Tag Archives: Chrome

Using AI to give people who are blind the “full picture”

Everything that makes up the web—text, images,video and audio—can be easily discovered. Many people who are blind or have low vision rely on screen readers to make the content of web pages accessible through spoken feedback or braille. 

For images and graphics, screen readers rely on descriptions created by developers and web authors, which are usually referred to as “alt text” or “alt attributes” in the code. However, there are millions of online images without any description, leading screen readers to say “image,” “unlabeled graphic,” or a lengthy, unhelpful reading of the image’s file name. When a page contains images without descriptions, people who are blind may not get all of the information conveyed, or even worse, it may make the site totally unusable for them. To improve that experience, we’ve built an automatic image description feature called Get Image Descriptions from Google. When a screen reader encounters an image or graphic without a description, Chrome will create one. 

Image descriptions automatically generated by a computer aren't as good as those written by a human who can include additional context, but they can be accurate and helpful. An image description might help a blind person read a restaurant menu, or better understand what their friends are posting on social media.

If someone using a screen reader chooses to opt in through Settings, an unlabeled image on Chrome is sent securely to a Google server running machine learning software. The technology aggregates data from multiple machine-learning models. Some models look for text in the image, including signs, labels, and handwritten words. Other models look for objects they've been trained to recognize—like a pencil, a tree, a person wearing a business suit, or a helicopter. The most sophisticated model can describe the main idea of an image using a complete sentence.

The description is evaluated for accuracy and valuable information: Does the annotation describe the image well? Is the description useful? Based on whether the annotation meets that criteria, the machine learning model determines what should be shown to the person, if anything. We’ll only provide a description if we have reasonable confidence it's correct. If any of our models indicate the results may be inaccurate or misleading, we err on the side of giving a simpler answer, or nothing at all. 

Here are a couple of examples of the actual descriptions generated by Chrome when used with a screen reader.

Pineapples, bananas and coconuts

Machine-generated description for this image: "Appears to be: Fruits and vegetables at the market."

Man playing guitar on gray sofa

Machine-generated description for this image: "Appears to be: Person playing guitar on the sofa." 

Over the past few months of testing, we’ve created more than 10 million descriptions with hundreds of thousands being added every day. The feature is available in English, but we plan to add more languages soon. Image descriptions in Chrome are not meant to replace diligent and responsible web authoring; we always encourage developers and web authors to follow best practices and provide image descriptions on their sites. But we hope that this feature is a step toward making the web more accessible to everyone. 

6 Chromebook keyboard shortcuts that save time

Chrome Browser keyboard shortcuts (which also work on Chromebook) can be major timesavers. Keyboard shortcuts, also called “hot keys,”  help you speed up a wide variety of tasks, including taking a screenshot, locking your screen, and even (fittingly) viewing all keyboard shortcuts—just click Ctrl + Alt + /.

These six Chromebook keyboard shortcuts are among the most popular shortcuts that can help you do more in less time. While these tips are especially helpful for those of you who use Chromebooks at work, you might find they help you get things done faster, regardless of whether you're at work or home.

1. Dock browser windows.
Digging into projects often requires opening more than one browser window—also called a “browser instance”—at a time. This can be an effective way to organize work. You can open one browser instance for dashboards, one for apps, another for Gmail, a third for Google Docs you’re working on, and, perhaps, one for music.

If you find yourself going back and forth between two browser instances, it’s a good idea to “dock” your screens, or anchor them in place on your screen so they don’t move around. This way, you can access two screens side-by-side. Hit Alt + ] to dock one browser instance to the left and Alt + [ to dock the other browser instance to the right.

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2. Switch between browser instances or browser tabs.
Docking browser instances is one way to work more efficiently when you’re juggling projects. Another strategy is to quickly switch between what you have open. Within each browser instance, it’s not uncommon to have multiple tabs open on your screen. People do this often when they’re searching the web or working in different apps, like Gmail or Drive. You can use keyboard shortcuts to switch between browser instances and between tabs.

