There's few things more embarrassing in the days of social media than those dreaded 'flashback' reminders.

You may wake up each morning and check Facebook, and be dismayed to see a photo from five years ago at the top of your homepage, all because it was taken on the same date.

Most of us, naturally, don't want to be reminded of our past - but a new tool from Google is bound to make you curious.

The search engine giant is now giving you the chance to see every Google search you have ever made.

So, if you do fancy delving back through the embarrassing backlog of searches, you're in luck.

Google users can take a glance at some of the more bizarre things they had on their mind, before turning to Google for help.

Whether you've asked 'why is the sky blue?' or searched your ex-partner's name - all your searches will be there.

By clicking on history.google.com/history users can search for anything they searched for on a specific date while logged into to a Gmail or Google account.

The site's functions also lets you search for specific words as part of your history.

 

You can also see what Google images have previously been viewed on your account, or what areas on Google Maps you have explored

Thankfully, you are the only user able to see the information - so don't panic too much.

You can also opt out of being tracked by clicking on the 'Activity Controls' option and moving the 'web and app activity' slider to off.

 

Source : http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/whats-on/whats-on-news/fancy-seeing-every-google-search-11879954

Categorized in Search Engine

The proposals aren’t just bad for Google, but for everyone.

There’s a lot to like about the copyright proposals that the European Commission unveiled Wednesday—easier access to video across the EU’s internal borders, more copyright exceptions for researchers, and more access to books for blind people.

However, two elements in particular could be disastrous if carried out as proposed. One would make it more difficult for small news publications to be able to challenge legacy media giants, and the other would threaten the existence of user-generated content platforms.

In a way, it’s good that digital commissioner Günther Oettinger has finally laid his cards on the table. But the battles that begin now will be epic.

The first contentious proposal is the introduction of so-called neighboring rights for press publishers, also known as ancillary copyright.

The move sounds pretty obscure, but isn’t. Much as it is possible for someone to get rewarded for performing a work—as opposed to writing it, which involves copyright—publishers would get to command fees for the stuff their writers write, based their own (new) rights rather than the copyright held by the journalist.

In effect, this would allow publishers to try wrangling fees out of others for any “use of the work”—a dangerously vague term in this context. What’s more, they’d get to do so for a whopping 20 years after publication.

This idea has been tried before in Germany and in Spain, where large publishers used new laws to try getting Google GOOG 0.11%  News to pay for using snippets of their text and thumbnails of their images.

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Both times the attempts failed. In Germany, Google stopped reproducing snippets of text in Google News, and the publishers granted the firm a free (albeit temporary) licence once they saw how their traffic suffered. In Spain, the publishers had no such leeway and Google News ended up pulling out of the country, hammering the industry’s income in the process.

The Commission’s new proposals aren’t as suicidally rigid as what went down in Spain, but they’re also much vaguer than the German version. As currently phrased, they could allow press publishers to try charging for the reproduction of headlines, or even the mere indexing of their articles.

It’s hard to know whether the large press publishers who lobbied so hard for these measures really think Google will ultimately pay up, or whether their real goal is what happens when it refuses.

Because Google surely won’t pay for indexing their content or reproducing snippets of their text. It can’t—that would be the beginning of the end of its entire search engine business model, which can no longer scale if its links come with a cost.

If this law goes through and demands for licensing fees are rigidly enforced, Google will almost certainly pull Google News out of the entire EU.

Remember that it doesn’t run ads on Google News. It does run ads on its regular search engine, of course, and news results make that a fuller product, but it would have no reason to maintain Google News in Europe if it became a serious financial liability.

And if Google News exits the EU, the biggest victims will be the smaller publications, as happened in Spain. They rely on Google News and other aggregators because that’s how people find their articles, visit their sites, and view and click on their ads.

More established media outlets have much more brand recognition and traditional marketing clout, particularly in linguistically semi-closed markets such as Germany and France. They have everything to gain from reversing the Internet’s opening up of the media market; their rivals, and the reading public, have everything to lose. No wonder they’ve been pushing Oettinger to bring in ancillary copyright.

