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October 19, 2018
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Apps

Google Maps’ ETA sharing feature hits iOS

in Apps/Delhi/eta/Google-Maps/India/Location/Maps/Politics by

If you’re heading out to meet someone, there are plenty of ways to inform them of your location and estimated arrival. Chat apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, LINE, and iMessage, for example, offer location sharing functionality, while navigation apps like Waze and CityMapper and even ride-sharing apps like Uber offer live updating ETAs. Now, Google Maps’ own ETA feature is at last coming to iOS. The feature also getting a few tweaks following last year’s launch on Android, the company says.

In May 2017, Google Maps first introduced its own take on location and ETA sharing.

From a “Share Location” option in the app’s main navigation bar, you’re able to pick how long you want to share your location and choose who to share it with – the latter from a set of frequent contacts or by entering in someone’s name, number or email to pull from your address book.

Then, from the navigation screen, another option called “Share trip progress” allows users to share their live ETA with others as they start their trip.

Today, Google is bringing this ETA feature to Google Maps on iOS.

To try it out, you tap on the  ˄ button once you’ve begun navigation, then tap “Share trip progress.” This will allow you to share your live location, route and your ETA with favorite contacts, as before.

However, the feature is also being improved with today’s release to allow for sharing across third-party apps like Messenger, WhatsApp, LINE, and others. That makes it easier to include in your text message threads and group chats, which are probably already underway.

The feature works for driving, walking and cycling navigation, says Google. It’s is live now on iOS and Android.

 

News Source = techcrunch.com

Embracing multimodality, Uber pioneers ride recommendations

in Apps/Collaborative Consumption/Delhi/India/JUMP/jump bikes/mobile/Politics/Startups/Transportation/Uber by

For the first time, Uber will make contextual, personalized suggestions about the best way to get from point A to point B. The startup offers more than just cars now, and it’s starting to understand the tradeoffs between price, speed, convenience, and comfort amidst its multi-modal fleet. Most noticeably, you’ll now see JUMP bikes get premier billing right alongside Uber’s other vehicles. Going a short distance and there’s a charged up bike nearby? Uber will suggest you pedal. Might need extra room for luggage on your way to the airport? UberXL and SUV will appear. Always take cheap Pools? It won’t show you a pricier Black car.

Uber is finally getting smart. It has to if it’s going to make sense of its growing patchwork of ride types without overwhelming passengers with too many options. Uber’s algorithm can help them choose. “We think there’s a lot to be gained by being a one-stop shop to get somewhere” says Uber director of product Nundu Janakiram.

Uber now dynamically recommends different ride types

In particular, Uber could block disruption by scooter-specific startups like Spin, Bird, or Skip. If those apps have no vehicles nearby or you’re going to far, they’ve got nothing to offer. But Uber can provide a competitively priced Express Pool when there’s no open-air ride available, while convincing its existing UberX riders to try a bike or scooter for quick trips when congestion is thick thanks to its new in-house traffic estimates.

Uber Director Of Product Nundu Janakiram

Previously, you’d get a static set of three ride options from the price class you booked from last, regardless of your destination. Meanwhile, bikes and scooters were buried in Uber’s hamburger menu sidebar or an awkward toggle at the top of the screen. The company hans’t done a good job of communicating the definition of Select (nicer normal-sized cars) or Express Pool (walk and wait for a discount) either.

Now Uber’s homescreen can cherry pick the most relevant ride suggestions from across all price classes and vehicle types based on your trip length, destination type, and your personal ride history. Along with better explanations of the different options, this could get users experimenting with modes they’d never tried before.

To make room for more recommendations, the Uber Pool option will unfold to offer both Pools and Express Pools. Uber will even point you to nicer vehicles like Black cars or XLs if UberX is surging to the point that their prices are similar. If you want to compare all the options manually, you can tap to see a list with all the specs and prices lined up.

Beyond ride recommendations, Uber is moving the address bar to the bottom of the screen so its closer to your thumbs (which is great as phones keep getting bigger). Finally, in the coming weeks Uber will add a dynamic message bar to the center of the homescreen. Here depending on your pickup and drop off, it could show instructions for hailing from an airport, a discount offer, a birthday message, or just a friendly “Good Morning”. 

