Amazon and Google start their own trade war

Amazon and Google start their own trade war

Amazon and Google start their own trade war

By Marc, editor at IoT Business News.

Because Amazon and Google compete in so many areas, they’re almost bound to come into conflict. Amazon’s search capabilities compete with Google because of the size of its retail site. On the other hand, Google is well aware that Amazon Web Services is highly profitable, and is determined to get a bigger piece of the cloud computing pie.

Both companies also make voice-controlled Internet of Things (IOT) devices, such as Google Home and the Amazon Echo Show. However they’ve trodden on each others’ toes so severely recently that the argument between them has come out into the open and customers of both companies have found themselves caught in the crossfire.

Google uses YouTube to retaliate against Amazon

Google owns YouTube, the video streaming application which consumers access over broadband. However, in retaliation for Amazon not selling Google hardware, Google has decided not to allow two Amazon devices to access YouTube.

The fight for dominance in voice-controlled technology is becoming fierce. Amazon’s devices have sold better than Google’s until now but Google is clearly prepared to fight hard to get ahead. In a statement, the company commented that Amazon didn’t carry Google products such as Google Home or Chromecast and didn’t make its Prime Video accessible to Google Cast users. Further, the company said that Amazon had recently ceased selling Nest’s new products. (Nest is a sister company of Google’s).

So as a result of what Google described as a “lack of reciprocity” from Amazon, they withdrew YouTube from Amazon’s Echo Show and Fire TV.

Amazon’s response was to express disappointment at Google setting a precedent by “selectively” blocking access to an open website. It pointed out that customers could still access YouTube on the devices if they went via the internet rather than using the YouTube app.

The Chromecast, Google’s TV player, hasn’t been stocked on the Amazon website since 2015. Amazon also stopped stocking Apple’s TV player. The reason given at the time was that Amazon didn’t want customers to get confused – they might think that the Prime Video service would be available on any device sold on the Amazon site.

Apple and Amazon appear to have patched things up earlier this year with an announcement that Prime Video would feature on the Apple TV. However relationships between Google and Amazon don’t appear to be improving. Indeed, some commentators believe that a platform war is brewing. So how did they get to this point?

Google giving ultimatum date for Fire TV

Previously, the Amazon Echo Show had videos and channel subscriptions but not recommendations on its touchscreen. In September, Google took YouTube away from the device. Amazon added YouTube back but with voice commands and these were in conflict with the terms of use. So Google removed YouTube again.

Many Amazon users, using broadband simply to search for an IPhone or to browse Samsung offerings, will be unaware of this spat. But if they’re Fire TV users, the first they know of it, may be when they settle down to watch YouTube on New Year’s Day. There are many more Fire TV sticks in use than there are Echo Show devices, and removing YouTube from Fire TV would have a much bigger impact on Amazon’s customer base. But that’s what Google is threatening to do on Jan 1st, 2018.

And of course, Netflix and Apple are bound to be considering this dispute to see whether there is any possible advantage to them in the long term.

War for the voice platform

Amazon has Alexa, Google has Assistant, Apple has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana. But only Google and Amazon have launched devices to embody their voice driven offering. And Google strongly believes that its Artificial Intelligence (AI) is better than the other three, and therefore its platform will win in the end.

Enter stage left a somewhat unexpected participant in this high tech drama – none other than Walmart. Why not? If Amazon’s products are aimed at selling more Amazon products, Google can link up with Walmart using its Home device, and push products stocked by Wal-Mart.

But it may be that both companies have another competitor they should be worrying about – Apple is about to launch the “HomePod”. Who knows? Google and Amazon may find it expedient to bury the hatchet in the future in order to try and cut off this new threat.

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Google pushes Android Things to Developer Preview 6

Google pushes Android Things to DP6

Search and cloud computing giant Google has launched the developer preview version 6 (DP6) of its Android Things offering.

Billed as an IoT platform, Google’s Android Things is intended to provide developers with a way to build connected devices for many consumer, retail and industrial applications, from smart locks to sensor control systems. 

The latest developer preview of the platform (DP6) irons out some bugs and offers a selection of new features.

