Google Quietly Adds Features to Popular “Maps” App

Google has added new functionality to its Maps app, it now displays an icon when there is a traffic light at an intersection. This is available only for some US cities.

Without fanfare Google Maps added a highly requested feature last month; users can now see intersections that have traffic lights. Though the feature is only available for some US cities.

According to Google the change was mode “to help people stay better informed on the road.” The icons appear at intersections inside the app on some US cities. The feature is present on both iOS and Android platforms.

This came along with a color mapping algorithm that helps users see different terrain types like beaches and forest. The updated also included better coloration of sidewalks and pedestrian islands.

Google stated that the traffic light/intersection view had been available in Japan for years and was a top requested feature in the United States for some time.

Google started testing the feature earlier this year in a few US cities.

 

 

Will Apple Finally Use its Own Processors in All Products? If So, What Does That Mean?

Apple may soon announce what has long been rumor—switching from Intel processors in their Mac computers, iMacs and Macbooks, to their own Apple chip sets, which are already used in iPhones and iPads. This could happen as soon as 2021. Analysists say despite a transition period the end result would be beneficial not only to the company but its product users.

Some analysists believe that single product lines will switch over at a time instead of their entire stable of computers all at once.

Whatever devices end up with Apple’s own CPU chips users can expect better battery life and thinner, less heavy devices. This is made possible because the chips were specifically designed to be used in smartphones which already required good battery life and sleeker designs. Additionally, this might even mean the end of fans in a Mac computer.

Another huge benefit would be an even more standardized experience between tablets, phones and computers from the Apple lineup—a huge selling feature already built into their products. This then would allow app developers to create a more standard user experience across devices.

And even though Apple has made no mention of it, this could open up the possibility that Mac computers be equipped with cellular connectivity.
Apple may also be able to offer lower prices or promise performance upgrades with each generation of device since it wouldn’t be reliant on Intel to improve performance.

Coronavirus Contact Tracing

So now we are in the middle of this pandemic. In the face of this, Google and Apple has joined forces to supply contact tracing. They will be releasing software to automatically and autonomously log all the people you have been in contact with. It uses Bluetooth to collect (encrypted) codes but it doesn’t know the identity of the person. The codes stay on your phone while you remain anonymous.

Apps can be built on the API they make that can do what needs to be done with the codes but you will have to give permissions. Contact tracing is used to try to keep coronavirus at bay. This will help find those who are positive stay quarantined during their contagious period and find those they have contacted before they were symptomatic.

Having Apple and Google on this, will ensure their respective OS systems can be ready for this. They have only built a way to collect and make alerts. It is up to healthcare/governments to build the app to handle the information.

Google Lens

Google Lens seems to be a item to have. It is available through other Google apps, such as Google Assistant, Google Photos, some camera apps, Android devices, in Google Photos on iOS and in the Google app on iOS. The apps it is on will show it as four rounded corners with a dot in the middle. So let’s see exactly what it does.

Say you are out taking a walk and see a plant you and you dont know what it is. If you take a picture of it, it will find it and bring up web results so you can see it. Same with animals. On iOS, if I open the Google app, click on the lens icon in the search bar, I can see it has accessed my camera (I had given previous permissions) and some dots appear. If I click on one of the dots, it will find the item I have clicked on.

If you hover over text that is in another language, you can touch the Google Translate button and it will translate to English for you.

https://lens.google.com/https://lens.google.com/

Stuck at Home With Some Bored Kids?

Here is something they can try for free. Microsoft is offering free tutorials and also streaming live tutorials daily on their MakeCode site. There are several to choose from for learning computing.

Current offerings:
micro:bit
Circuit Playground Express
Minecraft
LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3
Cue
Arcate
Chibi Chip

For Windows 10 computer owners, they also have apps for micro:bit, Adafruit, and Cue by Wonder Workshop.

For some of the courses you may need some peripheral products. The micro:bit computer can run about $20. The circuit for Adafruit Circuit Playground Express runs about $25.

Find out more: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/makecode
Adafruit Circuit: https://www.adafruit.com/product/3333
micro:bit computer: https://store.birdbraintechnologies.com/collections/featured-items/products/micro-bit

Some New Changes from Microsoft We Came Across

Technology is all about change. Thinkgs are in constant state of flux as you have to get used to changes as they come around.

