YouTube says it will now remove ‘violent’ and ‘mature’ videos pretending to be kid-friendly

Earlier this week, YouTube quietly announced a policy change to its treatment of videos targeted toward minors and young children. The video platform says it will now remove all content that contains “violent” or “mature” themes if it is targeted toward kids, either through the title of the video, its description, or the accompanying tags. Going forward, YouTube says this type of content “will no longer be allowed on the platform.” Prior to this change, YouTube was age-restricting such videos, but now it’s going a step further to help clean…

How to keep spam from invading your Google Calendar

For some time now, Google Calendar users have been vulnerable to a rather nasty type of spam that seems to have gained momentum lately. It works like this: an email containing an invitation to an event is sent by a spammer to your Google Calendar (this can apparently happen even with an email that ends up in your spam folder), and the calendar automatically puts the appointment into your calendar — even though the body of the appointment contains a spam link or some other obnoxious content. At minimum, this…

Google spooks employee activists with new guidelines for political speech at work

Google has updated its employee guidelines to caution against unnecessary political debate and improper disclosure of company information. Unveiled on Friday, the guidelines direct Googlers to be respectful in all internal communications, with prohibitions against trolling or blanket statements against groups of people that make fellow employees unwelcome. “Don’t troll, name call, or engage in ad hominem attacks,” the new guidelines read. “Be respectful in your comments about (and to) your fellow Googlers.” The previous version of the guidelines was unveiled just over a year ago in the wake of…

The Google Home Mini’s mute switch makes privacy deliberate

In today’s digital age, it sometimes feels like hardware has taken a back seat to the software that drives our devices. Button of the Month is a monthly look at what some of those buttons and switches are like on devices old and new, and it aims to appreciate how we interact with our devices on a physical, tactile level. Smart home devices can make people uneasy, what with the “constantly listening to you” and the massive breach of privacy whereby paid human contractors turned out to be listening to…

OnePlus says its TV will have a 55-inch QLED panel

OnePlus is continuing the dripfeed of information about its upcoming TV, following news of its September release date and the revelation that it’ll be called the OnePlus TV. Now we know the first technical details of the product, courtesy of a tweet from OnePlus India: it uses a 55-inch QLED panel. Previous filings have suggested Android-based models of between 43 and 75 inches in size, with the 43-inch variant seemingly also bound for India. This announcement doesn’t necessarily rule any of that out, but it does at least confirm that…

Google Photos now lets you search for text in pictures you’ve taken

Google made a subtle announcement today on Twitter: it’s in the process of rolling out new AI features for its Lens platform that will let you search your Google Photos library for text that appears within photos and screenshots. Then, you’ll then be able to easily copy and paste that text into a note, document, or form. Both of the new features make use of a technique known as optical character recognition (OCR), with the copy/paste option building on Lens’ existing ability to understand and pull out the text found…

YouTube disabled 210 accounts for spreading disinformation about Hong Kong protests

Google just published a blog post revealing that it has disabled 210 YouTube channels that the company says “behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.” Google cites the behavior as being “consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.” The accounts were disabled earlier this week. Both Facebook and Twitter recently uncovered and suspended accounts that the social media companies believe were operated by the Chinese government and designed to seed doubt about and undermine…

Lenovo’s Smart Clock can now showcase your Google Photos collection

One of the disappointments my colleague Dan Seifert had with Lenovo’s Smart Clock was that the device’s tiny screen didn’t do as much as it could (or should) compared to similar products. At launch, it didn’t even offer the basic function of acting as a digital picture frame for your photo library. That’s something the Google Nest Hub smart display can do, as can Amazon’s various bedside Echo devices with screens. Lenovo and Google are rectifying that today with an update that allows the Smart Clock to showcase your Google…

How to monitor and limit your data usage on an Android phone

Although many data plans these days are advertised as “unlimited,” most actually have a cut-off point when your data stream is going to slow radically. If you don’t want to pay the premium prices that “unlimited” plans demand, then it’s even more important that you avoid going beyond your maximum data allowance, or there will be high penalties to pay. Either way, it’s smart to monitor your data flow — not only to make sure you don’t pass your limits, but also to find out if you need to rethink…

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review: should you spend for the stylus?

