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Google maps is making you safer by offering a new feature

(TECH NEWS) Google Maps has added a feature that is sure to keep you safer when using Maps.

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Hope for the perpetually lost

Good news for people (like me) who seem to be perpetually lost, and cannot locate familiar faces, let alone strangers, in busy places!

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Google Maps is adding a feature that will soon let you share your real-time location with other pre-authorized users. It will be available worldwide on both Android and iOS.

No more awkward landmarks

The era of standing below the clock tower, or next to the Taco stand or awkwardly sitting on a park bench are finally over!

No more yelling, craning necks, whistling or yodeling at concerts and conferences.

Google Maps simply shares a link of your current location map via your chosen messaging app with your chosen recipient, who can monitor it on their phones or even desktop and mobile web browsers.

Blue dot pick up spot

Just tap the blue dot on the Google Maps screen (indicating your current position) and choose “share location”, and choose your recipient. It is that simple!

Your rendezvous is wherever the two approaching blue dots meet!

The turn-by-turn navigation screen also allows location sharing, but availing that option would mean that when both users reach their chosen destination, the sharing would end by default.

Pick your share time

The time of sharing is limited, for now. Interval ranges from 15 minutes to 3 days, which is quite agreeable.

You should not really need more than 3 days to track someone else’s whereabouts.

It gets a little creepy after that, even when it is beloved family members.

Too much sharing

An especially useful feature for forgetful people (again, like me) is an icon that appears on the Maps screen, clearly indicating and reminding users that real-time sharing is active.

In addition, Google, says, it will send reminders to users both in the app and via email, if real-time sharing is active.

You can always turn off real-time location sharing at any point you want—including before the original set timer runs out.

Where there’s a will

Location sharing is a sensitive topic, with serious legal implications, especially amongst privacy advocates.

Google pointed out in an interview to TechCrunch, “Anyone with bad intentions can find many other apps and means out there.”

Their effort “is about making things simple, accessible and giving people that access to transparency”, Google said.

Reminders galore

This is true. Although real-time location sharing is a new feature on Google Maps, the product itself is quite similar to Google Latitude and the features of its Location Alerts Feature.

Similar features also exist in the Waze app, which Google owns.

Within a month, Google has added many new features into its Maps, like useful parking spot reminders, or sharing favorite local spots, and even linking options to ride-hailing services.

Google Maps revamp

Google Maps has actually become a key contributor to Google’s advertising.

Analysts of the industry contend that this heightened effort of revamping the Maps comes as a direct response to Apple’s recent improvements of its own Maps.Click To Tweet
The competition is firing up, and customers are surely to win in the process!

No more location lying

But the tardy amongst us, BEWARE! If you are running late for Sunday brunch, and sharing your location, but tell your friends over phone “I’m looking for parking as we speak”, you better not be brushing your teeth in your pajamas.
Those days are well over. And it’s a good thing.

#BlueDotMarksTheSpot

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

Tech News

New Apple Watch is awesome, but past watches could be just as good for cheaper

(TECH NEWS) The Apple Watch Series 6 is a ridiculous display of self-flattery—but that doesn’t mean people won’t line up to buy it in droves.

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Apple Watch being worn on wrist showing weather for Montreal.

The Apple Watch has been the subject of everything from speculation to ridicule during its relatively short tenure on this planet. While most have nothing but praise for the most recent iteration, that praise comes at a cost: The Apple Watch’s ghost of Christmas past.

Or, to put it more literally, the fact that the Apple Watch’s prior version and accompanying variations are too good—and, at this point, too comparatively cheap—to warrant buying the most recent (and expensive) option.

Sure, the Apple Watch Series 6 has a bevy of health features—a sensor that can take an ECG and a blood oxygen test, to name a couple—but the Series 5 has almost everything else that makes the Apple Watch Series 6 “notable.” According to Gear Patrol, even the Series 4 is comparable if you don’t mind forgoing the option to have the Apple Watch’s screen on all of the time.

More pressingly, Gear Patrol points out, is the availability of discount options from Apple. The Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch SE are, at this point, budget options that still do the job for smart watch enthusiasts.

Not to mention any Apple Watch can run updates can utilize Apple’s Fitness Plus subscription—another selling point that, despite its lucrative potential, doesn’t justify buying a $400 watch when a cheaper option is present.

