light bulb, the screen will change a little to match the scene. It’s very similar to Night Shift, which adjusts the color to cut out blue light at night. Apple’s Touch ID technology could also be revamped to complement the bezel-less device, in that it may be replaced by a facial recognition system. As there are a lot of technical challenges to the technology, the company may use a combination of fingerprint and facial recognition technology.

If the iPhone X does come with an OLED screen, it’ll likely be expensive, possibly beyond $1,000. The Wall Street Journal reports the displays are costly to produce. However, the same report notes that Apple could decide against the OLED model altogether. There’s precedent for such a 180: Last year, a global shortage of sapphire glass forced Apple to abandon the material for the iPhone 7.

Naming, release date and price

Despite being referred to as the iPhone 8 in many rumors, the phone may come alongside the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus in late 2017. This may confuse things for 2018, when an iPhone 8 would be more logical based on Apple’s usual naming traditions.

One of the more surprising claims regarding the phone’s release comes courtesy of JPMorgan, which reports that every iPhone X will come bundled with AirPods. If true, this would be a stunning development, considering Apple is having a hard time filling orders for its wireless headphones as it is. Additionally, numerous publications have been saying for months that the new iPhone’s price will be a significant increase over previous generations, and the extra cost of packed-in AirPods would drive that up even higher.

Recent rumors indicate that while Apple may have been considering a 2017 release for the phone, the company will instead wait for 2018. Why? According to a research note, a number of supply chains have noted technical challenges in manufacturing the new device. Deutsche Bank also claims that sources from Foxconn are only expecting Apple to order parts for the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, according to a report from Business Insider. It’s possible that instead of waiting until 2018 to announce the new phone, Apple will announce it this year and start shipping to customers in 2018.

An alternative name that is reportedly being considered is the iPhone X. Cool, right? This comes from anonymous sources who spoke to Fast Company and also claim that the device will have a 5.8-inch OLED screen, no bezels, and a body made of stainless steel. The glass back from older iPhone models may make a return, and the familiar home button may disappear under the screen. Even the volume and sleep/wake keys may be replaced with touch-sensitive panels instead. All of these new features may come at a steep price in excess of $1,000.

Apple traditionally launches a new iPhone every year in September, but the latest reports indicate things may be a little different this year.

Bloomberg reported earlier that supply constraints may delay the iPhone X until “one or two months after” the typical fall introduction.

According to an analyst’s research note for investment banking firm Drexel Hamilton that was obtained by MacRumors, the iPhone X may be delayed several weeks after the September reveal due to challenges around its 3D-sensing technology — though it will still be available in time for the December holidays.

“Since it is only April, this situation could improve,” the analyst said, according to MacRumors. “Essentially, our contact believes customers will be able to pre-order the new 5.8-inch iPhone X, along with the new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones, in September; however, the 5.8-inch iPhone X will not be available for delivery until several weeks later.”

This lines up with previous reports from Economic Daily News, which said the new iPhone X won’t be delivered until October or November.

And now, there’s even more reason to believe that we’ll have to wait a bit longer than usual to see the newest iPhone. As per a report from Apple analyst KGI Ming-Chi Kuo, the restricted supply of a number of “cutting-edge components” needed for the highly anticipated handset will delay the iPhone to October or November. The firm asserts that “significant hardware upgrades” in the iPhone 8, including its custom OLED display panel, custom Apple A11 10-nanometer SoC, newly designed 3D touch module, and 3D sensing cameras, are all contributing to the bottleneck.

And this isn’t great news for Apple. According to KGI, a delay of even a couple months could hurt Apple sales, especially if competitors launch ahead of time.

There has been some disagreement over whether there will indeed be a total of three iPhone models released this year. As per a new rumor posted on April 20 by Chinese tech blog Micgadget.com, there will be just two handsets released this year. “Rumors say that Apple will release two iPhone 7S and one iPhone 8 (or iPhone Edition) models,” the blog post reads. “Today we can tell you, that it’s not true. This fall, we can see only two models with new technology. Very interesting that rumors leaked new iPhone 8 and big iPhone 8 Plus will have similar dual cameras.”

