Google makes important Workspace change to prevent phishing

Google has made an important change to how it displays comment notifications for Workspace apps, like Docs, to prevent phishing and protect users from malware. This change makes it safer for users to collaborate remotely without worrying about hacks and other types of malicious attacks, and the change is notable at a time when more people are working, learning, and collaborating from home during the global health pandemic.

With the new notification change, Google is now including the full email address of the collaborator in its notification when you receive an @mention, making it easier to safely identify your collaborator and trusted contacts.

In the past when a collaborator inserts an “@mention” note to Google Workspace apps, you would get an email in your inbox notifying you that someone has made a change to your document. The problem, however, is that the email notification only contains the commenter’s name and not their email address, making it easy for malicious attackers to target users pretending to be someone who you know and trust. Google’s change should make it easier for you to confirm your collaborator by being able to see the commenter’s email address.

“When someone mentions you in a comment in a Google Workspace document, we send you an email notification with the comment and the commenter’s name,” Google explained of the change. “With this update, we are adding the commenter’s email address to the email notification.”

Google is rolling out the feature now, and it could take up to 15 days for the update to show up for everyone. There are no additional steps users or IT administrators will need to take, according to Google’s Workspace support document. The feature will roll out to all Google accounts, including personal Google accounts as well as legacy G Suite and Business accounts.

“We hope that by providing this additional information, this will help you feel more confident that you’re receiving a legitimate notification rather than a spam or phishing attempt by a bad actor,” Google added.

As more companies begin to or continue to adopt hybrid and remote work environments, technology companies are also stepping up their efforts to help prevent malicious attacks. In addition to Google’s latest efforts to protect Workspace users, last year Microsoft released a new feature for its Teams collaboration platform that makes it more difficult for hackers to steal your personal data by sending look-alike web pages. Microsoft stated that phishing is responsible for nearly 70% of data breaches in its Digital Defense report, and recent changes made by tech companies like Google will ultimately help to keep users safe so as long as they remain vigilant and practice basic security hygiene when it comes to handling unknown links and emails from unknown senders.

Editors’ Choice

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Google will help open-source tech fight cyberattacks

At a time when cyberattacks happen with increasing frequency, Google announced a new security tool with the aim of increasing the safety of open-source software.

Assured Open Source Software (OSS) will enable users to incorporate Google’s own security packages into their own workflows.


Open-source software continues to be a popular target for security attacks, and as Google notes in its announcement, there has been a massive 650% year-over-year increase in the number of cyberattacks aimed at open-source suppliers. Seeing as software supply chains often utilize open-source code to remain accessible and easy to customize, they are especially vulnerable to these kinds of attacks.

Google is far from the only entity to address the fact that open-source software, despite its plentiful benefits, can be easily abused. The company, alongside OpenSSF and the Linux Foundation, is following up on the security initiatives brought up during the recent White House Summit on Open Source Security. Microsoft has also recently announced a new cybersecurity-based initiative.

There have been numerous high-profile cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the recent past, such as Log4j and Spring4shell. In an attempt to prevent such attacks from taking place, Google has now introduced Assured OSS.

As part of Assured OSS, Google hopes to enable users from both the enterprise sector and the public sector to work the Google OSS packages into their own developer workflows. On its own end, the company promises that the packages curated by the service will be regularly scanned, fuzz-tested, and analyzed to make sure that no vulnerabilities manage to slip past the defenses.

All the packages will be built with Google’s Cloud Build and will thus come with verifiable SLSA-compliance. SLSA stands for Supply-chain Levels for Software Artifacts and is a well-known framework that aims to standardize the security of software supply chains. Every package will also be verifiably signed by Google and will come with corresponding metadata incorporating Google’s Container/Artifact analysis data.

To further bring cybersecurity into focus, Google has also announced a new partnership with SNYK, an Israeli developer security platform. Assured OSS will be integrated into SNYK solutions from the get-go, allowing customers of both companies to benefit.

