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YouTube Adds 4K Live Streaming Support to its Content Infrastructure

YouTube has announced it now supports 4K live streaming at 60 frames per second, enabling content creators to live broadcast both 360-degree and standard video in the high resolution standard. Viewers with screens equipped to take advantage of the resolution shouldn't have to wait long to tune in to regularly streamed 4K broadcasts. YouTube said the first event to be live streamed in 4K will be the Game Awards, which takes place today at 9pm EST (6pm PST). For creators this means the ability to take advantage of an incredibly clear picture for recorded and now streaming video. It’s the kind of thing that can help to push their hardware (and their talent) to create the most beautiful or just plain crazy-looking images and videos possible. And with 360 4K live streams, the sky is (literally) the limit. Get ready for 360 concert and event streams that look sharper, cleaner, and brighter than ever before. 4K video uploading has been supported on YouTube since 2010, but the high resolution content has only gained steam more recently as the technology gradually approaches the mainstream. Today's upgrade to the Google-owned service also potentially opens the door to 4K live streamed events like sports and concerts being included in YouTube's forthcoming "Unplugged" web-based TV streaming service, which is close to being finalized. Unplugged is said to include a "skinny bundle" of channels from the four major U.S. networks, along with a few popular cable channels priced at around $35 per month. YouTube has been in talks with major media companies like 21st Century

Google Releases 'Featured Photos' Screensaver for Mac

Google has released a free Mac screensaver that showcases popular high-quality photos shared and liked by Google+ users. The company regularly showcases Google+ photography on idle Pixel phone screens as well as on TVs and monitors connected to its Chromecast and Google Fiber products. Called Featured Photos, the free screensaver download announced yesterday brings the same eye-catching photography to the Mac. From striking skylines to captivating vistas, talented photographers share beautiful, eye catching work on Google+ every day. To bring these photos to a wider audience, we’ve long showcased a selection of them on TVs and monitors around the world via Google Fiber and millions of Chromecast devices. Now, we’re pleased to be able to make these beautiful photos by our members even more accessible by bringing them to your computers and [Android] phones. Photos are selected based on set criteria, so there are no pictures featuring people, text, or watermarks, and all photos are landscape orientation with a minimum 1080p resolution. Each photo is attributed to its owner via a Google+ profile link in the corner of the screen. Users with multiple screen set-ups see a different photo on each screen. You can download the screensaver here

Google Offering 4-Month Free Trial of Play Music Streaming Service

Google is offering four free months of Play Music as part of its Cyber Week deals. The four-month trial includes a YouTube Red subscription for ad-free YouTube streaming and can be cancelled at any time. The Play music streaming service usually costs $9.99 per month, giving members access to over 35 million songs. Google recently announced an overhaul of its Google Play Music streaming platform, with new contextually aware, opt-in music recommendation features that promise a more personal music listening experience. Users who have had a free trial or cancelled a Play Music membership in the past aren't eligible for the Cyber Week promotion, but that doesn't stop anyone curious to see what's changed from creating a new Google account to take advantage of the

Google Maps Now Lets You Check How Crowded a Store is in Real Time

Google has announced a new feature to its Search and Maps apps that enables Black Friday shoppers to know how busy a store is in real time. Dubbed "crowd control", the live feature comes on the back of the company's Popular Times feature, introduced last year, that lets users check how busy a place typically is at different times of the week. Just in time for the Black Friday swarms, we're adding a real-time look at how crowded a place is right now, to help you decide where and when to go. Whether you’re rushing to pick up a last minute gift or seeking a lively bar for some festive spirit, check Popular Times for a sneak preview of what to expect when you arrive.The feature works by crowd-sourcing anonymized location data from other Google users and also feeds in Google searches to analyze how busy a location is at any given moment. In addition, Google is also introducing a new way of checking how long people typically stay at a particular location, thereby allowing users to plan their itinerary ahead of time and to the minute. The features augment the apps' existing location information, which also now includes individual department and service hours for stores, businesses, restaurants. The added times are meant to help users know what time they can, say, use the pharmacy at the local drugstore or supermarket, or to find out what time food delivery begins at a nearby restaurant. Many retailers offer steep discounts on popular items on Black Friday in order to attract customers, with Apple products frequently being included in these sales. To keep

