People are tweeting out a concerning Google email alert they received, which notes state-sponsored hackers are trying to break into their account.
The alert reads: “Government-backed attackers may be trying to steal your password.” Following the highly publicized suspicions that Russian hackers are lurking in our midst, the alerts become a little more alarming.
These warnings are not new, though. Google has been advising users of government-backed attacks since 2012. In March, the company launched a full page warning, as shown in the tweets below. It does not indicate which country is behind the attempted hack.
If you are being targeted by one of these sophisticated hackers, consider yourself special. Google notes these warnings only get sent to a mere 0.1% of users who are normally activists, journalists and policy-makers.
A Google spokesperson told Mashable you should be alert but not alarmed.
“We send these warnings out of an abundance of caution they do not indicate that a user’s account has already been compromised or that a more widespread attack is occurring when they receive the notice,” the spokesperson said.”Anyone that receives one should follow the instructions in the warning, and we further recommend that all users routinely do a Google Account Security Checkup.”
So stay strong, know you are not alone and then change all your passwords. Quickly.
Still terrified? Here’s some extra reading on how to deal with serious hackers.
OnePlus 3 owners might be upset at the rapid refresh I’d be upset too if my phone was suddenly outdated in less than six months but OnePlus waits for no one, not even its most loyal customers. Pushing forward as quickly as possible is built into the company’s “Never Settle” ethos.
So what’s new and what’s different and does the new justify the higher pricing ($450 for 64GB and $480 for 128GB)?
The OnePlus 3T is to the OnePlus 3 as the iPhone 6S was to the iPhone 6. That is, design-wise, the OnePlus 3T is identical to the OnePlus 3, save for the new darker gunmetal color (it’s also available in “soft gold”).
Which isn’t a deal breaker at all since the OnePlus 3’s design drew inspirations from all of the best premium phones and was already superb. Nothing’s changed on the OnePlus 3; it still feels amazing.
The 5.5-inch AMOLED screen is still “only” full HD resolution and very bright even out doors, and the home button/fingerprint sensor below the screen is still super fast.
You don’t get water-resistance, but at least the headphone jack is still there and the port is USB-C.
Modest speed boost
With the OnePlus 3T, OnePlus focused on on inner beauty. There’s a faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 6GB RAM, the aforementioned 128GB storage (still no expandable storage, though), and 3,400 mAh battery that lasts 13 percent longer.
As per Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 821 provides a performance boost of up to 10 percent a very modest improvement.
The gains were mostly negligible.
And true enough, in my tests, the gains were mostly negligible, if not inconsistent. Some apps like Twitter and Feedly actually opened slower on the OnePlus 3T compared to the OnePlus 3, and other times, like launching Instagram and loading up websites, loaded up faster on the OnePlus 3T.
And for some reason, even though they were on the same Wi-Fi network, the OnePlus 3T always took longer to download the 750MB file for Need For Speed No Limits.
But like most modest performance updates, you wouldn’t notice the difference unless you had the two phones running side-by-side.
Functionally, Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow customized with OnePlus’s “OxygenOS” add-ons still runs like a champ with buttery smooth performance and no real slowdown.
The 13 percent longer battery life is also welcome and got me through nearly two days if I was judicial with my usage. Heavy users should have no problem getting through a full day. Plus, the Dash charging is still the quickest fast charging technology around, juicing up the OnePlus 3T from 0% to about 60% in 30 minutes.
Stock Android gets dressed up
Don’t be alarmed…yet.
While the OnePlus 3T is still based off of stock Android, the customized OxygenOS software is starting to show signs of deviating from Google’s clean experience.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice some of the icons are different (i.e. Messages, Calculator, Settings and Clock). Open some of the apps and you’ll see some small and subtle differences, but nothing as overbearing as the skins on other Android phones (I’m looking at you Samsung, LG).
As always, all of OyxgenOS’s extras (Shelf, gestures, dark theme, touch-sensitive/onscreen buttons, etc.) are customizable.
Two handy new features include the App Locker, which lets you lock up apps and require either a PIN code or a fingerprint to unlock them and a three-finger swipe down gesture for taking screenshots. Both are super handy and the screenshot gesture sure beats pressing the power and volume down button.
There’s another feature that lets you flip the phone upside down to mute an incoming call, but it’s not nearly as useful.
Other niceties in OxygenOS include a dark theme, proximity wake feature (wave your hand in front of the phone display to turn it on) and the double-tap power button shortcut that launches the camera. These are all great, but they’re not exclusive to the OnePlus 3T; the OnePlus 3 already has them.
Shipping with Android 7.0 Nougat would have been great, but I’m told it’s coming by the end of the year, so that should be just around the corner.
Improved cameras are must with smartphone refreshes. While I would have liked to see the rear 16-megapixel camera get a boost better low light, faster autofocusing, etc. OnePlus left it unchanged with the lone exception of better electronic image stabilization while recording video. There’s still optical image stabilization (OIS) like on the OnePlus 3, too.
The front camera, arguably the most important camera for so many people nowadays, got a big boost: double the resolution from 8 megapixels to 16.
