Inside Google & Alphabet - August 16th, 2019

Inside Google & Alphabet (Aug 16th, 2019)

Nest Disables Lights / Gay App, Ex-Googler Racial Discrimination / Google Assistant's Reminders Feature

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1. Some Google Nest users can no longer turn off the LED status lights in the product's cameras while recording. In an email to users, Google cited privacy concerns, explaining that instead, the light will blink while capturing or recording a video. Some owners, however, are worried such a change will let thieves know when they're being watched and not, making them less secure. These new changes will affect the Nest Cam, Dropcam and Nest Hello. - CNET

2. A former Google employee released a memo before leaving the company detailing the racism he experienced as a black person while working at the tech giant's New York headquarters. In the memo circulating throughout Google, the former worker says he's seen colleagues reject candidates because of racial bias, adding he's also heard fellow Googlers "spew hateful words about immigrants, boast unabashedly about gentrifying neighborhoods, [and] mockingly imitate people who speak different languages."The former Googler also outlined three steps the company should take to tackle this problem. These include using virtual reality in diversity training, offering greater mental health support for employees of color, and completely overhauling Google's referral program. You can read the memo in full here. - MOTHERBOARD

3. Google Assistant owners will soon be able to assign tasks and pop-up reminders to friends and family in the next few weeks. For example, with this new feature, users can direct Google Assistant to remind one's partner to pick up something from the grocery store. Google can then send a reminder to your partner while they're at that specific store, or wherever you choose, at whatever time you want. Alternatively, you can use the new feature to send notes of encouragement by, for instance, wishing somebody luck on a  presentation at a certain time. While this only works with people in your family group, you can technically add whoever lives with you onto that list, so long as they accept your invitation. You can then configure the feature on Google’s Family website. - THE VERGE

4. A gay social networking app is accusing Google of discrimination after Google Play removed the app from its store multiple times without warning. According to the app, Hornet, Google employed moderators in Malaysia, a country that has banned LGBTQ relationships, who may have been influenced by their countries' stance on gay relationships. For example, Hornet was once suspended after one of the moderators came across a topless man in a photo. Despite the fact the actual picture did not violate Google's "content guidelines," Hornet was suspended from Google Play. Other gay apps are also accusing the tech giant of discrimination; one dating app says they were blocked internationally by moderators in Malaysia as well. - BBC NEWS

5. Google Chromebooks users can now take "Portrait" mode photos on their devices. The new feature, which adds a "bokeh" style effect to pictures -- blurring the background while emphasizing the subject -- comes with the recently released Chrome OS version 76. This new version also updates the camera so that it's easier to alternative between square mode and portrait mode. Portrait mode will first be available on the Pixel Slate before becoming available on other Chromebooks. - LAPTOP MAGAZINE

6. Google users can now play around with new Google Books features still under development that have yet to be widely released. At the moment, these include features that allow you to search and sort through books by various categories, organize books with custom labels, and store any books you've started but not yet finished reading in a separate place. To try these out, go to, click "settings," and head to the "Beta features" menu. - THE VERGE

7. An Alphabet-backed startup in San Francisco called Creator is using robots to make its burgers in less than five minutes. -BUSINESS INSIDER

8. Best Buy is taking 50% off Google Pixel 3 smartphones, selling it for $400 instead of $800, while supplies last. - BEST BUY via INSIDE DEALS 

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9. An Irish teenager, Fionn Ferreira, recently won the Google Science Award after he created a way to remove microplastics from the ocean. - ECO WATCH

10. Google has introduced new features to make it easier to search for colleges. For example, it has launched a tool that can help students find American schools based on fields of study, post-school success, cost, and other categories. - ENGADGET

Written and curated by Inside Dev and Inside Deals Editor Sheena Vasani, a freelance journalist based in California. Proficient in Javascript and Ruby. Got my start at Dev Bootcamp and Thinkful.

Editor: Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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