Google Maps for Android Redesigned for Easier Access to Useful Features

Google has redesigned its Maps app for Android to provide users with easier access to some of the most useful features within the app. With the latest design overhaul, three tabs – Places, Driving, and Transit are accessible right from the bottom of app’s home screen with a simple tap. Google says that the real-time information from these bottom bar navigation tabs will help users in finding a nearby restaurant, beating the traffic, or catching the next available bus.

Google Maps for Android Redesigned for Easier Access to Useful Features

With a quick swipe up from the Places tab, users will be able to find places to eat or drink with curated lists like ‘best dinners’, ‘cheap eats’, or ‘business dining’ around their current location or the location they choose, the search giant said in its blog post. Google Maps for Android can also choose to search for ATMs, pharmacies, or gas stations with just a tap.

The other two tabs on the bottom bar are concerned directly with commute needs of the app users. If you feel like driving and have saved your work and home address already in the app, you can go to the Driving tab and you will get real-time ETAs to home and work. Further you get the traffic conditions nearby as well as the expected delays on your route. “If you don’t need turn-by-turn directions but want real-time traffic info as you take your usual route, you can tap on “start driving” to go directly into driving mode,” Google added about the update to Maps for Android.

If you feel like taking public transport, you need to head to the Transit tab on Google Maps for Android and you will get recommendations for buses or trains as well as ETA to your work or home. You can of course swipe down and check out schedules if you are headed somewhere else.

Considering that the options were a little scattered in the earlier version of Google Maps, it is a welcome design change that makes the interface look clean and easy-to-use. Google says that it has started rolling out the update, but hasn’t clarified whether it’s a new version of the app or a server-side change. However, there has been no word regarding the design overhaul on the iOS counterpart of the app as of now from the company.

LG G6 Launch Invite Teases Bezel-Less Display; Release Date for Select Markets Rumoured

LG’s next flagship smartphone, the G6, is all set to be unveiled at a pre-event on February 26 ahead of MWC 2017. The South Korean company after a ‘save the date’ confirmation for the event has now started sending official media invitations for the February 26 event. Additionally, prolific tipster Evan Blass has claimed availability details of the LG G6.

LG G6 Launch Invite Teases Bezel-Less Display; Release Date for Select Markets RumouredLG’s official invite, shared by CNET, shows “Big Screen. That Fits” tagline with two images. One of the images shows a large screen with no bezels while another image shows how easily the device will fit into the hands. The new teaser image seemingly confirms that the LG G6 may sport a bezel-less design at the front. Earlier leaks have pointed that the LG G6 will feature a 5.7-inch – which was shown off by LG Display last month – and will sport an unusual aspect ratio of 2:1. One of the biggest highlights of the design is said to be the sleek bezels and the upcoming flagship is expected to feature screen-to-bezel ratio of over 90 percent.

In a separate news, Blass reports LG’s flagship will be going on sale soon after the MWC 2017 trade show at least in the homeland, South Korea. According to planning material reviewed by VentureBeat, the LG G6 will go on sale on March 9 in South Korea. In US, the smartphone however will be slightly delayed and will go on sale only on April 7.

Several leaks have pointed that the LG G6 will sport metal design which will be a departure from the company’s current plastic body in the LG G5, which sports a modular design. LG is also rumoured to run additional safety tests on the G6 ahead of its actual launch. Some of the highlights of the handset are said to be the first non-Pixel smartphone to come preloaded with Google Assistant out-of-the-box; dual-rear camera setup; waterproofing capability with IP68 certification, and featuring latest Snapdragon 835 processor.

LG’s G6 flagship smartphone will be unveiled at the company’s February 26 event which will begin at 4.30pm IST (12.00pm CET).

Uber Hires Veteran NASA Engineer to Develop Flying Cars

In 2010, an advanced aircraft engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center named Mark Moore published a white paper outlining the feasibility of electric aircrafts that could take off and land like helicopters but were smaller and quieter. The vehicles would be capable of providing a speedy alternative to the dreary morning commute.

Uber Hires Veteran NASA Engineer to Develop Flying CarsMoore’s research into so-called VTOL-short for vertical takeoff and landing, or more colloquially, flying cars-inspired at least one billionaire technologist. After reading the white paper, Google co-founder Larry Page secretly started and financed two Silicon Valley startups, Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, to develop the technology, Bloomberg Businessweek reported last summer.