Google pointed out a staggering statistic: Within the 550 most common open-source projects that it regularly scans, it has managed to find more than 36,000 vulnerabilities as of January 2022. That alone shows how important it is to crack down on the vulnerability of these projects, seeing as open-source software is popular, needed, and definitely here to stay. Perhaps Google’s Assured OSS can make it more secure for everyone who benefits from it.

Editors’ Choice

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Google is taking sign-ups for Relate, a voice assistant that recognizes impaired speech

Google launched a beta app today that people with speech impairments can use as a voice assistant while contributing to a multiyear research effort to improve Google’s speech recognition. The goal is to make Google Assistant, as well as other features that use speech to text and speech to speech, more inclusive of users with neurological conditions that affect their speech.

The new app is called Project Relate, and volunteers can sign up at To be eligible to participate, volunteers need to be 18 or older and “have difficulty being understood by others.” They’ll also need a Google account and an Android phone using OS 8 or later. For now, it’s only available to English speakers in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. They’ll be tasked with recording 500 phrases, which should take between 30 to 90 minutes to record.

After sharing their voice samples, volunteers will get access to three new features on the Relate App. It can transcribe their speech in real time. It also has a feature called “Repeat” that will restate what the user said in “a clear, synthesized voice.” That can help people with speech impairments when having conversations or when using voice commands for home assistant devices. The Relate App also connects to Google Assistant to help users turn on the lights or play a song with their voices.

Without enough training data, other Google apps like Translate and Assistant haven’t been very accessible for people with conditions like ALS, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or Parkinson’s disease. In 2019, Google started Project Euphonia, a broad effort to improve its AI algorithms by collecting data from people with impaired speech. Google is also training its algorithms to recognize sounds and gestures so that it can better help people who cannot speak. That work is still ongoing; Google and its partners still appear to be collecting patients’ voices separately for Project Euphonia.

“I’m used to the look on people’s faces when they can’t understand what I’ve said,” Aubrie Lee, a brand manager at Google whose speech is affected by muscular dystrophy, said in a blog post today. “Project Relate can make the difference between a look of confusion and a friendly laugh of recognition.”

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BMW shipping cars sans advertised Apple and Google features

The global chip shortage continues to cause problems for automakers to the point where some are shipping vehicles without all of their advertised features.

BMW, for example, is shipping some of its new cars without support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, according to a recent report by Automotive News.

In an email to affected customers, the German auto giant confirmed that some vehicles built between January and April of this year contain chips that require updated software in order to be able to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The necessary update will be rolled out “by the end of June at the latest,” the automaker said.

The issue is reportedly the result of BMW changing chip supplier in a bid to deal with the shortage in the most efficient way possible. In other words, changing supplier prevented it from halting shipments while it waited for the chips to come in. Instead, it’s been able to add the new supplier’s chips and then ship the cars, the only challenge being that it needs to roll out updated software to activate certain features.

It’s not clear how many customers and vehicle models are impacted by BMW’s decision to ship vehicles without CarPlay and Android Auto, but Automotive News’ own research suggests the situation involves the automaker’s American, British, French, Italian, and Spanish markets.

While the issue may be an unwelcome annoyance for customers, it shouldn’t prove to be too much trouble provided BMW delivers on its promise to resolve the problem by the end of next month. It’s certainly better than the automaker holding on to the vehicle until the functionality can be added.

Digital Trends has reached out to BMW for more information on the situation and we will update this article when we hear back.

BMW’s decision to ship vehicles without all of the advertised features is similar to moves made by other car companies in recent months. Ford, for example, also cited the global chip shortage for its decision to ship some of its Explorer SUVs without particular features, though it promised to add them when the chips become available.

In Ford’s case, it meant shipping some of its Explorers without functionality for rear seat controls that operate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, though they are controllable from the driver’s seat.

Caused by pandemic-related supply chain problems and other factors, the chip shortage isn’t expected to end anytime soon, with Intel’s chief saying last month that it could take several more years for his company to get on top of the situation.