Selfies definitely look sharper:
And low-light performance from the selfie camera is a little sharper, too:
But if you look closely, there’s still a lot of image noise. For outdoor and indoor selfies, the OnePlus 3T’s higher resolution front camera does the trick, but it’s no iPhone FaceTime camera or Galaxy S7/S7 Edge front camera.
Photos taken with the back camera are basically the same as on the OnePlus 3. You’ll get lots of details. The colors are a smidge saturated if you’ve got HDR turned on (it’s on by default and all of the pics below were taken with HDR on), but not as aggressive like on the other phones such as the Google Pixels.
Filling the Nexus void
You can skip the OnePlus 3T if you already own the OnePlus 3. But if you don’t own a OnePlus 3, the OnePlus 3T is yet another excellent and more affordable device that puts the squeeze on more expensive premium phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Google Pixel.
Sure, it’s $40 more than the OnePlus 3 and while the updates are modest, they’re still improvements. There are other excellent phones like the Huawei Honor 8 and ZTE Axon 7 that occupy the $400-$500 space, but neither are as polished as the OnePlus 3T.
And with Google abandoning its Nexus phones in favor of its premium-priced Pixels, there really is no other phone that gives you so much bang for your buck.
Long live the heir to the Nexus throne: the OnePlus 3T.
Excellent premium build-quality Fast, smooth performance Great cameras Useful new software features
No water resistance No microSD card slot for storage expansion
The Bottom Line
The OnePlus 3T balances premium features with performance at an incredible price.
BONUS: OnePlus 2: Is the most hyped Android phone really a ‘flagship killer’?
We’re still not sure if Apple’s surprise entry into the Black Friday sales season will result in manufacturer discounts to the iPhone 7, but its newest challenger will be part of a major promotion sure to catch the eye of anyone considering a switch.
Verizon’s recently announced Black Friday promotion isn’t extensive, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in quality. Google quality, to be specific.
Verizon will be debuting Google Home at a special price of $99.99 through Nov. 28 the same discount from $129 Google itself teased earlier in the season. But there’s a catch: it appears that the Verizon discount only applies to in-store purchases.
Along with the Home, Verizon is promoting its deals on the new Google Pixel smartphone, exerting its power as the exclusive wireless carrier for the handset. Unlike the discount on the Home, however, Verizon is breaking from Google and offering even more savings.
The discount is a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down in its simplest terms: on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in Verizon Stores shoppers can get a new 32GB Pixel for $10 per month over a 24-month period. If you want more capacity, the 128GB version can be had for $15 per month over the same span of time. Importantly, this discount is only applicable to the standard model and not the XL, which was confirmed to Mashable by Verizon representatives. Other outlets, most notably Android Central, have reported that the discounts extended to all Pixel phones.
Normally, the 32GB Pixel costs $27.08 per month, with a full a retail price of $649.99. The 128GB version clocks in at $31.24 per month, or $749.99.
With the discount, it comes out to $240.00 for the 32GB Pixel and $360.00 for the 128GB version an incredible deal. But there is some fine print: a $649.99 device payment purchase is required. The promotional $409.99 bill credit will then be applied to the account over the 24-month period, and you’re locked in for the full two years or face penalties. It’s like any other phone plan the real deal is in the low monthly payments.
The Pixel XL, meanwhile, can be had with no money down if you’re ready to trade in your current device. It’s one of eight models that are eligible for a trade-in, along with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the standard Pixel, Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Droid Force, Samsung S7 and S7 Edge. The trade-in devices are below:
Additionally, customers can save $200 (with device payment) on any Android smartphone priced $400 or higher when switching to Verizon or adding a line to an existing account from Nov. 24 through Nov. 27. Current customers save $100 (with device payment) on any Android smartphone priced $400 or higher.
Other discounts are available at Verizon stores and online, covering tablets, speakers and more. Check out the full list below:
With a strong discount on the Pixel, Verizon and Google are looking to raise the stakes of the smartphone game. Even if the XL isn’t included in the monthly promotion, this is a tough deal to pass up.
BONUS: Here is everything you need to know about the new Google Pixel
Fei-Fei Li is a big deal in the world of AI. As the director of the Artificial Intelligence and Vision labs at Stanford University, she oversaw the creation of ImageNet, a vast database of images designed to accelerate the development of AI that can “see.” And, well, it worked, helping to drive the creation of deep learning systems that can recognize objects, animals, people, and even entire scenes in photos—technology that has become commonplace on the world’s biggest photo-sharing sites. Now, Fei-Fei will help run a brand new AI group inside Google, a move that reflects just how aggressively the world’s biggest tech companies are remaking themselves around this breed of artificial intelligence.
Google is not alone in this rapid re-orientation. Amazon is building a similar group cloud computing group for AI. Facebook and Twitter have created internal groups akin to Google Brain, the team responsible for infusing the search giant’s own tech with AI. And in recent weeks, Microsoft reorganized much of its operation around its existing machine learning work, creating a new AI and research group under executive vice president Harry Shum, who began his career as a computer vision researcher.
