Google Testing More Detailed Weather Card for Google Now

Google Testing More Detailed Weather Card for Google Now: Reports

According to some Android users, Google is testing a revamped weather card in Google Now. The card includes new features along with major changes in design and looks.

The new weather card in Google Now maximises, appearing like a full-fledged app. You can swipe to switch between Today, Tomorrow, and the next 10 Days. The new weather card also appears to be colour-coded on the time of day, unlike the current one, which mostly includes white background with minimal text in black and grey.

In the Today section, Google is also testing some graphics based on current weather. The full-screen card is seen with a frog-like character seen doing different test depending on the weather such as beaches and hiking trips.

In terms of features, the new Google Now weather card in addition to high/low temperature for different days, also shows more information including air quality, sunrise and sunset times, and related health messages. The updated Google Now weather card appears to be under testing with only a limited number of users as of now.

Google last month updated its Now on Tap feature, which debuted with the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS version. The feature now understands a handful of more languages including French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Korean. It can also help users quickly track flight and package status. It now also shows an improved interface for related news articles.

To recall, the Now on Tap feature is a big improvement to Google Now as it provides contextual information within an app itself. It works within any app and automatically searches the context present on the screen by just long pressing the home button.

Lenovo Executive Says Google Play Services Coming to China in 2016

Lenovo Executive Says Google Play Services Coming to China in 2016

Google is planning to reintroduce Google Play Services to China this year, according to one of its partners. Chen Xudong, Senior Vice President of Lenovo Group and President of the Lenovo Mobile Business Group, laid bare the Mountain View company’s plan. Google had pulled most of its products and services out of the country in January 2010.

Chen (via 9to5Google) said that Google plans to re-enter the world’s most populous nation at some point this year with Google Play Services. He didn’t share a firm time-line, however. He also didn’t share any other details on the matter.

Reuters reported in November that Google was aiming to launch the China version of the Google Play in 2016. According to publication’s sources, the search giant was working on building an app store that was not connected to the overseas versions of Google Play. The report added that Google would use the app and content store as the launch pad for bringing its other products and services in the country.

When Google pulled its services out of China in 2010, it cited unwillingness to comply with the local government’s censorship laws as the reason behind the strategic move. Over the years, the company’s executives have shown their desire to re-enter China, one of the biggest markets in the world.

While Google’s apps and services are currently missing from China, Android continues to be the dominant mobile operating system in the country. The OS exists in the form of custom ROMs based off the AOSP, or Android Open Source Project version of Google’s mobile operating system, not requiring Google Mobile Services (GMS).

Trend Micro Antivirus Vulnerability Left Users Open to Attack

Trend Micro Antivirus Vulnerability Left Users Open to Attack: Report

Security firm Trend Micro has released an update for its antivirus suite that among other things fixes a vulnerability that allowed an attacker to execute malicious code on an affected system. The emergency patch release comes a week after a Google Project Zero researcher called out Trend Micro, disclosing the vulnerability to public. The vulnerability affected all Trend Micro antivirus users.

A password management tool that was installed by default with Trend Micro antivirus suite was found vulnerable to remote code execution attack. The discovery was made by Google’s Project Zero security researchers. Tavis Ormandy, a researcher with Project Zero, revealed the details of the vulnerability to the public last week. Users who never utilised the feature were also affected.

Built on JavaScript and Node.js, the password management tool laid open a number of ports, exposing a Trend Micro antivirus user to any malicious JavaScript request. Furthermore, Trend Micro also used a self-signed security certificate in an attempt to offset HTTPS errors.

In addition, the vulnerability also allowed an attacker to view contents of a password manager built into the malware protection program. “I don’t even know what to say – how could you enable this thing by default on all your customer machines without getting an audit from a competent security consultant?” Ormandy wrote.

“You need to come up with a plan for fixing this right now. Frankly, it also looks like you’re exposing all the stored passwords to the internet, but let’s worry about that screw up after you get the remote code execution under control.”

Ormandy had advised Trend Micro to disable the concerned feature right away and hire an external consultant to audit the code. This would have ensured that at least users were not vulnerable to the attack. Trend Micro, however, didn’t disable the tool and issued an emergency fix.

“In my opinion, you should temporarily disable this feature for users and apologise for the temporary disruption, then hire an external consultancy to audit the code. In my experience dealing with security vendors, users are quite forgiving of mistakes if vendors act quickly to protect them once informed of a problem, I think the worst thing you can do is leave users exposed while you clean this thing up. The choice is yours, of course,” said Ormandy.

It looks like Google gave $6 million in free advertizing to the Church of Scientology

Google gave about $6 million in free advertising to the Church of Scientology last year.
In 2014, Google gave about $6 million in free advertising to the Church of Scientology, an activist for the church has claimed. Few people noticed the move at the time: The information resurfaced a few days ago on Hacker News, a technology news aggregator, under a headline that said, “Scientology says it’s received $5.7m from Google in ad grants.”