One change we have recently found was that Microsoft will start flagging double spaces after periods. The new norm is one space after sentences. Back in the day of typewriters, we were always taught to make 2 spaces after a sentence. In the world of web development, when you try to put in two spaces, it will ignore one of them in most cases unless you use an editor, then it might force the second space in with code.

If you run a search about using one or two spaces, you will see there is a lot of controversy about this subject. Most of the ones against 2 spaces say only old people (over 40) use 2 spaces. Then people cite older versions of APA guides that say to use 2.

Another change we came across was kind of weird. We had recently updated a PC’s software and then every time we do a restart, it opens up MS Publisher. I looked in the startup programs and it wasn’t there. It must be I had MS Publisher open when I started the update. It turns out that a new setting can cause this. To fix this, go to Settings >> Accounts >> Sign-in options >> Privacy – toggle off “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting up my device and reopen my apps after an update or restart.”

Another Type of Smart Glasses

We’ve told you about Google Glass, Vaunt Smart Glasses, and Amazon Echoframes. There are new smart eyeglasses out from Bosch. What is different about these glasses, is they use tiny lasers to beam images directly onto your eyeballs. You will need to be custom fit for them to make sure they hit your retina in the correct place.

They have a way to integrate with your corrective glasses. It is the smallest most lightweight product that can turn any set of glasses into smart glasses. A smart phone can be paired to it but you should not have to look at the smartphone to see what you want.

Meet a New Personal Robot

There’s a new personal robot ready to help you. It’s called Ballie and is made by Samsung. It was introduced at CES2020.

It is a small rolling robot that reacts to your needs. In the video, you can see some of the capabilities. From waking up and opening your drapes, helping you with your exercises, your pets, connecting its camera through an app, turning on the TV for your pet, knowing to clean the floor with the vacuum.

Spy Games

A game show in similar format to Big Brother, Bravo has a new show called Spy Games. The people live together in a house and are given secret dossiers and some notes to try to figure out who each of the secrets is about. There are also alliances set up just like Big Brother.

The contestants are given tasks to do, some physical, some technological, and some mental. Some of their tasks are things like infiltrating a black tie gala (after surviving a trek through the woods), lock-picking out of a room, break into a spy house and downloading secrets while being sabotaged. One person’s dossier is stolen.

Some of the secrets they have to figure out are things like – who is called Dr. Death, who is accused of racketeering, who lived in Qatar, just to name a few. If you are interested, you can catch this on Monday nights at 10:00pm on the Bravo network.

Amazon Sidewalk

The Victor crew recently heard of Amazon Sidewalk and wonder what this is about. Let’s find out.

Most homes have devices using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It may be to steam music, use a home camera system, maybe your appliances hook up to an app. Depending on your home systems, you might be maxing out or using all your available connections.

Amazon sidewalk wants to extend the range of low-bandwidth, low-power devices. Their new protocol hopes to increase the connection range. This will enable you to use smart devices anywhere on your property where Wi-Fi and Bluetooth usually can’t reach. They are utilizing a 900 MHz spectrum to help devices communicate. The 900 Hz spectrum has been around for a long time. It is the same used for cordless telephones which some of you may still have at home.

More practical applications would include getting notified when the mail is delivered, when to water your lawn through sensors, or even extending Amazon Fetch – a small device you can put on your pet’s collar and limit your pet to your yard using Ring.

Learn more

Need More Alexa?

Then consider Echo Loop. Echo Loop is a smart ring is a way to answer your calls quickly, set reminders, get answers quickly. It’s kind of like a wearable PDA. The battery lasts all day and it is water- and scratch-resistant.

The Echo Loop comes in four sizes, small, medium, large, and x-large. You can order the free kit that contains the sizer rings so you can try them on wear them on for a while to make sure of the fit. Once you know the size you can ask for an invitation to order the ring at a discounted price as a Day1 Edition. The price is $129.99. After the introductory period, the ring will be sold for $129.99.

Learn more.

Amazon echoframes

By invitation only, which you can request, you can get Amazon echoframes for your eyeglasses for $179. After the introductory phase, they will be $249. The only choice right now is black. The only choice is black but they give you all day access to Alexa. You can filter from who and what notifications you receive so you aren’t bombarded all day long.

