Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft team up on terrorist database

Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google are teaming up on a new effort to prevent the spread of terrorist content on their networks.

The companies are creating a shared database that will allow them to track the “digital fingerprints” of accounts that share terrorist images and videos across their respective networks to make it easier to identify and remove the content.

Under the new partnership, when Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Microsoft removes a photo or video that promotes terrorism, it will add a hash what the companies describe as a “digital fingerprint” that makes that particular piece of content identifiable to a shared database. This will make it easier for all the companies involved to spot the same content on their own sites and remove it.

Here’s their description of how it will work:

Our companies will begin sharing hashes of the most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos we have removed from our services content most likely to violate all of our respective companies content policies. Participating companies can add hashes of terrorist images or videos that are identified on one of our platforms to the database. Other participating companies can then use those hashes to identify such content on their services, review against their respective policies and definitions, and remove matching content as appropriate.

The statement notes that content won’t be removed automatically as each company will review each piece of content against their respective policies. Still, it could make it easier for the companies, which operate the most far-reaching social networks, to identify terrorist content more quickly.

“There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services,” the companies said in a group statement. “We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/05/facebook-twitter-partnership-terrorist-content/

Google Assistant adds Hindi language support for India

Image: manish singh/mashable india

Google just opened its AI-driven app Allo to hundreds of millions of new users.

Google said Monday Allo is getting support for Hindi, one of Indias widest spoken languages. The assistant, which a user can trigger using the keyword “@google”, now understands as well as responds in Hindi language.

The company first demoed the feature at its Google for India event in September, with companys executives emphasising their continued efforts to tailor their services for the Indian market.

“We are enthused by this and todays launch enables us to extend these features to the next millions of users in a language of their choice, Amit Fulay, Group Product Manager, Google said in a press statement.

Those who wish to use Allo in Hindi need to download the app and then say “Talk to me in Hindi” using the voice command. Alternatively, one can also adjust the language setting on your device to change Allo’s default language.

With over 422 people understanding Hindi in India, as of 2011, it is the most spoken language in the country, compared to English which only 10-20 percent of the population can understand.

Silicon Valley companies are quickly realising that if they want to appeal to the largely untapped Indian market, they need to mould their services for them.

Facebook, for instance, offers its social networking platform in Hindi as well as several other local languages. Amazon last week enabled ebooks support in five local Indian languages.

The Indian government has also actively pushed companies to not neglect non-English speaking people. In late October, for instance, the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) gave its nod for a proposal that requires all phone companies to support at least one additional language in addition to English and Hindi.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/05/google-allo-hindi/

Google’s new safety app will help you find friends and family in an emergency

Image: Press Association via AP Images

When something goes wrong, one of the first things you think about is getting in touch with the people you care about. But if there’s been a natural disaster, an accident or some other emergency, that may be a lot easier said than done.

Google’s latest app, called Trusted Contacts, aims to fix that. The app allows friends and family members to remotely share their location with just one touch.

When you sign up for the app, you designate specific people in your address book as “trusted contacts.” This allows you to share your location at any given time and allows them to request your location.

Unlike Apple’s Find My Friends and some related apps, Trusted Contacts doesn’t share your location by default. Instead, your trusted contacts can see general information about your whereabouts, like whether you’re currently online and if you’ve been moving around.

You can, however, broadcast your location at any given moment to one or all of your trusted contacts, who will be able to see your real-time location until you end the location sharing. The thinking, says product manager David Tattersall, is that users will be able to share their location with loved ones for brief periods of time, like while walking home or out on a hike.

The app also works offline, so if your battery dies or you lose service, the app will still be able to point contacts to wherever your last known location was.

Likewise, if a trusted contact wants to check on you, they can ask for your location within the app. When a contact requests your location, the app will notify you and you can opt to share your location or decline the request. If you don’t respond to the request, the app will automatically share your most recent location with the contact who requested.

That last part may be troubling to the more privacy conscious, but Google says it’s necessary as people are not always able to use their phone during serious emergencies, like natural disasters or car accidents.

“It basically means then that as long as you’ve got your phone in your pocket, someone can always find you in case of an emergency. You’re always findable,” Tattersall tells Mashable.

