15 Exciting Highlights from Google I/O 2023
At the annual Google I/O developer conference, a wide array of cutting-edge technologies and updates were showcased, all aimed at enhancing user experiences across various platforms. Google emphasised its commitment to improving search experiences and ensuring user safety by introducing new generative AI capabilities for search and implementing advanced tools for online protection.
Significant updates were also announced for Android, Pixel devices, and Google Photos. A standout moment of the conference was the unveiling of PaLM 2, Google’s latest generative language model. This breakthrough model surpasses previous language models in areas such as maths, coding, reasoning, multilingual translation, and natural language generation.
In addition to these advancements, Google reiterated its commitment to responsible AI, striving to address pressing societal challenges like climate change and flood forecasting while maintaining ethical AI practices.
Here are the 15 significant announcements made at Google IO that we thought would be of interest to you:
PaLM 2, next generation language model: Google has unveiled PaLM 2, a next-generation language model designed to improve language translation, reasoning, and coding capabilities. The model is more heavily trained on multilingual text, demonstrating advanced proficiency in logic, common sense reasoning, and mathematics. Additionally, PaLM 2 was pre-trained on publicly available source code datasets, making it more efficient and faster than previous models. PaLM 2 will be available in four sizes, from smallest to largest: Gecko, Otter, Bison, and Unicorn, making it versatile for a range of use cases. The model is set to power 25 new Google products and features, including Bard and Med-PaLM 2, a medical competency model that can answer questions and summarise insights from dense medical texts. Learn more about PaLM 2 here.
Expansion of Bard: The waitlist has now been removed, making Bard available in English in over 180 countries and territories, with the addition of Japanese and Korean languages, and planning to support the world’s top 40 languages. As the platform expands, Google will focus on maintaining high standards for quality, local nuances and adherence to AI principles. More here.
Image Capabilities: Google is making it easier to prompt Bard with images, using Google Lens. This integration of images with text in Bard aims to enrich the user experience by providing visually informative responses to queries. Users can also include images in their prompts, offering new possibilities for creativity and imagination. More here
Developer Features for Bard: Google is introducing three new ways to use Bard based on developer feedback: Making code citations even more precise by showing you the source of specific blocks of code. This also applies to citing narrative content from across the web; by adding export to Replit and by making Bard friendlier on the eyes in low-light conditions by introducing Dark theme. More here
Export to Docs and Gmail: Google is making it easier and more seamless for users to continue their work by exporting Bard’s responses to Google Docs or Gmail. Formatting stays intact so users can continue editing directly in Docs or Gmail without needing to copy, paste, and reformat Bard’s responses.
Integration into Apps:: Bard will be integrating with various Google apps and services like Docs, Drive, Gmail, Maps, and more, while maintaining user control over privacy settings. The platform will also connect with external services and partners, such as Adobe Firefly for image creation, Kayak for travel, Instacart for groceries, Wolfram for computational knowledge, and Khan Academy for education, offering a wide range of possibilities for users.
Integrating generative AI across all the Workspace apps: The new features help one write, organise, visualise, accelerate workflows, have richer meetings, and much more. This powerful new way of working is what Google calls Duet AI for Workspace. Google is bringing the generative AI experience to Gmail on mobile and embedding generative AI into Slides so one can easily create unique visuals with a few words. The generative AI will help one analyse and act on data in Sheets, with automated data classification and the creation of custom tables.
Simplifying Shopping with Generative AI: Google is using generative AI to make shopping faster and much easier, providing users with a snapshot of noteworthy factors to consider when searching for a product. Built on Google’s Shopping Graph, this new generative AI shopping experience will offer a seamless and informed decision-making process for users.
Search Labs: Google’s advanced generative AI capabilities are now accessible through Search Labs, an innovative platform that allows users to explore and engage with early-stage experiments in Search. By registering for Search Labs, users have the opportunity to experience the Search Generative Experience (SGE) on Chrome desktop and the Google App in the US (available in English at launch).
Magic Compose: Magic Compose, a new Messages by Google feature powered by generative AI, can help you add an extra spark of personality to your conversations. The feature offers suggested responses based on the context of your messages and can even transform your writing into different styles. Release set for July.
