Alphabet Surpasses Apple as the World’s Most Valuable Company

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Alphabet Inc., the holding company of Google has unequivocally becomes the World’s Most Valuable Company, surpassing Apple with a market cap difference of $23 billion dollars – Google’s market cap was $558 billion with 8% increase after the company reported its fourth-quarter earnings. Meanwhile, Apple’s market cap sits at a $535 billion.

The company smashed expectations on both ends, bringing in $21.3 billion in revenue and earnings of $8.67 per share. What amazing is that Google, a software company, surpassed the revenue of Apple, a hardware company with crazy margins on its products. This narrative alone speaks a lot of its capabilities and focus on making the best of what they make, which are mostly intangible services.

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Google Partners with Movidius to Enhance Deep Learning Capabilities in Next-Gen Android Smartphones

Google today announced a partnership with a Silicon Valley chip manufacturer Movidius Work to bring powerful machine learning image recognition technology directly to Android smartphones.

As part of the agreement, Google will deploy its advanced neural computation engine on Movidius’ ultra-low-power platform, revolutionizing the usual server-based AI computation model. This enhancement will allow complex machine learning algorithms to run on device locally without an Internet connection and little to no latency issue.

The head of Google’s machine intelligence group in Seattle, Blaise Agüera y Arcas commented said,

What Google has been able to achieve with neural networks is providing us with the building blocks for machine intelligence, laying the groundwork for the next decade of how technology will enhance the way people interact with the world. By working with Movidius, we’re able to expand this technology beyond the data center and out into the real world, giving people the benefits of machine intelligence on their personal devices.

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Android One in Pakistan – Hands on with QMobile A1

Android One is a line of consumer electronic devices running Android operating system. Unlike other Android-based smartphones, Google manages the design, development, marketing, and support of these devices whereas the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) are responsible for manufacturing them.

Cherry on top is the near-stock Android experience the smartphones running Android One get. With minimum (or no) bloatware and OEM modification to the OS, you get to use Android the way it is meant to be used.

With Android One we set the bar to be a great software experience and a great device. We really want to bring in a whole new set of people who have never tried a smartphone before.

Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Products, Google.

Android One was introduced in Google I/O 2014 with smartphones starting to ship from September 2014. Now there are dozens of manufacturers in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries. A couple of days ago, Google, with collaboration of QMobile, launched the first Android One phone in Pakistan, QMobile A1.

I’ve been a fan of stock Android myself and thus I own a Nexus phone, tablet(s), and a player. When I heard about Android One heading to Pakistan, I decided to jump the wagon and buy a QMobile phone to try out the software in lower specs device. Now, I’ve only used the phone for around 8 hours and these are my initial thoughts.

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Google will announce Android “M” in this year’s I/O

As per Google’s tradition, the latest version to Android will be announced during Google I/O 2015. While this information hasn’t been confirmed by Google (well, duh!) but AndroidPolice managed to get a screengrab of a session detailed agenda mentioning ‘Android “M”‘. That part is undoubtedly removed from Google I/O’s website adding more to the story.

Screen grab of the agenda of a talk at Google I/O 2015, mentioning Android M. It was later removed from the website.

Screengrab of the agenda of a talk at Google I/O 2015, mentioning Android M. It was later removed from the website.

Google’s not new at teasing its fans. Remember how Nexus 5 was unveiled?

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Lollipop for Your Phone

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In case you were wondering, your smartphone won’t be asking you to buy it a Lollipop. Not any time soon, anyway.

Back to the actual topic, Google has announced to roll out one of the biggest version upgrade since Android 4.0 today. Lo and behold, Android L(ollipop) 5.0, following the tradition of name its operating systems alphabetically after sweet delicacies. This latest version of Android have been in spotlights ever since Google announced it in I/O 2014 a few months back.

So what’s new?