Take this with a grain of salt, however. Micgadget.com apparently has a rather inconsistent track record when it comes to Apple and its plans, and this singular report certainly flies in the face of the majority of other reports.

That said, there is another report suggesting we may not see three iPhones this year, though this one claims that it’s the iPhone 8 that will be late to the party. According to unsubstantiated gossip from iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, Apple won’t be able to release the iPhone 8 in 2017. Apparently, the leak from within Foxconn claims that Apple has only ordered the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, though packaging material for those handsets are said to arrive in factories as early as June.

Wireless charging

Bezalel Latitude Universal Charging Case

Apple has long been rumored to be working on wireless charging for a future version of the iPhone, and we now have even more evidence to support those rumors. According to a note from JPMorgan that was picked up by CNBC, Broadcom will supply the chips for wireless charging — which is somewhat surprising considering previous rumors that noted Apple would be building its own wireless charging tech. It’s possible that Broadcom will simply manufacture the chips that will be designed by Apple.

Just because Apple suggested it would use its own self-built tech, that doesn’t mean third parties won’t develop their own wireless charging accessories for the phone.

In fact, after Apple joined the Wireless Power Consortium, popular wireless charger manufacturer Powermat said it will work to support whatever wireless charging standard the new iPhone uses. Some reports suggest the device will support Qi charging, while others indicate it may use a modified version of Qi that won’t work with standard Qi chargers. Reuters reports that Apple has at least five different groups working on wireless charging technology.

The Wall Street Journal said in February that Apple will ditch the iPhone’s Lightning port in favor of USB Type-C, the industry standard connector for smartphones, laptops, and chargers. It isn’t clear from the report if Apple means to replace the iPhone’s Lightning port with a Type-C port or if it will simply adopt Type-C for the phone’s wall charger, and retain the Lightning port on the iPhone X itself.

A separate report by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed the iPhone X will have a more expensive logic board design, allowing for longer battery life, according to MacRumors. The new logic-board design would allow for the OLED iPhone to have dimensions similar to a 4.7-inch iPhone, but it could offer comparable battery life to a 5.5-inch iPhone.

Kuo expects the iPhone X to have a 2,700mAh L-shaped two-cell battery pack. The OLED display could also allow the device to be more energy-efficient, meaning it could have better battery life than previous 5.5-inch iPhones.


If the iPhone X is made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone range, then it’s logical to expect Apple to make it look very special indeed. Throughout the many months of speculation, it has been rumored the iPhone X will have a bezel-less screen, which may result in other alterations to the overall design of the phone.

Our latest look at the possible design is a Twitter leak, showing a transparent case with a large, vertically orientated camera cutout, speaker cutouts that closely resemble the iPhone 7, and an oversize sleep/wake key cover. These aspects all match previous rumors about the phone, but the source of the case isn’t clear, or if the case is a prototype built only on leaked specifications — which may not end up being accurate. For now, it’s an interesting look at how rumors are shaping our perception of the iPhone X, rather than solid proof this will be the final design.


Before this, photos of a “CNC dummy unit,” were posted on Twitter by @VenyaGeskin1. Geskin has also been responsible for other iPhone X leaks. The source isn’t confirmed, but the dummy phone was apparently obtained from a Foxconn employee. Such a device would be used during the design and development process, but isn’t proof of the final design. Other companies, such as those that make accessories, may also make this type of dummy phone based on rumored dimensions, so don’t take it as final evidence of a future iPhone design.

Benjamin Geskin/Twitter

According to the leak, the screen takes up the front of the phone, but still has 4mm bezels. The images show dual front cameras, glass on the front and back, and a metal frame. On the rear is a vertical camera arrangement, similar to that seen in other rumors, along with a larger power button on the side. It’s speculated the final version will be black, rather than silver as seen here, and this has been visualized in a considerably more attractive concept render created by Instagram user le.pich.

apple iphone news x concept le pich
apple iphone news x concept le pich

Le Pich/Instagram

apple iphone news x concept le pich
apple iphone news x concept le pich

Le Pich/Instagram

The images are close to previous rumors, but in a report from iDropNews citing a Foxconn employee, Apple is supposedly working on two different versions of the iPhone X concurrently, but will ultimately choose just one for release. It’s not certain whether the one we’re seeing in these leaks will go on to be released.

