Alphabet Roundup: Waymo Milestone, Clips Camera, Tez Payments

Alphabet's GOOGL Waymo unit beat its own self-driving miles record while its Google unit announced a pocket camera called Clips.

Alphabet's Waymo Self-Driving Milestone

Alphabet's self-driving cars have now driven 5 million miles on public roads. It took six years to reach its first millionth mile, and the fifth million took under three months. CEO John Krafcik tweeted, "We're accelerating our efforts to build the world's most experienced driver. Waymo's fleet has now self-driven over 5 million miles in 25 cities, and in the last two years alone, over 5 billion miles in simulation."

Google Clips Camera

Google has launched a $249 pocket-sized camera that can be clipped onto furniture and other fixed objects to capture candid sound-free moments (photos or seven-second videos that can be edited into GIFs) for downloading and sharing via smartphone. It has some built-in artificial intelligence to recognize smiles, human faces, dogs, cats and rapid sequences of movement.

Blake Kozak, principal analyst at IHS Markit, had this to say about home video: "Being able to have cameras identify what's happening in the home, without having to filter through recordings, this is where the market for video in the home is moving." There is a lot of competition in the space but Google could see at least moderate success, similar to its Chromecast, Pixel and Google Home hardware.

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Leading Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel is in an agreement with Alphabet to launch entry-level smartphones powered by Android Oreo (Go). The Go version of the OS is meant for low-end phones with less than 1GB RAM. The OS is therefore made to use less storage space, less memory and still run smoothly. It is part of Airtel's 'Mera Pehla Smartphone' ('my first smartphone') initiative. These will be some of the first Oreo smartphones in the world.

Launched in September last year, Google's payments app Tez for India has now been more deeply integrated with the State Bank of India (SBI). Tez is built on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) standard and facilitates payments between bank accounts of users. It is supported by all 70 UPI-enabled banks.It claims to have processed over 250 million transactions to date between its 13.5 million monthly active users. SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar has said that this integration will drive innovation and deliver new opportunities across its 400 million strong customer base.

Bloomberg reports that a former Alphabet hiring officer has objected to Google's hiring practices favoring Hispanics, African Americans and females. His lawsuit claims that he was fired when he complained to human resources on the practice of rejecting outright white and Asian male job candidates.

Meanwhile in Germany, an appeals court upheld the decision of a lower court that Google couldn't be held responsible for every link that was in violation of law although it does have the responsibility of taking action when concrete evidence of such violation is brought to its attention. Presiding Judge Gregor Galke said, "a general responsibility to regulate is incompatible with the function of search engines." To ask them to verify every link was impractical and could paralyze the service.

Alphabet has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some technology stocks that carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and are therefore worth buying include Facebook FB , Pegasystems PEGA , Mellanox Technologies MLNX and Unisys Corporation UIS . The complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks is here .

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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