Trusted Contacts is currently only available on Android, but there is a web interface that allows you to designate iPhone users and others who don’t have the app as trusted contacts and Google says an iPhone version is in the works.

Though the app is relatively simple for now, Tattersall notes that the app complements some of Google’s other crisis response services and says that, in the future, Google may choose to integrate it with Android’s built-in emergency calling features.

“We have a really robust crisis response offering for times of earthquakes and natural disasters… you can see there’s a natural evolution here where these two products could work together if we want.”

BONUS: Google Earth Timelapse shows how man has altered the planet in 32 years

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/05/google-trusted-contacts-app/

Everything you need to know about exchanging your Note7 for a Google Pixel

Owners of the Galaxy Note7 are in a dreadful position. Samsung discontinued the $850 phone Tuesday after weeks of disaster: Some handsets overheated and exploded, the company tried to replace them, and then the new devices suffered the same problems.

Simply put, it’s now irresponsible, even dangerous, to own a Note7. Now comes the task of replacing it, which isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Samsung’s device was basically unrivaled on Android swapping the Note7 with another handset right now means downgrading. Say you sold your old phone to finance the Note7 or simply haven’t upgraded your device in a number of years: You’re stuck blowing your upgrade on a device that’s worse than the one you were promised.

Unless you wait and get a Google Pixel XL.

A Pixel XL, you say?

Indeed. Google’s upcoming flagship phone sounds like a great replacement for the Note7 if you can wait for it to drop. There’s a smaller version called the Pixel, but if you had a Note7, chances are you’ll dig the beefier XL.

Image: Jason Henry/Mashable

We’ll get to the specs in a second, but if you already know you want a Pixel XL, just be aware that you’ll be tapping your feet for at least nine days, or possibly up to six weeks, depending on how you choose to buy it.

The shortest path to the Pixel XL is through Verizon, Google’s exclusive launch partner for the device. As of Tuesday, Verizon promises to deliver most models of the Pixel XL by Oct. 20 the only one that’s missing is the “Really Blue” color with 128GB of storage.

Buying from Verizon guarantees your Pixel XL will be loaded with bloatware

But buying from the carrier guarantees your Pixel XL will come with bloatware unnecessary, Verizon-branded apps you won’t ever use so the best option is to purchase the device directly from Google. The only problem: Google says it’ll take five to six weeks to ship the phone, and it’s already sold out of the 128GB model. That’s bad.

Do not buy a 32GB Pixel

You will regret it. The Note7 had 64GB of storage, and 32 gigs won’t cut it if you plan to shoot a lot of footage in glorious 4K, especially if you also plan to download movies, music, magazines, comic books, games, TV shows and/or large apps.

Google is offering unlimited photo and video storage on Google Photos for Pixel owners, but relying almost completely on the cloud for storage is a risky proposition. Keeping everything on the cloud means you won’t always be able to access your photos and videos (if service is spotty, say) and 32GB will fill up faster than you think.

Returning your Note7 will be a headache

Since you need to return the device now seriously, do not put yourself or others in harm’s way by continuing to use the Note7 you’ll have to endure a chunk of time with an outdated phone.

Best case scenario, you have an old smartphone lying around that you can use while you wait for the Pixel. You can probably pop the SIM card out of your Note7, place it in your old device and activate the phone for use, but if you’re confused, your local wireless store will be able to help.

Once your old device is activated, return the Note7. If you’re a Verizon customer, you can ask to exchange it for a Pixel XL. Otherwise, get the cash and order the phone online.

Image: Jason Henry/Mashable

If you’re not a Verizon customer and you used an account upgrade to get the Note7 at a discount from a carrier like AT&T, you’re kind of up the creek without a paddle. The Pixel XL will come unlocked and work on any wireless network, but you can only buy it from Verizon or Google. Thus, you probably can’t get the device at a discount, which means you, friend, are now stuck with an old device unless you’re down to drop $869 all at once on a Pixel XL or enter into a 24-month payment plan with $36.21 installments.

You might try buying a cheap (even secondhand) Android phone.

If that’s you, there are four other Android devices we’d recommend.

