Google Station Wi-Fi Service, YouTube Go Launched in Indonesia After India Debut

After a successful run in India, Google has brought its public Wi-Fi programme Google Station to Indonesia that will help improve access to Internet at railway stations and other locations. Alongside, the company had 10 other announcements to make on Thursday at its Google for Indonesia event.

“We are partnering with CBN and Fiberstar to bring high-speed public Wi-Fi to hundreds of locations across Indonesia,” Google said in a blog post on Friday.

“Soon, we will be bringing Google Station to even more places around the world. We are also continuing our work to expand Google Station across India,” it added.

Google Station Wi-Fi Service, YouTube Go Launched in Indonesia After India DebutGoogle, in collaboration with RailTel, has rolled out free Wi-Fi service at several railway stations in India, offering high-speed Internet to millions of people. Google launched its first free Wi-Fi services at Mumbai Central station in January 2016. The company would continue to deploy high speed Wi-Fi in 300 more stations across the country.

Other announcements at Google for Indonesia included the launch of YouTube Go (an offline-centric app initially launched for India), Google Assistant with Bahasa Indonesia language support, tappable shortcuts in Search (again, only recently rolled out in India), health answers in Google Search, and Waze updates.

Google also had announcements surrounding its digital training and empowerment initiatives in the Southeast Asian country. These include the announcement that it had trained 25,000 developers in the country, the launch of the Primer training app, as well as 4,500 sign-ups milestone for its SMB programme.

Lithuanian Man Pleads Not Guilty to Defrauding Facebook and Google

A Lithuanian man accused of defrauding Facebook and Google out of more than $100 million pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in US court on Thursday.

Evaldas Rimasauskas, 48, entered his plea through an interpreter before US Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses in federal court in Manhattan, clad in a blue and white striped shirt and faded blue jeans. He arrived in New York on Wednesday night after being extradited from Lithuania, US prosecutors said.

Rimasauskas did not ask for bail and remains in custody.

“We’ll follow the procedural run of the case and make sure he gets a good defence,” Rimasauskas’s lawyer, Robert Peabody, told reporters after the plea.

US prosecutors charged Rimasauskas in March with engaging in an email fraud scheme in which they say he bilked Google and Facebook out of more than $100 million by posing as an Asian hardware vendor.

The prosecutors did not name the companies, but Taiwan-based Quanta Computer has confirmed it is the Asian vendor and a Lithuanian court order identified the victims as Facebook and Google. The companies could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

Lithuanian Man Pleads Not Guilty to Defrauding Facebook and GoogleRimasauskas allegedly defrauded Google out of $23 million and Facebook out of $99 million, according to Lithuania’s top court, which ordered his extradition earlier this month.

He is charged with wire fraud and money laundering, which each carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, and identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years.

The alleged scheme is an example of a growing type of fraud called “business email compromise,” in which fraudsters ask for money using emails targeted at companies that work with foreign suppliers or regularly make wire transfers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in June 2016 that since October 2013, US and foreign victims have made 22,143 complaints about business email compromise scams involving requests for almost $3.1 billion in transfers.

Facebook, Google Activate SOS Features After Barcelona Attack

Soon after the Barcelona attack that left 13 people dead, Facebook and Google activated their safety check features to let users in the vicinity inform their friends that they were safe and get nearby support.

Facebook created a page, titled “The attack in Barcelona, Spain” which users used to “check in as safe”, The Telegraph reported on Thursday.

Recently launched SOS alert feature by Google gave people up-to-date news and information about Barcelona attack.

The page also included helpful phrases for those who might be affected.

Facebook Safety Check was introduced in 2011 and was used for only natural disasters until 2015 Paris attack.

It was later widely used in terror attacks that took place in London, Nice and Berlin.

Facebook, Google Activate SOS Features After Barcelona Attack“When Safety Check is activated, users who Facebook determines to live or spend a lot of time in the affected area are sent a push notification asking if they want to check in as safe,” the report explained.

