Google open sources Embedding Projector

Google announced that it will open source its data visualization tool, Embedding Projector. It will be used to help researchers visualize data without using TensorFlow.

Embedding Projector helps researchers create a model that can be considered close to a four dimensional model. Since humans, as of now, can’t visualize the fourth dimension, this tool will help using data and vectors.

For a four dimensional model researchers can create a char in PowerPoint using the X and Y axis measurements but as more it gets more complex it gets harder to visualize in the fourth dimension, this is where Google’s Embedding Projector comes in.

 

Google launches Tango augmented reality system

Google has officially launched its Tango smartphone augmented reality system, after more than two years of development.

Tango is only available on the Lenovo Phab2 Pro right now though it’s expected that Tango will be available on Android phone in the coming year.

Around 35 apps are launching with Tango. For gamers there are titles such as Crayola Color Blaster.

There are other apps such as iStaging that allows users to place furniture or objects in a space to see what it looks like before buying. Matterport’s scenes app allows users to capture spaces in 3D, which looks amazing.

Tango works next to Daydream, the company’s smartphone virtual reality platform. Hopefully one day both Tango and Daydream are connected offering much more to users.

Google releases Allo messaging app

Google announced two new products, Duo and Allo, during its I/O developer conference earlier this year. Duo the video chat app was released about a month ago and Allo has been released today, after weeks of rumored release dates.

Allo, the new messaging app, is different from Hangouts or anything previously launched by Google. Allo is integrated with Googles top of the line machine learning technology and Google Assistant. Allo and Duo are going to replace Hangouts, which offered both messaging and video calling. According to Google Hangouts is set to become an enterprise solution while Allo and Duo are focused as consumer products.
Allo Emoji.jpgBoth the apps are simple and straightforward. However, Allo has a lot more to offer than Duo. The messaging app has quite a bit of new features. Users are able to make text appear bigger or smaller when pressing and holding the send button then dragging up or down. Users also have more than two dozen sticker packs available to use during chats, which come in a range of styles and they’re all free. Users can share images and are able to draw on them, share your location, and dictate text.

TAllo Lunch.jpghe biggest feature is the integration of Google’s machine learning and Google Assistant, which is still in preview. With Google Assistant you can chat with it as you would anyone else or you can use the @google command to ask a question. You can use this feature during chats with others. It will allow you to get weather information, nearby restaurants, quick info, and a host of other things such as setting timers, alarms, and reminders.

 

allo-messagingPersonally one of my favorite features is smart replies. Smart replies offer suggestions for users to reply with instead of typing or swiping the word out. This works even for photos.

Allo also comes with an incognito mode that enables end-to-end encryption for chats. Users also get features such as discreet notifications and the ability to auto delete messages.

Allo does seem to be off to a good start, however, the Assistant is still in preview. Therefore we have yet to see what it can truly offer. Still Allo seems like a good replacement for Hangouts though it will have tough competition against Facebook Messenger and Whats App.

The app is available on both Android and iOS.

Google’s DeepMind is developing next gen machine generating speech

Google’s DeepMind, which has been developing intelligent computers has created a way for AI to mimic human speech.

DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014, developed an AI called WaveNet that has the ability to mimic human speech by learning to create individual sound waves, according to its blog post. The company conducted blind tests using English (U.S) and Mandarin (Chinese) on human listeners that found WaveNet sounded more natural than previous or other technologies.

Current speech programs use recordings from a single human speaker then use the recordings to allow the program to speak, which is why it doesn’t sound so natural. With WaveNet its different because it doesn’t necessarily rely on humans to record every single word. WaveNet is a neural network AI that is designed to mimic parts of the human brain function, however it requires large data sets.

According to the blog post, the audio signal has to be sampled 16,000 times per second or more then it has to form predictions on the sample about what the sound wave should look like from other samples, which is challenging.

This is an interesting development in AI human speech. Since many companies have developed speech capable AI such as Microsoft with Cortana, Apple with Siri, and Amazons Alexa, having an AI capable of producing more naturally sounding speech would greatly benefit the users. Humans are also interacting more with AI, either if its using Siri, Cortana, Google Now, or Alexa, AI have steadily been increasing their interaction with humans.

