Google releases Android Studio 1.3 with a new memory profiler, editing and debugging support for C++

Android Studio 1.3.

Google today announced the release of Android Studio 1.3, a major update to the integrated development environment (IDE) that first hit 1.0 in December.

The new version includes a new way to check memory snapshots for application code and a new visualization tool to help developers get a big-picture view of memory allocation, Android product manager Jamal Eason wrote in a blog post on the news.

There’s also an early access preview for a C++ editor and debugger, as well as code annotation support for dealing with app permissions in Android M, Eason wrote. Plus, the new version of Android Studio can automatically check for updates to the Android software development kit (SDK).

Android Studio is what Google thinks of as the official IDE for building Android apps, so it’s pretty important in the Google software development ecosystem. Just last month, Google said it would stop supporting its Android Developer Tools plugin for the widely used Eclipse IDE.

You can download Android Studio by going here if you don’t already have it. You can get the latest version by checking for updates using the dropdown menu or the pop-up box in the IDE.

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With over 10,000 businesses signed up, Android for Work expands to carriers for the first time

Googler Rajen Sheth talks about Android for Work at a press event at Google's San Francisco office on Feb. 25.

Android for Work, which encompasses all of Google’s enterprise-oriented features and services for its mobile operating system, has expanded to 40 companies today, including new device manufacturers, application makers, and management providers. At the same, Google has announced that more than 10,000 businesses are now testing, deploying, or using Android for Work.

Google first announced Android for Work at the company’s Google I/O conference in June 2014. In February 2015, the program hit general availability, as Google released an Android for Work app, a Google Play for Work business-oriented app store, and new apps that support common productivity tools.

Here is the full list of Android for Work partners:

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 6.08.59 AM

As part of the partner expansion today, mobile carriers are joining Android for Work for the first time. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Rogers, Bell Canada, Telus Mobility, and KT are now offering broad support for Android for Work, which essentially translates into customers turning to their carriers for Android for Work’s integrated security, management, and productivity solutions.

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Volkswagens with CarPlay and Android Auto will begin arriving in showrooms this week

carplay

Volkswagen says its new cars that integrate with the Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto in-car systems will begin arriving in showrooms this week.

CarPlay, which runs on the iPhone, puts a number of driver-friendly apps on the Volkswagen’s built-in display. Drivers can get directions, send and receive messages, and listen to audiobooks or music, all controlled through the vehicle’s touchscreen, steering wheel buttons, or by Siri, Volkswagen said in a statement.

CarPlay supports third-party apps including Spotify, Audible, and MLB.com at Bat. The system is compatible with iPhone 5 or later, and iOS 7.1 or later.

Android Auto does generally the same thing, although it organizes contextual information into “cards” that appear on the overview screen when needed. The voice recognition system in the car can be used to control the software.

Drivers with Android Lollipop 5.0-powered smartphones can make or take phone calls, listen to incoming messages, or respond to messages by voice. Google Maps provides voice-guided navigation, real-time traffic, and predictive features based on driver preferences.

Third party apps include Spotify, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, and messaging apps including Whatsapp, and Skype.

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Search Ads Go Live On Google Play, “Universal” Ads That Run Across Google Properties To Soon Follow

Blog Images (55) Google is today opening up a program that allows developers who are running Search app install campaigns on AdWords to advertise their apps within Google Play’s search results. In conjunction with this, Google is also launching a new conversion tracking solution that will track when users install and then launch an app after clicking on a search ad. The program is an expansion of… Read More

Google wants to build its 4th data center in Oregon, for at least $200M

Inside a Google data center in The Dalles, Ore.

Google is looking to build a fourth data center along the Columbia River in The Dalles, Ore. The tech giant yesterday submitted a proposal for a 15-year tax exemption in connection with the proposed data center expansion.

Local officials will vote on the proposal next week, Nolan Young, The Dalles’ city manager, told VentureBeat in an email. The minimum cost of the project under the proposed agreement is $200 million, Young wrote. Google expects the total cost to be higher, with at least 50 employees staffing the new data center, according to a summary on the agreement.

