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Google Adds ‘Shortcuts’ to Information, Tools on Smartphones

Its new feature, called "shortcuts," will appear as a row of icons below the Google search box where you'd have to ponder and then speak or type a request

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UK based research proposes that diabetes can now be tracked through Google search results in a particular area.
A smartphone and computer screen display the Google home page, VOA
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San Francisco, March 22, 2017: Google wants to make it easier for you to find answers and recommendations on smartphones without having to think about what to ask its search engine.

Its new feature, called “shortcuts,” will appear as a row of icons below the Google search box. Where now you’d have to ponder and then speak or type a request, the shortcuts will let you tap the icons to get the latest weather, movie times, sports scores, restaurant recommendations and other common requests.

The shortcuts will begin appearing Tuesday in updates to Google’s app for iPhones, Android phones and its mobile website. The Android app will also include various tools such as a currency converter, a language translator and an ATM locator, which you can also summon with a tap. Those tools may eventually make it to the iPhone as well, although Google says it doesn’t know when.

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These shortcuts are the latest step in Google’s quest to turn its search engine into a secondary brain that anticipates people’s needs and desires. The search engine gleans these insights by analyzing your past requests and, when you allow it, tracking your location, a practice that periodically raises privacy concerns about Google’s power to create digital profiles of its users.

Based on the knowledge that Google already has accumulated, its shortcuts feature may already list your favorite sports teams or recommend nearby restaurants serving cuisines you prefer.

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Adapting to audience

Shortcuts also show how Google’s search engine has been adapting to its audience, now that smartphones have become the primary way millions of people stay connected to the internet.

Since more than half of requests for Google’s search engine now come from smartphones, the Mountain View, California, company has adapted its services to smaller screens, touch keyboards and apps instead of websites.

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Early in that process, Google tweaked its search engine to answer many requests with factual summaries at the top of its results page, a change from simply displaying a list of links to other websites. Voice-recognition technology also allows you to speak your request into a phone instead of typing it.

The transition is going well so far. Google’s revenue rose 20 percent last year to $89 billion, propelled by digital ads served up on its search engine, YouTube and Gmail. Although shortcuts won’t initially show ads after you tap them, Google typically sells marketing space if a feature or service becomes popular. (VOA)

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USA: Everything you want to know about Security Clearance; Find out here!

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas.

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Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. We take a look at what that means.

What is a security clearance?

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas after completion of a background check. The clearance by itself does not guarantee unlimited access. The agency seeking the clearance must determine what specific area of information the person needs to access.

What are the different levels of security clearance?

There are three levels: Confidential, secret and top secret. Security clearances don’t expire. But, top secret clearances are reinvestigated every five years, secret clearances every 10 years and confidential clearances every 15 years.

All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA
All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA

Who has security clearances?

According to a Government Accountability Office report released last year, about 4.2 million people had a security clearance as of 2015, they included military personnel, civil servants, and government contractors.

Why does one need a security clearance in retirement?

Retired senior intelligence officials and military officers need their security clearances in case they are called to consult on sensitive issues.

Also Read: Governments Across The World Request Apple for 30,000 Device Information

Can the president revoke a security clearance?

Apparently. But there is no precedent for a president revoking someone’s security clearance. A security clearance is usually revoked by the agency that sought it for an employee or contractor. All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance, which can include criminal acts, lack of allegiance to the United States, behavior or situation that could compromise an individual and security violations. (VOA)