Google Archive

Google URL Shortener links will no longer be available

In 2018, we announced the deprecation and transition of Google URL Shortener because of the changes we’ve seen in how people find content on the internet, and the number of new popular URL shortening services that emerged in that time. This meant that we no longer accepted new URLs to shorten but that we would continue serving existing URLs. Today, the time has come to turn off the serving portion of Google URL Shortener. Please read on below to understand more about how this will impact you if you’re using Google URL Shortener. ↫ Sumit Chandel and Eldhose Mathokkil Babu It should cost Google nothing to keep this running for as long as Google exists, and yet, this, too, has to be killed off and buried in the Google Graveyard. We’ll be running into non-resolving Google URL Shortener links for decades to come, both on large, popular websites a well as on obscure forums and small websites. You’ll find a solution to some obscure problem a decade from now, but the links you need will be useless, and you’ll rightfully curse Google for being so utterly petty. Relying on anything Google that isn’t directly serving its main business – ads – is a recipe for disaster, and will cause headaches down the line. Things like Gmail, YouTube, and Android are most likely fine, but anything consumer-focused is really a lottery.

Google can totally explain why Chromium browsers quietly tell only its websites about your CPU, GPU usage

It’s time for Google being Google, this time by using an undocumented APIs to track resource usage when using Chrome. When visiting a * domain, the Google site can use the API to query the real-time CPU, GPU, and memory usage of your browser, as well as info about the processor you’re using, so that whatever service is being provided – such as video-conferencing with Google Meet – could, for instance, be optimized and tweaked so that it doesn’t overly tax your computer. The functionality is implemented as an API provided by an extension baked into Chromium – the browser brains primarily developed by Google and used in Chrome, Edge, Opera, Brave, and others. ↫ Brandon Vigliarolo at The Register The original goal of the API was to give Google’s various video chat services – I’ve lost count – the ability to optimise themselves based on the available system resources. Crucially, though, this API is only available to Google’s domains, and other, competing services cannot make use of it. This is in clear violation of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, and with Chrome being by far the most popular browser in the world, and thus a clear gatekeeper, the European Commission really should have something to say about this. For its part, Google told The Register it claims to comply with the DMA, so we might see a change to this API soon. Aside from optimising video chat performance, the API, which is baked into a non-removable extension, also tracks performance issues and crashes and reports these back to Google. This second use, too, is at its core not a bad thing – especially if users are given the option to opt out of such crash analytics. Still, it seems odd to use an undocumented API for something like this, but I’m not a developer so what do I know. Mind you, other Chromium-based browsers also report this data back to Google, which is wild when you think about it. Normally I would suggest people switch to Firefox, but I’ve got some choice words for Firefox and Mozilla, too, later today.

Google is ending support for Lacros, the experimental version of Chrome for ChromeOS

Back in August 2023, we previewed our work on an experimental version of Chrome browser for ChromeOS named Lacros. The original intention was to allow Chrome browser on Chromebooks to swiftly get the latest feature and security updates without needing a full OS update. As we refocus our efforts on achieving similar objectives with ChromeOS embracing portions of the Android stack, we have decided to end support for this experiment. We believe this will be a more effective way to help accelerate the pace of innovation on Chromebook. ↫ ChromeOS Beta Tester Community To refresh your memory, Lacros was an attempt by Google to decouple the Chrome browser from ChromeOS itself, so that the browser could be updated indepdnently from ChromeOS as a whole. This would obviously bring quite a few benefits with it, from faster and easier updates, to the ability to keep updating the Chrome browser after device support has ended. This was always an experimental feature, so the end of this experiment really won’t be affecting many people. The interesting part is the reference to the recent announcement that ChromeOS’ Linux kernel and various subsystems will be replaced by their Android counterparts. I’m not entirely sure what this means for the Chrome browser on ChromeOS, since it seems unlikely that they’re going to be using the Android version of Chrome on ChromeOS. It’s generally impossible to read the tea leaves when it comes to whatever Google does, so I’m not even going to try.

