Category Archives: google

Google has Acquired CloudSimple



Google announced that is has acquired CloudSimple, which Google describes as “a leading provider of secure, high performance, dedicated environments to run VMware workloads in the cloud.” CloudSimple has its headquarters in Santa Clara, California. It also has locations in Ukraine and India.

Google started a partnership with CloudSimple earlier this year. The purpose of the partnership appears to be a way for Google to “accelerate a fully integrated VMware migration solution with improved support for our customers.”

This is something for Google’s enterprise customers, and intended to help them to modernize their IT infrastructure. Perhaps that is a smart move on Google’s part, considering that the company dropped its focus on non-enterprise customers in May of this year when it announced that ad blocker extensions on Chrome would be restricted to its enterprise customers.

Through our existing partnership with CloudSimple, our customers can migrate VMware workloads from on-premises datacenters directly into Google Cloud VMware Solution by CloudSimple, while also creating new VMware workloads as needed. Their apps can run exactly the same as they have been on-premises, but with all the benefits of the cloud, like performance, elasticity, and integration with key cloud services and technologies.

In their own blog post, CloudSimple stated: “We are thrilled to join Google Cloud and its journey to establish the most modern public cloud for the enterprise.”

CNBC reported that the terms of Google’s acquisition of CloudSimple were not disclosed. It also reported that the deal follows the buys of data integration company Alooma, storage file company Elastifile, and cloud migration company Velostrata. Google also acquired Looker, but CNBC says that deal hasn’t closed yet.


Google Upgrades Android Messages with RCS



Google announced that it will be upgrading Android Messages with RCS. This new feature has already begun rolling out to users in the United States. Those who already have Messages will be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks. Android users who don’t yet have it can download it in the Play Store. Google expects to have this service broadly available in the U.S. by the end of the year. Google enabled the RCS upgrade earlier this year for anyone in the UK, France, and Mexico.

To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services). When you and your friends message each other with these chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages. Plus, you’ll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven’t seen the latest messages.

TechCrunch described RCS as “the next generation of SMS”. According to TechCrunch, the push for RCS is a way for Google to compete with Apple’s iMessages, (though Google’s RCS doesn’t feature end-to-end encryption). In addition, TechCrunch makes another interesting observation. Google is taking control of this rollout, and that means it will be responsible for keeping the network running.

ArsTechnica also points out that Android Messages is not end-to-end encrypted, stating that “Google or your carrier (or the NSA) could read your messages”.

The Verge reported that many Android phones use Android Messages as the default texting app, but Samsung users will need to go to the Google Play Store to download Android Messages and then switch it to their default. The Verge also noted that the big four US carriers just announced that they will offer RCS in 2020.

In my opinion, it seems like Google has gotten ahead of the big four carriers with RCS implementation – but not by very much. It sounds like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are heading in the same direction, and could potentially be rolling that out a few months from now. The bigger concern, though, is that Android Messages is not end-to-end encrypted. That could result in privacy issues.


Fitbit to be Acquired by Google



Fitbit announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Google LLC for $7.35 per share in cash, valuing the company at a fully diluted equity value of approximately $2.1 billion. The transaction is expected to close in 2020, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Fitbit’s stockholders.

“More than 12 years ago, we set an audacious company vision – to make everyone in the world healthier. Today, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved towards reaching that goal.We have built a trusted brand that supports more than 28 million active users around the globe who rely on our products to live a healthier, more active, life,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.

Consumer trust is paramount to Fitbit. Strong privacy and security guidelines have been part of Fitbit’s DNA since day one, and this will not change. Fitbit will continue to put users in control of their data and will remain transparent about the data it collects and why. The company never sells personal information, and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used on Google ads.

Google posted on The Keyword about their definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit. The focus in this announcement is about wearables, and how Fitbit’s team of experts “can help spur innovation in wearables and build products to benefit even more people around the world.” Google also mentioned privacy.

But to get this right, privacy and security are paramount. When you use our products, you’re trusting Google with your information. We understand this is a big responsibility and we work hard to protect your information, put you in control and give you transparency about your data. Similar to our other products, with wearables, we will be transparent about the data we collect and why. We will never sell personal information to anyone. Fitbit Health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data.

I’m willing to believe that those who use Fitbit’s products trust the company not to do nefarious things with their health data. But, I’m not certain that those customers also trust Google.


Google Discusses Safeguarding Speech Data After Leak



Tim Verheyden, a journalist with Belgian public broadcaster VRT, gained access to more than 1,000 audio files from a Google contractor. The contractor was part of a workforce paid to review some audio captured by Google Assistant, smart speakers, phones, and security cameras.

While most of those recording were intended (for example, people asking for weather data), others were not. In about 150 of the recordings, Google Assistant appeared to have activated incorrectly after mishearing its wake word.The audio captured includes private conversations.

