Richard Waters

First, for Google’s opponents, let’s look on the bright side.

The company’s tentative deal with European regulators in April to head off a formal anti-trust complaint was, according to critics, worse than useless. In the words of Silicon Valley lawyer Gary Reback: “They were Nowheresville”.

Tuesday’s revised deal at least fixes the most glaring flaws. Whether it will do anything meaningful to change the competitive situation is another matter. Read more

Robert Cookson

If any single piece of technology underpins the $100bn global online advertising market, it is the cookie.

So news that Google plans to ditch cookies and replace them with its own tracking solution has big implications for advertising technology companies and the venture capital funds that have poured billions of dollars into the sector in recent years.

Rocket Fuel, a real-time ad-buying platform that went public in the US this week, and Criteo, a French ad tech company that this week filed for an IPO on Nasdaq, have both warned about the reliance of their businesses on cookies. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

Google has lost an appeal in a case about its controversial Street View feature, after a panel of judges rejected its claim that wiretapping laws did not apply to its accidental interception of household WiFi data.

The long-running case came to a head on Tuesday when the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals found that private Wi-Fi networks could not be considered radio communication. Google had argued household wireless internet should be considered in the same category as radio, as data “readily accessible to the general public”, which would make it exempt from the Wiretap Act.

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Robert Cookson

It’s personal, attention-grabbing, and highly effective: email is one of the most important ways that companies market their products to the masses.

So no wonder that email marketers are concerned that Google has redesigned Gmail in a way that filters deals, offers and promotional messages into a less prominent part of the inbox.

How worried should marketers be? To answer the question, FT Tech Blog has rustled up some striking data about how Gmail users are behaving following the changes. Read more

Robert Cookson

German publishers just can’t seem to make their minds up about Google.

Publishers such as Axel Springer pushed hard this year for a new law that only allows Google to include snippets of their articles in Google News if they have explicitly opted in to the service.

That law was introduced today – but nothing has changed. Rather than withholding their content, Germany’s top publishers have given Google News permission to continue as before. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The Federal Trade Commission is probing Google’s $1bn acquisition of Waze, the social navigation app.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company had been contacted by the FTC about the mapping deal but did not comment on the nature of its investigation. Read more

(and only one is, can we play with it?)

In a letter to Google chief executive Larry Page, the officials – from the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Israel, Switzerland and three Canadian provinces – have formally raised their concerns about Glass.

Here are their questions and our brief commentary: Read more

The privacy row over Google Glass has forced Google do an unusually Apple-like thing: block applications.

Despite repeated attempts to reassure the public that Google would not include face recognition in its Glass project without the appropriate privacy controls, the search giant has been unable to silence privacy campaigners or curb the aspirations of third party developers who are keen to exploit the new technology. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Google shares rose past the $900 mark on Wednesday as it announced 900m Android activations at its annual developer conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco. Google also launched a new subscription music streaming service, Google Play All Access, and a bunch of new services for developers, including improved gaming capabilities, mapping services and voice-controlled search tools.
Here’s a transcript of the liveblog by Chris Nuttall and Tim Bradshaw, who were reporting from the Moscone Center. 

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

Only a lucky group of applicants was selected to participate in testing the Explorer version of Google Glass. As early reviews started to trickle out this week, so too did a growing backlash against the “glassholes”.

While the elite of the tech world may be smitten – like Robert Scoble, who wrote he’s never taking his Google Glass off – others weren’t as easily impressed by the breakthrough in wearable computing, comparing it to overhyped tech toys such as the Segway and pocket protectors. Read more

Earlier on Friday, Wired reported that Apple’s voice app Siri, which is perhaps most famous for its comical misinterpretations, keeps users’ data for up to two years.

Now Google has told the FT that it stores queries to its voice search service for the same period. The difference is that Google stores the actual audio samples for up to two years, unlike Siri which deletes the audio after six months and then just retains the queries. So, is two years too long? Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Facebook is an incredible innovator, but one of its greatest strengths is its ability to absorb – the less charitable might say copy – its competitors’ best features. We saw it with Twitter and status updates; with Foursquare and Places; with Pinterest and last autumn’s Collections tool; and most recently Snapchat and the Poke app.

That’s fine when startups are nipping at your heels, but does that work when you’re competing against the tech industry’s biggest platforms?

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By Andrew Betts of FT Labs

Google has announced a major change to its Chrome browser this week. While it represents a divergence in a key part of Chrome previously shared with Apple’s Safari browser, the move should enable Google ultimately to up its pace of innovation.

So for those who might think that a ‘rendering engine’ is a piece of farm machinery, we offer the following overview of this development, which represents a substantial fork in the road in the development of the web. Read more

The Google Glass isn’t even on sale yet but it may already have a Chinese competitor, writes Henry Mance.

Baidu, the company that now dominates Chinese internet search after Google’s partial retreat in 2010, has said it is developing its own “ocular wearable interface”, provisionally called the Baidu Eye, which will allow wearers to take pictures, and search using voice and images. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The launch of Google+ Sign-In five weeks ago seems likely to lead to a big conversion to mobile apps and favour the Android ecosystem, with Google announcing today that hundreds of websites are now adopting the common authentication method.

Google+ Sign-In saves users having to remember their logins for different services, similar to Facebook Connect, but the VentureBeat Mobile Summit was told it also is serving as a powerful tool to introduce them to app versions of the websites they visit. Read more

Apple has bought WifiSlam, an indoor mobile location service, as the Silicon Valley giant continues to compete with Google in mapping capabilities.

The deal closed recently for $20m, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed source.

WifiSlam’s technology uses ambient wireless signals that are already present in buildings to pinpoint the location of smartphones, as opposed to the space-based satellite signals relied upon for larger-scale GPS mapping and navigation systems. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

At the South by Southwest Interactive festival, the annual geek gathering in Austin, Texas, a new Google gadget was the talk of the town – literally. Google’s “talking shoes” crammed a tiny computer, sensors, speakers and a Bluetooth wireless controller into a pair of Adidas that shout at their wearer when they aren’t moving around enough.

Google’s latest venture into wearable technology was more an attention-seeking gimmick than a serious new venture. But with the search giant ploughing significant resources into Google Glass, it’s another indication that Google is serious about moving from the digital to the physical – plans that seem to include a smart watch, too. Read more

It is 600 miles from Olathe, Kansas, to Englewood, Colorado, and both towns can seem a million miles from the media hubs of New York and Hollywood. Yet two announcements from the US heartland this week provide important pointers to the future of the cable industry and the content companies that depend on it.

In Olathe, Google unveiled plans to roll out the fibre optic network it is testing in nearby Kansas City, offering broadband speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. That is roughly 100 times faster than the country’s typical download rate, for $70 a month or $120 with a video service.

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There is an empathy gap in technology development. In the analytic, data-driven world of Silicon Valley, emotions often do not get factored into the latest product design.

This comes down to the way engineers and technicians think, says Anthony Jack, the director of the mind, brain, and consciousness lab at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The more people exercise the analytic functions of their brains, the less empathetic they become. Likewise, when we empathise, we turn off the analytic function of the brain.

“There is a cognitive tension between these two different types of understanding,” he said. Read more

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

This week Mark Zuckerberg took the wraps off Graph Search, Facebook’s revamped search engine that allows users to search through their social connections. The unveiling of the feature triggered a wave of discussion from tech commentators over whether the social network can add a new revenue stream by going after Google’s large slice of the search cake. Read more