Seeing Cyberpunk 2077 Run on Google Stadia at 4K Isn’t Enough to Sell Me on Cloud Gaming

Illustration for article titled Seeing iCyberpunk 2077 /iRun on Google Stadia at 4K Isnt Enough to Sell Me on Cloud Gaming

Screenshot: CD Projekt Red

Google’s fledgling cloud gaming service could really use a win after a year of technical issues and lukewarm reception from gamers. It’s resorted to literally giving Stadia and its accessories away for free to drum up some excitement, but how it handles CD Projekt Red’s oh-s0-long-awaited title Cyberpunk 2077 next month—one of the platform’s most high-profile releases to date—could very well be Stadia’s make-or-break moment.

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On Friday, we got our first look at how the game plays on Stadia, in 4K no less, and it’s… fine. Could be worse, could be better. You know that 10 Things I Hate About You quote? I think now I know what being “whelmed” feels like.

Google released a five-minute trailer showing off 4K gameplay footage (Warning: It contains spoilers, so beware if you’re trying to go into the story blind) of Cyberpunk 2077, which is set to release on Dec. 10 if it’s not delayed again. It should be noted that 4K streaming is only available if you subscribe to the platform’s premium tier, Stadia Pro, provided that you have a good enough internet connection. Google’s giving one-month trial subscriptions out for free too if you buy the game before Dec. 17.

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The game runs smoothly in the trailer, though Google doesn’t disclose what kind of device or internet connection was used to capture the footage. So, as with all cloud gaming services, your mileage could seriously vary. Gameplay looks slightly less fluid compared to the performance we’ve seen on PCs with ray tracing capabilities and next-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles, but not by any significant amount. So yeah, as I said, a thoroughly whelming performance.

If Google follows through with what the trailer promises, it could be enough to soothe the sting of Stadia’s pitiful launch numbers at the beginning of 2020. Then again, another hotly anticipated release, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, came out earlier in November and has already chalked up complaints about spotty performance and latency issues that can particularly make timed challenges a frustrating slog. Not a very promising sign, to say the least.

For what it’s worth, Google appears ready to continue throwing money at the platform for the foreseeable future. In an interview this week, Stadia director Jack Buser said the company is “unequivocally” invested in the gaming world “for the long haul” and has Stadia launches planned through at least 2023. So even if Cyberpunk 2077 ends up being a bust, Google seems prepared to stubbornly forge ahead regardless of whether gamers are using its platform (which, as it stands, they’re not).

Google TV Users Won’t Be Able to Add Netflix Originals to Their Watchlist

Illustration for article titled Google TV Users Wont Be Able to Add Netflix Originals to Their Watchlist

Photo: ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP (Getty Images)

One of the better features of the new Chromecast with Google TV is missing support for some of Netflix’s best content.

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Earlier this week, 9to5Google reported that Netflix originals weren’t able to be added to Google TV’s watchlist, a super-hub for content users are interested in across their various services. On Wednesday, the site reported that the Google TV Android app appeared to have lost support for Netflix’s catalog entirely. That’s kind of a bummer for anyone hoping to use Google TV to help manage content from one of streaming’s biggest players.

A Google spokesperson confirmed to Gizmodo by email that the Netflix app and its catalog will still be available on Chromecast with Google TV. But Google TV users now won’t be able to add the service’s originals to their watchlist, give the content a thumbs up or down, or mark them as watched. Google further confirmed that search and discovery features will not work for Netflix on Google TV’s Android app.

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“With Google TV, our goal is to bring the best of our search and discovery features across your subscriptions to your favorite devices,” the spokesperson said. “We work with each content partner to enable these entertainment experiences, and the level of integration will vary by partner.”

Netflix did not immediately return a request for comment.

Is this the end of the world or a deal-breaker for Google TV? No, it is not. You’re probably opening the Netflix app to peruse titles and kill time anyway. But discovery and recommendation are two of Google TV’s most attractive features, and it’s one reason why I’m upgrading friends and family to this device over rival streaming sticks or dongles. Discovery among multiple apps can often feel overwhelming, and sometimes the apps themselves lack solid recommendation features for surfacing content relevant to you, the viewer.

Basically, it’s just one more hoop to jump through to find stuff to watch. But we’re used to that by now, anyway.

