Google has rolled out speed limits to Google Maps, two years after the long-awaited feature started testing in San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The speed limit feature will show the maximum speed for the road that drivers are traversing in the lower left side of the app. Google Maps will also now display the locations of speed traps through small camera icons, and the app will reportedly play an audio warning to alert drivers that a speed trap is approaching.
Users have been allowed to report the location of speed trap cameras in Google Maps since late last year, through the report button that shows up with a “+” sign at the bottom left of the app’s main screen. The app is now making the data visible to users in several countries.
Speed limits are being added for the United States, United Kingdom, and Denmark. Meanwhile, speed camera locations are appearing for the U.S., U.K., Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Russia.
It appears that the new features are coming to Google Maps through server-side changes. The app itself does not need an update in order for users to start seeing the speed limits and speed trap locations.
Google Maps users have been requesting the features for a while, especially as crowdsourcing navigation app Waze provided such information. The features were already available on Waze when Google acquired it for about $1 billion in 2013.
It makes sense for Google to keep the two services different, as Google Maps caters more to users exploring areas on foot, while Waze is geared towards drivers. However, that does not mean that Google Maps will not add what are now considered essential features for drivers. It took a while — over five years — but the Waze feature is now being added to Google Maps.
There has been a wave of updates for Google Maps recently, including new features dedicated to making commutes easier. Google Maps also recently started informing users of any special offers and upcoming events on places that they follow in the app. Users can now also add hashtags to the reviews that they make on the app.
Facebook Events are coming to Stories. On Monday, January 14, Facebook launched a test for a new share button allowing users to share an Event inside Stories. Facebook says the feature allows users to share in order to find friends interested in joining them at the event. The feature is currently being tested in the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil.
On an event page, the share button now includes a “Share To Your Story” option for users who are part of the test. Shared events include a sticker that friends can tap on to find the event details. From the Story, friends can also respond Interested or Going, or click to view the event’s official page.
After sharing, users can then see the friends who responded. Facebook suggests users can then start a group message to make plans to attend the event together, using a shortcut circle by the names of those who responded.
“Facebook Events help people take their online connections offline,” said Facebook Events Product Manager Andrew Valko. “We’re testing new stories features to help people build excitement and rally friends before an event even starts.”
Some Facebook users already casually share posts to the news feed asking friends to attend a concert or event. The potential feature could serve as a shortcut for gauging interest in attending an event as a group, with a shortcut to start a chat with interested friends.
“I was going to a food pop-up in New York, and I posted about it on my Facebook Stories. A friend that I wasn’t too close to hit me up and wanted to come along. We had a great time and ended up being good friends after that. I don’t think we would have hung out if I didn’t post to Stories,” said Facebook user and marketing professional Oliver Luke.
Before the test launched, the share button on Event pages allowed users to share in the news feed or send in Messenger. Facebook has been focused on updating the Stories format since its launch. Recent updates to Facebook Stories include music stickers, archiving, and Group Stories inside the slideshow-like format that’s now widespread across multiple social media networks after being originated by Snapchat.
Instagram is constantly bringing new features to its service, and the latest one will benefit people who operate more than one account.
The so-called “self-regram” feature is available now for iOS users, though there’s no word on if or when it’ll land for those with an Android device.
If you have more than one Instagram account and are logged into two or more of them, you’ll see the option to post to multiple accounts on the final page of the process when you go to publish a picture.
Just look down the screen and you’ll see Post to other accounts, with your accounts showing below it. Then it’s simply a case of tapping the buttons of the accounts to which you want to post the photo or video.
The feature will save a little bit of time for those who operate more than one account and sometimes post to two or more of them. Though the truth is, there’s usually a reason someone has more than one account — because the content posted to them is different. It could be someone with a personal account and a business account, or two personal accounts that each focus on very different types of content. In that case, we’re not sure how useful the feature will be for most people.
To be clear, this isn’t the “regram” function that some users would love to have, where you’d be able to reshare others’ posts, à la the Twitter retweet. Despite reports toward the end of last year suggesting that Instagram was working on such a feature, the company has since insisted it currently has no plans to add such reposting functionality to the app.
