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As Apple Plans to Launch New Low-Cost iPad, Google Debuts First Chrome OS Tablet

On the eve of Apple's education-focused event where the company is expected to debut new low-cost iPads, Google and Acer have debuted the first Chrome OS tablet. The new Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is the first tablet to run Chrome OS, which has previously been available on laptops, desktops, and tablet/PC hybrids. According to Google, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is designed to give schools the "easy management and shareability of Chromebook laptops" in a lightweight device that offers touch and stylus functionality along with Google Expeditions AR integration. It features a 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 display in a 9 inch by 6.6 inch body that weighs just over 1.2 pounds. Like other Chrome OS devices, it supports Google Play, giving students and teachers access to millions of Android apps, and it can be managed by IT professionals right alongside other Chromebook devices a school might already have in use. There's a built-in 2-megapixel HD webcam at the front of the tablet, along with two speakers and a microphone. A 5-megapixel rear camera is designed to allow children to capture photos and videos, and it features a 9-hour battery for all-day usage. Inside, the Chromebook Tab 10 is powered by a 6-core 3399 RockChip processor and it includes 4GB of RAM and 32GB integrated memory. It charges via an included USB-C port that can also power other devices. Each Chromebook tablet comes equipped with a low-cost Chromebook Wacom EMR stylus that doesn't require charging or pairing. It uses advanced machine learning to "predict student writing for a natural writing

YouTube Increasing Ads Between Music Videos So More Users Pay for Upcoming Streaming Service

YouTube will soon place more advertisements in between music videos for some users, in an attempt to "smoke out" anyone who treats YouTube like a free music video playlist service and convince them to pay for its upcoming subscription music service (via Bloomberg). YouTube's unnamed service is described as a "necessary counterweight" to Apple Music and Spotify, and was last rumored to be launching this month. The news came from a recent SXSW interview with YouTube's global head of music, Lyor Cohen, who went so far as to say that the company is trying to "frustrate" free YouTube users so that they're subsequently "seduced" into paying for a monthly subscription. The new service will include exclusive videos, music playlists, and more, all aimed at "die-hard music fans." People who treat YouTube like a music service, those passively listening for long periods of time, will encounter more ads, according to Lyor Cohen, the company’s global head of music. “You’re not going to be happy after you are jamming ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and you get an ad right after that,” Cohen said in an interview at the South by Southwest music festival. “There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers,” Cohen said. “Once we do that, trust me, all that noise will be gone and articles people write about that noise will be gone.” Cohen said that YouTube is trying to "be good partners" with the music industry, while also hoping to silence any rumors about the company's alleged harm to the industry and its artists. Over the years, some people have

Google Lens Currently Rolling Out to iOS via Google Photos App

Google has announced that its previously Android-only Google Lens feature is now rolling out to iOS users who have the Google Photos app installed. First unveiled last year at the Google I/O 2017 conference, Google Lens uses the company's image recognition and machine learning algorithms to identify the subjects of photos and videos and present additional helpful actions and information to the user. For example, if you take a picture of a business card, Google Lens will offer to save the phone number or address to one of your contacts. Similarly, taking a photo of a book, landmark, building, painting, plant or animal can throw up an option to view more details about the picture's subject. A few things to note: Currently Google Lens only works if your device's language is set to English, and you're running the latest version (3.15) of Google Photos. You can check what version you're running in the app's settings – tap the cog icon and select "About Google Photos" in the menu. Also note that your Google Lens activity is saved to your Google Account if you have Web & App Activity turned on. Starting today and rolling out over the next week, those of you on iOS can try the preview of Google Lens to quickly take action from a photo or discover more about the world around you. Make sure you have the latest version (3.15) of the app.https://t.co/Ni6MwEh1bu pic.twitter.com/UyIkwAP3i9— Google Photos (@googlephotos) March 15, 2018 If you still don't see the Google Lens icon when viewing individual photos or videos, it's likely the feature hasn't reached your