Google’s AI-Powered Poetry Generator Has Some Cryptic Wisdom, Maybe

Illustration for article titled Googles AI-Powered Poetry Generator Has Some Cryptic Wisdom, Maybe

Photo: Three Lions (Getty Images)

I know nothing about poetry, but I’m pretty sure Verse by Verse—Google’s new AI-powered poetry generator—is phoning it in.

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“Verse by Verse” is formatted like Smart Compose in Gmail, but for poetry: input the opening line, and the program generates a selection of often absurdist suggestions that rarely follow the previous thought. The program composes original lines in the style of your selected “muse” such as Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Emma Lazarus, and Phillis Wheatley. A sample line influenced by Philip Freneau: “Every man of the man and man.” Every man of the man and man…maaan.

The safely limited offerings are a lot less scary than OpenAI’s GPT-2, which can generate a fictional article from a lede sentence. (After sitting on the full version for a year, for fear that it could be used to spread fake news, OpenAI released the system in November 2019.) As Literary Hub has pointed out, you can already use GPT-2 to plug in a portion of a real poem and generate an ending. Verse by Verse is, decidedly, not that.

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Here are a few works inspired my journeys in blogging:

Twitter dot com

I will ne’er log off

Pretend to let me like the bird

If I could ever hide my littleness,

Right would it be my misfortune

Inspired by Lydia Huntley Sigourney, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Amy Lowell

Rollouts

Why, lord, must you smite us with Fleets

Round the ships and up the towns?

Will do with them for their mortal fray?

Or if they might go with their quest

To go with their drift in a dream?

Inspired by Robert Frost and Emma Lazarus

Slack

OMG CATIE HOW DO I MUTE U

Away in the tempest, old and new!

Inspired by Phillis Wheatley, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Gizmodo investigative reporter Shoshana Wodinsky

Verse by Verse

Google

What is the song that speaks the sea

Around the strain and murmur of its hum?

Soft voices like the infinite host at rest,

Inspired by William Cullen Bryant

In other words, the results don’t hold up well against previous generative poetry projects. See research scientist Marjan Ghazvininejad’s program that culled song lyrics and plugged entirely new phrases into sonnet form, each line flowing from thematically similar terms. Or Ranjit Bhatnagar’s Pentametron, which doesn’t generate new lines, but searches Twitter for iambic pentameter and weaves lines into verse. This feels more like Google goofing off rather than trying to actually crack the AI-poetry puzzle.

But it can be, and therefore, it exists, like a quivering bubble neath my native panes.

More States Are Offering Contact-Tracing Apps—Now if Only They Could Get People to Use Them

The state of Virginia launched the first U.S. app using Apple-Google coronavirus notification technology back in August, but months later only roughly one in 10 residents have downloaded it.

The state of Virginia launched the first U.S. app using Apple-Google coronavirus notification technology back in August, but months later only roughly one in 10 residents have downloaded it.
Photo: Olivier Douliery (Getty Images)

Google and Apple rolled out their covid-19 contact-tracing APIs months ago for state officials to use in developing their own covid-19-tracking apps, but adoption has proceeded at a snail’s pace. Just 15 states and Washington, D.C. are currently employing the tech giants’ “exposure notification” tech while a handful of other states such as California and Oregon have apps in development. But creating an app is just the first hurdle, as many of these states are quickly learning; getting residents to actually use it is an entirely different beast.

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Lots of people are still skeptical of the technology, in part because of the Trump administration’s politicization of basic science and in part because Big Tech, Google and Apple included, doesn’t exactly have the greatest track record when it comes to privacy. The Wall Street Journal reports that roughly one-third of D.C. residents have activated the smartphone function, which is a promising start. In other states, the adoption rate is considerably less. New York’s contact-tracing app has been downloaded roughly 700,000 times and Pennsylvania’s app has seen 500,000 downloads, according to data from the research firm Sensor Tower per the outlet. That’s a tiny fraction of each state’s total population of 19.4 million and 12.8 million, respectively.

My home state of Virginia was the first to roll out a contact-tracing app back in August, and since then around 800,000 residents have downloaded it, health officials told the Journal. With the state’s population sitting at about 8.5 million, that means roughly one in 10 Virginians downloaded the app.

