To celebrate the German composer's March 21, 1685 birthday, Doodle lets users compose a melody in Bach's style. The interactive Doodle is the product of collaboration between Google's Magenta – which helps people make their own music and art through machine learning – and Google's PAIR – which makes the tools that allow machine-learning to be accessed by everyone. A machine-learning model called Coconet made it all possible. Developed by Google, Coconet was trained on 306 of Bach's chorale harmonizations. "His chorales always have four voices: each carries their own melodic line, creating a rich harmonic progression when played together," writes Google.
As it and other technology giants face questions and fines over their practices when it comes to competition and user privacy, Google is adding a new official option to its popular Chrome browser that allows users to search the web using the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo search engine rather than its own platform. The update to Chromium -- which powers Google Chrome -- axes search engines like AOL and Yahoo!, replacing them with DuckDuckGo (in France, privacy-focused search engine Qwant was also added to the list). More search-savvy users may have already known about the company's DuckDuckGo Chrome extension, which makes DuckDuckGo the default option in the Google browser and protects users from ad-tracking software found on almost every site you visit regularly. The Chrome update means you will no longer need an extension to use DuckDuckGo from your URL bar. If you're unfamiliar, DuckDuckGo is a search engine designed to protect any data generated by your search results and history.
The New York Times reports that federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into Facebook's data deals with major electronics manufacturers. The newspaper says a grand jury in New York has subpoenaed information from at least two companies known for making smartphones and other devices, citing two unnamed people familiar with the request. It reports that both companies had data partnerships with Facebook that gave them access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of users. Facebook describes those data deals as innocuous efforts to help smartphone makers provide Facebook features to users before the social network had its own app. The Times reports that it is not clear when the inquiry began or exactly what it is focusing on.
Ever wanted to take a peek inside an underground particle accelerator? Want your favorite British actor to walk you through the origin of the universe? While you can't stick your head into the Large Hadron Collider, you can now go for a short walk around it -- and explore other scientific marvels, thanks to Google's new online invention exhibition project, part of its Arts & Culture platform. With AR apps, AI-powered image galleries, and first-person views of underground science facilities, you might encounter more than a few surprising origin stories concerning mankind's most ambitious discoveries. The star here is Google's new Street View-powered tour of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the famous CERN-run particle accelerator.
For those who self-identify as gamers, chances are you have -- or at least know someone with -- a Nintendo Switch. The Switch was the best-selling console in 2018, thanks in no small part to Nintendo's own popular titles, like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo now says Switch sales will be lower this year than what it originally expected. But it's also been following a new strategy that could help it keep the Switch cooking: going all-in on independent video games from tiny studios. Indie game developers have benefitted mightily from the age of Internet-connected consoles, which offer digital stores that make it easy for gamers to spend a few bucks to download quirky games from small teams.
SpaceX's new crew capsule arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday, acing its second milestone in just over a day. No one was aboard the Dragon capsule launched Saturday on its first test flight, only an instrumented dummy. But the three station astronauts had front-row seats as the sleek, white vessel neatly docked and became the first American-made, designed-for-crew spacecraft to pull up in eight years. TV cameras on Dragon as well as the space station provided stunning views of one another throughout the rendezvous. If the six-day demo goes well, SpaceX could launch two astronauts this summer under NASA's commercial crew program.
You're not the only one who silently laments spending time searching through the Contacts app on your iPhone or other iOS device, hunting for that one person you barely remember yet need to get in touch with for whatever reason. It only gets worse when you realize their information is either incorrect, outdated, or not where you thought you saved it. Whether you're looking for a co-worker, a client, an acquaintance, or a long-lost friend you bumped into at a party, it's helpful to keep who's who in order in your Contacts app. And you just might find that the Contacts app is far more powerful when you take the time to get the most out of it. Filling out contact information beyond a person's name, email, and phone number might seem like overkill, but doing so can make Siri a more powerful tool when it comes to connecting with people.
Face it: You need more sleep. Casper, which has gone from podcast-sponsoring, mattress-in-a-box-shipping, memory-foam-evangelizing startup to high-priced bedding and furniture company, also thinks you need more sleep -- or at least a better way to fall asleep. That explains why it's released the Glow, a smart light built to lull you to sleep, help you get out of bed, and keep you safe from self-inflicted foot injuries in the middle of the night. It sounds like a good idea, but do you really need a fancy nightlight to catch some zzz's? The Casper Glow is a wireless, gesture-controlled LED lantern that dims or illuminates over the course of 45 minutes to ease you into a deeper sleep, or gently rouse you from said sleep in the morning.
Facebook is ending a controversial research program in which it paid users up to $20 a month to install a smartphone app that gave the company nearly unfettered access to their activity. The move comes after the program was highlighted in a report by TechCrunch, and after Apple said the app violated its policies and revoked its certificate. A Facebook spokesperson says the program was not "secret," as some early reports suggested, and that it was opt-in. "It wasn't'spying' as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate," said the spokesperson. But the program had major privacy implications even still, and seemed likely to prey on the vulnerabilities of Facebook's most financially desperate users.
In a partnership with Apple, health insurance company Aetna announced Tuesday a new app and wellness program that will track and offer personalized health recommendations to its customers, and grant them the option to redeem points for gift cards or toward payments for an Apple Watch by meeting activity goals and other health-related challenges. In short, you can expect a free Apple Watch as long as you're taking care of yourself. To participate in Aetna's program, which kicks off later this spring, users will need either an iPhone 5S or newer, or an Apple Watch Series 1 or newer. The announced Attain app -- which resembles Apple's in-house apps -- will provide personalized activity goals based on your age, sex, and weight, and challenge you to engage in activities like getting more sleep. It turns your activity and challenges into points, which can be redeemed for items like gift cards should you not want to put them toward the payment of your Apple Watch.