Eventually, Uber hopes to integrate public transportation ticketing like through its partner Masabi, car rentals, and even multi-leg trips into its recommendations. Maybe a JUMP bike to the train, then an UberPool that’s waiting to take you to your final destination is quicker and cheaper than any one mode alone. If you’re looking at an hour-plus Uber, it might cost less to just rent a car through its partner GetAround and drive yourself. And if a scooter is by far the best ride for you but all of Ubers are rented out, it could recommend one from its partner Lime.

A new communication box is coming to the center of Uber’s homescreen

Uber’s data shows users are rapidly embracing the multi-modal future. A study found the introduction of JUMP bikes to one city led to a 15 percent increase in total Uber + JUMP trips, even though Uber use dropped 10 to 15 percent.

Even if Uber sometimes cannibalizes itself by recommending cheaper options, it’s a smart long-term strategy. Janakiram laughs that “If we wanted to optimize for revenue, we wouldn’t have shown UberX, Pool, and Express Pool first for every user for the last few years.” The lifetime value of ridesharing users is so high that’s worth losing a couple of bucks here or there to keep users from straying to multi-modal competitors like Lyft. Retention will be a key metric under scrutiny as it eyes a 2019 IPO at a potential $120 billion valuation.

“The big picture is that we want your phone to replace your personal car” Janakiram concludes. “If we want to be a true transportation platform, we need to be everywhere our riders need to be as well. The right ride for the right context, and what’s the right ride for you.”

[Disclosure: Uber’s Janakiram and I briefly lived in the same three-bedroom apartment 5 years ago, though I’d already agreed to write about the redesign when I found out he was involved.]

News Source = techcrunch.com

Take a video tour of Facebook’s election security war room

in Apps/Delhi/Facebook Election Interference/Facebook Security/Government/India/Policy/Politics/Security by

Beneath an American flag, 20 people packed tight into a beige conference room are Facebook’s, and so too the Internet’s, first line of defence for democracy. This is Facebook election security war room. Screens visualize influxes of foreign political content and voter suppression attempts as high-ranking team members from across divisions at Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp coordinate rapid responses. The hope is through face-to-face real-time collaboration in the war room, Facebook can speed up decision-making to minimize how misinformation influences how vote.

In this video, TechCrunch takes you inside the war room at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. Bustling with action beneath the glow of the threat dashboards, you see what should have existed two years ago. During the U.S. presidential election, Russian government trolls and profit-driven fake news outlets polluted the social network with polarizing propaganda. Now Facebook hopes to avoid a repeat in the upcoming US midterms as well as elections across the globe. And to win the hearts, minds, and trust of the public, it’s being more transparent about its strategy.

“It’s not something you can scale to solve with just human.s And it’s not something you can solve with just technology either” says Facebook’s head of cybersecurity Nathaniel Gleicher. “I think artificial intelligence is a critical component of a solution and humans are critical component of a solution.” The two approaches combine in the war room.

Who’s In The War Room And How They Fight Back

Engineers – Facebook’s coders develop the dashboards that monitor political content, hate speech, user reports of potential false news, voter suppression content, and more. They build in alarms that warn the team of anomalies and spikes in the data, triggering investigation by…

  • Data Scientists – Once a threat is detected and visualized on the threat boards, these team members dig into who’s behind an attack, and the web of accounts executing the misinformation campaign.
  • Operations Specialists – They determine if and how the attacks violate Facebook’s community standards. If a violation is confirmed, they take down the appropriate accounts and content wherever they appear on the network.
  • Threat Intelligence Researchers and Investigators – These professional cybersecurity professionals have tons of experience in deciphering the sophisticated tactics used by Facebook’s most powerful adversaries including state actors. They also help Facebook run war games and drills to practice defense against last-minute election day attacks.
  • Instagram and WhatsApp Leaders – Facebook’s acquisitions must also be protected, so representatives from those teams join the war room to coordinate monitoring and takedowns across the company’s family of apps. Together with Facebook’s high-ups, they dispense info about election protection to Facebook’s 20,000 security staffers.
  • Local Experts – Facebook now starts working to defend an election 1.5 to 2 years ahead of time. To provide maximum context for decisions, local experts from countries with the next elections join to bring knowledge of cultural norms and idiosyncracies.
  • Policy Makers – To keep Facebook’s rules about what’s allowed up to date to bar the latest election interference tactics, legal and policy team members join to turn responses into process.

Beyond fellow Facebook employees, the team works external government, security, and tech industry partners. Facebook routinely cooperates with other social networks to pass each other information and synchronize take-downs. Facebook has to get used to this. Following the mid-terms it will evaluate whether it needs to constantly operate a war room. But after it was caught be surprise in 2016, Facebook accepts that it can never turn a blind eye again.

