Items tagged with alphabet

From the outside looking in, there is a bit of uncertainty surrounding Google's hardware business, and especially its line of Pixel phones. Following the launch of the Pixel 4, a report came out claiming there was a fair bit of behind-the-scenes turmoil during the phone's development, which may have impacted its reception—the Pixel 4 line sold poorly compared to the Pixel 3 family, in the first six months of availability. What gives? "Hardware is hard," as Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, put it in an interview with The Verge. The sentiment reminds me of Acer's reaction to Microsoft developing its first Surface tablet several years ago. At the time, an Acer executive likened the... Read more...
We’ve seen Alphabet/Google’s DeepMind AI crush human opponents in games like StarCraft II, but now the team is going back in time to tackle games from 4 decades ago. Dubbed Agent57, this new AI is gaining attention for learning how to play a total of – you guessed it – 57 Atari 2600 games. The DeepMind team often looks to existing games to help improve its AI routines, and it explains that they provide “excellent testing ground for building adaptive algorithms” that can encompass a “rich suite of tasks which players must develop sophisticated behavioral strategies to master.” More importantly, each game has its own high... Read more...
Self-driving vehicles are still a bit of a novelty still, but several companies are beginning to escalate their offerings. Waymo, the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, has begun to offer rides in Arizona. The rides are part of an early access program. Author and columnist Ed Niedermeyer hitched a ride with a Waymo self-driving vehicle in Chandler, Arizona. Niedermeyer requested the vehicle through the Waymo app and was greeted by a driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivan. A message in his Waymo app read, “This ride will be different. With no one else in the car, Waymo will do all the driving. Enjoy this free ride on us!” Waymo boasts a fleet of over... Read more...
Google late this week acquired Fitbit for $2.1 billion, just days after the deal was first rumored. This acquisition not only gives Google access to a bigger slice of the wearable market pie, but a greater amount of information about users’ health and fitness. Many have argued that Google's agreement with Fitbit is more about the possession of data than technology. Rumors had cropped up at the end of October that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, had been in talks with Fitbit. This rumor was confirmed on November 1st in a blogpost by Rick Osterloh, Google’s Senior Vice President of Devices & Services. Osterloh stated that they hope to “spur innovation in wearables... Read more...
Google is making a play to step into the wearables market with its parent company, Alphabet making an offer to purchase Fitbit. With the offer, Alphabet is looking to step into the wearables hardware market. Google has been selling its own tablets, laptops, and smartphones where it competes directly against Apple, Samsung and a host of other companies, but lacks a true first-party wearable device.  It has left the wearables hardware market other device makers (while providing Wear OS to its OEM partners), but it appears that it wants in on a piece of the action. People familiar with the matter say that Alphabet made a purchase offer, but it's unclear how much was presented. The source also... Read more...
Google parent company Alphabet has confirmed that it is under investigation by the United States Department of Justice. Specifically, the DOJ suspects Alphabet of antitrust practices, and is demanding all information and documents related to prior antitrust investigations involving the company around the globe. While the DOJ stated that it was just beginning to investigate major tech companies back in July 2019, we now know the department's efforts have kicked into high gear. Alphabet and Google aren't the only major tech companies under the crosshair right now. Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are all known to be under investigation as well, and we wouldn't be surprised if other platforms... Read more...
Alphabet owns both DeepMind and Waymo, and the two subsidiaries are working together to train AIs that operate Waymo self-driving cars. The way the duo are training the AI is using the technique that DeepMind calls population-based training (PBT) that was developed and used previously by DeepMind for training the video game algorithms used to defeat humans in StarCraft II. The same technique was also used to train AIs to play Quake III Arena. PBT takes inspiration from biological evolution and can speed up the selection of machine-learning algorithms and parameters for a particular task. PBT does this by having the AI choose the machine-learning algorithms and parameters available for a specific... Read more...
