location Stories December 18, 2015

play-services-8.4

With the latest version of Google Play services rolled out, the Android Developers blog is detailing what new features this update brings. Version 8.4 introduces an easier way for users to share their favorite apps, a more accurate way to determine location, and new APIs for fitness data.

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location Stories June 22, 2015

Avid Foursquare junkies (myself included), rejoice – mayorships are back, just now in the Swarm app. You can become the mayor of a place by checking into it more than anyone else in the last 30 days, and only one check-in per day counts towards your rank.

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location Stories June 6, 2014

Screenshots via Android Police

Google is developing a location-aware “Nearby” feature for Android devices that could alert “people, places, and things” to the presence of nearby users, according to a new claim from Android Police.

According to that site’s sources, the feature—seen in the screenshots above—could potentially be used for location-based alerts like reminders and ads, but could also be viewed as a possible competitor to the iBeacon technology implemented in Apple’s latest version of iOS, which is already becoming quite popular among third-party manufacturers.

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location Stories May 7, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 1.46.48 PM

YouTube introduced a new way to see which videos are popular in your area today through trend maps.

Google supplies a vast library of demographics information on its YouTube Dashboard, and now visual mapping is an additional and fun option.

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location Stories May 4, 2012

(early beta of the functionality, above)

Update: The app is now live on the App Store. A full list of new features is below.

Alongside the Facebook Messenger for iPad app and updated iPhone app with video chat that we revealed earlier this week, we have also been beta testing a new “read receipts” feature. Today, Facebook is apparently rolling out the new feature to its existing iOS Messenger app, which gives you the ability to see when someone received and read your message.

While the update is not live, TechCrunch confirmed with FaceBook’s Peter Deng that the update is coming to the current iOS Facebook Messenger client and Android’s counterpart. According to the report, the feature will appear as “Seen by username” under the message itself, but our build of the app used checkmarks—as seen in the image above.

As noted by TechCrunch, the update will include the name of the location when the message was sent, if the user has enabled location services. It also replaces the three-dot typing indicator with the name of the person typing.

The updated Facebook Messenger iOS app is available here.

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location Stories January 20, 2012

Google just revamped the look of Latitude, its location-aware service akin to Foursquare. According to a post by Google’s community manager for Google Maps, Danial Mabasa, the new Google Latitude interface can be now accessed on desktop browsers at www.google.com/latitude. As you can see from the above screenshot, it is not much different from Google+. However, upon remembering how the old website looked, it is definitely a major makeover that helps achieve consistent user experience across Google’s key properties.

You can now easily access your friends’ list in the left-hand column or click the wrench icon to customize your personal location history and location settings. Whenever you want to manually update your location, just hit the Update button next to your name and approve your browser’s location sharing prompt. Another cool feature lets you playback your location history (should you choose to preserve it) from a select range of dates by pressing the Play button on the bottom left-hand corner of the map.

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location Stories August 16, 2011

Historypin, a user-generated map displaying historical data of nearby locations (previously only available on Android devices), is now available as an iOS app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Created in partnership with Google by not-for-profit We Are What We Do, the app allows users to add their own historical photos by pinning them to a map, capturing historic moments as they happen, and creating replicas of historical images. The images are then shared with users requesting data for a specific location….

Historypin uses Google Maps and Street View technology to reveal the user-generated photos and data related to historical events that happened close to your current location. It does this by “overlaying them onto the live camera view”…essentially aiming to give you a live snapshot of what your surroundings looked like in the past.

Simply holding your phone up in the street will provide you with relevant nearby images. Selecting one of the images allows it to be overlaid onto the iPhone’s camera view. You can then fade between the image and your live shot for comparison, as well as pull up stories and data related to the image and your current location.

Full list of features and some shots of the app in action after the break… expand full story

location Stories August 2, 2011

Stunning 45-degree views are now available in Maps for more places in the US and abroad.

Never content with resting on its laurels, Google have been iterating their products at a pace faster than ever before. Here’s a quick overview of some of the noteworthy changes we spotted in Google’s popular services, such as Docs, Tasks, Chrome Web Store, Blogger and Maps. The latter now features breathtaking 45° imagery for many more US cities (full list here), including international locales, such as Córdoba, Spain. If you haven’t yet seen highly detailed aerial photography in action, definitely give it a try now by checking out the Córdoba, William P. Hobby Airport or the Houston Ship Channel 45° views from all four directions.

Chrome Web Store, the Google-ran online repository of web apps, now supports more markets, having added sixteen new countries for 31 countries in total. In-app payments in web apps distributed on Chrome Web Store are also a go-go: Google confirmed paid transactions in web apps will be available to users in twenty countries “later this year”. Zyngas of this world will love it, that’s for sure. More features in other services right below the fold.

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location Stories July 7, 2011

Constant checking of your location is annoying when using public transportation in a foreign city. This will become a thing of the past with the new Google Maps for Android which now features something called Transit Navigation (currently in beta). Basically, this taps Google’s vast mapping database, your phone’s GPS location and real-time public transportation data to figure out where exactly along the route you currently are. The system then alerts you on time when it’s time to hop off the buss, Google explains in a blog post:

Using your location along the route, Transit Navigation will alert you when its time to get off at your destination or to make a transfer. This is particularly helpful if you’re in a city where you don’t speak the language and can’t read the route maps or understand the announcements. 