FaceTime Competitor Google Duo Gains New Video Messages Feature

Google Duo, Google's cross-platform FaceTime-style video calling app, was today updated with a new video messages feature that's designed to allow users to leave video voicemails whenever someone doesn't pick up a call. Google says that if a person you're calling declines or misses your call, you can record up to 30 seconds of video (or voice) to send to the person. Video messages can be played in the Duo app by tapping on the sender's icon, and a quick call back can be done through the "Call now" button available after watching a video message. All video messages will disappear one day after they were first watched, but can be saved to the iPhone's camera roll if so desired.Sometimes, your mom isn't free for a video call at the moment you're trying to show off your culinary masterpiece. The same goes when you're trying to catch your best friend to rave about your favorite basketball team's recent win. But even if they miss your call, you shouldn't lose the opportunity to show them what you were calling about. Beginning today on Google Duo, you can leave a video message when the person you're calling can't pick up.First introduced in August of 2016, Google Duo works on both iOS and Android devices. Users sign up with a phone number and can then place calls to any contacts who also have the Duo app installed. Google Duo, like Google Hangouts, another Google video app with a more enterprise focus, has been fairly popular since it launched. Duo is consistently within the top 20 free apps in the Social Networking section of the U.S. App Store, and with the new

Google Maps Adds 11 Disney Parks to Street View

Google Maps' Street View technology has been updated today to include virtual tours of 11 Disney parks for parents and children to explore in advance of a coming trip, or to rekindle memories of previous visits. We're all about new fantastic points of view. Today Street View is going the distance, from California to Florida, to make Disney part of your world. Be our guest at 11 Disney Parks, and with Street View, anything your heart desires will come to you—castles, rides, attractions to infinity and beyond. The Street View coverage takes in castles, rides and attractions around the various Parks, such as Florida's Magic Kingdom Park and the Avatar-themed world of Pandora in Animal Kingdom. The feature currently only includes parks in the United States, but that may change in future, given Google's recent efforts to expand its coverage of touristic landmarks across Europe and Asia through the service. Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link

Google Search App Now Available for iMessage

Google today announced the launch of a new Google Search app extension for Messages, which can be accessed through the dedicated Messages App Store available within the Messages app on the iPhone and iPad. When having a conversation with someone in the Messages app, you can tap on the new Google Search icon to bring up an interface that allows you to conduct Google searches without the need to exit the Messages app. There are quick buttons to access the weather, restaurants located nearby, attractions in the area like parks and museums, trending news stories, and trending videos. You'll also see a search bar at the top of the interface for traditional searches, and there's a GIF button for quickly searching for GIFs to share. This functionality is limited to the United States at the current time.The Google app for iOS now supports an iMessage extension to help you search and share GIFs, restaurants and videos, whenever you're messaging a friend. You can tap on the icon for "Food" or "Nearby" to share your favorite locations, or perform a search and share a card directly into the conversation. Want to research a new restaurant before sharing it with friends? Just tap on the restaurant card, and we'll take you to the Google Search page, where you can look up the busiest times, as well as menus and reviews. Switch to GIF Search mode, and you can find and share a "happy birthday" GIF.Google's new iMessage extension is available today, with no need to update the app or install anything to get the new feature. It's automatically available in Messages through the iMessage

Google Launches Slack Competitor 'Hangouts Chat' With Emphasis on AI Chat Bots

Google this week announced that its workplace chat app for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android, called "Hangouts Chat," has come out of the Early Adopter Program beta and will be available to anyone who pays for a core G Suite service. Hangouts Chat is an expansion of Google's Hangouts platform and the company's answer to services like Slack, HipChat, Workplace by Facebook, and Microsoft Teams (via TechCrunch). Google's app emphasizes a few unique artificial intelligence features available for users, involving various chatbots. In one example, Google shows how one person could ask a @Meet bot to "Plan a review meeting next week," and then the bot would communicate with Google Calendar to find the best time for all employees involved in the chat, create the meeting, and then add it to each person's calendar. App connections include the typical G Suite apps that will come alongside Hangouts Chat, including Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and Google said the workplace chat service will come with 25 bots pre-installed, created by third-party developers. Companies that have already confirmed bots include Xero, Freshdesk, Kayak, Egnyte, and more. Use artificial intelligence to speed up workflows. When your teams collaborate in Chat, you can speed up manual work, like booking conference rooms, searching for files and more using artificial intelligence. Schedule meetings, create tasks, or get updates from your team right within Chat. In addition to useful integrations with G Suite apps, Chat connects to several third-party tools, helping you manage all of your work in one place. At

