Google Updates is the best of the week's Google news - some we've reported, some we didn't get to. It will be updated every Friday under subject headings and older news will remain up, so you can bookmark this page and come back to it. Hurrah!
27/10/17 Google's artificial intelligence engine has started showing ethnic minority words as having negative sentiment. The company has apologised and is looking into why words including "Jew" and "Homosexual" have been registered as negative within its AI.
GMail has introduced add-ons from third parties including Trello and Docusign. Once installed they'll work across all devices. 9 have launched with more expected soon. This is an expansion of a feature already available to GSuite customers
20/10/17 Google has been ordered to remove all reference to piracy websites from its page rankings from any connection run by a France based ISP. Google and Microsoft both said they were doing this already of course, but now they don't have a choice.
29/9/17: Reports claim that Google will spin off its Shopping service into a standalone unit in a bid to keep EU regulators happy. While Google Shopping will remain part of the company, it will have its own revenue that it will use to make bids for ads against its rivals. We first heard about Google's plan to auction off ad placements earlier this month. Reuters reported that the will allow rival firms to bid for spots, known as 'Product Listing Ads' on its Shopping service.
Elsewhere in Search this week, Google has signed a deal with Apple which will see the search giant take over from Microsoft's Bing as the default search engine for its Siri voice assistant.
15/9/17: Unsurprisingly, Google has confirmed that it will appeal the €2.42bn (around £2.1bn) antitrust fine handed to it by the European Commission (EC) earlier this year. In its decision back in June, the EC said that Google "abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service," a move which comes to the "detriment of customers" and "stifles innovation" in the online shopping market.
8/9/17: Google has released a guide to the most searched "how to" questions from around the world in an interactive essay. If you want to measure a bra, change your name and then get pregnant, then you're in the majority.
15/9/17: The Google Drive desktop app is being taken out of service in February for reasons not entirely clear to us yet, but we think it's something to do with watching pirated Game of Thrones episodes on it. We'll come back to you.
20/10/17 DeepMind machine learning has taken another leap forward this week with AlphaGo, the Go playing program that beat grand masters being replaced by AlphaGo Zero, which learned how to play by itself without ever being shown a game, just a rule book. It only learned by playing itself, but within 72 hours could beat the original AlphaGo 100-0
6/10/17: DeepMind has launched an ethics unit to ponder the big question of AI like ‘is it ok to be nursed by a robot' and ‘can we trust our own creations' and probably loads of other stuff so intellectually challenging it hasn't crossed our minds
27/10/17 Problems with the Pixel 2 are continuing to deepen. As well as complaints of a blue hue to the screen at even a slight angle, the dreaded "black smears" have shown up alongside screen burn, something that is only found on very cheap displays. Pops and crackles have been heard on the smaller version, seemingly interference from the NFC chip.
Google has extended the warranty for the Pixel range to two years and is rolling out a series of fixes for the things it can change (it's not acknowledging ‘fixes' are necessary). No word on what it will do about the hardware issues though.
Oreo 8.1 beta has started rolling out, but some users are reporting its borking their devices. So that's fun.
It isn't putting Google off. They're apparently planning three phones for next year. By that time they'll have HTC fully aboard. The Pixel 2 and 2 XL were made by LG and HTC respectively.
20/10/17 The Google Pixel 2 arrived this week. The XL version has come in for particular criticism for it's ‘disastrous' screen and washed out blue hue. Google has now said it plans to release more colour options in a software update (possibly) but these are described as ‘preferences' rather than a bug fix. It doesn't matter much as you'll be hard pressed to find any stock in a lot of major retailers.
Also this week we discovered that some Pixel (1) users are struggling to receive SMSs - Google is investigating.
Google Play is working with independent bug bounty platform HackerOne to implement a new Bug Bounty scheme for the Google Play Store. Although the safest way to get Android apps, there have been repeated issues with malware getting in, and this is just another way to get more security built in.
6/10/17: Of course, the big news of the week is the glut of products launched. You can read about the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixelbook, Google Home Mini, Google Home Max, Google Smartbuds and Google Clips by clicking through and you can read our thoughts on the launch here. Meanwhile, pre-ordering has begun.
Something else happened too. Note that there's no mention of Android Wear? Yeah. Check the Play Store. The Wearables section has gone completely. No announcement was made, no explanation has been given. It's, at the very least, mysterious.
