Google is at long last making good on its promise to bring its messaging app Allo to desktop – and the roll-out has already been set in motion.
Earlier today the search engine giant launched the web-based version of its Assistant-powered messenger, which you can now access straight from your browser using this link. To load the desktop version, users will have to open Allo on their phone and scan the QR code displayed on the web page.
The web-based version so far works solely with Android devices, but Google promises it will soon be compatible with the iPhone too. The company further notes that the app works only on Chrome – which will likely vex non-Chrome users.
The Big G also warns that should you choose to “view Allo for web on your mobile browser, the app won’t work.”
It also clarified that certain Allo features will remain mobile-exclusive. The list so far includes:
- Connecting, switching, or removing Google accounts
- Adding or removing members from an existing group
- Backing up your information
- Notification and privacy settings
- Some chat features, like taking a photo, deleting a conversation, blocking contacts, or starting a chat with someone who’s not in your contacts
While Google first announced that Allo would eventually land on desktop back in February, it ultimately abstained from setting a release date in stone.
But here is the thing now that it’s finally out: With so many Google-made messaging apps, including Hangouts, Voice, Duo and recently added YouTube chat, do people really care about Allo? I’m not so sure… all I know is that the only contact I have on Allo is Assistant.
Shop owner’s takedown of Google leads to new consumer protection law in Colombia
A Colombian shop owner fought for his rights against Google. The small-scale furniture seller recently won a court battle with Google after failing to silence an anonymous blogger who spread false accusations, shattering his online reputation.
The man, who chose to remain unnamed, owns a furniture store in the city of Ibagué, Colombia and decided it was time to take action for protection (acción de tutela) against a blog that published negative comments regarding his small venture.
The blog was set up on Blogger, which belongs to Google Inc. The anonymous blogger posted false accusations, including claims that he was a thief and asked for advanced payments — only to then run off with the money and disappear.
The man said he waited two years for a response from the blog owner before taking it to court, claiming the increasingly bad rep affected his personal and work life — even though they were false. The court ruled in favor of the shop owner, and ordered Google to take down the website.
It even came with a long term positive outcome: the legal entity that handled the case ordered the Colombian Ministry of Technology and Communications to create a new law in order to protect internet users against any kind of defamatory, dishonorable, or injurious posts. The law must detail how the state will provide protection and advise on how to ensure these posts are removed from the internet.
But it was no easy task. Blogger officially declared that the website “is a content creation tool, not an intermediate for content. We allow users to create content, but we don’t take responsibility for it (…) According to article 203 of the US Communications Decency Act, Blogger doesn’t take down any allegedly defamatory, libelous or slanderous content.”
The Colombian law played in favor of the shop-owner, as the justice declared Google Inc. and Google Colombia Ltda. must respect the country’s laws regarding users and consumers of telecommunications and internet services in the country.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter to appear before Congress in election tampering investigation
Representatives for Facebook, Google, and Twitter will appear in front of congress on November 1st to provide testimony on Russian election interference.
The congressional hearing is one of many government probes into Russian election interference, this one turns its focus on social media’s involvement.
All three tech companies found evidence of ad tampering over the course of internal investigations this year, and subsequently reported those findings to congress.
Facebook reported hundreds of Pages and advertisers tied to a Russian troll farm, which had purchased over 3000 advertisements totaling over $100,000.
Twitter uncovered at least 200 accounts tied to similar ones flagged by Facebook, and hundreds of bots spamming propaganda.
Google, for its part, found thousands of dollars in ads were purchased by Russian agents, and continues to investigate over $50,000 in questionable ad purchases from accounts that haven’t been confirmed to be bad actors yet.
And, to make matter worse, there’s more to worry about than just ad sales or bots. The same meddlers are using malware to hijack our browsers and use our Facebook accounts to like ads and fake-news stories — with us none the wiser.
McAfee labs recently reported “Faceliker” binaries comprised approximately nine percent of malware it detected. That’s nine percent of 52 million – meaning nearly 4.7 million instances of Faceliker were detected.
Vincent Weafer, VP of McAfee Labs, told TNW:
This is unusual because this one isn’t like most other malware. Faceliker is manipulating likes, which is a very specific kind of browser hijacking.
While some government officials – and members of the media – have called on Facebook, Twitter, and Google to do something about Russian interference, there’s an argument to be made that fighting propaganda is, well, everyone’s job.
We asked Weafer how an average Joe or Jane can protect themselves from unwittingly becoming a pawn in the real-life version of “Game of Thrones” that is Russian politics; his answer was terrifying:
Make sure you’re keeping up with patches. Research any tools or anti-virus you’re considering using. Don’t download the first “free tool” you find in the search engine just because its free.
Basically, the same novice IT security tips we’ve been hearing for the last 20 or so years. The reason that’s scary is because it shows we Americans can be counted on to download enough malware to potentially influence an election.
The real problem here is the Russian propaganda plays both sides of the fence. Meddling agents play issues like Black Lives Matter and The 2nd Amendment to anger both liberals and conservatives — just to stoke the divide. As long as American citizens are pissed off at each other the bad actors are accomplishing their mission.
Former State Representative Raj Goyle, CEO of Bodhala, told TNW that the problem wasn’t an easy fix, saying lawmakers have been “asleep at the switch for 20 years.” Goyle also said:
You’ve got this election overseas and there’s evidence that Russians have interfered in that one as well. Facebook and Google are having to explain why they allowed this to happen, but why the hell is a private company in charge of ensuring the integrity of a national election?
The solution to the problem won’t become apparent until we understand the depth of it. It’s not so infuriating that Facebook, Twitter, and Google allowed this to happen – but we need to speed up the investigation and get the cards on the table.
It’s time for the government to get educated on technology and start working with the companies behind it. The current status quo is a system of lobbyists preaching the future and a squad of politicians litigating from the past — and that’s not helping the problem at all today.
Google built its first-ever mobile chip to power the Pixel 2’s excellent camera
While Google has a long history of partnering with hardware makers to build its range of phones for showcasing the latest developments in Android, it’s created its own mobile processor for the first time, to improve camera performance in the Pixel 2.
It’s called the Pixel Visual Core, and it’s designed to tackle image processing duties (the grunt work involved in getting your phone’s camera to take pictures), as well as machine learning tasks.
You can already see it in action in the Pixel 2’s HDR+ mode, which allows for increased dynamic range and detail in areas with plenty of shadows and highlights. Our own Napier Lopez noted how significantly that helped boost camera performance on Google’s new phone in his review, and the results certainly speak for themselves.
Google says that the octa-core chip is capable of more than 3 trillion operations per second, and can tackle HDR+ processing five times faster than a traditional processor. Plus, it’s said to consume just a tenth of the energy required for these computations.
Interestingly, the PVC chip currently only works with the HDR+ mode in the Pixel 2’s default camera app; Google says it’ll turn it on for other apps to take advantage of it for imaging and machine learning tasks via a software update in the coming months.
The development of the PVC follows Apple and Huawei’s announcements of their own neural processors for AI applications, built into the chips powering their respective flagships for this year. Building custom internal hardware for specific functions makes sense for these companies because they can combine software with it and get the best possible performance out of their processors – and ideally, leave the competition in the lurch.
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