Google faces renewed U.S. antitrust scrutiny, this time over Android

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has opened a preliminary investigation into whether Google Inc uses its Android operating system to dominate competitors as more consumers go mobile, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The Android mobile platform is a key element in Google’s strategy to maintain revenue from online advertising as people switch from Web browser searches to smartphone apps. The FTC had investigated Google for allegedly breaking antitrust law but that probe ended in a settlement.

Reuters reported in April that some technology companies had complained to the U.S. Department of Justice about Google’s anti-competitive practices and urged the regulator to investigate allegations that Google unfairly uses its Android system to win online advertising.

The FTC and the Justice Department conferred, and decided that the FTC would take the case, one source said. The probe is in its very early stages, according to sources.

Both Google and the FTC declined comment.

The FTC probe focuses on whether Google is telling Android handset makers which Google apps they must show on their phones, and how and where they are displayed, the source said.

There have been complaints about requirements that Google search, maps and other products be given a prominent place on the handsets.

The requirements make it impractical for handset makers to put Google rivals on their smartphone’s home screen.

Fairsearch, a technology trade group, said it welcomed the FTC probe, adding that Google “has used a range of anticompetitive tactics.”

“The stakes are extremely high, because Google’s behavior impacts the entire mobile ecosystem, including map and location services, and app developers,” the group said in a statement.

Google shares were down 0.6 percent at $650.81 in mid-day trading.

The investigation was first reported by Bloomberg.

Google previously tangled with the FTC over Web search allegations and reached a settlement in 2013 that required the company to stop “scraping” reviews and other data from rival websites for its own products. The FTC also required Google to allow advertisers to export data to evaluate advertising campaigns independently.

After that settlement, the FTC was embarrassed by the inadvertent release of documents that showed key staff members argued that Google broke antitrust law. Google dropped some of the worst practices and commissioners opted to settle.

The European Union has accused Google of distorting Web search results to favor its own shopping service as well, and is now probing the Android mobile operating system.

(Additional reporting by Sangameswaran S and Sayantani Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Source Article from http://news.yahoo.com/google-under-u-antitrust-scanner-android-operating-system-100110517–sector.html

Google mobile Android operating system under U.S. antitrust scanner

By Diane Bartz

(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Google Inc is using its Android mobile operating system to stifle competition, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The Android mobile platform is a key element in Google’s strategy to maintain revenue from online advertising as people switch from Web browser searches to smartphone apps, and action by U.S. regulators would be a big problem for the company.

Reuters reported in April that some technology companies had complained to the U.S. Department of Justice about Google’s anti-competitive practices and urged the regulator to investigate allegations that Google unfairly uses its Android system to win online advertising.

Google previously tangled with the FTC over Web search allegations and reached a settlement in 2013.

The European Union has accused Google of distorting Web search results to favor its own shopping service as well, and is now probing the Android mobile operating system.

Google shares were up 0.5 percent at $657.93 in premarket trading.

The new FTC probe focuses on whether Google is telling Android handset makers which Google apps they must show on their phones, and how and where they are displayed, the source said.

The FTC and the DOJ just met to discuss who would probe Google and agreed that the FTC would take the case. The probe is in very early stages, the source said.

The FTC and Google were unavailable for comment.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

(Additional reporting by Sangameswaran S and Sayantani Ghosh in Bengaluru)

Source Article from http://news.yahoo.com/google-under-u-antitrust-scanner-android-operating-system-100110517–sector.html

Real Headline: “Marines Test Google’s Latest Military Robot”






Real Headline: “Marines Test Google’s Latest Military Robot”


September 21st, 2015

Via: PC World:

The latest version of a walking, quadruped battlefield robot from Boston Dynamics, the military robotics maker owned by Google X, was tested by U.S. Marines lastweekn

Spot weighs about 70kgs, is electrically operated and walks on four hydraulically-actuated legs. It’s controlled via wireless by an operator who can be up to 500 meters away.

It underwent trials and testing at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia as part of evaluations by the Marines on future military uses of robotic technology. In a series of missions, it was evaluated in different terrains including hills, woodlands and urban areas.















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Tech for tuskers: protecting Africa’s elephants with Google

In the remote wilds of northern Kenya's Samburu reserve, the latest technology from US internet giant Google creates three-dimen
In the remote wilds of northern Kenya’s Samburu reserve, the latest technology from US internet giant Google creates three-dimensional maps using data from satellite tracking elephant collars

As elephant poaching in Africa by organised crime gangs using high-tech equipment rises, those working to stop their extinction in the wild have turned to technology too.