The feature sends a notification to friends of those who check in – confirming they have been marked as safe.

This also opens up ways for the people to offer help for those who are in need of help like food, shelter or medicines.

On the similar lines, Facebook introduced “Community Help” feature in February and claimed that it was inspired by the response to flooding in Chennai in which many people opened up their homes for the affected.

Google’s New Algorithm Can Remove Watermarks From Photos, Suggests Replacement

Researchers at Google have created an algorithm that can erase watermarks from photos automatically, warning that pictures are vulnerable copyright violations even with superimposed logos used to protect them.

Visible watermarks, the most common mechanism for protecting the copyrights of photographs, are logos or patterns that are overlaid on digital images.

Researchers developed a computer algorithm that can get past this protection and remove watermarks automatically, giving users unobstructed access to the clean images the watermarks are intended to protect.

“As often done with vulnerabilities discovered in operating systems, applications or protocols, we want to disclose this vulnerability and propose solutions in order to help the photography and stock image communities adapt and better protect its copyrighted content and creations,” Google said in a blog post.

Manually, the task of removing a watermark from an image is tedious, and even with state-of-the-art editing tools it may take a Photoshop expert several minutes to remove a watermark from one image, researchers said.

However, a fact that has been overlooked so far is that watermarks are typically added in a consistent manner to many images, they said.

Google's New Algorithm Can Remove Watermarks From Photos, Suggests ReplacementResearchers noted that this consistency can be used to invert the watermarking process – that is, estimate the watermark image and its opacity, and recover the original, watermark-free image underneath.

“This can all be done automatically, without any user intervention or prior information about the watermark, and by only observing watermarked image collections publicly available online,” researchers said.

“The algorithm produces very accurate estimations of the watermark components already from hundreds of images, and can deal with most watermarks used in practice, including ones containing thin structures, shadows or colour gradients” they said.

“The vulnerability of current watermarking techniques lies in the consistency in watermarks across image collections,” they added.

Introducing random geometric perturbations to the watermark – warping it when embedding it in each image – can counter this vulnerability, researchers said.

The technique produces a watermarked image that is very similar to the original photo and will leave very visible traces if removed.

Google Touts Titan Security Chip to Market Cloud Services

Alphabet Inc’s Google this week will disclose technical details of its new Titan computer chip, an elaborate security feature for its cloud computing network that the company hopes will enable it to steal a march on Amazon and Microsoft.

Titan is the size of a tiny stud earring that Google has installed in each of the many thousands of computer servers and network cards that populate its massive data centres that power Google’s cloud services.

Google is hoping Titan will help it carve out a bigger piece of the worldwide cloud computing market, which is forecast by Gartner to be worth nearly $50 billion.

A Google spokeswoman said the company plans to disclose Titan’s technical details in a blog post on Thursday.

Titan scans hardware to ensure it has not been tampered with, Neal Mueller, head of infrastructure product marketing for Google Cloud Platform, said in a recent interview. If anything has been changed, Titan chip will prevent the machine from booting.

Data centre operators are concerned that cyber criminals or nation-state hackers could compromise their servers, which are mostly made by Asian hardware companies, before they even reach the United States.

“It allows us to maintain a level of understanding in our supply chain that we otherwise wouldn’t have,” Mueller said.

Neither Amazon.com nor Microsoft – which hold 41 percent and 13 percent of cloud market share, respectively, according to Synergy Research Group – have said if they have similar features. In response to inquiries from Reuters, representatives of both companies pointed to the various ways they use encryption and other measures to secure their data centres.

Google holds just 7 percent of the worldwide cloud market. Titan is part of a strategy Google hopes will differentiate its services and attract enterprise customers from sectors with complex compliance regulations, such as those in financial services and the medical field. Google announced Titan in March.

“Having physical safeguards goes a long way of telling the story of how seriously Google takes people’s security,” said Kim Forrest, vice president at Fort Pitt Capital Group.