Click Alt + tab to switch between the two most recent browser instances. Continue to hold Alt after pressing tab and you’ll get a tiled view of all of your open browser instances. Click Ctrl + tab (no point and click necessary) to navigate between browser tabs.

3. Recover closed tabs.
If you accidentally close Chrome, there’s no need to worry. Simply hit Ctrl + Shift + T and your most recently closed tab (or browser instance) comes right back. If you closed more than one, just hit that combination of keys again, and Chrome will keep restoring. 

4. Use Caps Lock.
One of the first things you might notice when you switch to Chrome OS is that there’s no Caps Lock key. But let’s face it, sometimes you need to shout your enthusiasm (COOKIES IN THE BREAKROOM!). In such instances, Caps Lock is just a keyboard shortcut away.

Editing Microsoft Office files on a Chromebook is the cat’s meow. Follow the instructions below.

Use Alt + search to activate and deactivate Caps Lock. The search key typically features a magnifying glass and is located on the far left side of your keyboard where Caps Lock is on other laptops. On some Chromebooks, you want to press Alt + Assistant , which is the key that resembles bubbles and is located between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the bottom left side of the keyboard. A notification will pop up and  let you know when you’ve activated Caps Lock and again when you deactivate it.

If you use Caps Lock frequently, you can also enable the search key to be a permanent Caps Lock button in Settings. Here’s how:

  1. Click the time in the bottom right corner of your screen. It will pull up different tools for you to use. 

  2. Click the gear/settings icon in the top right.

  3. Scroll to Device and click Keyboard.

  4. Use the drop-down menu to the right of Search to select Caps Lock.

5. Switch between work and personal accounts.

Setting up a personal account on your Chromebook to coincide with your work account makes it easy to switch between personal and work email on one device. This post explains how to set up a personal account on a Chromebook. Once you’ve set that up, use Alt + Ctrl + > or Alt + Ctrl + < to quickly switch between accounts. 

6.  Launch applications located on Chrome OS’s “shelf,” or taskbar.

At the bottom of the screen of your Chromebook, you’ll see a row of icons representing applications. We call this bottom part of the screen the “app shelf.” Keyboard shortcuts let you launch a specific application on the app shelf. Alt + 1 will launch the first app from the left on your shelf, Alt + 2 will open the second app from the left on your shelf, and so on.

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For more help on how to work efficiently on Chromebooks, check out our posts on how to set up a new Chromebook, 6 common questions for former Mac users who are new to Chromebook, how to use a Chromebook if you’ve switched from a PC, and (for IT admins) 5 Google IT tips for driving and sustaining Chromebook adoption. Whether you’re new to Chromebooks or have used them for a while, these tips can help you—and your company—complete your work faster.

Source: Google Chrome


Get more done with a little help from Google Chrome

There are a million and one reasons you open your browser every day, and keeping track of tabs shouldn’t distract you from your goals. With tab improvements and more options to customize Chrome, you’ll be equipped to take on the day. 


Chrome updates frequently to bring you new features and security improvements, and our latest version will help you get back into your productivity groove. Here’s an overview of new features coming to Chrome this fall. 


Keep tabs on your tabs


Ever lost track of tabs on your phone? Us too. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see Android’s new grid layout, which helps you select tabs more easily and preview thumbnails of the tabs you have open. (iOS users will already see this tab grid layout). 


There’s also a new way to group tabs on your Android device, which helps you keep track of the tabs that are open. To do this, drag and drop one tab on top of another in the new tab grid layout. After opening one of the grouped tabs, you can easily switch between the tabs in the group using the new tab switcher at the bottom of your screen. 

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The tab grid layout and tab grouping capabilities make it easier than ever to stay organized in Chrome on your Android device

If you have so many tabs open on your laptop that you can’t read the page titles anymore (guilty!), you can now preview your tabs by hovering over them with your cursor. For now you’ll see the page title, and soon you’ll see a thumbnail of the page too. 

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Soon hovering over tabs will show the page title, and later this year the hover card will include a page thumbnail.

If you want to save a link from your phone so you can open it later on your laptop (or vice versa), you no longer have to do the “email yourself but forget to read it” thing. Now you can use Chrome to send a tab to another computer, phone, or tablet on which you are signed in and have sync enabled.

