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Google just announced a new safety feature to keep you safe and informed during a crisis






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Another tech company is working to keep you safe during times of crisis.

Google announced a new set of safety features called “SOS alerts” in a blog post on Tuesday. With SOS alerts, which the company will add to Google Search and Google Maps, Google hopes to “make emergency information more accessible during a natural or human-caused crisis.”

A vice-president of engineering at Google, Yossi Matias, spoke to Time about the new development, and said SOS alerts were partially inspired by his experience with a major fire on Mount Carmel while working in Israel. At the time, he had no immediate information on what was going on.  Read more…

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Your Roomba could be selling maps of your home to Google, Amazon, and Apple






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Remember Roomba, the cute robotic vacuum cleaner who’s been navigating around your house for years? 

Well, its creator, iRobot, has hinted it may be selling Roomba-derived maps of your home to one or more of the Big Three — Amazon, Apple and Google’s Alphabet — in the next couple of years. 

“There’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared,” said Colin Angle, iRobot’s CEO. 

Mapping your home

If the idea of a device spying on your flooring plan — along with other data about your home — and then selling that info to companies to help them improve their targeted ads seems particularly creepy to you, that’s because, well, it is creepy.  Read more…

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How Google is trying to fix Android’s emoji problem






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Android has an emoji problem.

No, it’s not those weird blobs (RIP), but something that’s been nearly as tricky to fix. Because of Android handset makers’ inconsistent updates, not only do many Android users not get new software updates in a timely manner, they don’t get new emoji at the same time as their iPhone-using counterparts.

While Google will probably never really fix its fragmentation problem, the company is working on a fix for the emoji issue, as highlighted Monday by Emojipedia.

Up until now, new emoji releases have been tied to Android updates. This meant that Android users often had to wait weeks or even months to get the latest emoji characters.  Read more…

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Google tests autoplay videos in search, because we aren’t allowed to have nice things






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One of the most hated features of the 2017 internet — autoplay videos — may soon be coming to anyone (i.e. nearly everyone) who uses Google to search. 

At least that’s the look of things based on a new test Google has been rolling out in recent days that puts autoplay videos in the Knowledge Panel (which appears to the right of your results in a desktop browser). 

Discovered by SEM Post reporter Jennifer Slegg on Monday, the test puts a small YouTube video related to your search term under the name and images associated with the search term. Since it’s a limited test, only visible to some users, I wasn’t able to duplicate the autoplay results. Nevertheless, Slegg says that after searching for two Warner Bros. films, Justice League and The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, she saw autoplayed trailers in the Knowledge Panel.  Read more…

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Google is finally making it easier to create GIFs on Android






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Google’s Motion Stills app brought some much-needed focus and balance to the iPhone’s Live Photos when it launched last year. Thus far, however, it has only brought its steady video stabilizing goodness to iOS users. 

That’s no longer the case. Google Research is finally rolling out Motion Stills for Android, giving everyone outside of Apple’s ecosystem a shot at tuning up their video content.   

The new app is an odd fit for Android, which doesn’t have the same Live Photo functionality as iOS phones, but that doesn’t mean intrepid phone photographers won’t take advantage of the editing package to GIF the hell out of anything and everything around them for maximum shareable potential.    Read more…

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