The other major flaw in the new proposals would also be bad news for smaller players, and for the rights of the public.

Under the e-Commerce Directive of 2000, the operators of user-generated content platforms—YouTube and SoundCloud and the like—are not liable for the content their users upload, as long as they take down the illegal stuff once someone flags it. That directive also explicitly says there can be no laws forcing platforms to generally monitor the content they manage.

Despite having consistently denied it is going to change these rules, the Commission is now proposing exactly that. In its new copyright directive proposal, it wants to force all user-generated content platforms to use “effective content recognition technologies,” which sounds an awful lot like generally monitoring content.

Of course, YouTube already has its Content ID technology for identifying and purging illegally uploaded films and so on, but what about new platforms? It cost Google more than $60 million to develop and implement Content ID, and it has to constantly tweak it to counteract those users who figure out ways to get around it.

You know how people upload movies to YouTube that are re-filmed from a funny angle, or that cut off the edges of the screen? That’s an attempt to circumvent Content ID and fighting it costs money, as does handling disputes when the system incorrectly flags videos as infringing copyright.

Quite apart from the fact that this would clash with another piece of EU legislation that’s trying to protect freedom of expression, this would be a huge burden for anyone trying to set up a new user-generated content platform, making it a problem for both innovation and competition.

Yes, creators deserve fair remuneration for the works they create. Yes, the Internet has turned their livelihoods upside-down by forcing them to compete with millions of rivals in an open market. Yes, lack of funding threatens media diversity. Yes, change is hard.

But these new proposals wouldn’t help creators make the best of the new landscape. All they would do is entrench the positions of the big players—the legacy media outlets in the case of ancillary copyright, and funnily enough Google in the case of the user-generated content proposals.

The European Parliament and the EU’s member states have a lot to fix over the next year or two, as this proposal wends its way through the legislative process.

 

Source : http://fortune.com/2016/09/14/europe-copyright-google/

Categorized in Internet Ethics

People have often referred to Google, Facebook and Twitter as cases where foreign tech companies are blocked in China. In reality, while Facebook and Twitter were indeed blocked, Google chose to withdraw because they didn’t want to comply with Chinese censorship regulations.

It’s important to note that most foreign tech companies were not blocked, and companies like eBay, Amazon, Viadeo and, of course, Apple and Samsung all entered and competed in China.

EBay was beaten by Alibaba more than a decade ago. Amazon entered China through the acquisition of a local company, Joyo, in 2004, but was never able to build a commanding position in China the way they did in the U.S. Viadeo withdrew in 2015 due to a lack of market traction mostly because of the entry of LinkedIn.

On the other hand, Apple and Samsung have done well in China, despite increasing competition from the Chinese who are chipping off pieces of their pies. More recently, Uber China and Didi Chuxing reached a mutually beneficial deal, though some see it as Uber essentially surrendering the China market to Didi Chuxing.

This all seems to beg the question: Can foreign tech companies win in China?

Clearly, China’s regulatory regime regarding the internet, in particular social media, is far more restrictive than that of the U.S. and many other western countries in general. The “Great Firewall” has proven itself repeatedly to be a thorn in the side of foreign companies, and not all have been able to overcome this hurdle. Most have tried, but with varying degrees of success.

It all comes down to the company’s mindset and willingness to adapt. Some firms decided they didn’t want to play in such a context, like Google, and withdrew their operations. Some want to play but got blocked, like Facebook, yet continue to lobby the government for access. Some were allowed to play but couldn’t quite get their act together (for whatever reason), like Amazon, Viadeo and perhaps even Airbnb. There was also Yihaodian, which was Walmart’s online business, but eventually Walmart sold it to JD.com in exchange for some of JD’s shares.

China is not easy. It’s tough for everyone, no matter if one is foreign or not.

But there are some who seem to “get it,” like LinkedIn (at least for now). They entered the China market in 2014 with a dedicated Chinese site, Lingying, and within two years grew their user base to 20 million subscribers and counting. How did they manage such a feat where several others failed? They adapted to the China context. Not only did they localize by conforming to restrictions on content, they partnered with local firms Sequoia China and China Broadband Capital to further understand the China market.

