Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

Following last month’s updates making search and Lens functions more easily accessible via the home feed of Pinterest’s app, the popular photo-sharing and discovery platform has now added the ability to zoom inside Pins for a closer look at images and GIFs. The new feature (presently available for iOS and coming soon to Android) is one of the app’s most user-requested features. It is also joined by an updated visual search for finding specific objects. Interestingly, the same image search is available starting this week without a Pinterest account, via the Chrome browser extension. Continue reading Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

Weak Security and Obsolescence Leads to Demise of Flash

Adobe has finally pulled the plug on Flash, an application that Steve Jobs excoriated as far back as 2010 for being too insecure and proprietary for the iPhone. Adobe stated that it would no longer update and distribute the Flash Player at the end of 2020, and many in the industry will cheer its demise. In fact, Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari have been blocking Flash for the past year, but many sites devoted to gaming, education and video still use Flash, whose infamously weak security has been exploited by malware. Continue reading Weak Security and Obsolescence Leads to Demise of Flash

Google Develops New Ad Filtering Tool for Chrome Browser

Google plans to introduce a new ad-blocking tool for its Chrome web browser in 2018, and is giving publishers at least six month’s notice to prepare. According to sources, the new default setting will appear on desktop and mobile Chrome versions and will prevent ads from popping up on websites known to create a bad advertising experience for users. Google’s new “Ad Experience Reports” will let publishers know if their website hosts such “bad experience” ads and will detail how to fix the problems. Continue reading Google Develops New Ad Filtering Tool for Chrome Browser

World Wide Web Consortium Proposes HTML5 DRM Standard

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has formally moved its Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) anti-piracy mechanism to the stage of Proposed Recommendation. The decision of whether or not to adopt the EME standard now depends on a poll of W3C’s members, which have until April 19 to respond. Although the proposed standard has many critics, W3C director/HTML inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has personally endorsed it. Engineers from Google, Microsoft and Netflix created EME, which has been under development for some time. Continue reading World Wide Web Consortium Proposes HTML5 DRM Standard

Google Unveils Next-Gen Android O, Featuring Battery Savings

Google unveiled the first developer preview of its next-generation mobile operating system, Android O, a year after its first preview of Android Nougat. Unlike the Android N version, which was available to all comers, Google is not making the O preview available in the Android Beta channel. For Android O, only developers who own a Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL or Pixel C device (or want to use the emulator) will be able to manually download and flash their devices. Among the new features, background limits are expected to conserve battery life. Continue reading Google Unveils Next-Gen Android O, Featuring Battery Savings

Half of Web Traffic Now Encrypted as Websites Adopt HTTPS

A new report from rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) found that half of today’s Web’s traffic is now protected by encryption. The increased adoption of HTTPS is largely a result of efforts from big tech companies, like Google and Facebook, and an increased awareness of government surveillance. Google started factoring whether a website was on HTTPS or HTTP into its algorithm. WordPress, one of the biggest Web hosting providers, switched to HTTPS last year. Continue reading Half of Web Traffic Now Encrypted as Websites Adopt HTTPS

Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Last week, Netflix opened the doors to downloaded content for offline viewing on mobile devices. Now, the company is describing some judicious technology adjustments it made to ensure viewers enjoy an improved video image, and that the resulting content doesn’t eat up the mobile device’s storage. The company did that by switching video codecs, although the result favors Android users, as well as improving its already-established method of varying data rates based on the needs of each scene in a movie or TV show. Continue reading Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Chrome Tightens Up Security Warnings for Unencrypted Sites

In January, Chrome will begin placing a “not secure” warning on the left of its address bar for websites that do not use strong HTTPS-connected encryption, which accounts for nearly half of the world’s existing sites. Up until then, Chrome has only posted warnings on HTTPS sites with faulty encryption. Later in 2017, Chrome plans to expand the categories of sites for which it will issue warnings, including any unencrypted pages visited via Chrome’s Incognito and any HTTP site offering downloads. Continue reading Chrome Tightens Up Security Warnings for Unencrypted Sites

Warner Bros. and Google Team Up for Unique Film Promotion

Google and Warner Bros. Pictures have partnered to promote “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the prequel to the “Harry Potter” franchise, via integrations with Daydream View VR, Google Allo, YouTube and more. Among the features are a series of spells that users can cast by speaking to Google’s voice assistant: “Lumos” will turn on the phone’s flashlight and “Nox” will turn it off; “Silencio” will disable the ringer and notifications. Another feature of the partnership is integrating real-life locations in Google Street View and letting fans visit 1926 New York City. Continue reading Warner Bros. and Google Team Up for Unique Film Promotion

Google Builds Cast Functionality Directly into Chrome Browser

Google recently integrated full Google Cast capability directly into its Chrome browser, a significant upgrade to its previous Cast extension that allowed streaming from Chrome to supported devices like the company’s popular Chromecast. The Cast icon will appear on all sites that support it, enabling Cast functionality from the Chrome menu, no software download required. Cast is also now available on third party hardware such as TV sets and speakers. More than 38 million casts were sent from Chrome in August alone, representing over 50 million hours of consuming media content. Continue reading Google Builds Cast Functionality Directly into Chrome Browser

Washington Post Turns to Google Tech for Faster Mobile Site

The Washington Post is unrolling a new “lightning-fast” mobile website based on Google’s Progressive Web Apps that loads pages in under one second; the current mobile site loads pages in about three seconds. The goal is to create the fastest mobile news site possible, says chief technology officer Shailesh Prakash, who notes that 70 percent of the newspaper’s digital traffic is from mobile devices. The Post plans to direct 10 percent of traffic to the new site now, segueing to a complete switch by the end of the year. Continue reading Washington Post Turns to Google Tech for Faster Mobile Site

Google Debuts Features to Enable Browsing the Internet in VR

Google has been a significant player in defining and deploying what’s called WebVR, which enables VR websites to provide content directly to virtual reality headsets via standard capabilities. But Google has a much broader vision: it would like users to be able to access all websites in VR including those not created with virtual reality in mind. Currently, a user would have to take the VR headset off and on as she jumped from site to site. Google thinks it’s a better idea to let the user remain in an entirely VR environment. Continue reading Google Debuts Features to Enable Browsing the Internet in VR

Google to Offer its Own Smartphone, Secure Future Services

By the end of the year Google plans to release its own smartphone, which will compete directly with the Apple iPhone and extend the company’s reach into hardware. Google is presently in talks with carriers about the branded phone. Its Android operating system already powers 80 percent of smartphones sold around the world in phones made by, among others, Samsung, LG and Huawei’s Google Nexus brand. With its new smartphone, Google will take charge of design and manufacturing as well as software. Continue reading Google to Offer its Own Smartphone, Secure Future Services

European Officials Accuse Google of Breaking Antitrust Rules

European officials have charged Google with violating competition rules by favoring Android over rival mobile software. Europe’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager accused the tech giant of unfairly promoting its own mobile search and Chrome browser with phone makers. “We believe that Google’s behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players,” said Vestager. From Brussels, the European Commission issued a release stating that Google has “abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators.” Continue reading European Officials Accuse Google of Breaking Antitrust Rules

Few Publishers Trying to Recover Revenue Lost to Ad Blockers

More than a third of Americans reportedly use an ad blocker on their Internet browsers, and many of them probably have no idea that they are costing publishers billions in lost advertising revenue. Randall Rothenberg, president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, urged publishers to develop their own technology and methods to stop ad blocking software. Meanwhile, Samsung is following Apple in enabling an ad blocking plugin for the Internet browser on its mobile phones. Continue reading Few Publishers Trying to Recover Revenue Lost to Ad Blockers

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