Internet of Business has been tracking Android Things since its launch this time last year, and understands that Google intends to position this technology as a means of coding device applications with functions including video and audio processing.

Plans also include the option to enable on-board machine learning using TensorFlow, an open-source software library for machine intelligence.

Read more: Google launches Android Things, a new IoT platform for developers

Launching a launcher

According to Wayne Piekarski, Google developer advocate for IoT, DP6 includes a new ‘IoT launcher’ that allows the user to see the current state of a device and change settings using a touchscreen or USB input devices.

“Settings such as configuring the WiFi, finding the build ID, and checking for updates is now something that can be done interactively, making it even easier to get started,” he said.

Android users have become increasingly used to the notion of ‘launchers’, by virtue of the success of Google’s ‘Now’ launcher for Android. A launcher can perhaps be best described as a software ‘overlay’ designed to provide a new core graphical user interface (GUI) in a defined functionality style.

Read more: Sophos unveils Android Things and Windows 10 IoT device management capabilities

More granular IoT controls

Android Things uses the open-source SwiftShader library, a CPU-based implementation of the OpenGL ES application programming interface (API). Google executives say this enables common OpenGL support across all platforms, even those with no GPU hardware.

“New APIs have been added to Android Things that control the configuration of the local device and device updates. UpdateManager gives developers control over when updates and reboots can be performed, ensuring the device is available for the user when needed,” Piekarski explained. “DeviceManager controls factory reset, reboot, and device locales. APIs are also provided for settings such as ScreenManager to control the screen and TimeManager to control the clock and timezone.”

So developer-centric from the start  – yes. But what Google has done in this latest round of updates is to give more defined pointers on what type of core functionality controls are needed in IoT devices and offer more guidelines to developers on the kind of IoT programming that Google says it champions.

Read more: Volvo teams up with Google to put Android into connected cars

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GOOGLE to present at Digital Health Congress 2017

London – November 27th, 2017 – GOOGLE today confirmed its participation in the annual DIGITAL HEALTH WORLD CONGRESS 2017  (http://digitalhealthcareworldcongress.com) taking place in London on November 29th and 30th, at the Great Hall in Kensington. Michael Wyatt – Head of Chrome and Android for Google Cloud in EMEA , GOOGLE will be presenting a keynote . Please visit the DIGITAL HEALTH WORLD CONGRESS 2017 for full details. Click here to REGISTER NOW!

DIGITAL HEALTH WORLD CONGRESS 2017

ABOUT GOOGLE:

Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specialises in Internet-related services and products. These include online advertising technologies, search, cloud computing, software, and hardware

 

M2M Magazine

Blueborne discovered to affect Amazon Echo and Google Home

Blueborne discovered to affect Amazon Echo and Google Home

Intelligent speaker vendors forced to patch up AI-enabled voice assistants after devices shown to be vulnerable to Blueborne virus. 

Back in September, we reported how researchers at IT security company Armis had revealed the existence of an ‘airborne’ IoT malware called Blueborne.

The flaw was shown to be affect many devices using Bluetooth connectivity – from smartphones to medical devices – potentially enabling hackers to take control of them and spread the malware ‘over the air’ to other vulnerable systems.

Now, in an update, researchers at Armis have issued an update revealing that the flaw also affects Amazon Echo and Google Home voice assistants.

“Since these devices are unmanaged and closed source, users are unaware of the fact their Bluetooth implementation is based on potentially vulnerable code borrowed from Linux and Android,” they write.

Read more: Security researchers warn of ‘airborne’ IoT malware, Blueborne

Amazon Echo and Google Home

According to the update, the Amazon Echo devices are affected by two vulnerabilities: first, a remote code execution vulnerability in the Linux Kernel (CVE-2017-1000251), and an information leak vulnerability in the SDP Server (CVE-2017-1000250).

Google Home devices, meanwhile, are affected by one such vulnerability: an information leak vulnerability in Android’s Bluetooth stack (CVE-2017-0785).

“These vulnerabilities can lead to a complete takeover of the device in the case of the Amazon Echo, or lead to DoS of the Home’s Bluetooth communications,” said Armis.