How much would you pay to have a stylus in your phone? That’s the essential question for the Note 10 Plus. It wasn’t always this way: the Note line has meant a few different things over its eight-year history. It was the first phone that convinced us that big screens were great, the phone that proved there was a market for a super powerful Android phone, and (of course) the phone that had to be recalled because its battery lit on fire. Save for the stylus, all of those things…

Bose’s new Portable Home Speaker offers Google Assistant, Alexa, and AirPlay 2

Bose just announced a surprise product: the Portable Home Speaker, a $349 speaker with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that supports Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect. The new speaker looks a lot like a next-generation version of the company’s SoundLink Revolve+ from 2017, with a similar conical design for 360-degree sound output and an integrated carrying handle. The added Wi-Fi connectivity adds a whole host of new services that should make the Portable Home Speaker far more versatile than just working as a Bluetooth device. The Portable Home…

Google deserts desserts: Android 10 is the official name for Android Q

Google has officially named the next version of Android, which is due to be released this fall: Android 10. Breaking the 10-year history of naming releases after desserts, the company is bailing on providing a codename beginning with a subsequent letter of the alphabet (in this case, Q), which is the way we’ve been referring to Android up to now. This year is Android 10, next year will be Android 11, and so on. After a quarter of quiet, the quintessence of Android’s brand has quickly changed without quarrel, resolving…

The Google Play Store’s redesign is cleaner but not greener

The Google Play Store is getting a fresh new look, which, like most of Google’s redesigns of late, nixes the colorful green header in favor of a brighter and whiter style. (The Gmail app similarly lost its red header earlier this year as part of the same Material Design revamp.) Like the iOS App Store — which got a similar redesign two years ago — the new Play Store now has separate tabs for apps, games, books, and another for movies and TV shows. The tab bar will appear on…

Google postpones shutdown of Hangouts for G Suite users

Google will let G Suite customers continue to use Hangouts until next year, delaying a shutdown of the service that was supposed to begin in October. Hangouts will now stay around for business customers until at least next June. The shutdown will move customers of Google’s business-focused G Suite subscription over to a pair of new chat services: Hangouts Chat, a Slack competitor; and Hangouts Meet, a video conferencing service. While the services generally include the same functionality (and more), people are pretty used to Hangouts, and Google says it’s…

YouTube pressured to ban Chinese state media ads that spread misinformation about protesters

YouTube is being pressured to remove ads from China Central Television, a state media channel that’s allegedly spreading misinformation about protesters in Hong Kong. Users on Twitter and Reddit have posted a number of screenshots of the ads, many of which paint the Hong Kong protests as an illegitimate product of foreign influence. The users accuse YouTube and parent company Google of enabling an “infestation of ads” that “tries to sow political discord.” As a result, many supporters of the protests are demanding that Google stop CCTV from running ads…

Waymo is making some of its self-driving car data available for free to researchers

The data collected by self-driving cars used to be a closely guarded secret. But recently, many companies developing autonomous driving systems have begun to release their data to the research community in dribs and drabs. The latest to do so is Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet, which today is making some of the high-resolution sensor data gathered by its fleet of autonomous vehicles available to researchers. Waymo says its dataset contains 1,000 driving segments, with each segment capturing 20 seconds of continuous driving. Those 20-second clips correspond to 200,000…

YouTube bans robot fighting videos for animal cruelty roughly 10 years too soon

We all knew it would happen someday. Google, which believes in AI so much it rebranded its Google Research division as Google AI, has begun to side with the robots. On Monday, it was reported that Google’s YouTube took down videos of robots fighting each other (think: BattleBots), saying they violated policies against showing displays of animal cruelty. Here’s one of the videos that had been determined to show animal cruelty: [embedded content] This video was posted by Jamison Go, who competed in the last season of BattleBots. Yesterday, he…

Gmail rolls out better, smarter spell check and grammar corrections for G Suite

Services like Grammarly are trying to up the quality of your email copy, but now Google is taking some initiative itself by bringing improved spell check capabilities and grammar suggestions to Gmail. The company says that G Suite users will soon notice inline suggestions, powered by machine learning, that appear as you type out an email. And Gmail will some autocorrect “common spelling mistakes” without you having to click anything or take any extra steps. Aside from misspellings, it’ll also detect mistaken verb tense. From the composer’s perspective, the main…

Google’s lightweight Go search app is now available worldwide

A year and a half after it had a limited launch in India and Indonesia, the lightweight Google Go search app is now available worldwide. At just over 7MB in size, the app is meant as a way to find information online for low-powered devices, and is also able to remember your search results when you’re back online if your connection drops. The app is available now on the Play Store, and Google says it will run on all Android devices running on Lollipop (5.0) and above. As well as…

Google stops sharing Android user data that helped carriers plan coverage

Google is ending a service that saw it share Android data with wireless carriers globally to help them better understand the network coverage they provided, the company has confirmed. Reuters reports that the Mobile Network Insights service, which Google launched in 2017 but which has gone largely unnoticed until now, was meant to help carriers plan or upgrade their wireless networks by showing them signal strengths and connection speeds in their coverage areas. However, the company has now decided to end the free service offering, reportedly due to fears that…