That headline referred to a story from September 2014 by Tony Ortega, the independent journalist and former editor of the Village Voice. Ortega wrote:

At a $100 per person event held in the San Fernando Valley on September 6, about 500 Scientologists were told, among other things, that Google has approved advertising grants totaling $5.7 million for Scientology churches around the country.

Google was not able to comment when reached by Business Insider, due to staff being away on seasonal holidays.

A spokesperson for Scientology told us, “According to its website, Google works with more than 20,000 nonprofits in over 50 countries. Unlike Tony Ortega and others pushing this story, Google is not bigoted or prejudiced against any religion.”

It is likely that the free advertising came from the Google Ad Grant programme, which provides free advertising for non-profit organizations and charities. You can see more about Google’s ad programme for non-profits here and the criteria for eligibility here.

The Church of Scientology was officially recognized as a tax-exempt religion by the US IRS in 1993, in a controversial decision that came after a years-long campaign of personal attacks on IRS employees, according to The New York Times. Until then, American court rulings had dismissed the idea that Scientology was a real religion, citing “the commercial character of much of Scientology,” its “virtually incomprehensible financial procedures” and its “scripturally based hostility to taxation.”

Following the IRS decision, Google may have felt it was not appropriate to distinguish between one officially recognized church and another.

Ortega’s information came from a transcript of a video of a Scientology fundraising meeting in the San Fernando Valley. The speaker was Brandy Harrison, Scientology’s “Building Expansion Director Int.” She said:

In the Bay Area a representative of Google was introduced to Scientology and our 4th dynamic campaigns through the Stevens Creek Ideal Org. This representative connected us up with the department responsible for non-profit advertisements. And as a result, Google awarded us a $10,000-a-month grant for free online advertising.

But that’s not all because Google looked into the responses that we were getting from this advertisement, and they increased that grant to the Truth About Drugs and Way to Happiness campaigns, to $40,000 a month.

But that’s not all. The second man, now with established Google teams solely for the Church of Scientology, suggested that we might want to extend the same grants to some of our class v orgs around the world. We applied, and now today, every ideal org in the United States has $10,000 a month of free online advertising.

In fact, in total so far, we have had $5.7 million in Google grants already approved for our 4th dynamic campaigns in United States ideal orgs.

The $5.7 million claim ought to be taken with a pinch of salt. Former Scientologists say many claims the church makes about its size and success are hugely exaggerated. (For instance, the church has claimed it has about 8 million members but surveys suggest there only around 55,000 in the US.)

It is not the first time Scientology has taken advantage of policies that Google extends to all. In 2002, CNET reported that Google removed search result links to the website Xenu.net, which publishes news and criticism of the church. The takedown happened because the church made a Digital Millennium Copyright Act request, citing Xenu.net’s publication of its internal materials, which Scientology has copyright over.

Microsoft is doubling down on car tech as Google and Apple creep up

In November, Microsoft and Volvo also announced plans to let people shop for cars using Microsoft's virtual reality headset, HoloLens and to develop self-driving cars.
Microsoft is thinking through all the fun things you’ll be doing in your car as automobiles gradually become autonomous and drive themselves. And the company is showcasing some of its ideas and technology at CES this week.

For instance, Harman, which makes car navigation and entertainment systems, will be adding Microsoft Office 365 software to its systems, Microsoft said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Drivers will be able to use voice commands to schedule meetings, hear and respond to emails or make Skype calls when the car is in park, or, someday in the future, when the car is driving you around.

Meanwhile, German automotive engineering company IAV is working on tech that will basically turn your car into a giant Windows 10 machine. It will stream Windows 10 via a mobile device directly to a car’s dashboard. In this way, drivers will be able to access apps such as Cortana, Skype for Business, Calendar, Outlook and Groove Music while the vehicle is parked or in autonomous driving mode.

Meanwhile, Volvo is showing off some prototypes from tech the two companies announced in November that will let you use an app combined with a Microsoft Band 2 (Microsoft’s fitness tracker/smartwatch) and a Windows 10 smartphone. This gives you voice controls to your car. For instance, you can press a button on the Band, and say, “Volvo, start the heater of my car” or if you are sitting in a cafe, say, “send the meeting address to my Volvo” among other commands.

New competition

In November, Microsoft and Volvo also announced plans to let people shop for cars using Microsoft’s virtual reality headset, HoloLens and to develop self-driving cars.
Meanwhile, Nissan Motor Company and Microsoft announced that all Nissan LEAF and Infiniti models in Europe will have Connect Telematics Systems (CTS) powered by Microsoft’s cloud, Azure. This will provides info like maps, range prediction, charging station availability, charge status, etc.
Microsoft isn’t new to the car software business. It has actually been selling car infotainment systems for eons and has previously supplied such tech to Toyota, Ford, Qoros and Delphi.