Facebook’s director of our global politics and government outreach team Katie Harbath concludes. “This is our new normal.”

News Source = techcrunch.com

Sidestepping App Stores, Facebook Lite and Groups get Instant Games

in Apps/Delhi/eCommerce/Facebook/Facebook Games/facebook groups/Facebook Instant Games/facebook lite/Gaming/India/mobile/Politics/Social/TC by

HTML5 almost ruined Facebook when baking in the mobile web standard to speed up development slowed down the performance of the social network’s main iOS and Android apps. It eventually ditched HTML5, rebuilt the apps natively, and Facebook became one of the most powerful players in mobile.

Now Facebook is giving HTML5 another shot as a way to expand its Instant Games like Pac-Man and Words With Friends to the developing world through Facebook Lite, and to interest communities via Facebook Groups.

Instead of having to download separate apps for each game from the Apple App Store or Google Play, Instant Games launch in a mobile browser. That keeps Facebook Lite’s file size small to the benefit of international users with slow connections or limited data plans. And it lets Instant Games integrate directly into Groups so you can challenge not only friends but like-minded members to compete for high scores.

90 million people each month actively participate in 270,000 Facebook Groups about gaming, and now they’ll see Instant Games in the Groups navigation bar next to the About and Discussion tabs. Facebook is also considering making games an opt-in feature for non-gaming Groups. In Facebook Lite, Instant Games will appear in the More sidebar so they’re not too interruptive.

The expansion demonstrates how serious Facebook is about becoming a gaming company again. Back in its desktop days, the games platform dominated by devleopers like Zynga racked up tons of usage, virality, and in-game payments revenue for Facebook. That revenue has been in a long decline since mobile usage picked up around 2011.

Facebook won’t actually be earning money from in-app purchases on Instant Games on iOS where it doesn’t allow IAP due to Apple’s policies, or on Android since it began forgoing its cut last month. It does take 30 percent on desktop though. But the bigger monetization play is in ads where Facebook is a juggernaut.

With Instant Games on Messenger, Facebook’s desktop site via a bookmark, its new Fb.gg standalone gaming community app, and now Facebook Lite and Groups, the company is prioritizing the space again. That seems wise as gaming becomes more mainstream thanks to players livestreaming their commentary and phenomena like Fortnite.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Skydio’s autonomous drone lands in Apple retail stores, now supports Watch controls

in Apple Watch/Apps/Delhi/drones/India/Politics/Skydio/TC by

With a few taps, you can now direct Skydio‘s $1,999 autonomous drone from your Apple Watch allowing you to fulfill the geeky dream you never knew you had, directing an expensive autonomous drone with your little wrist computer.

The very cool R1 self-flying drone will also be going up for sale in US Apple Stores, a big win for the young drone startup which has only been taking orders via its own website. Apple doesn’t have a very robust selection of drones either, with most of their selection coming from drone giant DJI, putting Skydio in some pretty elite company.

Now, let’s get back to the real question here. Why on earth would you need to control a drone from your Apple Watch? Well, it’s certainly a valid question. The Apple Watch launched with a ton of third-party apps and one-by-one they kind of seemed to drop off as developers — and Apple — learned that the device is generally at its best when it’s part of a passive experience.

Skydio sort of bills the R1 as a drone built for the GoPro crowd, delivering a very unique type of footage but ultimately one that can be self-controlled. Navigating the Skydio app on your phone always takes you out of action for a bit and makes it so that you staring at your phone is always the first part of every cinematic shot. With Apple Watch support, some use cases make a lot more sense than others. People who use the drone to video themselves while biking will probably find this particularly useful, as the controls are all of a sudden in a much more accessible place on your wrist. Otherwise, the Watch support makes the very niche problem of controlling a drone in the most low-key way possible just a little bit easier.

The Watch app has a very straight-forward UI and really gives you a lot of control over the drone. You can cycle through the list of skills, tapping modes like Lead, Follow and Orbit and putting the drone to work, but you can also interestingly identify people in the R1’s feed for it to follow as well. It all works surprisingly well on the Watch, and feels like an unusually powerful set of features for the device.

For the Skydio user, the Watch is now in your control repertoire. It’s certainly not going to be the most logical piloting mechanism at all times, but if you’ve been looking for more effortless ways to direct the R1, you have some new options.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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