Google Translate Update Bringing Easier-to-Read Translations to Web and App

An incoming update to Google Translate on the web and mobile app will enhance the service's ability to translate whole sentences at a time, instead of going word by word. With the help of "Neural Machine Translation," Google said that Google Translate will be able to look at the "broader context" of a phrase to parse out a more naturalistic representation in the native language of the app's user. With the update, Google mentioned that now translated paragraphs and entire articles are going to be "a lot smoother and easier to read," thanks to the new end-to-end learning system introduced within Neural Machine Translation. Like other AI-learning software, Google said this "basically means that the system learns over time to create better, more natural translations." Neural Machine Translation has been generating exciting research results for a few years and in September, our researchers announced Google's version of this technique. At a high level, the Neural system translates whole sentences at a time, rather than just piece by piece. It uses this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to be more like a human speaking with proper grammar. With this update, Google Translate is improving more in a single leap than we’ve seen in the last ten years combined. Across Google Translate on the web and in its iOS and Android apps, users will be able to put Neural Machine Translation to the test with eight languages to and from English and French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and

Google Debuts 'PhotoScan' App for Scanning Old Photos With iPhone

Google today launched a new app called PhotoScan, which is designed to make it easy to scan printed photographs using your iPhone's camera. PhotoScan instructs users to take four separate quick images of a printed photo, stitching them together to create a perfect high-resolution digital copy. Google's multi-image capture method eliminates issues that normally plague digital photos of print photographs, including glare and distortion. Automatic edge detection crops photos to the correct size, and PhotoScan is also able to fix orientation and perspective for a clean-looking scan.PhotoScan gets you great looking digital copies in seconds - it detects edges, straightens the image, rotates it to the correct orientation, and removes glare. Scanned photos can be saved in one tap to Google Photos to be organized, searchable, shared, and safely backed up at high quality--for free.Alongside PhotoScan, Google is also updating Google Photos with improved auto enhance, new looks, and more advanced editing tools for improving images. PhotoScan can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Revamped Google Play Music Streams Content Based on User Location, Activity, and Time of Day

Google today announced an overhaul of its Google Play Music streaming platform, with new contextually aware, opt-in music recommendation features that promise a more personal music listening experience. Building on its stated aim of helping users find the right music for any moment, Google says the fresh take on its streaming service is "smarter, easier to use, and much more assistive", thanks in large part to deeper integration with machine learning technology that allows it to offer content based on user location, time of day, current activity, and music preferences. Central to the overhaul is a redesigned home screen that Google likens to "the ultimate personal DJ", which learns what you like to listen to and when you like to listen to it, presenting content accordingly. Examples include suggesting a users' workout playlist when they arrive at the gym, offering music for unwinding after a day at the office, and recommending additional songs from new artists the user has previously expressed an interest in. To provide even richer music recommendations based on Google's understanding of your world, we've plugged into the contextual tools that power Google products. When you opt in, we'll deliver personalized music based on where you are and why you are listening — relaxing at home, powering through at work, commuting, flying, exploring new cities, heading out on the town, and everything in between. Your workout music is front and center as you walk into the gym, a sunset soundtrack appears just as the sky goes pink, and tunes for focusing turn up at the library.In