In the remote wilds of northern Kenya’s Samburu reserve, the latest technology from US internet giant Google creates three-dimensional maps using data from satellite tracking elephant collars, providing security for the animals in the short term, and helping protect their habitat in the long term.

“It is a priceless bank of information,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, head of conservation group Save the Elephants, demonstrating the complex near-real time map, where tiny elephant computer icons are shown moving across an enormous television screen.

With ivory raking in thousands of dollars a kilo in Asia, conservationists have warned that African could be extinct in the wild within a generation.

But the decade-long collaboration between the conservationists and Google has meant that, at least in this small corner of Kenya, poaching is at last on the decline.

“It is an anomaly on the continent of Africa that we seem to have gone through the eye of the storm, and that poaching is on the decrease here,” Douglas-Hamilton said, although warning there could be no let up in efforts.

The mapping technology is protected from would-be poachers with tough security measures.

“We’re able to use the tracking technology overlaid on Google Earth – and hence understand their migration patterns, and therefore build better protection around that,” said Farzana Khubchandani of Google.

Each collared elephant shows up on a map overlaid with land use, as farmland and development encroach ever closer on wilderness areas.

“Hundreds have been tagged since 2005 all across Africa,” Douglas-Hamilton said, adding that today 85 are collared, half in northern Kenya, the rest across the continent, including in Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Kenya is struggling to stem poaching to protect its remaining elephant population—currently estimated at 30,000—and just over a thousand rhinos.

A man holds up an elephant tracking collar which allows each collared elephant to show up on a map overlaid with land use, as farmland and development encroach ever closer on wilderness areas

Samburu, some 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of the capital Nairobi, is home to around 900 elephants.

But conflict between elephant and man is increasingly common, with livestock encroaching onto the park as drought bites.

“In the short term, it helps improve security for the animals,” Douglas-Hamilton adds, as close by, a sniffs a helicopter visiting the reserve, before deciding it is harmless and continuing to drink in the river.

“In the long term, it allows better planning to establish corridors for the animals – areas often extremely vulnerable to human development,” he added.

‘Elephantocide’

The technology is not cheap: each collar costs some $8,000 (7,000 euros) to buy, fit and maintain.

“The collars are able to tell us an animal is immobile, so we’re able to react very quickly to send our patrol teams,” said David Daballen, Save the Elephant’s head of field operations, lifting the giant collars.

Complementing the maps, researchers track the complex elephant family trees, recording every animal with long registration numbers.

But on the ground, efforts to protect the elephants are also deeply emotional for the conservationists.

Conservationist Ian Douglas-Hamilton has spent his life among the giant animals and talks of an "elephant genocide"
Conservationist Ian Douglas-Hamilton has spent his life among the giant animals and talks of an “elephant gelocidd&+8221;

“That’s Flaubert, he’s 26, the one with the collar,” said Douglas-Hamilton, sweeping back his grey hair as he leans excitedly out of the pickup, driving slowly through the “Artists” family of elephants, with each group given a different theme of names.

“There’s Rodin, and Matisse—but Gauguin sadly died,” adds the 73-year old British zoologist, naming each of the 23 animals grazing among the bushes lining the Ewaso Ng’iro river, a lifeline snaking through the 165 square kilometre (65 square mile) reserve.

Douglas-Hamilton, who has spent his life among the giant animals and talks of an “elephant genocide”, explains it is the individual names given to the elephants he knows them by.

This month Google launched their Street View service in Samburu, part of a bid to raise awareness of the park and elephants, as well as boosting education and promote tourism.

But old tracking systems remain: outside the research centre in Samburu, long sad lines of dozens of elephant jaws are laid out, all killed by poachers or drought, the teeth of each providing valuable data as to their age at death.

“Here was one bullet, here another,” said Daballen, lifting a bleached shoulder bone, belonging to an elephant called Ebony.

Those gunshots did not in fact kill Ebony, finally felled in May 2011 by a bullet to the head.

“We’re doing all we can, but the poachers are not going away,” he added, waving at the lines of bones.


Explore further:
Kenya study: Big jump in elephant poaching deaths

Source Article from http://phys.org/news/2015-09-tech-tuskers-africa-elephants-google.html

“Google Self-Driving Car Patent Reveals How You’ll Let AI Take the Wheel”






“Google Self-Driving Car Patent Reveals How You’ll Let AI Take the Wheel”


September 15th, 2015

Via: The Verge:

A new patent from Google published today has some fascinating insight into how the company thinks that production of self-driving cars of the future might take control from the drivers they’re shuttling around — and how they could give it back, too.