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Share tabs between your devices

Help from Google built in

Chrome’s address bar helps you get to your results faster than ever. Now on both desktop and Android, answers will show up inside the address bar where you type your query—whether you’re looking for results about sporting events or instant answers about the local weather or translations of a foreign word. 

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Get answers to your important questions directly in the address bar

Chrome automatically prompts translation when you need it, and you can access translation tools in the Chrome menu or from the address bar on desktop. 

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Automatically translate the web into over 100 languages with translation tools built into Chrome

Make Chrome yours

Your work environment impacts productivity and your mood. If plants and nature help you relax and unwind, change the background of your new tab page to a floral design. If you draw energy from the color yellow, use Chrome’s new color customization tool to change the color of your entire browser to the shade that brings you bliss. As for me, my browser color matches my hair—bright pink. 

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Make Chrome yours by customizing the background, color, and theme

These features help boost your productivity, but these aren’t the only features we’re adding this year. Look for updates later in the fall about more improvements coming to Chrome. 

Improving Chrome Enterprise management in the Admin console

Quick launch summary 

We’re updating the Admin console to provide a quicker, more searchable experience for Chrome Enterprise administrators. Specifically you may notice a number of changes when you go to Admin Console > Devices > Chrome Management, including:

  • Significantly improved performance, with faster page loads, device actions, and more. 
  • Improved search and filter so you can find what you’re looking for quickly. 
  • Unified app management for Android apps, Chrome extensions and web apps so you can manage all of your apps in one place. 
  • Centralized printer management for users, devices, and managed guests. 
  • Brand new policies to help control the user experience, including Chrome Safe Browsing and Password Alert, Quick unlock with PIN and fingerprint, and Legacy Browser Support for Chrome Browser on Windows. 


See our Cloud Blog post for a detailed look at the updates to the Chrome Enterprise experience in the Admin console.

Availability 

Rollout details 


G Suite editions 
Available to all G Suite editions.


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Building a more private web

Privacy is paramount to us, in everything we do. So today, we are announcing a new initiative to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web. We’re calling this a Privacy Sandbox. 


Technology that publishers and advertisers use to make advertising even more relevant to people is now being used far beyond its original design intent - to a point where some data practices don’t match up to user expectations for privacy. Recently, some other browsers have attempted to address this problem, but without an agreed upon set of standards, attempts to improve user privacy are having unintended consequences.


First, large scale blocking of cookies undermine people’s privacy by encouraging opaque techniques such as fingerprinting. With fingerprinting, developers have found ways to use tiny bits of information that vary between users, such as what device they have or what fonts they have installed to generate a unique identifier which can then be used to match a user across websites. Unlike cookies, users cannot clear their fingerprint, and therefore cannot control how their information is collected. We think this subverts user choice and is wrong.


Second, blocking cookies without another way to deliver relevant ads significantly reduces publishers’ primary means of funding, which jeopardizes the future of the vibrant web. Many publishers have been able to continue to invest in freely accessible content because they can be confident that their advertising will fund their costs. If this funding is cut, we are concerned that we will see much less accessible content for everyone. Recent studies have shown that when advertising is made less relevant by removing cookies, funding for publishers falls by 52% on average1.


So we are doing something different. We want to find a solution that both really protects user privacy and also helps content remain freely accessible on the web. At I/O, we announced a plan to improve the classification of cookies, give clarity and visibility to cookie settings, as well as plans to more aggressively block fingerprinting. We are making progress on this, and today we are providing more details on our plans to restrict fingerprinting. Collectively we believe all these changes will improve transparency, choice, and control. 


But, we can go further. Starting with today’s announcements, we will work with the web community to develop new standards that advance privacy, while continuing to support free access to content. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve started sharing our preliminary ideas for a Privacy Sandbox - a secure environment for personalization that also protects user privacy. Some ideas include new approaches to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but user data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimized by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only. Our goal is to create a set of standards that is more consistent with users’ expectations of privacy.