Google Cast App Rebranded to Coincide With Impending Launch of Google Home

Google has officially rebranded its "Google Cast" iOS and Android apps to "Google Home," getting the mobile apps ready for the launch of its hands-free smart home speaker, similarly named Google Home. The new name also comes with a new app icon, new features, and some slight UI tweaks that make "the app easier to use." The old Google Cast icon (left) compared with the new Google Home version (right) The "Home" launchpad in the app now has a "Watch" and "Discover" section that lets you watch videos on any of the Chromecast-enabled apps you already have installed, or discover thousands of new apps available for Chromecast, respectively. Additionally, a floating magnifying glass button enables video search across multiple apps to make it easy to find the videos you want. Once Google Home launches next week, on November 4, the new app will be the single location for users to control all of their Chromecast and Google Home devices. A "Devices" button in the top right corner will guide users through easily pairing a new product to the app, and after pairing is complete they can adjust its settings, control audio and video playback, and more. Google Home is available to download for free from the iOS App Store [Direct Link], and users can pre-order the Google Home smart speaker itself for $129.00 from the Google Store, Best Buy, Target, and

Google Signs Deal With CBS for Upcoming YouTube Streaming Television Service

Google has inked a deal with CBS for its upcoming web-based streaming television service, reports The Wall Street Journal. Called "Unplugged," the paid subscription service, available on YouTube, will see Google offering a bundle of several channels for a set price of $25 to $40 per month. CBS, a major network, is now on board, and Google is also said to be close to reaching deals with both 21st Century Fox and Disney, putting it one step closer to establishing a streaming service. Google plans to launch "Unplugged" in early 2017 and has already built out the necessary infrastructure. Google's YouTube Unplugged offering is aimed at cord cutters and is the type of television service that Apple was hoping to provide to customers before its streaming television plans were put on hold. Apple wanted to offer a "skinny bundle" featuring channels from major networks and popular cable channels, which would have been priced at approximately $35 per month. Apple has been trying to create some kind of streaming television service for many years, but has continually run into negotiation difficulties with content providers due to its "hard-nosed" negotiating tactics and an inability to assuage fears about the interruption of traditional revenue streams. Apple's latest streaming plans fell through because media companies demanded too much money for content rights and were reluctant to unbundle channels. While Google and other companies are developing streaming television services, Apple is aiming to position the Apple TV set-top box and the tvOS App Store as a platform

Gboard Update Brings 3D Touch Cursor Tracking and Support for iOS 10 Emojis

An update to Google's iOS Gboard app today has introduced 3D Touch into the third-party keyboard, letting users move the cursor by hard pressing and sliding their finger around the keyboard to pinpoint the location they want to land. Gboard's 3D Touch lacks the free-floating cursor of Apple's stock keyboard, however, and simply moves left and right throughout a message, without the ability to track upwards and downwards. The version 1.2.0 update has also added support for Apple's new iOS 10 emojis, as well as the ability for users to search and share their contacts directly from within the keyboard. Anyone who wants to use the feature must first go to the Gboard app, tap "search settings" and activate "Contacts search," and then they'll be able to access their iPhone contact list directly within Gboard in Messages. The app has gained new themes as well, including a collection of new "Landscape" images that users can download and add onto Gboard with the tap of a button. When it launched in May, Google touted Gboard's advantageous ability to perform Google searches directly within the keyboard of Messages. Apple has made a big deal out of similar abilities in Messages with its new Messages App Store in iOS 10, where users can install smaller-scale apps to find movies, make dinner reservations, and place stickers. Gboard can be downloaded from the iOS App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Google Unveils Pixel Phone, Smart Home Hub, and More at AI-Focused Event

At its media event today in San Francisco, Google announced a few new pieces of hardware, mainly centering around the company's artificial intelligence initiatives and the confirmation of a new pair of smartphones called the Pixel and Pixel XL. Additionally, the company revealed the new Chromecast Ultra streaming dongle, a VR headset called Google Daydream, and gave more details about its connected smart home hub device, Google Home. Bits and pieces of information on the Pixel smartphones and Google Home have surfaced online over the past few weeks, correctly predicting most of today's announcements. Google Assistant The company started off by providing details on its artificial intelligence platform, called Google Assistant, which the company says is like "your own personal Google." The assistant can perform normal tasks like playing music, performing search queries, and providing navigation directions, as well as carrying on a normal conversation with the user. The company showed this by providing an example of a user asking for directions, then inquiring about restaurants at the destination's end, and finally setting a reservation at one. Google CEO Sundar Pichai also discussed a few intelligent updates coming to the company's search system, including improvements to image descriptions, better translation fueled by machine learning technology, and more human-like text-to-speech abilities. Pichai said that the assistant will "constantly get better" as the company introduces it to more and more users, which it's started doing with the recent launch of

