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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

Get all your digital organization in one place with Routine

(TECH NEWS) Routine makes note-taking and task-creating a lot easier by merging all your common processes into one productivity tool.

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A desk with a laptop, notepad, smartphone, and cup of coffee settled into an organized routine.

Your inbox can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Without organization, important emails with tasks, notes, and meetings can become a trash pile pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a lot of tools that aim to help you improve your efficiency, and the latest to add to that list is Routine.

Routine is a productivity app that combines your tasks, notes, and calendar into one easy-to-use app so you can increase your performance. Instead of having to switch between different apps to jot down important information, create to-do lists, and glance at your calendar, Routine marries them all into one cool productivity tool. By simply using a keyboard shortcut, you can do all these things.

If you receive an email that contains an actionable item, you can convert that email into a task you can view later. Tasks are all saved in your inbox, and you can even schedule a task for a specific day. So, if Obi-Wan wants to have Jedi lessons on Thursday, you can schedule your Force task for that day. Likewise, chat messages that need follow-up can also be converted into tasks and be scheduled.

To enrich your tasks, notes can be attached to them. In your notes, you can also embed checkboxes, which are tasks of their own. And if you have tasks that aren’t coming from your inbox, you can import them from other services, such as Gmail, Notion, and Trello.

To make sure you can stay focused on the events and tasks at hand, Routine makes it easy to take everything in. By using the tool’s keyboard-controlled console, you can access your dashboard to quickly see what tasks need to be addressed, what’s on your calendar, and even join an upcoming Zoom session and take notes about the meeting.

Routine is available for macOS, iOS, web, and Google accounts only. Overall, the app centralizes notes and tasks by letting you create and view everything in one place, which helps make sure you stay on top of things. Currently, Routine is still in beta, but you can get on a waitlist to test the product out for yourself.

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Tech News

The paradox of CAPTCHAs: Too smart for humans vs AI?

(TECH NEWS) AI is catching up to our cybersecurity technology and often tricking humans too — so what’s next for CAPTCHAs and the internet?

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Person using phone with laptop to verify CAPTCHAs and code.

We’ve all encountered it before: The occasional robot test that feels impossible to beat. If you’ve felt like these tests, also known as CAPTCHAs, have gotten harder in the last couple of years, you aren’t wrong—and the reason is as ironic as it is baffling.

Simply put, AI are just as good as—and often better than—humans at completing CAPTCHAs in their classic format. As machine learning and AI become more advanced, the fundamental human attributes that make consistent CAPTCHA formats possible become less impactful, raising the question of how to determine the difference between AI and humans in the future.

The biggest barrier to universal CAPTCHA doctrine is purely cultural. Humans may share experiences across the board, but such experiences are typically basic enough to fall victim to the same machine learning which has rendered lower-level CAPTCHAs moot. Adding a cultural component to CAPTCHAs could prevent AI from bypassing them, but it also might prevent some humans from understanding the objective.

Therein lies the root of the CAPTCHA paradox. Humans are far more diverse than any one test can possibly account for, and what they do have in common is also shared by—you guessed it—AI. To create a truly AI-proof test would be to alienate a notable portion of human users by virtue of lived experience. The irony is palpable, but one can only imagine the sheer frustration developers are going through in attempting to address this problem.

But all isn’t lost. While litmus tests such as determining the number of traffic cones in a plaza or checking off squares with bicycles (but not unicycles, you fool) may be beatable by machines, some experts posit that “human entropy” is almost impossible to mimic—and, thus, a viable solution to the CAPTCHA paradox.

“A real human being doesn’t have very good control over their own motor functions, and so they can’t move the mouse the same way more than once over multiple interactions,” says Shuman Ghosemajumder, a former click fraud expert from Google. While AI could attempt to feign this same level of “entropy”, the odds of a successful attempt appear low.

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Tech News

Move over, Clubhouse: Slack adds their own audio chat rooms

(TECH NEWS) Slack planning to co-opt Clubhouse’s synchronous audio rooms has lead to mixed response. Did it really need to be done?

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Woman in green cardigan and headphones listening to audio chat room on mobile, where Slack becomes a competitor.

Slack is adding a synchronous audio chat room feature similar to what Clubhouse already has. While not everyone is happy about it, the addition is true to Slack’s ongoing form—if a little redundant.

Slack’s audio rooms would work similarly to Clubhouse’s current feature of the same persuasion. The rooms themselves would be ongoing for as long as they were open, and users would be able to drop in and out of calls at their leisure, even joining the conversation when permitted by the host or settings. In theory, it’s a cool way to round out Slack’s platform and make for yet another way for people to engage during the work day.

But not everyone is stoked about the addition. Pocketnow’s Nadeem Sarwar makes a strong point about the redundancy of adding a Clubhouse feature to the already-packed Slack deck: “…from a regular remote worker’s perspective, I’d rather use services such as Telegram, Discord, or Google Meet that we’ve grown accustomed to using for jumping into a group call with my teammates.”
“…[T]he need for audio chatrooms to get in a chaotic chat with colleagues, with whom you already chat over work and share memes five days a week, doesn’t make much sense,” he adds.

Sarwar also references research about remote meeting fatigue from Stanford and The Washington Post, positing that—since video conferences are already played out at this point—adding another quasi-conference option to Slack doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

He isn’t wrong. There are multitudinous conference options on the market now, many of which are free. One could argue that Slack, having marketed itself as a text-first communication hub, has no business entering the audio chat landscape.

That argument falls on its face when you consider Slack’s model—something both Sawar and the Slack CEO himself mention—involves “stealing” and implementing “good ideas” from others in order to make their own platform as comprehensive as possible. If one is able to use Slack for the majority of tasks that Google, Discord, and Clubhouse offer, that makes the platform a lot more attractive to users who are on the fence.

And, perhaps more importantly, it ensures that current users won’t migrate to a comparable platform in the future—especially if their colleagues are making the same choice.

It’s a smart move for Slack, especially given Clubhouse’s lack of Android support at this time—something Clubhouse has said probably still won’t launch for a couple of months.

The Clubhouse team, for their part, continues to add new features in efforts to maintain the platform’s upward mobility. One such feature is the option for paid subscriptions to content creators, allowing for people to monetize their presence on the platform. At the time of this writing, Clubhouse is valued at around $1 billion.

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