Google might be opening a retail store in Chicago

Google’s latest plan to tackle the retail market involves a two-floor store in Chicago’s Fulton Market. If it pans out, this would be the tech company’s first permanent retail location. The space would total 14,000 square feet across several interconnected brick buildings, according to The Chicago Tribune. This planned store would be several blocks south of the company’s Midwest HQ.

This isn’t Google’s first attempt at a brick-and-mortar store, which would be a prime locale to show off its ever-growing selection of hardware products. But until now, Google’s been relegated to the occasional pop-up and “stores within stores” in the US and UK, sectioning off space to show demos of Chromebooks, smart speakers, and phones.

Google declined to comment to the Tribune, but if the rumored standalone space becomes a reality, then it would be the latest in the the company’s long line of attempts to crack the retail market. Previously, it spent millions renovating a planned 5,000-square-foot retail space in New York’s swanky SoHo district before ultimately abandoning these plans and leasing the space out instead.

Google One launches with cheaper cloud storage plans

For some reason, Google is rebranding Google Drive storage plans under the name Google One. Along with the rebranding, Google is also improving its pricing in ways that give customers more options and more storage at lower prices. It marks the service’s first price cut in four years.

Google One plans start at the same place as Google Drive plans — $1.99 per month for 100GB of additional storage — but the situation improves after that. Google is introducing a new $2.99-per-month tier, which includes 200GB of storage, and it’s upgrading the $9.99-per-month tier to include 2TB of storage instead of 1TB.

We signed up for a 2TB storage option to try out Google One. The process is simple, you just head into Google Drive and click on Storage, then Upgrade Storage, to bring up all the possible upgrades.

That’s basically it for the changes. Pricing for plans larger than 2TB remain the same. There are supposed to be some other perks, like deals in the Google Store, but nothing’s been announced yet. You’ll also be able to share your storage with up to five family members, which is a useful feature, especially since you could wind up paying for far more storage than you really need. In practice, Google doesn’t actually check if the email accounts you’ve added are family members, so you can add friends or coworkers easily.

As for the name change, we suspect Google decided to introduce the “One” brand to clarify that this storage isn’t just limited to Drive but is also used for Gmail and Photos. Ultimately, though, today’s changes largely amount to a different name on the same product, alongside two tweaked pricing tiers.

Image: Google

Google says it’s already moved Drive subscribers on personal accounts over to Google One plans. As of today, anyone in the US can sign up with the new pricing. Obviously, your choice of cloud storage provider is going to be dependent on what services you typically use — if you’re stuck in iCloud, this won’t mean much to you — but on an even playing field, Google’s pricing is extremely competitive. Microsoft offers half as much storage as Google at $1.99 per month; Dropbox doesn’t offer anything between free and $9.99; and while iCloud has an appealing $0.99-per-month plan with 50GB of storage, you have to jump straight to a $2.99 / 200GB plan if you want anything more than that.

The new Google One plans aren’t actually live as of this writing, but Google has told us they’ll be available this afternoon.

Google is adding ARCore support to the Chromebook Tab 10 with Classroom updates

Google has been adding new features to Classroom throughout the summer in order to prep for the upcoming fall semester, particularly with the recent launch of the Acer Chromebook Tab 10, which is the first tablet to run Chrome OS. Now, Google has announced it will bring ARCore support to the tablet, allowing educators to become a virtual Ms. Frizzle and lead their students on augmented and virtual reality adventures.

The Chromebook Tab 10 is compatible with all of Google’s Classroom apps, and it allows students to have Magic School Bus-like experiences through the Expeditions app. Teachers can place active volcanoes on students’ desks or show spinning ladders of DNA reaching to classroom ceilings.

These virtual adventures dive into the VR realm, too. There are 30 new activities and lesson plans in the Google Earth app for use with the Cardboard and Daydream headsets. Students can go on their own safaris in Africa and explore basically any country or city in the world with these devices. Google Drive will be integrated into Classroom as well, which will allow students to save their photos and assignments from these adventures easily through the cloud.

The Classroom app will also see a few smaller upgrades, including the ability to set margins or use hanging indentations in Docs. There are some design changes to further highlight tools for better student-teacher feedback and quicker access to Google Form quizzes. Google says it will implement Teacher Center training tutorials in order to help educators get up to speed with all the new updates. When it launches this fall, the new Chromebook Tab 10 and Classroom will face off with Apple’s Schoolwork platform and cheaper, “education-focused” iPad that launched earlier this spring.

Google Maps now depicts the Earth as a globe

Google introduced a new update to Google Maps: when you zoom all the way out, the Earth will no longer be displayed as a flat surface, but as a globe. It’s a change that allows the map to more accurately display the Earth.

The search company highlighted the change on its Google MapsTwitter feed, saying that with the new 3D Globe Mode, “Greenland’s projection is no longer the size of Africa.” The change is only available on the desktop interface; it’s still flat in its mobile app.

Up until now, Google Maps has used Mercator projection, which projects the planet onto a flat surface. While this style makes it easy to print onto maps and has largely become standardized, it presents a distorted image of the Earth. Objects around the equator are to scale relative to one another, while objects closer to the poles appear larger than they really are. A good example of this is the relative sizes of Greenland and Africa. On a Mercator map, Greenland appears larger than Africa, when in reality, Africa is 14 times larger.

A Google employee explained in 2009 that the company used a Mercator map because it helped preserve angles of roads: “The first launch of Maps actually did not use Mercator, and streets in high latitude places like Stockholm did not meet at right angles on the map the way they do in reality.”

The change is the recent in a series from the company. In June, Google redesigned its Explore section to make it easier to find restaurants, and an update earlier this week added one’s battery life status to location sharing.

Google Drive is about to hit 1 billion users

Google Drive, the company’s flagship file storage service, is in its sixth year running, and now, according to the company, Drive is about to be used by 1 billion people worldwide.

The announcement came from the Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco, according to TechCrunch, though Google wouldn’t get into the details about exactly when its billionth user will officially log on, only saying that it’ll happen “later this week.”

This will officially be Google’s eighth product to reach more than a billion users; the other services include Gmail, Chrome, and Google Maps. Last year, Android reached 2 billion active users, making it the biggest mobile operating system in the world.

Since Drive launched back in 2012, it’s stored trillions of files and has more than 800 million daily users, according to stats given at last year’s Google I/O Conference. Recently, Google launched some new features with a focus toward its business-minded customers, including Team Drives and a File Stream to maximize the space available to users.

Google search will now recommend events based on your interests

Google has updated the way you discover events in Search, adding new features that both personalize results and provide more key information about events right in search results.

Now when you search for an event and tap on it, an overview will be presented that shows details like ticket cost, venue reviews, time, and location. You can save events to revisit later, or click through to buy tickets via various vendors like StubHub and Ticketmaster.

The new update covers all types of events, like concerts, local festivals, cooking classes, and museum happenings. Search with terms like “events near me” or “free concert” and a list will be returned that aggregates from a variety of different sites.

Google events Search

Image: Google

There’s also a “For You” tab that should deliver events based upon your personal interests, with categories like running, cooking, and photography. Google has provided the tools for organizers to mark up their event listings, so you should see big happenings, but also smaller meetups happening in your neighborhood, like a local dancing class.

Google says its new events Search will roll out over the next few days for those in the US.

Google events Search

Image: Google