Google Photos Removes Option to Backup Media Only While Charging

Google Photos app for Android and iOS has quietly removed the feature that allowed devices to backup images and video files only while charging the device. Users could earlier choose this option to ensure that the backup of media files doesn’t end up draining their device’s battery life but it seems like the search giant has now removed the option without any explanation for why it did so.

While Google Photo users still have the option to switch off backup of media files while on cellular data, they can no longer add the constraint related to charging. As you might expect, this feature was extremely beneficial as it made sure that the backups were only performed when the device was in proximity to a power source and was not running short of juice.

As pointed out in a 9To5Google report, with the release of version 2.17 for Android and 2.18.0 on iOS, this option in the backup settings within the Google Photos app was removed.

Google Photos Removes Option to Backup Media Only While Charging

The While charging only option is currently not visible with any of our devices, on both platforms, but 9To5Google says that there is a minority that can still see the option available. Interestingly, the option cannot be seen on company’s help page for Google Photos backup settings as well.

Notably, the option to switch off media backup while on roaming is still available within the Google Photos app. Users can always switch the cellular data option off and as Wi-Fi is usually available at either homes or offices, which usually have easily accessible power sources too, they will still be saved from battery drain. However, an extra option at your disposal is something nobody ever complains about – hope you’re listening Google.

Google working with Levis on smart clothes

The internet titan used its annual developers conference in San Francisco to reveal its so-called Project Jacquard and to spotlight Levi Strauss as its first partner.

Named after a Frenchman who invented a type of loom, Project Jacquard is in the hands of a small Google team called Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP), which is different from the Google (x) lab that develops big-vision innovations such as self-driving cars.

“We are enabling interactive textiles,” Emre Karagozler of ATAP said as the smart fabric was shown off in an area set up to look like cloth coming out of a loom.

“We do it by weaving conductive threads into fabric.” The special threads can be woven into a wide array of fabrics, and be made to visually stand out or go unnoticed depending on designers’ wishes.

Conductivity can be limited to desired parts of fabric or spread across entire cloth.

“It is stretchable; it is washable,” Karagozler said as people controlled lights or computer screens with finger strokes on a blue cloth covering a table in the display area behind him.

“It is just like normal fabric.” Project Jacquard makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms, according to Google.

Anything involving fabric, from suits or dresses to furniture or carpet, could potentially have computer touch-pad style control capabilities woven.

Conductive yarn is connected to tiny circuits, no bigger than jacket buttons, with miniaturised electronics that can use algorithms to recognise touches or swipes, ATAP says.

The data can be sent wirelessly to smartphones or other devices, enabling actions such as making phone calls or sending messages with brushes of fabric.

“In our hyper-digital world, people constantly struggle to be physically present in their environment while maintaining a digital connection,” said Levi Straus’s head of global product innovation Paul Dillinger, who took part in a Google presentation at the gathering.

“The work that Google and Levi’s are embarking upon with Project Jacquard delivers an entirely new value to consumers with apparel that is emotional, aspirational and functional.”

People touch specially woven Project Jacquard fabric at Google's annual developers conference in San Francisco, California on May 29, 2015.

Google Maps are coming to the smartwatch on your wrist straight out of Sydney

Years after Australian-based engineers created Google’s online mapping system now used by millions, they’re doing it again, this time for the wrist.

 

Google senior product manager Andrew Foster revealed to News Corp the search giant’s Sydney team had once more taken the lead on mapping, creating a version of Google Maps for smartwatches.

The fresh application will change the way maps show up on Google-based watches, laying a chart over the watch’s full screen and revealing directions without the need to pluck a phone out of a pocket or handbag.

Google senior product manager Andrew Foster, who has been working on Google Maps since 2006, at Google's office in Pyrmont, Sydney.

“We don’t just look at just building things for Australia but building innovations for the whole world,” Mr Foster said.

The new Maps application has begun rolling out to Android Wear smartwatches, with LG’s newly launched Watch Urbane receiving the app first, and six others now in line, including the Motorola Moto 360 and ASUS ZenWatch.

Mr Foster said the wrist-bound app had been designed in Sydney for pedestrians rather than drivers, and would feature the ability to zoom into a map and an “ambient” mode that would dim the screen to save battery.

“It will get the location from the phone and then deliver turn-by-turn directions to the smartwatch,” he said. “If you’re walking, for example, it could tell you turn right in 50m.”

The search giant will introduce more features to Android Wear smartwatches in the upcoming release, letting users move from one notification to the next with a flick of the wrist, draw an emoji on the screen with a finger to send it to a friend, and adding wi-fi support so smartwatches can show updates without a smartphone connected.

Watch this space ... Google Android Wear director David Singleton announces updates during the 2015 Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

Google Android Wear director David Singleton recently revealed there were “more than 4,000 apps built specifically for Android Wear” and “many more” watches due for release this year.

