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Big Tech

  • Google Maps gives you the best time to leave for your destination

    Google Maps now helps you pick the best time to leave your your destination, thanks to a nifty new feature. Previously Google Maps would direct, and estimate the time of travel based on route and traffic along said route. But now the app (at least on Android) provides users with a graph on estimated travel times throughout the day. Google will also highlight the best time to leave -- which is ironically well before the time most companies let their employees go. Go figure. The feature is currently available on Android, but not yet available on the web or the iOS version of...

  • Google News redesign unsurprisingly angers everyone

    Google News has been redesigned, and its interface is sleek, clean, customisable and universally hated. One of the main features Google News is touting is news from "diverse perspectives" -- meaning that related articles will now feature news from both sides of the aisle. These articles are then grouped together in a card format. How do I know something has changed? Google News is usually 100% #NeverTrump. Today, not one negative article. https://t.co/MEXO3SuNWq — Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) June 25, 2017 But it seems this isn't the biggest gripe users have with the change: many think the layout is slow, wastes space, and makes it more...

  • Google fined €2.42-billion for abusing market dominance

    The European Commission has fined Google €2.42-billion (R35.32-billion) for abusing its dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service over others. According to the Commission, Google was unfairly promoting Google Shopping while demoting rival comparison services, such that even the most prominent rival service was only appearing on the fourth page. This practice is a violation of the EU's antitrust rules. It says that dominant companies have a responsibility not to restrict competition in any markets. The judgment comes after seven years of investigation, and is the largest antitrust fine ever handed out by the European commission. It was calculated based on...

  • Google will no longer scan your Gmail emails

    Great news for those vested in Google products. The company has announced it will no longer be creepy and scan consumers' Gmail email account content for its advertising purposes. "G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalisation, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service," Diane Greene, SVP of Google Cloud confirmed in a blog post. "Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalisation after this change." This move is to better align the consumer Gmail offering with the already scan-free business offering and other...

  • This Google Doodle lets you create calming musical animations

    Today would have been Oskar Fischinger's 117th birthday, and Google is using its latest doodle to celebrate his abstract animations. The German-American was notable for his abstract musical animations long before computer graphics and the concept of music videos came into play. In 1936, Fischinger and his wife fled Germany when it became clear he could not pursue his art under Hitler's regime. When he arrived in the US, Paramount Pictures offered him a job. He went on to animate sequences for Disney's Fantasia and Pinocchio. The artist's work was largely created between the 1920s and 1940s -- and the lack of digital technology meant he often spent...

  • Google’s adorable Doodle celebrates the summer (and winter) solstice

    Google's doodlers really know how to capture a moment in an adorable GIF. And what might the latest moment be, you ask? The summer and winter solstice, of course. Depending on which side of the equator you're on, you'll today experience the longest day of the year (north) or the longest night of the year (south). Much like these two mice in Google's GIF. Celebrating the new season—in both hemispheres!—with a #GoogleDoodle for summer and winter solstices. https://t.co/ioInwGI6Fv pic.twitter.com/cZvjSOE0os — Google (@Google) June 21, 2017 "Today’s Doodle celebrates the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere," Google explains. "As the longest day of the year, solstice...

  • Here’s how Facebook and Google plan to fight terrorism

    Both Facebook and Google have revealed how they are countering terrorist activity on their respective blogs this past week. These posts come after UK Prime Minister Theresa May criticised the internet for providing a safe space for terrorists to communicate -- and after Facebook itself dodged a lawsuit that claimed it was the reason Palestinian terrorists were able to kill numerous Israelis. Facebook revealed it is looking specifically at how artificial and human intelligence can work together, as well as partnering with other companies, NGOs and governments to bring an end to terror. The company is working on software that identifies when a user...

  • South Africa: here’s how to get four free months on Google Play Music

    Google Play Music now offers a four-month free trial for those subscribing to its service. The streaming music platform headed by the Mountain View company houses over 30-million tracks, and allows users to upload their own to the cloud, usually comes with a two- or three-month trial. But Google's seemingly feeling a bit generous this week. First spotted by Android Police last week, the deal is still ongoing at the time of writing. And yes, it's available to those within South Africa's borders too. Interestingly, it seems that the deal comes in tow with South Africa's addition to Google Play promo codes supported...

