Tag Archives: google

Chrome Adds New Features To Save Battery And Improve Browsing



Chrome posted information on The Keyword, written by Group Product Manager, Chrome, Mark Chang. It is a short post that focuses on Chrome’s new features that are optimized for your device’s battery and system memory.

From the post:

With the latest release of Chrome on desktop, we’re introducing two new performance settings so Chrome uses up to 40% and 10GB less memory to keep your tabs running smoothly, and extend your battery when it’s running low. We’ll be rolling out both Memory Saver and Energy Saver modes over the next several weeks globally for Windows, macOS and ChromeOS.

…Memory Saver mode frees up memory from tabs you aren’t currently using so the active websites you’re browsing have the smoothest possible experience. This is especially useful if you’re running other intensive applications, like editing family videos or playing games. Any inactive tabs will be reloaded when you need them.

Energy Saver maximizes battery life. Running low on battery and don’t have a laptop charger nearby? When you’re browsing the Web with Chrome and your device batter level reaches 20%, Chrome will save battery by limiting background activity and visual effects for websites with animations and videos.

TechCrunch reported that Google’s announcement comes a day after Microsoft announced that its Edge Browser put 1.38 billion tabs to sleep in September alone. According to Microsoft, sleeping a tab in Edge typically saves 83% of the memory it would normally occupy.

According to TechCrunch, Microsoft rolled out its version of these features, which can automatically put tabs to sleep after five minutes of inactivity (and can bring this down all the way to 30 seconds of inactivity), a couple of years ago and then once again improved it with the release of Edge 100 earlier this year. Edge also features a gaming mode, which can automatically reduce CPU usage when it detects that you are playing a game on your PC.

Engadget reported that these new features will be available as part of the m108 Chrome for desktop build. Google says all users will have access to them in the coming weeks and that it’s starting to roll out the build. You’ll be able to turn off these modes in the settings and make certain sites exempt from Memory Saver.

I think that people who use Chrome will make use of these new features, especially people who tend to have a whole lot of tabs open all the time.

The bigger picture, though, is what these features can do for people who have older computers. The memory saver feature that frees up tabs the person isn’t currently using could be a big improvement for those who have computers that freeze after too many tabs have been opened.


Epic Claims Google Paid $360M To Stop Activision From Launching App Store



Activision Blizzard and Riot Games at one point told Google they might launch their own mobile app stores, according to new documents filed in Epic’s antitrust lawsuit against the search giant. The details came to light as part of allegations about major deals signed with the two companies. The Verge reported that Google allegedly agreed to pay Activision about $360 million over three years and Riot about $30 million for a one-year deal.

According to The Verge, in one document Google exec Karen Aviram Beatty is reported back from a conversation with Activision Blizzard’s now-CFO Admin Zerza one month before the two companies signed the huge deal.

“If this deal falls through [Zerza] claims that they will launch their own mobile distribution platform (partnering with another “major mobile company” – presume Epic), double down with Amazon / Twitch (or MSFT) for Cloud / eSports [sic], and pull away from Stadia,” Beatty wrote.

Also according to The Verge: While Zerza may have just been doing hardline negotiating Activision has not yet launched its own app store on mobile, so it seems the company was happy with how the deal eventually turned out.

The Verge also reported about another document from an unnamed witness who may have been involved with “Project Hug,” Google’s program designed to incentivize and support Play Store developers. In the deposition, the witness says that Riot Games told Google it was considering launching a competing Android app store. Later, the witness says that “Riot and Activision Blizzard King were the ones that were the most direct with us” about considering starting their own app stores.

Engadget reported that the financial details of Project Hug – later known as the Apps and Games Velocity Program – are at the center of the ongoing antitrust lawsuit between Epic Games and Google. In 2020, the studio alleged Google had spent millions of dollars in incentives to keep big app developers on the Play Store.

According to Engadget, this week, a newly unreacted version of Epic’s complaint was made public, providing previously unknown details about the scope of the Apps and Games Velocity Program.

According to court documents, Engadget reported, Google also signed deals with Nintendo, Ubisoft, and Riot games. In the case of Riot, Google paid about $30 million to “stop” the League of Legends studio from pushing forward with its own “in-house ‘app store’ efforts,” Epic alleges.