Now Moore is leaving the confines of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he has spent the last 30 years, to join one of Google’s rivals: Uber Technologies. Moore is taking on a new role as director of engineering for aviation at the ride-hailing company, working on a flying car initiative known as Uber Elevate. “I can’t think of another company in a stronger position to be the leader for this new ecosystem and make the urban electric VTOL market real,” he says.

Uber isn’t constructing a flying car yet. In its own white paper published last October, the company laid out a radical vision for airborne commutes and identified technical challenges it said it wanted to help the nascent industry solve, like noise pollution, vehicle efficiency and limited battery life. Moore consulted on the paper and was impressed by the company’s vision and potential impact.

Moore acknowledged that many obstacles stand in the way, and they’re not only technical. He says each flying car company would need to independently negotiate with suppliers to get prices down, and lobby regulators to certify aircrafts and relax air-traffic restrictions. But he says Uber, with its 55 million active riders, can uniquely demonstrate that there could be a massive, profitable and safe market. “If you don’t have a business case that makes economic sense, than all of this is just a wild tech game and not really a wise investment,” Moore says.

Uber’s vision is a seductive one, particularly for sci-fi fans. The company envisions people taking conventional Ubers from their homes to nearby “vertiports” that dot residential neighborhoods. Then they would zoom up into the air and across town to the vertiport closest to their offices. (“We don’t need stinking bridges!” says Moore.) These air taxis will only need ranges of between 50 to 100 miles, and Moore thinks that they can be at least partially recharged while passengers are boarding or exiting the aircraft. He also predicts we’ll see several well-engineered flying cars in the next one to three years and that there will be human pilots, at least managing the onboard computers, for the foreseeable future.

His move to Uber is a risky one. Moore says he’s leaving NASA one year before he’s eligible for retirement and walking away from a significant percentage of his pension and free health care for life “to be in the right place at the right time to make this market real.” (Though it’s probably safe to say that Uber, with some $11 billion on its balance sheet, is making it worth his while.) Moore seems to be disillusioned with NASA, saying the agency is leaving promising new aviation markets to the private industry. “It’s the federal government who is best positioned to overcome extremely high levels of risks,” he says.

While NASA is larded with layers of bureaucracy and management, Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick has been closely involved in hatching his company’s flying car plans, Moore says. That is, when he’s not distracted with his own political crises, such as his role on President Donald Trump’s advisory council, which he relinquished last week after criticism from customers, drivers and employees.

Kalanick’s bet on Uber Elevate is another indication that while Silicon Valley seems on the surface to be consumed with politics and protests these days, the march into the future continues apace.

Trump Immigration Ban: US Government Urges Appeals Court to Reinstate Order

The US government on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s travel ban as a “lawful exercise” of his authority, and urged an appeals court to reinstate the suspended measure in the interests of national security.
Uber Hires Veteran NASA Engineer to Develop Flying Cars
Three days after a federal judge put the controversial measure on hold, Justice Department lawyers filed a court brief challenging the nationwide injunction as “vastly overbroad.”

An hour-long telephone hearing has been set for Tuesday at 3:00pm (11:00pm GMT) in a high-stakes case that looks increasingly likely to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Two new polls show a majority of Americans now oppose the travel ban on refugees and travellers from seven mostly-Muslim nations, which sparked airport chaos and condemnation around the world – but Trump has shown no sign of bending, pushing back late Monday in a new Twitter salvo.

“The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real, just look at what is happening in Europe and the Middle-East. Courts must act fast!” he wrote.

Earlier in the day, during a visit to US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, Trump accused the media of downplaying the terror threat which his administration cites to justify its ban, saying they purposefully ignored jihadist atrocities.

Asked to explain Trump’s comments, White House spokesman Sean Spicer promised to “provide a list” of attacks that had been “underreported.”

Trump’s decree summarily denied entry to all refugees for 120 days, and travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days – a move critics charge will damage US interests. Refugees from Syria were blocked indefinitely.

The president says the ban is needed to tighten US security against foreign terror threats, citing the September 11, 2001 attacks despite the hijackers having no links to the named countries.

In its filing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the government argued that the federal court which temporarily rolled back Trump’s directive had “erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order,” asking that the ban be reinstated.

The Justice Department argued that “the executive order is a lawful exercise of the president’s authority over the entry of aliens into the United States and the admission of refugees.”