  • Microsoft Azure, data centres coming to Cape Town and Johannesburg in 2018

    Microsoft South Africa today announced its Azure Cloud servers and services are finally heading to the country. Previously, African companies relied on data centres beyond the continent's landmass to use the cloud, but the new servers -- which will be located in Cape Town and Johannesburg -- will be a much shorter digital trip for cloud traffic. "Microsoft will deliver cloud services, including Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365," the company states in a blog post. While the company's marketing towards businesses and economic growth are clear, the company didn't mention gaming in its announcement. Sorry Crackdown fans. Microsoft instead explains that...

  • Apple showcases Table Mountain, Muizenberg in iPhone 7 tutorial videos

    As smartphones become more complicated, manufacturers are finding novel ways to educate their consumers. Apple's new video campaign does just that, shedding light on some of the basic ways to shoot with an iPhone 7. But there's something particularly noticeable about some of these videos. Especially for South Africans. Available to view on Apple's official site and on YouTube, the video series showcases a few landmarks that Cape Town residents would instantly recognise. One is undeniably Table Mountain, looking across from Lion's Head. Another is of Muizenberg Beach's famous colourful changing huts. While those two are definitely filmed on South African soil, we...

  • Apple’s now valued $270bn more than Microsoft, $145bn more than Alphabet

    While its latest quarterly figures were less than impressive, Apple's persistent market growth remains undoubted. The Cupertino-based technology company is the first in the United States to smash though the US$800-billion market cap barrier, sitting at US$802.8-billion at the time of writing. That fatter market cap is primarily thanks to its strong performance during Tuesday's trading, with shares gaining 0.6% in value to end the day at US$153. That number might not sound large, but multiply that by its 5.21-billion shares... More impressively though is when the company hit this figure. Apple's US$800-billion market cap cements its place as the world's valuable publicly-traded...

  • Apple’s latest acquisition monitors the things you do in bed

    Smart tracking technology has taken off in recent years, with wearables and internet of things gadgets featuring more prominently in homes across the world. One of the companies better placed in this space than most is Apple. Recently hitting its fattest market cap figures ever, the Cupertino-based tech giant has reportedly acquired sleep tracking company Beddit for an undisclosed fee. First reported by CNBC, the acquisition was innocuously announced by Beddit itself in a subtle change to its on-site privacy page. "Beddit has been acquired by Apple. Your personal data will be collected, used and disclosed in accordance with the Apple Privacy...

  • Google Docs’ latest phishing scam was bad news for journalists

    A Google Docs phishing attack, that paraded as a genuine link to a shared document, caused widespread panic on the internet Wednesday. On the same day that Facebook's WhatsApp was down for the count, some Google users (Fortune's Jeff John Roberts suggests that the scam was targeted at journalists) received an email with a seemingly normal Google Docs link. Closer inspection revealed a few oddities. The sender of the mail is the rather hilarious "hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh@mailinator.com" but the consequences of clicking the mail aren't. Taking unsuspecting users to a faux OAUTH authentication page, suggesting that Google Docs requires authorisation to open the document. The...

  • Apple’s struggled to make money from iPhone sales in Q2 2017

    While Facebook and Google make most of their money from advertising, Apple's in an altogether different boat. The company published its Q2 2017 financial results Tuesday, revealing its rises and falls in bank balance over the previous three months. "We are proud to report a strong March quarter, with revenue growth accelerating from the December quarter and continued robust demand for iPhone 7 Plus," Apple CEO Tim Cook states. "We’ve seen great customer response to both models of the new iPhone 7 (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition and we’re thrilled with the strong momentum of our Services business, with our highest revenue ever for...

  • Samsung’s Bixby disses Apple’s Siri in voice assistant rap battle

    Samsung just couldn't resist taking a swipe at Apple's Siri using its own smart voice assistant, could it? Bixby, which launched this weekend in South Korea on the Samsung Galaxy S8, hides a rather innocuous diss within a command. Asking Bixby to "please rap" or "beatbox", the voice assistant drops rhymes that would put Pitbull out of work. But more interesting still is the message hidden within one particular rap. Users on the Samsung subreddit noticed that when the first letters of a rap's lines are read vertically, it spells out the sentence "I am better than Siri". That's rude, Samsung. Also, dope...