Googles ride-sharing service in San Francisco

Uber has a new competitor: Google. Google has moved into the ride sharing service in San Francisco. The service will offer commuters a carpooling service where commuters going in the same direction can take a single vehicle.

Commuters can connect to the service using Googles Waze app, which will bring together riders. Waze is a popular app that offers drivers crowd sourcing navigation data about driving conditions such as accidents and traffic jams. These incidents are reported by other drivers into the app to keep others informed about driving conditions. Waze was acquired by Google in 2013.

It should be noted that Google won’t be using its self driving technology, at least for now. According to The Wall Street Journal Google is considering using driver-less cars in the future.

Android Nougat officially launched today

Google has launched Android N (Nougat), it’s out of beta, and is available for Nexus devices (Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player), the Pixel C tablet and gradually everyone else with an android. Whether or not you had opted into the beta version, users should start to see update notices in the coming weeks. That’s right, it will take a few weeks for everyone to get in on Android N.

Android N beta was launched in March, early this year, which was a surprise for many. The announcement by Google and the beta came hand in hand. Users flocked to installed the beta to test out the latest Android and Google delivered with many rich features and bugs. I had personally used the beta for a few months but had to un-enroll due to bugs that may not have been critical to other users except for myself. The beta itself was worth installing so this final release will have some changes and fixes for optimized use. Google has stated that Nougat will introduce 250 new features, though many may go by unnoticed.

Some new features users will see are changes in the notifications that comes with a new look and the ability to take action such as responding to messages straight from the notification. Nougat also now groups notifications together from the same app for example all Gmail notifications will be grouped together, messages will be grouped together by the specific app. The Quick Settings widget has also been redesigned and users will now be able to move apps around without having to enable developer mode.

MultiTasking.pngOne of the most useful features is the ability to multitask and have 2 apps open at the same time. Users can hold Overview button (the square on the bottom right of the screen) and Android will give the option to select a new app to fit onto the screen. Depending on the phones orientation the apps will be stacked vertically or split horizontally.

Another useful feature is the ability to switch recently used apps by double-tapping the Overview button (again bottom right square).

Nougat promises that devices will boot faster along with faster OS updates. Nougat also promises to improve battery life using Doze mode, which, for Marshmallow, puts your phone into sleep mode when the device is put down or is not moved in a while. For Nougat Doze will work even if the phones moving and will put the phone to sleep if it has not been used in a while. I predict this will be helpful for those users that do not constantly use their phones.

Nougat also has a Data Saver mode that can reduce the amount of background data apps use. Apps will be restricted from downloading large amounts of data, however,  notifications will still be allowed. Daydream, Googles virtual reality platform, will be introduced in Nougat.

There are a lot of new features coming to Android Nougat, again users will likely have to wait to update, though it will definitely be an interesting experience. As of now Nougat looks promising but again users wont know until actually trying it out.

Google to begin phasing out Chrome apps

Google recently noted in a blog post today that Chrome apps is effectively user-less, as active usage numbers were low. After 3 years the company will begin to phase out Chrome apps for all platforms except for Chrome OS.

If you haven’t used Chrome apps they are apps that are essentially similar to smaller apps and have their own windows, however, they require Chrome to be running to work. Apps such as Google Hangouts are often used, Hangouts is one of Googles most popular messaging apps. Google is now looking to clean up its browser and simplify it.

Sometime in the second half of 2017 the Chrome Web Store will no longer display Chrome apps, only those using Chrome OS will have access. By 2018 users wont be able to load Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, or Linux.

As for extensions and themes, they are being given a new focus and may not be affected by this change. Google stated “There are two types of Chrome apps: packaged apps and hosted apps. Today, approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac, and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps.”

“For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn’t provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware.” Google sees no future for Chrome apps, with their continuous development of an open web, even their pushing for more web integration.  “Developers who can’t fully move their apps to the web can help us prioritize new APIs to help fill the gaps left by Chrome apps.”

