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Google Maps will let you know if a place will be closed by the time you arrive

Posted by wicked June - 16 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

google_maps_new_zealand

Showing up somewhere late is bad and showing up somewhere that is closed is even worse. You could have saved yourself a trip having known the hours. Now, Google Maps will help prevent any of that from happening. Google Maps will alert you when a place you are plan to head to will be closed by the time of your arrival.

In addition to this, Google Maps added car rental reservations to search results of personal events.

Hit the break for the changelog and download links.

What’s New

– Receiving a warning when you are able to navigate to a place that is closed at time of arrival.
– Searching for ‘my events’ now also shows car rental reservations from your GMail, in addition to flights and hotels.
– Bug fixes

qr code

Play Store Download Link

Come comment on this article: Google Maps will let you know if a place will be closed by the time you arrive

Google Maps Now Warns You If Your Destination Will Close Before You Get There

Posted by Kellex June - 15 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

A Google Maps update that is rolling out to all today adds a new warning that appears if you are considering navigating to a location that is closing soon. The new warning will actually tell you that you won’t make it before the place closes, hopefully saving you a wasted trip.

Another new addition, thanks to the update, adds car rental reservations you have from Gmail should you do a search for “my events.”

The update appears to be available to all, but we have the .apk below if you want to sideload it. 

What’s New

  • Receive a warning when you are about to navigate to a place that is closed at time of arrival.
  • Searching for ‘my events’ now also shows car rental reservations from your GMail, in addition to flights and hotels.
  • Bug Fixes

Play Link | Download Link (.apk)

Google Maps Now Warns You If Your Destination Will Close Before You Get There is a post from: Droid Life

HERE improves on offline maps in Africa, transit routes everywhere else

Posted by wicked June - 5 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Nokia’s HERE navigation maps app has been doing offline mapping since before everyone thought it was cool. And now that Google Maps is set to have offline navigation as well, expect that HERE will further improve the customer’s experience in order for people to still prefer using it more than any other maps app. The latest update brings even more improvement when it comes to mapping out areas in Africa and letting it be available offline, as well as improving on actual transit routes.

HERE is adding seven more countries in the African continent (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe) and giving them detailed navigation options and of course offline support as well. They have also improved on the mapping data in some other African countries and cities, like Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, and the Seychelles.

Public transit line accuracy is also improving as now the maps will show the actual routes taken by buses, trains, etc. Unlike previously when the app will just show how the stations are linked together (even if they were color-coded as to the kind of transporation), now the new lines will show the route each of the transit options will take. Eventually, these “richer maps” will hopefully turn to HD maps, which will make it more of a target for companies looking to acquire something like HERE.

The app should also be quicker to update now. And if you’re an enterprise subscriber, you’ll be able to see more embedded data like road weight limits and height restrictions for trucking companies to know. If you haven’t yet, you can download HERE from the Google Play Store for free.

VIA: SlashGear

Google Maps improves real-time transit info, adds more cities, countries

Posted by wicked June - 3 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

It used to be that map and navigation apps cater mostly to people who have cars or are driving or being driven around unfamiliar areas. But developers have been realizing that a lot of the people who need these kinds of services are commuters or people taking public transportation. Google Maps has been giving public transit information since 2007, but now they have vastly improved the service by giving you real-time transit conditions and adding more countries and cities covered.

When you look at your Google Maps app starting today, the information for your relevant “journeys” are now arranged and summarized. It also gives you suggestions as to what is the fastest kind of public transport to take when going to a specific place, or other suggestions if you’ve missed that bus schedule. It gives you live information like the arrival and departure of buses, trains, etc and even cancelled routes due to accidents or roadwork.

Last shot

Google Maps has also added two more countries and four metro areas to their database so if you live or are visiting the UK, Netherlands, Budapest, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, you will also now be able to enjoy real-time transit info as well. Knowing Google, they will probably be adding more cities and countries later on to help both drivers and commuters navigate their way around the world.

Final Shot Blog Transit 1

Google now covers more than 18,000 cities and towns in 70 countries and 6 continents through the help of more than 6,000 transit authorities covering more than 2.5 million trains, buses, ferry terminals, etc. However, they are still working on Antarctica. They’re kidding. Maybe.

Transit graphic 3

SOURCE: Google

Google Maps getting offline search and navigation

Posted by wicked May - 28 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

google_maps_germany_mountains

There are still downfalls when it comes to using your phone for navigation. The world is not blanketed with one giant internet connection. Some parts of the world have no access to an internet connection whatsoever. Also, navigating with a phone is heavy on data and battery life. At Google I/O 2015, an update to Maps debuted that combats those downfalls.

Google Maps will support location cards for recent searches and voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation even when an internet connection is not present or a device is in airplane mode. Google wants people in developing countries to use the features in order to learn about their environment in an efficient way.

The new offline features are expected to arrive later this year.

Check out our complete Google I/O 2015 coverage

Come comment on this article: Google Maps getting offline search and navigation

NailO prototype Bluetooth thumbnail trackpad

Posted by Tom April - 20 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

While there’s no plans to make the NailO commercially available at the moment, it’s still a pretty cool new way of interacting with regular touchscreen displays.

The NailO is a thumbnail sized Bluetooth trackpad developed by researchers at MIT Media Laboratory and can be used for easy scrolling.

The tiny prototype features a microcontroller, Bluetooth radio and antenna, a battery and a capacitive touch sensor.

There are a number of practical uses for this tech but it may have come a little late now smart watches are looking likely that they could provide a similar function. However, if this does make it out and at a nice price, it could be a nice solution for clean screens and distance navigation.