LinkedIn also created local leadership by hiring a president for LinkedIn China, giving the team more autonomy to integrate and cater to local needs. Examples include collaborating with Tencent’s WeChat so users could link profiles, launching a Chinese business social networking app “Chitu” and planning to release a Chinese version of its Pulse news reader app.

Another such example is Evernote. They, too, found success through a focus on meaningful localization. Not only did they hire locally, they employed localized marketing strategies by leveraging local social media like Weibo and WeChat, and had localized customer service, which supports real-time customer support on the mentioned platforms. They did thorough market research before entering in 2012, and looked to solve the “pain points” of the Chinese consumer, mainly security and privacy. Lastly, they had an easy-to-recall Chinese name (Yinxiang Biji) with a memorable pun. This strategy paid off; within the first year after launch they had 4 million users in China, and by 2015 their user base reached 17 million.

The notion that lower-quality clones sprung up because of foreign tech companies being blocked is only partially right. One could argue that the major Chinese social websites of Baidu, Ren Ren, Sina Weibo and Youku Toudu are clones of Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, respectively. While the likes of Ren Ren weren’t able to replicate Facebook-like success in China, others have evolved beyond being clones to having their own unique, innovative ecosystems.

One such example is WeChat. Though it was originally inspired by Kik, and had similar features to WhatsApp, it evolved from mere messaging to becoming an integral part of the Chinese connected lifestyle. WeChat users can now link their bank cards to WeChat Pay, make in-store payments, transfer money to peers, buy movie tickets, hail taxis, pay for utility bills and so on. In fact, the list is practically endless, and shows how WeChat’s business model has become so powerful, and has grown from being a simple messaging app like WhatsApp (which, incidentally is also not blocked in China, but cannot hope to compete on WeChat’s scale).

Foreign tech players tend not to be as extensive in ecosystem building.

Importantly, Chinese innovators are developing new intellectual capital. They are crafting innovative business models and reaching new frontiers of business strategy and organization. Prime examples include Alibaba and LeEco. Jack Ma has built Alibaba into a sprawling internet business through “multiple jumping” from one business area to another, while building its capabilities along the way through a combination of self-built and collaborative partnerships. This disrupted the conventional “core competence” approach that has ruled modern business for the past 30-odd years.

LeEco is, broadly speaking, a “lifestyle” company, with a diverse ecosystem of infotainment content, smart devices and internet-connected mobility. Many commentators by now have pointed out that Chinese innovators are fast, agile and adaptive. However, these are merely phenomenological observations. At heart, the best and brightest of these innovators are deeply reflective on what the new frontiers of business are, focusing on “how can we get it right and do it well?”

Of course, China’s market for tech companies has evolved significantly for over a decade and a half. When Alibaba was competing with eBay more than a decade ago, China’s tech market was pretty primitive. Alibaba merely used guerrilla warfare tactics based on its grit to defeat a major foreign player. Today, both the market and the players are much more sophisticated and their business approaches are much more refined. The leading Chinese innovators are digital ecosystem players building scale and creating customer stickiness through their entire ecosystem. Foreign tech players tend not to be as extensive in ecosystem building.

To “win,” foreign tech companies need to adapt to the China context and deeply understand the key factors of success. Local leadership is critical and appropriate empowerment by the global headquarters to the local leadership to do the right things is essential. While for some, the market is not open or they are not welcome, for many, the opportunities are right there. China is not easy, but why should it be? It’s tough for everyone, no matter if one is foreign or not. And no one can be sustainably successful if they don’t observe, learn and adapt.