Smart Speaker Showdown: HomePod vs. Google Home Max vs. Sonos One

Apple's new HomePod is late to the smart speaker market, which is already crowded with speakers from companies like Amazon, Google, and Sonos. The latter two companies, Google and Sonos, have released speakers with high-quality sound and robust voice assistants, giving the HomePod some serious competition. We decided to pit Apple's $349 HomePod against both the $399 Google Home Max, which comes with Google Assistant, and the $199 Alexa-powered Sonos One to see how the HomePod measures up. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. To compare the three speakers, we focused on design, sound quality, and the overall performance of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. When it comes to design -- and this is certainly subjective -- we preferred the look of the HomePod with its fabric-wrapped body and small but solid form factor. The Sonos One looks a little more dated with its squarer body and standard speaker mesh, while the Google Home Max has a much larger footprint that's going to take up more space. Apple's HomePod All three offer touch-based controls at the top of the device, but the Google Home Max has one design edge - a USB-C port and a 3.5mm audio jack for connecting external music sources. The Sonos One has a single Ethernet port, while the HomePod has no ports. Though we liked the HomePod's design, Siri, as you might expect, did not perform as well as Alexa on Sonos One or Google Assistant on Google Home Max. Google Home Max On questions like "Is Pluto a planet?" or "What's the fastest car?" both Alexa and Google Assistant were

Google Maps for iOS Gains Quick-Access Traffic, Transit, and Local Info Tabs

Google has updated its iOS Maps app with three new quick-access options that Android users have had access to for over a year now. The new tabs sit across the bottom of the home screen and are called Explore, Driving, and Transit. Swiping up on the shortcuts reveals further details. For example, in Explore users can find a description of the local area, dining choices, and options to search for gas stations, ATMs, convenience stores, drug stores, and other amenities. The driving tab provides a traffic summary for the area, including information on possible delays that might add time onto a commute. This tab will also include current ETAs for the user's home and work addresses if they are saved in the app's settings. Finally, the transit tab offers estimated bus and train schedules at stations in the vicinity. Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Consumer Reports: Google Home Max and Sonos One Sound Better Than HomePod

Consumer Reports has conducted some early audio testing of the HomePod, and while the full evaluation isn't yet finished, the site believes that both the $400 Google Home Max and the $200 Sonos One sound better than Apple's new $349 smart speaker. The HomePod received a "Very Good" sound quality rating, as did the Sonos One and the Google Home Max, but the latter two speakers also received higher overall sound quality scores. Consumer Reports says that its speaker tests are conducted in a dedicated listening room, with experienced testers who compare each model with "high-quality reference speakers." In the case of the HomePod, testers found a few issues. The bass was "boomy and overemphasized," while midrange tones were "somewhat hazy," and treble sounds were "underemphasized." Overall, Consumer Reports found the HomePod's sound to be "a bit muddy" when played next to the Sonos One and the Google Home Max.The HomePod will serve many music fans well, but CR testers did hear some flaws. The HomePod's bass was a bit boomy and overemphasized. And the midrange tones were somewhat hazy, meaning that some of the nuance in vocals, guitars, and horns was lost: These elements of the music couldn't be heard as distinctly as in more highly rated speakers. Treble sounds, like cymbals, were underemphasized. But the HomePod played reasonably loudly in a midsized room.All three smart speakers "fall significantly short" of other wireless speakers Consumer Reports has tested, like the Edifier S1000DB, priced at $350. The HomePod's sound has been highly praised both by new

Google 'Embracing' Notch Design in 2018 Android Update, Preparing for New Wave of iPhone X Clones

Google's upcoming software update for its Android smartphone operating system will "embrace" an iPhone X notch-like design, according to people familiar with the company's plans speaking to Bloomberg. With the software, referred to as Android P, Google is readying a "new generation" of Android smartphones that will be "mimicking" the iPhone X's front-facing camera cutout design. Just like iPhone X, this cutout is believed to be where Android smartphone makers will be placing cameras and other sensors to help Android phones compete with Apple devices in the high-end market. While Google controls the Android software, many other companies manufacture Android devices and have the ability to tweak the software as they see fit. Because of this, Bloomberg pointed out that "not all Android phones will have notches." In total, Google's plan for Android P -- shortened from Pistachio Ice Cream -- is to convince more iOS users to switch sides by "improving the look of the software." While Android dominates the middle and low-end of the global smartphone market, Apple controls much of the high-end with users who spend more on apps and other services. Embracing the notch may help change that. The design will mean more new Android phones with cutouts at the top of their screens to fit cameras and other sensors. That will likely support new features, helping Android device makers keep up with similar Apple technology. [...]building notch capabilities into Android suggests Google expects the iPhone X look to catch on more broadly. Otherwise, Android P will reportedly

Experimental Feature Pushes Google's Arts & Culture App to the Top of the Free Apps Chart

