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05.23.17 | 1:04 pm

About 1/5 of Googlers subscribe to a private newsletter to air complaints about harassment and bias at work

A group of Google employees have begun a message board for employees to submit worker complaints that's then emailed weekly as a digest, reports Bloomberg. The email list—called "Yes, at Google"—has been around since October and allows employees to talk openly about work situations in which they felt uncomfortable; most submissions are anonymized. 

Examples of complaints include allegations of harassment, sexism, and accounts of misconduct and abuse (some severe posts include notes from the company asking for more information). According to Bloomberg, 15,000 Google workers subscribe to the list. 

Google is aware of the message board and seems to be keeping it around as a human resources tool, even recommending it in an email to employees amid the Uber sexual harassment scandal. While it isn't run and vetted by management, the email list is one way to signal to employees that the technology giant wants to foster a more communicative and inclusive culture. 

05.23.17 | 5:56 am

Google’s AlphaGo AI just beat the world’s number one Go player

Thankfully, humanity has a chance to fight back as there are still two more matches to go. Until then, we will admit it's getting scary at how well software is able to not only match but beat the strategic thought processes of a human. If you have six hours to kill, you can check out the first match below.

05.18.17 | 1:01 pm

YouTube will let us talk amongst ourselves in VR

YouTube would like to be, well, the YouTube of VR. It already has hundreds of thousands of immersive videos and a VR app for Google's Daydream VR platform. And here at Google's I/O conference, it provided a brief peek at an upcoming new feature that lets multiple people watch videos together in VR and chat about them—an interesting twist on making VR social, a challenge that has also inspired efforts such as Facebook's Spaces VR.

05.17.17 | 3:03 pm

Google wants to show that AI can help people find jobs, not lose them

People have lately been freaking out over nightmare scenarios involving artificial intelligence rendering much of humanity unemployable. Here at Google I/O, CEO Sundar Pichai wound up the keynote by announcing Google Jobs, a new AI-enhanced search feature designed to make finding jobs (and employees) easier.

The new feature uses machine learning to understand job listings better, thereby helping candidates find the right potential positions even if the titles involved aren't obviously up their alley. It also includes features such as the ability to turn on notifications that will alert you about relevant jobs as they become available.

05.17.17 | 2:48 pm

Android Go is Google’s new software for the developing world

In developing economies where iPhones are impossibly pricey, Android is even more of a force than it is in the rest of the world. But making the software run well on a device that isn't lavishly equipped is tough—and consumers often must be super-cautious about how much data they consume.

Enter Android Go, a new version arriving next year and based on the new Android O. Replacing the previous Android One, it's designed to allow hardware makers to build low-cost phones that work well and don't gorge on data

• The OS is optimized for devices without much RAM, down to 512MB

• Its settings highlight features for managing data, which helps you use less of it

• Chrome comes with a data-saving mode turned on by default

• The OS comes with YouTube Go, a special version for areas where wireless data is pricey and/or slow, with features such as the ability to preview videos and download them for offline viewing

05.17.17 | 2:24 pm

YouTube’s Super Chat is getting its own API

In the past, YouTube hasn't gotten much stage time at Google I/O. This year, it got a whole chunk of keynote, led by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. Among the news: Its Super Chat feature, which lets fans reward their favorite YouTube creators by paying to pin their comments during live videos, is getting an open API that will let developers build functionality around it.

Exactly what that will allow isn't completely clear. But the demo that YouTube used to demo the concept—involving using Super Chat to remotely sound a horn, prompting audience members to pelt the Slow Mo Guys with water balloons for charity—was certainly imaginative. 

05.17.17 | 1:55 pm

Google Photos wants to help you decide which snapshots to share

Google Photos, which Google announced at Google I/O 2015, is a hit: It now has 500 million users who upload 1.2 billion photos a day. At this year's I/O, Google is announcing new features designed to make sure that that the images users snap on their phones actually get shared.

"Suggested Photos" uses machine learning to identify photos you might want to share with a friend, and then shows them to you so you can make them available in a shared album (which can also include their photos of you). And another new feature lets you automatically share all photos of a particular sort with a specific person—such as sharing all the photos you take of your kids with your spouse. 

Also new: a feature for creating printed photo books that—unlike Apple's equivalent—suggests specific images you might want to use.  

05.17.17 | 1:47 pm

Google Home will show stuff on screens you already own

Last week, Amazon announced the Echo Show, a smart speaker with a built-in screen. Here at Google I/O, Google hasn't announced a screen-equipped version of its Google Home—at least yet. But it did announce new features for the current Home designed to let it work with phones and TVs, such as the ability to send a map to your phone, pull up your calendar on your TV, or simply ask the Google Assistant to show you some YouTube videos.

05.17.17 | 1:34 pm

Google’s Assistant is coming to the iPhone (and a whole lot of other gadgets)

At last year's Google I/O, the single biggest announcement was the debut of Google Assistant, the company's AI-powered, search-centric competitor to Apple's Siri. This year, Google just announced the arrival of an iOS version of the Assistant—which could be pretty nifty even though it won't ever be as deeply baked into Apple devices as Siri.

Along with the iOS news, Google also unveiled the Assistant SDK, a toolkit that will let third-party hardware manufacturers build the service into gizmos such as Echo-style smart speakers. That will give its own Google Home speaker new competition, but should also help the Assistant reach more people more quickly.

05.17.17 | 1:24 pm

Google is bundling its AI efforts into Google.ai

It's pretty obvious by now that the biggest new frontier for competition among tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft is AI. Google, which has been working to figure out the world around it for nearly 20 years, is well positioned for this era. At at Google I/O, CEO Sundar Pichai just announced that the company has formed Google.ai, a more centralized way to coordinate its diverse efforts in this area—not just in its own products, but also the tools it's providing to other companies and research it's doing in fields such as using AI to fight breast cancer.

 

05.17.17 | 1:14 pm

Android now has two—count ’em— billion users

Only a few tech products are part of the billion-user club. Here at Google's I/O developer conference, CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Android has reached a far more rarified tier of popularity: There are now two billion people using it on phones, tablets, and other devices.

05.16.17 | 1:55 pm

What will Google announce this week at I/O?

At 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 17, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other execs will take the stage in Mountain View for the keynote at I/O, the company's big developer conference. I'll be there along with my colleagues Mark Sullivan and Daniel Terdiman to provide live coverage, and we hope you'll join us.

In the meantime, here's Mark's story on some of the key topics that Google is likely to address with updates, new products, and other announcements.