Archive for Google

Roku And Google Spat Goes Down To The Wire…. And Users May Lose Out

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 21, 2021 by itnerd

You might recall that Google And Roku got into a fight over the YouTube TV App on the Roku platform due to what Roku calls Google’s “predatory” and “monopoly” behavior: That led to the YouTube TV App being yanked from Roku’s app store. Google then added the YouTube TV app to the main YouTube app to get around this. But this is about to get real. Axios reports that if this goes on until December 9th, the YouTube app will disappear from the Roku App store as that’s when their current deal expires. If you have it installed, it will remain. But if you delete it, or if you didn’t have it in the first place, you won’t be able get it. Thus users lose as is usually the case where two companies get into a fight like this.

Roku lays out the reasons why they’re taking on Google here. But it seems really odd to me why this fight is going on in the first place. Roku by far is the dominant player in the streaming hardware space. Thus logic would suggest that Google would have a lot to lose by being on the wrong side of this. But I guess we’ll see who blinks first. If either party blinks at all.

Google Serving Up Security Keys To 10,000 High-Risk Users

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 13, 2021 by itnerd

From the “this is attention grabbing department” comes the news that Google is giving security keys to 10,000 high-risk users including politicians and human rights activists, following recent hacker attempts on Gmail:

The USB keys provide two-factor authentication – an additional layer of security beyond a password.

Google says it wants to encourage people to join its “advanced protection programme” for high-profile users.

It follows news that the firm sent thousands of warnings to Gmail users who were targeted by hackers.

The warnings were issued after Google detected in late September a campaign targeting about 14,000 Gmail users “across a wide variety of industries”, Shane Huntley, director of Google’s Threat Analysis Group said in a statement.

Mr Huntley said the campaign came from from APT28 – a Russia-linked hacking group – and was a phishing attempt, which is an email campaign designed to look legitimate to trick people into revealing their passwords.

This is a good move to provide some protection to these high value targets. But don’t take my word for it. Toby Lewis, Global Head of Threat Analysis, Darktrace had this to say: 

“As sophisticated attacks against high-value targets persist, it is encouraging to see Google prioritizing the security for its users. Multiple times a day our artificial intelligence is detecting attacks, via email and SaaS accounts, specifically targeting CEOs and CFOs of multinational companies – there is no sign of this trend abating.  

This is the first time that a company is offering to set up hardware-based two-factor authentication for users for free. Essentially, the USB is a dongle that users can keep on their person, that acts as a second form of authentication. The idea is that even if an attacker compromises the username and password to a Google Account, they could not access the account without the USB.

However, what we have learned over the last ten years is that determined hackers will always find a way inside critical systems. These measures make hackers’ lives more difficult but they do not debilitate them. While the USB method add a layer of security, there are ways to defeat it. For example, most accounts have a recovery option, in the event the USB is lost – which could prove to be an opening for hackers. Alternatively, an attacker might look for ways to steal the physical device, having already gained access to the credentials.

We must accept that high value targets will have their systems compromised and so companies like Google also need to look at how they stop emerging attacks from escalating into a crisis once hackers are already inside.”

I suspect you’re going to see more of this. Which means that more users will benefit from this initiative.

Google Cloud Announces New Customer, Partner, Product & Sustainability Offerings

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 12, 2021 by itnerd

Next ’21 kicks off today and Google are announcing a number of new customers, partners, sustainability solutions and product offerings to further demonstrate how Google Cloud is helping organizations in every industry accelerate their cloud journey.

Here’s the news: 

