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.