Before quitting the company in September 2018, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said in an interview that he and his team debated the idea of a regram button a lot. But he also said that “keeping your feed focused on the people you know rather than the people you know finding other stuff for you to see” was central to how Instagram worked, adding that this is “more of a testament of our focus on authenticity and on the connections you actually have than about anything else.”
If you’re really keen to regram some of the content that lands on your Instagram feed, there are a couple of workarounds that you might want to try.
Nike’s been teasing a new evolution in basketball sneakers for a while, but now the world’s largest shoe maker has unveiled ‘the future of the game’ with Nike Adapt BB – high-tech shoes which are not only self-lacing and app-controlled, but will also automatically adjust to the foot.
“We picked basketball as the first sport for Nike Adapt intentionally because of the demands that athletes put on their shoes,” says Eric Avar, Nike VP Creative Director of Innovation in the company’s announcement.
He continued, “During a normal basketball game the athlete’s foot changes and the ability to quickly change your fit by loosening your shoe to increase blood flow and then tighten again for performance is a key element that we believe will improve the athlete’s experience.”
According to Nike, the Adapt BB uses a custom motor and tension-sensing gears to automatically adjust the snugness of each sneaker on a player’s feet.
Using the Nike Adapt app, players can also manually input different settings and tensile strength, with the laces capable of pulling 32 pounds of force, which Nike says is roughly equivalent to “that of a standard parachute cord”.
Nike’s FitAdapt technology will also be receiving regular firmware updates which players can opt into, making Adapt BB the company’s “first continually updated performance product” with a precision fit that will get better over time.
In keeping with the high-tech nature of the shoes, Nike Adapt BB will ship with a Qi wireless charging mat (pictured above) in the box, and wearers will also have full control of the LED lights in the shoes’ soles, allowing them to change lighting colors on the fly.
Nike Adapt BB will be available from Nike’s online store from 10AM (EST) on February 17 and will be priced at $350 (around £272 / AU$486).
Google Maps is making getting around without a car even easier. The latest update is an integration with Lime, a bike- and scooter-sharing platform found in many cities in the United States and around the world (and constantly growing).
In 13 cities around the world, you’ll now be able to get a route via a Lime scooter or bike, in addition to the traditional options — walking, driving, or public transportation. If you live in Auckland, Austin, Baltimore, Brisbane, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Antonio, San Jose, Scottsdale, or Seattle, you may have already seen the option go live.
As part of the integration, you’ll not only be routed to the nearest Lime docking station, but also given scooter- and bike-friendly directions to your final destination. Like all Google Map routing options, it’ll give you an estimated time of your trip and, similar to Google Map integrations with Uber and Lyft, it’ll also calculated an estimated cost of your trip using Lime (in the States, Lime rides cost $1 to unlock, and 15 cents per minute of your rental).
The new mode covers what many are calling a “light individual transport” option — meaning that it is something in between walking and driving; with more options that fit this “light individual transport” profile, it’ll be possible to not only reduce traffic congestion in major cities, but also reduce vehicle carbon emissions.
Though the integration with Google is only in 13 cities (for now), Lime is found in 125 cities and campuses — and always growing, with the intention of providing people with a cleaner option for our planet. As the company states, “Lime is revolutionizing mobility in cities and campuses by empowering residents with a greener, more efficient, and affordable transportation option that also improves urban sustainability.”
And for their part, Google is joining their mission — and is hoping to have more Lime cities added soon.
Most people will agree that phone conversations are more awkward than face-to-face chats, since you can’t gauge the other person’s mood by seeing their facial expressions. This is a constant challenge for the blind, which is why Huawei has developed the “face-reading” Facing Emotions app.
Created in partnership with the Polish Blind Association, the Android app is designed specifically for use on Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro smartphone.
As the blind user speaks to another person, the phone’s rear cameras scan that person’s face. Utilizing artificial intelligence-based algorithms, the app pays particular attention to features such as the eyes, nose, eyebrows and mouth, and their positions relative to one another.