Google parent company Alphabet has posted its most recent quarterly earnings, and things are looking good for the company. Alphabet reported revenue of $38.9 billion, growth of 19% year-over-year. Profits for the company reached $9.9 billion, up 201% compared to last year when Google was hit with the massive $5 billion fine in the EU for antitrust violations. If you exclude that massive EU fine, profits were still up 13%. Google doesn't get particularly granular with its reports. It's "other services" segment where products like the Play Store and its hardware division reside grew significantly. Revenue in that segment was up 40% to $6.2 billion. Google has admitted that it was having a hard... Read more...
Google Fiber started off with a bang back in 2010, and has slowly expanded into some key metropolitan areas across the United States. But while Google Fiber promises symmetrical 1Gbps speeds that are the envy of many techies, parent company Alphabet has run into numerous technical, legal, and competitive challenges that have stalled the rollout to additional cities. In the case of Louisville, Kentucky, the situation is even worse. Google Fiber first went live in the city during the closing months of 2017, but the ISP has announced that it is now pulling entirely out of the city. That's right, existing customers will be cut off, and they'll will have to find a new ISP in just... Read more...
Does Google track your location? A study by the Associated Press and Princeton University discovered that some Google services store your location regardless of your privacy settings. It is believed that over 2 million Android users are affected by this issue. Google claims that if users turn off their “Location History”, it will no longer store the places the users have been. The AP and Princeton University insist that some Google apps store time-stamped locations, even if the user has disabled “Location History”. Some of these exceptions make sense, but others seem illogical. On one hand, Google will look up your location to provide an accurate weather update. On the... Read more...
Waymo's autonomous vehicle fleet has been piling on the miles ever since the program was first initiated by Google back in 2009. According to the company, its cumulative total for miles driven has swollen to 8 million to date. To put that figure in perspective, it took six years from the time the Google's first autonomous vehicles took to the road until it crossed the one million threshold. The two million mile mark was reached just over a year later the miles have been racking up ever since. Remarkably, Waymo's miles-driven tally has was at "just" 5 million in February of this year. You can chalk up Waymo's rapidly advancing autonomous odometer and experience in the field to the fact that it... Read more...
Alphabet is one of the largest and most valuable companies on the planet, and at least one Morgan Stanley analyst is suggesting that the company use its cash pile to gain the upper hand in a growing market sector. In this case, Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak says that Alphabet subsidiary Google should give away millions of its Home Mini AI smart speakers.  In fact, he suggests that Google should give away one Home Mini for each American household in order to gain a leg-up on market leader Amazon. Amazon has just over a 60 percent share of the smart speaker market in the United States, compared to around 30 percent for Google.  Google Home Mini With a retail price of $49, Nowak is... Read more...
Google is at the center of another privacy lawsuit, this latest one filed in the UK on behalf of around 4.4 million iPhone owners who may have had their browsing data improperly collected. Should Google lose the legal battle, it could be on the hook for 3.2 billion pounds, or roughly $4.29 billion, the company revealed in a court filing. Google denies the allegation and doesn't believe the issue even belongs in a London court. The crux of the lawsuit is the use of tracking cookies of Apple's Safari browser. It's similar to what led Google to pay the United Stated Federal Trade Commission (FTC) $22.5 million in 2012 to settle charges brought against the company, only the fine is potentially much... Read more...
Now that Waymo is free of its long-running legal battle with Uber, it is focusing its attention on more important endeavors; namely spreading its self-driving technology to more platforms. In this case, Waymo is launching a pilot program that will see autonomous semi-trucks navigating through the Atlanta, Georgia area. Waymo began testing its autonomous trucks during trials in California and Arizona and is ready to expands those trials in high-profile way. While many of the basic principles of a self-driving semi-truck are similar with passenger vehicles like the Lexus RX 450h and Chrysler Pacifica vehicles that Waymo typically uses, considerations have to be made for "braking, turning, and blind... Read more...
Google purchased Nest back in 2014 for $3.2 billion, and since 2015, it has operated as its own subsidiary under the corporate Alphabet umbrella. However, it was announced today that Nest will be “coming home” by rejoining the Google hardware division. The announcement was made by Google Hardware SVP Rick Osterloh and Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz, and acknowledges that smart devices are becoming an increasingly integral part of our everyday lives. Devices like the Google Home and Nest Cam should be co-developed under the same team, not in separate silos. Nest in particular has been on an upward trajectory over the past year, as it sold more hardware in 2017 than it did in 2015 and 2016 combined.... Read more...