 

Google launches Duo video calling app

Google has launched its anticipated video calling app Duo. Duo was announced at Google I/O in May and has rolled out on Android and iOS 9, worldwide. Screenshot_20160817-112550.png

Duo works by video calling via phone numbers and for now that’s all it does. Most of the app is straightforward and simple, with not a lot of features or functionality. One thing users get is knock knock, which lets the recipient of a video call see the caller. This means you can see them real time of course and will help you understand where they are and if, in some cases, who they are with, and may also help users identify other situations before taking the call.

it’s not connected to Hangouts, Spaces, SMS, or any other Google App. Which might make it more inconvenient. Rather than having everything located in one single app, users now will have to navigate between apps.

Most of the app is straightforward and simple, with not a lot of features or functionality. One thing users get is knock knock, which lets the recipient of a video call see the caller. This means you can see them real time of course and will help you understand where they are and if, in some cases, who they are with, and may also help users identify other situations before taking the call.

oogl1168000h_google_apps_duo_campaign_birthday_knock_knock_pr_08_unslated

With many competitors such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime, Duo might have a hard time breaking into a developed market. Though a strong side for the app might be its optimization of network connectivity. The app can lower video quality or switch to audio only calling based on the strength of the signal, and can switch between data and Wi-Fi connections mid-call.

On another note, Hangouts will be shifting to enterprise with the coming of Allo. There will be a lot of change coming to Google and its users.

Google is creating a new OS called Fuchsia

There have been a lot of rumors and speculations that Google is working on a new OS named Fuchsia. Currently there’s a pile of code in Google’s code depository and on Github, which points to a new OS with interesting features.

The OS doesn’t seem to use the Linux Kernel, which is used on both Android and Chrome OS. So this seems to be a new start for Google. The OS is built on Magenta, which comes from a project called LittleKernal that is designed in embedded systems such as digital watches other IoT devices. The current code points to it being capable of running on smartphones, tablets, PCs, embedded devices, and even on dash systems for cars.

Christopher Anderson and Brian Swetland are listed as developers on Fuchsia’s GitHub page, they are both experts on embedded systems. Anderson worked on Google’s Android TV and Swetland is a senior software engineer at the company.

Since the new OS uses Magenta there are some interesting features involved such as user modes and “capability-based security model.” The way the company is going about the development of the project by putting it on GitHub is also quite interesting and Swetland reportedly said: “The decision was made to build it open source, so might as well start there from the beginning.”

It’s not quite clear where the project is heading, though some clues point to a more universal OS, which might replace Android and Chrome OS. The OS will be available on the Raspeberry Pi 3, according to Travis Geislebrecht, a project member.

Google to buy Moodstocks, a company that can make your smartphone see

Google announced a deal to buy a French startup called Moodstocks, which creates technology that can allow smartphones to recognize what they are looking at.

Moodstocks has been working on this technology to allow smartphones to be more versatile when taking images of objects or people and having the ability to recognize various objects, essentially as if giving smartphones eyes. The company also works with machine learning, which Google has heavily integrated with its services.

“There’s a lot more to be done to improve machine vision,” Google France tech site lead Vincent Simonet said in a blog post.

Google hopes to integrate Moodstocks technology into its AI development. The company’s research and development center in Paris will work with a team from Moodstocks.

Its interesting to see how far this technology will take Googles services and products. Google announced at their annual developers conference in May, a virtual home assistant called Google Home, a competitor of Amazon Echo. With Google Home being thought of as a next gen assistant, this kind of technology may help devices differentiate between objects and even learn and grow to offer more accommodated services.

We’ll also undoubtedly see this technology in smartphones in the near future. This may be included in the next Android OS and give smartphones more functionality and features, and make them smarter. The bigger question is will this technology be included in the self driving cars Google is developing? Image recognition could do wonders for self driving cars. Instead of just sensors, cars will be able to themselves differentiate between different objects such as stop signs, people, animals, cars, bicycles, and various others.