“Programs like Project Hug provide incentives for developers to give benefits and early access to Google Play users who they release new or updated content; it does not prevent developers from creating competing app stores, as Epic falsely alleges,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget. “In fact, the program is proof that Google Play competes fairly with numerous rivals for developers, who have a number of choices for distributing their apps and digital content.”

To me, this feels like yet another round of lawsuits in which Google and Epic try to fight each other in court about something that they probably could have worked out together. This situation also explains why Activision Blizzard King doesn’t have much of a mobile game platform, outside of Candy Crush and Diablo Immortal.


RNC Sues Google Claiming Spam Filter Blocks Email



The Republican National Committee (RNC) has filed a lawsuit against Google in a U.S. district court in California for allegedly putting its campaign emails in the spam folders of its millions of users, Axios reported.

The lawsuit alleges that Google “has relegated millions of RNC emails in masse to potential donors’ and supporters’ spam folders during pivotal points in election fundraising and community building.”

Axios explains that last month, Google launched a pilot program to keep campaign emails out of spam. But the RNC has been criticizing the program, arguing it doesn’t help enough with political email filtering. Axios first reported that Google was launching the program in June. It was later approved by the Federal Election Commission and launched last month.

In that article, Axios reported that Google asked the Federal Election Commission if a program that would let campaigns emails bypass spam filters, instead of giving users the option to move them to spam first, would be legal under campaign finance laws. According to Axios, despite hundreds of negative comments submitted to the FEC arguing against it, the FEC approved the program in August. Eligible committees, abiding by security requirements and best practices as outlined by Google, could register to participate.

In the current article, Axios posted a quite from Google spokesperson José Castañeda:

“Gmail’s spam filter reflects users’ actions. We provide training and guidelines to campaigns, we recently launched an FEC-approved pilot for political senders, and we continue to work to maximize email deliverability while minimizing unwanted spam.”

According to Axios, the RNC argues in the lawsuit that despite discussing the email issue with Google for more than nine months, it remains unresolved, alleging Google is sending emails to spam on purpose due to political bias. Axios reported that the RNC is not enrolled in Google’s email pilot program meant to alleviate these issues (per a source familiar with the situation.)

The Verge reported that the RNC’s lawsuit was filed in California’s Eastern District Court, and that the RNC accuses Google of “throttling its email messages because of the RNC’s political affiliation and views.”

According to The Verge, to address the RNC’s concerns, Google rolled out a pilot program in September that was supposed to help prevent political emails from getting marked as spam. However, according to The Verge’s Makena Kelly, Republicans haven’t been taking advantage of the program which would have required it to follow security requirements and best practices standards when sending out emails in bulk.

As noted by the lawsuit, the RNC claims Google has continued to send RNC emails “en masse” to users’ spam folders during “pivotal points” for gaining supporters and fundraising for the upcoming midterm elections. It goes on to state that Google’s alleged filtering occurs “at approximately the same time at the end of each month,” and that the end of October is one of the most crucial fundraising periods for Republicans, who have been struggling to meet their fundraising goals in the months leading up to the midterm elections, The Verge reported.

In my opinion, it sounds like the RNC could have avoided having its political emails sent to people’s spam folders simply by choosing to join Google’s program. If they had done that, this entire problem could potentially have been avoided. That said, if you are a person who wants to donate to Republican candidates – you might find those emails in your spam folder.


Texas Sues Google Over Use Of Facial Recognition



The Texas attorney general sued Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Thursday, alleging the search giant violated state laws by collecting biometric data on face and voice features without seeking the full consent of users, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Texas alleged Google’s data-collection practices stretched back to 2015 and afflicted millions of the state’s residents, according to a complaint filed in the state district court in Midland Country, Texas.

The case follows a similar suit Texas brought against Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. in February. Meta, which discontinued use of facial-recognition technology last year, said the claims were without merit.

In the latest complaint, Texas alleged Google had used features in Google Photos and Google Assistant, as well as its Nest smart-home products, to collect and store facial-and voice recognition data without obtaining proper consent.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Texas is leading a coalition of states suing Google for allegedly anticompetitive behavior in online advertising markets. Google has fought the claims and called some of them misleading. A federal judge last month denied the bulk of Google’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The New York Times reported that the Texas attorney general filed a privacy lawsuit against Google on Thursday, accusing the internet company of collecting Texans’ facial and voice recognition information without their explicit consent.

