Google Home learns how to multitask

Google’s smart speaker got a little smarter this week, with the addition of a multitasking feature. The new capability makes it possible for the device to accomplish two different missions at the same time. It was rolled out with little fanfare and first noted by CNET. We’ve since confirmed the addition with Google. It’s a bit surprising that the company rolled it out to Home units with no mention. It’s a handy addition to what’s essentially been a single-minded device. The company has been promising to add Routines since the…

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Google Cloud brings in former Intel exec Diane Bryant as COO

There are now two Dianes running the show at Google Cloud. The company announced that Diane Bryant has been hired as the COO of the division. She joins Diane Greene, who came on board as Senior VP of Google Cloud in November 2015. Greene appeared to be excited about the prospect of her joining the team. “I can’t think of a person with more relevant experience and talents. She is an engineer with tremendous business focus and an outstanding thirty-year career in technology,” Greene wrote in a company blog post…

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Google Assistant can now help you find a plumber and other local services

Google Assistant is about to get a bit more home-savvy. The voice assistant will be gaining local discovery skills that will help you locate home services nearby. The company specifically detailed that Assistant would be gaining insights to help users locate “nearby services like an electrician, plumber, house cleaner and more.” Saying something like, “Hey Google, I need a plumber,” will soon help you clarify your problem, pull up results for local services that can help you out of your jam and dial them up for you. The blog post focused…

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Facebook will temporarily disable a tool that lets advertisers exclude people of color

Facebook has been under fire for its practices and policies that enable advertisers to exclude “multicultural affinity” groups from the audiences they reach via the social network. Now, in light of a ProPublica investigation and pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus, Facebook says it’s committed to taking a closer look at its advertising policies, its COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a letter to CBC Chairperson Cedric Richmond. Until Facebook figures out how to ensure advertisers don’t use its tools in a discriminatory way, Facebook will temporarily disable the option that…

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Dropbox acquires publishing platform Verst, will shut it down on Dec. 21

The team behind Verst is joining Dropbox, in an acquisition that marks the end of the Verst publishing platform. The startup actually started life as DWNLD, a platform that transformed websites into mobile apps. It raised a $12 million Series A led by Grelock Partners before shifting focus to Verst, which launched earlier this year as a blogging platform that has traffic and revenue optimization tools built in. Over the summer, Verst tweaked its pricing and introduced new features that made it less of a pure blogging tool and more…

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Google might bring Nest back into its own hardware business

Google might fold Nest back into the Google, well, fold. The company is considering integrating Nest, which is a separate company under mutual parent Alphabet at the moment, back into Google’s hardware business. The re-integration, first reported by Wall Street Journal, is a move that Google is considering as a way to help it build out its smart home capabilities vs. Amazon, which is expanding its hardware offerings in that regard. Nest’s lineup works with Google Assistant, but also with Amazon’s Alexa; bringing it back into Google’s core hardware team…

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GM and Cruise on track to field a self-driving ride hailing service by 2019

GM and Cruise have articulated more specifically when they want to put their self-driving service on the roads, at today’s investor call for the company from San Francisco. GM said that they can make it happen within two years, with a fleet ready to go to work by 2019 based on the company’s current rate of progress. The commercial launch was previously revealed to happen within “quarters, not years” according to GM President Dan Ammann, but this is the closest they’ve come to putting a specific launch date out there.…

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Microsoft’s Edge browser is now available for Android and iOS

Last month, Microsoft announced its intentions to bring its Edge Browser to iOS and Android, as it works to broaden its reach on third-party mobile devices. After being made available in preview form for roughly a month, the app officially hits iOS and Android’s respective app stores starting today. The followup to the once ubiquitous Internet Explorer has been blossoming on Windows 10 devices (most notably the Surface line, where it’s learned some neat tricks) for a while now. The new mobile version of the app offers many of its…

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