Oren Etzioni, CEO of the not-for-profit Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, says that these changes are partly about marketing—efforts to ride the AI hype wave. Google, for example, is focusing public attention on Fei-Fei’s new group because that’s good for the company’s cloud computing business. But Etzioni says this is also part of very real shift inside these companies, with AI poised to play an increasingly large role in our future. “This isn’t just window dressing,” he says.
The New Cloud
Fei-Fei’s group is an effort to solidify Google’s position on a new front in the AI wars. The company is challenging rivals like Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM in building cloud computing services specifically designed for artificial intelligence work. This includes services not just for image recognition, but speech recognition, machine-driven translation, natural language understanding, and more.
Cloud computing doesn’t always get the same attention as consumer apps and phones, but it could come to dominate the balance sheet at these giant companies. Even Amazon and Google, known for their consumer-oriented services, believe that cloud computing could eventually become their primary source of revenue. And in the years to come, AI services will play right into the trend, providing tools that allow of a world of businesses to build machine learning services they couldn’t build on their own. Iddo Gino, CEO of RapidAPI, a company that helps businesses use such services, says they have already reached thousands of developers, with image recognition services leading the way.
When it announced Fei-Fei’s appointment last week, Google unveiled new versions of cloud services that offer image and speech recognition as well as machine-driven translation. And the company said it will soon offer a service that allows others to access to vast farms of GPU processors, the chips that are essential to running deep neural networks. This came just weeks after Amazon hired a notable Carnegie Mellon researcher to run its own cloud computing group for AI—and just a day after Microsoft formally unveiled new services for building “chatbots” and announced a deal to provide GPU services to OpenAI, the AI lab established by Tesla founder Elon Musk and Y Combinator president Sam Altman.
The New Microsoft
Even as they move to provide AI to others, these big internet players are looking to significantly accelerate the progress of artificial intelligence across their own organizations. In late September, Microsoft announced the formation of a new group under Shum called the Microsoft AI and Research Group. Shum will oversee more than 5,000 computer scientists and engineers focused on efforts to push AI into the company’s products, including the Bing search engine, the Cortana digital assistant, and Microsoft’s forays into robotics.
“With AI, we don’t really know what the customer expectation is,” Shum says. By moving research closer to the team that actually builds the products, the company believes it can develop a better understanding of how AI can do things customers truly want.
The New Brains
In similar fashion, Google, Facebook, and Twitter have already formed central AI teams designed to spread artificial intelligence throughout their companies. The Google Brain team began as a project inside the Google X lab under another former Stanford computer science professor, Andrew Ng, now chief scientist at Baidu. The team provides well-known services such as image recognition for Google Photos and speech recognition for Android. But it also works with potentially any group at Google, such as the company’s security teams, which are looking for ways to identify security bugs and malware through machine learning.
Facebook, meanwhile, runs its own AI research lab as well as a Brain-like team known as the Applied Machine Learning Group. Its mission is to push AI across the entire family of Facebook products, and according chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, it’s already working: one in five Facebook engineers now make use of machine learning. Schroepfer calls the tools built by Facebook’s Applied ML group “a big flywheel that has changed everything” inside the company. “When they build a new model or build a new technique, it immediately gets used by thousands of people working on products that serve billions of people,” he says. Twitter has built a similar team, called Cortex, after acquiring several AI startups.
The New Education
The trouble for all of these companies is that finding that talent needed to drive all this AI work can be difficult. Given the deep neural networking has only recently entered the mainstream, only so many Fei-Fei Lis exist to go around. Everyday coders won’t do. Deep neural networking is a very different way of building computer services. Rather than coding software to behave a certain way, engineers coax results from vast amounts of data—more like a coach than a player.
As a result, these big companies are also working to retrain their employees in this new way of doing things. As it revealed last spring, Google is now running internal classes in the art of deep learning, and Facebook offers machine learning instruction to all engineers inside the company alongside a formal program that allows employees to become full-time AI researchers.
Yes, artificial intelligence is all the buzz in the tech industry right now, which can make it feel like a passing fad. But inside Google and Microsoft and Amazon, it’s certainly not. And these companies are intent on pushing it across the rest of the tech world too.
Update: This story has been updated to clarify Fei-Fei Li’s move to Google. She will remain on the faculty at Stanford after joining Google.
New live data shows how busy a store or venue is before you set off, just in time for Black Fridays shopping crush and the festive period
Googles latest feature will tell you how busy a place is in real-time before you set off.
The new extension to the Popular Times feature added to Google Maps and search in July 2015 has been upgraded with a live feed of how busy a place is for certain venues.
With a new Live tag, Maps now displays a red overlay on top of the historic busy period data showing whether it really is busy or quiet as usual at the moment.
The feature uses anonymised location data from other Google users, as well as searches, to analyse how busy it is at that moment. While predicted busy times from historic data is generally useful, at sales times or when transport conditions are less than ideal, the flow of people might increase at normally quiet times.
That’s a solid discount for a gadget that’s only been around for a couple of weeks.
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.
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.
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
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.