Chrome OS switching to the Android Linux kernel and related Android subsystems

Surprisingly quietly, in the middle of Apple’s WWDC, Google’s ChromeOS team has made a rather massive announcement that seems to be staying a bit under the radar. Google is announcing today that it is replacing many of ChromeOS’ current relatively standard Linux-based subsystems with the comparable subsystems from Android. To continue rolling out new Google AI features to users at a faster and even larger scale, we’ll be embracing portions of the Android stack, like the Android Linux kernel and Android frameworks, as part of the foundation of ChromeOS. We already have a strong history of collaboration, with Android apps available on ChromeOS and the start of unifying our Bluetooth stacks as of ChromeOS 122. ↫ Prajakta Gudadhe and Alexander Kuscher on the Chromium blog The benefits to Google here are obvious: instead of developing and maintaining two variants of the Linux kernel and various related subsystems, they now only have to focus on one, saving money and time. It will also make it easier for both platforms to benefit from new features and bugfixes, which should benefit users of both platforms quite a bit. As mentioned in the snippet, the first major subsystem in ChromeOS to be replaced by its Android counterpart is Bluetooth. ChromeOS was using the BlueZ Bluetooth stack, the same one used by most (all?) Linux distributions today, which was initially developed by Qualcomm, but has now switched over to using Fluoride, the one from Android. According to Google, Fluoride has a number of benefits over BlueZ. It runs almost entirely in userspace, as opposed to BlueZ, where more than 50% of the code resides in the kernel. In addition, Fluoride is written in Rust, and Google claims it has a simpler architecture, making it easier to perform testing. Google also highlights that Fluoride has a far larger userbase – i.e., all Android users – which also presents a number of benefits. Google performed internal tests to measure the improvements as a result from switching ChromeOS from BlueZ to Fluoride, and the test results speak for themselves – pairing is faster, pairing fails less often, and reconnecting an already paired device fails less often. With Bluetooth being a rather problematic technology to use, any improvements to the user experience are welcome. At the end of Google’s detailed blog post about the switch to Fluoride, the company notes that it intends for the project as whole – which is called Project Floss – to be a standalone open source project, capable of running on any Linux distribution. ↫ Russ Lindsay, Abhishek Pandit-Subedi, Alain Michaud, and Loic Wei Yu Neng on the chromeOS dev website We aspire to position Project Floss as a standalone open source project that can reach beyond the walls of Google’s own operating system in a way where we can maximize the overall value and agility of the larger Bluetooth ecosystem. We also intend to support the Linux community as a whole with the goal that Floss can easily run on most Linux distributions. If Fluoride can indeed deliver tangible, measurable benefits in Bluetooth performance on Linux desktops, I have no doubt quite a few distributions will be more than willing to switch over. Bluetooth is used a lot, and if Fedora, Ubuntu, Arch, and so on, can improve the Bluetooth experience by switching over, I’m pretty sure they will, or at least consider doing so.

Chrome begins limiting ad blockers

If, for some reason, you’re still using Chrome or one of the browsers that put a little hat on Chrome and call it a different browser, the time you’re going to want to consider switching to the only real alternative – Firefox – is getting closer and closer. Yesterday, Google has announced that the end of Manifest V2 is now truly here. Starting on June 3 on the Chrome Beta, Dev and Canary channels, if users still have Manifest V2 extensions installed, some will start to see a warning banner when visiting their extension management page – chrome://extensions – informing them that some (Manifest V2) extensions they have installed will soon no longer be supported. At the same time, extensions with the Featured badge that are still using Manifest V2 will lose their badge. This will be followed gradually in the coming months by the disabling of those extensions. Users will be directed to the Chrome Web Store, where they will be recommended Manifest V3 alternatives for their disabled extension. For a short time after the extensions are disabled, users will still be able to turn their Manifest V2 extensions back on, but over time, this toggle will go away as well. ↫ David Li on the Chromium blog In case you’ve been asleep at the wheel – and if you’re still using Chrome, you most likely are – Manifest V3 will heavily limit what content blockers can do, making them less effective at things like blocking ads. In a move that surprises absolutely nobody, it’s not entirely coincidental that Manifest V3 is being pushed hard by Google, the world’s largest online advertising company. While Google claims all the major content blockers have Manifest V3 versions available, the company fails to mention that they carry monikers such as “uBlock Origin Lite”, to indicate they are, well, shittier at their job than their Manifest V2 counterparts. I can’t make this any more clear: switch to Firefox. Now. While Firefox and Mozilla sure aren’t perfect, they have absolutely zero plans to phase out Manifest V2, and the proper, full versions of content blockers will continue to work. As the recent leaks have made very clear, Chrome is even more of a vehicle for user tracking and ad targeting than we already knew, and with the deprecation of Manifest V2 from Chrome, Google is limiting yet another avenue for blocking ads. OSNews has ads, and they are beyond my control, since our ads are managed by OSNews’ owner, and not by me. My position has always been clear: your computer, your rules. Nobody has any right to display ads on your computer, using your bandwidth, using your processor cycles, using your pixels. Sure, it’d be great if we could earn some income through ads, but we’d greatly prefer you become a Patreon (which removes ads) or make an individual donation to support OSNews and keep us alive that way instead.