“Even if some relief were appropriate, the court’s sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad,” it said.

The government again denied that the order specifically targets Muslims, defending it as a means to review and revise screening procedures in order to “protect against terrorist attacks.”

And it said non-US citizens seeking to enter the United States for the first time have no constitutional rights to be upheld.

Friday’s decision by a federal judge in Seattle has allowed the many travelers who were suddenly barred from US soil to start trickling back in.

The State Department has said visa holders from the seven countries are allowed to travel to the US as long as their documents have not been “physically canceled.”

On Sunday, the appellate court refused to overrule the federal judge.

Attorneys general for the states of Washington and Minnesota, which won the temporary stay of the ban, have asked the appeals court to refuse to reinstate it. They were backed Monday in a court brief filed by attorneys general from 16 other US states.

Several legal and rights groups have filed in support of the states, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union.

And in an additional blow, a slew of Silicon Valley giants led by Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have filed a brief in support of the lawsuit, arguing that the ban threatens their ability to attract crucial foreign talent and investment to the United States.

Tesla and SpaceX were among another 30 companies that added their names to the filing late Monday, pushing the total to more than 120.

A group of prominent Democrats including former secretaries of state John Kerry and Madeleine Albright added their voices to the criticism, arguing that Trump’s ban could endanger US troops in the field, disrupt counterterrorism cooperation and feed Islamic State group propaganda.

Spicer insisted the administration was “absolutely not” planning to back down on its plan for extreme vetting at US borders, saying: “Once we win the case, it will go right back into action.”

But top Republicans have shown renewed signs of discomfort with the president as the controversy escalates – specifically over Trump’s virulent attacks on James Robart, the Seattle federal judge.

Supreme Court Asks Centre for Mechanism to Verify Identities of All Mobile Users

In a move to end fake mobile phone users, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to put in place within a year an effective mechanism to scrutinise the details of identity of over 100 crore existing and future mobile telephone consumers.

Supreme Court Asks Centre for Mechanism to Verify Identities of All Mobile UsersA bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana took note of the statement of Attorney General Mukul Reheated, appearing for the Centre, that a mechanism will be put in place to scrutinise identity of mobile users and new subscribers will be required to fill up Aadhaar-based eKYC forms to ensure correct identity.

“It is submitted that an effective system will be put in place and the process of scrutiny will be completed in one year… We are satisfied that the prayers made in the writ petition have been substantially dealt with,” the bench said and hoped that the process would be completed in the near future and latest before completion of one year.

During the hearing, the bench suggested that existing prepaid mobile users, who are 90 percent of the total mobile users, may be asked to give identity details at the time of recharge as done while giving fresh SIM cards to users.

Rohatgi said that it would be difficult as even small kiosks across the country recharge prepaid mobile phones.

Earlier, the court had asked the Centre and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to apprise it about the steps which can be taken to scrutinise the existing and future mobile users in the country.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Lok Niti Foundation which has sought a direction to the Centre to put in place a proper mechanism to check the authenticity of information provided by mobile users.

The verification has become more important in view of the fact that mobile phones are now being used for banking purposes also, it had said.

The plea said that proper verification of mobile phone subscribers was necessary to avoid fake identities which caused grave risk to national security too.

The court had asked DoT and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to also respond to the letter written to them by the petitioner NGO giving suggestions on the mobile phone verification issue.

The petitioner had written the letter to DoT and TRAI on August 7, 2014, saying there was a grave risk to national security because of lack of verification of mobile phone subscribers and had given suggestions for making systemic improvements to ensure the same.

In its petition before the apex court, the NGO has sought directions to DoT and TRAI to ensure 100 percent verification of mobile phone subscribers with regard to their identity, addresses and that no fake or unverified identity is accepted for subscription of mobile phones.

It also sought that Aadhaar Card or other biometric identification may be made compulsory for verification of the mobile phone users.

It claimed that around 5.25 crore mobile phone subscribers (about 5 percent of the total) are unverified, despite the directions given by the apex court and instructions issued by DoT itself from time to time to ensure mobile phone subscriber verification.

“Unverified SIM cards pose a serious threat to the country’s security as these are routinely used in criminal and terrorist activities,” the petition said.

The plea has sought strict implementation of subscriber verification guidelines and that physical verification be made compulsory in future and physical re-verification of existing subscriber base be conducted in a transparent manner.