  • Businesses of all sizes, spanning every industry—from digital natives to established multinationals—are leveraging Google Cloud’s products and services to help them digitally transform. Building on recent momentum, Google will announce several new customers including General MillsDPDHLSiemens Energy, Walmart and Wendy’s; new and expanded partnerships with Trifacta, Databricks, Atlassian, Cybereason, Crowdstrike, Palo Alto Networks and more.
  • Google will also be making a number of product announcements across 5 key pillars:
    • A unified data, analytics, and AI portfolio: We’re announcing new innovations across their data cloud portfolio including Vertex AI Workbench, BigQuery Omni GA, Cloud Spanner, and Spark on Google Cloud along with new integrations with data analytics and AI providers. Google is also announcing a new AI-powered industry solution, Intelligent Products Essentials. 
    • An open cloud that runs anywhere: Google is announcing Google Distributed Cloud, which extends Google Cloud’s infrastructure and services to edge locations and customer data centers and taps into Google’s planet-scale infrastructure, delivering the highest levels of performance, availability and security. 
    • Collaboration across every facet of the hybrid workplace: Google is announcing new investments in the Google Workspace platform, including a new Atlassian Jira integration for Google Chat and Spaces, a new AppSheet in Gmail integration that allows anyone—even non-coders—to build email apps for tasks like budget approvals, vacation requests and more, an expanded partnership with Citrix to ensure that distributed and hybrid workers have easy, secure, and low-latency access to virtualized applications and desktops from anywhere,  and new security innovations including client-side encryption for Meet and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for Chat. 
    • Keeping users, applications, and data safe online: Google is announcing the Google Cybersecurity Action Team, a group of experts from across Google that will use Google’s own security best practices to guide organizations, and the new Work Safer Program, to help organizations achieve a stronger security posture in today’s hybrid work environment.
    • Scaling the Cleanest Cloud in the Industry: Google is making a number of announcements that will help customers manage their own sustainability posture including tools like Carbon Footprint, Google Earth Engine and Unattended Project Recommender. Google is also announcing a new partnership initiative with leading data and application providers to help global businesses and governments accelerate their sustainability programs.

You can also read more from Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud here

Scotiabank Partners with Google Cloud

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 29, 2021 by itnerd

Scotiabank and Google Cloud today announced a strategic partnership to deepen the Bank’s cloud-first commitment and accelerate its global data and analytics strategy. As a Scotiabank trusted cloud partner for data and analytics, Google Cloud will help create a more personal and predictive banking experience for Scotiabank customers in the Americas and across the globe.      

This partnership builds on the significant progress Scotiabank has made on its cloud strategy over the last several years. By moving its customer data onto Google Cloud and leveraging its leading data analytics and AI solutions, Scotiabank will be able to: 

  • Leverage Data for Predictive Offers: The Bank will be able to process data faster, understand customer sentiment insights and deliver relevant offers in a timely manner. Using Google Cloud’s machine learning models, Scotiabank can reduce the time spent predicting customer offers from 14 days to just hours.
  • Improve Customer Interactions through AI: Through this partnership, Scotiabank is empowering its engineers and data scientists with Google AI solutions such as Natural Language Processing, Voice, and Vision capabilities to help the bank automate document processes and onboarding — ultimately improving customer interactions.
  • Unify Data Silos Across the Organization: The migration of data to Google Cloud will help remove data silos within the Bank, uncovering previously hidden insights that will allow the Bank to provide better financial advice to its customers. 

As a Scotiabank trusted cloud provider, Google Cloud will enable Scotiabank to run sensitive workloads in a highly secure cloud environment, while complying with the Bank’s security control objectives.

TD Canada Angers Google Users By Supporting Samsung Pay & Apple Pay, But Not Google Pay

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 16, 2021 by itnerd

Samsung yesterday announced that TD cards, TD Access Cards and TD credit cards are now supported by Samsung Pay in Canada. Instructions for setting that up can be found here. This joins TD Canada’s support for Apple Pay.

Now that should have been a good news day for TD. But it wasn’t. TD in Canada doesn’t support Google Pay. And they aren’t handling the blowback from that very well. Here’s an example:

That’s a horrible response from whomever is in charge of their Twitter account. But I am not surprised as this example illustrates that TD Canada really needs to rethink how they deal with customers over social media. Because right now they aren’t doing a great job of doing so and it isn’t helping their cause. Neither is the fact that that there’s now a petition that is gaining steam. It currently has just over 1500 signatures as I type this. Which is also not a good look for TD Canada.

My $0.02 worth: I find it mind blowing that in 2021 TD Canada doesn’t support Google Pay as there are a ton of Android phones out there due to the fact that a number of companies make Android phones with the hardware to do contactless payments. TD Canada really needs to do something about this because this is a serious #Fail and at some point, customers of TD Canada will start dealing with other banks in Canada who supported Google Pay ages ago.

Google Cloud Expands In Canada with Official Toronto Region Launch

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 14, 2021 by itnerd

Today, Google Cloud announces its new Toronto Cloud Platform region is now open. 

The new Toronto region will allow Canadian organizations across all industries – including TELUS, Accenture, Deloitte and Scotiabank, among others – to build faster, more efficient applications that better serve their customers. The new cloud region also offers more choice for companies in regulated industries to store their data locally and meet important digital sovereignty requirements.

Following on the heels of its announcement last spring, Toronto is now home to the second Google Cloud region in Canada since opening Montréal in 2018. Toronto joins 27 existing Google Cloud regions connected through their high-performance network – signaling the continued growth and customer base in Canada.

