Google adds a slew of new Assistant features for app developers

 In order for Google Assistant to be a real contender against the likes of Alexa, it needs third party app support. In order to get more developers on-board, the company needs to add a lot more features to incentivize development, even as Amazon’s home AI continues to dominate marketshare. This morning Google took a key step toward making Assistant a more compelling experience, announcing… Read More

Google’s jobs search engine gets salary ranges, a better location filter and more

 Google Search’s built-in jobs search engine, which launched earlier this year, is getting an update today. For the most part, these new feature address some basic shortcomings of the first version. This means that in this new version, you can now finally filter jobs by how far away they are from you, not just by what city they are in. The updated “Location” filter now lets… Read More

Essential offers up an Android Oreo beta for the Essential Phone

 Android smartphone maker Essential promised that it would be releasing an update to Android 8.0 Oreo for its devices soon, and now there’s a beta version of the update available through its developer portal. This is just a beta, as mentioned, but it’s broadly available for anyone interested enough in the Oreo update to try out pre-release software. Read More

Mozilla terminates its deal with Yahoo and makes Google the default in Firefox again

 With the launch of Firefox Quantum, Mozilla released what’s probably the most important update to its browser in recent years. It’s faster, lighter and you should give it a try. And as you do so, you’ll notice another change: Google is now the default search engine again — at least if you live in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In 2014, Mozilla struck a deal… Read More

Why Google should be afraid of a Missouri Republican’s Google probe

The Republican attorney general of Missouri has launched an investigation into Google’s business practices. Josh Hawley wants to know how Google handles user data. And he plans to look into whether Google is using its dominance in the search business to harm companies in other markets where Google competes.

“There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind,” Hawley said in a Monday statement.

It’s another sign of growing pressure Google is facing from the political right. Grassroots conservatives increasingly see Google as falling on the wrong side of the culture wars. So far that hasn’t had a big impact in Washington policymaking. But with Hawley planning to run for the US Senate next year, we could see more Republican hostility toward Google—and perhaps other big technology companies—in the coming years.

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Amazon Music app for Android quietly gets Chromecast support

The Amazon Music app has been around for years and has supported connecting to a number of external devices for music playback. But Google’s Chromecast wasn’t one of them until now. Amazon has quietly updated the Amazon Music app for Android to include Chromecast support, allowing Android users to shoot music from their device to a nearby Chromecast.

The feature was first spotted earlier this month by TechHive when it was mid-rollout. Not all Android users had the ability to connect Amazon Music to a Chromecast at that point, but now it appears the new feature is official. The Amazon Music app page in the Google Play Store includes this update under the What’s New section: “Chromecast Support: You can now select music on your Android device and have the music play on your Chromecast enabled devices.” The app was last updated November 13, 2017.

The Android app could already connect to other Bluetooth devices, but Chromecast support had not been enabled until now. Those Android users who primarily use a Chromecast for all their casting needs will now be able to easily play music from the Amazon Music mobile app through their TV/speaker setup.

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In major policy change YouTube is now taking down more videos of known extremists

 A spokeswoman told us YouTube has broadened its policy for taking down extremist content: Not just removing videos that directly preach hate or seek to incite violence but also removing other videos of named terrorists, unless the content is journalistic or educational in nature — such as news reports and documentaries.  Read More

Your Google Home speaker is now also an intercom

 One of the niftiest features of Google Home is now available for owners of the smart speaker after support for ‘Broadcast’ rolled out. The new addition allows you to push messages or reminders across a network of Home devices to mimic an in-home intercom system. So rather than calling up to kids that dinner is about to be served, or getting them to wake up for school, Google Home… Read More