The Dalles was the first place Google built its own data center to run its infrastructure. This would be the third expansion of that site. Google has also been building out more data center infrastructure elsewhere in the world, including in Iowa and the Atlanta area.

“Although there are a lot of factors to work out before making a final decision, we’re excited about exploring the possibility of expanding our operations,” Darcy Nothnagle, head of external affairs for Google’s Western region, told VentureBeat in an email.

Facebook, Intuit, and other companies with consumer-facing web services also maintain their own data center infrastructure. Like some other web companies, Google relies on its own compute, storage, and networking hardware inside its data centers. And operating these facilities in itself provides strengths to Google — to such a degree that Google kept that aspect of its operations a secret. Then, in 2006, the New York Times reported the existence of the data center site in The Dalles.

“It was very important … to not have our competitors know what we were doing,” Urs Hölzle, senior vice president for technical infrastructure at Google, told reporters in a briefing at company headquarters recently.

Because Google controls so many layers of its infrastructure, the company can run it all very efficiently, which helps explain why Google can drive down prices in the public cloud market, among other things. The company has achieved surprisingly high levels of server utilization. “We have clusters that run at 80-90 percent,” Hölzle said during the briefing. Server utilization was around 12-18 percent in 2006-2012, while hyperscale cloud providers (Google could be included in that category) can achieve 40-70 percent utilization, according to a 2014 paper from the National Resources Defense Council.

As Google develops greater and greater supplies of highly efficient servers, the company can continue to challenge vendors such as Amazon Web Services in the public cloud market and other markets. So while expansions like this might not seem very significant to many consumers, they can count for a lot in the long term.

Google would not provide specific estimates on how much it would spend in this potential expansion in The Dalles, but the company has already spent $1.2 billion there.










Google search now lets you avoid lines by showing the busiest times at millions of places and businesses

Google search
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Google search today gained a brilliant new feature that should save you a lot of time. You can now see the most “popular times” (read: the busiest, crowded, and annoying times) for each day of the week when you look up a location.

In other words, you can now avoid lineups and general overload at “millions of places and businesses around the world” just by googling wherever you want to go. For some places, it’s obvious (going to the gym on Mondays and Tuesdays is always horrible) but in other cases, you might end up wondering when exactly you should leave work to go grocery shopping or to pick up coffee.

Google offers an example. If you search for “Blue Bottle Williamsburg” and tap on the title, you’ll see how busy it gets throughout the day:

coffee2

This feature has the potential to be very useful. That said, because this is Google we’re talking about, it may end up skewing the numbers.

If too many people start showing up at the least busiest times, well, those will become the most busiest times. We presume Google is hoping that won’t happen, and instead people will start going to places and businesses at different times, but they’ll be spread out enough that it will be better for everyone.

We’re not sure where exactly Google is getting this data from, but we presume it is from location tracking on Android devices. While there are millions of Android users in the world, not all of them have this feature turned on.

We’ve asked Google for more information and will update you if we hear back.

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Hands on with Google Maps’ Your Timeline: Fascinating, but freaky

A trip on Google Maps Your Timeline.

Google last week introduced a new feature in Google Maps called Your Timeline. It’s Google’s latest attempt to show users what it knows about where they’ve been.

The last time Google did this — with Google Latitude — users could share such personal information with others. This time around, that’s not possible. It’s private — just as Google Photos, unlike the old Google+ Photos, wasn’t explicitly designed to be used for sharing. Indeed, Google Photos is fun to use for your own personal archival purposes, and people might well find themselves saying the same thing about the new Your Timeline service.

The only trouble is, if Google can accurately reflect where you’ve been, things could get a little spooky.

The places I've been, according to Google Maps Your Timeline.

