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Google admits Material Design’s biggest flaw

Introduces Dark Mode to repair it

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Eons ago, Google first introduced Android’s ubiquitous Material Design. The flat design emphasized the beauty of minimalism. Since then, the design philosophy has found its way into every smartphone in existence today. The industry hasn’t developed an upending alternative yet. Material Design is just that good.

However, a conclusive series of tests finally finds the Achilles’ heel in Material Design’s adamantium armor. More surprisingly, this barrage of counterarguments comes straight from the horse’s mouth: Google.

Presented at 2018’s Android Dev Summit, Google explains the link between screen brightness and battery management. To no one’s surprise, the company states that more intense brightness settings lead to a larger draw on battery life. Of course, before laying down the hammer, Google adds that their phones’ night mode dramatically reduces brightness a lot more than Apple’s iPhones’ night mode. It’s a small pat on the back before laying down the real tests.

Image source: Google

After this brief introduction on brightness, Google goes into a discussion on color. Also, unsurprisingly, a white-filled screen takes a bigger toll on battery life than any other color on OLED displays. With a hint of shame, Google admits a crucial error. When Material Design started, the company pushed other developers to implement white as the default color. In fact, the design’s baseline theme uses a lot of pure white. Even worse, Google introduced more white in a recent update.

Image source: Google

As a means of reparation, Google has introduced a more effective Dark Mode. Compared to regular settings, the new mode measures a gargantuan improvement on brightness and, consequently, battery life. On 100 percent brightness settings, the dark mode tops at only 96mA. For comparison, the regular mode tops at 239mA. That’s a 60 percent reduction.

With the introduction, Google will hopefully roll out the new mode to more apps as time goes by. As of now, the company successfully proves that the new feature is more than just a cosmetic decision.

SEE ALSO: Android announces support for Foldables, a new smartphone form factor

Apps

Google turns Android into world’s largest earthquake detection system

Using technology to make a difference

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2020 is the epitome of chaos with a pandemic, fear of cyber warfare, and government incapability. Amid all the negativity, Google has some refreshing news. Android, the world’s most widely used mobile operating system, will now leverage its reach to help detect an earthquake.

Pretty much every Android phone today sports an accelerometer, a sensor that can help detect seismographic movement. When this sensor is clubbed along with the user’s GPS data, researchers can use the phone as a live seismometer.

The University of California-Berkeley, along with funding from the state of California has launched a new app called MyShake. The app can use the phone’s onboard sensors to feed data in a massive network of devices that are constantly monitoring seismographic movement across the globe.

Using this same technology, Google is taking a step forward. Instead of relying on an app, it’s incorporating Android Earthquake Alerts System on every phone running on Google Play Services. The system is being touted as “the world’s largest earthquake detection network.”

The company studied historical accelerometer readings during earthquakes and found they could give some users up to a minute of notice. Since the feature is being rolled out via Play Services, the alerting system will be available on all active phones within a few weeks. The user won’t have to depend on the software update roll-out.

“We are on a path to delivering earthquake alerts wherever there are smartphones,” said Richard Allen, director of the University of California-Berkeley’s seismological lab and visiting faculty at Google over the last year.

Proactive alerts shall be limited to California for now. Google added that “over the coming year, you can expect to see the earthquake alerts coming to more states and countries using Android’s phone-based earthquake detection.”

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Google launches virtual visiting profile called People Cards

Time to google yourself!

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Have you ever googled yourself? If not, this new feature on Google search will surely prompt you to give it a shot. The search engine wants to make it easier to find new people and has unveiled a new feature in India called People Cards.

People Cards act like your virtual visiting card. If someone’s looking for you on Google, they’ll usually come across a few social media profile links or any other online content you’re associated with. Thanks to the new card, you can directly control how much information you want to keep up front.

The feature is limited to the mobile app for now. To set up your own card, all you need is an active mobile number and a Google account. It’s also limited to India for the time being and only supports English.

To create your own card, just:

  • Open the Google app on your phone.
  • Search for “add me to Search.”
  • You’ll immediately see a prompt to set up your card and after mobile number authentication, you’re all set.

You can enter brief details about yourself, add a bio, link social media profiles, and even make it easier to connect with you by publishing your email, website, or mobile number.

While the feature makes discovering people easy, it also opens a floodgate of privacy concerns. Spammers can easily collect information from the partially open system. We advise our readers to proceed with caution and ensure they’re not divulging any personal details.

Individuals who have already created their cards can opt-out of the experience anytime. In the case of people who share the same name, Google Search will show multiple modules.

The search giant says it has a number of mechanisms to fight spam and abuse. Only one card can be created by an account and you can flag a card in case of false information or an imposter.

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Apps

Google announced new directives for online learning

Including a Homework filter for Google Lens

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With the pandemic still ravaging the world, online learning is ramping up twice over. Tech companies are developing new ways to help students learn and attend classes online. Today, Google announced new directives for online learning. For one, Google Lens’ new Homework filter can solve math homework.

In a post written by Jennifer Holland, Google’s Director of Program Management for Education, the new Homework filter can take photos of a math formula and provide a host of new options including transcribing it and actually solving it. The solution will also include a step-by-step explanation for the formula.

Besides the new filter, Google’s Read Along will gamify text-to-speech technology for learning readers. When students get words right, the program will reward them with stars.

Speaking of text-to-speech, Google Meet now has advanced speech recognition to provide live captions which are particularly helpful for online classes. In the same vein, Holland also hypes up a better noise cancellation feature for Google Meet.

For class time, Google’s Family Link can limit a student’s online time, optimizing learning time even while studying at home.

Right now, we’re already at the tail end of summer. The next school year is fast approaching. Because of the ongoing pandemic, classes are still online for the time being. That said, online learning tools will prove their usefulness very soon. Today, students are already getting used to Zoom and other collaboration tools, stemming from the previous school year.

But, don’t tell the students; we’re borrowing the new filter for every time we have to split the bill somewhere.

SEE ALSO: Acer and Smart team-up for online learning tools

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