Google is selling the Home Hub and two Home Mini speakers for just $129

Google just launched an aggressive deal that might be all many people need to outfit their house or apartment with Google Assistant this holiday season. For a limited time, the company is selling a Home Hub smart display and two Home Mini smart speakers at a total price of $129. The Hub ordinarily retails for $149, with the speakers going for $49 each. Obviously both products have been discounted at times during the holiday season — including right now at various retailers. But this bundle from the Google Store seems…

Google is adding more parental controls to Chromebooks

Google has had an app called Family Link for a little over a year now, designed to give parents more control over their kids’ use of their Android phones — and even turn them off at dinner time. Now it’s expanding the app to support Chromebooks, adding many of the same features to that platform. Parents will be able to whitelist websites that they’re okay having their children visit, set screen time limits, establish a bedtime, remotely lock devices, and monitor usage. And for the first time, Chromebooks set up…

Google Maps can now direct you to Lime scooters and bikes

Google is adding a new transit option to Maps: Lime scooters and bikes. Maps will now offer the option to direct you toward the nearest shared vehicle and factor that into your travel time. Maps already offers a similar integration for services like Uber and Lyft. Google will give you Lime as an option, along with the location and estimated price, and forward you over to the Lime app to actually find and book the scooter or bike in question. Google is rolling out the Lime integration in 13 cities…

Google’s Chromecast returns to Amazon, but it still lacks Prime Video

A year after Amazon announced it would resume selling Google Chromecasts, the streaming pucks are finally available to buy from its store, reports Android Police. Originally, Amazon had said that selling a streaming device that didn’t support its own Prime Video streaming service would cause “customer confusion,” and it also banned sales of the Apple TV for the same reason. Last December, Amazon finally released an Amazon Prime Video app on the Apple TV, but its mobile app continued to lack Chromecast support. Despite this disparity, Amazon later announced that…

How Congress missed another chance to hold big tech accountable

From time to time the entire technology press corps gets together on Twitter, spends several hours live-tweeting the same event, and then writes a series of blog posts about how nothing important happened. This event is known as a Congressional hearing, and today we witnessed our final one of the year. After months of polite deferrals, Sundar Pichai finally went before Congress on Tuesday, and over the course of three and a half hours, said as little as possible. The hearing before the House Judiciary Committee was defined, as had…

All the news from Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee

Earlier this week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee on a wide-ranging set of issues, from alleged liberal bias in search results to YouTube moderation issues to the company’s plans to launch a search product for the Chinese market. The event was notable because it was Pichai’s first appearance before the Republican-controlled House, after a long string of such congressional hearings over the last two years, but also because it happens to coincide with one of Google’s most contentious moments in its history. The company is…

Google will let Android users donate directly to nonprofits through the Play Store

Google is launching a new feature for Android phones today through its Play Store app marketplace that will let anyone donate to a number of US nonprofits, with 100 percent of the donation going to the chosen organization. Google is waiving its traditional 30 percent fee for apps and in-app purchases as part of the program, which the company is calling Giving Season on Play. Some of the nonprofits include the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders USA, Girls Who Code, and UNICEF. The full list of charities can be…

Nvidia Shield TV gets Amazon Music and a $30 holiday discount

Today Nvidia is releasing version 7.2 of its software for the Shield Android TV box, which continues to receive strong support more than three years on from its initial release. The update is headlined by support for Amazon Music in the US, including both the premium Amazon Music Unlimited service and the regular catalog that comes with an Amazon Prime subscription. Other upgrades include quick settings customizations, automatic software update installations, and 5.1 audio support for YouTube — which Nvidia says makes the Shield the first streaming box with this…

Congress thinks Google has a bias problem — does it?

On Tuesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee, after months of escalating pressure. There were lots of issues to talk about — radicalization on YouTube, the company’s fraught relationship with China, and the staff revolt over Andy Rubin’s severance agreement, for a start — but members of Congress really just wanted to talk about bias. “Google has long faced criticism for manipulating search results to censor conservatives,” Rep Lamar Smith (R-TX) told Pichai, citing studies by prominent Google critic Robert Epstein. “Those who write the algorithms…

What Google’s CEO told Congress about China — and what he didn’t

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee today, and lawmakers peppered him with everything from allegations of bias against conservatives to questions about location data. It could hardly be said that the focus of the hearing was on Google’s plans for China, but the subject did come up from a handful of lawmakers, who expressed concern over reports that Google has been working on a search product that would comply with the Chinese government’s stringent surveillance and censorship demands. The project, codenamed Dragonfly, has led…