Above: The places I’ve been, according to Google Maps Your Timeline

Image Credit: Screenshot

The facts

Without any input from you, Your Timeline shows where it thinks you’ve been, when you arrived at and left each place, and how you traveled from one place to another. The service highlights the days you visited the most places, figures out which places you visit most frequently, and clusters days out of town into “trips.” The human intervention comes in confirming or correcting specific places you go, and your mode of transportation for each trip. You can delete a place where Google says you’ve been — but even when you do that, the map will show that you passed by that area.

Google knows what it knows because you’ve asked for directions to certain places, and through location services on your phone’s Google Maps app (currently only the Android version), it has a more passive record of where your phone has been. From there, it can construct a timeline for each day. You can always delete all location history through the “Manage location settings” option in Your Timeline inside the Google Maps app on Android. Or you can click the “Pause location history” button on Your Timeline to stop Google from knowing where your phone goes.

And sometimes, the data is just wrong. Like the day I went from the VentureBeat office to a friend’s house a few months ago. The house is in the northern part of San Francisco, but my Timeline shows a line going to the North Bay that night. I try not to dwell on those cases of outright errors. They don’t happen that often.

The dialogue you see when you try to remove a place from Your Timeline.

Above: The dialogue you see when you try to remove a place from Your Timeline

Image Credit: Screenshot

It’s worth it to spend some time and brainpower checking each day in Your Timeline. As you correct data and confirm you were places it thinks you were, you see the bar chart of days changing. The gray area gradually decreases and is replaced with a pleasant blue.

If it can’t figure out for sure the name of the place you visited, it displays a generic neighborhood label. For example, when I was at the 24th Street-Mission BART station, it showed that I was in “Mission District” — until I corrected it by selecting “24th Street BART Station” from among the top options in the dropdown menu for that location.

Identifying transportation locations in Google Maps Your Timeline.

Above: Identifying transportation locations in Google Maps Your Timeline

Image Credit: Screenshot

On an Android device, it’s really interesting that Google gives you so many options to tell it how you got from point A to point B. Some are perfectly reasonable, and others are, well, edge cases.

Fascinating

To wit: moving, walking, running, cycling, driving/on public transport, by wheelchair, flying, driving, on a bus, in a tram, on the subway, in a train, on a ferry, in a cable car, on a funicular (had to look that one up), hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, kitesurfing (what? really?), Nordic walking (!), rowing, sailing, skateboarding, skating, skiing, swimming, sledding, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, surfing, motorcycling, and boating.

That level of customization promotes creativity. If I ever get the chance to take a snowmobile to work, I’m doing it.

What is unquestionably nice about Your Timeline is its use of your pictures from Google Photos.

Your Timeline breaks up the flow of each day with a few photos and connects them with specific dates, times, and places. It makes you appreciate and think about the photos and do new things with them — like share them, edit them, look up something that they make you think of, or reach out to someone you hadn’t spoken with in a while.

Places I visited in Santa Cruz.

Above: Places I visited in Santa Cruz

Image Credit: Screenshot

As you might expect, you can click on images and see them really big on your monitor — and, of course, you can disassociate them from a location you visit, too. (It would be interesting to see if Google tries to push data from Your Timeline into the Google Photos app, but for now the exchange of user data is only flowing in the opposite direction.)

Going back in time to specific days was cool, because it reminded me of a lot of great memories.

In that sense, it does a better job of journaling activities than I do on my own, and it’s certainly more visually compelling than Google Calendar, especially on desktop.

Your Timeline also reminds you of when you’ve been to a place in the past. Here’s what I saw when I looked up the address of a place where I was heading the other night:

Oh, right. Your Timeline reminds me that I visited Schroeder's in San Francisco eight months ago.

Above: Oh, right. Your Timeline reminds me that I visited Schroeder’s in San Francisco eight months ago.

Image Credit: Screenshot

When I tapped on “You visited 8 months ago,” I see the timeline for the day I was there last. In this case, I knew I’d been to Schroeder’s in the past, but I didn’t remember exactly when. Now it’s easy to see, right from within Google Maps.