According to The New York Times, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said Google had violated a state consumer protection law that requires companies to inform citizens and get their consent before capturing their biometric identifiers, including fingerprints, voiceprints, and a “record of hand or face geometry.”

Violators of the law face fines of up to $25,000 per violation. Mr. Paxton said Google had millions of users in Texas who were potentially affected.

José Castañeda, a Google spokesman, said in a statement to The New York Times that Mr. Paxton “is once again mischaracterizing our products in another breathless lawsuit.” He added, “We will set the record straight in court.”

The New York Times also reported that the complaint targets the Google Photos app, which allows people to search for photos they took of a particular person; Google’s Nest camera, which can send alerts when it recognizes (or fails to recognize) a visitor at the door; and the voice-activated Google Assistant, which can learn to recognize up to six users’ voices to give them personalized answers to their questions.

Mr. Paxton said the products violated the rights of both users and nonusers, whose faces and voices were scanned or processed without their understanding or consent.

This whole thing stems from a Texas biometric privacy law that was passed in 2009, with Illinois and Washington passing similar laws around that time. Illinois’ law allows individuals to sue companies directly, but Texas must sue companies on consumers’ behalf.

Personally, I’m not a fan of most of the legislation that comes from Texas. However, I feel like there is something important about having the right to opt-out of being tracked or recorded by the products of big companies. I haven’t read the Texas law, and have no idea how a judge will decide the outcome of this case.


Chrome For Android 13 Gets Updates



Google posted an article on The Keyword titled: “Productivity just got better in Chrome on Android tablets”. It was written by Lola Adams, Product Manager, Chrome.

Tablets let you browse the web at home or on the go, whether you’re shopping for a new TV or finishing up some work. With the next release of Chrome on Android, we make it easier to navigate between tabs and get work done faster on your tablets.

Here’s a closer look at the latest Chrome updates available now on all Android tablets, and on the new Pixel Tablet, when it launches next year:

Find the Tap You’re Looking For

Google added a new side-by-side design that makes finding the right tab easier in Chrome. If you’re switching back and forth between two tabs, the auto-scroll back feature can help you swipe back to your previous tab. And to prevent you from accidentally closing tabs in the first place, we’ll hide the close button when tabs become too small. If you close a tab you didn’t intend to, one-step restore can get you right back to where you were.

View Your Tabs Through The Visual Tab Grid

This feature is perfect for people who have a lot of open tabs. Instead of searching through all your tabs in one single horizontal stream, tabs are shown in a grid, with a preview that helps you navigate with fewer taps. Google says visual tabs also help if you have a foldable device, because the smaller, folded screen on the outside matches the bigger screen on the inside of your tablet.

Drag and Drop Out Of Chrome

You can now easily drag images, text, and links that spark your interest from Chrome and drop them into another app like Gmail, Photos, or Keep.

Easily Browse in Desktop Mode

If a website isn’t working the way it should on your tablet or you just prefer the desktop experience, you can set Chrome to always request and display the desktop version of the site. This may give you capabilities that are currently only found on the desktop version, like certain menus and buttons.

Use Tab Groups on Your Tablet

Tabs groups are coming to Chrome and Android tablets. You’ll be able to stay organized by grouping related tabs together so you can better focus on one task without seeing clutter from other open tabs.

Gizmodo reported that the Chrome for Android tablets update is rolling out now through the Google Play Store. According to Gizmodo, it will take a few days, but is easy to tell if it reached you – check the app in Play Store on your tablet device, tap About this app, and then scroll down to see the date when it was updated.

TechCrunch reported: After ignoring the app experience on Android tablets for years, Google appears increasingly focused on turning things around… At the developer conference Google IO in May, it promised to fine-tune over 20 of its own apps for the tablet experience. Now, the search giant is beginning to deliver on that pledge, starting with the browser Chrome.

Obviously, the updates to Chrome for Android are only available for those who are using Android 13 (Go edition), which was released five years ago. Hopefully, people will find that the update provides them with features that they like.