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Sad as it is to say, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Whenever I mention the app, known as Covidwise, to people, by and large the most common response I get is a blank stare. Usually followed by something like, “Wait, Virginia has one of those?” Mind you, that’s even after the app made headlines in September when Governor Ralph Northam became infected with the virus. Covidwise got a grim real-world test run then, as the app alerted three of his aides that had been traveling with him at the time and warned them of potential exposure.

To recap how Google and Apple’s contact-tracing tech works, the app exchanges random Bluetooth identifiers whenever a person’s phone comes within Bluetooth range of another device that’s installed the app. These identifiers change frequently, and because it relies on Bluetooth the app never accesses or records your location data. Users register their diagnosis in the app if they test positive for the virus. If you have notifications enabled, your phone can then receive alerts warning you when you have may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for covid-19 and what steps you can take.

It’s unclear exactly how much of a population would need to use contact-tracing apps to stop the spread of the virus. Back in April, Oxford researchers found that an adoption rate of around 60% of the population could be enough to “stop the epidemic,” but lower rates could still help keep the virus from spreading provided that testing facilities are widely available. However, even that 60 percent figure is just a theory at this point given that no country in the world has come close to that.

Covidwise has sent out 116 notifications per day on average since August, the Virginia Department of Health told the Journal. State officials have been reporting roughly 1,000 new cases every day since then (though that number has doubled in recent weeks), which should give you an idea of just how much of a drop in the bucket that is. Though Virginia is apparently still doing better than some states: In Nevada, where roughly 70,000 people or 3% of the population have downloaded the state’s contact-tracing app, the app registered zero new exposures in September, according to Time magazine. That same month, the state reported 10,000 new covid-19 cases.

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The politicization of the virus by top federal officials has severely impacted Virginia’s efforts to promote the app, Jeff Stover, executive advisor to the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health, told the Journal.

“That doesn’t help convince Virginians to download and run an exposure notification app that is run by the government,” he said.

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Still, Stover added that officials are working to integrate functionality between contact-tracing apps for D.C. and Maryland, which would make sense given the high volume of interstate traffic in the region. Whether these efforts do anything to convince other states to get on board remains to be seen. But maybe with a Biden presidency right around the corner, we’ll finally start seeing some common-sense health measures enacted at the federal level.

Google Is Dropping a Bunch of New Widgets for iOS 14

Illustration for article titled Google Is Dropping a Bunch of New Widgets for iOS 14

Image: Google

Did somebody say Gmail widget?

I have become something of a widget addict since they were introduced to iPhone users with iOS 14. A big weather widget now takes up three-quarters of my home screen and helps me keep track of when to water my garden; my fitness-tracking widget gives me a bird’s eye view of where I’m at for the day; and a trio of election polls widgets, well, those were definitely a mistake. Now, Google is rolling out a bunch of new iOS 14 widgets and updates for everything from Gmail to your Calendar and Drive.

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The company announced Thursday that new Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Fit widgets will begin appearing for iOS 14 users in the next few days. The Gmail widget will allow users to quickly search their inboxes, view unread messages, or compose a new email without having to open the app itself. Google Drive will surface relevant documents and allow you to easily search your files, again, without having to go to the trouble of digging through Docs or Sheets or manually opening Drive. And much like Apple’s Fitness widget, Google Fit will help you track your activity with at-a-glance Heart Points and Steps data.

Illustration for article titled Google Is Dropping a Bunch of New Widgets for iOS 14

Image: Google

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Additionally, the company said that a new Calendar widget should be arriving “in the coming weeks,” while a Chrome widget—which includes Search, Incognito, and Voice Search capabilities—is slated for wide release in early 2021.

To enable these or other widgets on your device, make sure that you’ve got the necessary app installed (even if it’s been banished to your App Library) and that your software is up-to-date. Then long press anywhere on your home screen and select Edit Home Screen. From there, select the + button in the upper-leftmost corner of your screen to launch Widgets. You should find Google’s new widgets here. They weren’t immediately available for me on Thursday, so keep an eye out in the coming days if you don’t see them right away.

Now can I get a Hue or Planta widget, please? Anyone?

Google Is Bringing Its Own Cloud Gaming Web App Stadia to iOS

Illustration for article titled Google Is Bringing Its Own Cloud Gaming Web App Stadia to iOS

Photo: Gizmodo

Not content to be left off the iOS bandwagon, Google announced today that, like Nvidia, it too will be bringing its cloud gaming platform to iPads and iPhones. The news comes hot on the heels of Nvidia’s GeForce Now announcement earlier today, and similarly to Nvidia, Google is developing a Stadia web app for iOS that bypasses Apple’s App Store rules prohibiting dedicated cloud gaming platforms by running the program in a web browser instead. Since its launch last year, Stadia has only had an iOS app for purchasing games and adjusting settings, but yay! iOS users will be able to game on the go now!