The primary difference between the two models appears to be the placement of Touch ID. The company’s more forward-looking proposal features a fingerprint sensor underneath the display, while a more conservative plan places it at the back, similar to many Android phones.

The version with Touch ID below the screen is said to have the same dimensions as the iPhone 7, with a 5.8-inch OLED screen that runs over the entire surface of the device and 4mm bezels on every side. The display matches the contours of the phone, with heavily rounded corners, and also conceals the front-facing camera. The report also mentions a large power button with two points of contact, but did not clarify its purpose. The render for that device is shown here.

As for the backup plan? Apple’s other rumored version of the iPhone X trades those more ambitious features for more conventional ones. The purported schematics for this model have appeared on SlashLeaks, and they show a device that actually looks quite similar to the LG G6, at least from the front. This iPhone X would be larger than the other (as well as the iPhone 7) in every dimension, with more pronounced bezels and the top and bottom, and a conventional display that ditches the rounded corners. With the larger bezels, the front-facing camera can return to its current position along the top of the phone. Touch ID, on the other hand, is relegated to the middle rear, below the Apple logo.

Both models appear to feature a vertically arranged dual-lens camera. If Apple encounters problems testing the iPhone X that it really wants to launch, or supply constraints with the fingerprint sensor and OLED display make it unfeasible, as has been speculated, the backup plan could see the light of day.

Before this, a report from market research firm Cowen and Company suggested the iPhone X’s earpiece, FaceTime camera, and Touch ID fingerprint sensor would be embedded into the screen, allowing for a seamless edge-to-edge front panel. It said Apple may switch to Synaptic’s optical-based fingerprint reader for the new Touch ID, citing it as “currently the only workable solution” for detecting a fingerprint through a smartphone screen.

But the designs are posing a challenge for Apple’s suppliers. According to Apple Insider, yields of the under-screen Touch ID sensor are low — so low that Apple may consider alternative designs if the production problems can’t be solved.

A11 processor

Every year, Apple upgrades the processor in its new iPhone. The iPhone X, like the 7S and 7S Plus, will likely get the new A11 chip. DigiTimes reports the chip will use a 10-nanometer manufacturing process, like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 and Samsung’s Exynos 8895. The chip should be even faster than the A10 Fusion processor, which has been heralded by critics as the best mobile phone processor.

New reports indicate that the new A11 chip is set to soon enter production, according to Economic Daily News, which notes that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will begin production of the new A11 chip in April, and will aim to produce 50 million chips before July. Not only that, but the firm will reportedly produce 100 million chips before the end of 2017. iPhone sales, in fact, are estimated to hit astronomical numbers of 220 to 230 million units. And in order to supply this demand, ADI, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Cypress, NXP, Qualcomm, STMicroelectronics, and TI are reported to be making Apple’s chips.

According to Chinese research firm Trendforce, the upcoming iPhone’s will have plenty of internal storage as they may come in 64GB and 256GB configurations.

Apple is also looking to build its own graphics processor for the iPhone, though we may not see this technology until later models.

Rear dual camera setup and “revolutionary” 3D front camera

The camera has always been a strong feature on the iPhone, so what have we heard about the iPhone X?

For the front camera, Apple’s testing dual lenses. That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that the company using camera components from Sony.

A dual-lens rear camera is expected on the rear, a la the iPhone 7, but it may shift orientation to a vertical layout. This has been seen in several schematics based on rumor, and according to MacOtakara. In a later rumor, the site says the cameras are likely to have similar functionality to the existing iPhone 7 Plus, but adds the vertical layout may be to enable better use inside a virtual reality headset.

Rumors have also suggested the iPhone X will have a thing or two in common with Microsoft’s depth-sensing Kinect sensor. According to a report published by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the upcoming iPhone’s front camera boasts a “revolutionary” infrared sensor that can sense the three-dimensional space in front of it.