Google just updated its algorithm, and the Internet will never be the same

But Google results are a zero-sum game. If the search engine sends traffic to one site, it has to take it from another, and the effects on the losers in this Reddit equation are just as dramatic. “Google’s just committing war on publisher websites,” Ray says. “It’s almost as if Google designed an algorithm update to specifically go after small bloggers. I’ve talked to so many people who’ve just had everything wiped out,” she says. A number of website owners and search experts who spoke to the BBC said there’s been a general shift in Google results towards websites with big established brands, and away from small and independent sites, that seems totally disconnected from the quality of the content. ↫ Thomas Germain at the BBC These stories are coming out left, right, and centre now – and the stories are heartbreaking. Websites that publish truly quality content with honest, valuable, real reviews are now not only having to combat the monster of Google’s own creation – SEO spam websites – but also Google itself, who has started downranking them in favour of fucksmith on Reddit. Add to that the various “AI” boxes and answers Google is adding to its site, and the assault on quality content is coming from all angles. I don’t look at our numbers or traffic sources, since I don’t want to be influenced by any of that stuff. I don’t think OSNews really lives or dies by a constant flow of Google results, but if we do, there’s really not much I can do about it anyway. Google Search once gaveth, and ever since that fateful day it’s mostly been Google Search taketh. I can’t control it, so I’m not going to worry about it. All I can do is keep the site updated, point out we really do need your support on Patreon and Ko-Fi – to keep OSNews running, and perhaps maybe ever going ad-free entirely – and hope for the best. I do feel for the people who still make quality content on the web, though – especially people like the ones mentioned in the linked BBC article, who set up an entire business around honest, quality reviews of something as mundane as air purifiers. It must be devastating to see all you’ve worked for destroyed by SEO spam, fucksmith on Reddit, and answers from an “AI” high on crack.

How to make Google’s new “Web” search option the default in your browser

Last week, Google unveiled a new little feature in Google Search, called “Web”. Residing alongside the various other options like “All”, “Images”, “Video”, and so on, its goal is to effectively strip Google Search results from everything we generally don’t like, and just present a list of actual links to actual websites. It turns out it’s quite simple to set this as your default search “engine” in your browser, so somebody made a website to make that process a little easier. On May 15th Google released a new “Web” filter that removes “AI Overview” and other clutter, leaving only traditional web results. Here is how you can set “Google Web” as your default search engine. ↫ It’s important to note that this is not some separate search engine, and that no data is flowing any differently than when using regular Google. All this does is append the parameter UDM=14 to the URL, which loads the option “Web”.

Google now offers ‘web’ search — and an “AI” opt-out button

This is not a joke: Google will now let you perform a “web” search. It’s rolling out “web” searches now, and in my early tests on desktop, it’s looking like it could be an incredibly popular change to Google’s search engine. The optional setting filters out almost all the other blocks of content that Google crams into a search results page, leaving you with links and text — and Google confirms to The Verge that it will block the company’s new AI Overviews as well. ↫ Sean Hollister at The Verge I hate what the web has become.

ChromeOS App Mall unifies app discovery for Chromebooks

We’ve been on the lookout for the arrival of the ChromeOS App Mall for a few months now. First discovered back in March, the new App Mall is arriving to do one, simple task: put the apps users want in one place to be found a Chromebook. While we have access to web apps, PWAs, Android apps and Linux apps on Chromebooks, it’s not always clear how to go about finding them. Should you install the web version or the Play Store version? Which Play Store apps install a PWA versus an Android app? Where should you go to find the right one for you? ↫ Robby Payne at Chrome Unboxed ChromeOS definitely needs a more unified, single place to find applications, and this seems like exactly what’s happening here.

