Tag Archives: google

Google Photos’ Magic Editor Will Refuse To Make These Edits



Google first announced Magic Editor at Google I/O 2023. The feature is now available inside the Google Photos app on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, Android Authority reported. With Magic Editor, you can harness the power of generative AI to perform complex image edits with ease. This lowers the skill and experience barrier and democratizes complex image editing.

On the flip side, many have wondered if Google has adopted enough guardrails to prevent users from abusing Magic Editor. As it turns out, there are at least some guardrails present on Magic Editor, preventing users from making these kinds of edits.

Google Photos v6.60 includes code around various error messages that users would see when preforming a few prohibited Magic Editor edits. Magic Editor will refuse to edit:

Photos of ID cards, receipts, and other documents that violate Google’s GenAI terms

Images with personally identifiable information

Human faces and body parts

Large selections or selections that need a lot of data to be generated.

Mashable reported Google doesn’t want you potentially breaking laws with its Magic Editor app on Pixel phones.

Mashable noted that Android Authority combed through the latest Google Photos update and found strings of code to Magic Editor, the new Pixel 8 feature that lets you do some light Photoshop-esque things with just a few taps of the finger.

In reference to Magic Editor’s restrictions, Mashable reported this makes a lot of sense, so much so that you wonder why these error messages weren’t already present in Magic Editor at launch. Android Authority said an older version of the app did block it from making the above edits, but not all of them.

For what it’s worth, Magic Editor isn’t nearly as good at photo editing as someone with a deft Photoshop hand would be. Any kind of forged document made with it would probably be pretty easy to spot if you looked at it for a few seconds. But Google doesn’t want to take any risks, which is the right move.

Gizmodo reported that everyone’s talking about how creepy generative AI is, so Google Photos won’t let you edit pictures of your driver’s license, ID cards, or anything personally identifiable. If you try to use Magic Editor with a compatible Pixel device, Photos pops up a window to let you know it can’t complete the action since it may violate its terms of use.

According to Gizmodo, there is trepidation right now about the global foray into AI-powered editing. The fear seems centered chiefly around folks “faking” official documentation for nefarious purposes, like swapping out a photo on an ID card to gain access or buy something online. While those things happened in the past before artificial intelligence made it more accessible, the point was that it wasn’t so easy to do.

Personally, I think Google made the right choice with its Magic Editor. Those who want to use it for nefarious means will be thwarted by the AI itself. It should be noted that this affects Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro users.


A Recap Of Epic Games VS Google



The first day of the Epic Games vs. Google antitrust trial ended after both sides gave opening statements and two witnesses testified, VentureBeat reported.

According to VentureBeat, Epic’s lead attorney Gary Bornstein opened with a chart that showed the Google Play Store accounted for 90% of app installs in the year the lawsuit was filed, 2020, despite the fact that Google “will say” that the Samsung app store is installed on 60% of all Android smartphones. But Bornstein noted that a tiny sliver of the market share belongs to Samsung.

Bornstein argued that Google pays actual potential competitors not to compete and gives them money and other things of value. Bornstein says this is anti-competitive.

Epic also said it knows that Google will argue that it allows “sideloading” of apps as an alternative to using the Google Play Store. But Epic Games said Google through hoops in the way of users who were considering sideloading. Epic said that Google’s 30% fee for its app store operating profit amount to $12 billion a year and carry a 70% margin, compared to 24% in 2014.

Bornstein said that Google’s codename for shady deals was Project Hug, where Google allegedly paid developers such as Riot Games not to compete with the Google Play Store.

Bornstein also said that because many of Google’s alleged anticompetitive acts started in 2019, Google didn’t need those things to protect its fledgling app store. Rather, it merely intended to protect its monopoly. He also said that Google doesn’t have a monopoly on making app downloading secure, and that side-loaded apps didn’t represent a real security threat.

CNBC reported that Google is headed back to court for its second antitrust trial in two months, this time in defense of its Android Play Store.

According to CNBC, while Google continues to argue against monopoly claims brought by the Department of Justice and a bipartisan group of states in Washington, D.C., District Court, the company now has to simultaneously face off against Epic Games in a federal court in San Francisco.

The trial involving Epic, which began Monday, revolted around Google’s treatment of third-party developers, and will be closely watched by Apple, which operates the rival iPhone App Store. Both companies have been accused by developers of taking an unfair cut of revenue from in-app payments and for making it harder for app creators to communicate with their customers.

An Epic victory could force Google to make changes to Android, where it charges a 15% to 30% fee on digital goods and services purchases within the apps. It could allow Epic to get its store pre-installed on devices, potentially making it easier for users to bypass Google’s store to download games.