Based on this data, the program is reportedly able to discern seven basic emotions. It proceeds to let the user know which of these the other person is displaying, representing that emotion as one of seven corresponding musical cues. These short tunes were created by blind composer Tomasz Bilecki, with blind test subjects claiming that they are easy to remember and understand — they can be heard either through the phone’s speakers, or (more discretely) via an attached earbud.
The Facing Emotions app, which works entirely offline, can be downloaded via the Google Play store. A 3D-printed lanyard-style phone holder was also designed for use with the app, the files for which can be downloaded from Shapeways.
Samsung may be just days away from taking the wraps off its very own foldable smartphone-tablet hybrid, but consumer electronics company Royole has stolen a bit of its thunder with its very own flexible display device. Called the FlexPai, the 7.8-inch hybrid device can fold 180 degrees and transform from a tablet into a phone, albeit a bulky one.
At an event in San Francisco this evening, Royole brought out a working version of the FlexPai that we actually got to hold, and the folding feature works as advertised. Granted, it feels miles away in quality from a high-end modern flagship, but it is still the first real foldable device I’ve seen in person, and not just in a concept video or prototype stage.
The FlexPai will be available as a consumer device in China with a base model price of 8,999 yuan, or around $1,300. You can also pay that amount of money in USD for a developer version if you live in North America. That gets you 128GB of storage, but you can double it for an additional $150 and add an additional 2GB of RAM for a total of 8GB.
As for the other specs, the device is going to come with a 2.8Ghz, eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the display resolution is 1920 x 1440 when fully expanded, and it comes with a 3,800 mAh battery. Both the consumer model and the developer version are up for preorder on Royole’s website right now. Royole says the Chinese consumer model and the developer version are slated to ship in December.
It should be said that this device is very much a first-generation product. The software seemed extremely sluggish, apps continuously opened accidentally, and the orientation kept changing randomly when one of the Royole representatives was demonstrating the folding process. That, to me, indicates that the company’s custom Water OS (a fork of Android 9.0, Royole says) is probably not the most robust operating system just yet.
Still, this is much more about the hardware innovation of making a virtually unbreakable AMOLED display, with a reasonable enough battery that can sustain the folding process. Royole says the screen can withstand being folded 200,000 times. (What happens after that was not made immediately clear.) We don’t know how it will stack up against Samsung’s version, or whatever competing display makers like LG are working on. But it certainly bodes well for the imminent foldable / flexible display trend that we’re already seeing working devices like this hit the market.
While most of us are perfectly happy with our smartphones, some prefer something a little more compact and pocketable. For those people, Japanese company Kyocera has come up with a device that it’s billing as the “thinnest smartphone in the world.” It’s called the KY-O1L, and it’s built specifically to fit inside a business card holder. For that, the phone has been given the nickname of the “card phone.”
The phone itself comes in at 5.3mm thick and weighs a measly 47g, making it also one of the lightest devices around. On top of that, it boasts LTE connectivity and a 2.8-inch monochrome epaper display. Powering it all is a 380mAh battery, which should be more than enough for a phone with an epaper display.
Of course, there is some debate about whether or not this is really the thinnest phone out there. As The Verge notes, the 2016 Moto Z came in at only 5.2mm — though that excludes the camera bump. Before that, there was the Oppo R5, which came in at a tiny 4.9mm thick. That said, none of those phones offer the same adorable basic-ness as the KY-O1L.
Whether it is truly the thinnest phone or just one of them, it’s still an interesting device. The user interface offers everything a basic phone needs, though there is no app marketplace and as such, this is perhaps only a good choice for those that need something to make calls and text people, with the occasional news reading online. There’s also no camera so don’t expect to get any shots with this device.
The Kyocera KY-O1L comes at 32,000 yen, which equates to around $300. It’s also only available in Japan so don’t expect to get your hands on the phone anytime soon if you don’t live there. Even in Japan, it’s only available on the country’s NTT Docomo carrier.
Smaller phones may be a growing trend. Just recently Palm took the wraps off of a new smartphone that’s specifically aimed at reducing people’s addiction to their phones. It syncs to your primary phone, so you’ll get all your notifications and calls.