LinkedIn China’s Chitu, for instance, is struggling to get market traction. Evernote, while achieving early success in China, seems to be facing some challenges for sustainable growth, mainly due to lack of premium paid users and growing competition from Chinese startups. In fact, drawing a line on “who’s Chinese and who’s not” is also somewhat artificial, given that Alibaba’s and Tencent’s largest respective shareholders are not Chinese, and some of LinkedIn China’s and Uber China’s key shareholders are Chinese. (Sequoia China, whose parent is a Silicon Valley-headquartered VC fund, has its operations led by Chinese venture capitalist Neil Shen, who has a deep understanding of the China context.)

As China’s digital business grows, it’s going to provide more opportunities for many players. Who “gets it” and who doesn’t will certainly not only be a function of “being blocked or not,” but equally (or even more importantly) those who have the right mindset and approach to the China context (and for that matter, China for the world). To this end, it’s a real test of the leadership and capabilities of the companies, as well as the capital behind them.

Source : https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/28/can-foreign-tech-companies-win-in-china/

Categorized in Others

Google recently made a change to its AdWords Keyword Planner tool, which now delivers ranges of data based on how much you spend on ads and how frequently you use the tool. This means that advertisers with low monthly spend are getting ranges of data instead of exact numbers. For example, if you have been affected by this change, a keyword with 590 searches per month will now display as ‘100–1K’.

This change was made to prevent bots from abusing the tool, not to frustrate advertisers. However, that’s exactly what it has done. Being met with ranges of data makes it difficult for advertisers to accurately determine which keyword to target or how much to bid on them. Google’s suggested solutionto this? Try using the forecasting feature that’s built-in to Keyword Planner.

“While search volume gives you a sense of the market size, other settings such as bid, budget, device, and more, affect how much of this search volume a single advertiser can receive. Forecasts, on the other hand, let you customize these settings for a more comprehensive view of how keywords might perform.”

How to Use Forecasting in Google Keyword Planner

The forecasting feature in Keyword Planner can assist with determining a budget and selecting keywords by following these steps:

  • Navigate to Keyword Planner and sign in.
  • Select the option to search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.
  • Enter the keywords you want to look up, and click get ideas.
  • Scroll through the suggested keywords returned by the tool, clicking add to plan on keywords you may want to target.
  • Enter forecasting mode by clicking review plan on the right-hand side of the screen.
    • Once in the forecasting screen, you can glean more keyword data in the following ways:
      • Enter bids and budgets for a detailed forecast of the keywords added to your plan.
      • View forecasts based on location, device, or expected conversion rate.
      • If you’re not satisfied with your forecasts, go back to the drawing board. Click back to search on the top right and look for new keywords to add to your plan.
      • Once satisfied, either download the forecasts or save the plan to your account.

 

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com/frustrated-lack-google-keyword-planner-data-try-forecasting-tool/172364/

Categorized in Others

Brands grapple daily with the best social media marketing strategy for their objectives. As technology and audience preferences change, achieving successful marketing transformation is like trying to hit a moving target.

Creating compelling and effective content for today’s social media landscape isn’t always easy, but Facebook and Google have been working hard lately to determine what audiences want in their news feeds, their search results, and even their advertisements. The brands’ research was aimed at increasing their own ad revenue, but enterprise marketers can also benefit tremendously from their findings. Here are the highlights

Learn the Meaning of Quality

Facebook launched a beta program that allowed some of its users to rate the quality of content in their News Feeds, and the criteria was how informative the content was. The aim of this metric and experiment was to eliminate misleading “clickbait” from the user experience—thus reducing the amount of times users clicked out of their News Feeds only to be disappointed by what they found. Facebook seeks to eliminate such content while focusing on posts shared by friends and family, as opposed to brands or celebrity personalities, which has only upped the ante for brands’ content teams. Now, more than ever, content must be compelling enough to stand on its own instead of relying on catchy headlines or brand status updates.