Google still has no answers for YouTube’s biggest problem

From Pizzagate to QAnon, YouTube has a serious problem with conspiracy theories. The basic moderation problem has splintered into a number of different scandals over the past two years, including disturbing children’s content, terrorism videos, white supremacy dog whistling, and radicalization via YouTube’s algorithm. But when confronted on those issues at a House Judiciary hearing today, Pichai offered the same response that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has offered in the past: there is no immediate cure. The most vigorous questions came from Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who confronted Pichai over…

Google’s CEO had to remind Congress that Google doesn’t make iPhones

In any congressional hearing about technology, at least a few lawmakers will use Silicon Valley executives as their own personal tech support staff. But usually, the questions at least involve products that their companies actually make. So Google CEO Sundar Pichai got particularly unlucky at a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee today, when Rep. Steve King (R-IA) asked Pichai to explain why his daughter’s iPhone was acting strangely. “I have a seven-year-old granddaughter who picked up her phone during the election, and she’s playing a little game, the kind…

Republicans pushed Pichai about bias allegations, leaving China and other issues behind

Questioning Google CEO Sundar Pichai for the first time, House lawmakers could have hammered on any number of controversies. The company’s plans for China, Google+ data breaches, and whether tech giants need to be more closely regulated all might have taken center stage. But while lawmakers brought up all of those issues this morning at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, the Pichai hearing was dominated by allegations of bias against conservatives, as Democrats struggled to counter the narrative while introducing new questions. “We need to be sure that…

Google Fit adds new breathing exercise feature and home screen widgets

Like Apple, Google has been slowly building out a suite of mobile and wearable health features to turn our phones and smartwatches into the center of fitness and wellness regimens. Although Google’s Wear OS lags a bit behind Apple’s watchOS and dedicated Health app, it’s beginning to catch up. This week, Google is adding a couple of new features to make it easier to track activity progress and to engage in a bit of relaxation. The first is home screen widgets for the Google Fit mobile app. Now, you can…

Google tests teaching you word pronunciation

I have a confession to make. On a recent episode of Workflow, I went on camera to recommend the Halide camera app. Everything went perfectly until the video made its way online, at which point the comments started rolling in to politely inform me I’d been pronouncing Halide completely wrong for the past year. Apparently, it’s pronounced “hay-lyde,” not “ha-li-day.” What a nightmare. Turns out, I really could have used Google’s latest feature, which Android Police reports spells out words phonetically when you search for them. So, thanks to a…

Sundar Pichai had to explain to Congress why Googling ‘idiot’ turns up pictures of Trump

In a House Judiciary Committee hearing today, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was asked to explain why a Google image search for “idiot” turned up pictures of Donald Trump — and whether that was a case of intentional bias. The question came from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who was trying to refute the idea that Google is politically manipulating search results. “Right now, if you google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” she said. “How would that happen?” Pichai offered a…

Google Lens can now be accessed directly from the search app on iOS

Google Lens, the search giant’s visual identification tool, can now be accessed directly from within the Google app on iOS (via 9to5Google). To do so, simply hit the Lens icon to the left of the microphone in the app’s search bar, at which point your phone’s camera will open, and Google will attempt to identify whatever you point it at — whether it’s a plant, an animal, or just some text you want to copy and paste elsewhere. Previously, this image recognition service could only be accessed via Google Photos…

How to save your Google Allo chats before the app is shut down

Last week, after pausing work on the app several months ago, Google announced its plans to shut down Allo at the end of March. The company says that it’s shifting all of its focus for a consumer messaging app toward Messages, which is used by over 175 million people monthly. Allo, on the other hand, never managed to gain any sort of real traction with consumers — but some people do actually use it. To help prevent those users from losing any conversations, Google is making it easy to export…

Vivo’s new Nex has a second display and ‘Lunar Ring’ on the back

Vivo has announced its followup to one of the most head-turning phones of 2018, the Nex. The new Nex Dual Display Edition has a similar curvy design and devotion to eliminating the display notch, but it takes a different approach: whereas the original Nex had a pop-up selfie camera, the new model doesn’t need one in the first place. That’s because, as the name suggests, there’s an entire second screen on the back of the phone — you can use it to frame selfies with the unusually ringed rear camera…

The Galaxy S10 could be Samsung’s last flagship with a headphone jack

Other than LG and its focus on audiophile-grade output, there’s been no stauncher defender of the headphone jack than Samsung. The phone giant regularly highlights the 3.5mm jack’s continued inclusion in marketing and device announcements, and its status as the most prominent manufacturer in the Android world means it has a major influence on how many millions of headphone jack-equipped phones are bought and used every month. But with almost all other previous headphone jack pushers giving in, from OnePlus and Xiaomi to Huawei and Google, will Samsung’s policy last…

