Grab a Google Pixel for just $10 per month on Black Friday

Image: AP

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:

Image: verizon/screengrab

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:

Image: verizon/screengrab

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

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Google, Facebook, and Microsoft Are Remaking Themselves Around AI

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.

Alongside a former Stanford researcher—Jia Li, who more recently ran research for the social networking service Snapchat—the China-born Fei-Fei will lead a team inside Google’s cloud computing operation, building online services that any coder or company can use to build their own AI. This new Cloud Machine Learning Group is the latest example of AI not only re-shaping the technology that Google uses, but also changing how the company organizes and operates its business.

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.

The company had already reorganized its research group to move quickly into new technologies into products. With AI, Shum says, the company aims to move even quicker. In recent months, Microsoft pushed its chatbot work out of research and into live products—though not quite successfully. Still, it’s the path from research to product the company hopes to accelerate in the years to come.

“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.

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Google will now tell you whether a bar or shop is busy in real-time

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.

Google live popular times data. Photograph: Google

The feature is being rolled out ahead of the busy Black Friday shopping period, but could equally be useful for checking out whether a particular bar or cinema is packed among other venues with variable busy times.

Google Maps, like others such as CityMapper, already displays live traffic and public transport congestion information pulled from both public data and other Google Maps and Waze users. The introduction of live data is one of the big differentiators for mapping apps along with indoor navigation and libraries of store and points of interests data.

Google has also expanded the extra information Maps displays, including data on how long people generally stay in the venue or location, as well as opening hours for concessions and departments within a larger store or business, which are set by the individual businesses.

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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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