But what makes a piece of content compelling? To get to the bottom of that question, Facebook developed its Feed Quality program, which involves a huge panel of users who, according to USA Today, rate posts in their News Feeds on a scale of one (“really not informative”) to five (“really informative”). USA Today reported:

The Feed Quality Program surveys the opinions of tens of thousands of people a day, Facebook says. From there, Facebook developed a methodology—a ranking signal combined with how relevant the story might be to you personally—to predict which of the posts would most interest individual users, taking into account their relationship to the person or publisher and what they typically choose to click on, comment on, or share.

coffee ipad

Stay Relevant

Google recently released its Search Quality Rating Guidelines document in its entirety, which fully explains the methods behind the search giant’s madness. While poring through its 160 pages might not directly lead to marketing transformation within your business, the transparency and key takeaways both help us understand what it takes to remain relevant in News Feeds and search results alike.

As we already know, Google likes to see that websites are authoritative and trustworthy, and high-quality, frequently shared content goes a long way towards creating an internet “paper trail” that demonstrates those very things. Just like Facebook tweaked its algorithms to favor content that’s shared by friends, Google views cross-links and shares by real, active users as endorsements for a page’s quality.

To stay relevant, brands need to create high-quality, shareable content that real people find valuable and want to show their friends. That will show Google that your webpage is worth displaying when people are searching for a topic you’re an expert in. This might sound like SEO 101, but in the ever-changing landscape of social network algorithms, revamped search engines, and social media marketing strategies, it’s important to identify exactly how things are working today. The good news? It’s not as mysterious as it might seem.

Learn from the Best

We’re witnessing a major pivot in the internet marketing timeline. Buzzfeed built a billion-dollar business starting with clickbait titles and listicles, but it has since upgraded its business model to become a diverse and credible media outlet. Brands that once saw success by emulating the headline-heavy, substance-light content that Buzzfeed employed are now realizing that as algorithms and audiences alike get wise to their ways, the quality of their content is more important than ever. And even though Facebook and Google’s experiments were both aimed at making quotidian user experience better in hopes of keeping eyeballs on their pages longer (all the better to sell you ads, my reader), we also know how people really feel about interrupt advertising. If your social media marketing strategy still revolves around branded pages or purchased bandwidth, it may be time to reevaluate and take a hint from the internet’s heaviest hitters.

There’s no question that Facebook and Google influence the tides of the internet as powerfully as the moon moves our oceans—so learning from their revamped algorithms and rating systems is a great way to position your brand’s content for success. While that might sound like it requires an alchemical understanding of some computer hidden deep in Silicon Valley, it’s actually much simpler. Write high-quality content that people you know might like to read and share, and the results will follow.

If there’s anything we can learn from the Feed Quality program and Search Quality Rating Guidelines, it’s that Facebook and Google are just trying to make their computers better at understanding what people actually want to see. So don’t stress about pleasing computers—focus on pleasing people, and the results will speak for themselves.

Source : http://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/creativity/the-latest-social-media-marketing-lessons-from-facebook-and-google-algorithms/

A pilot project launched by Google’s startup incubator and a British IT company will target potential Islamic State recruits – and also the American far right – with new software that pairs violence-related search entries with anti-extremism ads.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has made extensive use of online and social media platforms to spread its vision of radical Islam or lure recruits to wage jihad in Syria and Iraq.

Now the world’s largest search engine has announced an unconventional project that aims to help counter extremists’ propaganda messages and de-radicalize those in danger of falling under their influence.

Jigsaw, a technology incubator run by Google, has teamed up with London-based startup Moonshot CVE to design technology capable of redirecting a potential Islamist browsing for IS-related words and phrases to creative anti-extremist messages or videos.

Called ‘The Redirect Method,’ the program operated in trial mode for eight weeks from January to March, according to the Christian Science Monitor. It reached over 320,000 people searching for IS-associated keywords, from the terrorist group’s slogans to the names of buildings in Islamist-held areas.

The users’ metadata was collected during the eight-week trial and was used to send them advertisements and links to anti-extremism videos. Altogether, over half a million minutes of videos were watched by the ‘targets.’

But the pilot project was not restricted to making new videos and other content. Instead, Jigsaw and Moonshot CVE have drawn upon anti-IS video content already available on YouTube.

“It’s not just we need a huge amount of investment, we need content that’s authentic and credible,” said Vidhya Ramalingam, co-founder of Moonshot CVE, which curated English language videos for the pilot program.