It’s said to be aimed at taking selfies. According to Kuo, the front sensor merges depth information with 2D images for features like facial recognition in tandem with Touch ID. It could be used to replace a video game character’s head with that of the user or to generate a 3D selfie that would integrate seamlessly with virtual reality applications.  The technology is being developed by PrimeSense, the company behind Microsoft’s Kinect; and Apple is likely to open these 3D scanning capabilities to third-party developers.

This front-camera may also be used to power iris-sensor technology, like Samsung’s Galaxy S8.

According to a report from The Korea Economic Daily, Apple is collaborating with LG to create a dual-camera module that would allow for 3D photography. While Apple previously patented 3D-object and gesture recognition, it’s unclear whether the upcoming iPhone will bring these patents to life.

Better water resistance, and glass, ceramic, steel?

iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Sources tell Bloomberg that the Apple tested an ambitious prototype with a slightly curved front and steel frame, but a glass back with more dramatic curves on the top and bottom like the iPhone design from 2007. Supply problems may prevent the company from shipping it, though.

Apple’s reported “backup” design is a simple frame with an aluminum back and slightly larger dimensions.

KGI Securities Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that Apple may experiment with either glass, ceramic, or plastic backs on the iPhone X. But new rumors suggest that Apple may go with a stainless steel frame instead. If the report from DigiTimes is true, it would mark a return to the material for Apple —  it was last used in the iPhone 4S. Subsequently, a stainless steel chassis with glass front and rear has been rumored by MacOtakara, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the project. The metal used may be an evolution of the metal used on the Apple Watch.

The iPhone 7 was the first device in the iPhone family that could be submerged up to a meter underwater for 30 minutes. Naturally, rumor has it that Apple’s going to take it a step further with the next iPhones, ramping up the IP rating from IP67 to IP68 and putting it on par with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy S8. That rumor comes from the Korea Herald, which cites “multiple sources.” Most people will hardly notice a difference, to be fair. The IP68-rating allows submersion up to about 1.5 meters for 30 minutes, a minor improvement over the 1-meter depth for IP67-certified devices.

Article originally published on 07-25-2016 by Kyle Wiggers. Christian de Looper contributed to this report. Article updated on 05-08-2017 by Adam Ismail: Added JPMorgan reports regarding edge-to-edge display and packed-in AirPods.

A version of this essay was originally published at Tech.pinions, a website dedicated to informed opinions, insight and perspective on the tech industry.

This week saw the launch of yet another streaming pay TV service, this time from Hulu, which is offering around 50 channels, including live TV and the four major broadcast networks, for $40 a month. Hulu is the fifth major company to enter this market over the last couple of years, following Sling, Sony, DirecTV and YouTube. Each offering has its strengths and weaknesses, and each makes different trade-offs in trying to achieve the mythical sweet spot for the cord-cutter. Local channels continue to be the biggest challenge, but another is trying to create bundles consumers will go for, and each company has taken a different approach.

The mythical $35 price point

I’ve noted before that these over-the-top pay TV providers seem to believe there’s a mythical price point around $35 at which cord-cutters will leap to buy their service. Each provider seems to aim at that target with at least one of its offerings, though we’ve seen those strategies evolve over time. Hulu is the only provider not to offer at least one package at or below $35, and that’s at least in part because it packages its $8 or $12 video-on-demand service into its $40 standard package.

But to hit that $35 price point, these companies have to ditch many of the channels that have driven the average traditional pay TV spend per month to around $100. Which ones to ditch? The sports channels are among the most expensive, so that seems an obvious place to start, but they’re also one of the few things keeping live TV alive and a key requirement for many cord cutters.

Only one company — Sling — has kept ESPN out of any of its base channel lineups, while all the others include at least one ESPN channel in every package, and several in the more expensive ones. YouTube solved the problem by dealing almost exclusively with the owners of the four major broadcast networks, so it includes their channels but excludes Turner, Viacom, Scripps and a number of other key channels. Given how much sports is either on regional sports networks or Turner channels (particularly basketball), they’re not offering a comprehensive lineup. Viacom has been hardest hit by these OTT packages, with only DirecTV and Sling carrying their channels and the others taking a pass.