The description of “Google Chauffeur,” spotted by Stanford’s Reilly Brennan, is a pretty straightforward concept. An arm on the steering column (not much different from a windshield wiper arm) could be pulled to engage a car’s self-driving mode; at that point, the system would do a check to see whether it’s ready and able to actually take control from the driver. If it isn’t — the car can’t get a GPS lock, for instance — the driver might see a “Not Available” light on the dash. Otherwise, you’d see a “Ready” light, at which point you can start taking your appendages off the wheel and pedals.















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Google hires Truecar’s Krafcik to head its driverless car unit

(Reuters) – Google Inc said it named auto industry veteran John Krafcik as chief executive of its self-driving car project from late September.

With the hiring of Krafcik, currently the president of automotive pricing terminal Truecar Inc and a former CEO of Hyundai Motors America, Google is starting to look at the project as a potential and relevant business in the near future.

Chris Urmson, who has been head of the self-driving car program since 2009, will continue overseeing the project as its technical lead, the company said in an emailed statement.

Google’s pet project of driverless cars started in 2009 with an intention!to evklutionize the automobile industry. The project is still a part of Google X lab, though the company did not rule out the possibility of it being a part of its parent Alphabet in the near future.

Google X lab also works on other projects like Loon, which aims to provide wireless Internet to the most-remote areas in the world via smart balloons and is currently being tested in the Southern hemisphere.

(Reporting by Sangameswaran S; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

Source Article from http://news.yahoo.com/google-hires-truecars-krafcik-head-driverless-car-unit-065016940–finance.html

Google debuts mobile-pay service in second try

Google’s answer to the Apple Pay mobile-payment service is debuting in the U.S., marking a do-over by the company behind the world’s most-used operating system for smartphones.

Android Pay will be similar to Apple Pay, except it works on Android phones rather than Apple’s iPhones. On some Samsung Android phones, it will sit alongside Samsung Pay. All three services let people buy goods at by tapping their phones against the store’s . The user’s debit or credit card on file then gets charged.

Google Wallet, the ‘s first attempt in , flopped because it didn’t have a big enough network of compatible devices and willing to work with it. Softcard, a rival effort by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, also got little traction. Google Inc. bought much of Softcard’s technology and is combining the two to form Android Pay.

The timing is also better for Android Pay. Apple Pay has raised awareness about mobile payments and more merchants now have equipment capable of accepting the payments.

Android Pay will start rolling out in the U.S. on Thursday, though it might take up to a week for some users to get it from the Android app store. The app will come installed on new, compatible phones from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon—the Softcard partners.

Samsung Pay has been available in South Korea since Aug. 20. A U.S. trial began Aug. 25, with a broader debut planned for Sept. 28. Apple Pay launched in the U.S. last October and expanded to the U.K. this summer.

Here’s a closer look at these payment systems.

___

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OVER PLASTIC?

Although taking out plastic isn’t difficult, using the is more convenient if you already have it out—say, to check Facebook while waiting in line. It’s also great in cabs: When you pull out your wallet late at night, your keys might accidentally slip out.

The bigger advantage is security. With all three services, you’re assigned a substitute card number unique to the phone. The store gets this number, so if its system gets hacked, your main card number isn’t compromised. To work, the substitute number must be paired with a one-time code generated by that device. Hackers getting that number will also need physical possession of your phone.

___

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES?

There’s a chance it won’t work when you try to pay.

Many merchants don’t have the newer payment terminals that Apple Pay and Android Pay require.

Samsung Pay has a backup mechanism. When the phone is tapped, it can mimic the old-school, magnetic signals produced by card swipes. That means it should work with most existing equipment—but not everywhere. For instance, you’re not likely to give the waiter your phone—let alone your passcode—to pay the check at a restaurant.

___

HOW DO YOU MAKE A PAYMENT?

For Android Pay, you need to turn on the screen and unlock your phone, such as with your fingerprint or passcode. Then you tap the phone next to the payment terminal. Apple Pay is similar, except it works even with the screen off. When the phone detects the payment terminal, it lights up and asks for your fingerprint.

With Samsung Pay, you need to swipe up from the bottom first. That’s because the phone has no way of detecting when it’s near a traditional, magnetic terminal. You can swipe up from the lock screen or the home screen, or if the screen is off (but the phone is on). If you’re in an app such as Facebook, you need to get to the home screen first.

Apple Pay and Android Pay will work when you’re in any app. There’s no need to swipe first or launch any payment app.