Today, Google posted information on The Keyword blog about their processes to safeguard speech data. In it, Google acknowledges the leaked Dutch audio data.

We just learned that one of these language reviewers has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data. Our Security and Privacy Response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action. We are conducing a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again.

Google admitted that language experts review and transcribe a small set of queries to help Google better understand those languages. Part of the blog post involves Google explaining how to activate Google Assistant and insisting that devices that have Google Assistant built in “rarely” experience a “false accept”.

To me, it feels like Google is trying to direct people’s attention to the language reviewer who leaked some of the “rarely” recorded speech after a “false accept”. Google is trying to blame the messenger (the language reviewer and/or the VRT broadcaster).

In doing so, Google is trying to deflect attention away from its lack of responsibility with the voice data Google Assistant records. The leak of the unintentionally recorded speech data makes it clear that Google is recording, and keeping, a whole lot of audio that people never intended Google Assistant to grab. That’s not ok.

That said, Google explains that it will provide users with tools to manage and control the data stored in their account. You can turn off storing audio data completely, or choose to auto-delete data every 3 months or 18 months. But, how will we know, for certain, that Google isn’t keeping a copy for itself?


Google is Investing $1 Billion in Bay Area Homes



Google announced that they are investing $1 billion in housing across the San Francisco Bay Area. They chose this location because Google is one of the Bay Area’s largest employers. Google wants to help solve the problem of a chronic shortage of affordable housing options for middle and low-income residents.

First, over the next 10 years, we’ll repurpose at least $750 million of Google’s land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space, as residential housing. This will enable us to support the development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels in the Bay Area, including housing options for middle to low-income families.

After that, Google will establish a $250 million investment fund so they can provide incentives to enable developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market. Google will also give $50 million in grants through Google.org to nonprofits focused on the issues of homelessness and displacement.

In addition, Google will work with local municipalities to support plans that allow residential developers to build quickly and economically. And, Google will also fund community spaces that provide free access to co-working areas for nonprofits, improve transit options for the community and Google’s employees, and support programs for career development, education, and local business.

Personally, I think this is a great idea! One of the problems California has is the lack of affordable homes for middle-income and low-income individuals and families. It is nice that Google is using some of its wealth to help solve this problem.


Google Stops Syncing Between Photos and Drive



How stupid is this? Google has announced that from July, photographs will no longer sync between Google Drive and Google Photos citing “the connection between these services is confusing”. What?

Sorry, but how is this confusing? Images are synchronised between Google Drive and Google Photos. If you do something in one, it’s also done in the other. How hard is that to understand? Seems straightforward to me.

And let’s not forget that you have to turn the syncing feature on. It’s not as if Google forces you to sync. Surely if someone finds “the connection between these services is confusing” they could turn it off? Drive goes out of its way to make sure that you understand the impact of, say, deleting a file.

I like this feature because it makes working with photographs as files so much easier, and apps only have to be compatible with Drive to work effectively. They don’t need to know about Photos explicitly. As long as you can navigate to the Googe Photos folder in Drive, there are all your photographs carefully arranged by year and month.

Perhaps they’re telling the truth but I’m a suspicious old dog and I think this is more about Google trying to stop people getting their photographs out of the service by making it as inconvenient as possible. And what really annoys me is that I pay extra for additional Google storage.

Maybe Google should remember that Microsoft’s Office 365 Personal is GB£5.99 per month, comes with 1 TB OneDrive storage and Office apps for PC and mobile. That’s much better value than £2.49 per month for 200 GB and copycat apps.

Ciao Google.


Google Will Restrict Ad Blocker Extensions to Only Enterprise Users



Google is going implement Manifest V3, that will stop current ad blockers from working efficiently, on Chrome. Enterprise users, however, will be able to continue to use ad blockers. In short, if you want to block ads, and want to use Google products – you have to give Google some money.

Google is essentially saying that Chrome will still have the capability to block unwanted content, but this will be restricted to only paid, enterprise users of Chrome. This is likely to allow enterprise customers to develop in-house Chrome extensions, not for ad blocking usage.

For the rest of us, Google hasn’t budged on their changes to content blockers, meaning that ad blockers will need to switch to a less effective, rules-based system. This system is how blockers like AdBlock Plus currently work.

9To5 Google recommends Firefox as an alternative to Google Chrome. Firefox is available on all platforms. It supports browser extensions on Android, including uBlock Origin and other privacy extensions.

Personally, I think Google is going to lose users as a result of this change. Their assumption seems to be that the majority of people who currently use Chrome are willing and able to spend money on enterprise. Or, maybe Google doesn’t realize that people who use ad blockers are doing so intentionally for very valid reasons.

Maybe Google thinks that breaking ad blocking extensions is a good way for Google to make money from ads. I believe this will backfire as people flee Chrome in favor of Firefox (or Safari, for Mac users).