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Google shaking up search results on smartphones

Google is about to change the way its influential search engine recommends websites on smartphones in a shift that's expected to sway where millions of people shop, eat and find information.

The revised formula, scheduled to be released Tuesday, will favor websites that Google defines as "mobile-friendly." Websites that don't fit the description will be demoted in Google's search results on smartphones while those meeting the criteria will be more likely to appear at the top of the rankings — a prized position that can translate into more visitors and money.

Although Google's new formula won't affect searches on desktop and laptop computers, it will have a huge influence on how and where people spend their money, given that more people are relying on their smartphones to compare products in stores and look for restaurants. That's why Google's new rating system is being billed by some search experts as "Mobile-geddon."

"Some sites are going to be in for a big surprise when they find a drastic...

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ZSpace virtual reality system makes science class look like 'Iron Man' lab

Heart dissections in science classes have always been a messy affair. For years teachers have cut open cow’s or sheep’s hearts to show students how they look inside, and, while students get to feel and see the heart, they can’t watch as it beats, because the animals are dead. They can’t see the individual heart strings or the finer details of the chambers, valves and veins because they’re all layered on top of one another. That’s about to change.

At dozens of schools across America, including 11 K-12 districts in California, schools are adopting zSpace, a virtual reality system that lets schools “bring to life” abstract and often difficult-to-explain classroom material.

Created by the Sunnyvale, Calif., technology company of the same name, zSpace stations consist of large screens connected to PCs that teachers and students can use with special 3-D glasses and a stylus pen. When kids put on the glasses, images appear in 3-D, not too different from what one would expect in Tony Stark’s Iron...

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Mark Zuckerberg seeks to ease net neutrality concerns over Internet.org

Mark Zuckerberg is defending Internet.org, the project to bring free Internet access to impoverished parts of the world. The Facebook-led initiative had been criticized for being anti-net neutrality.

Internet.org grants access to only a limited number of Internet destinations, including Facebook. In India, that has led a number of start-ups to pull their support.

In a blog post Friday, Zuckerberg said he strongly disagreed with characterizations that Internet.org violated the spirit of net neutrality. Universal connectivity and net neutrality, he said, "can and must coexist."

"To give more people access to the internet, it is useful to offer some service for free," he wrote. "If someone can’t afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access than none at all."

He noted that Internet.org "doesn’t block or throttle any other services or create fast lanes -- and it never will."

"We’re open for all mobile operators and we’re not stopping anyone from joining. We want as...

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Instagram updates user guidelines with more details, stricter tone

Instagram is taking a more hard-line approach with what it will and will not allow on the photo-sharing app.

The company has updated its community guidelines, releasing a longer set of rules with more details and a stronger tone. 

Here's the short of it:

"We want Instagram to continue to be an authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression. Help us foster this community. Post only your own photos and videos and always follow the law. Respect everyone on Instagram, don’t spam people or post nudity."

Instagram has faced numerous complaints about its decency guidelines in the past, particularly for its longstanding decision to not allow photos of topless women. That sparked a campaign popularized by celebrities including Chelsea Handler and Miley Cyrus to "free the nipple."

Instagram went into detail on the issue of nudity in its new guidelines, saying:

"We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety...

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Google faces long battle in EU antitrust case

Google Inc. probably faces a lengthy process in challenging antitrust claims brought by the European Union, but the Internet search giant might be able to avoid paying hefty fines or making big changes to its business.

"I don't think this is going to lead to some draconian effect" for Google, said David Balto, an antitrust lawyer in Washington and former policy director at the Federal Trade Commission.

Still, Google has its work cut out in countering European regulators' claims that the company is abusing its online-search prominence to the detriment of its rivals, antitrust experts said Thursday.

The case, announced Wednesday by Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner, "is a very big deal," said Jonathan Handel, a lawyer at Century City law firm TroyGould.

"They're looking at a big fight," Handel said of Google, and "they're facing large numbers" in terms of potential fines if a settlement can't be reached.

The European Commission accused Google, which had $66 billion...

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Snapchat uses own app to recruit Uber engineers

Snapchat apparently wants more from Uber than just a ride.

The Venice-based social media company is reportedly trying to recruit Uber engineers in San Francisco using a tongue-in-cheek photo filter on its app, according to Forbes.

The filter, which users can place on top of images, is only available in the vicinity of Uber headquarters (many of Snapchat’s features are offered based on location).

The filter includes a link to job listings at Snapchat and a picture of the platform’s ghost icon driving taxis topped by the header, “THIS PLACE DRIVING YOU MAD?”

“They’re a unique and playful form of recruiting,” Snapchat spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker told Forbes.

Snapchat, famous for its ephemeral video messaging app, is estimated to be valued at about $15 billion. Uber, a car service app, is worth more than $40 billion.

Though Snapchat and Uber don’t compete in the same space, the two privately held companies still face intense competition for the best technological talent.

Snapchat told the...

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