McLaren and OnePlus kick off exclusive partnership with McLaren OnePlus 6T

The McLaren OnePlus 6T has just been made official at an event hosted in McLaren’s headquarters, where the luxury automaker and the budget-friendly smartphone company inaugurated the start of their brand partnership. Speaking with The Verge ahead of the announcement, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei admitted that he was convinced the collaboration made sense after test-driving a McLaren 720S. To him, both McLaren and OnePlus are brands for “people in the know.” There are lots of other flashy cars you can get, argues Pei, but you get a McLaren when you’re…

Human rights groups press Google on China plans ahead of Pichai testimony

Dozens of human rights groups signed on to an open letter today protesting Google’s plans for China, as CEO Sundar Pichai is scheduled to testify before a House committee tomorrow. “We are writing to ask you to ensure that Google drops Project Dragonfly and any plans to launch a censored search app in China, and to re-affirm the company’s 2010 commitment that it won’t provide censored search services in the country,” the letter, which is addressed to Pichai, begins. Google has faced intense scrutiny since it was revealed that the…

YouTube bans Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes for copyright infringement

Alt-right commentator and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes is now banned from YouTube for “multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement,” according to the company. At the time of the ban, McInnes, who also co-founded Vice Media in 1994 prior to his involvement with numerous nationalist causes, had over 200,000 subscribers. It is not clear which videos on McInnes’ channel led to the ban, but YouTube confirmed that the channel had exceeded the threshold for copyright strikes, leading to a “repeat offender” ban. In November, the FBI labeled the Proud Boys…

Google will shut down Google+ four months early after second data leak

Google+ has suffered another data leak, and Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of the social network four months earlier than it originally planned. Google+ will now close to consumers in April, rather than August. Additionally, API access to the network will shut down within the next 90 days. According to Google, the new vulnerability impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had profile information like their name, email address, occupation and age exposed to developers, even if their account was set to private. Apps could also…

Google Maps’ new For You tab of personalized recommendations launches on iOS

Google launched its personalized For You section of recommendations in Google Maps on Android back in June, and today, it announced a big expansion for the feature: it’s launching for the first time on iOS in over 40 countries and expanding to over 130 new countries on Android. The For You section was first shown off at Google I/O earlier this year, promising a personalized feed of updates and news from the places and stores you already like as well as recommendations for new things to try, whether you’re in…

The 48-megapixel phones are coming

Sony and Samsung both announced 48-megapixel image sensors designed for smartphones earlier this year, and we’re starting to hear details of the first devices to make use of the massive pixel counts. Honor has just pre-announced the View 20, which uses Sony’s IMX586 sensor with Huawei’s Kirin 980 processor and the same “hole-punch” selfie camera design as Huawei’s upcoming Nova 4, set to be revealed in full next week. The View 20 is the followup to the View 10, a mid-range device that we were reasonably impressed with earlier this…

Google and Levi’s smart jacket can now warn you if you’re about to leave your phone behind

Google and Levi’s Jacquard smart jacket has introduced a new function designed to stop you from mistakenly leaving your phone behind, as spotted by Android Police. The feature, called Always Together, is an automatic alert that will go off if the jacket moves too far away from your phone. When triggered, notifications happen on both ends. So, your phone will get a notification, and the jacket’s signature sleeve tag will also blink and vibrate. Previously, Android Police notes, there was a manual “find your phone” option where an assigned gesture…

You have another chance to save on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

Google is offering yet another discount on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, its latest flagship smartphones known for their impressive cameras — particularly in the dark. As is the trend with most deals that are popping up around now, this offer from Google isn’t quite as good as what we saw over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Still, this is probably as good as it’s going to get for an unlocked Pixel 3 this holiday. Until December 22nd, you can get $100 off of the Pixel…

When algorithms go wrong we need more power to fight back, say AI researchers

Governments and private companies are deploying AI systems at a rapid pace, but the public lacks the tools to hold these systems accountable when they fail. That’s one of the major conclusions in a new report issued by AI Now, a research group home to employees from tech companies like Microsoft and Google and affiliated with New York University. The report examines the social challenges of AI and algorithmic systems, homing in on what researchers call “the accountability gap” as this technology is integrated “across core social domains.” They put…

Smart Reply is coming to Hangouts Chat to wreak havoc on your workplace culture

Google is bringing its Smart Reply feature to Hangouts Chat for G Suite, its workplace messaging platform. The feature is similar to Smart Reply in Gmail, and uses machine learning to propose three different replies to conversations happening in Chat. The feature is rolling out now to workplaces that are either now running extremely efficiently or have halted to a standstill. Google is determined to put its intelligent assistive writing tools to good use in its products. There’s Smart Compose in Gmail, which auto-suggests phrases within the body of your…