The Google-powered smartwatches are now competing with those from Apple, however, which sold almost one million devices in its first day on the market.

Google application hints at a new Google Glass release, bringing smart spectacles back into focus

GOOGLE may soon make a spectacle again.

After introducing the world to internet-savvy glasses, the search giant has filed an application that could indicate the imminent second coming of Google Glass.

 

The application, filed with America’s Federal Communications Commission, details a device with the nickname GG1.

Internet to your eye ... Google Glass delivered a smartphone connection and updates to a tiny screen above the wearer’s right eye.

But that’s not the only hint it might be a redesigned Google Glass.

According to the filing, the device will have Bluetooth Low Energy and wi-fi connections, a non-removable battery, a wall charger and a USB connection.

And, perhaps most tellingly, the FCC certification label will not be shown physically on the device but in an electronic label the same shape as a Google Glass screen.

Telling label ... An electronic label for a new Google device, nicknamed GG1, could indicate a redesigned Google Glass.

Google’s second smartglasses would come after a controversial and halted start for the technology that was announced in 2012 and offered to Google developers in 2013 with a $US1500 price tag.

The glasses connected to Google Android smartphones and delivered notifications to a tiny screen above the wearer’s right eye.

A microphone let wearers give voice commands to the spectacles, and a bone induction speaker delivered audio. A camera on its side let wearers record photos and video.

Testing specs ... Google Glass ‘explorer’ Cathie Reid tested the first model of Google Glass. (Photo: Adam Head)

Google ended availability and the test period for Glass in January this year, however, saying it had “graduated” from the Google X lab and would become an official Google product under the leadership of Nest chief executive Tony Fadell.

However, the reception for smartglasses has been mixed, with Juniper Research predicting the spectacles will not see 10 million sales until 2018 due to the “lack of a key consumer use case”.

Google is introducing an application that will connect Android smartwatches with Apple’s iPhone

GOOGLE is introducing an application that will connect Android smartwatches with Apple’s iPhone, escalating the rivals’ battle to strap their technology on people’s wrists.

The move thrusts Google on to Apple’s turf in an attempt to boost the lacklustre sales of watches running on its Android Wear software.

The program uniting the devices running on different operating systems is being released Monday in Apple’s app store.

Until now, Android watches only worked with smartphones powered by Android software, just as the Apple Watch is designed to be tethered exclusively to the iPhone.

Google’s new app, though, will enable the latest Android watches to link with the iPhone so people can quickly glance at their wrists for directions, fitness information and notifications about events, emails and Facebook updates.

The devices still won’t be able to be tied together in a way that will allow the Android watches to communicate with all the other apps that a user might have installed on the iPhone.

That roadblock is likely to discourage many iPhone owners from defecting from Apple to buy an Android watch unless Google eventually finds a way to overcome the obstacle, said IDC analyst Ramon Llamas.

For now, the Android watches are most likely to appeal to iPhone owners reluctant to spend a lot of money on a device that remains more of a novelty than an essential gadget.

Google expects the prices of Android watches compatible with the iPhone to range from $100 to $400.

Don’t want an Apple Watch? No problem.

Apple, which has a long history of demanding premium prices for its products, sells most of its watches for $350 to $1,000, though its luxury models cost more than $10,000.

Android watches aren’t going to be bought by “the fan boys and fan girls that have to have absolutely everything with an Apple logo on it,” Llamas said.

“We are talking about going after people who are open to other possibilities with what they can do with their devices.”

Although Apple was a late entrant into the smartwatch market, the company quickly surged to the front of the pack after its April release.

About 4 million Apple Watches were sold during the three months ended in June to command three-fourths of the worldwide smartwatch market, based on estimates from the research firm Strategy Analytics.

The combined sales of Android watches made by various device makers during the same period totalled 600,000 units for an 11 per cent market share.

Samsung watches running on Tizen software grabbed most of the rest of the market with a 7.5 per cent share.

Google is hoping the next wave of Android Wear watches will help to shift the tide in its favour. The upcoming Android watches that will work with the iPhone include the Asus ZenWatch 2 and the Huawei Watch. LG Electronics already makes an Android Watch, the $300 Urbane, that’s compatible with the iPhone.

Working with the new app, the Android smartwatches will be compatible with iPhones dating back to the 5, as long as their operating systems have been updated to at least iOS 8.2.

“This is a shrewd move by Google to expand its potential market,” Llamas said.

“There is only so much space available on each wrist.”

Draw blood without a needle: Google files patent for blood test invention

FIRST your personal information, now your blood.

Google has patented a “Needle-Free Blood Draw”, which holds appeal for diabetes patients who have to test their blood glucose levels on a regular basis, for example.