Leaked Images Reveal Google 'Pixel' Smartphones Ahead of October 4th Event

U.K. mobile retailer Carphone Warehouse was today guilty of publishing a series of visuals and spec slides for Google's upcoming own-branded smartphones, a day ahead of their official unveiling (via 9to5Google). Due to be announced at the company's October 4th San Francisco event, Google's 5-inch 'Pixel' and 5.5-inch 'Pixel XL' smartphones feature Snapdragon 821 processors and 4GB RAM, a 2770mAh battery for the Pixel and a 3450mAh battery for the Pixel XL, and screen resolutions of 1080x1920 and 1440x2560, respectively. Both similar-looking handsets are available in black or white, and come with a choice of 32GB and 128GB storage capacities with the addition of a microSD slot for storage expansion, as well as what appears to be a headphone jack on the top and a USB-C port on the bottom. A 12-megapixel camera on the back, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, and a circular fingerprint scanner on the rear also feature. The pulled slides from the U.K. retailer's website also show off a number of Google software services on the Android Nougat 7.1 powered devices, including free photo storage via Google Photos, and the company's Duo video chat and Allo messaging apps, not to mention a quick charge feature that claims seven hours' battery life after 15 minutes of charging. The two smartphones signal the company's first foray into own-branded phones in the manner of Apple and Samsung, and will allow it to have more control over the hardware running its Android OS. Google is said to be relying on HTC to manufacture the devices, which will be unveiled

Google for iOS Updated With Touch ID Incognito Mode and YouTube Support

Google announced an update to its namesake app for iOS yesterday, adding a resumable private browsing mode and inline YouTube support. The new private browsing feature apes Incognito mode from the company's Chrome browser, along with its dark window theme, but adds an extra layer of privacy, too. Like Chrome, search and browse history are not saved when the mode is enabled, but Google app users can also enable Touch ID for the feature, allowing them to re-enter an existing Incognito session after exiting the app. Additionally, the Google app gets inline support for YouTube videos, allowing for instant playback within search results, instead of being switched to another browser window or the YouTube app. The update also renames Google Now to "the feed", and brings increased stability for iOS 10 users as well as performance improvements that promise to reduce crashes by half. The new Incognito mode does not appear to have rolled out to all users yet, but once it does, the mode can be enabled by tapping into the app's account settings screen and selecting "Turn on incognito". A hard press of the Google app icon from the home screen also turns up a 3D Touch option to enter the mode on compatible devices. The Touch ID feature can be configured in Incognito settings. Google Search can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Google's Own Echo-Like Device 'Google Home' Rumored to Cost $130

Google will formally announced its Wi-Fi enabled smart home device, Google Home, at its upcoming October 4 press event, according to a new report by Android Police. The device is rumored to cost $129 and the company will sell different color plates so users can personalize the look of Home. At $129, Google Home would be $50 cheaper than Amazon Echo, which offers a selection of similar services and features to users. Google originally discussed Home at its I/O Conference in May, detailing how users will be able to make voice-enabled Google searches, manage everyday tasks, enjoy music and entertainment, and more using hands-free "OK Google" voice commands. Continuing in the vein of other smart home speakers, Home can play and control music, sync with various online services that provide traffic reports and weather forecasts, and interact with other smart home products like Nest. It's believed that Google could use a version of its intelligent chat AI Google Assistant -- which it uses in Allo -- to fuel Home's voice-control abilities. The October 4 event is thought to be the launch pad of a few other Google products, including the $69 Chromecast Ultra (with 4K and HDR streaming), a new Daydream VR headset, and the company's new lineup of Android phones. The connected smart home speaker device is slowly becoming a popular platform following Amazon's success with Echo and Echo Dot. Apple is rumored to be entering the space with a Siri-enabled alternative, which might have facial recognition but is otherwise thought to offer many of the same search inquiries,

