Google’s Project Loon continues development from an audacious goal to use balloons to provide Internet service to areas traditionally un- or under-served to being a reality that provides service to 2 out of 3 Internet users. In their latest video about Project Loon, the Google team talks about how they have been working to ramp up their capabilities for a mass deployment. Read more
If you use Google Wallet and keep a balance of funds available in your account, Google is taking steps to help make things a little bit safer for you. Google is now moving funds stored in Google Wallet accounts into FDIC-insured bank accounts. Hopefully this extra insurance would never be something users have to take advantage of, but if they do they now have insurance up to $250,000 on the funds on deposit. Read more
If you haven’t got your hands on a Chromecast yet, but have been meaning to do so, you may like to know that you can currently grab one for just $20 from Groupon. The company is also offering complimentary shipping and won’t be charging any sales tax, making this an unmissable deal.
Google has updated their Play Services app to version 7.3 with a few new features, notably one adding a user interface for trusted places.
This UI will let you select an area as “trusted” within a ring, which will disable security features in that zone. This would be useful if you wanted to remove your password on your lock screen at home but keep it on everywhere else. Read more
Google is currently in the process pushing out an update for its official Google+ application. This upgrade doesn’t deliver any new features, but it does transport a major redesign for the Communities section of the app and carries a handful of bug fixes, too.
Google’s Chrome team has released an update to the Beta channel, Chrome 43, with support for MIDI devices, a new Permissions API, and a host of other changes and improvements. The new Web MIDI API included in Chrome 43 means users can make use of connected MIDI devices when accessing an online resource. MIDI devices include things like synthesizers, keyboards, DJ decks and drum machines amongst others. With the update, once a user plugs one of these devices into their system, even an Android tablet or smartphone, the device will be able to communicate with web sites without any additional work by the user to load software or drivers. Read more
The next time you search for something on your smartphone or tablet, you might notice a small change in the search results. Instead of displaying long URL names, Google will now display the real-world name of the site and the actual URL will be in a breadcrumbs-like format.
This is obviously more simplified, but it also helps users understand websites better. You can see the before (left) and after (right) in the image above.
Windows. You either love it or you hate it, and if you love it, there’s a roughly 1-in-10 chance that you love it so much you couldn’t bear to move away from Windows XP. An operating system so old that even Microsoft has quit supporting it. Luckily, Google feels different about the 11% of worldwide computers believed to still use Windows XP. The search giant has announced that it plans to continue supporting the ageing operating system with new builds of its Chrome browser.
Google Cardboard, the virtual reality platform introduced at Google I/O 2014, now exists as an open source platform. Today, Google announced that it would begin to issue certifications to hardware from manufacturers that meet its criteria. The certification allows consumers to recognize that a particular Cardboard viewer is aligned with Google’s vision for the platform. Cardboard apps and games work perfectly with certified hardware.
Consumers and smaller manufacturers putting together their own Cardboard viewers are being helped, too. Define the key parameters and place a QR code on the Cardboard viewer. The official Google Cardboard app then recognizes the key parameters and tailors the experience for all apps and games.
Google’s Niantic Labs development team has been responsible for the Field Trip app that keeps you updated on important info about your surroundings. The team is updating the app today, bringing support for our favorite wearable tech platform.
Field Trip now how full Android Wear support, so instead of having to pull out your phone for local information, you can just glance at your wrist. The app detects when you’re near an interesting location and displays a relevant card on your Android Wear watch. Read more