The quintessential American landmark, the Statue of Liberty is a shining beacon that enlightens the world. Despite today’s polarizing times, she has become a true symbol of liberty throughout the years, not just for Americans but for citizens of the world.
Today on the same island where she is perched, the new Statue of Liberty Museum opens its doors to the millions of tourists that come to see her each year. But in recognition that not everyone can visit, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation is also unveiling an AR app for your iPhone. Anyone, anywhere, can experience the statue’s grandeur.
A grand view of Libertas’ torch
On her right, the Statue of Liberty holds up a torch which symbolizes enlightenment and the path to liberty. Though visitors could originally climb up and experience the statue from the torch, it has been closed off to the public since 1916. The Statue of Liberty app will allow us to once again enjoy the breathtaking cityscape from this vantage point from sunrise to sunset.
The makings of the statue
Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi with the framework by Gustave Eiffel, the Statue of Liberty is an engineering marvel. 125 tons of steel and 31 tons of copper comprise the statue which used to glisten like a penny. The current patina green coating comes from copper oxidizing.
See everything with your own eyes via the Statue of Liberty AR app: how the color changed, how the insides were built, and even a life-sized model for scale.
A look throughout the years
Strategically built at the “gateway to America”, the Statue of Liberty has born witness to a significant chunk of New York’s history. On the app you can look through her eyes in an almost 180-degree field of view and watch the changing of the times from 1886 to the present day. Watch the Manhattan skyline rise and fall including that poignant moment from 2001. It’s all there, 200 years of change and progression from the viewpoint of Lady Liberty.
The hows and the whys
The creation of the Statue of Liberty was no easy feat. A private venture that maximized crowdfunding efforts not just from the elite, the statue is truly an icon that each American can call their own. Exclusive content on the app tells us the story in detail and narrates the journey from inception, to France, and finally to America.
If you can, you should also check out the 3-part short film at the new museum’s Immersive Theater. One will surely walk away with a better appreciation for Lady Liberty and all she stands for.
Raising the Torch, a limited-series podcast narrated by Diane von Furstenberg, is also now available for your listening pleasure. The saga tells the Statue of Liberty’s history, continuing story, and evolving significance.
Google’s Emoji Kitchen will mash-up your favorite emojis
Rolling out on Gboard
Do you know that Merriam-Webster adds new words to the dictionary every year? Do you also know that the Unicode Consortium adds new emojis to everyone’s devices every year? Such is the way of language. New ways to communicate will always emerge out of nowhere. Usually, they form whenever two things combine into an all-new form. It’s easy enough to combine words together, but how do you do that with emojis?
Google is developing a way to fuse emojis into new ones. In an official blog post, the Android developer announced the new feature called Emoji Kitchen. A feature of Gboard, Emoji Kitchen unlocks a plethora of new emojis. How about a cowboy ghost? Or a crying robot? Or a kissing poop face?
Prior to the Emoji Kitchen, users already received access to emoji variants in the past. Today, you can select different skin tones for human emojis. With the Emoji Kitchen, you can mix existing ones with each other. Likewise, users can access the feature automatically by opening compatible emojis. Opening the cowboy emoji sub-menu, for example, will open up its different variants.
Naturally, Emoji Kitchen will combine only existing emojis. In other words, you can’t create an all-new emoji from nothing. All new emojis come from Google’s own designers. Still, the feature’s new combinations will come in handy. Especially when I feel like a… monkey cactus?
Emoji Kitchen is slowly rolling out to Gboard users starting today. If you don’t want to wait for an official version, you can sign up for the Gboard Beta program for instant access.
Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo joins Huawei’s effort to build a Play Store alternative
Preparing for a Google-less future
Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo recently collaborated with Huawei to build the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA). GDSA aims to create a single app store aimed at simplifying app uploads and downloads for developers and consumers.
At first glance, GDSA seems like a competitor for Google’s Play Store. Over the years, the rising hostility of the US towards Chinese tech companies led to tariffs and outright ban from using its technologies. For example, Huawei suffered an entity ban last 2018 due to suspicions of spying for the Chinese government.
Such precedence may have stoked fear among other Chinese companies that a ban could be leveraged by the US in the future. Dependence on Western technologies is crucial for these companies. As such, a ban would represent a great loss, considering that most of these companies have established markets in many countries.
To counter this scenario, these tech companies are slowly building their own alternatives to established apps and services. Huawei, for its part, had already pushed out AppGallery as an alternative to Google’s Play Store. Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have their own app stores in China due to a continuing ban on Google’s services in the country.
A unified app store
A unified app store will greatly simplify the process for developers who have to deal with these multiple app stores. GDSA will unify the backend of these app stores so developers can publish once and have their apps appear on the brands’ respective app stores.
For now, details about GDSA are scarce. Pilot countries for its deployment include 9 key regions including India, Russia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. A prototype website has been set up, but developers cannot sign up for it yet.
But if GDSA really pushes through, Google will face some serious competition on Android app distribution. Furthermore, the issue of fragmentation will only deepen in the ecosystem as companies build their own version of Google apps.
Xiaomi already responded with a statement stating that they have no plans to position GDSA as a Play Store competitor. The company reiterated GDSA’s function to simplify the app uploading process. Furthermore, there was no mention of Huawei in their statement.
Huawei and Google have yet to release a statement. However, it is clear that Google will not welcome this development. Considering that Google has an iron grip on app store distribution outside China, a viable competitor will only compel the American company to further control the Android ecosystem.
With a tightening grip on Android, other tech companies will only intensify their efforts to build an alternative OS. Huawei, as an example, launched HarmonyOS for its devices in the future.
An alternative app store will also open up another potential avenue for hackers targeting users with malware. This will only contribute to security and privacy problems in Android, which has long been dealing with notorious malware and data breaches.
Grab Philippines ordered to suspend in-car recording and selfie verification
Due to violations in the Data Privacy Act of 2012
Last year, Grab Philippines tested new features to ensure passenger and driver safety. These new features are in-car audio and video recording, as well as selfie verification.
However, the country’s National Privacy Commission (NPC) ordered Grab to halt the rollout of these features. The commission stated that those features pose a privacy risk to passengers. A cease and desist order released by NPC cites violations within the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which governs the privacy and security of all digital data on the country.
NPC also stated in its Notice of Deficiencies that the ride-sharing company failed to assess the new features’ risk to passengers, taking only into account “the risk faced by the company”.
The notice also noted that there is no clear mechanism for informing passengers when recorded data gets sent to authorities. It also found out that there is ambiguity in opting out of recording.
As such, NPC gave Grab 15 days to address the deficiencies it found for both in-car recording and selfie verification. This is surely a welcome move for ensuring passengers’ privacy. However, the question remains on what measures Grab will implement in the future to protect its passengers’ safety.
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