Google Launches Intelligent Messaging App 'Allo'

Google has launched Allo, its new intelligent messaging app. Allo combines now-standard messaging features like stickers, changing font sizes and marked-up photos with Google Assistant, an intelligent chat AI that brings Google's services to your conversations, and Smart Reply. Google Assistant comes in two forms. The first form is a one-on-one chat in which you can request information from Google's services, similar to Google Now. Users can find out sports scores, the weather, search for restaurants, check travel time or flight status, and more. The second form is within your conversations. Google Assistant can be brought into chats by tagging the service in a message line and issuing a command. For example, a user can type "@google show me local burrito places" and Google Assistant will show you local burrito places. Users can also bring in other forms of information, like Google Search, Images and YouTube results. However, Google points out that Google Assistant is in "preview edition" and isn't complete. To help improve Assistant, users can submit real-time feedback with conversations. Allo also comes with a feature called Smart Reply. The app can learn your texting habits and suggest quick replies for more basic communication. Allo can, for instance, learn whether you're more prone to using "lol" or "haha," or whether you like to say "sup?" or "hey how's it going." Once it figures out your reply patterns, it can suggest basic responses. Smart Reply can also adjust to how you respond to certain people. As BuzzFeed notes, it can change its suggestions based

Google Debuts Interactive VR Photography App 'Cardboard Camera' on iOS

Google today announced the launch of Cardboard Camera for iOS, which lets users "capture 3D 360-degree virtual reality photos" without the need for technical VR equipment. Photos taken with the app are three-dimensional panoramas in which users can tap and drag to look around "in all directions," with sound recording the moment the photo is taken that plays back each time the image is revisited. A few examples of Cardboard Camera's interactive panoramas Cardboard Camera uses a similar photography style as panoramas in the iOS camera app: users simply hold their iPhone vertically, tap the record button, then rotate slowly in place to capture their surroundings. Users will also be able to share albums filled with VR photos directly within the app by generating links to email, text message, or share on social media. Whether you’re hiking on the Olympic Peninsula or attending your cousin’s wedding, go beyond the flat photo or selfie. With Cardboard Camera—now available on iOS as well as Android—you can capture 3D 360-degree virtual reality photos. Just like Google Cardboard, it works with the phone you already have with you. The company said that if any of the VR photos taken with Cardboard Camera are viewed on Google Cardboard, anyone "can relive those moments as if they were there." Previously, Cardboard Camera was available on Android, with more than 5 million photos captured on the platform. On iOS, users can download Cardboard Camera on the App Store for free. [Direct Link

Hands-On With Google's New FaceTime-Like 'Duo' App

This week, Google released a new app called Duo, which allows for FaceTime-style video calling. Unlike FaceTime, though, Duo allows for cross platform calls that work on both Android and iOS mobile devices, so it isn't limited to users who only have an iPhone. In the video below, we went hands on with Duo to see just how well it works and whether it's a serious FaceTime competitor. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The Duo app is rather simple, with a similar interface on Android and iOS devices. You sign into the app using your phone number, and once logged in, you have a list of contacts to call pulled from the existing contacts in your phone. That's it. When in a video call, you get many of the features you'd expect from a service like FaceTime, including mute, switching between the rear and front-facing camera, and ending the call. One new feature, however, is called Knock Knock, which is a sort of video caller-ID that lets the person receiving a call see what the caller is doing before answering. Think of it like a FaceTime video preview that's available before the FaceTime call is accepted. Because Duo uses a phone number for authentication, the app is not available for the desktop, and you are only able to use one device associated with a certain phone number at a time. This may be a deal breaker for those who like to chat on multiple devices, but for those looking for easy video calling, it's worth a try. We all likely know someone who doesn't use an iPhone, and Duo seems to be a good alternative for those looking for a