Even though these companies, for the most part, seem to be aiming at that sweet spot of $35 or under, it’s quite possible to spend an amount monthly that’s much closer to the traditional TV package. PlayStation Vue’s top package costs $65 before add-ons, while Hulu’s offering can get up to $65 with extra features and channels. DirecTV’s base packages top out at $70 before add-ons. Consumers have to be really committed to ditching the cable company to go for these packages that offer few savings at these higher price points, especially given the holes in some of the lineups.


One of the great possibilities that should come with OTT pay TV services is flexibility. After all, people don’t just want to pay less; they also want to have more control over which channels they get and pay for, ideally moving toward an a la carte approach. And yet Hulu and YouTube TV offer minimal flexibility at this point, with a single base package with the option to add Showtime. The other three, however, offer more choices, with two to four base packages each and, in Sling’s case, a great number of add-on channel packages to suit topical interests or even channels from other countries. It has gone so far as to call what it’s offering today “a la carte TV.” Even though that’s a bit of a stretch, it’s certainly closer to realizing that ambition than any of the others. Meanwhile, the standard packages often bundle channels in a way that makes little sense to the consumer, mixing sports and news, lifestyle and movies in seemingly random ways that likely reflect deals with content owners far more than true consumer interests.


Some of these players have piled on features in the hopes these will entice customers looking for more than just a screaming deal on a smaller set of channels. DVR functionality is deemed to be a major draw. Most of the offerings have a DVR component, though it’s often a poor substitute for a real DVR, with limitations on skipping ads being the biggest bugbear. Some make up for it with VoD services, but those also often show ads, reflecting just how much power the traditional content owners still have and how much TV business models still need ads to survive.

User interfaces are another potential differentiator, with each company having its own take on how to reinvent the electronic programming guide. Some favor familiarity and a more traditional approach while others, including Hulu, focus on recommendations and a completely new (and unfamiliar) user interface. None of those I’ve tried (and I’ve tried all but PlayStation Vue) have cracked it, and several have either awful user interfaces altogether or significant issues.

Device support

Part of the promise of future TV services is the ability to watch what you want, when you want, where you want, including on the device of your choosing. With that in mind, these services certainly give you options that go far beyond a traditional set-top box, but they don’t all do equally well in supporting a wide range of devices. Interestingly, PlayStation Vue, which was very limited in its device support at first, now leads in this department, but new offerings like YouTube and Hulu are still lacking. Not all offer web interfaces, either, requiring users to either download native apps on their computers or stick to other devices.

Local channels are still the biggest issue

As I wrote several years ago, local channels were always likely to be the biggest challenge facing streaming pay TV providers because of the structure of the U.S. market and its affiliate system for TV stations. Because many local stations aren’t owned by the broadcasters, the latter have little control over getting those stations on board as part of a national rollout. As such, each of the services has made its own decision about how to roll out local channels, in some cases, offering all the major channels in theory but in practice only in limited geographic areas, while YouTube TV is only available at all in the areas where it has good local channel support, as befits its strong ties to the broadcasters. PlayStation seems to be doing better on the CBS side, leveraging the work CBS has done for its own All Access service, and it’s the only one of these services to offer any local channels (and even then only one) where I live in Utah.

A growing but frustrating set of options

What we’re left with, then, is a growing but ultimately frustrating set of options for those wanting to ditch their traditional pay TV provider and find a cheaper, more flexible, more modern alternative. Each of these services has its pros and cons, with some leading on content flexibility but lacking on the user interface, while others major in features but force users into narrow channel packages.

The table below summarizes the current situation as well as I can — one other thing I’ve found in researching these services is how hard they make it to easily see the channel lineups, pricing and features. None of them is great at this.

For now, would-be cord-cutters are often left choosing the best of a set of bad options, or even combining several of these to get what they really want. What I was most struck by with Hulu’s launch this week is how it has become my go-to for video on demand but adding live to the experience — especially missing local channels — adds far less than $30 of additional value.