CNBC reported that at issue with the DOJ’s monopoly case, which went to trial in September, is whether Google violated the law through exclusive agreements with mobile phone manufacturers and browser makers to make its search engine the default for consumers. That case could determine whether Google is able to continue using its heft to keep its prime positioning on smartphones.

It seems to me that the Epic vs Google case is one that seems to keep ending up in courtroom battles. Eventually, we will know the outcome of this particular case. But that might not be the end of this battle.


Google Wants Users To Switch From Passwords To Passkeys



Google posted on The Keyword titled: “”Passwordless by default: Make the switch to passkeys” It was written by Siram Karra and Christiaan Brand.

Earlier this year, we rolled out support for passkeys, a simpler and more secure way to sign into your accounts online. We’ve received really positive feedback from our users, so today (October 10) we’re making passkeys even more accessible by offering them as the default option across personal Google Accounts.

This means the next time you sign into your account, you’ll start seeing prompts to create and use passkeys, simplifying your future sign-ins. It also means you’ll see the “Skip password when possible” option toggled on in your Google Account settings.

To use passkeys, you just use a fingerprint, face scan or pin to unlock your device, and they are 40% faster than passwords – and rely on a type of cryptography that makes them more secure. But while they’re a bit step forward, we know that new technologies take time to catch on – so passwords may be around for a little while. That’s why people will still be given the option to use a password to sign in and may opt-out of passkeys by turning off “Skip password when possible.”

We found that one of the most immediate benefits of passkeys is that they spare people the headache of remembering all those numbers and special characters in passwords. They’re also phishing resistant.

TechCrunch reported that Google has announced that passkeys, touted by the tech giant as the “beginning of the end” for passwords, are becoming the default sign-in method for all users.

Passkeys are a phishing-resistant alternative to passwords that allow users to sign into accounts using the same biometrics or PINs they use to unlock their devices, or with a physical security key. This removes the need for users to rely on the traditional username-password combination, which has long been susceptible to phishing, credential stuffing attacks, keylogger malware, or simply being forgotten.

According to TechCrunch, while security technologies multi-factor authentication and password managers add an extra layer of security to password-protected accounts, they are not without flaws. Authentication codes sent via text messages can be intercepted by attackers, for example, and password managers can (and have been) hacked.

Passkeys, on the other hand, are made of two parts: one part is left on the app or website’s server, and the other is stored on your device, which allows you to prove that you are the legitimate owner of the account. This also makes it near-impossible for hackers to remotely access your account, given that the physical access to a user’s device is needed, even in the event of a server breach.

9To5 Google reported that after launching in May, Google will soon actively encourage users to set up passkeys for their Gmail, YouTube, and other first-party accounts,

With passkeys, signing in to your Google Account just involves entering a username and then using your phone or computers existing password (PIN code, fingerprint, face, etc.) to confirm the attempt.

As part of this launch, users can still just use their password over passkeys by turning off the “Skip password when possible” option. If a device is lost, you can revoke Google Account passkeys in settings.

Since launch, Google has found that “over 64% of our users find passkeys to be easier to use compared to traditional methods like passwords and 2-step Verification (2SV).” People also think passkeys are easier because the sign-in process is said to be 40% faster than passwords.”

In my opinion, passkeys will probably be easier for most people to use, compared to remembering what your Gmail or YouTube password was. I think passkeys should prevent someone taking over your Gmail or YouTube channel because they can’t replicate your fingerprint.


California Hits Google For $93M Over Deceptive Location Data



A lawsuit filed against Google by California’s Attorney General over the company’s deceptive and misleading options for managing location data has resulted in a $93 million settlement – and new protections for consumers in the state, TechCrunch reported.

As detailed in an incredibly straightforward complaint, Google in several ways appeared to promise users that they could choose whether or how much location data was used in order to target them for advertisements.

Location History is one of several detailed records Google keeps of your activity – you can turn it off here if you haven’t already, TechCrunch noted.

According to TechCrunch, this particular setting is off by default, but users were repeatedly told they should “enhance” their Google Maps experience with the responses “Yes, I’m in” or “Skip for now.” Little did they know agreeing would turn on Location History for purposes far beyond “enhancing” Maps.

Here’s how the AG’s office summarized what Google must now do, for Californians at least:

* Show additional information to users when enabling location-related account settings.

* Provide more transparency about location tracking.

* Provide users with detailed information about the location data that Google collected and how it is used through a “Location Technologies” web page.

