Meet Google’s ambitious new CAPTCHA that makes it easier to prove you’re human

Google is today announcing an improved version of CAPTCHA that it’s calling the ‘NoCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA.’ While it sounds like a mouthful, the new service has some great benefits for users.

We’ve known CAPTCHAs for years for their awful distorted text that’s hard to read and get right a lot of the time. Google set out to fix that a year and a half ago, when it discovered that it could teach computers how to beat the traditional CAPTCHA with 99.8 percent accuracy and realized that if it could do that, so could others.

Recaptcha anchor@2x Meet Googles ambitious new CAPTCHA that makes it easier to prove youre human

The new noCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA is the result, which makes it easier to prove you’re a human as an end user, over typing in distorted text.

The new version simply offers a checkbox that says “I’m not a robot.” When you tick the box, Google performs a number of seamless checks using a “risk analysis engine” to determine if you’re human or not.

If the noCAPTCHA thinks you are a human, you’re done and there are no more steps; it’s really that easy. It feels like a heavensend to use, too, if you’re like me and fail at basically every CAPTCHA the first time.

If noCAPTCHA thinks you aren’t a human, you’ll be asked to fill in either a traditional CAPTCHA or a more advanced one, like picking the right image from a series of images. Google says this is much easier for mobile users, who can just tap on the option rather than squint at a tiny image.

cat captcha Meet Googles ambitious new CAPTCHA that makes it easier to prove youre human

I spoke with Vinay Shet, Product Manager for noCAPTCHA, about the technology behind the improved service, who told us that while the checkbox sounds simple, there’s really a “high degree of sophistication” going on behind the scenes.

The new risk analysis engine looks at user engagement before, during and after they click the checkbox to determine your humanity. Shet told us that the risk analysis engine “uses machine learning, that takes a number of strategies and learns what a normal user looks like so that the next time a new one comes along, we know what to look for.”

Google’s risk analysis engine technology isn’t entirely new; it touted the technology last year when it launched the new backend for noCAPTCHA, which laid the framework for this new version.

Shet was careful to tell us that not everyone will get to use the new noCAPTCHA experience, saying that a “fraction” of users will get to use it but a number will still see the traditional distorted text CAPTCHA as it learns user habits.

Developers that want to make the most of the new noCAPTCHA experience need to use a new API to implement it in to their products. Google says it’s just three lines of code which is easy to implement if you’re already using the older CAPTCHA service.

The new noCAPTCHA experience has been in testing for early adopters like Snapchat, WordPress and the Humble Bundle, with Google touting 60 percent of WordPress’ traffic seeing the new experience and 80 percent of Humble Bundle’s in just the last week.

➤ noCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA [Google]



Mozilla releases Firefox 34, marking switch to Yahoo as default search engine


Firefox 34 brings a number of major features, such as an improved search bar, better theme switching, Firefox’s experimental ‘Hello’ chat client and the rollout of Yahoo as the default search engine for North America.

When you update to the new version, Firefox will ask if you want to switch to Yahoo for your default search engine, however you can click ‘later’ to keep it as Google.

Screen Shot 2014 12 01 at 11.07.02 AM Mozilla releases Firefox 34, marking switch to Yahoo as default search engine

The improved search bar reduces the number of clicks to your search and makes it easier to search third party sites, like Wikipedia, Amazon and Twitter. Mozillashowed off the feature just last week.

DEMO one off search 1 Mozilla releases Firefox 34, marking switch to Yahoo as default search engine

Firefox for Android was also updated to version 34 today, bringing a new theme and the ability to mirror tabs to your Chromecast.

Firefox 34 Release Notes [Mozilla]


Say Farewell to Microsoft Clip Art

Users can still liven up reports and other files saved to a smartphone, tablet, or PC via Bing Image Search

Bing Photo Search

The days of inserting cartoonish images into PowerPoint presentations or Word documents are over: Microsoft has announced that its Clip Art and image library is closed.

Instead, users will have to use Bing Image Search to liven up reports and other files saved to a smartphone, tablet, or PC. Bing has a copyright filter that taps into Creative Commons licenses so you can make sure you are free to use the images that pop up.

“A link to the source of the image is provided, which you should use to review the source of the image and the applicable license to determine whether your use will comply with the license,” Doug Thomas of the Office 365 Team wrote in a blog post.

For more images, the settings can be switched to show all Web results. “However, you are responsible for respecting others’ rights, including copyright,” Thomas added.

Last summer, Redmond switched on Bing’s “Search by License” feature, which allows folks to identify those pictures they are allowed to borrow without fear of being sued. For instance, add some flourish to a birthday party invitation with designs of cakes by narrowing your search results to only those photos available for commercial use.

Previously, consumers had to rummage through image details to verify licensing information. Now Bing delivers only the type of images you want.

There are options to search for photos available for commercial use, or those that you can modify and still use commercially. If you become overwhelmed by the options, just click “Learn More” for details about each licensing filter.

The perk of searching for Bing-based images from any Office application isn’t exactly new: Microsoft added it last year to its latest version of Office 2013. Until this week, however, users still had access to Clip Art drawings.