It’s worth noting that Apple is no stranger to outdoing themselves retroactively. Every year, Apple’s “new” MacBook, iPhone, and iPad models are subjected to extensive benchmarking by every tech goatee around. And the conclusion is usually that buying a generation or two behind is fine—and, from a financial perspective, smart.

And yet, as the holidays roll around or the initial drop date of a new product arrives, Apple invariably goes through inventory like a tabby cat through unattended butter.

The Apple Watch is already a parody of itself, yet its immense popularity and subtle innovation has promoted it through several generations and a few spin-off iterations. And that’s not even including the massive Apple-specific watch band market that appears to have popped up as a result.

Say what you will about the Series 6; when the chips are on the table, my money’s on the consumers making the same decisions they always make.

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Tech News

Microsoft acquires powerful AI language processor GPT-3, to what end?

(TECH NEWS) This powerful AI language processor sounds surprisingly human, and Microsoft has acquired rights to the code. How much should we worry?

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Code on screen, powering AI technology

The newly-released GPT-3 is the most insane language model in the NLP (natural language processor) field of machine learning. Developed by OpenAI, GPT-3 can generate strikingly human-like text for a vast range of purposes like bots and advertising, to poetry and creative writing.

While GPT-3 is accessible to everyone, OpenAI has expressed concerns over using this AI tech for insidious purposes. For this reason, Microsoft’s new exclusive license on the GPT-3 language model may be a tad worrisome.

First of all, for those unfamiliar with the NPL field, software engineer, and Youtuber, Aaron Jack, provides a detailed overview of GPT-3’s capabilities and why everyone should be paying attention.

Microsoft’s deal with OpenAI should come as little surprise since OpenAI uses the Azure cloud platform to access enough information to train their models.

Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott announced the deal on the company blog this week: “We see this as an incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology, enables new products, services and experiences, and increases the positive impact of AI at Scale,” said Scott.

“Our mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, so we want to make sure that this AI platform is available to everyone – researchers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, businesses – to empower their ambitions to create something new and interesting.”

OpenAI has assured that Microsoft’s exclusive license does not affect the general public’s access to the GPT-3 model. The difference is Microsoft will be able to use the source code to combine with their products.

While OpenAI needs Azure to train these models, handing over the source code to another party is, to put it mildly, tricky. With the earlier GPT-2 model, OpenAI initially refused publishing the research out of fear it could be used to generate fake news and propaganda.

Though the company found there was no evidence to suggest the GPT-2 was utilized this way and later released the information, handing the key of the exponentially more powerful iteration to one company will undoubtedly hold ramifications in the tech world.

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Tech News

What is UI/UX? Take a little time to learn for free!

(TECH NEWS) For the all-time low price of—well, free—Invise gives you the option of learning a few basic UI and UX design techniques.

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Woman browsing web, made easy with UI/UX

There’s no denying the strong impact UI and UX design has on the success of a website, app, or service—and, thanks to some timely altruism, you can add basic design understanding to your résumé for free.

Invise is a self-described beginner’s guide to the UI/UX field, and while they do not purport to deliver expert knowledge or “paid courses”, the introduction overview alone is pretty hefty.

The best part—aside from the “free” aspect—is how simple it is to get a copy of the guide: You enter your email address on the Invise website, click the appropriate button, and the guide is yours after a quick email verification.

According to Invise, their beginner’s guide to UI and UX covers everything from color theory and typography to layout, research principles, and prototyping. They even include a segment on tools and resources to use for optimal UI/UX work so that you don’t have to take any risks on dicey software.

UI—short for “user interface”—and UX, or “user experience”, are two critical design aspects found in everything from websites to app and video game menus. As anyone who has ever picked up an outdated smartphone knows, a janky presentation of options or—worse yet—a lack of intuitive menus can break a user’s experience far faster than slow hardware.

Similarly, if you’re looking to retain customers who visit your website or blog, presenting their options to them in a jarring or unfamiliar way—or selecting colors that clash for your landing page—can be just as fatal as not having a website to begin with.

The overarching problem, then, becomes one of cost. Hiring a design expert is expensive and can be time-consuming, so Invise is a welcome alternative—and, as a bonus, you don’t have to dictate your company’s vision to a stranger and hope that they “get it” if you’re doing your own design work.

2020 probably isn’t the year to break the bank on design choices, but the importance of UI and UX in your business can’t be overstated. If you have time to read up on some design basics and a small budget for a few of the bare-bones tools, you can take a relatively educated shot at putting together a modern, desirable interface.

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