The patent, which was published December 3, describes a device that uses “an abrupt surge of gas” to give a micro-particle enough momentum to pierce a person’s skin.

Then a “micro-emergence of blood” is drawn into a barrel.

There are two examples shown as illustrations in the patent: One looks like a traditional blood-drawing device that a person can place on the tip of their finger, while the alternative example is a wrist-based device.

Google notes that the latter device could be used manually or configured to draw blood automatically.

An illustration of the patent.

The company is obviously mum about its intentions for this patent, which is still pending.

A spokesman replied to an inquiry from The Verge by saying “we hold patents on a variety of ideas — some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents.”

The patent was filed on May 28, 2014, well before Alphabet Inc. was announced as Google’s parent company on August 10, 2015.

In the announcement, CEO Larry Page pointed for “companies that are pretty far afield of our main internet products” as the ones housed in Alphabet apart from Google.

“What do we mean by far afield? Good examples are our health efforts: Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity),” Page wrote in the Alphabet announcement.

The needle-free blood-drawing device, if it ever sees the light of day, would fall into Alphabet’s domain.

You’ve been searching all wrong … Eight secrets of Google you need to know

WE’VE been relying on Google to find everything we need online since 1998, but are we making the most of it?

The UK’s most popular search engine can do a whole lot more than just find stuff — and some of its tricks are really cool.

So here are a few search secrets you really need to know.

1. You may have been searching all wrong

If you want to search a specific site begin your search with ‘site’.

For example, if you want to find an alien story on The Sun website type ‘site:thesun.co.uk alien’

To find the dictionary definition of a word type ‘define’ in front of your search.

2. Little words are a no-no

Common words like ‘a’ and ‘and’ are known as ‘stop words’ and are ignored by Google.

However if they are in a specific phrase or quote they will need to be included.

For example if you were looking for a film quote such as “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” put it in quotation marks for maximum results.

3. Google has a sense of humour.

The ‘Did you mean’ tag can either be a friend or an enemy but it can also be funny. Type in ‘anagram’ to find a gem.

4. You can still play Pacman

In May 2010, the Google Doodle was an interactive Pacman game which cost the nation 4.82 million man hours in time-wasting. You can still idle away a few hours by searching ‘Play Pac-man’ into the search.

5: You can make Google flip out

Type ‘Do a barrel roll’ into the search box and watch as your browser gets acrobatic.

Another good command is ‘askew’. Try it.

6. You can make your own Google logo

You can make your Google page your very own with Goglogo

With Goglogo, you can personalise the Google logo to whatever text you want.

7. It’s a calculator

For a quick answer to a maths equation just type it into the search engine

It’s quicker than Stephen Hawking on a good day.

8. Google Sphere is amazing

Fed up with a flat screen Google?

Google Sphere will get you in a spin in the coolest way possible.

The Age Of Big Data

An algorithm to predict where crime will strike next, a phone app that knows you are sick before you do, and the billionaire who got rich using cosmologists, code breakers and particle physicists. Welcome to the fascinating world of big data.

IS MULTI-MILLIONFOLD SPEEDUP PROOF THAT GOOGLE IS REALLY QUANTUM COMPUTING?

This week, Google announced a breakthrough that could prove its quantum computer is actually using quantum mechanics. When researchers gave theD-Wave 2X a carefully crafted test problem, the 1,000-qubit computer solved it 100,000,000 times faster than a classical computer could.

Quite a few tech giants and government organizations are investing in quantum computing. And many of them, including Google, NASA, andLockheed Martin, are working with the commercial quantum computers built by D-Wave. The idea is that these devices can harness the counterintuitive effects of quantum mechanics to solve problems faster than conventional computers, which could potentially improve artificial intelligence, materials science, space exploration, and even Google web searches. (Skeptics, however, have suggested these practical applications are far-fetched and that quantum computing would most likely be applied to a less glamorous business: proving the theories of quantum mechanics.)

No matter how we plan to use quantum computers, we have to jump a big hurdle first: proving that a computer is actually using quantum mechanics to solve a problem. One sign of QC in action is quantum speedup—and that’s just what a team of Google researchers has discovered [disclosure: one of the researchers is friends with this author]. In their paper, released on the arXiv pre-print server, they designed a problem that a real quantum machine should be able to solve more effectively than a classical one. Then they posed this problem both to their D-Wave 2X and to a classical single-core computer. The D-Wave 2X was significantly speedier than the classical machine, and 100 million times faster than a classical computer running an algorithm that mimics quantum computing.

Ultimately, extraordinary claims will require extraordinary proof.