Realme 5 and 5 Pro announced with quad cameras and low prices

Realme is continuing its breakneck release cadence today with the announcement of the Realme 5 and 5 Pro, its new mainline smartphones for India and the successors to the impressive budget-focused Realme 3. Both phones have four rear cameras and will go on sale for typically low prices. The Realme 5 Pro is the more advanced device. It has a Snapdragon 712 processor, a 4,035mAh battery, a 6.3-inch 1080p LCD screen with a waterdrop notch, and up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There’s also a headphone jack…

IFTTT warns its Nest users not to migrate to Google accounts

IFTTT, the free service that uses conditional applets to extend the functionality of smart home devices, has issued both good and bad news to Nest owners. The good news is that IFTTT Applets designed for the Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect, and Nest Cam will continue to work after August 31st, the date Google will shut down the Works with Nest program. The bad news is that the applets will stop working if users migrate their Nest accounts to Google accounts. Google originally announced that the Works with Nest program would…

Cyberpunk 2077 is coming to Google Stadia

Google just announced that the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 will be coming to its Stadia streaming service next year, marking one of the most high-profile additions to the service yet. There’s no word on release date yet — all Google said was that Cyberpunk would be “coming soon,” although hopefully that means it’ll be available alongside the console and PC launch on April 16th. Alongside Cyberpunk, Google had announced a variety of other games that’ll be coming to Stadia. Upcoming Ubisoft releases Gods and Monsters and Watch Dogs Legion are…

Google Duo’s new low-light mode will make nighttime chats easier

Google is introducing a low-light mode to Duo, its video chatting app, that can detect poor lighting conditions and automatically adjust the picture to illuminate the face in the frame. In a press release, Google says that this new mode will be a boon to those who want to save on electricity, especially if you, or someone who you know, live in a place affected by frequent power outages. It could be ideal to use when you want to check in with a friend or family member who lives several…

Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo collaborate on AirDrop-style file transfer

Three of China’s biggest smartphone makers are working together on a new wireless file transfer protocol that will work between their respective devices. Xiaomi’s MIUI, Oppo’s ColorOS, and Vivo’s FuntouchOS — all based on Android — will integrate the peer-to-peer system, according to a WeChat post by Xiaomi’s official MIUI account. The protocol will use Bluetooth to pair devices and should be capable of transfer speeds of up to 20MB/s, which suggests it uses Wi-Fi on the backend, like Apple’s proprietary AirDrop system. Xiaomi’s post says other smartphone manufacturers can…

Fundo is a new digital meet-and-greet service for creators from Google’s Area 120 incubator

Google’s Area 120 incubator has a new project: the fantastically named Fundo, a digital meet-and-greet service for creators, revealed today in a report from Variety. What is Fundo? Well, it’s not the name of an adorable, floppy-haired dog, although I can understand why that would be your first impression. No, Fundo is an online meet-and-greet service for creators that lets fans “meet your favorite creator from anywhere, using your phone or computer,” per the service’s FAQ. The service is described as a sort of virtual photo booth, and it’s a…

Runkeeper will stop supporting Wear OS

Runkeeper this week announced that it will discontinue its Wear OS app in the next few weeks, as reported by Android Central. The update was emailed to users this week, where the company told users that it decided to end support because “the integration didn’t work well / work consistently for most users.” In a response to users, Runkeeper elaborated that only a small percentage of Runkeeper users were actually using the Wear OS app. “It was a very buggy experience and difficult for us to maintain and fix,” a…

Google Books adds new experimental features that you can test right now

You can now opt-in to test experimental Google Books features on the web, allowing you to try out new features while they’re still under development and yet to be widely released. You can opt into the new features by going to play.google.com/books and clicking the settings cog on the top right of the screen. Within the “Beta features” menu, you have the option of enabling any features that Google is currently publicly testing. At the moment there are three features that you can opt into. “Custom shelves” lets you organize…

Google Assistant will let you send reminders to friends and family

Google is adding a new feature to its Assistant that will let you assign reminders to other people, so long as that person is part of an opt-in group of trusted fellow Assistant users. The feature is designed mostly for families — it will function via the Family Group feature — so that a parent can send reminders to their children or a spouse and have that reminder pop up on a mobile phone or a Google Assistant-powered Smart Display. But it can also work for friends or roommates, the…

Huawei delays Mate X launch beyond September

Huawei’s Mate X has suffered another delay. The company told TechRadar at a press event in China that there is “no possibility” of the folding phone making its September launch date, which itself was pushed back from the original planned June release. The Mate X is also unlikely to be released before November, according to the report, though Huawei is said to be “certain” that it’ll come out at some point this year. TechRadar doesn’t elaborate on the reason for the delay. It’s not clear whether Huawei is doing extra…