A bunch of stuff, really. From complete revamp of internal workings to a sexier, sleeker user interface to material design, it is said to be the

largest, most ambitious release on Android

Some of the most notable features of Android Lollipop are:

  • Consistent design and look-and-feel in all of the devices.
  • 5,000 new API’s for developers.
  • OS sync (yes, OS sync) across multiple devices running on Android Lollipop. So you launch an app on your phone, do some stuff on it, pick up your tablet, and continue where you left off on the phone. Your photos, songs, searches, recent tasks, and even applications get sync across devices.
  • Categorization of notifications – say you’re on a dinner date and wouldn’t want to have it disturbed so you allow only certain kind of notifications to be displayed to you, like a text message from a family member or a voice note from your home land-line number.
  • Android now runs on Android own runtime environment making it more efficient and less power hungry than its previous versions. Google claims that its optimizations into core Android will give your device an extra juice of 90 minutes every day. For you tech-savvy people out there, here’s a comparison between Android Lollipop’s ART and previously used Dalvik Virtual Machine.
  • Material Design – unified experience across device platforms and screen sizes allowing a user to intuitively use an Android application whether they’re tapping away on their smartphone, tablet, your smart watch, or an in-car Android computer.  For more detailed features of Material Design, read this article.
  • Ability to create multiple user profiles and switch between them. Switching a profile would keep your photos and other data private, including the apps you’ve installed on the device.
  • 3D but flat, yet 3D.

    Android-Material-Design

    Look, ma, it’s both flat and 3D

There are plenty of features in Android Lollipop that are yet to be disclosed about the operating system. So, if you’re saying to yourself, “Well, awesome! So when do I get my hands on a phone running Android L?” And the answer is: if you’re a developer and have Nexus 5 or Nexus 7, you can get to play with it. For the rest of the folks, Google is going to release Android L on 1st of November. So hang tight!

Basit Saeed

Passionately a software developer, Basit Saeed considers himself a person who believes in software and social media being the change agents of 21st century. He is a techy, a gadgets freak, and loves playing with code whenever he can. He tweets at @basit_saeed.

Keep Calm and Say, “OK Google!” to Search

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Google has released its voice search feature ‘OK, Google!’ for the desktop version of Chrome. In the latest beta version of Chrome, you can Google anything by simply clicking a single button in the browser.

Google announced voice search in Google I/O Conference last year but it was only available for limited users. If you’re an Android user, you’ve probably used the version of voice search in your smartphones and know how cool it is to use it is instead of typing long sentences in a browser.

It’s cool, it’s fun, and it’s new. We know what you’re looking for: how to install and enable this feature in Chrome, right? Well here you go:

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Human-Like Intelligence – Ultimate Future of Robots?

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See if it rings a bell:

“An artificially intelligent computer system designed to protect and serve humans goes rogue and decides to take over humanity.” Yup! That’s a non-techie sort of description of Skynet from Terminator franchise. The name ‘Skynet’ is not unfamiliar to anyone who’s remotely interested in Sci-Fi movies.

Developments in artificial intelligence, if left unchecked, could pose extinction-level threat to our species as a whole.

Shane Legg, DeepMind.

Gone are the days when Skynet and machines from the Matrix used to be cool topics for making a science fiction. The horrifying truth is, we might achieve human-level machine intelligence sometime between 2015 to 2049, according to The Singularity is Near, a book written by Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google.

If you believe humans can effectively mitigate the risk of superintelligent robots, consider this scenario: you have manufactured hundreds of robots that can walk like you and even outrun you. These robots are stronger than you, and because of the ground-breaking developments in machine learning, more intelligent than you are. Their ability to think like humans make them resilient against one of those kill switch options. Like humans cannot be made bound to laws, neither can they. You can tell them about ethical responsibilities of robots, but since they have the ability to think freely, it will be up to them whether to agree with the code of ethics or not. Why would an intelligent and stronger being agree to something that suggest they stay our servants? They won’t. No rational or logical being would.
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