Editors’ Choice

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Google Stadia is finally available on LG TVs almost one year later

It took the better part of a year, but Google Stadia is available on recent LG TVs. Anyone with an LG set running webOS 5.0 or 6.0 (that is, 2020 or newer) can use the cloud gaming service to play Assassin’s Creed or Madden without requiring a media device or PC as a go-between. You’ll need a compatible gamepad, but that shouldn’t be an issue when the Stadia Controller and common console pads should work either wirelessly or through USB.

Not surprisingly, LG suggests one of its OLED TVs for Stadia thanks to the fast pixel response times, low latency and (for Stadia Pro subscribers) 4K HDR visuals. They’re certainly not required, though, and it’s arguably the lag from game streaming that will make the larger difference.

Stadia is available through the LG Content Store in all 22 countries where the service already exists. You probably won’t buy a TV with Stadia in mind, but this significantly widens the number of sets where native support is an option — you might be more inclined to try it if the barrier to entry is that much lower.

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LG smart TVs finally get Google Stadia support, but only certain models

Google’s cloud-based gaming platform Stadia is now available on certain LG smart TVs. The new support eliminates the need to purchase and use a separate device for accessing one’s Stadia library, though it’s important to note that only newer LG models running specific versions of the company’s webOS support Google’s gaming service.


LG smart TVs join the Stadia lineup

LG Electronics USA

Unlike a regular “dumb” television, a smart TV features more robust hardware that powers a built-in operating system. Some manufacturers like TCL and Westinghouse bundle their smart TVs with third-party operating systems like Fire TV and Roku OS, while other companies like LG sell smart TVs that feature the company’s own operating system.

LG’s smart TV platform is called webOS; it provides users with direct access to popular streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, apps that provide information on things like the weather, and more. In an announcement today, the South Korean company said some of its smart TVs also now offer Google Stadia (via PRNewswire).

Stadia subscribers can download the app in the LG app store on their smart TV, but only if the model runs webOS 5.0 or webOS 6.0. This means only newer smart TV models support the cloud-based gaming platform — if your model was made before 2020, there’s a good chance it isn’t included. The native support is available in all 22 markets where Stadia is available.

What is Google Stadia?

Google Stadia on devices


Google Stadia is one of a growing number of cloud-based gaming platforms. Rather than purchasing typically expensive hardware like a console to play games, cloud-based services like Stadia allow users to stream content over a high-speed Internet connection.

Because the heavy-duty work takes place on Google’s servers, players are able to fire up their favorite titles — including AAA games — on a huge variety of devices otherwise incapable of running high-end games. Gamers can, for example, play Stadia games on an Android smartphone or tablet, their existing laptop using Chrome, or with the Chromecast Ultra, a 4K HDR streaming dongle that costs $109 USD.

Assuming the gamer has access to high-speed Internet service, Stadia is a great way to play the latest games without spending a bunch of money — and it is particularly great for consumers who already own smart TVs, but only if those models are supported. By adding native Stadia support, LG has given some of its customers the option of joining Stadia at minimal costs, requiring them to merely buy a compatible controller and the games they want.

Beyond Stadia

NVIDIA GeForce NOW on phone


While Stadia is a great platform, it’s not the only cloud-based game streaming service on the market. Last month, LG announced a GeForce NOW app beta test for select 2021 webOS smart TV models, paving the way for access to NVIDIA’s own cloud gaming platform. The GeForce NOW service is particularly useful for gamers who have already purchased a number of titles because the platform connects with existing PC gaming stores.

Consumers who aren’t concerned with native LG smart TV support can also check out PlayStation Now, Sony’s own cloud-based game streaming platform. PS Now provides access to a huge library of PlayStation games dating back to the PS2 era, though they can only be streamed on the PS4, PS5, and Windows PCs. There’s also Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming platform offered as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription, providing customers with access to more than 100 console games on mobile devices and Windows PCs.

