What You Missed Last Month in Google

1. A More Affordable Smartphone, by Google

Google is report­ed­ly plan­ning to launch more afford­able smart­phone mod­els, to com­pete with what may have become a sat­u­rat­ed mar­ket of pre­mi­um-priced mobile devices. Last week, Sam­sung unveiled its $1,980 Galaxy Fold, while the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of Google’s own Pix­el phone is cur­rent­ly priced at $599.

The rumored low­er-range Google phone is said to be priced at a less­er cost than the cheap­est smart­phone avail­able from Apple: the iPhone XR ($749). Apple has expe­ri­enced mobile-relat­ed woes this year with missed iPhone sales esti­mates, which have been blamed on its pre­mi­um price points — cre­at­ing what many some say is a cat­a­lyst for Google’s push into this new­er area afford­able hard­ware.

2. Coming Soon: “Link to This Excerpt” in Chrome

Google’s Chrome inter­net brows­er is rolling out a new fea­ture that will allow users to share links to a spe­cif­ic word or sen­tence on a page.

Sim­i­lar to how YouTube allows view­ers to share a link to videos that forces them to start play­ing from a cer­tain time­stamp, Chrome has intro­duced a “Scroll to Text” fea­ture, which cre­ates a link that tar­gets a spe­cif­ic sec­tion of text on a page.

Accord­ing to Chrome Sto­ry, the fea­ture is slow­ly becom­ing avail­able on the Canary ver­sion of Chrome, a pri­ma­ry pur­pose of which is to let devel­op­ers try new brows­er fea­tures.

3. Gaming, by Google

Google recent­ly announced that it will be mak­ing a keynote at the annu­al Game Devel­op­ers Con­fer­ence this month, the details of which have oth­er­wise been shroud­ed in mys­tery. But some are report­ing that it will serve as a venue for the for­mal unveil­ing of the company’s gam­ing hard­ware, which could pair with its games-stream­ing ser­vice, Project Stream.

Project Stream was pre­vi­ous­ly avail­able in beta until Jan­u­ary, but now, sources have told 9to5Google that it will reemerge with sup­port­ing hard­ware, allow­ing users to play numer­ous games through their Chrome browsers, in what some have called a “Net­flix-like … stream­ing plat­form.”

The keynote is sched­uled to take place on March 19th at 10:00 AM PST.

4. Apple Music Could Be Coming to Google Devices

For a brief moment in Feb­ru­ary, an Apple Music icon briefly appeared on one user’s Google Home iOS app. Why that mat­ters: While oth­er music stream­ing ser­vices are able to inte­grate with Google Home, like Spo­ti­fy, Apple Music has nev­er been one of them.

Accord­ing to MacRu­mors, “We were able to track down the Apple Music list­ing with­in the Google Home app for iOS devices, but at the cur­rent time, it can’t be linked to a Google Home device.”

But the brief appear­ance sug­gests that Apple Music could soon become a music stream­ing option on such Google smart devices as the Home, Home Hub, or Chrome­cast — and for con­text, Ama­zon added Apple Music to its Echo-sup­port­ed stream­ing ser­vices in Decem­ber.

5. An AI-Powered Grammar Checker Comes to Google Docs

Last July, Google announced that it would roll out an arti­fi­cial-intel­li­gence (AI)-powered gram­mar check­er to busi­ness users of its Docs fea­ture. What makes it unique: machine-taught tech­nol­o­gy can rec­og­nize a range of gram­mat­i­cal errors — from tense usage, arti­cles, and the sub­or­di­na­tion of claus­es — and sug­gest cor­rec­tions in real time.

Now, that fea­ture has rolled out glob­al­ly to all G Suite Basic, Busi­ness, and Enter­prise cus­tomers. The sug­ges­tions will appear as “inline, con­tex­tu­al gram­mar sug­ges­tions in their doc­u­ments as [you] type,” the offi­cial state­ment says, “just like spellcheck.

6. No Spam Here

File this sto­ry under “Google’s AI,” again: An addi­tion­al 100 mil­lion spam mes­sages are now being blocked on Gmail each day, thanks to Ten­sor­Flow, its machine learn­ing tech­nol­o­gy.

While Gmail already had rel­a­tive­ly strong spam fil­ters in place pri­or to this new assis­tance from Ten­sor­Flow, they were pre­vi­ous­ly most­ly rule-based, which essen­tial­ly means that the plat­form can fil­ter spam mes­sages based on a pre­de­ter­mined set of rules.

With the help of AI, how­ev­er, more gran­u­lar ele­ments of spam can be detect­ed thanks to con­stant­ly-trained algo­rithms, which can learn over time what else might sig­nal an email of this nature.

7. A Look Back at Google’s Biggest Artificial Intelligence Projects

Many of us make use of Google’s arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence tools every day — often with­out real­iz­ing it. Here’s a look at some of the company’s biggest A.I. projects over the past year.

8. This New Google Maps Feature Tells Us Why AR Is so Important

Wouldn’t it be nice if GPS actu­al­ly showed you where you were going — could super­im­pose your route into your real-world sur­round­ings? Google is mak­ing that pos­si­ble for some users, thanks to aug­ment­ed real­i­ty.

9. A Closer Look at Google’s Fight Against Disinformation

Google recent­ly pub­lished an exten­sive white paper detail­ing how it fights mis­in­for­ma­tion across Search, News, YouTube, and Ads. But to some, the sys­tem comes with its share of issues. Here’s a clos­er look at what Google says it’s doing, as well as the areas where those efforts might not work.