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Google launches crisis map for Taal Volcano victims

Search “Taal Volcano” on Google

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As part of efforts to provide aid for the Taal Volcano victims, Google Philippines launches a map that plots locations of shelters and evacuation centers.

Google, with the help of the Batangas Public Information Office as well as some volunteer mappers, plotted key locations around the affected areas where victims can find evacuation centers.

Going to Google’s homepage shows a link that redirects to a consolidated map helpful for evacuees, government units, and relief organizations.

The consolidated map provides information on evacuation centers, centralized drop off points for relief goods, contact points for evacuation of animals, road closures due to fissures, and health-related POIs.

To look for the map, you may try any of the following steps:

  • Search “Taal Volcano” on Google.
  • Scroll down and tap “View on map” under the “Affected area” segment.
  • Tap “Layers.”
  • Tap “View in Google My Maps.”

You can also click here or check out the embedded map below:

On January 12, 2020, the Taal Volcano erupted again for the first time since 1977. The eruption caused ash fall in Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and some parts of Central Luzon. Some areas near the immediate vicinity of the volcano have already declared a state of calamity.

Phivolcs — the Philippine national institution dedicated to provide information on the activities of volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis — still has Alert Level 4 raised which means “hazardous eruption is imminent.” The organization has speculated that a full eruption might occur anywhere between three days to seven months based on historical data.

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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