Google Home’s price slashed to $99 in a limited time offer

That’s a solid discount for a gadget that’s only been around for a couple of weeks.
Image: Mashable

A lot of Black Friday deals aren’t actually as good as they seem: Gadgets who have been on the market for months if not years are seemingly discounted from their original price, but in reality their price should be (and, at some retailers, often is) much lower in the first place.

Google’s speaker/digital assistant Google Home, however, has only been on the market for a few weeks, and it’s already getting a sizable discount for the holidays, with price being slashed from $129 to $99.

Since Google Home is already a lot cheaper than its main competitor, Amazon Echo, this is a pretty sweet deal if you’re shopping for a smart speaker.

The deal starts at Nov. 23, and will be available for a limited time only (Google doesn’t say how long, exactly).

Unfortunately, other recently announced Google gadgets Google Pixel phones, Google Wifi, Chromecast Ultra and Google Daydream View have not been discounted at the time of writing.

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Google’s predictions for the most popular toys this year will surprise no one

Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Still not sure what to put at the top of your shopping list this year? Google might be able to help.

The company has released its predictions for what will be this season’s most sought after toys and gifts and surprise, surprise the top results may be more than a little difficult to find.

The company used search data for the first two weeks of November to come up with its predictions and the top items may not be much of a surprise.

Topping the list is Hatchimals, toy creatures that “hatch” out of an egg after you buy them. Unfortunately, you might be out of luck if you were hoping to get one in time for Santa. The toy, which typically retails for around $60, is already so popular many retailers have sold out, according to the company’s website, and resellers are reportedly selling the toys for as much as $200-$300.

Next up is another item that has already proved difficult to get: the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition. The $60 mini-console is already in short supply, according to Nintendo.

Other toys on the list may prove a bit easier to get: Baby Alive and Trolls come in at #3 and #4, respectively, and Sony’s PS4 Pro (#6) may prove to be an easier find than Nintendo’s throwback console.

If tech toys are what you’re looking for, DJi’s Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 drones will also be in high demand, according to Google, as will the new robot companion Cozmo also makes an appearance.

Rounding out the list are Pokmon, Num Noms and RC Cars.

BONUS: This is how America’s biggest online shopping day came to be

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Google Opens Montreal AI Lab to Snag Scarce Global Talent

Google is building a new artificial intelligence lab in Montreal dedicated to deep learning, a technology that’s rapidly reinventing not only Google but the rest of the internet’s biggest players.

Hugo Larochelle will run the new lab after joining Google from the Twitter, where he was part of the company’s central AI team. It’s a homecoming for Larochelle, who earned a PhD in machine learning from the University of Montreal and remains a professor at the Universit de Sherbrooke. Yoshua Bengio, one of the founding fathers of the movement, calls him “one of the rising stars of deep learning.”

At the moment, Larochelle is the new lab’s sole hire, but the idea is that he will build a sizable team inside Google’s existing engineering office in Montreal. The team will operate as an extension of Google Brain, the central operation that works to spread AI across the entire company.

The move is part of a larger effort by the company to strengthen its ties to the deep learning community in Montreal, one of the key talent centers for this technology, a technology that percolated in academia for decades but has recently swept into the biggest internet companies. Today, Google also revealed that it is donating about $3.33 million ($4.5 million CAD) to the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, or MILA, an academic lab that spans the University of Montreal and nearby McGill University, and this isn’t the first time the company has funneled money into the program. Over the past ten years, Google had donated about $13 million CAD to academic research in the country and about half was earmarked for AI research.

Because deep learning technology has only recently pushed into the commercial world, talent in the field is still quite scarce, and the big players are angling for any advantage they can find in the hunt for top researchers and new ideas. Last year, Facebook opened an AI lab in Paris, another deep learning hotbed, after building its first lab around New York Univeristy professor Yann LeCun in Manhattan. In Canada, Google already has strong ties to the University of Toronto after acqui-hiring Geoff Hinton, another founding father of the deep learning movement, in 2013.

Apple, meanwhile, just hired Carnegie Mellon University researcher Russ Salakhutdinov. Amazon is building a new machine learning group around Alex Smola, another notable CMU researcher. And just last week, Google snapped up Stanford professor Fei-Fei Li, who started the ImageNet contest, a competition that helped catalyze the rise of deep neutral networks.

Oren Etzioni, CEO of the not-for-profit Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, says that these companies should be careful not to strip academia of the experts needed to teach the next generation of machine learning researchers. But the battle for talent won’t likely abate anytime soon. The biggest companies are vacuuming up not just the top academics but also deep learning startups. (In recent years, Twitter bought three such startups, as did Apple.)

News of Google’s new lab comes just a week after Bengio invited more deep learning researchers to join him in north of border. “In the depressing aftermath of the US elections, I would like to point out that interesting things are happening in the great Canadian North, with a very different kind of government, he said. If US researchers take him up on the offer, that could make it even harder for the small players to hire AI talent. But the big players have it covered.

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How to Use Google Maps to Plan an Awesome Vacation

Google Maps/Allie Fisher

Im standing outside Frida Kahlos Casa Azul in Mexico City, and Im stumped. The neighborhood is unfamiliar, and I need lunch. Soon. But then I remember the map. I pull out my phone and see that its just a short walk to a ceviche stand suggested by my friend Eric. It turns out to be one of my best lunches of the trip.

That semi-serendipitous meal was possible because I had compiled suggestions from friends in a custom Google Map. And unlike a guidebook, it wasnt weighing me down or outing me as a tourist.

