14 Oct 2019

TechBits, Oct 14, 2019

1. Google’s upcoming Pixelbook Go laptop

  • Yet more details are emerging about the hardware Google LLC will unveil at its New York product event next Tuesday.
  • The company is expected to debut the Pixel 4 and, with it, a successor to the 2017 Pixelbook laptop, the specifications of which leaked in full today via a video and photos released by 9to5Google. The publication got its hands on a nearly production-ready prototype that pairs a characteristic Google case design with significantly improved internals.
  • The Pixelbook Go, as it’s reportedly called, comes in a two-color chassis consisting of a slightly off-white laptop lid and a ribbed, pink bottom. Inside is a backlit keyboard with a dedicated button for launching the Google Assistant.

2. Uber will begin grocery delivery with Cornershop acquisition

  • In its first move into grocery delivery, Uber Technologies Inc. today announced plans to acquire majority ownership of Delivery Technologies SpA, better known as Cornershop, a Latin American grocery delivery startup that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. tried and failed to buy for $225 million.
  • The deal is expected to be completed in early 2020. Under the transaction terms, Cornershop will continue to operate under the leadership of its founders, who will report to a board of directors comprised mainly of Uber-appointed directors.
  • The reason Uber opted for this arrangement instead of buying the startup outright is likely tied to the circumstances of Walmart’s failed acquisition attempt. Cornershop accepted the retailer’s offer, but Mexican regulators shot down the deal over concerns it would harm competition. Officials weren’t convinced that the retailer would have allowed rival firms to continue offering their goods through the grocery delivery service.

3. Sabin Installation turns AI into Art at Microsoft Research Atrium

  • For more than a decade, architect and educator Jenny Sabin have created a series of large sculptural installations at the intersection of architecture, art, and science. Integrating new technologies, inventive material, and a combination of biological phenomena and mathematics, her latest work adds artificial intelligence or AI.
  • “Ada,” a responsive, photoluminescent fiber pavilion designed to “smile back at you,” has just opened, suspended in a light-filled atrium at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington.

4. Missed Messages is a powerful romance, a horror game about communicating

  • It can be difficult to find time to finish a video game, especially if you only have a few hours a week to play. In our biweekly column Short Play we suggest video games that can be started and finished on a weekend.
  • Shorter games are often able to tackle themes and ideas that would be more challenging in a big, blockbuster production. That’s one of the main reasons I decided to start this column: to highlight those smaller experiences that offer something new, inventive, or experimental. Missed Messages, from solo developer Angela He, is the perfect encapsulation of this.
  • In Missed Messages, you play as a college-aged girl living in one of her school’s dormitories with her roommate May. It’s a visual novel, like Butterfly Soup or One Night, Hot Springs, although at first blush it doesn’t necessarily look like it. The game opens with you waking from a dream and exploring your room. There are various objects you can click on, like plants or books, and each click is accompanied by an inner monologue that gives you a sense of the main character.

5. Chrome new feature uses AI to describe Images for Blind and Low-Vision users

  • Google images are a wonderful source of information where you can easily look for images that better suits your needs or understanding. However, it’s not really that useful for visually impaired or low-vision users. Unless and until the website developers start using alt-text for their websites, it’s really not possible for blind people to know what’s on display.
  • To that end, Google has come up with a new Artificial Intelligence-based feature for Chrome which will use machine learning to recognize the images and give text descriptions, reports Fast Company.
  • This new advanced feature Chrome is based on the same technology which allows users to search for images by specific keywords and where the image description gets auto-generated.

6. google Maps now offers extra detailed Spoken Directions to help Blind people

  • Google recently announced a new Artificial Intelligence-based feature for Chrome that uses machine learning to recognize the images and give text descriptions to low-vision and blind people. Now, Google has rolled out another new feature that offers extra-detailed spoken navigation to help people with vision impairment navigate more easily.
  • “Frequent updates like these not only help a visually impaired person get from A to B, they can also give us more confidence and reassurance when we travel alone,” said Wakana Sugiyama, a business analyst in Google’s Tokyo office who was an adviser and tester for this new Google Maps project. Sugiyama, herself, is legally blind and uses a walking crane to move around.

7. google begins enabling Dark Mode on Gmail and Maps

  • The move to an optional dark mode on all your favorite apps seems to be more of a reality than ever before. In line with Instagram embracing dark mode via an update earlier this week, Google has now begun teasing a dark mode toggle for most of its popular apps and services.
  • The first batch of Google apps to see the rollout appear to be Gmail and Maps, but do bear in mind that it won’t work unless you’re on Android 10 or iOS 13.

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About Philomathes Jigyasu

Philomathes (pronounced as fillo-MAY-thus) is a fictional character at VAYUZ (https://www.vayuz.com), who is on a never ending journey called “LEARNING”. In a way, Philomathes embodies VAYUZ - Way of life, which is if you are not learning then you are not breathing. The word Philomathes, comes from the Greek roots philo and philein meaning "to love" and the Greek roots mathos (MAH-thos) and mathesis (muh-THAYSIS) meaning “learning”. Philomathes through his Blogs and Vlogs (Video Blogs) will share his experience, learnings and thoughts. In his tryst to learn and understand, he would also seek answers to questions. So if you would like to join him in this incredible journey called “ life” then feel free to write to him on philomathes.jigyasu@vayuz.com. Always remember, knowledge is all around us, we just need to keep our guards down and senses on.

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