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However, the feature won’t be available today for public beta testing. Google says users can expect it to start rolling out several weeks from now, so it could be the end of 2020 or early 2021 before the Stadia iOS web app shows up on your device. Google also did not specify if Stadia will be available only on Safari or if it will be available on other mobile browsers like Chrome, too.

Considering Stadia is baked into the Chrome browser, it seems likely that Google would just make Stadia available via Safari on iOS, because there’s already a functional app on Android, and you can access the platform via the Chrome browser from any computer. Gizmodo has reached to Google out for clarification and will update this article when/if we receive a response.

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That’s not all the good news Google has to share. In celebration of its first birthday, all Stadia users will be able to play Destiny 2 for free starting today. The first full implementation of State Share—the ability for players to pop right into a specific moment within their own game by clicking a link provided by another player—will launch in Hitman 3 on Jan. 20, 2021. And if you buy Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia before Dec. 18, you can get a free Stadia Premiere Edition, which includes a Stadia controller and a Google Chromecast while supplies last. It might take a while to arrive, given the pandemic and that the holidays are the busiest time of year for shipping, but you’ll save $100 on Stadia equipment if you buy Cyberpunk 2077.

If you already preordered Cyberpunk 2077 before this announcement, you can still get a free Stadia Premiere Edition, Google said. Just be on the lookout for an email with a redemption code, which should hit your inbox a week before the Dec. 10 launch. If you’re already a Stadia Pro subscriber and this would be your first Stadia store purchase, you can also save $10 on the game when you purchase Cyberpunk 2077 on or after Dec. 10.

While the “Apple Tax” debate is far from over, it’s great to see so many cloud gaming platforms figure out a way to let iOS users in on the fun. After all, the whole point of cloud gaming is that you can play on any device anywhere at any time. While the anywhere and anytime part still has a ways to go before becoming a reality, the any device part has been (or will be soon be) realized now that iOS devices are supported.

The New Google Pay Makes Tracking Your Money a Breeze—But There’s a Catch

Illustration for article titled The New Google Pay Makes Tracking Your Money a Breeze—But Theres a Catch

Image: Google

Google has just completely redesigned its Google Pay app in a bid to make managing your money easier than ever by giving you a bird’s eye view of your financials and spending habits. But it also wants to do this by becoming a banking middleman and turning your transaction history into a kind of Hangouts feed with connections as well as brands.

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Google Pay, which originally launched back in 2015, already tracked information such as who you’ve sent money to and when. But the new Google Pay app creates a transaction feed between friends and businesses that looks a little like private text threads rather than a jumbled feed. From the home screen in the app, Google Pay users will now see their most frequent transaction interactions for both people as well as places like restaurants and retailers. Clicking on any of these icons will take you directly to a private, Google Hangouts-like feed of your transaction history—kind of like on Venmo, but with the ability to easily text, too.

Gif: Google

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The redesigned app will make bill-splitting a breeze, which is neat. Now you can use the app to create a kind of chatroom for people with whom you’d like to split a bill, and each person on the thread will be prompted to pay their share. This feed will feature a widget for who’s paid and who hasn’t as well as how much is owed until the bill is paid in full. As with your connections, the app will create private feeds of your past transactions with businesses while also surfacing rewards and offers in those threads.

Google Pay will also allow you to activate coupons and awards that will be automatically applied when you pay in-store or online, meaning you’ll no longer need to remember to input a discount code at checkout.

Lastly, Insights will give users a snapshot of the way they spent money by category with connected bank accounts and credit cards, as well as remind you when your individual bills are due—but you’ll need to allow the app access to your data to get the most out of this feature. You can also search for past receipts in the app; for example, when given permission, the Google Pay app can search your photographed receipts, linked bank accounts, and app transactions to pull up that information.

Basically, you’ll get out of the app what you’re willing to share, and some folks are going to be far warier about some of these features than others. The company stressed repeatedly during a presentation about the app overhaul that feeds about your spending are only visible to you. Google also said it will never sell your data to third parties or share your information with other parts of the company. But it will use the information you share to help keep you plugged into the Google ecosystem and create personalized offers.

