In this week’s top stories: an artist “hacks” Google Maps with no less than 99 cell phones to create fake traffic jams, Google files a trademark for a new operating system called “Pigweed,” a robot folds and unfolds the Motorola Razr to its inevitable demise, and more.
Starting out the week on a light note, German artist Simon Weckert decided to have a bit of fun with the way Google Maps automatically determines whether or not there’s a traffic jam in a location based on how quickly those using navigation are able to move through traffic.
To accomplish this, he loaded 99 smartphones into a wagon and turned them all onto Maps navigation. As he walks down a street, Google recognizes the high concentration of “users” and the slow-moving “traffic” and marks that street as having bad traffic.
The results speak for themselves and make for a definite “must-watch” video to brighten your weekend.
Elsewhere in Google Maps news, the service celebrated its 15th birthday this week in style — a brand new style, that is! Ditching its classic “pinpoint on a map” icon, Google has applied its traditional colors onto a pinpoint to match the icon of apps like Google Home, Wear OS, and Google Fit.
As you would expect from a radical change like this though, the community is not all on-board with the new icon. Our Stephen Hall shared his disdain for the new logo on Alphabet Scoop. A poll of 9to5Google readers shows that only 44% prefer the new icon, with the comments section sharing some interesting insights.
It’s definitely not bad by no means. But of course the Google branding is kinda lost through it. Only people who know the colours can identify it with Google. And even then it’s a little bit flat for 2020, imho. — Henny Roggy
I like it, but I hope Google doesn’t go too much further standardizing their app icons to use this color scheme. Drive, Google, One, WiFi, Home, Maps, News, Photos…I tend to just glance at icons when looking for a specific app to open, so I want them to be a little bit more different. — WiscoNative
In an odd bit of Google news, the company was found to have filed a new trademark in the US this week. The listing shows that Google may be working on a new operating system with the name “Pigweed.” Our team was able to uncover that Pigweed is indeed undergoing some level of development, finding evidence of it in both Chromium and Fuchsia code.
Unfortunately, we can’t take this alone as conclusive evidence that Google’s Pigweed and Fuchsia projects are related. The developer who proposed the code change is involved in multiple Google projects and may have simply made a typo. That said, both developers in the conversation seem keenly aware of what Google Pigweed is.
On the Android side of things, the Motorola Razr has been garnering a great deal of attention this week. Keeping the tradition started with the Samsung Galaxy Fold, CNET acquired and livestreamed a robot specially designed to repeatedly fold and unfold the Motorola Razr until it “died.” With the Galaxy Fold lasting through ~120,000 repetitions, many wondered how long the Razr would last.
Just hours into the stream, the Motorola Razr died after just 27,000 folds. The phone’s display didn’t stop working, but the hinge itself was failing, cause the device to not fully close. This is… not good. By our math, 73 folds per day would kill a Razr in just a year. That’s not an unrealistic number either.
CNET was able to get the Razr back in working order with a bit of “massaging,” thankfully, but this test still didn’t quite bode well for foldables durability.
In a bizarre twist, unsatisfied with CNET‘s findings, Motorola has since showed off a phone-folding robot of their own with a claim that the Razr can “flip for years.”
Finally, the eyes of WhatsApp fans around the world can rejoice as the latest beta version of the app (2.20.32) has brought six different color schemes to use as part of WhatsApp’s dark mode. If you haven’t already signed up for beta updates to WhatsApp, be sure to do so now.
The biggest downside to these new tweaks is that devices that are part of the beta program and running Android Pie or lower still don’t have the dark theme option — as this was removed as part of the 2.20.29 update.
The rest of this week’s top stories follow:
- What to expect from Samsung Unpacked 2020: Galaxy S20, Buds+, Z Flip, more
- [Update: AT&T, more countries] Galaxy S9 Android 10 update rollout begins, starting with US and Germany
- [Update: US unlocked S10, Note 10] The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Note 10 beat the Pixel to the February 2020 patch
- [Update: Another one + images] Upcoming Samsung Galaxy Z Flip leaks in first hands-on video [Video]
- [Update: 6T rollout restarted] OxygenOS 10.3.1 now rolling out for OnePlus 6/6T w/ 5Ghz WiFi fix, December patch
- Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, and Vivo working to strengthen each other’s Android app stores [U]
- BlackBerry’s Android smartphones will stop being sold in August 2020
- Motorola Razr (2020) impressions paint a less than ideal picture for the foldable
- 5 reasons to go with a mid-range smartphone over a flagship [Video]
Chrome / OS |
- Chrome 80 for Android rolling out: New notifications prompt, audio/video over HTTPS
- Chrome 80 for Mac, Windows rolling out: Quieter notifications UI, SameSite cookie enforcement
- Some Google Photos videos in ‘Takeout’ backups were sent to strangers last November
- You can vote for Pokémon of the Year on Google.com right now
Google apps |
- [Update: Fix rolling out] Gmail dark theme missing for some on Android 10
- Google app 10.95 preps unified Assistant settings list, dark theme tweaks [APK Insight]
- Sources: Internal YouTube Music gains music library upload as Play Music transition nears
- Google revamping Multiple Inboxes in Gmail with design tweaks, merged settings
- Google Photos prepares to remove the side menu for ‘Library’ tab [Gallery]
- Google Translate 6.5 starts rolling out Android dark mode following iOS debut
Google Pixel |
- February security patch rolling out to Google Pixel, factory images & OTAs live
- How to install updates onto your Google Pixel phone with the Pixel Repair Tool
- Google rolls out new Assistant, Soli-powered Motion Sense to Pixel 4 in Japan
- Kate Spade Sport Review: A compact Wear OS smartwatch w/ customization at its core
- Samsung’s Gear S2 smartwatch gets an update w/ battery, UI improvements
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