“We can present people who are searching with dangerous content with options, rather than serving them with a menu curated by ISIS.”

Yasmin Green, head of research at Jigsaw, was quoted by the Intercept as saying: “The branding philosophy for the entire pilot project was not to appear judgmental or be moralistic, but really to pique interest of individuals who have questions, questions that are being raised and answered by the Islamic State.”

The Jigsaw project to date includes 30 ad campaigns and 95 unique ads in English and Arabic, but the de-radicalization effort will not be limited to Islamic State.

In a second phase – set to begin later this year – Moonshot CVE and US-based company Gen Next are planning to deploy the same technology to blunt far-right messages in North America.

“The interesting thing about how they behave is they’re a little bit more brazen online these days than ISIS fan boys,” Ross Frenett, co-founder of Moonshot, told the Intercept.

“In the UK, if someone in their Facebook profile picture has a swastika and is pointing a gun at the camera, that person is committing a crime. In the US, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.”

While the project team admits that it is difficult to evaluate the qualitative results so far, it insists it could be a powerful anti-extremism tool in future.

Source : https://www.rt.com/news/358675-google-counter-isis-propaganda/

Categorized in Science & Tech

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google said on Thursday it is acquiring cloud software company Apigee Corp in a deal valued at about $625 million, the tech giant’s latest effort to claim a greater share of the lucrative cloud business.

San Jose-based Apigee's software helps companies' digital services interact with apps used by customers and partners.

The service is critical for businesses transitioning to the cloud, Diane Greene, who runs Google's cloud computing division, said in an interview. "They are a leader in this application programming interface area," she said.

Cloud computing is the increasingly popular practise of using remote internet servers to store, manage and process data.

Apigee specializes in managing so-called application programming interfaces, or APIs, the channels through which digital services connect when a company logs a purchase for a customer or places an order with a supplier.

Google will pay Apigee shareholders $17.40 for each share, a 6.5 percent premium to the stock's Wednesday close.

Apigee's shares were slightly above the offer price at $17.43 on Nasdaq in afternoon trading on Thursday.

The company, whose customers include AT&T, Burberry Group Plc, Vodafone Group Plc and the World Bank, went public in April last year at $17 per share.

Greene, a former VMware CEO, has pushed to raise Google's profile in corporate computing since she joined last year.

During her tenure, Google has streamlined engineering efforts and appointed new leadership for its cloud efforts, improving traction with clients, Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said during the company's latest earnings call.

Greene predicted that the Apigee acquisition would redouble Google's momentum.

"Our customer lists are extremely complimentary," she said. "There's some overlap and some areas where we are going to be able to help each other once [the deal] closes."

The Apigee deal comes a day after Google and online storage company Box Inc said they would partner to enable Box's corporate customers to integrate Google's suite of word processing, spreadsheets and other productivity tools, known as Google Docs.

Google, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp, IBM Corp and others are vying for a share of the fast-growing corporate cloud computing business.

Apigee, with high-profile clients in a strategically important area, will help Google close in on the competition, said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

“Google has fallen behind both Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services in enterprise cloud computing, and this move is intended to strengthen that position,” he wrote in an email.

(The story was refiled to correct the description of Apigee to "cloud software company" the in headline and the first paragraph)

Source : http://ca.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idCAKCN11E1SG?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

Categorized in Science & Tech

New rules that give the FCC more power to regulate the internet were upheld by a court Tuesday, marking a victory for the Obama administration over the major telecom companies. 
The rules, known in the industry as net neutrality, were put into effect a year ago by the Federal Communication Commission. They prohibit internet providers, such as Verizon (VZTech30),Comcast (CMCSA) and AT&T (TTech30), from charging for so-called fast lanes that could be used by content companies that use a great deal of bandwidth, such as Netflix (NFLXTech30),Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FBTech30).

"After a decade of debate and legal battles, today's ruling affirms the FCC's ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections -- both on fixed and mobile networks -- that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

 

But the telecoms indicated this isn't the end of the legal battle.