Google's Arts & Culture app rocketed to the top of the free app charts over the weekend after one of its experimental interactive features went viral. Better known for its relatively staid virtual history exhibitions and digitized artworks, the app's sudden popularity is down to the addition of an option near the bottom of its scrolling interface which asks users, "Is your portrait in a museum?" On tapping the button, the app asks for access to the device's camera and then prompts the user to take a selfie. Their picture is then compared against thousands of digitized artworks in Google's historical database using facial recognition technology, after which a series of closest matches are returned. Hey good morning everyone, this Google Arts and Culture app is scary. pic.twitter.com/yt2kSYMWyM— Ding Dong Daddi (@sixthsentz) January 13, 2018 The find-your-art-lookalike feature, which was actually added to the app in a December update with little fanfare, apparently drew interest only recently after some users and celebrities began sharing their results on social media. The option only appears to be available to U.S. users at the moment, but if you'd like to give it a go, you can download the free Google Arts & Culture app from the App

Android Pay and Google Wallet Have Merged to Become 'Google Pay'

Google today announced it has merged Android Pay and Google Wallet into one consolidated payments service called Google Pay. Over the coming weeks, Google said users will be able to use Google Pay online, in stores, and across Google products, and Google Wallet's existing peer-to-peer payment functionality will continue to be supported. Google Pay is already available in select first-party apps such as YouTube and Chrome, and in Airbnb, Dice, Fandango, HungryHouse, Instacart, and select other third-party apps and websites on Android and in Chrome. Google Pay branding will be rolled out in apps, websites, and next to payment terminals in stores as Android Pay branding and decals are retired. Google Pay along with Samsung Pay are Apple Pay's biggest rivals among mobile payment services. Google Pay also competes with Apple's recently launched peer-to-peer payment service Apple Pay Cash in the United

Apple's iPad Pro vs. Google's Pixelbook

Back in October, Google released the Google Pixelbook, a portable laptop/tablet hybrid machine that runs Chrome OS. We got our hands on one of the Pixelbooks from Google, and we decided to pit it against the iPad Pro, Apple's tablet that's powerful enough to serve as a PC replacement. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Priced starting at $999, the Pixelbook is more expensive than even the largest iPad Pro. Apple charges $649 for the entry-level 10.5-inch iPad Pro and $799 for the entry-level 12.9-inch iPad Pro. For $999, the Pixelbook comes equipped with a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD, with all of the components upgradeable for a higher price tag. It has a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, putting it on par with Apple's larger iPad Pro, and it offers 10 hours of battery life. The Pixelbook is just as portable as the iPad Pro, and it has the benefit of a 2-in-1 design with a 360-degree rotating hinge, which means it can be used as a traditional laptop or folded back for use as a tablet, complete with accompanying pen. As a laptop, the Pixelbook is on par with other ultraportable notebooks, but as a tablet, its keyboard is adding some extra thickness you won't see on the iPad Pro. Though convertibility is a nice feature and wins out over the traditional tablet form factor, Google can't quite compete with Apple when it comes to software and performance due to issues with some unoptimized Android apps running on the Pixelbook. The iPad Pro's A10X Fusion chip is incredibly speedy, and optimizations like

Google Hangouts for iOS Gains Support for iPhone X

Hangouts, Google's dedicated messaging app, was today updated with support for the iPhone X. With the update, the Hangouts app is able to take advantage of the full display of the iPhone X, without black bars at the top and the bottom. With the iPhone X update for Hangouts, all of Google's major iOS apps now offer support for Apple's new flagship device. Google previously introduced iPhone X updates for Docs, Sheets, Slides, Gmail, and Google Maps. According to Google's release notes for today's Hangouts update, the only new feature is iPhone X optimization. Google Hangouts can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Amazon to Resume Selling Apple TV and Chromecast

Amazon has decided to once again sell the Apple TV and Google Chromecast in its online store, reports CNET. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the company is officially offering the two products as of today. "I can confirm that we are assorting Apple TV and Chromecast," CNET was told. There are new product pages for the 32GB fourth-generation Apple TV, the 32GB Apple TV 4K, and the 64GB Apple TV 4K. There are also two listings for the Chromecast and the Chromecast Ultra. All of the products are listed as "Currently unavailable" right now, but that is likely to change soon after the listings are completed and propagated to Amazon's site. Amazon first stopped selling the Apple TV and the Google Chromecast in its online store in 2015, claiming the reason for the removal was incompatibility with the Amazon Prime Video streaming service. "Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime," Amazon said in the e-mail. "It's important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion."Since then, the Apple TV has been unavailable on Amazon's site, but Amazon's original reason for not selling the Apple TV was invalidated with the launch of the Amazon Prime Video app for Apple TV. Amazon last week introduced a long-awaited Amazon Prime Video app for the Apple TV. The new app is available on third, fourth, and fifth-generation devices. The return of the Chromecast to the Amazon site comes after Google once again removed YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show and the Fire TV.