___

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

Android Pay requires an Android phone that has a near-field communication, or NFC, chip (most do) and at least the KitKat version of Android, which came out in 2013. Samsung Pay works only with the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus and the Note 5, along with the upcoming Gear S2 smartwatch. For Apple Pay, you need an iPhone 6 or 6s, the Plus versions or an Apple Watch. The latest iPad models support in-app payments, but not those at stores.

Your card also needs to be from a bank that has signed on. The list varies by service and is growing.


Explore further:
Review: Apple Pay is great, at stores that accept it

Source Article from http://phys.org/news/2015-09-google-debuts-mobile-pay.html

Google may return to China with Android app shop: report

In the world of computer gaming, bragging rights are accorded to those who can boast of blazing-fast graphics cards, the most powerful processors, the highest-resolution monitors, and the coolest decorative lighting. They …

Source Article from http://phys.org/news/2015-09-google-china-android-app.html

Judge approves $415M tech jobs settlement



A FEDERAL judge has approved a $US415 million ($A592.14 million) settlement to resolve a class-action lawsuit alleging Apple, Google, Intel and two other Silicon Valley companies illegally conspired to prevent their workers from getting better job offers.


THE settlement will pay more than 64,000 technology workers about $US5,800 apiece.

The approval, granted Wednesday by US District Judge Lucy Koh, ends a lengthy legal saga that exposed internal emails that cast former Apple CEO Steve Jobs in an unflattering light. Koh had rejected an earlier $US324.5 million settlement of the case reached in 2014 as inadequate. The lawsuit accused Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe Systems of forming a secret cartel that agreed not to recruit each other’s workers. Lawyers for the employees argued the pact illegally suppressed the wages of the affected technology workers.

Source Article from http://news.com.au.feedsportal.com/c/34564/f/632570/s/498e17bc/sc/28/l/0L0Snews0N0Bau0Cfinance0Cbusiness0Cjudge0Eapproves0E415m0Etech0Ejobs0Esettlement0Cstory0Ee6frfkur0E12275121823430Dfrom0Fpublic0Irss/story01.htm

The Best Job on Earth? What It’s Like to Work at a Traveling Circus

This question originally appeared on Quora, the best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Answer by Megan O’Malley, musician with Ringling Bros., goofball on a train:

For some really good insight on this topic, check out Big Apple Circus’ documentary Circus, a six-episode documentary that follows the troupe in their daily lives, covering performances, what it’s like to live on the road, how children are raised, problems faced, drama abounding, etc. It’s a really good glimpse into the life of a circus worker. Best of all, you can view the entire thing for free on PBS.

To answer this question personally, what you experience in the circus very much depends on the type of circus and what kind of job you’re doing. Touring shows are full of hard work, bad food, and incidents that make for great stories later on.

In the circus that I travel with, we arrive in a city on a weekday and set up in an arena (usually a basketball or hockey arena in a large city). Setup or “load in” takes around 12 hours to complete, and both crew and performers are involved. Once load-in is complete, we usually will have a rehearsal and then about five to seven days of shows in any given city. If there is time between shows or a day with only one show, we are free to explore the city, and that’s really a nice perk of the job. On the other hand, sometimes there’s no time for exploring at all; this year I didn’t get to see any of Nashville because it was freezing and we had lots of shows.

After our show schedule is completed (usually a Sunday night), we do “load out,” which is pretty much packing everything back up. That takes around eight hours. Once that’s done, we move on to the next city.

One thing that is special about the circus I work with is that we travel the country by train. This is an experience that you really can’t get anywhere else. We travel via freight lines, so we get to see lots of things that few people ever get to witness. For example, one day I woke up and looked out the window to see that we were on Salt Lake! Sometimes we pass through very remote areas, like national parks or steep mountain passes. Other times, we travel right through the heart of a city or small town, and people come running out of their homes or workplaces to take pictures and wave. This photo is from La Grange, Kentucky, where the tracks are on the town’s Main Street. People were very excited when they saw our train passing through!

It’s a life of constant movement and of stresses that you wouldn’t experience in a normal 9-5 job. Lots of scary things can happen — people can get hurt during shows, or we can be housed in unsafe areas for the week. But the things you see when you travel across the country, the unique people you meet, the friends you make, the food you get to try, and the amazing animals and people that you get to work with–for me, that makes the circus life a life worth living. It’s exciting and romantic; it’s dirty and painful sometimes. Totally worth it.

What is it like to work at a travelling circus? originally appeared on Quora. More questions on Quora:

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