It directs the sounds to your ears so others won’t hear what you hear. You can turn off the sounds with a button. They are not yet compatible with iOS smartphones and you will require a Android phone with Android 8 or higher and the Alexa app to connect as well as Bluetooth. There are special instructions for you optometrist for how to clean and shape them. If they do not work with your prescription, you can get a refund.

Learn more.

Amazon Echo for your Car

Amazon now has Echo Auto for your car. Right now we see it listed for half price.

What you need for it to work:
Compatible vents
Bluetooth or AUX input
Smartphone with data plan
Alexa app on your phone
Compatible apps for music streaming, maps

Since this is made for your car, it is designed to attach to your vents and comes with a vent mount. There are 8 microphones which can be switched off for privacy. Voice control the Echo Auto through the Alexa app to stream audiobooks, podcasts, or music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, other radio stations.

Use Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze to get directions. Find gas stations, check the news.

Amazon Echo Auto

Apple iPhone 11

You probably already know from the Apple announcement event last week that they have already announced the upcoming iPhone series 11. There is the 11 and the 11 Pro.

So what makes the new phone different? Let’s delve into the new features.

iPhone 11: The iPhone 11 has a new dual-camera system – this gives you the option of wide or ultra-wide shots. The iPhone 11 will handle up to 17 hours of video playback. The iPhone 11 has the same 6.1″ Liquid Retina HD display as previous models. It is made from aerospace-grade aluminum. It comes in light purple, yellow, mint green, black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED.

iPhone 11 Pro: The iPhone 11 Pro will have a third camera for telephoto shots in addition to the wide and ultra-wide cameras. The Pro version will handle up to 20 hours of video playback. The iPhone 11 Pro comes in two sizes featuring 5.8″ or 6.5″ Super Retina XDR display. It is made from stainless steel. The colors are midnight green, silver, space gray, or gold.

Find out more here: https://www.apple.com/iphone/

Here is a video from The Verge highlighting the event:

Deepfakes

We’ve been seeing this word a lot lately. Let’s delve into what it is and what it means.

According to whatis.techtarget.com, it is an AI-based technology. It is used to alter videos to show something that didn’t happen. It comes from a Reddit user who changed clips of celebrities and used regular people in these clips.

So this is not just pasting your face over a celebrity image but rather using AI technology to create the clips making it even more polished.

This article from CNN has a lot of information that shows how this technology is made. It also sounds the warning of what may happen regarding the political atmosphere in our country concerning deepfakes.

Many celebrities are concerned about deepfakes because people have swapped their image onto porn films, thus invading their privacy and making something that didn’t happen go on social or other media.

Here is a video from Nova/PBS

Here is a TedTalk by Supasorn Suwajanakorn

Need Help Knitting?

MIT researchers have created an AI that can do your knitting for you! Create your own design and have it made for you. Even if you have never knitted a stitch before, with this system you can create hats, gloves, or whatever you want. Even patterned designs. You can create a template for the computer to follow.

The only missing ingredient is the joy you can get from making each stitch by hand…

Source

Flying High

Do you remember the cartoon show called “The Jetsons”? The people rode in a car in the air. Now there are some more personal drones almost ready for us to take flight. There will still need to be a lot of rules and regulations put in place before that can become a reality…

The company eHang in China has developed a personal drone. Watch as the CEO takes flight brought by Digital Trends:

Are You Smarter Than an AI?

AIs are supposed to be ever learning. However computer vision can be a different story. The Verge has an interesting article that shows some pictures and what AI sees it as.

In the article are a lot of pictures labeled with what the AI says it is vs. what it really is. In one group they are showing 4 different pictures of a dragonfly but the AI doesn’t identify any of them as a dragonfly.

It is important to get computers to see what is really there especially in the realm of self-driving cars. We don’t want them to see stop signs where there aren’t any or vice-versa. In another article on The Verge, it was reported that Google’s AI saw a rifle and not a turtle. If this had been something where they were looking for adversarial attacks, this could be a problem.

Coming Soon: iPadOS

Last week we talked about changes coming to iOS 13. This week we will talk about the new iPadOS.

