Google Analytics Gets Natural Language Processing Support With Machine Learning

Google Analytics now has the same natural language processing technology available in other Google apps such as Photos and Search, the Internet giant announced on Tuesday. That means you can now ask questions in plain English, which gets you answers quicker than before.

Depending on the question you ask, you will be presented with a number, rows, or a chart. As an example, the Analytics team suggests a question such as “How many new users did we have from organic search on mobile last week?” which will give you a number. If you ask the trend of session duration, expect the answer in a chart form as the image above.

Google Analytics Gets Natural Language Processing Support With Machine LearningThe feature becomes a part of Analytics Intelligence, which relies on machine learning to make sense of your analytics data. Analytics Intelligence will also help provide automated insights – now available on both Web and the app – alongside smart lists, smart goals, and session quality. Insights will also present specific recommendations to improve metrics, such as reducing load time to decrease bounce rate, and adding a new AdWords keyword to boost conversion rate.

To access the new questions feature and get automated insights, click the Intelligence button to open a side panel on the website, and tap the Intelligence icon in the top-right corner on the Google Analytics app for Android and iOS.

Google says the new features are now rolling out, and will be available in English to all Google Analytics users over the next few weeks.

Google Fight on Right to Be Forgotten Is EU Case of Deja Vu

Google’s fight against France’s bid to enforce the so-called right to be forgotten globally is headed to the European Union’s top court, just three years after its judges ordered the company to strip out some results that people find embarrassing or out of date.

The EU Court of Justice will now have to decide whether links should be purged from Internet searches in one country, across the EU or globally. It will also have to rule whether Google should be required to block users from seeing the links.

These questions were put to it by France’s Conseil d’Etat, the country’s highest administrative court, in a dispute between Google and the French privacy watchdog over what Google’s responsibility is for pulling information from the web.

The search engine currently removes links in all European versions of Google if a person can show the information that comes up on a search for his or her name is outdated or irrelevant. France’s privacy watchdog was pushing Google to remove results from google.com and other sites worldwide. The EU court is now being asked whether Google should block views from IP addresses located in some countries.

The freedom of the Internet is at stake, according to Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which claims the French view might allow governments to force worldwide removal of content that’s illegal in their countries. France’s CNIL data-protection authority argues that failing to remove links from Google.com creates an “absurd” situation where data is available globally that can’t be shown in Europe to protect a person’s privacy.

The battle goes back to a 2014 ruling from the EU Court of Justice that backed privacy rights over publication, telling Google it had to remove links to personal information. Google must now weigh requests to withdraw links from its search engine as courts continue to refine what rules it should apply. EU judges were asked by the same French court earlier this year to rule on how to apply the right to be forgotten requests in internet searches.

Google Fight on Right to Be Forgotten Is EU Case of Deja VuGoogle has been asked to remove more than 2 million web links from web searches. It’s refused more than half of the requests because they didn’t meet the criteria set by the EU court. A search engine can only continue to display certain results where there’s a public interest in doing so, it said on its website.

Google’s privacy lawyer Peter Fleischer said the company looked forward to making its case at the EU court.

“For the last 18 months, we’ve been defending the idea that each country should be able to balance freedom of expression and privacy in the way that it chooses, not in the way that another country chooses,” Fleischer said in an email.

Wednesday’s case stems from Google’s appeal of a EUR 100,000 ($115,000) fine from CNIL for failing to remove right to be forgotten requests from global search results. The French court will rule on that issue after it gets answers from the EU court. CNIL declined to comment.

Other cases continue to mark out what can and can’t be done to scrub content from the web. An Italian businessman lost an EU court bid to hide details of an insolvency in March. A Belgian court last year ruled that the right to be forgotten applied to newspaper’s electronic archives, backing a man who sought to remove information on a traffic offense.

Google is separately weighing whether to ask the EU courts to overturn a record 2.4 billion-euro antitrust fine from the European Commission over its shopping search service.

Google Street View Finally Captures Missing Austria

Google’s Street View cars on Thursday started taking images in Austria, the only EU country along with Germany to remain largely absent from the popular online service showing 360-degree pictures of places around the world.

The project, launched in 2007, lets computer users view panoramic street scenes on Google Maps and take a virtual “walk” through cities.

The photos are processed in the United States, where details such as faces and registration plates are automatically blurred before being published on Google Maps.

Some countries have been reluctant to grant Google access because of worries linked to data collection.