Finally: If the Note7 is your only smartphone, meaning you need a device to tide you over until the Pixel XL releases, you might try buying a cheap (even secondhand) Android phone. You could drop $49.99 on the Blu R1 HD, use it for a couple of weeks, and sell it when you’re ready (or hold onto it in case Pixels start exploding). Doing this will save you the hassle of returning yet another phone when the time comes and since “restocking” fees on opened phones can cost up to $50 anyway, that’s definitely worth it.

Whew. Pain, right?

What you’re gaining and losing with the Pixel XL

So, you know how to exchange your Note7. But what will the Pixel XL actually offer you?

In a nutshell, the Pixel XL and Note7 are about the same size the Pixel XL is slightly larger overall, but it has a somewhat smaller screen with the same screen resolution, similar back camera quality, and comparable batteries.

Then things get different. The Pixel XL is a downgrade from the Note7 in a few ways:

  • The Pixel XL lacks the cool iris scanner that the Note7 had.

  • Unlike the Note7, it isn’t isn’t water-resistant, so no bathing with it.

  • Its screen isn’t curved, so you’ll miss those flashy notifications.

  • No S Pen, so you’ll have to make do without the cool screen-drawing and GIF-making features.

  • It can’t charge wirelessly.

  • It doesn’t have expandable storage.

  • There’s no heart rate scanner built into the Pixel XL, as there was with the Note7.

Of course, most of those things could be said of any other smartphone on the market today. The Pixel XL has a few significant upgrades, though:

  • It’ll be the first Android phone with Google Assistant built in. If you’re all in on Google services like Gmail, Google Calendar and the upcoming Google Home, this will make your life easier.

  • The selfie camera is more powerful than the Note7’s.

  • If you buy the device directly from Google, you can bank on getting Android updates before anyone else.

  • It’s the only phone that will work with the new Daydream virtual reality headset for now.

Note that we can’t vouch for the device’s quality until we review it ourselves, though we spent some time with it last week it seems great so far.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Google’s experimental Sprayscape app makes VR more like Snapchat

Imagine if you could share a virtual reality-ready 360-degree view of any moment, on the fly, as easily as you send a video on Snapchat.

That’s the premise of Sprayscape, the latest experimental app from Google. Out today, the Android app makes VR selfies a reality even if they are a bit blurry.

If you’ve ever tried to take a 360-degree photo or video with a smartphone before, then you know that capturing your surroundings perfectly is pretty much impossible. Sprayscape embraces this with its “perfectly imperfect” approach. Instead of creating an expertly stitched photo sphere, the app allows you to share an in-the-moment (and likely imperfect) look at what’s around you.

The app launches on an empty black sphere that you can fill with images by tapping on the screen. Sprayscape uses your phone’s gyroscope to help capture your surroundings. But the app only captures the part of the frame you touch and it’s far easier to capture a blurry view of what’s around you than a clear one.

The resulting “scapes” are unfocused and blurry but easily shareable. Just send a link (the app requires you to log in to a Google account for sharing) and your friends can view your 360-degree creation either by dragging their finger around the frame, holding up their phone to view different parts of the image, or by popping it in a Cardboard viewer.

“We call it VR-ish. When you use Sprayscape, you are taking photos on a 360-degree sphere. When you view a scape youre looking around media oriented to 360 space,” the app’s website explains.

The app comes to us via Android Experiments, which the company uses to highlight creative ways developers use Android to create new types of experiences, and Sprayscape, which was created internally at Google, certainly fits the bill.

Though we’ve seen other apps experiment with the “Snapchat for VR” concept before, Sprayscape offers a slightly more creative take on the idea. Still, it seems unlikely to be leaving Google’s experimental labs anytime soon.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

The real Google phone is going on pre-order in India

If you want to be among the first ones to pre-order one of Googles Pixel smartphones in India, make sure you dont fall asleep early tonight.

You will be able to pre-order Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones in India on Flipkart starting midnight tonight, Google told Mashable India. The phones will also go on pre-order through over 1,000 retail stores including Reliance Digital, Croma and Vijay Sales.