What Google Cloud’s new Toronto region signals for the future of cloud in Canada:

  • The launch of Google’s Toronto region highlights the rapid growth of cloud-based technology and services as Canada’s businesses across all industries continue making big investments to accelerate their digital transformation.
  • The new Toronto Google Cloud region is building on growing demand from Canadian customers across every industry.
  • The Toronto region will make it easier and faster for Canadian companies to leverage Google Cloud’s on-demand network that’s faster, more reliable and less expensive than one they could build themselves – along with being the cleanest cloud in the industry.
  • It will also enable customers to meet local regulatory and compliance requirements and provide more disaster recovery options for customers, which is critical for financial institutions, public sector organizations, online retailers and other businesses operating in highly regulated industries.

Additional details about Google Cloud’s Toronto region launch can be found in Google Cloud’s latest blog post.

Google Workspace Announces Innovations To Bridge Hybrid Work Gaps

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 8, 2021 by itnerd

Today, Google Workspace announced a series of updates that further the company’s vision for hybrid work with a single connected experience in Google Workspace and help employees collaborate equally regardless of location, device preference, role or language.

Additionally, Google released a handbook for navigating hybrid work, which includes best practice blueprints for five common hybrid meetings, to help customers that are navigating hybrid. 

What’s new in Google Workspace? 

Google Chat 

Google announced that spaces in Chat is now live for everyone. Additionally, Google announced new features in spaces to help teams stay organized, connected and collaborative, including: 

  • Streamlined navigation: A flexible user interface helps users easily access their inbox, chats, spaces and meetings—all from a single location—so they can stay on top of everything that’s important.
  • Discoverable spaces: Spaces and their content can be made discoverable to all members of an organization, so other people can find and join the conversation. Administrators can also set discoverability as the default for their organization.
  • Enhanced search: Allows users to easily find content from within and across spaces, or even discover new spaces to join. “Search everything” in spaces opens up powerful new collaboration possibilities and makes it easier to access the team’s collective knowledge base.
  • In-line topic threading: The ability to reply to any message within a space fuels deeper discussions and collaboration across teams and organizations.
  • Robust security and admin features: Tools for content moderation, managing spaces, and establishing the right rules for healthy communication across domains and companies.

Google Meet

Google announced new features to ensure everybody is able to engage in meetings when and where it works for them:

  • Working location in Google Calendar: In addition to indicating virtual or physical presence in meeting invites, team members can now set their working location in Calendar, on a regular basis or by segmentable working hours. By showing others which days of the week you plan to be in the office, working from home, or working from another location, it’s easier to plan in-person collaboration or set expectations in a hybrid workplace.
  • Google Meet calling: Designed to be a seamless experience of initiating a video or audio call between one or more participants, Meet calling complements Meet’s more structured, scheduled video meetings and better supports the ebbs and flows of hybrid work by allowing for more spontaneous connections. Google intends to bring Meet calling to all the natural endpoints in Workspace where you’d initiate an ad-hoc call including chats, contact cards, and spaces. Today, Google is announcing this will be coming first to 1:1 chats within the Gmail app.
  • Companion mode in Google Meet: Rolling out to all customers beginning in November, Companion mode will allow users to seamlessly join meetings from their personal device while leveraging in-room audio and video. 
  • Live-translated captions in Google Meet: Later this year, live-translated captions will be available in English to French, German, Spanish and Portuguese, with many more languages coming in the future, so attendees can follow along in the language of their choice from a personal device.

Google announced an expanded Google Meet hardware portfolio, equipped with two new meeting devices and new third-party integrations:

  • New all-in-one all video conferencing devices: Google is announcing Series One Board 65 and Series One Desk 27, new all-in-one video conferencing devices to complement the Series One rooms kits. The Series One Desk 27 is configured for desktops and small shared spaces in the office or at home, whereas the Series One Board 65 is designed for team rooms and shared spaces and has an optional stand for configuration flexibility. Both devices feature collaboration capabilities with the Jamboard app built right in and can be used as an external display via USB-C. This also allows users to use the conferencing service of their choice with connection from their laptops. The new devices were developed in partnership with Avocor, a leader in interactive displays. 
  • New third party devices: Google has certified the Logitech Rally Bar Mini and Rally Bar to work with Google Meet, providing an all-in-one video bar for small and mid-sized rooms. Additionally, Appcessori is launching a new mobile device speaker dock, Rayz Rally Pro, that will automatically launch Google Meet for video meetings and provide an enhanced audio experience from mobile devices.
  • Support for interop with devices from Webex by Cisco: Workspace customers may currently use Pexip for Google Meet to seamlessly join Meet meetings from the widest range of  3rd-party video conferencing solutions. Today, Google is announcing support for bidirectional interoperability with devices from Webex by Cisco and Google Meet hardware (rolling out later this year). This enables customers to launch a Google Meet meeting on Webex hardware and a Webex meeting on Google Meet hardware. Calling interop between Meet and Webex is supported on the Series One Board 65, Series One Desk 27, and the rest of the Google Meet hardware portfolio, as well as Webex Room Series, Room Kit Series, Desk Series and Board Series.