The researchers note that this is the first severe remote vulnerability found to affect the Amazon Echo, “which was an impregnable wall up until now, with the only known vulnerability requiring an extensive physical attack.”

Researchers said the company both Amazon and Google about the findings, and both companies have issued automatic updates for the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

“Customer trust is important to us and we take security seriously. Customers do not need to take any action as their devices will be automatically updated with the security fixes,” said Amazon in a statement.

Read more: Amazon’s Alexa can now control your smart home cameras

Armis CTO speaks out

In an interview with US IT publication e-Week, Nadir Izrael, co-founder and CTO of Armis Security said that organisations can find themselves full of devices that basically have open microphones that can “listen to everything and the organisation has no idea they are even there”.

That’s a problem, he explained, because these devices are constantly listening to Bluetooth communications. There’s no way to put an agent or antivirus software on them and, given their limited user interface, there is no way to turn their Bluetooth off, as can be done with many other IoT devices in the home, such as smart TVs.

“With BlueBorne, hackers can take complete control over a vulnerable device, and use it for a wide range of malicious purposes; including spreading malware, stealing sensitive information and more,” said Izrael.

And the problems aren’t confined to homes. A recent survey by Armis of its clients showed that over four-fifths (82 percent) have at least one Amazon Echo in their corporate environment, “sometimes in very sensitive environments.” In many cases, corporate IT may not even be aware that these devices are attached to the network.

Read more: Honeywell launches Smart Home Security System

 

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Candi opts for Google Cloud Platform to join up smart buildings

Candi deploys Google Cloud Platform to join up smart buildings

Candi and Google team up on solution to help companies develop smart building products and services faster. 

Smart buildings connectivity specialist Candi is deploying a new solution on Google Cloud Platform to help connect smart building devices and data with apps.

The solution integrates Google Pub/Sub, which ingests data streams, with Candi’s PowerTools software, which building managers can use to access and manage legacy and IoT devices. This, in turn, should enable IoT developers and service providers to more easily connect to edge data and link directly into Google’s Cloud Platform Toolset.

 

According to Candi executives, the Candi/Google solution offers “out-of-the-box support” for smart buildings, as it includes reference designs and sensor kits for energy and HVAC systems, as well as other equipment, using Intel BMP gateways.

Read more: Honeywell launches analytics hub to ‘listen’ to smart buildings

 

Different protocols

The company said that, by normalising edge data across different devices and protocols, and delivering that data through Google Pub/Sub’s central access point, the Candi/Google solution could reduce the cost and workload for providers of third-party software and services to compete in the IoT marketplace.

It added that companies that specialise in business intelligence, analytics, operations, and systems management could also deploy scalable products faster, without having to tackle the challenges of device-level communications or edge-to-cloud connectivity, which is managed by Candi’s software.

This is initially targeted at smart buildings, where data from equipment and sensors can improve operating efficiency. Legacy equipment and next-generation devices using BACnet, ZigBee, Modbus, IP/Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, powerline, and other protocols are all supported. End-to-end reference designs include sensor kits based on use cases such as energy monitoring, submetering, BMS and HVAC equipment monitoring, and thermostat and lighting control.

Read more: Survey: Facilities managers look to IoT for building performance boost

Gateways and analytics

At the edge, Candi-powered gateways – by Advantech, Logic Supply, Systech and others – will use PowerTools software to manage devices and normalise data. The gateways link to Google Cloud Platform, where Google Pub/Sub acts as the central access point for any IoT app or service to authenticate and connect to the devices and data. Google Cloud and software partners such as Leverege and Altair, for example, provide analytics, data visualisation, and business intelligence software to help facilities professionals, for example, monitor and manage building performance.

“We’re accelerating IoT market growth through our collaboration with Google Cloud by simplifying complex connections to devices and data,” said Steve Raschke, CEO of Candi. “Google Cloud Platform gives our customers a more secure, centralised channel for effortless access to their data, a pre-integrated suite of world-class analytics tools, and the solid foundation of Google’s global infrastructure.”

Read more: Tooshlights to bring new convenience to ‘comfort breaks’

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