New AI features in Android: Google’s upcoming Android 14 update (expected later this year) promises to change the way users personalise their smartphone experience, taking customization to the next level. Material You customization enables users to personalise their lock screen with new shortcuts, clocks, and a monochrome colour theme. The update also offers diverse wallpaper options, including emoji, cinematic, and generative AI wallpapers that allow users to generate unique designs based on their preferences. To enhance social media, Google is bringing Night Mode and 10-bit HDR video support to popular social apps like Instagram. The Android 14 update introduces Ultra HDR, promising stunning photo quality and raising the bar for smartphone photography.
Reimagine Your Photos with Magic Editor in Google Photos: The new experimental editing feature, Magic Editor, powered by generative AI, will enable users to make complex photo edits effortlessly without requiring professional editing skills. Users can selectively edit specific parts of an image, such as the subject, sky, or background, for more control over the final appearance of their photos.
Features and Updates to Enhance Online Safety and Trust: Google’s new suite of features and updates aims to improve online safety and provide users with reliable access to trustworthy content and information. The “About This Image” tool helps users evaluate the reliability of visual content found online by providing important contextual information, such as when an image was first indexed by Google, its original appearance, and other online occurrences. Google is also expanding its Content Safety API to include potential child sexual abuse material in video content, addressing a critical safety concern as video files account for nearly 50% of all files reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Spam view in Drive: Google’s ongoing efforts to protect Gmail users from unwanted messages, which currently block over 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware, are now being extended to Google Drive with “Spam View”, a new feature that simplifies the process of separating and reviewing files, allowing users to identify potential spam and stay safe from unwanted or abusive content. Google Drive will automatically classify content into the Spam View, similar to Gmail’s current system, ensuring that users are protected from encountering dangerous or unwanted files.
New additions to the Pixel family: Google’s Pixel product line continues to expand with the introduction of three new devices: the Pixel 7a, Pixel Fold, and Pixel Tablet. The Pixel 7a is Google’s latest A-series phone, featuring Face Unlock, 8GB RAM, a 90 Hz display, and wireless charging for the first time, making it an affordable package with the best of Google’s hardware and software. The Pixel Fold is Google’s first foldable phone, boasting a 7.6-inch screen when opened, offering a large, immersive display, and the best camera on a foldable phone, ensuring high-quality photography. Additionally, the 11-inch Pixel Tablet is designed for entertainment and gaming, comes with a Charging Speaker Dock, and functions as a helpful smart home device.
Data Breaches in Nigeria Increase 64% in Q1 2023
By Adedapo Adesanya
Data breaches in Nigeria increased by 64 per cent, as 82,000 leaked accounts were recorded in the first three months of the year when compared with the last quarter of 2022.
This made Nigeria the 32nd most breached country in the world in the first three months of this year, according to the latest data from cybersecurity company, Surfshark, collected through its independent partners from 29,000 publicly available databases and aggregated by email addresses.
Globally, data breaches declined in the first quarter of 2023, with a total of 41.6 million accounts breached. This is almost 50 per cent less than the nearly 81 million seen in Q4’2022.
The increase in Nigeria’s data breaches moved the country from the previous position of 41 to 32, with around 50,000 breaches recorded in Q4 2022.
Russia was ranked 1st in the world (6.6 million), followed by the United States (5 million), Taiwan (3.9 million), France (3.2 million), and Spain (3.2 million), making the top five.
Taiwan saw the highest quarter-over-quarter increase (21x), placing its total of 4 million leaked accounts 3rd in Q1’2023. The country had only placed 26th in Q4 2022 with 191,000 breached users.
Globally, data breaches declined, dropping to one user account leaked every second in Q1 2023.
“According to Surfshark’s study, data breaches declined globally in the first quarter of 2023 if we compare it to the previous one,” says Agneska Sablovskaja, Lead Researcher at Surfshark. “However, the fact that over 40 million accounts were breached in just a few months is still a cause for concern. Those whose data was compromised are at an increased risk of being targeted by cybercriminals as their personal information can be utilized for phishing attacks, fraud, identity theft, and other serious cybercrimes.”
Surfshark showed that Europe was the most affected region by breaches in Q1’2023, followed by Asia and North America.