Google One VPN Expands To Additional Countries And Adds Features

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 9, 2021 by itnerd

You may recall that Google One launched its VPN in the US late last year. Fast forward to today and the Google One VPN is becoming available to Google One members with the 2 TB plan in CanadaMexicothe United KingdomFranceGermanySpain and Italy. Also, since its launch, the VPN has undergone several updates to enhance members’ security and privacy:

  • Safe Disconnect: Members can set up their phone to only use the internet when the VPN is on. If the VPN is disconnected, internet access is blocked until the VPN reconnects.
  • App bypass: When the VPN is connected, members can still allow traffic from some mobile apps to route over their regular internet connection instead of the VPN’s encrypted tunnel. 
  • Snooze button: Members can temporarily turn off the VPN. 
  • ioXt certification: The VPN was certified by the Internet of Secure Things Alliance (ioXt) — making it one of the first apps to receive the organization’s stamp of approval, passing all eight of its security principles
  • Independent audit: The VPN underwent an independent audit, which found it to have “a very robust security posture.”

You can find more information about the VPN by Google One in their Help Center article. You can also find further info here.

Google Canada Reveals Top Searched Travel Destinations & Travel Searches As Restrictions Loosen

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 4, 2021 by itnerd

Today, Google released new search trends around what Canadians are searching for when it comes to vacations and travel. I’ve created a two slide shows to show you these search trends. Thanks to Google for supplying me with the material. Starting with some national trends:

Followed by some provincial trends:

Domestic vs. International Travel

When it comes to travelling locally or abroad, search interest for both international and domestic travel is starting to climb, with a steady uptick starting in June. In fact, Canadian search interest in international travel hasn’t been this high since April 2004.

Staycations and Workcations

As many workplaces across the country switch to remote models, we’re also seeing a rise in a new type of travel – staycations and workcations. Over the last few months, searches in Canada for staycations and workcations have both hit all-time highs.

Bell Partners with Google Cloud To Deliver Next-Generation Network Experiences For Canadians

Posted in Commentary with tags , on July 15, 2021 by itnerd

Bell Canada and Google Cloud today announced a strategic partnership to power Bell’s company-wide digital transformation, enhance its network and IT infrastructure, and enable a more sustainable future. This new, multi-year partnership will combine Bell’s 5G network leadership with Google’s expertise in multicloud, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI), to deliver next-generation experiences for Bell customers across Canada.

As a strategic technology partner, Google Cloud will enable Bell to drive operational efficiencies, increase network automation, and deliver richer customer experiences through the following initiatives:

  • Shifting critical workloads to the cloud: By moving and modernizing IT infrastructure, network functions, and critical applications from on-premise to Google Cloud, Bell will be able to drive greater operational efficiencies and enable better application performance.
  • Unlocking multicloud, next-generation network technology: With the combined power of Bell’s 5G network and Anthos, Google Cloud’s multicloud solution, Bell will deliver a consistent customer experience with greater automation and enhanced flexibility that scales with customer demand. The increased speed and bandwidth capacity of the Bell 5G network will support applications that can respond faster and handle greater volumes of data than previous generations of wireless technology.
  • Leveraging the power of AI, data and analytics: Bell will leverage Google Cloud’s expertise in AI and big data to gain unique insights through real-time network data analytics that will enhance the customer experience, improve service assurance, and assist with network capacity planning.     
  • Joining forces on a sustainable future: Bell and Google share a common goal to run more sustainable businesses. As the cleanest cloud in the industry, Google Cloud will contribute to Bell’s target of achieving carbon neutral operations by 2025, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

As demands on mobile networks evolve and increase, Bell and Google Cloud will collaborate throughout the next decade on new innovations, including cloud solutions for enterprise customers and consumers powered by Google edge solutions, and enhanced customer service through automation and AI. In addition, the two companies will look at new ways to expand Bell’s existing partnership with Google to evolve the network experience and introduction of next-generation services across residential, mobile, and more.