In 2010, Google had begun to roll out its service in Austria and neighbouring Germany but was ordered to halt operations over alleged privacy breaches.

The company admitted that vehicles had accidentally recorded personal data from wireless networks.

Although Austria lifted its temporary ban a year later, Street View decided not return to the alpine nation — until now.

Google Street View Finally Captures Missing AustriaThe fresh start was timed to coincide with Street View’s 10-year anniversary, Google said in a statement.

Cars equipped with special cameras will tour Vienna, Linz and Graz until November.

“The official launch of Street View in Austria is expected to happen in six to twelve months,” Google Austria spokesman Wolfgang Fasching-Kapfenberger told AFP.

Under Austrian law, Street View cars will only be allowed to capture photos but not videos.

The service still has a very low penetration rate in Germany, which has some of Europe’s strictest privacy laws due to the abuses under its Nazi and communist dictatorships.

As a special concession to privacy concerns, Germans can have their homes or businesses pixelated, as well as opt out of the service altogether.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Appointed to Alphabet’s Board

Alphabet said it appointed chief executive of its Google unit, Sundar Pichai, to its board. The company’s board also includes founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

In a statement, Alphabet CEO Page said, “Sundar has been doing a great job as Google’s CEO, driving strong growth, partnerships, and tremendous product innovation. I really enjoy working with him and I’m excited that he is joining the Alphabet board.”

The company reported a 21 percent jump in quarterly revenue on Monday, maintaining a growth rate that is rarely seen among companies its size and suggesting the big sales gains enjoyed recently by the other Internet firms are not done yet.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Appointed to Alphabet's BoardAlphabet, the owner of Google and YouTube, said it made $3.5 billion (roughly Rs. 22,532 crores) in net income on sales of $26 billion (roughly Rs. 1,67,384 crores). The profit would have been much larger but for a record $2.7 billion European Union antitrust fine.

Still, the company noted that costs were rising faster than sales and warned that expenses would remain high as more searches shift to mobile devices.

The squeeze on expected future profit appeared to weigh on Alphabet’s share price, which fell about 3 percent to $967 after the bell. Shares had closed up in regular trading and have gained 26 percent for the year.

Alphabet’s cost of revenue, a measure of how much money the company must spend to keep its platforms running before added costs such as research, rose 28 percent, well above the growth in revenue itself.

With its latest profits, Alphabet reported $15.7 billion in cash and cash equivalents, and another $79 billion in marketable securities.

Alphabet Sees Boost in Mobile Ads as It Takes Hit From Record EU Fine on Google

Google parent Alphabet on Monday saw shares slide as the market reacted to a massive fine by the European Commission and word that success in mobile, cloud and YouTube is coming with higher costs.

Alphabet reported a quarterly profit of $3.5 billion (roughly Rs. 22,532 crores), in a sharp decline from a year ago, with a $2.74 billion antitrust fine in Europe biting into earnings.

The technology giant reported that revenue grew to $26 billion (roughly Rs. 1,67,384 crores) in the recently ended quarter, and that profit would have tallied nearly $6.3 billion if it were not for the fine levied on search engine Google by the European Commission.

Earnings for the quarter fell 28 percent from the same period last year.

Revenue was up 21 percent from the same quarter last year.

Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat said the report showed “strong growth with great underlying momentum,” as the company makes “focused investments in new revenue streams.”

Alphabet shares slid about 3.1 percent to $967.20 in after-market trades that followed the release of the earnings figures.

Reasons for the drop likely included the mixed blessing of Google use booming on mobile devices, bringing in more revenue but also paying more to websites hosting ads.

Alphabet also said it was spending more money on operating data centers, acquiring YouTube content, and its line of hardware, which were cited as growing businesses at the company.

Mulling options
Investors have been concerned about what the regulatory trouble in Europe means for Alphabet, which gets most of its money from Google advertising while investing in “other bets” such as self-driving cars and life sciences.

Alphabet took in $248 million in revenue and posted a narrowed loss of $772 million in its “other bets” category in the recently ended quarter.

Google and the EU are gearing up for a battle that could last years, with the Silicon Valley behemoth facing a relentless challenge to its ambition to expand beyond search results.

Brussels has already spent seven years targeting Google, fueled by a deep apprehension of the company’s dominance of Internet search across Europe, where it commands about 90 percent of the market.

Alphabet Sees Boost in Mobile Ads as It Takes Hit From Record EU Fine on GoogleIn a verdict that could redraw the online map worldwide, the EU’s top antitrust sheriff, Margrethe Vestager, in June imposed a record fine on Google for illegally favoring its shopping service in search results.