So Google has proved their quantum computer is really a quantum computer…right? The D-Wave 2X certainly seems to be using quantum effects. But the problem it solved was designed to be easy for a machine like the D-Wave and difficult for the algorithm it was competing against. It’s as if you tested the intelligence of a physicist by having her compete with a literary critic to solve a complex math problem: The scientist may ace that specific test, but it doesn’t prove she’s smarter than the critic overall—and it doesn’t prove that she would beat a mathematician in the same competition. If the researchers had chosen a different problem, or if they had compared the D-Wave 2X to a different algorithm, the quantum machine may not have been quite so impressive.

Ultimately, extraordinary claims will require extraordinary proof. To win over critics, D-Wave computers will have to demonstrate quantum behavior over and over again. In the process, researchers will learn how to improve these devices so they have more computing power and commit fewer errors. And that’s a big win for everyone.

Siri vs Cortana vs ‘Ok, Google’: Who’s better, who’s best

Cortana’s learning the neighborhood. Google’s digital assistant can’t tell a joke. And Siri apparently has a thing for the metric system.

Those are just a few of the things I learned after staging a face-off between the three leading digital assistants. Apple’s Siri and “OK Google” – they’re not big on personification at Google – are now standard on smartphones; Microsoft recently added its Cortana service to Windows 10, so it works on PCs, too.

Now that just about anyone can talk to their phone or computer, we wanted to see what happens when you try.

Unsurprisingly, none of the assistants are perfect. Surprisingly, they do have distinct personalities, even if they’re just deliberate artifacts of their creators.

I asked the same 10 questions of each service, using an iPhone with Siri, a Nexus phone with Android’s “OK Google” and a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet with Cortana.
INFORMATION PLEASE

First up: Some basic factual questions. All three did pretty well when asked, “What’s it like outside?”

Cortana earned extra points for answering with a spoken weather report. Google and Siri each showed a screen image that listed current conditions and a forecast.

All three supplied President Obama’s age. When asked “What’s his wife’s name?” they all remembered that the question referred to the president, and correctly identified the First Lady: Michelle Obama.

Similarly, they all knew the length of the Golden Gate Bridge. But for some reason, Siri answered in meters, while Cortana and Google stuck to feet.
AT YOUR SERVICE

Next came more complicated tasks, like finding the nearest pharmacy. Google and Siri listed three within a half-mile of The Associated Press bureau in downtown San Francisco. But neither mentioned the drug store on the ground floor of the building where the bureau is located. Cortana did.

Posing questions is hungry work. I asked for help making a lunch reservation at Credo, a fancy restaurant around the corner. Siri and Cortana were stumped, but Google automatically fired up the Open Table app on the Nexus phone, with the form already filled out to make a reservation. Too bad the place is so trendy; it was booked for weeks.

Ever feel like ducking work to catch an afternoon movie? (Shhh! Don’t tell my editor.) All three assistants had local movie listings at their digital fingertips. But Siri led off with a new release at a theater just half a mile from the AP bureau. With a couple of taps, Siri had opened Fandango, an app that lets you buy tickets online.

Google also connected with Fandango. Cortana had more trouble; Microsoft lags behind Apple and Google in the number of apps that work with its software, and I couldn’t get the right Fandango app to load on a Surface tablet.
JUST FOR LAUGHS

Finally, a personality test. I challenged each to tell a joke. Siri had the best answer: “If I told you a joke in my language, I’d have to explain it.”

Then I tried the famous line from “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which astronaut Dave Bowman tells the ship’s computer: “Open the pod bay doors.” Cortana knows the right answer: “I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” But Siri had a better one: “Doesn’t anybody knock anymore?”

To be clear, these aren’t the witty rejoinders of some artificial intelligence. The creators of Siri and Cortana thought it would be fun to pre-load each service with humorous answers to predictable questions.

Google doesn’t bother with such frills. Sticking to its search-engine roots, “OK Google” answered the “2001” question by silently presenting a series of Internet links, starting with one for a YouTube clip from the movie.

Likewise, when asked about the meaning of life, Siri and Cortana were both ready with a quip. Google just recited a dry definition that only a biologist could love: “Life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter. …”
FINAL SCORE

All three services are good on factual questions. Siri’s programmers have the best sense of humor. Google stays focused on the task at hand. And Cortana is quickly catching up to both of them.

How to take screenshots with Google Now on Tap

Users on Android’s latest flavor, Marshmallow (version 6.0), are also likely familiar with Google Now on Tap. To summarize, this feature will attempt to provide contextual information from any screen on your device. So if a friend mentions a restaurant in a Hangouts message, you can use Google Now on Tap to quickly bring up directions or ratings.

The latest update to Google Now on Tap removes the need to use hardware buttons to take a screenshot. This will be welcome news to anyone who isn’t fond of the button combination, or users with device cases that make it difficult to only press the necessary buttons.

Here’s how to grab your screenshot with Google Now on Tap:

  • Tap the share button in the bottom left-hand corner.