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Next year, Google will further blur the lines between data broker and bank when it launches Plex, a mobile-first bank account connected to Google Pay and offered through partnerships with banks and credit unions. Plex will offer checking and savings accounts without fees, overdraft charges, or balance minimums, the company said.

Just remember: Any time a service is free, you’re probably the product.

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Google Fit and Wear OS Are Getting Some Long-Overdue Updates

Illustration for article titled Google Fit and Wear OS Are Getting Some Long-Overdue Updates

Image: Google

While it’s hard to say that Wear OS is innovating the wearables field, in the past year it’s done quite a bit of catching up. Today, Google’s announcing a few new updates to the Google Fit and Wear OS that should help close the gap between it and other smartwatch platforms.

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For starters, both Google Fit iOS and Android apps are getting a homescreen to act as a hub for various health and fitness data. The Google Fit app, while simple and easy to use, had somewhat fallen behind trends in recent years. Apple’s Health app, the Samsung Health app, and Fitbit’s app all treat their homescreens as data hubs, full of tiles for a summarized breakdown of your general activity. Google Fit, however, was a little more basic. According to Google, the new homescreen adds the ability to track things like your heart rate, weight, and blood pressure trends over time. You can also more easily share (cough humblebrag cough) Google Fit journal entries to social media or in messaging apps.

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If you have a sleep tracker or use a sleep app, you’ll also be able to view more detailed information about how well you slept and view sleep stages as well. Back in June, Google also introduced bedtime schedules on Android phones—and it looks like that feature is also coming to Google Fit. As for compatible trackers, Google says you can use devices such as the Fossil Gen 5E, the Oura Ring, the Withings Sleep mat, and apps like Sleep As Android and Sleep Cycles.

Again, these are things we’ve seen in other platforms, particularly Fitbit, for a while now. However, it’s nice to see Google Fit finally get a major redesign.

Gif: Google

On Wear OS, Google is revamping its Workouts tile, while adding Weather and Breathe tiles. Bless. If you’re unfamiliar with tiles, they’re Google’s term for widgets or screens that offer a shortcut to an app—similar to what Samsung does in its Tizen OS. For the Workouts tile, there are finally shortcuts so you can your exercise session started more quickly. That, and Google is making it easier to read metrics on a single screen. Lastly, you’ll also be able to set goals and get pace alerts.

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Google announced the weather tile was coming earlier this year. It’s easier to read and gets hourly updates, such as precipitation alerts. Not super exciting, but I’m never going to say no to helpful weather tiles. Lastly, Wear OS is finally getting a Breathe tile for guided breathing sessions. A nice perk is that at the end of each session, you’ll also be able to view how your heart rate changed as well as recaps of your weekly sessions.

None of these updates are particularly revolutionary. Cynically speaking, it’s another example of how far Wear OS has lagged behind that the platform is getting these updates just now. But from a more optimistic standpoint, it’s encouraging to see more regular updates to Wear OS. In 2020, Google was one of the first to add a handwashing timer, and in August, the company announced performance updates that would make Wear OS snappier to use. Qualcomm also introduced the new Snapdragon Wear 4100/4100+ platform, which should improve battery life, lead to faster performance, and hopefully enable some more advanced features. And while the Fitbit acquisition is still pending, all these things seem to signal that Google hasn’t left Wear OS for dead. At the very least, these updates might at least level the playing field and provide more options for Android users that aren’t tied to Samsung phones.

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Google Will Make It Slightly Easier to Turn Off Smart Features, Slightly Harder for Regulators to Break Up Google

Illustration for article titled Google Will Make It Slightly Easier to Turn Off Smart Features, Slightly Harder for Regulators to Break Up Google

Photo: Michael Reynolds (Getty Images)

Soon, Google will present you with a clear choice to disable smart features, like Google assistant reminders to pay your bills and predictive text in Gmail. Whether you like the Gmail mindreader function that autofills “all the best” and “reaching out,” or have long dreaded the arrival of the machine staring back from the void,: it’s your world, Google’s just living in it. According to Google.

