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theEweekly Wrap

Google Classroom – Chatty Bing – Siri Murder Mystery

Google opens Classroom doors

This week Google opened the doors to Classroom, its online suite designed to bring teaching resources and feedback together under one digital roof.

On the Google blog, teachers are told that the new suite is going to reduce the amount of time spent shuffling papers, and that it will help them to keep all of the documents for a course in the right place.

The suite works by shaping a number of current Google services, such as Docs, into a framework that allows the teacher to set, collect, mark, and provide feedback to their students' work.

First introduced to 100,000 educators across 45 countries, the app is now rolling out across the world with more people able to access it each day.

To teachers planning to use the app, Google says "hopefully Classroom will help you spend a little less time at the photocopier and a little more time doing what you love--teaching."

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Bing gets chatty search

Next up, the search engine Bing is learning some lessons from its sister service Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant on mobiles. Now too the search engine keeps track of the context of recent search so that a user can ask relevant follow up questions.

The idea is that you ask the search engine a question (for example "who plays Theodore in the movie Her?") then after the search engine comes back to you with an answer ("Joaquin Phoenix") you can continue to ask more questions (such as "what other films has he been in?") and you still receive useful info tied to the original query (perhaps links to a list of films).

A TechCrunch report says that the new service has begun to roll out across the US. So we expect it'll come to other territories soon.

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Siri involved in murder?

And to wrap up this week, another story involving our computerised future compatriots. This time it's not Microsoft's Cortana but Apple's Siri - caught up in a strange and murky murder case happening in the US that this week went viral across the net.

The widely circulated story alleges that 20 year old Pedro Bravo killed his roommate Christian Aguilar in 2012 over a dispute involving a past girlfriend. It's then said that Bravo asked of his mobile assistant 'Siri, I need to hide my roommate'.

The circulated picture of Siri's response shows its joke hiding place suggestions as dumps, swaps, reservoirs and mines.

But as the the Huffington Post reports, the reality is probably a little more complicated.

A closer look shows that the evidence is shaky. And Gainesville Police, investigating the incident, tweeted that "Multiple reports of Bravo asking Siri to hide a roommate are incorrect."

If anything, the case serves as a bizarre and confusing warning as to the power of the internet for circulating information. The final judgment remains to be seen, as the trial continues.

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