The EU accuses Google of giving its multitude of services too much priority in search results to the detriment of other price comparison services.

The decision – if it survives an expected appeal process – could prove to be momentous for Google, as well as for competition law in general.

“We are still early in our analysis of the decision,” Porat said in response to a question about the fine during an earnings call with analysts.

“We do have time to notify the commission for proposed remedies as well as to implement changes.”

Porat said Alphabet was reviewing its options and declined to comment further on the ongoing legal matter.

The EU is also examining Google’s AdSense advertising service and its Android mobile phone software.

Finding a balance
Alphabet would be wise to diversify, but it must be careful not to take advantage of its powerful position in online search to gain advantage, said Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.

Investors will also be watching to make sure this is a one-time fine, because not even a behemoth like Google can take that kind of cash hit each quarter, the analyst said.

“I don’t see Google changing its behavior, which means the EU could continue to hit them with excessive fines,” Enderle said.

“The EU does not have a sense of humor when it comes to US companies telling them to take a hike.”

The company announced separately that Google chief executive Sundar Pichai would join Alphabet’s board of directors.

Pichai is responsible for Google’s product development and technology strategy, as well as the company’s day-to-day-operations.

Facebook, Google, Twitter Face Increased Pressure From EU Over User Terms

European Union authorities have increased pressure on Facebook, Google and Twitter to amend their user terms to bring them in line with EU law after proposals submitted by the tech giants were considered insufficient.

The European Commission and consumer protection authorities in the bloc wrote to the three companies in June, asking them to improve their proposed changes to user terms by the end of September, according to letters sent to the companies and seen by Reuters on Monday.

The authorities have the power to issue fines if the companies fail to comply.

Representatives of Facebook and Twitter did not respond immediately to emailed requests for comment and a Google spokesman declined to make immediate comment.

The authorities’ concerns centre mainly on procedures the social media companies proposed to set up for the removal of illegal content on their websites, terms limiting their liability and terms allowing them unilaterally to remove content posted by users.

Facebook, Google, Twitter Face Increased Pressure From EU Over User TermsThe US trio were given until July 20 to submit new proposals, which need to be implemented by the end of September, the letters said.

A person familiar with the matter said that two of the companies had submitted amended proposals, while a third had asked for more time, declining to specify which one.

The companies had first proposed changes to their terms and conditions in March to assuage the regulators’ concerns in March. The sticking points were terms such as those that forced European consumers to seek redress in California, where the companies are based, instead of the consumer’s home country.

US technology companies have faced tight scrutiny in Europe for the way they do business, from privacy issues to how quickly they remove illegal or threatening content.

The authorities and the Commission asked the companies to provide more detail on the timeframe and deadlines they would apply to dealing with notifications of content deemed illegal under consumer law, as well as dedicating a page or email address to notifications from consumer authorities.

In addition, the bodies are pressing for a procedure whereby consumers would be notified before their content is removed or given an opportunity to challenge it.

Facebook to Launch Paid News Subscription Product

A week after nearly 2,000 publishers in the US formed the News Media Alliance to get an anti-trust exemption from the Congress to negotiate over advertising revenue with digital platforms, a top Facebook executive has confirmed the company would soon launch a news subscription product.

Campbell Brown, the head of the company’s news partnerships, said Facebook will launch a subscription-based news product with initial tests beginning in October, The Street reported late on Tuesday.

“One of the things we heard in our initial meetings from many newspapers and digital publishers is that we want a subscription product – we want to be able to see a paywall in Facebook,” Brown said at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in New York City.

“And that is something we’re doing now. We are launching a subscription product,” he told the gathering.

According to Brown, the paywall idea is based on premium and metered plans and has been in the works for a while.

“Facebook plans to erect a paywall which would require readers to become subscribers of the platform after they’d accessed 10 articles,” Brown was quoted as saying.

Media reports said Facebook options would seem to accommodate metered publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Economist, which make a certain selection of articles free and put the rest behind a paywall.

Facebook will also give access to publications to all subscriber data through which they can understand their audience better.

The move is to let the people subscribe to publications through Facebook’s ‘Instant Articles’ feature and support major publications with metered paywalls and “freemium” models.

Facebook to Launch Paid News Subscription ProductThe News Media Alliance that represents roughly 2,000 US’ national and local newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, has started reaching out to Capitol Hill to sound out the chances for an exemption.