What I want is a service that combines Hulu-like breadth of on-demand content with a live option for the major sports I watch and I guess I’m not alone in that. If I could combine Netflix, Hulu and an on-demand sports service that carried all the games I care about, that would serve me well but it doesn’t exist today. We can only hope that someday it will.

Jan Dawson is founder and chief analyst at Jackdaw, a technology research and consulting firm focused on the confluence of consumer devices, software, services and connectivity. During his 13 years as a technology analyst, Dawson has covered everything from DSL to LTE, and from policy and regulation to smartphones and tablets. Prior to founding Jackdaw, Dawson worked at Ovum for a number of years, most recently as chief telecoms analyst, responsible for Ovum’s telecoms research agenda globally. Reach him @jandawson.

Source: This article was published on recode.net

If you follow discussions about the Internet of Things, you’ve probably heard this stunning prediction at least once: The world will have 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Ericsson’s former CEO Hans Vestburg was among the first to state it in a 2010 presentation to shareholders. The following year, Dave Evans, who worked for Cisco at the time, published the same prediction in a white paper.

Today, that figure has arguably done more than any other statistic to set sky-high expectations for potential IoT growth and profits. Remarkably, those projections weren’t even close to the highest of the time—in 2012, IBM forecasted 1 trillion connected devices by 2015. “The numbers were getting kind of crazy,” recalls Bill Morelli, a market research director for IHS Markit.

Now it’s 2016, and we’re nowhere near 1 trillion IoT devices, or even 50 billion for that matter. The current count is somewhere between Gartner’s estimate of 6.4 billion (which doesn’t include smartphones, tablets, and computers), International Data Corporation’s estimate of 9 billion (which also excludes those devices), and IHS’s estimate of 17.6 billion (with all such devices included).

Since they first made their projections, both Ericsson and Evans have lowered their expectations from 50 billion for 2020: Evans, who is now CTO of Stringify, says he expects to see 30 billion connected devices by then, while Ericsson figures on 28 billion by 2021. Other firms have adopted similar tones: IHS Markit projects 30.7 billion IoT devices for 2020, and Gartner expects 20.8 billion by that time (excluding smartphones, tablets, and computers). Lastly, IDC anticipates 28.1 billion (again, not counting those devices).

Meanwhile, the popular 50 billion figure continues to be widely cited. Even Evans is a bit surprised by its lasting power. “I think people do tend to latch onto numbers that seem really hard to fathom,” he says. “Fifty billion is pretty staggering.”

Forecasting the future is no easy task, and there’s nothing unusual or wrong about analysts and companies revising their projections. However, IoT forecasts are especially large with significant variability among firms and over time, skewing tens of billions of units in either direction.

At the same time, any market with such potential girth dazzles entrepreneurs and investors. For comparison, 18.6 billion microcontrollers were shipped in 2014, and 10.4 billion RFID tags will be shipped this year. Given the forecasts, IoT is expected to top them all. “I don't think we’ve seen this type of market size before, to be honest,” says Vernon Turner, a senior IoT analyst for IDC.

Peter Middleton, a research director at Gartner involved in the firm’s IoT forecasts, says future IoT projections are intended to create “market efficiency,” helping companies make smart choices about whether they should enter a new area and informing venture capitalists as they decide where to place their investments. Earlier this week, Intel executive Venkata Renduchintala emphasized the company’s enthusiasm for IoT in a keynote at its annual developers’ forum.

Still, it would seem the practical utility of IoT estimates is limited if they have the potential to be revised by many billions of units. Turner at IDC says such variation and fluidity of these numbers is typical of early estimates focused on nascent markets. The point, he suggests, is to think of the estimates as a general signal, rather than focus on the specific numbers.

There are many reasons why projections from different firms may change over time, or simply not match up in the first place. Each company starts with its own definition of IoT and refines its methods over time.

To begin, many collect annual sales data from manufacturers that produce connected devices, or components such as semiconductors, as well as from companies that sell and ship those products to customers. Then firms subtract a percentage of devices to account for those that will be replaced or thrown out each year. When added to estimates from past years, that leaves the firms with the “install base,” or approximate number of connected devices in use at a given time.

