G Suite adds ‘Activity dashboard’ to Docs, Sheets, and Slides, essentially bringing read receipts to files

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More and more services are getting read receipts these days, and the latest services to get it seem to be Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for G Suite users. The feature is called ‘Activity dashboard’ here, and it can be tweaked by G Suite administrators to control what data is shown.

Google gives a few examples to explain why this is useful, including having an employee check if a coworker has seen a file already, and having an account manager see the best way to follow up with a client based on whether that client has viewed the materials they were sent.

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G Suite adds ‘Activity dashboard’ to Docs, Sheets, and Slides, essentially bringing read receipts to files was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Facebook is rolling out a new security feature called Protect to many users of its iOS app. While the name might make unknowing users feel good about installing the associated free app, the Facebook owned VPN is designed to collect and analyze user data to “improve Facebook products and services.”

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In October, UK officials asked Facebook to look into the possibility that Russian groups had attempted to sway the Brexit referendum through the site. They were particularly interested in whether ads were purchased by Russia-linked accounts and how m…
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Google is essentially building an anti-Amazon alliance, and Target is the latest to join

Voice-shopping partnerships to combat Alexa are just the beginning.

Google and the country’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailers have one main problem in common: Amazon. Now both sides are acting like they are serious about working together to do something about it.

On Thursday, Target and Google announced that they are expanding what was a years-old delivery partnership from a small experiment in a handful of cities to the entire continental U.S.

The expansion will allow Target to become a retail partner in Google’s voice-shopping initiative, which lets owners of the Google Home “smart” speaker order items through voice commands like owners of the Echo can do from Amazon.

The announcement comes seven weeks after Walmart inked a similar deal with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of products through the service. Other big-box retailers like Home Depot are also on board.

Voice commerce was the core of these recent announcements, and it may someday become popular for types of shopping like reordering household staples. But that’s not what is most interesting here to me.

Instead, it’s the promise that Target is also beginning to work with Google “to create innovative digital experiences using … other cutting-edge technologies to elevate Target’s strength in style areas such as home, apparel and beauty.”

“Target ​and ​Google ​teams ​are ​working ​on … building ​experiences ​that digitally ​replicate ​the ​joy ​of ​shopping ​a ​Target ​store ​to ​discover ​stylish ​and ​affordable ​products,” Target’s digital chief ​Mike ​McNamara said in a press release.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that augmented reality will be one of the areas where the two sides will seriously explore a way to work together. A Target spokesperson said it’s too early to provide details on future partnerships between the companies.

One reason for my guess: The use of the phrase “digitally replicate the joy of shopping” above, which sounds like a hint at either augmented or virtual reality.

Another reason: Just this week, at the Shoptalk Europe conference, Google’s director of augmented reality, Greg Jones, pitched retailers in the audience on working together, and made the case why Google and retailers’ interests are aligned.

While nodding to the obvious threat Amazon poses to retailers, Jones admitted that the e-commerce giant is “also a threat to Google, since a lot of people are going to Amazon first when it comes to product search.” There is plenty of data to back that up.

Google has already worked with retailers like Lowe’s to use augmented-reality technology — which allows digital objects to be overlaid on the real world when viewed through a phone’s screen — to help shoppers find the products they are looking for when in a store.

And the tech giant has also worked with Pottery Barn on an augmented-reality app that lets shoppers get a visual idea of what a new piece of furniture will look like in their home. Ikea, Houzz and Wayfair have built similar solutions in their apps.

Jones also told the audience that Google would be building its own augmented-reality apps focused on the retail world. In a brief interview after his presentation, Jones said one goal of this initiative is to give a wide range of shoppers the benefits of AR features without requiring them to download a different app for every retailer they frequent.

To be sure, one voice-shopping or augmented-reality partnership won’t be the difference between thriving or failing in an increasingly Amazon-led world. But a series of smart partnerships over several years between Google and big retailers will give both sides the best chance at fighting back. They sure need each other.


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Essential Phone review: Essentially okay

Anyone who reads Android Police probably has a good idea who Andy Rubin is—he founded Android before it was acquired by Google, and was in charge of the platform for a number of years. After leaving Google, he dabbled in a few ventures, as very wealthy people are wont to do. Eventually, Rubin started Essential, a company that has now launched its first Android smartphone. The hype train got started earlier this year when Rubin posted an image of the phone showing off its impossibly small bezels, but they hid the unusual cutout in the teaser.

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Essential Phone review: Essentially okay was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Essential Phone is essentially impossible to repair

After many delays, the Essential Phone has finally started shipping. If so far you’ve been on the fence about buying one, here’s a new detail that may or may not help inform your decision. The Essential Phone is almost impossible to repair. This has been revealed by iFixit through a thorough teardown of the device. The Essential Phone scores 1 out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability scale, where 10 means easiest to repair. As you may know, the handset is made from premium materials – the frame is titanium, the back plate is ceramic. The use of such exotic materials may be to blame for…

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