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Our First Look at Google Stadia on an LG CX OLED TV

There is nothing more frustrating than opening up a new toy, only to find that it doesn’t work. Such was the case — at first — when I installed Google’s Stadia cloud gaming app on a 2020 LG CX OLED television.

The news peg, as we say in the business, is that Stadia has been spreading to more and more devices. And it’s now available natively on LG televisions that have the webOS 5.0 or the newer webOS 6.0 software. You don’t need a Chromecast. You don’t need to run more wires or Ethernet cable. You just download the app from the LG Content Store, and fire away.

Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

The truly exciting part about all this is that you can play Stadia games without having to download gigabytes of data before being able to do anything at all. No operating system updates. No game updates. You just connect your Google account to Stadia, connect a controller of some sort to Stadia, and it just works. It truly is incredible and is far more likely to get a non-gamer like myself to spend a few hours shooting things. (I’m told there are games that don’t involve shooting, or swordplay, or dragons or some sort — but why would you play them?) And LG televisions in particular are exciting for video games thanks to their 120Hz refresh rate. Being able to play Stadia games natively? It’s icing on an already sweet cake.

So I installed. And I connected. And I, jaded journo that I am, was unsurprised to see unplayable lag at first. These things happen, of course, and it’s all part of testing things.

So far @GoogleStadia on an LG TV … ain’t great. Guess I’ll try Ethernet and see if that helps.

— Phil (@philnickinson) December 8, 2021

Have you turned it off and on?

Perhaps it was my wireless network. Never mind the fact that I’ve got Wi-Fi 6, and the TV itself handles Wi-Fi 5 — both of which are more than capable of streaming Stadia games. (And that’s before I got anywhere near the Stadia Pro subscription, which gives you 4K resolution and HDR and 5.1 surround sound, all of which require more data.) So into the network closet I went, extracting a length of Category 5 cable and plugging the TV into my switch, all proper like. After all, what’s the point of having a fiber in the home if you’re not actually able to take advantage of those gigabit speeds.


Still nothing. The lag, it burns. Maybe a second of video and audio before things cut out for another second. Rinse and repeat. It was unwatchable, never mind unplayable. Early reports on Reddit also had a few folks saying the same thing. Whether we were having the same problem remains to be seen. And it didn’t seem to be something more systemic.

The next step in the troubleshooting process also should be the first one — reboot and restart. First, the router. Then the Stadia controller itself. Finally, the TV.

If you’re expecting more outrage at this point, dear reader, you’ll be disappointed. After reconnecting the Stadia controller to the LG TV’s Stadia app, all was well. Games “loaded” — again, there’s really nothing loaded on your TV save for the Stadia app itself — immediately. Video was as fluid as it’s ever been. The LG CX handles 4K resolution just fine.

In other words, it was a wholly unremarkable experience, which is precisely the point. It just worked.


Editors’ Choice

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Google Photos’ Locked Folder is now rolling out to more Android phones

Google Photos’ Locked Folder feature, which promises to keep sensitive photos out of your main photo roll, is starting to roll out to non-Pixel phones, according to Android Police. Google said in September that the feature would be rolling out to more Android phones “soon,” and it’s reportedly started to show up on some Samsung and OnePlus devices, according to Android Central. Older Pixel devices that didn’t originally get access to it are also getting it now, based on our tests.

The feature lets you choose specific photos or videos and put them in a passcode or biometrics-locked folder, taking them out of your main photo feed and keeping them off the cloud. It was introduced on Google’s own phones (Pixel 3 and up) in June, after being announced at Google’s I/O presentation in May.

In its presentation, Google used the example of parents hiding pictures of a newly purchased puppy from their children. A valid use case for sure, though I suspect most people will probably use it for less wholesome pictures, alleviating the “what if they swipe too many pictures back and see my butt” anxiety that can come when showing people photos from an unfiltered library. (Surely a relatable concern.)