Heres how to set it up yourself: Sign in to Google Maps on a desktop and click the drop-down menu at top left. Select Your Places, then Maps, and click Create Map at the bottom. Search for addresses and business names like you would at home and add them to the map. If you want to get fancy, customize the pins with unique icons and colorsrestaurants might be yellow, historical spots green, and so on.

You can save sections of your map to view offline. But if you wander out of the area you downloaded, youll likely need to use cellular data on the go. Luckily most carriers offer roaming plans for travel. Just remember that when youre abroad, your phone is a tool, not an entertainment device. Lay off the Facebook unless youre on Wi-Fi or youll punch through your data cap and get hit with overage fees.

Armed with my Google map, I find my way to the best bakery near my Airbnb; on one evening Im able to bring my friends to a tiny mezcal bar with a handwritten menu. Im new to the city but feel like Ive been there for weeks. And anytime I discover another gem, I drop a pin, often adding notes so I wont forget the shops hours or a signature dish. The best part? The map is shareable, and friends can add new pins. That means Ill have a dozen new things to explore on my next visit. And theyll all come with a trusted stamp of approval.

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Google will eliminate ‘In the news’ due to the fake news nightmare

As the internet grapples with fake news troubles, Google is eliminating its “In the news” section to avoid misleading users.
Image: justin sullivan/ Getty Images

The “In the news” section that sits atop all desktop Google search results will soon be replaced by a rotation of “Top stories.”

Google is rebranding the “In the news” section to better distinguish between top search results for all stories and the human-vetted Google News product, a source told Business Insider. Google’s change is set to take place in the coming weeks and has been in the works for awhile, according to the publication.

Mashable has reached out to Google for comment.

SEE ALSO: Heard of fake news? How about fake Google

Drawing the line between what’s news and what’s not is especially needed now, as Google and Facebook face widespread criticism over the fabricated news stories cluttering the platforms.

The heading to be changed.

Fake news has been a topic of heated conversation since election night, when Buzzfeed reported that fabricated election stories on Facebook were performing better than actual news stories.

Early last week, the top result for a Google search of “final election results” was a blog post that claimed Donald Trump won the popular vote, when in fact, Hillary Clinton won it by more than 1.7 million votes.

Hours after the item appeared, the company promised to ban fake news sites from its third-party ad service, while Facebook recently announced it will do the same thing.

Google has not always included fake news in the “In the news” box. That section used to only include legitimate traditional news sources that were vetted, like the New York Times and The Washington Post.

However, back in October 2014, Google decided to start including more than just these sources inside “In the news,” according to trade publication Search Engine Land. The change was to allow a “diverse range of voices” to provide users with news, including posts from Reddit and blogs.

“We are always working to give our users the best possible answer to their question,” Google told the publication. “That might come in the form of a video, a press release, a blog, a photo, a social media post or a news article.”

Now the inclusion of this type of content has come back to haunt Google.

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Google’s new update predicts when businesses are most crowded

-Customers save big at Walmart’s Black Friday shopping event on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015 in Rogers, Ark.
Image: Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart

You may want to check Google before you head out on your next holiday shopping spree.

The company’s latest search feature makes it easier to find out how crowded stores are at any given time.

An extension of Google’s “popular times” update, which shows how crowded restaurants and coffee shops are based on search trends, the new feature will show a real-time estimate for how busy a particular location is.

Search for a store, restaurant or other location and Google will now provide a new “live” view in the popular times section of the location card. Googles predictions are based users location history, which is broken down by time of day.

While the popular times feature shows estimates based on historical trends, the live view uses real-time data to show how busy a particular location is at that moment.

The update also adds details about how long people tend to stay at any given place to help you anticipate how long the crowds will last.

While it’s likely impossible to avoid holiday shopping crowds entirely, Google’s predictions should help you feel a bit more prepared going in.

Monday’s update is also updating results for businesses’ holiday hours to reflect when stores and restaurants have different seasonal hours. It will also add in details for when a department within a particular business like a pharmacy within a grocery store has different hours than the main business.

All of the latest updates are available now in browser-based Google search results as well as in Google Maps on Android and desktop.

BONUS: This is how America’s biggest online shopping day came to be

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The Reviews Are In: Google’s Pixel Phone Takes On The Iphone 7

The Pixel phone.  (Google)

Google has made a strong phone debut, according to the first round of reviews. Strong enough to take on the market-leading iPhone.

The 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL are the companys first pure Google-branded smartphones, with the tagline made by Google. To date, Google has released phones under the Nexus brand, which tended to emphasize the phones manufacturer, such as LG and Huawei, not Google.

So, how does it stack up?

Wall Street Journal: The Google Pixel is now the best Android smartphone you can buy, the Journal said in its review. The review points to some iPhone 7-rivaling features such as the display and camera. Calling the display superior to the iPhones, the Journal says the Pixels AMOLED display makes photos look better; even ones taken on an iPhone. Apple still uses liquid crystal displays (LCDs) but is expected to switch to active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) displays on future iPhones because of the technologys inherent advantages.

The camera also performs better in low-light situations, compared with the excellent cameras in the Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7, the review said.

TechRadar: Pixel is an excellent flagship phone and a breath of fresh Google air in a world of Android over-complication, TechRadar said in its review. The tech site also spotlights the Pixel’s AMOLED display. Weve been using the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus recently, and moving from Apples latest offerings to the Pixel we noticed the improved depth of color generated by the latter’s AMOLED display.

TechRadar calls the camera a very, very good snapper that worked best at dawn and dusk. In other words, in low-light conditions. Overall, the Pixel’s camera usually produces images that  match the quality of rivals like the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7, but the camera doesnt wow enough to set it apart from those market leaders, according to TechRadar.


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