In the period under review, Europe was also the only region with a significant quarter-over-quarter increase in its statistics on data breaches. The number nearly doubled, growing from 9.9 million in Q4 2022 to 17.5 million in the first three months of 2023. To put this into perspective, 2 out of 5 accounts breached in Q1 2023 were of European origin, with 38 per cent of these being Russian. Within the region, the biggest quarter-over-quarter spikes in data breaches were recorded in Czechia (almost 9x), Armenia (around 6x), and Switzerland (6x).
Asia was the second-most vulnerable region, accounting for around a fourth of the quarter’s breaches (10.6M). The three countries that saw the highest quarter-over-quarter increase overall were all Asian — Taiwan and Saudi Arabia both had around 20 times more leaked accounts in Q1’2023 than in Q4’2022, while South Korea saw its number increase 12 times.
An additional 13 per cent of the accounts were North American (5.3 million). All other regions comprised less than 5 per cent of the quarter’s total. Out of all regions, Africa saw the greatest quarter-over-quarter decrease — a whopping 33 times, bringing its total of 18.6 million leaked accounts in Q4 2022 down to 557,600 in Q1 2023.
Some of the biggest breaches by email count were Sberbank (Russia), with 2.9M accounts leaked, Weee! (United States) with 1.1M, and Zurich Insurance (Switzerland) with 756,700.
The ten most breached countries of Q1’2023, in descending order, are Russia, the U.S., Taiwan, France, Spain, India, Czechia, South Korea, and Italy. The highest growth in user victims was spotted in Taiwan (21x), Saudi Arabia (19x), South Korea (12x), Czechia (9x), and Armenia (7x).
WhatsApp Now Allows Users Edit Messages
By Adedapo Adesanya
The social messaging platform, WhatsApp, has announced that rather than users deleting chats in case of a typo, they can now make simple edits.
The edited messages will have an “edited” tag next to the time stamp to mark the change, and other users won’t be able to see the previous versions of edited messages.
The Meta-owned platform, through its chief executive officer, Mr Mark Zuckerberg, first noted the development in a Facebook post, revealing that users can now modify a message within 15 minutes of sending the message.
If users want to do this, they can press and hold on to a message and tap on the edit option to alter the message.
“We’re excited that you’ll now have more control over your chats, such as correcting misspellings or adding more context to a message. For this, within 15 minutes of sending the message, you have to tap and hold that message for a while and then select the option of ‘Edit’ from the menu,” the company said in a blog post on Monday.
This will be good for users that want to correct a simple misspelling or those that want to add extra context to a message.
“We’re excited to bring you more control over your chats. All you need to do is long-press on a sent message and choose ‘Edit’ from the menu for up to fifteen minutes after,” WhatsApp said.
As with all personal messages, media and calls, messages and the edits made are protected by end-to-end encryption.
This feature has started rolling out to users globally and will be available to everyone in the coming weeks.
Rival platform, Telegram, has always allowed for edits and users can do so for a time frame of 48 hours.
Last week, the platform announced that users can now lock and hide conversations as part of privacy measures using biometrics or a special code.
WhatsApp Launches Chat Lock to Hide Conversations
By Adedapo Adesanya
Social conversation platform, WhatsApp, has announced a new feature that will allow users to lock and hide conversations.
The new feature called Chat Lock will remove a chat thread from the app’s regular onscreen inbox and place it into a new folder that can only be opened by a password or biometric, such as facial recognition or a fingerprint.
Calling it “one more layer of security”, Meta – WhatsApp’s parent company – added that Chat Lock would protect “your most intimate conversations” and hide notifications from them.
“Over the next few months, we’re going to be adding more options for Chat Lock, including locking for companion devices, creating a custom password for your chats so that you can use a unique password different from your phone’s,” Meta wrote in a blog post.
“Locking a chat takes that thread out of the inbox and puts it behind its folder that can only be accessed with your device password or biometric, like a fingerprint. It also automatically hides the contents of that chat in notifications, too,” the past announced.
Users can lock chat by tapping the name of a one-to-one or group and selecting the lock option. To reveal these chats, users will need to slowly pull down their inbox and enter their phone password or biometric alternative.
“We think this feature will be great for people who have reason to share their phones from time to time with a family member or those moments where someone else is holding your phone at the exact moment an extra special chat arrives,” Meta added.
This is the latest feature since it fortified its mobile application with three new security features to protect the personal messages of its users.
Also, it announced that has started allowing in-app payment in Brazil last month.
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