Google Touts Titan Security Chip to Market Cloud ServicesGoogle has struggled to compete with Amazon Web Services, which has more features, and Microsoft, which has long-standing relationships with enterprises, said Lydia Leong, an analyst for Gartner.

Leong was sceptical of Google’s strategy.

“Security is a hallmark for both AWS and Microsoft,” she said this week. “Google has a lot more work to do.”

Google uses Titan chips to protect the servers running its own services like search, Gmail and YouTube, and the company claims Titan has already driven sales. It points to Metamarkets, a real-time analytics firm, as a customer it landed in part due to Titan.

Dan Cornell, principal at Denim Group, a firm that helps tech organisations build secure systems, said the rise of nation-state hacking makes such a feature timely.

“Those level of adversaries certainly have an incentive to hack or to have influence over the security of hardware. It’s interesting of Google to say, ‘Here’s one part of the hardware that we’re going to control.'”

Google Launches Chrome Enterprise, Takes Aim at Large Businesses

To expand its market reach, Google has launched a new initiative with the aim to get large businesses to use Chrome OS, instead of Windows. Chrome Enterprise looks to promote Chrome OS and the devices that run on it. The new Chrome Enterprise subscription is priced at $50 (roughly Rs. ) per device per year.

Chrome Enterprise is aimed at large organisations and offers a host of features, including access to enterprise app store fronts, deep security controls, 24×7 support, as well as integration with cloud and on-premise management tools, VMware Workspace ONE, and Microsoft Active Directory integration. This is mainly aimed at enterprise users looking to adopt Chrome OS devices, and give them an option to manage employee Chromebooks more efficiently. This means that for the above subscription price, enterprise users get Chrome OS but with added abilities. The subscription also offers theft protection, single sign-on support, printer management, managed networks, proxies, and OS updates as well.

Google Launches Chrome Enterprise, Takes Aim at Large BusinessesAs mentioned, Chrome Enterprise is fully compatible with on-premise infrastructure through Microsoft Active Directory. This integration allows employees to use their native credentials to authenticate across devices and Google Cloud Services like Google Play while centralising management of user and device policies for IT admins.

Furthermore, VMware Workspace ONE management solution gives customers the ability to manage all their Chrome devices from a single management solution. Using this third party solution, enterprise users will be able to deploy device policies using customisable assignment of groups based on geography, device platform, department, role, and more – simplifying policy enforcement across the company.

Google also notes on its blog that Google Play (i.e., access to enterprise apps) is now compatible with more than 25 Chrome devices including the Acer 14, HP 13, Lenovo 13, or mobile devices such as the Samsung Chromebook Pro and Asus Flip. See the entire list of compatible devices here. Needless to say, the Chrome Enterprise subscription will only work these Chromebooks for now.

Walmart Partners Google to Launch Voice-Activated Shopping

Walmart is diving into voice-activated shopping. But unlike online leader Amazon, it’s not doing it alone.

The world’s largest retailer said Wednesday it’s working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items from laundry detergent to Legos for voice shopping through Google Assistant. The capability will be available in late September.

It’s Google’s biggest retail partnership – and the most personalized shopping experience it offers – as it tries to broaden the reach of its voice-powered assistant Home speaker. And it underscores Walmart’s drive to compete in an area dominated by Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo device.

“Voice shopping is becoming a more important part of everyday shopping behavior,” said Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart’s US e-commerce business.

The voice-activated devices are becoming more mainstream as they become more accessible. Even Apple has one coming out this year. Walmart has said Google’s investment in natural language processing and artificial intelligence will help make voice-activated shopping even more popular.

And Lore said the personalization of the partnership means people can shout out generic items like milk, bread and cheese, and Google Assistant will know exactly the brands and the size that the user wants.

Google introduced shopping to Home in February, letting people use voice to order essentials from more than 40 retailers like Target and Costco under its Google Express program. But that was far behind the Echo, available since late 2014.