“We are not looking to break up Google and Facebook by saying they have a duopoly here, what we are saying is there has got to be a way to improve the business model,” Paul Boyle, senior vice-president (public policy) News Media Alliance, was quoted as saying.

According to Boyle, newspapers had thought allowing their articles to be shared on social media would earn them a piece of the digital ad market.

“But Facebook doesn’t always allow the reader to click through to the publisher’s website, denying the news website ad revenue from that reader,” he stated.

It is unclear, however, how payments will be handled and if Facebook would take a cut of subscription sales.

According to media reports, Google and Facebook control nearly two-third of the digital advertising industry, and newspaper revenue from advertisements declined to $16 billion in 2016, down from about $50 billion 10 years earlier.

Google Sued by Employee for Allegedly Running ‘Spying Programme’ to Prevent Leaks

A Google Inc product manager has sued the company, accusing it of unlawfully prohibiting employees from sharing concerns with coworkers, shareholders or the press, and maintaining a “spying program” to prevent leaks.

Google Sued by Employee for Allegedly Running 'Spying Programme' to Prevent LeaksIn the class action lawsuit filed on Tuesday in California state court in San Francisco, the employee, identified only as “John Doe,” says Google’s employment agreements are illegally broad and violate various state labour laws.

The plaintiff says the confidentiality agreements that all Google employees are required to sign essentially bar workers from saying anything about the company, even to each other. The agreements define confidential information as “without limitation, any information in any form that relates to Google or Google’s business that is not generally known,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the agreements violate state laws that provide that employers cannot bar workers from discussing their wages or disclosing information to government agencies.

A spokesperson for Mountain View, California-based Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, said in a statement that the claims were “baseless,” and said the agreements were designed to protect sensitive business information and not to bar employees from discussing working conditions.

“We’re very committed to an open internal culture, which means we frequently share with employees details of product launches and confidential business information,” the spokesperson said.

Google is facing similar claims from an unidentified employee in proceedings before the US National Labor Relations Board, which recently struck down confidentiality agreements and other employment contracts that could discourage workers from discussing concerns at T-Mobile USA Inc, DirectTV and a number of other companies.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff says that to enforce its policies, Google forces workers to spy on each other through a program called “Stopleaks” that requires them to report the disclosure of confidential information. Employees can be fired or sued for violating employment agreements or failing to report leaks, according to the lawsuit.

“Google continues to insist that Googlers refrain from plainly communicating with others that Google is violating the law or endangering consumers,” the complaint says.

Plaintiffs in court cases are rarely allowed to proceed anonymously absent extraordinary circumstances. The Google worker says that being identified could harm his reputation at the company and his future job prospects.

The plaintiff is seeking to represent all current and former Google employees who signed the agreements. The lawsuit says the company has about 65,000 workers.

The case is Doe v. Google Inc, California Superior Court, San Francisco County, number not immediately available.

New Medical Imaging Tech Likened to Google Maps for the Body

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A previously top-secret technology to zoom through the human body down to the level of a single cell could be a game-changer for medicine, an international research conference in the United States has been told.

The imaging technology, developed by high-tech German optical and industrial measurement manufacturer Zeiss, was originally developed to scan silicon wafers for defects.

Melissa Knothe Tate, a professor from University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia, is leading the project, using semiconductor technology to explore osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Using Google algorithms, Professor Knothe Tate – an engineer and expert in cell biology and regenerative medicine – is able to zoom in and out from the scale of the whole joint down to the cellular level “just as you would with Google Maps”, reducing to “a matter of weeks analyses that once took 25 years to complete”.

“For the first time we have the ability to go from the whole body down to how the cells are getting their nutrition and how this is all connected,” said Knothe Tate.

“This could open the door to as yet unknown new therapies and preventions,” added Knothe Tate, who is first to use the system in humans.

Knothe Tate presented several papers on her research into the human hip and osteoarthritis at the Orthopedic Research Society meeting in Las Vegas recently.

Knothe Tate likened using the Zeiss technology in the hipbone to Google Maps’ ability to zoom down from an Earth View to Street View.

“These are terabyte-sized data sets so the Google maps algorithms are helping us take this tremendous amount of information and use it effectively.

“The implications will ultimately pave the way to engineer better human health and quality of life as we age,” the scientist concluded.