"We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal," said David McAtee, AT&T general counsel.

The FCC passed the rules in early 2015 on a party line vote, with three Democrats commissioners voting in favor and two Republican commissioners voting no.

"I continue to believe that these regulations are unlawful," said Ajit Pai, one of Rebublicans. "The FCC's regulations are unnecessary and counterproductive."

The Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. split 2-1 in its decision upholding the rule. The majority decision agreed with the FCC's stance that, without the rules, there would be "a threat to internet openness...that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extent of future broadband deployment."

But in his dissent, Judge Stephen Williams worried that the rules will make it harder for new or relatively small firms to compete. He worried that it will lead to a "incurable monopoly" in which broadband service will be dominated by today's large, established players.

Source  : http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/14/technology/net-neutrality-fcc-court-of-appeal/index.html

Categorized in Science & Tech

 

The tech titan wants to change the future of healthcare. But first, it needs to come up with a useful product.

 

Glucose-monitoring contact lenses for diabetics, wrist computers that read diagnostic nanoparticles injected in the blood stream, implantable devices that modify electrical signals that pass along nerves, medication robots, human augmentation, human brain simulation -- the list goes on.

That's not an inventory of improbable CGI effects from the latest sci-fi movie, it's a list of initiatives being tackled by Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Life Sciences research unit, recently rebranded Verily.

For those who appreciate The Motley Fool's affection for William Shakespeare, "verily" is Shakespearean-era word that means "truly," or "confidently." As in: "I verily believe that sweater is the ugliest one I have ever seen."

Confidence certainly exemplifies Google. Verily was hatched from Google X, the company's secretive lab for oft-nutty projects, such as space elevators, teleportation, and hoverboards. Google X also launched Google Glass, which was undoubtedly a super-cool device, but wasn't received well by its intended market, to put it mildly.

With that kind of background, what are the chances Verily will unleash something that will change healthcare? Are good things about to flow? Or -- courtesy of the Bard of Avon -- is Verily merely a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing? Let's look at Verily's current financial situation and then check out the prospect of a marketable product that could move Google's needle.

A pound of flesh, but no blood


Like the moneylender in the Merchant of Venice, Verily demands a pound of flesh from its parent each quarter. Alphabet, Google's newfangled conglomerate, doesn't break out the performance of subsidiaries, but last quarter's earnings report offered a view into costs and output.

Verily is a subsidiary lumped under Other Bets with Google's broadband business and smart home company. Revenue from Other Bets doubled to $185 million from $74 million in the year-earlier period, and rose 11% sequentially. Costs also increased: Operating losses widened to $859 million from $660 million a year ago and moved up 7% from the previous quarter.

Despite the costs incurred, it's certainly not bleeding its parent dry. After all, Google has an almost endless supporting budget, and if any of Verily's projects pan out, what's being expended now will look like pocket change.

In addition, while some Verily ventures may seem frankly nuts, they might have actual potential. A recent joint venture with U.K. drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) will use implants that create electrical pulses to help the body heal itself. The collaborators have agreed to spend up to $716 million over seven years, with GSK holding 55% of the joint venture and Verily 45%. It's a new field, called bioelectronic medicine. Despite the quasi-scientific sound of this endeavor, early studies reported in peer-reviewed journals have shown positive results in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

SanofiAbbVie, and Biogen have also teamed up with Verily over the past few years. Big pharma hopes to tap into Google's data analysis tools, as well as license Verily's miniaturized medical devices (after they are developed), to tackle various disease targets. In a slightly different kind of venture, Johnson & Johnson has inked a deal with Verily to develop medical robots.

The less you speak of your greatness, the more shall I think of it

None of these ventures have led to a useful product yet. Meanwhile, Verily has been skewered by multiple scientists for not critically assessing the actual potential behind its various moonshots. "One needs to balance how much these toys are used mostly for marketing and giving a sense of a company really working on something impressive -- the brave new world -- or if we're talking about something that will have clear and immediate clinical impact. The latter is very hard to imagine," said Dr. John Ioannidis, a professor of disease prevention at Stanford University, commenting on Verily's projects.