If youre planning to purchase either of “made by Google” smartphones, do prepare yourselves to pay a premium. The starting price of the Pixel smartphone is Rs 57,000 ($855), whereas the base Pixel XL model will cost Rs 67,000 ($1,005). The top-of-the-line, 128GB variant of the Pixel will cost Rs 66,000 ($990), whereas 128GB of the Pixel XL is priced at Rs 76,000 ($1,140).

To make it easier for some people to afford the smartphone, Google says its partnered retailers will offer interest free EMI programs and attractive upgrade offers. The phones will ship by end of the month.

Earlier today, Google said it has partnered with HTC India for after-sales support for Pixel smartphones. Customers will be able to avail support from 56 HTC India walk-in service centres in more than 30 cities across India.

The company has also setup a toll free phone support service for Indian customers. The support number, 18004190655, will be functional all days of the week between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. Theres also an online support that users can avail directly from the phone itself. Through this, a user will be able to share their screen with a service representative and get their queries answered.

The Pixel sports a 5-inch full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display whereas its larger variant, the Pixel XL, has a 5.5-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) screen. The Pixel phones are the latest to run Android Nougat (version 7.1), the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. More interestingly, both phones come pre-loaded with Google Assistant, a feature that uses artificial intelligence to understand what users are saying and responds conversationally with the best answers.

Both phones are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 processor, and also feature 12.3-megapixel rear cameras. At the event, Google noted that the 12.3-megapixel sensor used in the Pixel smartphones has scored the most by any smartphone on DxOMark benchmarking.

The phones will be available in “Quite Black” and “Very Silver” color options. The “Really Blue” color variant won’t be available initially.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Google adds polling place, ballot information to search results

Voters fill out their ballot paper in London, Tuesday, March 1, 2016 as voting begins in the U.S. Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary.
Image: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Google is making it easier for you to find information about the upcoming election.

The company is updating its search so that information about polling places and who is on your ballot will appear directly within search results.

Now, when you enter queries like “where is my polling place” or “who’s on my ballot,” Google will surface relevant results within the search in both Spanish and English.

In both cases, you’ll need to enter your home address where you’re registered to vote in order for the correct results to be displayed (if you have your location saved in Google Maps it can also pull from there.)

If you’re looking for a polling place, the results will show designated polling places in your area.

Image: google

For ballot information, the search results will reflect everything from presidential candidates down to local offices like school board positions. From there, you can click into the individual results to find additional information about candidates. Google says it may not be able to turn up results for every single local race nationwide just yet, but the company is working with local secretaries of state and other organizations to add more to the results.

The update is the latest search addition to emphasize voting. The company previously rolled out a similar search feature for helping people register to vote and highlighted the voter registration process in a recent Google Doodle.

Additionally, Google is also making all of its election data available to third-party developers via its Civic Information API, which helps other developers integrate the information into their apps.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Ad fail: Google Assistant gets flight info wrong in Pixel smartphone ad in India

Humans are letting down the super smart Google Assistant.

Its a big day for Google in India. The company is launching its Pixel smartphones in the country today. On the occasion, Google ran a two-page ad on Times of India newspaper, showcasing the power of one of Pixel’s most interesting features, Google Assistant. Its only sin: the almighty artificial intelligence bot has got the facts wrong.

In the ad, Google Assistant is shown responding to a users query who wants to know about their flight to London. The plane, the United Airlines Flight 83, is shown to depart from DEL (New Delhi) and reach LHR (London Heathrow, United Kingdom). Which seems about fine except that United Airlines Flight 83 doesnt actually fly to LHR. The plane instead flies to EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport).

In Googles defense, its Assistant probably knows all of this and its likely the fault of people who were tasked for this ad. We checked Google Assistant on Allo for United Airlines Flight 83 and it did show its destination to be EWR and not LHR.

It also doesnt help that Times of India is the countrys most circulated English newspaper and people are going to notice it. Oh well.

Google Assistant is the headline feature of new Pixel smartphones. The feature uses artificial intelligence to understand what users are saying and responds conversationally with most relevant and accurate answers. Google Assistant will be exclusive to Google’s Pixel smartphones Pixel and Pixel XL until next year.

Read more: http://mashable.com/