Walmart, which has more stores than any other retailer and the largest share of the U.S. grocery market, is also working hard to close the gulf online between itself and Amazon.

Walmart Partners Google to Launch Voice-Activated ShoppingIt has overhauled its shipping strategy and is expanding store-curb pickup for groceries ordered online. But it’s also had to look beyond itself and form partnerships. Walmart announced Monday that it’s expanding its grocery delivery service with ride-hailing service Uber, and it’s been testing same-day delivery service with Deliv at Sam’s Club in Miami.

Amazon generally has been building its network of services on its own, using its $99-a-year Prime membership with same-day and even one-hour shipping options to develop loyalty.

It’s also been drawing in customers with its Alexa-powered devices. Amazon doesn’t give sales figures for Echo, but Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated that it’s sold more than 10 million Alexa-powered Echo devices in the U.S. since late 2014. That includes the core $179 Echo as well as the less expensive and smaller Echo Dot and the portable Amazon Tap.

To be more competitive with Amazon, Google Express is scrapping the $95-a-year membership starting Wednesday, allowing shoppers to get free delivery within one to three days on orders as long as the purchase is above each store’s minimum.

Walmart is integrating its Easy Reorder feature – which has data on both store and online purchases – into Google Express. Shoppers who want to reorder their favorites have to link their Walmart account to Google Express.

With other Google Express retailers, personalization takes time as the assistant learns shoppers’ preferences, says Brian Elliott, general manager of Google Express. So the quick personalization with Walmart should make voice-activated shopping more attractive, he says.

While one of Walmart’s biggest advantages over Amazon is its massive number of stores, Amazon’s nearly $14 billion offer for Whole Foods could shake up the landscape.

Walmart says it will be tapping its 4,700 U.S. stores and its fulfillment network next year to offer more kinds of customer experiences using voice shopping. For example, shoppers can tell Google Assistant they want to pick up an order in a store. Lore said the company wants to make voice shopping as easy as possible.

“That’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google. We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be,” Lore wrote in a corporate blog post.

Independent internet analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodal, who was unaware of the Google deal at the time of the interview, says Walmart is going in the right direction, though it has a long way to go. She noted that partnerships with companies like Uber enable the discounter to get the business “up and running” and it will be able to learn a lot.

Blue Whale Challenge: Delhi High Court Expresses Concern Over Suicides

The Delhi High Court on Thursday expressed concern over children allegedly committing suicide while playing the ‘Blue Whale’ Challenge, an Internet suicide game, that has been allegedly linked to the deaths of several children worldwide.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar also wondered why adults were getting into this game, in which dangerous tasks like self-inflicting of wounds on the body, are assigned to the player by administrators during a 50-day period.

The bench said it can understand children getting influenced, but why were adults getting involved in it.

“If an adult is told to do a task, why would he/she go and jump from a building,” it said, adding that “we are wondering why both children and adult are doing this”.

The high court, however, refrained from passing any order on the plea seeking direction to the Internet companies including Google, Facebook and Yahoo to take down the links of the Blue whale.

It wished to know whether the government has issued any prohibition order with regard to downloading of the Blue Whale game.

The court also sought to know from the petitioner, advocate Gurmeet Singh, whether any such incident has happened in Delhi. It asked the petitioner whether any prohibition order could be passed on Thursday and fixed the matter for further hearing on August 22.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT had directed the Internet majors – Google, Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo – to immediately remove the links of the deadly Blue Whale Challenge, which has led several children in India and other countries to commit suicide.

The PIL on Wednesday was moved in the High Court seeking directions to Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo to take down the links of ‘Blue Whale’.

Citing deaths of children in India and abroad, the advocate, who filed the petition, sought immediate directions to restrain the Internet majors from uploading any material pertaining to the Blue Whale Challenge.

He also sought direction to the Delhi Police to appoint a special five-member team to oversee whether the Internet companies comply with the court’s direction.