* Disclose to users that their location information may be used for ads personalization

* Disclose to users before using Location History data to build ad targeting profiles for users

* Obtain review by Google’s internal Privacy Working Group

* Obtain review by Google’s Internal Privacy Working Group and document approval for all material changes to location-setting and ads personalization disclosures that will have a material impact on privacy.

The Guardian reported that the settlement stems from a lawsuit brought by the California attorney general, Rob Bonta, that concluded the company misled consumers into believing they had more control over their location information than they actually did.

“Our investigation revealed that Google was telling its uses one thing – that it would no longer track their location once they opted out – but doing the opposite and continuing to track its users’ movements for its own commercial gain,” Bonta said in a statement announcing the settlement. “That’s unacceptable, and we’re holding Google accountable.”

According to The Guardian, the AG’s office further alleged that Google “deceived users about their ability to opt out of advertisements targeted to their location.”

CNN reported that California Department of Justice found that, after a multi-year investigation, the tech giant was “deceiving users by collecting, storing, and using their location data for consumer profiling and advertising purposes without informed consent.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta also said Google accepted taking future actions to prevent those practices. These actions would apply beyond California to other states, according to the proposed order.

The Hill reported that José Castañeda, a Google spokesperson, said in a statement that “consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this matter, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”

According to The Hill, the settlement with California comes after Google settled with 40 other states in November for $391.5 million over similar allegations.

As a person who lives in California, I am well aware that the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) (updated on May 10, 2023) gives consumers who live in California more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them. The huge fine set by the Attorney General should cause Google to think twice about playing around with people’s privacy rights.


Google Extends Lifespan Of Chromebooks With 10-Year Update Policy



Google is working to push back the expiration date of Chromebooks, addressing concerns held by administrators that the laptops are too short-lived to be cost effective, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Alphabet-owned company – which developed the Chrome operating system running on computers made mostly by others – said Thursday it plans to provide software updates for Chromebooks for up to a decade. The new policy, which starts next year, ensures that no Chromebook will expire within the next two years.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Chromebooks are ubiquitous in classrooms around the country, but some education software doesn’t work after what Google calls the Auto Update Expiration date. Unsupported Chromebooks can’t be used for mandatory state testing, even if the hardware still appears to be functional.

When the laptops expire, school districts recycle them, sometimes at a cost, and spend millions of dollars on replacements.

Google posted the following information on The Keyword blog. From the blog post:

When Chromebooks debuted in 2012, their affordable price tags helped make personal computing more accessible. That also made them a great fit for the education world, providing schools with secure, simple and manageable devices while helping them save on their budgets. In fact, Chromebooks are the number one device used in K-12 education globally, according to Futuresource. Plus, they’re a sustainable choice, with recycled materials that reduce their environmental impact and repair programs that help them last longer.

Today, we are announcing new ways to keep your Chromebooks up and running even longer. All Chromebooks will get regular automatic updates for 10 years – more than any other operating system commits to today. We’re also working with partners to build Chromebooks with more post-consumer recycled materials (PCR), and rolling out new power-efficient features and quicker processes to repair them. At the end of their usefulness, we continue to help schools, businesses, and everyday users find the right recycling option…

…Security is our number one priority. Chromebooks get automatic updates every four weeks that make your laptop more secure and help it last longer. And starting next year, we’re extending those automatic updates so your Chromebook gets enhanced security, stability and features for 10 years after the platform was released…

…Starting in 2024, if you have Chromebooks that were released from 2021 onwards, you’ll automatically get 10 years of updates. For Chromebooks released before 2001 and already in use, users and IT admins will have the option to extend automatic updates to 10 years from the platform’s release (after they receive their last automatic update)…

ArsTechnica reported that ten years of support is a notable achievement for Chromebooks, which are often budget-priced. The average Mac receives seven years of macOS updates. Windows, meanwhile, usually sees 10 years of updates, but you can install Windows (and update it) on devices form as long ago as the late 2000s.

Chromebooks are unique in individual models having automatic update expiration (AUE) dates and have faced criticism for this for years.

In my opinion, Google’s decision to grant 10 years of updates on Chromebooks that were released from 2021 onwards, is a great idea. It means that schools won’t have to spend money they don’t have on replacing Chromebooks that gone past their repair dates.


Google Is Laying Off Hundreds Of Workers In Its Recruitment Division



Google is laying off hundreds of people across its global recruiting team as hiring at the tech giant continues to slow. The company declined to cite what percentage of its recruiting workforce was impacted, but said that it plans to retain a significant majority, Semafor reported.