Conveniently, you can download the geolocation data underlying Your Timeline.

Here’s how the raw data looks in JSON format:

My Your Timeline data in JSON format.

Above: My Your Timeline data in JSON format

Image Credit: Screenshot

Notice the numbers for “accuracy” for the latitude and longitude of locations, as well as “confidence” numbers for methods of travel. It’s not clear how user-submitted updates impact this data.

…But also a little freaky

The introduction of Your Timeline introduces new privacy and security implications that potential users may want to keep in mind.

Google already knows where you go, and when you make corrections, you’re providing Google with an even more accurate data set. It’s not clear how Google will use this data, in aggregate or for each person. But Google does now know which businesses I frequent, and when.

Some of the places I go to most, according to Google Maps Your Timeline.

Above: Some of the places I go to most, according to Google Maps Your Timeline

Image Credit: Screenshot

Meanwhile, if you’re not careful, someone may stumble across this data on one of your devices. That could be a curious current or former partner, or a concerned relative.

Notice how in the web version of Your Timeline, you can hover over the little lock icon on the top left, next to the word “Timeline,” and the words “Visible only to you” appear inside a floating black box. Clicking the lock does not trigger a pull-down menu, for now. But it’s not hard to imagine it becoming clickable one day, allowing you to share your authorized, confirmed whereabouts — maybe with whomever has the link, maybe with whomever you share Your Timeline, like the sharing permissions in Google Drive.

To be sure, you can’t do this right now, and you might not ever be able to.

For now, to access Your Timeline, go to Google Maps on desktop, hit the dropdown menu, go to “History,” hit the dropdown menu, and select “Location history.” Or just try going here.

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Google is dropping its Google+ requirement across all products, starting with YouTube

Welcome to Google HQ

Google has finally announced the Google+ news that everyone has been waiting for: your Google+ profile will no longer be your identity in all Google products. This change will be trickling out “in the coming months,” and the first product to enjoy the change will be the one that was most negatively impacted by Google’s Google+ obsession: YouTube.

Google says the response is to user feedback: “We’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.” No shit.

The move means you’ll soon be able to use your standard Google account to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel, and so on. Unlike your public Google+ profile, your Google account is not searchable or followable.

In fact, if you already created a Google+ profile (read: Google conned you into doing it) but don’t plan to use Google+, the company says it will “offer better options for managing and removing” your public profile.

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Researchers find vulnerability that affects 95% of Android devices

Lollipop Forest Google Android

Researchers have found a vulnerability in Android devices that allows hackers to access a device remotely without the owner ever knowing it was compromised. The flaw affects roughly 95 percent of Android devices running operating system version 2.2 to 5.1, according to cybersecurity firm Zimperium.

At fault is a media library (used to process media files) called Stagefright. Zimperium says it found multiple vulnerabilities in the framework. The company plans to present its research at the Black Hat 2015 security conference and at the hacking conference Def Con in August.

Using a person’s telephone number, hackers can send a media file via MMS that gives them entry into a device. What’s more, a device owner may never know. Hackers could conceivably send through the trojan file while the device’s owner is sleeping, get access to their phone, and then delete any evidence the phone was hacked. Once the exploit is completed, a hacker can remotely operate a phone’s microphone, steal files, read emails, and get personal credentials.

“These vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous because they do not require that the victim take any action to be exploited. Unlike spear-phishing, where the victim needs to open a PDF file or a link sent by the attacker, this vulnerability can be triggered while you sleep. Before you wake up, the attacker will remove any signs of the device being compromised and you will continue your day as usual – with a trojaned phone,” says Zimperium chief technology officer Zuk Avraham.

Though Google has applied patches to Android Open Source Project, Zimperium says device owners should be proactive in updating their phones. Android owners can reach out to their telecom providers and device manufacturers to ensure their phones get the update.

Those with Silent Circle’s Blackphone running PrivatOS version 1.1.7 are already protected against the Stagefright vulnerability.

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