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The Google News Roundup: Autonomous Cars, Passwords, & Mobile Apps

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Alphabet Inc. ( GOOGL ) and its Google division have been making notable headlines within a 24 hour span. Let's take a look at the top three news stories pertaining to the American multinational conglomerate's notable tech projects:

Alphabet and Ford Team Up for the Autonomous Car

Ford Motor Co.'s stock ( F ) saw an increase in value yesterday following a report that the Michigan-based automobile maker has been in discussions with Alphabet Inc. about a deal to build the Internet giant's driverless cars.

Ford and Alphabet's Google division have been negotiating a manufacturing contract "for a long time," according to Automotive News , citing a source with knowledge of the subject. The report also stated that an announcement of a deal could come as early as the week of Jan. 4, 2016 during the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

Shares of Ford increased by 3% in yesterday's active morning trade, and volume in the first 90 minutes after the opening bell was more than half the full-day average, according to Marketwatch . Shares of Alphabet were up 0.8% in yesterday's morning trades.

A Google spokesman said the company would not comment on this speculation, yet company officials did confirm that the company is talking to automakers - not necessarily Ford. Per the Automotive News report, Ford spokesman Alan Hall neither confirmed nor denied a possible deal, stating,"We work with a lot of tech companies all over the world. We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons and we do not comment on speculation."

Google has recently added two veteran Ford executives to its board of directors. Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally joined Google's board of directors eight days after he retired from the automaker, a stint that lasted between September 2006 through June 2014. This September, Google hired John Krafcik as CEO of the company's Self-Driving Car Project. Mr. Krafcik spent 14 years at Ford, including a stint as chief engineer during the development of the Ford Expedition SUV.

Facts are rather uncertain of whether Ford would design a purpose-built vehicle for Google or supply a standard production car fitted with the sensors and computers to facilitate the car's core functions and operations. Having Ford build Google's test fleet would save the company years and billions of dollars in development costs. The Ford-built vehicles would use the automaker's production-ready powertrain as well as safety and emissions components.

Google Testing Password Free Login

Google confirmed this morning the company is testing a new way to sign into your Google account without having to type in your password. This alternative method of logging in involves the user authenticating his or her account information by responding to a notification sent to their smartphone. The idea is similar to Yahoo's recently launched " Account Key ," a mobile app that offers a password-free log-in method requiring a push notification sent to your phone that then opens an app where you approve the log-in.

To claim people are securing their Internet-based accounts with detailed and complex passwords would be ill advised. Users' account passwords are often weak or reused across multiple services. Individuals can use a unique and multifaceted password per account, or even use two-factor authentication method - something along the lines of using a USB stick with a secret token or entering in a code sent to your phone. Obviously, people find this two-factor authentication method too much of a hassle and would rather have a universal account password of "123456."

Google's new password-free login option, on the contrary, is about speeding up logins by offering a different method of signing in altogether. Users simply have to enter their email address when signing into their Google account. Afterwards, a notification will appear on the user's phone asking if the user is attempting to log-in from another device. To approve the login, one just has to tap "yes," and POOF, log-in complete.

A TechCrunch report claims, "this would be especially useful for those who always have their phone nearby while using Google services on other devices, like their computer, as well as those who have long and complicated passwords that are difficult to type."

In a worse case scenario where your phone is lost or stolen, the screen lock or Touch ID will protect your private data. This theoretical thief or unknown party who happened upon the missing phone will not be able to unlock your phone. Google also advises that in the case of a lost device, you should sign into your account from another device and remove this feature.

Hopefully more information will be available once the testing is complete to determine whether this password-free login is either a next step into the future of cyber-security or a complete flop.

The New Google Messaging App: Smarter & Faster Than Ever Before

Google is building a new mobile-messaging service that taps its artificial intelligence know-how and so-called chatbot technology to try to catch up with rivals including Facebook Inc. ( FB ) in the fast-growing arena, according to people familiar with the matter.

Messaging apps are among the world's most popular mobile apps, with more than two billion users, according to Portio Research Ltd., per the Wall Street Journal. However, Google's two messaging apps - Hangouts and Messenger - trail far behind Facebook's Messenger and WhatsApp .

(Also read " Top Mobile Apps of 2015 Released: Microsoft Not Present " for more information on mobile app popularity.)

For its new service, Google plans to integrate the messenger service with chatbots, which are software programs that answer questions within the app. Users will be able to text friends or a chatbot, which will scour the Internet for information to answer a question. A timeframe of when Google will launch the service or what the app will be named has not been reported yet.

Google has to figure out a way for this new messaging service to overcome the company's prior unsuccessful messaging ventures . Users primarily join messaging services because they know other users; Google has struggled to create a successful social network that promotes the use of both Hangouts and Messenger. Google+ exists, but in all seriousness, who uses Google+ over Facebook?

Furthermore, the number of individuals who have a Google account does not compare to the number of individuals with a Facebook account. Google Hangouts is a great messaging app, yet does not connect friends and acquaintances like Facebook Messenger. If I need to reach out to someone who's phone number I do not have, I'm more inclined to message them via Facebook than Google. Google simply is not good at creating Internet-based social communities. Hopefully, their new messaging app will change this perception.

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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.


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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