“The volume of requests for our recruiters has gone down,” Google spokesperson Courtenay Mencini said in a statement. “In order to continue our important work to ensure we operate efficiently, we’ve made the hard decision to reduce the size of our recruiting team. We’re supporting everyone impacted with a transition period, outplacement services, and severance as they look for new opportunities here at Google”, Semafor reported.

CNN reported that Google confirmed it will lay off hundreds of staff members who helped recruit and hire employees, as Silicon Valley continues its cost-cutting efforts.

The latest cuts come after Google parent Alphabet in January eliminated 12,000 jobs, or about 6% of the workforce, across the company as it grappled with economic uncertainty that hit the company’s bottom line last year, especially its core advertising business.

During Google’s July earning call, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company was continuing to slow its “expense growth and pace of hiring”.

According to CNN, the cuts will affect a few hundred members of Google’s recruiting organization globally; most of the team will remain and continue hiring for critical roles such as top engineering talent, according to Google. The company did not specify the exact number of layoffs in the department.

Google also said the recruiting cuts are not part of any wider layoffs, and that affected employees will be supported with severance offers and other benefits.

CNBC also reported that Google is cutting hundreds of jobs in its global recruiting organization as part of a broader pullback in hiring over the next several quarters.

“We unfortunately need to make a significant reduction to the size of the recruiting organization,” Brian Ong, Google’s recruiting vice president, told employees in a Wednesday video meeting, a recording of which was obtained by CNBC.

“It’s not something that was an easy decision to make, and it definitely isn’t a conversation any of us wanted to have again this year,” Ong said. “Given the base of hiring that we’ve received the next several quarters, it’s the right thing to do overall.

Employees involved in the recruiting group reductions will receive emails starting Wednesday, Ong said.

In my opinion, when a large corporation suddenly chooses to fire hundreds of the people who helped them to recruit workers – something has gone terribly wrong. It indicates that Google is struggling. Less recruitment means the company will have difficulty if and when it decides to start hiring again.


Google Allegedly Monopolized Internet Search For A Decade



The watershed antitrust trial pitting the US Government against Google began on Tuesday in a Washington district court, as the government started to argue its case that the tech giant illegally abused its power to monopolize internet search, The Guardian reported. The case is the biggest test of antitrust law in decades and the first such case against Google to go to trial in the US.

According to The Guardian, the trial is set to last 10 weeks, over the course of which the government will make its case that Google leveraged its market power and wealth to strangle competition. Google spent billions on deals with companies such as Apple and Samsung to make itself the default search browser on their devices, which the government alleges shut out competition and allowed Google to attain a monopoly on searching the internet.

Google denies the justice department’s allegations. The company’s longtime chief legal officer, Kent Walker, has argued that consumers can still freely use any rival search engines and that Google’s services represent a fraction of the ways that people browse the internet.

The Guardian also reported that Judge Amit Mehta, an Obama appointee from 2014, is presiding over the case and will decide on a ruling. There is no jury in the trial. Throughout the first day, Mehta challenged attorneys in both sides of the case to clarify their argument that people could easily switch internet browsers from their default setting, asking how often people actually do that.

CNBC reported lawyers for the Department of Justice and a coalition of state attorneys general led by Colorado faced Google on Tuesday, as the 10-week trial kicked off in Washington, D.C., District Court. Day one of the trial set the stage for how the government and Google would argue their opposing views of how the company has maintained a large slice of the search market for years.

According to CNBC, the government’s case is that Google has kept its share of the general search market by creating strong barriers to entry and a feedback loop that sustained its dominance.

Google says it’s simply been the preferred choice of consumers. That popularity, the company says, is why browser makers and phone manufacturers have chosen Google as their default search engine through revenue-sharing agreements.

TechCrunch reported that the Justice Department’s landmark antitrust case against Google marks the beginning of a trial that will stretch on for months, potentially upending the tech world in the process.

At issue is Google’s search business. The Justice Department says that Google has run afoul of antitrust laws in the course of maintaining its top spot in search, while the tech giant argues that it maintains its dominance naturally by offering consumes a superior product.

According to TechCrunch, the Justice Department filed the civil antitrust against Google in late 2020 after examining the company’s business for more than a year.

A large coalition of state attorneys general also filed their own parallel suit against Google, but Judge Amit Mehta decided that the states did not clear the bar that would allow them to go to trial with their own complaints about Google’s search ranking practices.

Personally, I think it is obvious that this is a court case that is going to take a very long time to sort out. We will just have to wait and see what Judge Mehta decides.