Some firms include other variables, such as the amount of money that companies spend annually on information technology. Evans factors in industry growth rates based in part on Moore’s Law, the longstanding prediction that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every year or two, and Metcalfe’s Law, which states that the utility of a network increases with each new device that connects to it.

Firms often have no real way to know how many devices that are sold and shipped actually wind up connected to the Internet, so some conduct consumer and business surveys to gauge how devices are used. Morelli at IHS Markit estimates 90 percent of communications devices (including smartphones) are switched on, but perhaps only 50 percent of cars and accessories are ever connected.  

Janna Anderson, an expert in emerging technologies at Elon University, says there is a degree of self-interest at play in projections, too. In 2013, she helped the Pew Internet Project survey more than 1,600 experts about what the IoT might look like in 2025. Not surprisingly, she found that “those who are marketing it and those whose bottom line is somehow impacted by enthusiastic predictions are more likely to make them.”

Middleton at Gartner, who publishes one of the most conservative IoT estimates available, also believes boosterism plays a role in some analyses. “It's human nature,” he says. “If you're a participant in the industry, and you’re launching new products, there’s a lot of enthusiasm that builds and a lot of hype.”

One of the puzzling things about IoT estimates is that they attempt to anticipate demand for devices that have largely not yet been invented or commercialized. At this point, even the strictest definitions of IoT remain fuzzy because companies are still working on the technologies and business cases. “Will connected pets be a thing of the future? No one knows,” Evans says.



In fact, IoT skeptics often point to Bluetooth-enabled toasters as an example of senseless connectivity that will only ever be used by a handful of early adopters. But Evans is confident that entrepreneurs will find many millions of practical ways to serve customers through the IoT in due time. “I think technology needs to solve real problems, and if it doesn't solve real problems in the real world, it's probably a gimmick and will die on the vine,” he says.  

Though past estimates haven’t exactly panned out, Bob Heile, standards director for the Wi-SUN Alliance and chair of IEEE 802.15 (a working group for wireless personal area networks), says the general trend that early IoT analysts predicted has proven true. There are more and more connected devices today than five or 10 years ago, even if they’re being connected at a slightly slower rate. “What I do know, because the trend is absolutely undeniable, is more and more things are getting the ability to communicate and connect to something else,” he says.

As the next 10 billion IoT devices come online, the industry will face some formidable challenges, such as ensuring the security of its devices, powering billions of sensors, and handling all the resulting e-waste. Despite those issues, Evans isn’t bashful about anticipating an even bigger future. “I could see trillions of connected things, ultimately,” he says.

Author: Amy Nordrum
Source: spectrum.ieee.org

Google is the King of the Internet. It receives more the 2.4 million searches in only 60 seconds, and that was only that last time I checked. You can bet that the numbers have gone up and will continue to rise. I’m talking about a company that leaks professionalism everywhere. But, just like everyone else, Google also has a sense of humor and likes to fool around from time to time with pranks like Google Easter Eggs, Google Gravity, Google Anti-Gravity, Google Gravity Sphere, and Google Gravity Underwater etc.

With everything Google does to make our lives easier, they can goof around as much as they want. How would you feel if you had to be serious all the time?

Since Google does know that there are times when you have to get down to business, it’s not going to play its pranks regularly. That’s why you have to look for them. But the good news is that Google makes those funny Google pranks like Google Easter Eggs and Google Gravity easy to find. So, whenever you need to relax from a busy day at work, I’m sure these Google Gravity pranks from Google will make you laugh.

Google Gravity, Google Anti Gravity, Google Underwater, Google Gravity Sphere: Everything You Need to Know

So we have put together all Google Gravity pranks including Google Gravity, Google Anti Gravity, Google Gravity Underwater, and Google Gravity Sphere. So let’s find out everything that you need to know about Google Gravity pranks.

What is Google Gravity?

Google Gravity is a trick you can see on the search engine that Google made in 2009. It’s based on javascript, and you can either see it by using some third-party sites, or you can use direct Google. You will need a browser that doesn’t have Google instant results, but you can easily change this by following a few simple steps.