iPhone 8 Was Nearly World's Top Google Search This Year

Hurricane Irma, iPhone 8, and iPhone X were three of the world's most popular search terms on Google this year, according to the company. While the results make it look like the iPhone 8 is more popular than the iPhone X, it's important to consider that Apple's flagship smartphone was more commonly referred to as the iPhone 8 in rumors until a leaked version of iOS 11 essentially confirmed its stealthier name back in August. In the consumer tech category, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X were the highest trending search terms in 2017, ahead of the Nintendo Switch, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Xbox One X in the top five globally. In the United States in particular, the iPhone 8 Plus was the sixth-most trending search term. Google Trends outlines other popular search terms in its Year in Search 2017 categories, including actors, athletes, car brands, exercises, movies, recipes, songs and lyrics, sports teams, TV shows, and world events. The results are similar to last year, when the iPhone 7 was the top trending smartphone brand on Google, but the second most trending search term overall behind smash-hit game Pokémon

Google Launches Two New Experimental Photography Apps on iOS

Google today announced the launch of two new experimental photography apps on iOS, which are designed to allow the company to test technologies like object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding, and more. Called "appsperiments," the two apps include "Selfissimo" and "Scrubbies." Selfissimo is an automated selfie app that captures a stylish black and white photo each time you change to a new pose, sort of like a photo booth. The app lets you tap to start a photoshoot, and then it encourages you to adopt different poses. Each time it detects a pause in movement, it snaps a photo. Scrubbies lets you manipulate the speed and direction of video playback to create video loops of action scenes, funny faces, and replay moments. You can shoot a video directly in the app and then use swipe gestures to remix it. Scrubbies and Selfissimo can both be downloaded from the App Store for free. Google has also released experimental apps for Android devices, and, since the company say this is the "first installment" of a series, we can expect additional photography apps to be released in the

Google Home Mini Firmware Update Reinstates Touch Controls Previously Disabled Over Privacy Concerns

Google's Home Mini smart speaker received an update on Friday that brings back some of the touch-based controls that the company had to disable shortly after its release back in October (via AndroidPolice). Google was forced to turn off the built-in touch panel, which is designed to let users activate Google Assistant with a long press instead of a voice command, after a reviewer discovered that some of the devices were registering "phantom touch events". The issue meant that some Minis were prone to recording conversations and sounds even when no "OK Google" voice command was spoken, immediately prompting privacy concerns. As a result, Google opted to disable the touch features completely, including single-tap functions that played and paused music, snoozed alarms, and ended phone calls. Friday's v1.29 firmware update reinstates some of that single-tap functionality, but via a side long press instead. After installing the update, Google Home Mini owners will again be able to play/pause music, end phone calls, and silence alarms without speaking to the device. However, users still won't be able to trigger voice input using touch, because the top long press functions remain disabled. The software tweak is initially being rolled out in the preview firmware channel, which Home Mini owners can join via the Home app settings if they don't want to wait around for the automatic

Google Removes Chrome Apps Section From the Chrome Browser Web Store

Google has shuttered the Chrome Apps section of its Chrome browser web store, following through on an announcement the company made more than a year ago. As of Wednesday, the Apps selection no longer appeared in the web store's search panel filters below Extensions and Themes. Prior to yesterday's removal, Chrome apps were available in two flavors: packaged apps and hosted apps. As Ars Technica notes, hosted apps were little more than desktop bookmarks, but they gave Chrome OS users a way to pin important web pages to certain parts of the GUI. Packaged apps, which first appeared on Mac in 2013, could be downloaded into the Applications folder where they were designed to function like native Mac apps, working offline, updating automatically, and syncing on any computer where a user was signed into Chrome. By 2016, Google had decided they were no longer worth the resources, because only around 1 percent of users across Windows, Mac, and Linux actively used Chrome packaged apps, and by that time the functionality of most hosted apps had been implemented as regular web apps. This week, Google began sending out emails to Chrome app developers informing them that Chrome Apps are now deprecated, and that the functionality of already installed apps will end early next year. As a replacement, Google is moving developers towards Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). The hybrid software was launched earlier this year on Android and brings similar app features to websites, including push notifications and offline sync. Apple has already started building support for PWAs into