We are following the web standards process and seeking industry feedback on our initial ideas for the Privacy Sandbox. While Chrome can take action quickly in some areas (for instance, restrictions on fingerprinting) developing web standards is a complex process, and we know from experience that ecosystem changes of this scope take time. They require significant thought, debate, and input from many stakeholders, and generally take multiple years. 


To move things forward as quickly as possible, we have documented the specific problems we are trying to solve together, and we are sharing a series of explainers with the web community. We have also summarized these ideas today on the Chromium blog.


We look forward to getting feedback on this approach from the web platform community, including other browsers, publishers, and their advertising partners. Thank you in advance for your help and input on this process - we believe that we must solve these problems together to ensure that the incredible benefits of the open, accessible web continue into the next generation of the internet.

1 Google Ad Manager data; n=500 global publishers; Analysis based on an A/B experiment where cookies are disabled on a randomly selected fraction of each publisher's traffic; May-August 2019. More information available on the Google ads blog.


The Advanced Protection Program expands to Chrome

The Advanced Protection Program is our strongest level of protection for the personal Google Accounts of anyone at risk of targeted attacks — like journalists, activists, politicians and business leaders. It offers an evolving list of security offerings to protect our users holistically, across different ways an attacker can try to gain access to their accounts and data.

Starting today, Advanced Protection Program users who have turned on sync in Chrome will automatically start receiving stronger protections against risky downloads across the web, like files containing malware. Advanced Protection users already benefit from malware protections beyond Gmail's standard, industry-leading safeguards. As a result, attackers are shifting their strategies to threaten Advanced Protection users outside of email with linked malware and “drive-by downloads” where users unknowingly download harmful software onto their devices.

To protect our users proactively, attempts to download certain risky files will now show additional warnings, or in some cases even be blocked. While Chrome protects all users against malware, Advanced Protection users will get an even stronger level of protection.

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Warnings like these will prevent Advanced Protection users from downloading unsafe files

This additional protection is part of a growing list of security offerings for those enrolled in the Advanced Protection Program. Just last week, we announced that Enterprise admins could extend the program’s protections to G Suite, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Cloud Identity customers. If you or your organization is interested in enrolling in the Advanced Protection Program, learn more at g.co/advancedprotection.

Protecting private browsing in Chrome

Chrome’s Incognito Mode is based on the principle that you should have the choice to browse the web privately. At the end of July, Chrome will remedy a loophole that has allowed sites to detect people who are browsing in Incognito Mode. This will affect some publishers who have used the loophole to deter metered paywall circumvention, so we’d like to explain the background and context of the change.

Private browsing principles

People choose to browse the web privately for many reasons. Some wish to protect their privacy on shared or borrowed devices, or to exclude certain activities from their browsing histories. In situations such as political oppression or domestic abuse, people may have important safety reasons for concealing their web activity and their use of private browsing features.

We want you to be able to access the web privately, with the assurance that your choice to do so is private as well. These principles are consistent with emerging web standards for private browsing modes

Closing the FileSystem API loophole

Today, some sites use an unintended loophole to detect when people are browsing in Incognito Mode. Chrome’s FileSystem API is disabled in Incognito Mode to avoid leaving traces of activity on someone’s device. Sites can check for the availability of the FileSystem API and, if they receive an error message, determine that a private session is occurring and give the user a different experience.  

With the release of Chrome 76 scheduled for July 30, the behavior of the FileSystem API will be modified to remedy this method of Incognito Mode detection. Chrome will likewise work to remedy any other current or future means of Incognito Mode detection.

Publisher impact and strategies

The change will affect sites that use the FileSystem API to intercept Incognito Mode sessions and require people to log in or switch to normal browsing mode, on the assumption that these individuals are attempting to circumvent metered paywalls. 

Unlike hard paywalls or registration walls, which require people to log in to view any content, meters offer a number of free articles before you must log in. This model is inherently porous, as it relies on a site’s ability to track the number of free articles someone has viewed, typically using cookies. Private browsing modes are one of several tactics people use to manage their cookies and thereby "reset" the meter count.