But given that Google is working on self-driving cars and Apple is also rumored to be working on a car scheduled to arrive in 2019, Microsoft is also stepping up its game.

This Google Chrome extension alerts women to stop saying “sorry” at work

A new app is helping women to stop apologizing so often that they undermine their authority, particularly in the workplace.
NEW YORK: Saying sorry might sound like good manners but a new app is helping women to stop apologizing so often that they undermine their authority, particularly in the workplace.

“Just Not Sorry” highlights each time a user types a key word or phrase such as “sorry,” “I think” or “I’m no expert” in email, said its creator Tami Reiss.

So far, 53,000 users have downloaded the free app, which can be used with Gmail on the Google Chrome web browser. It was launched December 28, said Reiss, chief executive at Cyrus Innovation, a software development consultancy.

Other red-flag words on the app include “just,” “actually,” “does this make sense?” and “try,” she said, based on the premise that women use such terms to soften their demands at work or try to be likable and in so doing devalue themselves.


Reiss, 33, said she came up with “Just Not Sorry” after watching a popular video by comedian Amy Schumer spoofing a panel of accomplished women, all of whom pepper their remarks with endless apologies.

She said she also was influenced by a widely cited article in the Washington Post that recast famous quotes as they might be said by women in a meeting.
For example, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt was recounted as “I don’t think we should be as scared of non-fear things as maybe we are? If that makes sense? Sorry, I feel like I’m rambling.”
People who have been using “Just Not Sorry” say they start to notice when they use the offending words while texting and talking, she said.

“We’ve found people that have started using it actually get a lot more mindful around the use of these words,” she said. “That makes us happy.”

Crash rate of self-driving cars less than conventional cars

The test fleet has reported 17 crashes over the last six years, although none were the fault of the self-driving cars, Google said.
WASHINGTON: Self-driving cars are involved in fewer crashes on average than vehicles with a driver behind the wheel, a study released on Friday by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute shows.

The study was commissioned by Alphabet Inc’s Google unit, which has reported a series of minor crashes involving its self-driving fleet. It looked only at Google’s fleet of more than 50 self-driving cars, which has logged 1.3 million miles in Texas and California in self-driving mode.

The test fleet has reported 17 crashes over the last six years, although none were the fault of the self-driving cars, Google said.

After adjusting for severity and accounting for crashes not reported to police, the study estimated cars with drivers behind the wheel are involved in 4.2 crashes per million miles, versus 3.2 crashes per million miles for self-driving cars in autonomous mode.

Crash rates for conventional vehicles at all severity levels were higher than self-driving crash rates, the study found.

A 2015 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found about 60 percent of property-damage-only crashes and 24 percent of all injury crashes are not reported to the police.

California law requires all crashes involving self-driving vehicles be reported to police.

Google spokesman Johnny Luu said the company asked Virginia Tech “to look into the topic given the interest and develop a robust methodology to be able to make meaningful comparison between regular cars on the road as well as our self-driving cars.”

Luu said the study “will be helpful making apples-to-apples comparisons moving forward.”

A study released in October by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute compared crash rates among Google, Delphi and Audi self-driving cars in 2013 and found they had a higher rate than for conventional cars.
But that study noted the low volume of driverless miles — 1.2 million compared with 3 trillion miles driven annually on U.S. roads.
In December, California proposed state regulations that would require all autonomous cars to have a steering wheel, throttle and brake pedals when operating on California’s public roads. A licensed driver would need to be in the driver’s seat ready to take over in the event something went wrong.

Google, eager to demonstrate its vehicles are safe, criticized the proposed rule, which it said would maintain “the same old status quo and falls short on allowing this technology to reach its full potential, while excluding those who need to get around but cannot drive.”

Google Testing More Detailed Weather Card for Google Now

Google Testing More Detailed Weather Card for Google Now: Reports

According to some Android users, Google is testing a revamped weather card in Google Now. The card includes new features along with major changes in design and looks.

The new weather card in Google Now maximises, appearing like a full-fledged app. You can swipe to switch between Today, Tomorrow, and the next 10 Days. The new weather card also appears to be colour-coded on the time of day, unlike the current one, which mostly includes white background with minimal text in black and grey.

In the Today section, Google is also testing some graphics based on current weather. The full-screen card is seen with a frog-like character seen doing different test depending on the weather such as beaches and hiking trips.

In terms of features, the new Google Now weather card in addition to high/low temperature for different days, also shows more information including air quality, sunrise and sunset times, and related health messages. The updated Google Now weather card appears to be under testing with only a limited number of users as of now.

Google last month updated its Now on Tap feature, which debuted with the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS version. The feature now understands a handful of more languages including French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Korean. It can also help users quickly track flight and package status. It now also shows an improved interface for related news articles.

To recall, the Now on Tap feature is a big improvement to Google Now as it provides contextual information within an app itself. It works within any app and automatically searches the context present on the screen by just long pressing the home button.