Sign into the browser and in the address bar type google.com/preferences. Look for Google Instant Prediction that should be at the top and select Never Show Instant Results. Don’t forget to save the changes at the bottom or else the trick is not going to work.

Now, type google.com in the address bar like you normally would. Type in Google Gravity and select I’m Feeling Lucky. Wait a few seconds, and you are going to see how the search engine will come crashing down. If you want to mess things up, even more, click on any element and throw them across the screen by releasing the mouse button. You can throw them around as much as you want to.

If you need to search for something, wait for about a minute and everything will go back to normal. You can also open another tab and start your searching that way, just in case you are in a hurry.

If the first method has too many steps and you want to enjoy Google Gravity at a faster rate, then you can through above link.

What is Google Gravity Sphere?

Since we are on the subject of Google Gravity, I could leave out Google Gravity Sphere. As the name indicates, there is a sphere involved that is created by web content. All of these elements will spin in a spherical manner, doing its best to impress you.

This Google trick will give you a 3D experience of the web, and it’s a nice trick to show the kids. If you needed to search for something, you wouldn’t be able to do that with this tricks since it won’t let you. Ah, who cares, it will still be fun to look at, though.

What is Google Gravity Sphere - Google Gravity, Google Anti Gravity, Google Gravity Underwater, Google Gravity Sphere: Everything You Need to Know

You can control the direction of the sphere spins by simply sliding the mouse cursor across it. To know how to pin it in the direction you want, just think opposites. If you want to spin it to the right, swipe right to the left. If you want to spin it to the left, swipe left to right.

To stop the sphere place the mouse cursor right in the middle of it. You can even move it up and down by moving the cursor in those directions. The sphere won’t spin up or down but will only slightly move in those directions.

Besides, the previously mentioned, that is all you ca do with Google Sphere. You may not be able to do much with it, but don’t look at it for too long or you’ll get dizzy. Let me warned you.

What is Google Anti-Gravity?

If the Google search engine fell with Google Gravity, you can imagine what Google Anti-Gravity does, right? If you have always liked looking at how those people and objects in the space float around, then you are going to like looking at Google Anti-Gravity since things will float around here as well.

With this trick, everything will be in its place when you first arrive but little by little they will start floating around. There will be nothing you can do keep them from floating. The only thing you can do is have fun and throw the object around that instead of falling, they will continue to float around as if it were in space.

This is a great prank to play on someone that might not be knowing about its existence. You might have a hard time finding someone who hasn’t heard of it, but if you ever do, you have the perfect prank to play on them and make them believe they have broken your computer.

What is Google Underwater?

I had an aquarium many years ago, and I just loved sitting in from of it looking at the fishes swim. I know, it may not sound very exciting, but trust me, it can be very relaxing. If you like aquariums too and want to enjoy one from your computer’s display, meet Google Underwater.

What this does it that it turns your screen into an aquarium with sharks, and other weird looking fishes. You will see almost everything an aquarium has such as sand, starfish and naturally water.

With Google Underwater you won’t be able to toss the elements around like in the other Google pranks. Instead, you can make them move by clicking on the water or holding the click and moving the cursor around in and out of the water.

Those clicks will provoke small or big waves that will move everything around. The Google logo, buttons, or search bar will not sink to the bottom no matter how much you try. They will continue to float on top waiting for you to search for something.

Make Gold Coins Fall from the Sky

When you do enter something, let’s say Cats, and then click in I’m Feeling Lucky, Google coins and cups will fall from the sky (not many just one coin and cup). Don’t try to catch the coins thinking you will start adding points. Google Underwater is not a game, unfortunately. Those gold cups and coins will only fall to the bottom and disappear, but if you click on them you can keep them floating, but you will never get anywhere with that, though.

It would have been nice if you could start a score and try and catch the coins and cups before the sharks or fish ate them. It wouldn’t have been the most exciting game out there, but it would have improved it a lot.

I also noticed that if you click on the sharks and fishes while they are swimming, it slows them down. Sorry, but that as exciting as it’s going to get for Google Underwater.

Author: Rahul Dubey
Source: https://techreviewpro.com/anti-google-gravity-underwater-13685/

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