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Google’s Android 8.0 “streaming OS updates” will work even when phones have no space



Google’s Android 8.0 Seamless Updates Will Download Even If Your Phone Has Insufficient Storage

Does a system update notification received on your Android device worry you because it doesn’t have storage space? No problem!

Google’s most anticipated and upcoming Android 8.0 OS will now allow you to download updates even if your phone is low on storage. Apparently, this new feature called “streaming updates” has been introduced by the tech giant in its forthcoming Android 8.0 OS, reports Ars Technica who spotted these changes in the new Android documentation for Seamless system updates. The system is borrowed from the update engine in ChromeOS and has been introduced in the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones.

The new feature is expected to reduce the storage space requirement on phone from 1GB to 100 KiB of metadata and help smartphones owners with smaller internal storage to stay abreast with the latest Android versions.

The “seamless update” feature (also known as A/B system updates) was first introduced by Google in Android 7.0, with a dual partition system scheme – “System A” and “System B”. In this, the active slot is partition A, while partition B is the unused or inactive slot that is not used by the running OS for normal operation. All update activity takes place on partitions in the unused slot.

So, how does it work? For instance, if the user is using the partition A, then the update will be installed on the partition B so that nothing is interrupted and it’s ready for installation as soon as the process is completed.

“The goal of this feature is to make updates fault resistant by keeping the unused slot as a fallback. If there is an error during an update or immediately after an update, the system can rollback to the old slot and continue to have a working system”, Google notes.

Seamless system update feature is already available on the Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones.

“Users don’t always have enough space on /data to download the update package, and neither OEMs nor users want to waste space on a /cache partition; so some users go without updates because they have nowhere to store the update package,” Google notes.

“A/B updates have the option of streaming the update to address this issue: streaming writes blocks straight to the B partition as they are downloaded, without having to store them on /data. Therefore, streaming A/B updates need almost no temporary storage and need just enough for roughly 100kB of metadata.”


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Google’s DeepMind achieves machine learning breakthroughs at a terrifying pace



It’s time to add “AI research” to the list of things that machines can do better than humans. Google’s Alpha Go, the computer that beat the world’s greatest human go player, just lost to a version of itself that’s never had a single human lesson.

Google is making progress in the field of machine learning at a startling rate. The company’s AutoML recently dropped jaws with its ability to self-replicate, and DeepMind is now able to teach itself better than the humans who created it can.

DeepMind is the machine behind both versions of Alpha Go, with the latest evolution dubbed Alpha Go Zero — which sounds like the prequel to a manga.

The original Alpha Go is a monster of technology with 40 AI processors, and the data from thousands of go matches built into it. From the ground up, it was “born” with a pretty decent understanding of the game. Over time, and under the direction of humans, it began to learn the game and its nuanced strategies.

Eventually Alpha Go became so advanced, it was able to defeat the world’s top human player and establish AI’s supremacy in a game so difficult it makes chess look like checkers.

In short, Alpha Go is pretty legit.

The brilliant minds at Google decided being the best wasn’t good enough; they “evolved” Alpha Go into “Alpha Go Zero.” It was able to defeat Alpha Go at its own game only 40 days later.

Credit: Google

Let that sink in.

Now here’s the shocking part: Alpha Go Zero has only four AI processors and the only data it was given was the rules of the game. Nobody taught it how to play or fed it thousands of matches to study.

According to Google’s blog:

This technique is more powerful than previous versions of AlphaGo because it is no longer constrained by the limits of human knowledge. Instead, it is able to learn tabula rasa from the strongest player in the world: AlphaGo itself.

The AI plays Go against itself, improving with every match. After millions of matches its strategy is, as far as humans are concerned, infallible. Both versions of the machine play the game at a level that’s considered superhuman.

The speed with which Google’s AutoML and DeepMind have taken “self learning” to the next level is wonderful and terrifying at the same time.

In order for AI to fullfill its promise to humanity it has to ease our burdens and free our minds to solve uniquely human problems. A version of DeepMind that – in a little over a month – can teach itself to outperform a previous iteration is the realization of that ideal.

It’s time we took Sundar Pichai’s assertion that Google is an AI company seriously.

Read next: Emails demise raises security concerns about messaging


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Google Play will now let you try select Android apps before installing them



Google announced a bunch of updates big and small to its Play store today, but the most exciting of them all is the arrival of Instant Apps, which you can stream to your device and try out without having to install them first.

We first heard about Instant Apps at Google’s IO developer event back in May 2016; the company began rolling out support for these programs this January, but few such apps have been spotted in the wild.

Now, Google says you’ll be able to trial supported apps from the Play store by tapping the Try it Now button beneath their listings. There are a bunch of them on this page, but the option wasn’t available to me on multiple devices in India – so it’s likely that Instant Apps aren’t yet supported everywhere and on all eligible devices just yet.

This feature should make it easier to decide if you want to buy a game or a premium app before ponying up for it. There’s already a refund system that lets you get your money back if you return the app within two hours of your purchase, but this might help even more. If you’re interested in making your app streamable, you can follow Google’s lead on this page.


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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.

Credit: Google Maps