9 time-saving search tips for Google on Android and iOS Spotlight

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Google and Spotlight search are two of the best time-saving tools on your Android or iOS device. And yet it’s easy to forget about the little Google search box on the home screen. Spotlight search on the iPhone and iPad fares worse, given that it’s completely hidden until you give your home screen a downward tug.

With a few taps on Google and Spotlight search, you can launch apps without opening the Application drawer or digging into home-screen folders. You can play music without opening the Music app first. You can call a contact, search for movie rentals in iTunes, check the weather, or even track a flight, all in one easy stop. And yes, you can search the web, too. Read on for 9 great time-saving Google and Spotlight search tips.

Note: For most of the following search tricks, Android relies on Google Now, a “digital assistant” that can do things like suggest nearby restaurants, calculate how long your commute will take, and display recent scores for your favorite teams. As long as you have the most recent version of the Google search app installed on your Android device, you’ve probably got Google Now up and running.

Launch an app

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Having multiple home screens and as many app folders as we want sure sounded like a good idea at the time—that is, until we had so many home screens and folders that finding the app we wanted to launch became like finding a needle in a haystack.

But with Google and Spotlight search on the case, you won’t need to hunt and peck for the specific app you want to open.

Instead, just head for Google or Spotlight and start tapping the name of an app—and within a few letters, the app’s icon should appear just below the search box.

Tap the icon, and boom—the app will open, no extra taps or swipes required.

Pull up a contact

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Need to call, text, or email a friend, colleague or loved one? Your first instinct may be to launch Android’s People app or Contacts on iOS, but there’s a better, faster way.

Just type the name of the contact you want to reach into the Google or Spotlight search box—and again, within a few letters or so, the name of your contact should appear.

Play some music or videos

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Most likely, your first step when you want to play some songs or an album on your iPhone, iPad or Android device is probably to launch either the Music or Play Music app. And again, there’s an easier way (particularly when it comes to iOS’s increasingly confounding Music app).

Tap or open Google or Spotlight search, then start typing the name of a song, album, an artist—or, if you’re in the mood, a purchased TV show or movie—and matching music tracks will appear just below the search box.

Tap a tune, and let the music (or the movie) play.

Map an address

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There’s a quicker way to find where you’re going than opening up Google or Apple Maps. Instead, just type any address into Google or Spotlight search.

With Google Now on the Android side, a map will be displayed right on your home screen.

For iOS, you’ll see a list of mapping results; tap one to jump directly to Apple Maps.

Search the web

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Sure, you can search the web using the Google search box on an Android phone, but did you know you could do so with iOS’s Spotlight search, too?

Go ahead, try it: Your web search results will appear just below the Spotlight search box, saving you the step of opening Safari first.

And as bonus, Spotlight will display any relevant Wikipedia hits just above your web results.

Check the weather (Android only)

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Will you need an umbrella today? Just tap “weather” into the Google search box for a summary of the local weather. complete with the current temperature and a five-day forecast.

Oh, and here’s a neat trick: See the slider just below the temperature? Slide it forward to 1 p.m., 6 p.m., or later for an hourly forecast of the current day, or any day you select in the five-day forecast.

Search for mail messages (iOS only)

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Trying to find a specific email message in your inbox? Well, you can tap on the Mail app in iOS, go to the All Mailboxes directory, drag down to reveal the search box, then tap in your search—or you can chop most of those steps and try this instead.

Just tug down on your home screen to open Spotlight search, then tap in some search terms—anything from the name of the sender to the subject of the message, some key words in the body, anything.

If any messages in your inbox match your search terms, they’ll appear just below the Spotlight search box. Tap a message to open it in the Mail app.

Create a reminder for yourself (Android only)

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Would you rather tie a string on your finger than jump through all the necessary hoops to set up a reminder on your Android phone? Here’s a super-easy alternative.

Go to the home-screen Google search box and type something along the lines of, “Remind me to pick up lettuce at the grocery store.”

When you do, Android will set up a reminder for you, complete with a title (“Buy lettuce”) and blanks for a time and/on place—meaning, for example, you can set your Android device to trigger the reminder the next time you’re near a grocery store.

Search for a movie rental or TV show (iOS only)

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When you’re ready to rent “Gravity,” “American Hustle,” or another Hollywood blockbuster from the iTunes store, there’s no need to swipe and tap on the iTunes app.

Just open Spotlight and type the name of the movie or TV show you want to find on iTunes, and a search result will appear once you’ve tapped a few keys. And yes—this trick works for songs and books on iTunes, too