Google Maps’ Satellite view is a lie — and it was almost called ‘Bird Mode’

Google Maps’ Satellite view is a lie — and it was almost called ‘Bird Mode’

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There’s more evidence that just ignoring your eccentric boss’ bad ideas is the best way to deal with them.

The co-creator of Google Maps and current Salesforce president Bret Taylor decided that Feb. 23, 2019 was a perfectly good time to blow all our damn minds.

On Saturday morning, Taylor dropped what he innocently described as a “silly Google Maps origin story” in a Twitter thread. It included the tale of how one popular feature was almost called… Bird Mode?!

Here’s a silly Google Maps origin story about how “Satellite” was almost named “Bird Mode” pic.twitter.com/wj7CRJUEyx

— Bret Taylor (@btaylor) February 23, 2019 Read more…

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Out of traffic, into a ditch: Why Waze on snowy mountain roads could be a bad idea

Out of traffic, into a ditch: Why Waze on snowy mountain roads could be a bad idea

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Rachael got out of her car, crying as she walked through a foot and a half of snow, looking for a paved road that could take her out of the mountains. 

Instead, she found herself staring into the face of a horse wearing a blanket. 

How did Rachael — in a car with four-wheel drive in an extremely popular tourist destination — find herself stuck on an unpaved road in the snow? Apple Maps. 

Recently, transportation officials and highway patrolmen who manage snowy, mountain roads have a new problem to manage, beyond the usual slick roads: the tendency of real-time navigation apps like Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps to send drivers onto potentially unsafe roads in an effort to find shortcuts or avoid traffic. It got so bad California Highway Patrol was forced to put up a sign.  Read more…

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Google Maps takes on opioid crisis with drug disposal search

Google Maps takes on opioid crisis with drug disposal search

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In response to the opioid epidemic, Google Maps is adding a search feature meant to help people get rid of unwanted drugs.

Starting Thursday in a seven-state pilot, the navigation app will pull up drug stores and other sites that will dispose of drugs. You can type in “drug drop off” or “medication disposal” and nearby results from 3,500 nationwide locations will come up. 

The goal is to give people a safe way to get rid of drugs — and keep them out of reach of people who might become addicted to them. Google said 53 percent of prescription drug abuse situations start with drugs from family and friends. Read more…

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What it’s like to walk with Google Maps in augmented reality

What it’s like to walk with Google Maps in augmented reality

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I’m walking down San Francisco’s Market Street toward a coffee shop using Google Maps when giant arrows pop up on my phone.

I’m supposed to turn right on Front Street. The directions are hard to miss in the new Google Maps augmented reality mode. The large animated arrows make it clear with a glance which direction I should head. It looks something like this:

Animations show you where to go.

Image: google

The feature came out Monday for select “local guides” who add new locations, rate businesses, take photos, and more for Google Maps. It’ll be on more guides’ phones in the coming days, although regular users shouldn’t expect it soon. For now, it’s being tested for feedback, and the look and feel of the feature is expected to change. It’s also strictly for walking directions — not for driving. Read more…

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NYPD to Google: Quit tracking drunk-driving checkpoints on Waze

NYPD to Google: Quit tracking drunk-driving checkpoints on Waze

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The New York Police Department would like Google to stop tracking its Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) checkpoint locations.

Over the weekend, the NYPD sent a cease-and-desist letter to Google over a feature in its Waze app that marks police locations. According to the document obtained by NYC Streetsblogs, the NYPD is specifically concerned about the listing of police DWI checkpoints.

“Individuals who post the locations of DWI checkpoints may be engaging in criminal conduct since such actions could be intentional attempts to prevent and/or impair the administration of the DWI laws,” says the letter. “The posting of such information for public consumption is irresponsible since it only serves to aid impaired and intoxicated drivers to evade checkpoints and encourage reckless driving.” Read more…

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Apple has blocked Google from running internal iOS apps after certificate misuse

Apple has blocked Google from running internal iOS apps after certificate misuse

Apple has blocked Google from distributing its internal-only iOS apps on its corporate network after a TechCrunch investigation found the search giant abusing the certificates. “We’re working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps, which we expect will be resolved soon,” said a Google spokesperson. A spokesperson for Apple […]…

Google Maps wants to help you avoid that speeding ticket

Google Maps wants to help you avoid that speeding ticket

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Drivers will soon have an extra set of eyes on the road, courtesy of Google.

Google’s navigation app, Google Maps, is starting to roll out speed limit and speed trap features, according to AndroidPolice.com. 

A screenshot showing the speed limits feature within Google Maps.

A screenshot showing the speed limits feature within Google Maps.

With the speed limit feature, drivers using Google Maps will be shown the post speed limit of the road they’re driving on in the lower left side of the app. Speed traps are designated with a small camera icon and shown on the visible area of the map. AndroidPolice’s source also reports that Google Maps provides an audio warning for drivers when they are approaching a speed trap. Read more…

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Lenovo’s Smart Alarm Clock asks you to wake up with Google

Lenovo’s Smart Alarm Clock asks you to wake up with Google

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Google and Lenovo have once again teamed up to bring Google Assistant deeper into your life.

This time, it’s a $79 Smart Alarm Clock, a small Google Assistant-enabled clock with a touchscreen display optimized for bedside tables. It’s launching this spring. 

Though the form factor is similar to Lenovo’s larger Smart Display, Google is billing the alarm clock as the first of a new category of devices: smart clocks.  That may sound like splitting hairs — larger displays also show the time, after all — but there are some meaningful differences that make the device worth paying attention to. 

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Google Maps adds yet another feature: Google Assistant

Google Maps adds yet another feature: Google Assistant

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Google Assistant is coming to Google Maps.

Yep, after adding music streaming, restaurant planning, e-scooter renting, and more to its mobile maps app, Google announced Tuesday at CES in Las Vegas that its digital assistant is joining the party. 

Google Assistant is expected to be on 1 billion devices by the end of January. Amazon’s Alexa, meanwhile, is reportedly on more than 100 million devices. 

So, why add the voice-controlled assistant to Google Maps? Well, Google envisions users asking it for directions home, or to nearby restaurants and saved locations. You can ask the assistant to search for places along your route (like gas stations) or add a stop — all things that used to require some button pushing. Read more…

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