Sites that wish to deter meter circumvention have options such as reducing the number of free articles someone can view before logging in, requiring free registration to view any content, or hardening their paywalls. Other sites offer more generous meters as a way to develop affinity among potential subscribers, recognizing some people will always look for workarounds.  We suggest publishers monitor the effect of the FileSystem API change before taking reactive measures since any impact on user behavior may be different than expected and any change in meter strategy will impact all users, not just those using Incognito Mode.

Our News teams support sites with meter strategies and recognize the goal of reducing meter circumvention, however any approach based on private browsing detection undermines the principles of Incognito Mode. We remain open to exploring solutions that are consistent with user trust and private browsing principles.


Source: Google Chrome


“Dancing with a machine:” Bill T. Jones on AI and art

In early 2019, the Google Creative Lab partnered with Bill T. Jones, a pioneering choreographer, two-time Tony Award Winner, MacArthur Fellow, National Medal of the Arts Honoree, and artistic director and co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company of New York Live Arts. We teamed up to explore the creative possibilities of speech recognition and PoseNet, which is Google’s machine-learning model that estimates human poses in real time in the browser.

We sat down with Bill to hear his reflections on working at the intersection of art, technology, identity and the body. Try out the experiments and watch a short film about the collaboration at g.co/billtjonesai

Why did you collaborate with Google on AI experiments?

The idea of machine learning intrigues me. The theme of our company’s Live Ideas Fest this year is artificial intelligence. AI is supposed to take us into the next century and important things are supposed to be happening with this technology, so I wanted to see if we could use it to stir real human emotion. Maybe it’s ego, but I want to be the one to know how to use PoseNet to make somebody cry. How do you get the technology to be weighted with meaning and import?

How have you experimented with technology over the course of your career?

Back in the ‘80s, Arnie Zane [Jones’s partner and company co-founder] and I decided we didn’t want to work with technology anymore because the pure art of sweat and bodies on stage should be enough. Technology just steals your thunder. Then a friend said, “Technology can suggest the beyond. Technology can project what is at stake when you die. When you see these figures, they’re no longer human, they’re something else.” So we started working with more state-of-the-art technologies. Later, I did a project called “Ghostcatching” with 3D motion capture. At that time, the team was saying, “we want to capture your movement so that in 50 years we could reconstitute your performance.” That’s how people were thinking years ago, and seems to still be a preoccupation now. They said they wanted to “decouple me from my personality.” Maybe I’m romantic, but I don't think that’s possible. So, my focus with this project was not on how to replace the performer, but complement them.

What was it like experimenting with AI?

I’ve never collaborated with a machine before. It's a whole other learning curve. We are taught in the art world that you don’t get many chances. This experience contrasted that notion. It was refreshing to co-create with the Google team whose approach was playful and iterative.

Were there moments you felt this technology was in the service of dance? 

In the service of dance? I say this with great respect: it's almost antithetical to everything I thought dance was. The webcam’s field of vision determines a lot about how we move. Dance for us is often times in an empty room that implies infinite space. But working with a webcam, there is a very prescribed space. Limitations are not bad in art making, but they were a new challenge. It was a shift creating something for the screen and not the stage.

What was it like shifting from creating for the stage to the screen?

I felt like I was being asked: Come out of the place that you as an artist come from, the avant-garde. Come and work with a medium that's available to millions of people. That's wonderful, but it's also a responsibility. The meaningful things people make with this are going to be very weird in a way, aren't they? Very kind of exciting. I'm appreciative of being part of the development of this.

Where do you see AI going? Will you work with it more in the future? 

I understand context is the next frontier in machine learning. This seems paramount for art making. I hope one day soon they make a machine I can dance with. I’d like to dance with a machine, just to see what that’s like.

“Dancing with a machine:” Bill T. Jones on AI and art

In early 2019, the Google Creative Lab partnered with Bill T. Jones, a pioneering choreographer, two-time Tony Award Winner, MacArthur Fellow, National Medal of the Arts Honoree, and artistic director and co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company of New York Live Arts. We teamed up to explore the creative possibilities of speech recognition and PoseNet, which is Google’s machine-learning model that estimates human poses in real time in the browser.