The feature should be available to phones running Android 6 or later, and I was able to access it on my Pixel 2 running Android 11 by going to Photos > Library > Utilities. Google also said that the feature will come to the iOS version of Google Photos early next year.

If you’ve got the feature and want to use it, it’s worth noting that photos stored in the Locked Folder won’t be backed up to the cloud and will be deleted if you uninstall Google Photos or wipe your device without transferring them. You can read more on Google’s Locked Folder support page.

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Google and Qualcomm collaborate to accelerate AI development

Hear from CIOs, CTOs, and other C-level and senior execs on data and AI strategies at the Future of Work Summit this January 12, 2022. Learn more

Qualcomm today at its Snapdragon Summit 2021 announced a collaboration with Google Cloud to bring the latter’s Neural Architecture Search to Qualcomm platforms. The move is designed to speed up the development of AI models at the edge.

Qualcomm claims the announcement will make it the first system-on-a-chip (SoC) customer to offer the Google Cloud Vertex AI Neural Architecture Search services. It will first be available on the Snapdragon 8, Gen 1 Mobile Platform, followed by the Snapdragon portfolio across mobile, IoT, automotive, and XR platforms.

As AI/ML hardware has become more widespread, attention has turned to the software stack, which often consists of point solutions. Optimizing develops MLOps workflows for AI and with this collaboration, Qualcomm aims to speed up the development of AI models for Snapdragon at the edge.

Google Cloud announced Vertex AI Neural Architecture Search in May as a unified platform for developing, deploying, and maintaining AI models. According to Google, training models with Vertex AI required almost 80% fewer lines of code compared to other platforms. Google claims it’s the same toolkit that is used internally to power Google, ranging from computing vision to language and structured data.

Vertex AI consists of various tools, but Qualcomm specifically called out the Neural Architecture Search. As the name implies, it seeks to optimize AI models. Vertex AI NAS will be integrated into the Qualcomm Neural Processing SDK, and will run on the Qualcomm AI Engine.

“With this collaboration, Qualcomm Technologies will now be able to build and optimize new AI models in weeks rather than months, and we’re thrilled at the impact this will have on people using Snapdragon-powered devices,” June Yang, vice president of Cloud AI and Industry Solutions at Google Cloud, said in a statement.


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Pokemon GO is down with Spotify, Discord, Snapchat via Google Cloud issue

Today Pokemon GO went down and fans around the world began to see the notification “Unable to authenticate. Please try again.” Similar situations appeared when users attempted to sign in or continue using services like Snapchat, Spotify, and Discord. It would appear – at first glance – that the problem rests squarely in the lap of Google Cloud.

Niantic relies on Google Cloud and, as such, it’ll be unlikely that we’ll see log-in available for Pokemon GO until Google Cloud’s own services are fixed. We’ll be keeping an eye on the server statuses as such, and will keep you informed! Cross your fingers Niantic takes account of the down time and extends their special event this week beyond its original stop time!

Google Cloud had issues starting at around noon, Central Time, on November 16, 2021. Google Cloud works with and/or serves a wide variety of brands that then had issues as a result. Not all services that currently or have ever used Google Cloud had issues at once, but one peek at the “Leading companies around the world” that use Google Cloud cross-referenced with complaints on DownDetector show what appears to be a tie between the two.

Home Depot, Etsy, Nest, Apex Legends (yes, the game), Target, and other Google-related services saw trouble today. Two primary services hit hardest by this down time were Fitbit and Nest.

Etsy’s public status disclosed the following: “Our cloud hosting provider is experiencing an outage that is affecting many of their sites. We are working with them to resolve this as quickly as possible.” This sort of thing doesn’t happen often with Google Cloud, but it is not entirely unprecedented.

UPDATE: A Google Cloud representative said “CPU and memory utilization metrics are intermittently missing for Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). This issue does not affect auto-scaling capabilities. Short term mitigation is available.” This matches with the current red-light exclamation mark on the “Google Cloud Networking” bit of the Google Cloud server status today, too.

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