Google postpones phasing out third party cookies in Chrome once more

While Firefox and Safari phased out third party cookies years ago, it’s taking Chrome a bit longer because, well, daddy Google got ads to sell. As such, Google has been developing a complicated new alternative to third party cookies that it calls “Privacy sandbox”, a name in the vain of “Greenland”. This process has not exactly been going well, because Google has had to postpone phasing out third party cookies several times now, and today, they had to postpone it again. This time, however, it’s because the UK competition authority, the CMA, still has some questions. We recognize that there are ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers, and will continue to engage closely with the entire ecosystem. It’s also critical that the CMA has sufficient time to review all evidence including results from industry tests, which the CMA has asked market participants to provide by the end of June. Given both of these significant considerations, we will not complete third-party cookie deprecation during the second half of Q4. We remain committed to engaging closely with the CMA and ICO and we hope to conclude that process this year. Assuming we can reach an agreement, we envision proceeding with third-party cookie deprecation starting early next year. ↫ Google’s Greenland blog Making a browser good enough to take over almost the entire browser market was an absolute master stroke by Google. Now can you all please switch over to Firefox or like Lynx or something?

The man who killed Google Search

These emails — which I encourage you to look up — tell a dramatic story about how Google’s finance and advertising teams, led by Raghavan with the blessing of CEO Sundar Pichai, actively worked to make Google worse to make the company more money. This is what I mean when I talk about the Rot Economy — the illogical, product-destroying mindset that turns the products you love into torturous, frustrating quasi-tools that require you to fight the company’s intentions to get the service you want. ↫ Edward Zitron Quite the read.

Google is combining its Android and hardware teams – and it’s all about “AI”

AI is taking over at Google, and the company is changing in big ways to try to make it happen even faster. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced substantial internal reorganizations on Thursday, including the creation of a new team called “Platforms and Devices” that will oversee all of Google’s Pixel products, all of Android, Chrome, ChromeOS, Photos, and more. The team will be run by Rick Osterloh, who was previously the SVP of devices and services, overseeing all of Google’s hardware efforts. Hiroshi Lockheimer, the longtime head of Android, Chrome, and ChromeOS, will be taking on other projects inside of Google and Alphabet. ↫ David Pierce at The Verge I don’t know what to make of this. More often than not, these kinds of reorganisations have little impact on us as mere users, but at the same time, the hype around “AI” has grown to such batshit insane proportions that this reorganisation will only lead to even more “AI” nonsense being crammed into every single Google product, whether they benefit from it or not. My nightmare scenario is Android becoming so infested with this stuff that the operating system is going to grow into Clippy in my pocket, suggesting and doing things I have zero interest in, taking control away from me as a user and handing it over to some nebulous set of algorithms optimised for some mythical smartphone user I don’t look like at all. Using technologies currently labelled as “AI” to make translations better, improve accessibility features, stabilise video recording, that sort of stuff – totally fine, and I’m pretty sure most of us have been using “AI” in that form for many, many years now. What these companies are trying to do now, though, is turn “AI” from a technology into a feature, and I’m just not interested in any of that. It’s just not trustworthy, reliable, or usable enough, and I have my doubts it’ll ever get there with the current technological threads we’re unraveling. I wish we had a third player in the smartphone market.

Google launches Axion processors, new Arm-based CPUs for the data centre

Built using the Arm Neoverse™ V2 CPU, Axion processors deliver giant leaps in performance for general-purpose workloads like web and app servers, containerized microservices, open-source databases, in-memory caches, data analytics engines, media processing, CPU-based AI training and inferencing, and more. Axion is underpinned by Titanium, a system of purpose-built custom silicon microcontrollers and tiered scale-out offloads. Titanium offloads take care of platform operations like networking and security, so Axion processors have more capacity and improved performance for customer workloads. Titanium also offloads storage I/O processing to Hyperdisk, our new block storage service that decouples performance from instance size and that can be dynamically provisioned in real time. ↫ Amin Vahdat on the Google blog Fancy new ARM processors from Google, designed explicitly for the data centre. In other words, we’ll never get to play with it unless one makes its way to eBay in a few years.

Google launches Arm-optimized Chrome for Windows, teases Snapdragon X Elite boost

Following testing in Canary earlier this year, Google today announced that the Arm/Snapdragon version of Chrome for Windows is now rolling out to stable.  Google says this version of Chrome is “fully optimized for your PC’s hardware and operating system to make browsing the web faster and smoother.” People that have been testing it report significant performance improvements over the emulated version. ↫ Abner Li at 9To5Google A big Windows on Snapdragon Elite X is about to tumble through the tech media landscape, and this Chrome release fits right into the puzzle.

Google’s first Tensor processing unit: architecture

In Google’s First Tensor Processing Unit – Origins, we saw why and how Google developed the first Tensor Processing Unit (or TPU v1) in just 15 months, starting in late 2013. Today’s post will look in more detail at the architecture that emerged from that work and at its performance. ↫ The Chip Letter People forget that Google is probably one of the largest hardware manufacturers out of the major technology companies. Sadly, we rarely get good insights into what, exactly, these machines are capable of, as they rarely make it to places like eBay so people can disseminate them.

Google adds “real-time, privacy-preserving URL protection” to Chrome

For more than 15 years, Google Safe Browsing has been protecting users from phishing, malware, unwanted software and more, by identifying and warning users about potentially abusive sites on more than 5 billion devices around the world. As attackers grow more sophisticated, we’ve seen the need for protections that can adapt as quickly as the threats they defend against. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new version of Safe Browsing that will provide real-time, privacy-preserving URL protection for people using the Standard protection mode of Safe Browsing in Chrome. ↫ Jasika Bawa, Xinghui Lu, Jonathan Li, and Alex Wozniak on the Google blog Reading through the description of how this new feature works, it does indeed seem to respect one’s privacy, but there could be so many devils in so many details here that you’d really need to be a specialist in these matters to truly gauge if Google isn’t getting its hands on the URLs you visit through this feature. But even if all that is true, it doesn’t really matter because Google has tons of other ways to collect more than enough data on you to build an exact profile of you are, and what advertisements will work well no you. Any time Google goes out of its way to announce it’s not collecting some type of data – like here, the URLs you type into the Chrome URL bar – it’s not because they care so much about your privacy, but because they simply don’t need this data to begin with.

Secure by design: Google’s perspective on memory safety

Google’s Project Zero reports that memory safety vulnerabilities—security defects caused by subtle coding errors related to how a program accesses memory—have been “the standard for attacking software for the last few decades and it’s still how attackers are having success”. Their analysis shows two thirds of 0-day exploits detected in the wild used memory corruption vulnerabilities. Despite substantial investments to improve memory-unsafe languages, those vulnerabilities continue to top the most commonly exploited vulnerability classes. In this post, we share our perspective on memory safety in a comprehensive whitepaper. This paper delves into the data, challenges of tackling memory unsafety, and discusses possible approaches for achieving memory safety and their tradeoffs. We’ll also highlight our commitments towards implementing several of the solutions outlined in the whitepaper, most recently with a $1,000,000 grant to the Rust Foundation, thereby advancing the development of a robust memory-safe ecosystem. ↫ Alex Rebert and Christoph Kern at Google’s blog Even as someone who isn’t a programmer, it’s impossible to escape the rising tide of memory-safe languages, with Rust leading the charge. If this makes the software we all use objectively better, I’ll take the programmers complaining they have to learn something new.

Google’s changes to comply with the DMA

The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) comes into force this week for companies who have been designated. Today, we are sharing some more details about the changes we are making to comply, following product testing we announced earlier this year. ↫ Oliver Bethell on the official Google blog This is Google’s overview of the changes it’s implementing to comply with the DMA, some of which the company already announced months ago. Google’s changes don’t have as much of a direct, noticeable impact as some other company’s changes, mostly since a lot of the more impactful consequences of the DMA, such as allowing sideloading and alternative application stores, were already allowed on Android. Other changes, like to Search, will take longer to be noticed. The one thing that stands out is the tone – compared to Apple’s communication around the DMA. Whereas Apple sounds like a petulant whiny toddler, Google sounds constructive, to the point, and, well, like an adult. That doesn’t mean Google’s post isn’t also full of shit in places, but at least they’re being grown-ups about it.

Google announces measures to fight spam in its search results

Every day, people turn to Search to find the best of what the web has to offer. We’ve long had policies and automated systems to fight against spammers, and we work to address emerging tactics that look to game our results with low-quality content. We regularly update those policies and systems to effectively tackle these trends so we can continue delivering useful content and connecting people with high-quality websites. Today we’re announcing key changes we’re making to improve the quality of Search and the helpfulness of your results. ↫ Elizabeth Tucker on the official Google blog Low-quality SEO spam has been a problem on Google for years, but the recent advent of “AI” tools has wreaked absolute havoc in the search results. It’s a damn blood bath out there. It’s now up to Google to fix its own mess, so let’s wait and see if these changes will do anything to reverse the downward spiral Google Search has been in for years now.

Google Search’s cache links are officially being retired

Google has removed links to page caches from its search results page, the company’s search liaison Danny Sullivan has confirmed. “It was meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn’t depend on a page loading,” Sullivan wrote on X. “These days, things have greatly improved. So, it was decided to retire it.” ↫ Jon Porter at The Verge Google Search continues to become ever more useless.