The new Safari browser will be more like a full Mac version but with touch. You can use a download manager, take a screenshot that will copy a whole page. There are new options in Photos to change a photo, how you want to group them, you can edit videos.

Files app works with USB drive and you will see all your cloud drives. You can use Sidecar mode on your Mac and use your iPad as a second screen.

In the Notes app, you can squeeze the keyboard when it shows up and it shrinks. You will be able to swipe to type by moving from letter to letter.

You can have widgets on your home screen.

They are still working out some bugs but it is due to come out this fall.

More about Apple iOS 13

iOS 13 is coming out in the fall. But it is made for your iPhone. The iPad will be getting its own OS. So what will be different?

There will be “light mode” and “dark mode”. You can time when you want to use dark or light mode as well.

They are updating their “Apple Maps” app in hopes people will start using it. They hope the map is actually fixed. Also they are adding a street view. You can set favorites and collections so easily get to them in a list.

iOS will have more privacy by allowing you to grant access to apps just one time. You can even have the app ask each time so they can’t track you.

Reminders will have more sort features. You can tag people to your reminders so you can easily remember if someone else needs to be contacted.

More integration with health app to your Apple Watch.

You can Find My … device or… friend.

More photo editing options.

Apps should launch faster, and other speed improvements.

Better volume control.

Swipe on the keyboard – type one-handed without taking your finger off keyboard.

More emojis that are customizeable.

You can download the beta now but it is recommended to wait until the final version comes out.

News from Apple

As you may have heard last week, Apple will be discontinuing iTunes. When they release macOS Catalina, they will have three new apps to take the place of iTunes: music, TV, podcasts. No longer will you be able to use all three in one app. You will still be able to access everything you have in iTunes via these apps. iCloud will still sync everything across devices as well.

Apple music will also be able stream music on your Mac through the music app. The TV app will have movies, shows, and premium channels. They also say Apple TV+ is coming soon. You will be able to listen to your podcasts with the podcast app. Since it can sync across your devices, you can start on one device and finish on another.

Other things new that will be coming with the new OS is a rebuilt Reminders app. You will be able to add attachments to reminders. The start page will have an update and will add Siri Suggestions. There will something called Sidecar that allows you to use your iPad as an extended screen. You can work on one and display on the other or mirror the screens. Also with Sidecar, you will able to use the Apple Pencil to work on supported apps. Screen Time is also going to be available on Mac. There will also be enhanced security on the Mac. There are accessibility enhancements such as Voice Control, omm the second display, Hover Text to make some text larger and more readable.

Find out more: https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/
https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/features/

Watch the WWDC 2019 Keynote from Apple:

MS Paint

Remember Microsoft Paint? Usually it is disparaged by people, especially those who have access to something more powerful like Photoshop.

Microsoft has added some new features to MS Paint that are to be included in the Windows 10 May 2019 update. The most key new feature is that the keyboard will be used as the primary input. This will give users the added ability to draw only with their keyboard.

In keeping with the accessibility features, they have also improved the way Paint interacts with screen readers like Windows Narrator.

See more information along with the keyboard shortcuts illustrated.

Want More Alexa?

If you run Windows 10, you can have her! More powerful than Windows’ Cortana, you can have her run on your PC now. Just say “Alexa” and start speaking.

You will have to give permissions to your microphone. You will also have to sign in with your Amazon account. Alexa will listen in the background and you can access it just like Amazon Echo.

So what happens if you have the Alexa app on a Kindle, an Amazon Echo, and you put this on your PC? Well, we wondered too and found this on Amazon.com Basically it says the closest one will respond. Some content and settings are shared but not all. While it may not work the way you intend or is different than the Echo device, it may be helpful.

Do you want a Narwal?

Not the mammal. The robot mop and vacuum. What sets this apart from other robotic floor cleaners is that it is self cleaning. It has Lidar Navigation Technology to map your floorplan. You can use the app to schedule and customize your cleanings. When it is done cleaning your floor, it will return to its base and clean the mops and dry them.

It has capacity enough to clean a 3200 sq ft floor. Right now it is still in KickStarter – it now has far outreached its goal. You can still sign up for the early bird version.

Update – new video: