Report: BMW X3 diesel emissions exceed EU regulations, company stock falls



The reverberation of the Volkswagen tailpipe emissions scandal is still being felt across the industry, pulling other brands under the harsh light of scrutiny.

According to a report out from Germany’s Auto Bild, the Nitrous Oxide (NOx) tailpipe emissions of BMW’s X3 diesel compact crossover exceed European regulations. In fact, the car’s respiratory-harming NOx emissions exceeded future Euro 6 emissions levels — set to go into effect in 2017 — by as much as 11 times.

The report is based upon tests performed in October, 2014, by the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT), the independent nonprofit focused on clean energy that originally discovered VW’s emissions cheating. Read more…

More about Cars, Tech, Transportation, Diesel, and Bmw


Google Play Services 8.1 SDK ships with new app invites, permissions, Player Stats API

Google Play Games' built-in developer analytics tools grew more robust today.

Google has rolled out a series of updates for Google Play and Android 6.0 Marshmallow today aimed at giving better support for developers. The company announced that Marshmallow now has a new permissions model aimed at improving the way app installs and updates are handled. Additionally, Google Play services 8.1 offers support runtime permissions, a new Play Games Player Stats API, and more.

Within Google’s newest mobile operating system version, a new app permissions model promises to let developers offer more control to the users. Not only can the app declare the permissions it’s going to need, but permissions will be divided into groups based on their functionality, making the organization easier. Marshmallow also includes limits on how permissioning is handled at install time — users won’t be prompted to grant permission to some apps because of the nature of these services, such as alarm clock or Internet apps.

Developers interested in tapping into the updated permission model can view more information here. Google cautions that during the preview period, not all of its core apps will have fully implemented this new model.

Besides Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google Play services has received some updates. The completed rollout of version 8.1 now allows developers to customize the email invitation with a custom image and a call-to-action button. The idea is that by giving more control to developers, more engagement and conversions will happen.

Game developers will be interested in the new Play Games Player Stats API, which will let developers better tailor the user experience to specific segments of players. In an example, Google said that the most valuable players could be rewarded with a special welcome back message when returning to the game.

For those developers using Google Nearby, the company has added a feature that gives apps the ability to receive a callback when an active Nearby publish or subscribe expires. Google Nearby lets apps communicate with nearby devices, and traditionally it would hog up resources. But this update claims to improve accuracy and make it easy to enable apps across devices to talk to one another.

This is the first update to Google Play services since last month, when new APIs were made available that let developers utilize face detection, barcode recognition, and facilitated Nearby Messages.

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Amazon Cloud, Analytics Help Researchers Fight Famine

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Researchers in the US and China explore rice genomes with AWS analytics tools to develop drought and disease resistant crops.
InformationWeek: Cloud

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Google says its voice search system is now more accurate, especially in noisy places

Google voice search on the web.

If you’ve noticed Google doing a better job of understanding what you say using speech recognition on your smartphone lately, you’re not crazy. Google’s voice search has indeed become more accurate, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, the tech company announced today.

“Today, we’re happy to announce we built even better neural network acoustic models using Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC) and sequence discriminative training techniques,” Google Speech Team members Haşim Sak, Andrew Senior, Kanishka Rao, Françoise Beaufays and Johan Schalkwyk wrote in a blog post today. “These models are a special extension of recurrent neural networks (RNNs) that are more accurate, especially in noisy environments, and they are blazingly fast!”

The new models are working in the Google app for iOS and Android, as well as dictation on Android, which works inside of some third-party apps, the team members wrote.

From VentureBeat

Location, location, location — Not using geolocation to reach your mobile customers? Your competitors are. Find out what you’re missing.

Google has reported improvements in voice search not once but twice this year. Clearly the company has been investing in the underlying technology. RNNs are one increasingly popular approach to doing deep learning, a type of artificial intelligence, and Google is widely thought to have a deep bench in deep learning.

But Apple and Microsoft, among others, have also been working to improve their voice recognition capabilities. Meanwhile, Facebook is also doing more in the area, having acquired a speech recognition company,, some months ago.

Speech could become more important as an input to searching the Web in the years to come. Baidu’s Andrew Ng, who is known for his work on the so-called Google Brain, last year predicted that within five years “50 percent of queries will be on speech or images.”

“In addition to requiring much lower computational resources, the new models are more accurate, robust to noise, and faster to respond to voice search queries — so give it a try, and happy (voice) searching!” wrote Sak, Senior, Rao, Beaufays, and Schalkwyk.

Read the full blog post for more detail on how the team managed to get the new performance gains.

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Google launches its Keep note-taking app for iOS


Google today launched Google Keep for iOS. You can download the new app now directly from Apple’s App Store.

We’re a bit surprised it took Google this long to debut an iOS app for its note-taking service. Google Keep first launched way back in March 2013 for Android and the Web, meaning the iOS version is showing up 30 months later. Google even brought Google Keep to Android Wear, its smartwatch platform, in June 2014.

Nonetheless, Google says the features Google Keep users have come to expect on Android and the Web are now available to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users. That means iOS users can search and filter notes by color and type (images, audio, and text), add labels, set time or location-based reminders, and share notes for basic real-time collaboration.


Here is the full feature list, from the iTunes description:

  • Capture, edit, share, and collaborate on your notes on any device, anywhere.
  • Add notes, lists, photos, and audio to Keep.
  • Organize your notes with labels and colors.
  • Set and forget. Get reminded about a note at the right time or place.
  • Record a voice memo and have it automatically transcribed.
  • Grab the text from an image to help you quickly find that note again through search.

This release isn’t going to convert Evernote or OneNote users, as both have iOS apps with plenty of features. If, however, you’re already using Google Keep on another one of your devices, being able to access your notes on your Apple gadget is a welcome addition. If you’re a Windows Phone user, we wouldn’t hold our breath until Google shows some interest in Windows 10.

While it appears this is a full-featured release, we have asked Google if there is anything missing from the iOS app that is currently available on Android and the Web. We will update you if we learn anything new.

More information:

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