Blue Whale Challenge: Delhi High Court Expresses Concern Over SuicidesThe sudden popularity of the lethal online game – Blue Whale Challenge, in which the final task requires the player to commit suicide, has forced the government to issue directions to the Internet giants to remove the links of the dangerous game.

The Blue Whale Challenge is reportedly a suicide game in which the player is given certain tasks to complete for a period of 50 days and the final task leads to committing suicide. The player is also asked to share photos after finishing the challenge.

The petition said “there are so many children and people being adversely affected by this menace namely Blue Whale Challenge and they do not even know that the same will cost their life and their families will suffer heavily. All citizens of India will be benefitted if the said menace is stopped.”

More than six children across India in the age group of 12-19 years have taken their lives playing this game within a span of two weeks.

Deaths of teenagers have been reported from other countries including Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile and Italy, the PIL had said.

Facebook, Google Activate SOS Features After Barcelona Attack

Soon after the Barcelona attack that left 13 people dead, Facebook and Google activated their safety check features to let users in the vicinity inform their friends that they were safe and get nearby support.

Facebook created a page, titled “The attack in Barcelona, Spain” which users used to “check in as safe”, The Telegraph reported on Thursday.

Recently launched SOS alert feature by Google gave people up-to-date news and information about Barcelona attack.

The page also included helpful phrases for those who might be affected.

Facebook Safety Check was introduced in 2011 and was used for only natural disasters until 2015 Paris attack.

It was later widely used in terror attacks that took place in London, Nice and Berlin.

Facebook, Google Activate SOS Features After Barcelona Attack“When Safety Check is activated, users who Facebook determines to live or spend a lot of time in the affected area are sent a push notification asking if they want to check in as safe,” the report explained.

The feature sends a notification to friends of those who check in – confirming they have been marked as safe.

This also opens up ways for the people to offer help for those who are in need of help like food, shelter or medicines.

On the similar lines, Facebook introduced “Community Help” feature in February and claimed that it was inspired by the response to flooding in Chennai in which many people opened up their homes for the affected.

Android O to Be Revealed on Monday, the Day of the US Total Solar Eclipse

Google will indeed reveal Android O on Monday, the day of the US total solar eclipse, as previously rumoured. The visible shape of the solar corona during the eclipse’s totality neatly matches the symbol ‘O’, and we can expect Google to reveal the name of its latest Android version, as well as announce release dates of the final build of Android O for eligible Google devices, if not release it the same day. There is also a chance the company may give a glimpse of the new Pixel smartphones. The company has put up a dedicated Eclipse page on its Android site for Monday’s announcement, counting down to 2:40pm ET or Tuesday, 12:10am IST.

android o eclipse screenshot android

There have been a lot of rumours surrounding what Google would name Android O. The company has used dessert names in its Android version nomenclature in the past, and it isn’t expected to break that tradition this year. Many are hedging their bets on Android Oreo (Oatmeal Cookie,Octopus, and Orange are other contenders), and, a Google+ teaser posted for the Monday announcement may have inadvertently confirmed this. Notably, the Eclipse doesn’t appear to make any visible hints as to the name, beyond the word ‘sweet’ – reinforcing the plausibility of a continued dessert naming scheme. If true, this wouldn’t be the first time that Google has partnered with a major brand – it had associated with Nestle for Android 4.4 KitKat. This time around, it may tie up with Nabisco.

Spotted by Android Police, the video accompanying the Google+ post’s teaser bore the word ‘Oreo’ in the filename. After the report however, the post was deleted, and replaced with another – and this time the video filename bore the word ‘Octopus’ in its place in perhaps an attempted misdirection. Of course, this isn’t incontrovertible proof, and may very well be an elaborate charade by the search giant, which has been known to have a sense of humour. An Easter egg in the latest developer preview also featured an octopus.

We’ll have to wait for the Monday reveal to know more. Last month, Google released the final Android O Developer Preview (version 4), and pretty much all features of the new operating system are known so far, so the name, release dates, and next Pixel devices are all that are actually anticipated