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12,000 pieces of official govt advice added to Alexa and Google Home

12,000 pieces of official govt advice added to Alexa and Google Home

Technology
Information on public services - from renewing a passport to the state pension - can now be accessed through voice-activated smart speakers and virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home.The government says the public can now access more than 12,000 pieces of official information from the Gov.uk website without having to search online. Users can access details on subjects including how to apply for free childcare, and ask to find out what the basic rate of tax and the national minimum wage is.It could soon be extended to cover additional services such as renewing road tax or finding out details of how to get married, ministers say.The head of Gov.uk, Jennifer Allum, added: "These results are promising because voice services can be a really convenient way to get information, pa...
Bach to the future: AI turns Google Doodle into clever melody maker

Bach to the future: AI turns Google Doodle into clever melody maker

Technology
By Zayneb Benyoucef, news reporter Google has celebrated legendary composer Johann Sebastian Bach by creating the first-ever Doodle to be powered by artificial intelligence (AI).The animation, which sits atop of the search engine's website, shows the 18th-century composer playing an organ - commemorating his day of birth on 21 March 1685. In an interactive twist, the Google Doodle encourages users to compose their own two-measure melody.Machine learning is then used to "harmonise the custom melody into Bach's signature music style". Image: Google has used new tech to celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach's birthday Bach's chorales were known for having four voices carrying their own melodic line. ...
Google fined €1.49bn for restricting rivals' ads

Google fined €1.49bn for restricting rivals' ads

Technology
By Alexander J Martin, technology reporter Google has been fined €1.49bn (£1.28bn) by the EU for breaching competition laws with its AdSense advertising service - its third such fine in as many years.Announcing the new fine, the EU's competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Google had restricted rivals from appearing in online search advertisements. Ms Vestager said the company had been fined for its "illegal practices in search advertising brokering to cement its dominant market position"."They shouldn't do that - it denied consumers choice, innovative products and fair prices," added Ms Vestager.In response, a Google spokesperson said the company had made a "wide range of changes" to address the commission's concerns. The f...
Google reveals gaming platform Stadia

Google reveals gaming platform Stadia

Technology
Google has unveiled a new digital gaming platform called Stadia which will stream better-than-console-quality games that have traditionally had to be either downloaded or purchased on disk.At launch it will work on existing desktops, laptops, TVs and phones, said the firm's Phil Harrison.Google also revealed a controller.It looks like a traditional console gamepad but the Stadia version has a button for capturing and sharing gaming directly to YouTube.It was also announced that id Software's major title Doom Eternal will be one of the first games available.No pricing was revealed at the event in San Francisco but the firm did say Stadia would launch in 2019 in the US, UK, Canada and Europe.Google experimented with streaming data-...
Google offers drug disposal site map on Google Maps

Google offers drug disposal site map on Google Maps

Health
Feb. 22 (UPI) -- In an effort to fight the growing opioid epidemic, Google Maps has announced it has launched a pilot program to help people easily find prescription drug drop-off sites. The company said by just typing into Google Maps searches such as "drug drop off near me" or "medication disposal near me" users can find drop-off sites that include hospitals, pharmacies and government buildings, according to a company statement released Thursday. "Today, we're making it easier for Americans to quickly find disposal locations on Google Maps and Search all year round," Dane Glasglow, vice president of product at Google Maps, said in a news release. "A search for queries like 'drug drop off near me' or 'medication disposal near me' will display permanent disposal locations at your local ph...