The best bit? It runs in background so you’ll continue receiving progress reports as subtle Android notifications while checking your email or playing a game. It will even vibrate the device when it’s time to get off at next stop. Other improvements include the navigation interface with big icons and built-in picture viewer for Places pages. The new Google Maps 5.7 for Android with Transit Navigation (BETA) can be downloaded now from Android Market on smartphones that run at least Android 2.1. Transit Navigation arrives with support four hundred major cities around the world and Google will probably add more towns in the future. expand full story

location Stories May 6, 2011

Google has optimized the Google Earth service for Android Honeycomb-driven tablets, tailoring the user experience and features to a larger canvas compared to that of smartphones. “It makes Earth look better than ever on your tablet”, Google said. “It’s like moving to IMAX”, product manager Peter Birch joked in a blog post.

Moving from a mobile phone to a tablet was like going from a regular movie theatre to IMAX. We took advantage of the larger screen size, including features like content pop-ups appearing within Earth view, so you can see more information without switching back and forth between pages.

Features include a handy action bar that provides quick access to commonly used functions including flying to a location and navigating to various places of interest. Visually, the web app will take advantage of 3D-accelerated chips powering the latest Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab…

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Google has upped the ante in the mapping department with a Google Maps enhancement that lets you see high-resolution interior shots of local businesses in the 360-degree freedom. Business Photos for Google Maps, as it is called, was unveiled Thursday at the Social-Loco conference in San Francisco by Marissa Mayer, Google’s top dog for consumer products.

Google plans to crowd-source the 360-degree panoramas from business owners who will be able to submit interior shots of their restaurant or a bar to Google’s servers that will stitch them together in a panorama view of the place. Google didn’t stop there. The company said business owners can invite Google photographers into their establishments to take high-quality shots of their place.

The search monster will roll out Business Photos next week to users in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. More countries are to follow in the following month.

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location Stories May 5, 2011

If you’re unhappy with the underlying information of a business or destination listed in Google Maps for Android, you can now tell Google they’ve got the address wrong – hopefully for future consideration and eventual corrections. It’s the power of the crowd-sourced location data gathering that has gotten Google and Apple in trouble with lawmakers. Another nice-to-have: The app now saves every search query to the cloud so you can access it from another device. The two new features comes in the latest Google Maps for Android version 5.4.0 update.

location Stories May 4, 2011

We told you yesterday how South Korea police raided Google’s Seoul office on suspicion that its mobile advertising arm AdMob was collecting personal location information without consent or approval from the Korean Communication Commission. As the debate about location tracking intensifies, companies like Google and Apple find themselves at the center of the heated exchange involving various groups with vested interests, industry consortium, government regulators and policy makers. It’s easy to accuse Google over the supposedly unlawful practices. Our collective privacy is at stake amid a shift in our understanding of how far the government should go regulating how high tech companies use non-identifiable data collected anonymously from their users.

The problem with location tracking is that it’s an uncharted territory that existing, years-old privacy laws don’t regulate very well. Neither Google nor Apple are collecting this data for the heck of it. The iPhone maker has been crowd-sourcing data about nearby WiFi hotspots and cellular towers from millions of iPhones to help rapidly pinpoint users’ location and support new products, per the official Q&A on Location Data document.

In the case of Google, the leader in online advertising on desktop and mobile devices, location intelligence is needed to personalize mobile advertising in order to serve the adverts relevant to to the user’s location. The problem is, the practice doesn’t sit well with privacy advocates who cry foul and politicians who are looking to score points with voters by hunting down big corporations like Google and Apple. Plus, each country regulates privacy differently, causing nightmare for global operations like Google.

The Mountain View-based search monster also dropped the ball by unintentionally collecting anonymous WiFi hotspot data and passwords which bit them later in countries like the UK and Germany. On top of that, carriers are often required by law to track users and hand over those records at the police request. For example, Verizon Wireless holds onto your location data and other info for seven years. The line needs to be drawn somewhere and it remains to be seen if the lobbyist employed by Google and Apple can use loopholes in existing privacy laws and cheer up the government of South Korea and other countries.

location Stories May 3, 2011

It didn’t take long for the iPhone location tracking issue to escalate and get blown out of proportion. The story spread like a wildfire as we learned that both Google and Apple were summoned for the May 10 Congressional hearing. That was just a warm up, though. Reuters reports that South Korea police is after the search giant, having raided their Seoul office on Tuesday.

The reason? AdMob, Google’s mobile advertising arm, was illegally collecting location data from Android users without their consent. That’s the official line the country’s authorities provided to Reuters.

The probe into suspected collection of data on where a user is located without consent highlights growing concerns about possible misuse of private information as the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets increases.

A South Korean police official told the news gathering organization:

We suspect AdMob collected personal location information without consent or approval from the Korean Communication Commission.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the raid and said the company was co-operating with investigators. This latest development follows-up on the news that the governments of South Korea, France, Germany and Italy are considering probing Apple over the location data gathering fiasco.

location Stories May 2, 2011

Google may have blocked Android handset maker Motorola from using WiFi hotspot location data from Skyhook Wireless because it wanted to build a quality database of crowd-sourced location data, just as Apple’s been doing since iOS 4 was released, reveals an internal email correspondence leaked to The San Jose Mercury News. The email message reveals that Google CEO Larry Page asked for a clarification from Android chief Andy Rubin over the news that Motorola was planning on tapping Skyhook data to help their phones quickly determine geographical location. Steve Lee, Google’s location product manager, responded:

I cannot stress enough how important Google’s wifi location database is to our Android and mobile product strategy. We absolutely do care about this (decision by Motorola) because we need WiFi data collection in order to maintain and improve our WiFi location service.

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