ACCC Fines Google $60 Million For Misleading Representations



In a Media Release, posted by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), it announced that it was requiring Google LLC to pay $60 million for misleading representations. In short the ACCC found that Google mislead Android users by making them think that the company was not tracking them.

Here are some key parts of the Media Release:

The Federal Court has ordered Google LLC to pay $60 million in penalties for making misleading representations to consumers about the collection and use of their personal location data on Android phones between January 2017 and December 2018, following court action by the ACCC.

The Court previously found that Google LLC and Google Australia Pty Ltd. (together, Google) had breached the Australian Consumer Law by representing to some Android users that the setting titled “Location History” was the only Google account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept and used personally identifiable data about their location.

In fact, another Google account setting titled “Web & App Activity” also enabled by Google to collect, store and use personally identifiable location data when it was turned on, and that setting was turned on by default.

The Media release continues: The ACCC’s best estimate, based on available data, is that the users of 1.3 million Google accounts in Australia may have viewed a screen found by the Court to have breached the Australian Consumer Law.

Google took remedial steps and had addressed all of the contravening conduct by 20 December 2018, meaning that users were no longer shown the misleading screens.

ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said, “This is the first public enforcement outcome arising out of the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry.”

In addition, the Media Release makes it clear that consumers can access the “Web & App Activity” and “Location History” settings through their Google Account. Consumers can also delete personal data that Google has already collected about them through their Google account.

The Guardian reported that in April of last year, the federal court found Google breached consumer laws by misleading local users into thinking the company was not collecting personal data about their location via mobile devices with Android operating systems.

According to The Guardian, the case revolved around whether it was sufficiently clear Google would still collect and access location data when a user’s location history was set to “off” but their web and app activity was “on” and one of its apps was used.

In my opinion, any company that thinks it is acceptable to trick consumers into let it secretly collect location (and other types of) data, is in the wrong. It is time for these companies to find a much more ethical way to earn revenue.


Internal Documents Show Tech Giants Pushing Out Competitors



Internal documents from Google and Amazon provided to Politico show new examples of how companies favor their own products over competitors’ – adding ammunition to the push for Congress to toughen antitrust laws, Politico reported.

According to Politico, the documents, which include emails, memos and strategy papers, were shared by the House Judicial committee, which obtained them as part of its long-running antitrust investigation of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Meta that wrapped up in October 2020 with a 450-page staff report. The documents were cited in the report, but had not previously been made available.

The documents bolster the committee’s claims that the internet giants illegally favor their own products, a practice that pending legislation to update antitrust laws would make more difficult, Politico reported.

The U.S House Committee on The Judiciary posted a Press Release titled: “Judiciary Committee Publishes Final Report on Competition in the Digital Marketplace”. Here are some key points from the press release:

The House Judiciary Committee today formally published the Committee’s Report, entitled “Investigation of Competition in the Digital Marketplace: Committee Report and Recommendations.” The report was initially released in October 2020 as a Majority Staff Report following a 16-month investigation, led by the Antitrust Subcommittee, into the state of competition in the digital economy, with a focus on the challenges presented by the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

In April 2021, the Committee held a markup and formally adopted the Report. The Report totals more than 450 pages, detailing the findings and recommendations from a bipartisan investigation that included documents and communications from the investigated firms; submissions from 38 antitrust experts; and interviews with more than 240 market participants, former employees of the investigated firms, and other individuals.

The Verge reported that the documents show how Amazon and Google pressured independent sellers and smartphone manufacturers to favor their own products and platforms over those of their competitors. In a January 2014 email, one Google executive raised concerns over a potential new Samsung service that could compete with the company’s “core search experience.”

In another email, Google executives discuss how Amazon’s involvement changed the market for personal voice assistants. “Amazon has changed the dynamics here,” the heavily redacted email reads. “Amazon has built-in incentive to partner with Alexa since they will pull you from their store if you don’t support it.” The Verge reported.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the tech companies oppose the legislation, saying it would unnecessarily raise the costs of operating platforms that are popular because they benefit consumers and small businesses. According to The Wall Street Journal, lawmakers backing an antitrust bill targeting big tech companies ramped up their push for a vote by releasing internal tech company documents they say show anticompetitive behavior.

I’m not surprised that the big tech companies are engaging in shenanigans. There is a chance that they could face legal consequences if the vote on the antitrust legislation passes.