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Gif: Google

We’ve always been able to disable these functions if we bothered hunting through account settings. But “in the coming weeks” Google will show a new blanket setting to “turn off smart features” which will disable features like Smart Compose, Smart Reply, in apps like Gmail; the second half of the same prompt will disable whether additional Google products—like Maps or Assistant, for example—are allowed to be personalized based on data from Gmail, Meet, and Chat.

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Google writes in its blog post about the new-ish settings that humans are not looking at your emails to enable smart features, and Google ads are “not based on your personal data in Gmail,” something CEO Sundar Pichai has likewise said time and again. Google claims to have stopped that practice in 2017, although the following year the Wall Street Journal reported that third-party app developers had freely perused inboxes with little oversight. (When asked whether this is still a problem, the spokesperson pointed us to Google’s 2018 effort to tighten security.)

A Google spokesperson emphasized that the company only uses email contents for security purposes like filtering spam and phishing attempts.

These personalization changes aren’t so much about tightening security as they are another informed consent defense which Google can use to repel the current regulatory siege being waged against it by lawmakers. It has expanded incognito mode for maps and auto-deleting data in location history or web and app activity and on YouTube (though after a period of a few months).

Inquiries in the U.S. and EU have found that Google’s privacy settings have historically presented the appearance of privacy, rather than privacy itself. After a 2018 AP article exposed the extent of Google’s location data harvesting, an investigation found that turning location off in Android was no guarantee that Google wouldn’t collect location data (though Google has denied this.) Plaintiffs in a $5 billion class-action lawsuit filed this summer alleged that “incognito mode” in Chrome didn’t prevent Google from capturing and sharing their browsing history. And last year, French regulators fined Google nearly $57 million for violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by allegedly burying privacy controls beneath five or six layers of settings. (When asked, the spokesperson said Google has no additional comment on these cases.)

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So this is nice, and also Google’s announcement reads as a letter to regulators. “This new setting is designed to reduce the work of understanding and managing [a choice over how data is processed], in view of what we’ve learned from user experience research and regulators’ emphasis on comprehensible, actionable user choices over data.”

Google Is Shuttering the Expeditions App, but Its VR Field Trips Aren’t Going Away For Good

Google is migrating many of the functions of its virtual reality field trip app Expeditions to its Arts & Culture app, which the woman pictured above is using to interact with exhibits at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin.

Google is migrating many of the functions of its virtual reality field trip app Expeditions to its Arts & Culture app, which the woman pictured above is using to interact with exhibits at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin.
Photo: Tobias Schwarz (Getty Images)

Another one of Google’s virtual reality ventures is biting the dust. The company says it’s ending support for its VR educational app, Expeditions, next year, though it’ll fare far better than Google’s shuttered Daydream VR platform. Instead of discontinuing Expeditions completely, Google’s folding many of the app’s functions into its Arts & Culture app.

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It feels like a lifetime ago when every tech company and its mother was jumping on the VR bandwagon, but then again 2020 has made time feel like one big soupy mess. Google launched Expeditions in 2015 for its Cardboard VR headset, a dirt-cheap VR smartphone adaptor made out of literal cardboard, and marketed the app as a classroom aide for “virtual field trips” long before covid-19 was a thing.

Google said in a blog post on Friday that it will no longer support the Expeditions app and plans to remove it from iOS and Android app stores after June 30, 2021. Many of the app’s virtual tours will migrate to Google’s Arts & Culture app, according to the company’s director of education program management, Jennifer Holland. She framed the decision as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has pushed many workplaces and schools online around the world.

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“As schools around the world reimagine education from the ground up for a hybrid world, we’ve also been thinking deeply about how to adjust our tools to meet the moment and simultaneously build for the future,” Holland wrote. “We’ve heard and recognize that immersive experiences with VR headsets are not always accessible to all learners and even more so this year, as the transition to hybrid learning has presented challenges for schools to effectively use Expeditions.”

Google Arts & Culture is already home to plenty of other neat VR and AR experiences (like this tool for turning your selfie into a famous art piece) as well as museum collections from more than 2,000 cultural institutions, so it seems a natural fit for Expeditions’ repertoire. You can use the Cardboard viewer for some of the content on the Arts & Culture app, but don’t be surprised if that option quietly disappears eventually. Google’s been distancing itself from VR for a while now. It pulled the plug on its Daydream headset last year and open-sourced the software behind Cardboard not long after that. With Expeditions now on the chopping block too, Google’s bargain-basement headset doesn’t seem long for this world.