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Google removes cupcake calorie counter from Maps

Google has decided to remove an update to Maps that shows users how many calories they would burn if they walked to their destination. It follows what the search giant described as “strong user feedback” with many criticising the feature as patronising, shaming and a possible trigger for eating disorders. The pink cupcake calorie counter was also lambasted as being unscientific. It will be removed by the end of the day, Google has confirmed. The experimental feature was rolled out on the iOS version of Google Maps, beneath walking directions….

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Google disables touch function on Home Mini

Google has stopped its Home Mini speakers responding when users touch them. It permanently turned off the touch activation feature after it found that sensors primed to spot a finger tap were too sensitive. Early users found that the touch sensors were registering “phantom” touches that turned them on. This meant the speakers were recording everything around them thousands of times a day. Google said it disabled the feature to give users “peace of mind”. Google’s Home Mini gadgets were unveiled on 4 October as part of a revamp of…

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Google 'uncovers Russian ad campaign linked to US election'

Google has found evidence that Russian agents spent tens of thousands of dollars on adverts in a bid to sway the 2016 US election, media reports say. Sources quoted by the Washington Post say the adverts aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s products including YouTube and Gmail. They say the adverts do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-linked source that bought ads on Facebook. Google said it was investigating attempts to “abuse” its systems. US intelligence agencies concluded earlier this year that Russia had tried to sway the…

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Technology 

Google Pixel 2 phones take portrait-mode selfies

Media playback is unsupported on your device Google’s second-generation Pixel mobile phones are able to take “portrait mode” photos via both their front and rear single-lens cameras. Other handsets have been able to auto-blur image backgrounds for some time, but they typically rely on using two-lens cameras on the phones’ backs to create realistic effects. Google said its innovation meant it could make more space for the battery and introduce front-facing speakers. But it has dropped the headphone jack. Instead of using a dedicated 3.5mm port, users will either need…

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Google and Apple report jump in requests for user data

US government requests to Google for individuals’ data reached a six-year high in the first half of 2017, the company says. A report published last week said the country had sought details about 48,902 accounts – 24% more than over the last six months of 2016. Apple reported a 62% jump in the number of user account requests from the US over the same period – 6,407 in total. Campaign group Privacy International predicted further “dramatic increases”. “What’s remarkable is that in the last year or two, the US has…

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Amazon and Google clash over YouTube access

Amazon and Google have clashed publicly after access to YouTube was pulled from one of the online retailer’s devices. On Tuesday, YouTube stopped working on Amazon’s Echo Show, a voice-controlled assistant with a screen that can display information and videos. Both companies issued statements criticising one another. Amazon said Google had blocked YouTube on Echo Show “without explanation”. Google said the Echo Show delivered a “broken user experience”. While the Echo Show could play videos from YouTube, it did not provide all of YouTube’s functions such as the ability to…

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