Google Releases New Video Calling App Called 'Duo'

Google has announced a new one-to-one video calling app for iOS and Android called Duo, which the company says aims to take the complexity and frustration out of video calling. Users of Duo sign into the app using just their phone number and Google then sends them a confirmation text. After that, users can video call anyone in their contacts list who also have Duo installed. Google says Duo is built to be fast and reliable, so that video calls connect quickly and work well even on slower networks. Call quality adjusts to changing network conditions to keep you connected — when bandwidth is limited, Duo will gracefully reduce the resolution to keep the call going smoothly. For video calls on the go, Duo will switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically without dropping your call. You can start your call at home, and continue seamlessly even when you head out the door. Apart from its simplicity, Google is heavily hyping a feature (currently limited to Android) called "Knock, Knock", where a known caller's live video can be transmitted before the receiver has answered, allowing them to reveal things on the screen to entice the person to accept the connection. Once they do so, the video continues seamlessly, which makes video calling "more spontaneous and welcoming, helping you connect with the person before you even pick up," says Google. The company has made no mention about whether the feature will be coming to iOS - and even if it did, users would have to unlock their iPhone first before taking a call. Google notes that Duo isn't a replacement

Google Announces 97 Percent of YouTube Traffic is Now Encrypted

Google yesterday posted an entry on its YouTube Engineering and Developers Blog, detailing the increased encryption achieved by the company for its video streaming site. Over the past few months, Google has slowly bolstered the encryption for YouTube, and now 97 percent of the service's traffic is encrypted using HTTPS. The encryption-enforcing protocol provides "critical security and data integrity" for any website that uses it, and all of its visitors. YouTube said that three reasons it took the company so long to reach this high level of encryption was because of the heavy traffic the site receives daily, the breadth of devices that HTTPS needs to work on due to YouTube's ubiquity, and "mixed content" that leads to lots of potentially non-secure requests. We're also proud to be using HTTP Secure Transport Security (HSTS) on youtube.com to cut down on HTTP to HTTPS redirects. This improves both security and latency for end users. Our HSTS lifetime is one year, and we hope to preload this soon in web browsers. In the real world, we know that any non-secure HTTP traffic could be vulnerable to attackers. All websites and apps should be protected with HTTPS. YouTube also pointed out that its website isn't at a full 100 percent encryption rate yet because "some devices do not fully support modern HTTPS." It's doing its best to support the widest number of smartphones, tablets, and browsers with the new security protocol, but admitted that down the line, to ensure the safety of all its users, it plans to "gradually phase out insecure

Tesla and Google Face Regulator Scrutiny After Self-Driving Cars Crash

Google's self-driving car project has appointed its first general counsel after a number of crashes involving the company's vehicles caught the attention of regulators (via Reuters). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was collecting information after a minor incident in March when a Google self-driving car struck a municipal bus in California. On that occasion, it did not open a formal probe. Tesla however is feeling more intense pressure after one of its own cars was implicated in a fatal road accident recently. The NHTSA has opened a formal investigation into the May 7 death of a Tesla Motors Model S driver in Florida who was operating in "Autopilot" mode when his car crashed into a semi-trailer. Tesla's Autopilot system uses cameras and radar, but not lidar – a special sensor that uses laser to more accurately identify environmental obstacles. The company said its system would have had trouble distinguishing a white semi-trailer positioned across a road against a bright sky. Reuters reports that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is also looking into whether Tesla breached securities laws by not telling investors about the fatal May 7 Autopilot crash. The SEC investigation aims to determine whether the accident should have been labeled a "material event" by Tesla, or one that investors are likely to consider important, when the company sold $2 billion in stock on May 18. In a blog post written in response to a Fortune article on the subject, Tesla explained that all it knew when it notified the