Google Maps turns 15 this year

A new icon to match



Today marks the 15th birthday of Google Maps. It’s the company’s widely-used mapping service. Google Maps’ 15th birthday also marks a pivotal moment as it introduces new features for users.

New icon for users

For its 15th birthday, Google updated the logo of Google Maps to better reflect the iconic pin that defined its brand. Gone is the old logo with “G” embedded on a map with a large pin. Now, Google Maps sports a simplified logo featuring a large pin that reflects Google’s brand of colors.

Easier navigation on the go

It is also getting an update on both Android and iOS app. Users will see five tabs on the bottom of the app now: Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute, and Updates. From now on, these tabs will serve as the primary method of navigating through the app, as the latest update removes the iconic hamburger menu on the search bar.

Explore tab will help users find information and reviews for landmarks all over the world. Commute tab, on the other hand, will help users navigate to a place in the most efficient route.

Meanwhile, the three remaining tabs — Saved, Contribute, and Updates — will help users discover a place and make mapping an engaging activity. Saved places are consolidated in a new tab for easier access. Contributing a place is easier with the Contribute tab. Lastly, the latest news and posts about a place find home in the Updates tab.

Useful insights

Google Maps is also leveraging machine learning to give useful insights to commuters on the go. Aside from predicting how crowded public transportation is based on riders’ patterns, commuters will get insights such as temperature, accessibility and security information. Women commuters may also find the women’s section insight useful — allowing them to check whether a public transportation option gives priority to women.

These useful insights will roll out globally this March 2020.

Live View

Live View will also expand to more regions and gain new capabilities. Users will surely appreciate its new capability which lets them quickly see how far away and in which direction a place is.

Mapping the future

Google Maps’ growth has been phenomenal. In just a span of 15 years, it became the world’s favorite mapping app. Over the years, it gained useful additions, from Street Maker to Live View, which helped users navigate to their favorite places anytime, anywhere.

Google Maps is already looking ahead by expanding its open-source digital address initiative — the Plus Codes. With Plus Codes, users don’t have to look up the long, physical address of a landmark since they simply have to remember some codes.

For years to come, Google Maps will be busy innovating and adding new features for its users. Surely, the next few years will define the mapping service from Google as it faces new competitors and challenges ahead.


Google introduces encrypted group chats

Using RCS



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



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




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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