We sat down with Bill to hear his reflections on working at the intersection of art, technology, identity and the body. Try out the experiments and watch a short film about the collaboration at g.co/billtjonesai

Why did you collaborate with Google on AI experiments?

The idea of machine learning intrigues me. The theme of our company’s Live Ideas Fest this year is artificial intelligence. AI is supposed to take us into the next century and important things are supposed to be happening with this technology, so I wanted to see if we could use it to stir real human emotion. Maybe it’s ego, but I want to be the one to know how to use PoseNet to make somebody cry. How do you get the technology to be weighted with meaning and import?

How have you experimented with technology over the course of your career?

Back in the ‘80s, Arnie Zane [Jones’s partner and company co-founder] and I decided we didn’t want to work with technology anymore because the pure art of sweat and bodies on stage should be enough. Technology just steals your thunder. Then a friend said, “Technology can suggest the beyond. Technology can project what is at stake when you die. When you see these figures, they’re no longer human, they’re something else.” So we started working with more state-of-the-art technologies. Later, I did a project called “Ghostcatching” with 3D motion capture. At that time, the team was saying, “we want to capture your movement so that in 50 years we could reconstitute your performance.” That’s how people were thinking years ago, and seems to still be a preoccupation now. They said they wanted to “decouple me from my personality.” Maybe I’m romantic, but I don't think that’s possible. So, my focus with this project was not on how to replace the performer, but complement them.

What was it like experimenting with AI?

I’ve never collaborated with a machine before. It's a whole other learning curve. We are taught in the art world that you don’t get many chances. This experience contrasted that notion. It was refreshing to co-create with the Google team whose approach was playful and iterative.

Were there moments you felt this technology was in the service of dance? 

In the service of dance? I say this with great respect: it's almost antithetical to everything I thought dance was. The webcam’s field of vision determines a lot about how we move. Dance for us is often times in an empty room that implies infinite space. But working with a webcam, there is a very prescribed space. Limitations are not bad in art making, but they were a new challenge. It was a shift creating something for the screen and not the stage.

What was it like shifting from creating for the stage to the screen?

I felt like I was being asked: Come out of the place that you as an artist come from, the avant-garde. Come and work with a medium that's available to millions of people. That's wonderful, but it's also a responsibility. The meaningful things people make with this are going to be very weird in a way, aren't they? Very kind of exciting. I'm appreciative of being part of the development of this.

Where do you see AI going? Will you work with it more in the future? 

I understand context is the next frontier in machine learning. This seems paramount for art making. I hope one day soon they make a machine I can dance with. I’d like to dance with a machine, just to see what that’s like.

New Drive file suggestions in Chrome launching in beta

What’s changing 

We’re launching a beta program for a new feature that allows users to search for Google Drive files that they have access to when using the Chrome Omnibox (search/URL box). Users in the beta can now search for files in Drive by owner or type, where previously they could only search for a title or URL of a webpage. This feature is similar to what users see when searching for files in Google Drive.

Admins for G Suite Business, Enterprise, Education, Enterprise for Education, and Nonprofits can learn more and apply for the beta here.


Who’s impacted 

Admins only

Why you’d use it 

This feature will give users faster access to the files and data they need while searching in Google Chrome. Users will now be able to see Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, PDFs, and other file type suggestions from both “My Drive” and “Shared with Me” when searching in Chrome browser. This will help people get work done faster.

How to get started 

  • Admins: For more details and how to apply for the beta, see this form. 
  • End Users: No action required. 

Additional details 

This feature will be available to users signed into a Chrome profile on any operating system: Chromebook, Mac, Windows, etc.

Helpful links 

For more details and how to apply for the beta, see this form. 
Learn what sync settings users can manage and how they are managed. 
How to enable or disable chrome Sync. 

Availability 

G Suite editions 
  • Available to G Suite Business, G Suite Enterprise, G Suite for Education, G Suite Enterprise for Education, and G Suite for Nonprofits 
  • Not available to G Suite Basic. 

On/off by default? 
  • This feature will be ON by default for beta participants and can be controlled at the OU level.

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