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Google is opening Maps for game developers!

Get ready for more AR games

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There’s a wave of location-based augmented reality games that highly depend on Google Maps. However, the inability to create accurate mapping has been keeping developers from optimizing game design. Luckily, Google just announced that it’s opening up its mapping platform to game developers. This means anyone one can create AR games now with more ease.

Google says that its new Maps platform has been optimized for game developers. These developers can start by signing up to be given access to real-time Google Maps data.

To support developers after signing up, Google is also working on launching a new software development kit on Unity. Unity is one of the most popular game engines in the world so incorporating mapping data into this engine will help aspiring developers everywhere.

Even further, Google is introducing a new API to help create gameplay experiences around real-world locations. Google will be working closely with developers on this aspect, especially regarding appropriating elements, like span points and quest locations, within games.

One of the goals of the project was to help developers build detailed worlds using Maps data as a base to paint over.

“In this way you can create unique game environments that still feel connected to the real world,” says Patrick Donelan, lead engineer on the project.

This is a much-awaited move from Google. Following the raging success of Pokemon Go’s launch, they started receiving a surge of requests from developers looking to utilize Google Maps data for mobile games.

Over the years, Google has had a multitude of discussions with game developers and players as to how to help create a platform that optimizes AR game development. Google’s new Maps gaming initiative is the result of those discussions. This, Google says, focuses on location-based AR mobile games.

Google says it will be talking more about the initiative at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on March 19-23.

SEE ALSO: New Harry Potter mobile RPG will be out soon

Apps

Google introduces encrypted group chats

Using RCS

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It’s easy to send messages from one Apple device to another through iMessage. However, for all the system’s pomp and circumstance, iMessage ignores the entire Android population, leaving an entire swath of the smartphone-using world without accessibility and end-to-end security. For months, Google has tried convincing Apple to switch messaging systems and work together. Now, in a new push to bring equality, Google has launched its own RCS group chatting system with end-to-end encryption.

Rolling out in open beta during the next few weeks, the new system will allow Android users to chat with a group of other Android users. Using RCS technology, messaging is free, secure, and easy to use.

For accessibility, users can send high-quality media, react using emojis, and see any typing in real time. It works much like other messaging services these days. One advantage, however, is that the new feature will come automatically with Google Messages, an app already baked into a lot of Android devices. Users might not need to download another app — and that also plays into security.

Speaking of security, end-to-end encryption will ensure that only the users can see what the conversation is about. Neither the user’s network nor Google itself can snoop in and gather data.

Unfortunately, the system does have a massive caveat: It won’t work between Android to Apple conversations. Because Apple uses a different system, it’s currently impossible for cross-platform conversations to have the same level of security and convenience.

In the feature’s announcement, Google even calls Apple’s texting “stuck in the 1990s,” renewing its call to get Apple to convert. The company then names several global companies who have already switched to RCS messaging, including Globe.

SEE ALSO: Google is bringing its VPN to PC and Mac

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Netflix might ask more users to watch films before they premiere

An exclusive group

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Watching a movie before it comes out thrusts viewers into an exclusive sweet spot beyond normal moviegoers. Not everyone gets into this club, though. Usually, the privilege of an advanced screening goes to people involved in the moviemaking industry. However, with the current zeitgeist revolving around streaming services like Netflix, it’s easier to catch a movie before anyone else can.

Offering more users a chance to enter this club, Netflix is expanding its pool of preview viewers starting next year. First reported by Wall Street Journal, the platform will reportedly include tens of thousands of viewers — a gigantic climb from its current base of around 2,000 users.

Members of this group will have access to unreleased movies and series over a period of six months. After which, users will answer surveys to help Netflix determine which movies are worth seeing or skipping. It works like a focus group but automated by Netflix’s system.

If the program does expand next year, the company has not confirmed how it will do so or who is eligible to join. If anything, they have been asking subscribers their interest in taking part in the program.

Focus groups and advanced screenings are a common part of Netflix’s content cycle. Besides asking users for feedback before releasing content, the platform also releases content in other formats prior to a streaming launch. For example, the upcoming sequel to Knives Out, Glass Onion, premiered in select theaters for a week before its streaming release on December 23.

SEE ALSO: IN PHOTOS: Dubbing with Netflix, HIT Productions

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Pre-booked parking now possible with Dibz app

Call dibs on your parking space

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Dibz

Ever encountered a situation where you saw a vacant parking slot while scouring the parking area of a mall or any other establishment – only to find out that someone is standing on the actual slot to “reserve” it?

It has got to be one of the most frustrating moments for any vehicle owner. Fortunately, an app to address parking concerns has finally been born: Dibz.

MPT Mobility’s Dibz pre-booked parking is a secure and convenient app which allows drivers to search, pre-book, and pay in advance for a smooth and hassle-free parking experience.

Dibz guarantees parking space close to one’s destination, and offers reward points for users.

A detailed history of a customer’s bookings will also be made accessible – which comes in handy for reimbursements or simply tracking expenses.

Initially launched in Makati City, the service is now available in Dela Rosa Car Park 1 and 2 and Valero Car Park.

Dibz is downloadable on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

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