Google Assistant gets fun with 50 new family games, activities, and stories

Google Assistant gets fun with 50 new family games, activities, and stories
Pixel 2 XL Assistant

Google Assistant is quickly becoming the most indispensable tool in our lives. With calls, reminders, routines, voice recognition, and a variety of devices, Google Assistant is like a member of the family, always ready to help when called upon. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t know how to have fun.

An update rolling out to Google Assistant today unlocks more than 50 new games, activities, and stories just in time for the end-of-the-year holidays. While they’re specifically designed for families and kids, anyone can join in on the fun, which includes popular games such as musical chairs, trivia, and freeze dance. Among the new things you can ask Google Assistant are:
  • Play space trivia.
  • Talk to Everyday Heroes.
  • Help me with my homework.
  • Play Mickey Mouse Adventure.
  • What’s My Justice League Super Hero?
  • Play Sports Illustrated Kids Trivia.
  • Tell me a story.
  • Tell me the story of the not-so-scaredy cat.
  • Play Strangest Day Ever.
Or if you can’t decide, just say, “OK Google, Abracadabra” to start a random activity of Google Assistant’s choosing.

Along with the new kid-friendly activities is a new way for children to interact with Google Assistant. Now children under 13 who are hooked up with Family Link can get their own personalized Assistant experience (managed by their parents, of course). And Voice Match will be able to identify when your child is talking and deliver the appropriate content.
Google Assistant’s new activities will be rolling out starting today to all Google Home devices and eligible phones.

Why this matters: Google Assistant is the glue that holds all of Google’s products together. While it has had some serious hardware issues lately with the Pixel 2 XL’s display and Google Home Mini’s touch controls, it’s still leading the industry on the AI front. While the Made by Google devices might get all of the attention, it’s the software and services that are most important. And updates like these, however small, will keep it at the head go the pack.

This story, "Google Assistant gets fun with 50 new family games, activities, and stories" was originally published by PCWorld.
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New Firefox Runs Like a Rabbit

New Firefox Runs Like a Rabbit

New version releases of browsers don't get the buzz they used to get, but Firefox Quantum is an exception.

The latest version of the Mozilla Foundation's browser, released Tuesday, is all about performance. Firefox is twice as fast as it was a year ago, Mozilla claimed. It is not only fast on startup -- it remains zippy even when taxed by multitudes of tabs.

"We have a better balance of memory to performance than all the other browsers," said Firefox Vice President for Product Nick Nguyen.

"We use 30 percent less memory, and the reason for that is we can allocate the number of processes Firefox uses on your computer based on the hardware that you have," he told TechNewsWorld.

$1M Experience on $300 Laptop

The performance improvements in Quantum could be a drink from the fountain of youth for many Firefox users' systems. "A significant number of our users are on machines that are two cores or less, and less than 4 gigabytes of RAM," Nguyen explained.

The performance boost could be appealing to other users too.

"We have a great browser for you, even if you don't have the latest computer," Nguyen said. "We see a huge opportunity for people with (US)$300 laptops to have a great modern experience."
The target audience for Quantum is likely owners of older PCs who are feeling the most pain at the moment, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

"The current generation of advanced browsers are pretty resource-intensive, which slows down machines and creates lags that users find really annoying," he told ICICT Nigeria.

In addition to improvements under the hood, Mozilla redesigned Firefox's user interface.
"We call this initiative 'Photon,' and its goal is to modernize and unify anything that we call 'Firefox,' while taking advantage of the speedy new engine," wrote Mark Mayo, senior vice president of Firefox, in an online post.

"To create Photon, our user research team studied how people browsed the Web," he explained. "We looked at real-world hardware to make Firefox look great on any display, and we made sure that Firefox looks and works like Firefox regardless of the device you're using."

Fortuitous Timing?

In addition to announcing Quantum's release, Mozilla on Tuesday said it had made Google its default search provider in the United States and Canada.

Revenues from that partnership should benefit Mozilla.

"Hopefully, it will help enable them to continue their development efforts and build on the Quantum engine," said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.

Mozilla's release of Quantum was a defensive move, he told ICICT Nigeria. "It's to prevent further erosion of the Firefox user base, which has taken a strong hit over the past few years."
Quantum could do more for Mozilla than just prevent Firefox defections, maintained Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"Quantum seems to be designed to bring former users, who mostly abandoned Mozilla for Google Chrome, back to Firefox," he told ICICT Nigeria.

"Quantum's arrival also coincides with what seems like increasing disaffection among both users of Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge," King added. "In other words, there couldn't be a better time for Mozilla to introduce a spiffy new browser. "

Tough Browser Market

Even with performance advantages, Quantum will find it difficult to grab browser share from leader Chrome, which owned about 47 percent of the desktop market as of last month, according to numbers from NetMarketShare.

With 6.53 percent of the market, Firefox was a distant third, behind Microsoft Internet Explorer with 12.52 percent.

"The new Firefox Quantum is considerably faster, which was a major problem for the old Firefox," said Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insight for the Local Search Association.
"Compared with Chrome, the old Firefox was just too slow, so this is a real improvement," he told ICICT Nigeria.

"The challenge will be to win back users who defected to Chrome -- beyond those philosophically opposed to Google," Sterling said. "I suspect we'll see some incremental improvement in Firefox's market share, but this launch isn't going to change things dramatically."

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You can now try out apps before downloading them in the Play Store

You can now try out apps before downloading them in the Play Store
Some time ago last year, Google released an official announcement of Android Instant Apps. This Android Instant apps work in such a way that you can test your apps before the conventional download we know of. This was excellent as many of us always love tasting the garri, the groundnut and suya we buy beforehand. And Google giving us this opportunity is an excellent continuity of the indigenous culture of tasting first before purchase.
Developers exploring this Android Instant apps will squeeze their apps into packages with smaller capacity. This way you can test them having a taste of them without having to download them. So say if you happen to come across a random app, you don’t get to download it hurriedly without a confirmation of the quality of what you are getting into your phone.
Now, Google is executing its promise. These apps termed “Apps to Try Now” have now been rolled out to PlayStore. These apps can be instantly used by the user without the need for the normal download medium we know. So after having a sample experience of what the app is about and you probably don’t like saw, you can simply ignore the app and move on with your normal life. You are not uninstalling anything or flushing anything out of your phone.
For now, the apps to try out for free are quite limited but Google hopes more developers will eventually gain access to this platform, we don’t know yet if this service of tasting before pay would be extended to paid apps as well. All the same, this is a very big step for us!
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Apple has a secret version of iTunes with the App Store inside

Apple has a secret version of iTunes with the App Store inside
Back in September, Apple has cleansed App Store from the iTunes for Mac, as well as the iTunes for PC. The sad thing about this was that Apple didn’t inform the public before proceeding to carve the App Store out from the iTunes of those devices. This was even sadder considering that iTunes 12.7 wasn’t really as bloated as its predecessors.
Those who are obsessed with the bloated versions of iTunes now have a consolation, however. Apple without much fanfare made available a distinct version of iTunes available for download. This is the iTunes 12.6.3 retains most of the beloved previous functionalities like iBooks, ringtones and most affectionally the App Store. You can download and install it readily on your Mac or your PC.
One good thing about this special version is that if you happen to install this one, you will not get the prompt to update to iTunes 12.7 or more recent versions. This iTunes 12.6.3 is also lovingly compatible with iOS 11, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X and the iPhone 8 as well.
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