Other things you might have missed from the event - there's a new Ambient Services app in the Play Store, to power the ‘always on' music identification, and Google Assistant has more voice options, including a male one, if you need.
Google Allo for Web is now available across major browsers, not just Chrome. But its still tethered to your phone connection and is therefore a waste of space. It can also now be triggered from an iOS device. Because, sigh.
We're also expecting to hear about a new smart speaker with a screen sooner rather than later, because Amazon launched theres and its caught Google on the hop.
Elsewhere there is unrest as Google has quietly shelved its smart unlock by NFC.
29/9/17: Full specifications for Google's upcoming Pixel smartphones have leaked online, revealing that they will dump the 3.5mm headphone jack along with the, er SIM slot. The handsets will be officially unveiled next week at Google's 4 October hardware launch event.
22/9/17: The obvious big news of the week is that Google has taken on a billion-dollar deal to work with struggling phone maker HTC. The deal will cement the working relationship between the two firms that already exists, and will see a team from HTC move to Google to work on hardware.
It comes as we see a huge leak that suggests that the event on October 4th will have a Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, a mini version of the Google Home, and a "Pixelbook" running Chrome OS with Android apps.
As we were going to press, we heard that Bose is to be the first in a range of headphone makers to add a dedicated Assistant button, to rival the even expanding claws of Amazon Alexa.
15/9/17: Google has confirmed that it's holding a launch event on 4 October, where it's expected to unveil the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. There's also talk that the fast-approaching launch could see the arrival of a new Google Home, new Chromebook Pixel and Google Assistant-powered wireless headphones - adding weight to the rumours that the next Pixels will ditch the headphone jack.
8/9/17: There's a big rumour brewing in the Android sphere. We already know that whilst Pixel devices are branded as Google, they're actually made by HTC. So given that HTC hasn't made much impact lately, there's a logic to the story that apparently, Google is about to buy them out as its devices division. We could hear as early as next week. It's not Google's first purchase of a phone maker - previously it bought, and then sold Motorola to Lenovo after establishing the modern Moto G and X lines with their nearly-stock version of Android.
Also new this week, it sounds like there are more teething problems for Android 8.0 Oreo. In addition to the Bluetooth issues, we're now hearing that the 4G data setting doesn't turn off when you switch to WiFi. Could be expensive to punters on metered connections.
15/9/17: There's been a lot of Chrome-related news this week. First off, Google announced that, as expected, it'll start distrusting Symantec security certificates with Chrome 66. Earlier today, the firm announced that Chrome 64, due in January next year, will start blocking autoplay videos, as it follows in the footsteps of Apple's Safari.
20/10/17 All hail the Google Home Mini! The Amazon Echo killer (it hopes) is out now, but we've found a lot of stockists have already run out with some saying it'll be next month before there are any. Is this deliberate scarcity or the sign that the tide is turning in the Alexa vs Home story.
6/10/17: So we got not one but two new smart speakers. The Google Home Mini and the Google Home Max. See up the page for links.
29/9/17: Rumour has it that Google is accelerating plans for a more comprehensive smart home hub in light of the global release of the Amazon Echo Show alongside a raft of new devices powered by its Alexa AI assistant. The so-called 'Manhattan' will boast a 7in screen offering video calling, Google Assistant, the usual glut of services like YouTube, and home controls for its Nest range and other smart home devices.
Also this week, Google has yanked YouTube support from the Amazon Echo Show, claiming that Amazon has failed to fix the "bad experience" offered to consumers.
22/09/17: Nest is releasing a whole bunch of new stuff in the US this November including a video doorbell and a smart lock developed with Yale. It's all a bit expensive.
Free apps (updated 20/10/17)
Incisive Media makes no guarantees that these offers will still be on, prices are correct at time of writing. All prices reflect the UK Google Play Store.
Little Stars For Little Wars (£1.99): The galaxy has plunged into chaos and little wars have broken out along the border. Fleets are standing by for you to take control of the battlefield. Form your strategy, conquer enemy systems, and claim victory for your forces! (Strategy/RPG)
Blockly (£0.59) You are trapped in an unknown world full of dangers, wild creatures are waiting for you at every turn! In the new game BLOCKLY you explore, build and conquer the world composed entirely of blocks of the cubic form! (Adventure)
Equaliser Pro (£3.69) Improve your Android device sound with 10 band equalizer. Equalizer Pro allows you to configure volumes of sound effects, to give you maximum enjoying, when you are listening music on your android device. (Utility)
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