In the blink of an eye

In light of that, what about one of Verily's oldest initiatives? Looking back to 2012, the life sciences unit was originally developed to create "smart" contact lenses whose super-cool images were appearing all over the internet a scant two years ago. Designed to measure blood glucose levels, the lenses featured sensors and chips the size of flecks of glitter and a wireless antenna thinner than a human hair.

On the face of it, a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) lens seems to meet Ioannidis' criteria of having a "clear clinical impact." Better yet: it has an investable thesis. Verily and its big pharma partner Novartis (NYSE:NVS) are aiming straight at the $10 billion diabetes monitoring market. With this kind of market, the project was clearly capable of becoming a needle-moving revenue generator.

Look a little deeper, though, and the view is cloudier.

DexCom(NASDAQ:DXCM) Executive VP Steve Pacelli pointed out, "Lots of companies have tried and failed noninvasively to sense glucose in tears. You can measure glucose in tears, but the concentration is a lot lower, there's going to be huge time lag issues; the consistency of measurement is going to be a challenge."

There's a bigger problem. Both Dexcom and Medtronic(NYSE:MDT) have continuous glucose monitors on the market, but both face a major hurdle. The FDA does not consider continuous glucose monitoring -- from any device -- accurate enough to prescribe insulin dosing by itself. While CGM devices are being used, their market is very limited, since they are only allowed to be used as supplemental devices.

Google's CGM lens will face the same FDA hurdle -- assuming this product comes out of the lab.

The long and short of it

Apple, Microsoft, Intel -- virtually all the tech titans, in fact -- are now pursuing major initiatives in healthcare. A confluence of factors, such as digitization of records, machine intelligence, genetic engineering, and rapid advances in medical equipment, have made the field ripe for disruption from data-enabled, mobile-based, and miniaturized devices.

Even more enticing are the opportunities to massively grow revenue. The tech giants are billion-dollar companies, but healthcare spending is approaching $3 trillion annually in the U.S. alone. Looking globally, the World Health Organization estimates the annual expenditure at $6.5 trillion.

Bottom line: Despite the big carrot enticing it, Google has yet to come up with anything that can lay claim to changing healthcare. Although Alphabet could be a potentially interesting addition to your healthcare portfolio, it should be added with the understanding that there are many other pure-play companies with a much clearer path and investing thesis than Verily.

Still, let's allow Shakespeare to have the final word. While the bard makes an unlikely investment guru, he had plenty of useful things to say that have lasted through centuries, including: "Though this be madness, yet there is method to it."

In other words, it may be that hidden within Google's craziness lies the seed of something that could still astonish us. And no matter what, we can be sure of one thing: The ultimate search engine will keep grabbing headlines with its latest moonshots. After all, we're talking about Google.

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Categorized in Search Engine

Google is always expanding and improving its search capabilities. From controlling the privacy of your searches to hearing what you're saying, the search engine's innovations are designed to help you find exactly what you need.

Of course, not everything you Google is going to be serious. There are searches you can perform purely for enjoyment. You can see some popular ones by clicking here! There are three new searches you can do that fall into this category.

From any desktop or mobile browser, Google "tic tac toe" or "tic-tac-toe." The results page will generate a playable tic-tac-toe board. You can challenge your friends or try to beat the computer. The game is set to medium difficulty by default.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Searching for "solitaire" returns a solitaire game with two degrees of difficulty. After you win, you can share your score on social media if you want. And make sure you check out this awesome download for 1,000 free solitaire games!

Finally, the old see-and-say is digitized in this last search. Searching "animal noises" will generate an interactive section where you can hear the sounds made by different animals. You can also Google one of these 20 specific animals to hear its call: ape, dog, cat, zebra, lion, moose, owl, pig, cow, duck, elephant, horse, raccoon, bowhead whale, humpback whale, wolf, rooster, sheep, tiger and a turkey.

Source : http://www.komando.com/tips/371494/3-amazing-new-google-search-functions/2

Categorized in Search Engine

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