Just two months ago, Waymo announced plans to test a self-driving car service in Phoenix, Arizona, in which commuters could summon a free ride from one of around 600 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans. Now the company is putting the pedal to the metal with "thousands more" of the same hybrid vehicle, each one motoring around without a flesh and blood (read: human) driver behind the wheel. Fiat Chrysler in Canada is producing the self-driving vehicles for Waymo, which is planning to deploy the hybrids in cities where it is currently testing autonomous driving technology. When asked by Wired exactly how many thousands it is talking about, the company would not say, leaving it up to everyone's imaginations.... Read more...
Back in 2016, Google's parent company Alphabet started a new cybersecurity project at its X Moonshot lab. Now two years later, that project is graduating into a standalone company called Chronicle, with the aim of helping other firms find and stop cyber attacks before they can cause any harm. It will do this through a continually honed intelligence and analytics platform designed to rapidly identify and neutralize threats. In a blog post announcing the standalone outfit, Chronicle CEO Stephen Gillett explains that it's fairly common for hackers to go undetected for months, and that it can take equally long for a security team to fully grasp what is going on once they detect a security threat.... Read more...
A surprise announcement has come out of Alphabet this week. Google's former CEO and most recently Executive Chairman of the Alphabet Board of Directors has announced that he is stepping down from his post. Schmidt will transition to a role as a technical advisor for the company, and Alphabet says that it expects a non-executive chairman will be appointed at the next board meeting. "Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition. The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving," said Eric Schmidt. "In recent years, I’ve been spending a lot of my time on science and technology issues, and... Read more...
A new rumor is circulating that claims YouTube is getting ready to launch a new music service in March. According to people claiming to be familiar with the matter, the new service is called YouTube Remix and it's Alphabet Inc's latest attempt to combat Spotify and Apple in the music industry. The same sources claim that one major music label, Warner Music Group, has already signed on. Warner is one of the three major music labels globally. YouTube is reportedly in talks with the other two global music superpowers: Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music. YouTube is also in negotiations with Merlin, a consortium of independent music labels according to the sources. While streaming services... Read more...
Waymo's legal battle with Uber over autonomous driving technology just got a little bit trickier to navigate for the Alphabet-owned company. Adding to a growing list of unfavorable rulings for Waymo, a federal judge in San Francisco threw out key testimony from the company's damages expert, Michael Wagner, making it more difficult to prove allegations that Uber stole trade secrets related to self-driving vehicle technology. The judge also denied a trade-secret theft claim, along with one of the defendants in the case, ultimately making it more difficult for Waymo to prove that Uber engaged in misconduct independent of whether the engineer stole proprietary information from the company.Image Source:... Read more...
Alphabet's Project Loon team has sent LTE balloons up in the sky over parts of Puerto Rico. Project leader Alastair Westgarth stated in a blog post that his team was working with the government of Puerto Rico, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), FEMA, and others to make this happen. The team is also collaborating with wireless carrier AT&T to deliver emergency Internet services to the hardest hit parts of the island. "Working with AT&T, Project Loon is now supporting basic communication and internet activities like sending text messages and accessing information online for some people with LTE enabled phones. This is the first time we have... Read more...
Self-driving cars are inevitable when it comes to the future of transportation in the United States and abroad. Many auto manufactures from Ford to Mercedes-Benz to Tesla are racing to make fully autonomous driving technology ready for primetime on public roads by the turn of the decade (or shortly thereafter). Google helped to familiarize many in the tech industry with the idea of self-driving vehicles with its fleet of autonomous Toyota Prius and Lexus RX 450h hybrids. Now that Google's self-driving efforts have been spun into a separate entity called Waymo, parent company Alphabet is hoping to help the general public understand the benefits of self-driving cars. It all starts with the "Let's... Read more...
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