Via liliputing

AutoMate app on beta, brings Android Auto-like UI in app form

Posted by wicked April - 7 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

If you’ve followed our reports on Android Auto, you will understand that Google’s efforts towards reaching your car’s dash control is only available in head units at this time – and some very expensive ones to boot. AutoMate may just be the answer to that – it provides a sort of control hub for you while driving your car, but it’s still in beta release at this point.

App developer Kahtaf Alam has made AutoMate available via the Google Play Store, but only for those who want to do beta testing. The app delivers an Android Auto-like experience – bringing messaging, call, navigation and music capabilities together so you can access it while driving.

When you test out the app, it looks very much like Android Auto – that is intentional. AutoMate wants to capture a piece of that experience in app format. The features are still rough, you would expect that in a beta release. But basically, it does everything Android Auto can do – it can read back your text messages (via Google’s text-to-speech), navigate via Google Maps and other navigation apps, play music, and make calls.

automate_car_music

If you want to test this out, there is a dedicated Google+ group (see source link) that you can join, and ask how to be part of the beta test. The developers have been very open in their need for quality user feedback, so maybe you can help.

SOURCE: +KahtafAlam

Figure the best route to your destination with TomTom GO Mobile

Posted by wicked March - 26 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Getting around a city or a suburb, whether it’s an everyday routine or you’re in an unfamiliar place, is getting more and more complicated. Yes, your native maps on your smartphone can show you where your destination is, but you sometimes need much more than that. TomTom GO Mobile is the latest app that will help you navigate your way through traffic jams, unfamiliar territory, and even avoid speed traps.

The app promises that it will get you to wherever you want to go, but faster. It will always give you real-time traffic information and will give you the best route to get to your destination, avoiding traffic, road construction, and even telling you where the speed cameras/traps are (so you know what to do, wink wink). When you favorite your usual places to visit on the map, you just tap on it and it will automatically give you the best route already. And if you input your contacts on to the app, with their addresses included, just select who you will visit, and your route will be planned out already.

The maps are stored on your phone so you can still use it even when you don’t have Internet connection. It has maps for around 100 countries so even when you’re outside the US, you can still use TomTom. The buildings and landmarks are in 3D so it will be easier for you to navigate.

TomTom GO Mobile is the new app, actually replacing the previous GPS Navigation app. It can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store, but you’ll only be able to use it for free for the first 75 km every month. If you want unlimited driving, you can upgrade through an in-app purchase. One year will cost you around $22 while 3 years subscription will be around $50.

SOURCE: TomTom

Cops take matters into their own hands with Waze fake police reports

Posted by wicked February - 14 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off

You don’t listen to our complaints and requests to take down that feature? Fine, we’ll do it our own way. At least, that’s what we think what the cops are saying to Google and Waze since they were basically ignored. We reported a few weeks ago about the issues cops are having with the police feature in the navigation app, and this time, they are taking matters into their own hands, so to speak.

Several prominent police officials requested that Google take down that feature in Waze where users can share cop sightings in the areas, saying that this can actually be used by some people for nefarious and dangerous purposes. Even though most people use them to actually avoid cops, they believe that it poses a danger to some cops’ well-being, especially given tense relations lately between the public and law enforcement in some states.

NBC Miami has reported that some cops in the region have taken to the digital streets by downloading Waze and then flooding it with fake reports of police sightings. This is both in unofficial protest against Google and also to confuse users and throw off the scent on actual sightings. There is nothing in the user agreement that requires people (or agencies) to make legit reports, which is also one of the drawbacks of a crowd-sourced navigation app like Waze.

There is no official statement yet from any law enforcement agency if this is an actual campaign. There is also no word from Google regarding the latest development in their “tiff” with the cops. Let’s wait for the next chapter in this ongoing digital argument.

VIA: SlashGear

Is Google Lost? A Reflection On Android Navigation

Posted by wicked January - 13 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

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I remember my first Android device, and how it differed to the ones I have now in one major point: navigation keys. My old Motorola XT316 (a mid-range phone for Latin American markets) came with Froyo 2.2 and featured 4 TFT capacitive navigation keys: menu, home, back, and the long gone “search”. Android phones have come a long way since that OS, and since the early days of archaic UI design and choppy performance. Now we have the most beautiful and smoothest Android, and arguably one of the best Operating Systems… But there’s something that I really think has not improved all that much despite all the optimizations, and that is navigation.

By navigation, I mean the tools and means you’ve got that encompass all of your options for moving around your interface, or interacting with it. The most notable part of Android’s navigation would be, without a doubt, the navigation keys. Other aspects include the notification bar and shade, and the recent applications panel. While one could argue that the enhancements to speed and smoothness are the most significant improvements one could make to navigation, there are some other functions, additions and usability tweaks that also grant you a better sailing through your vast OS. There’s more to good navigation than just the bare basics and simplicity of the button offerings of Android.

While the 3 bottom keys are intuitive enough, I think Google really should have stretched a little more towards fundamentally improving the Android experience in its latest OS. I personally think that Material Design, and consequently Lollipop, feels more of a skinpack than it is a new iteration of Android, or the revolution in usability that some fans wanted it to be. I guess that when an OS gets to a certain point, there’s not that much to improve other than tweak the user experience through the aesthetics and direct interactions with the UI… but if this is the case, why was navigation neglected, given that there are many good navigation alternatives or concepts out there that could be incorporated? Let’s explore how Google could have done more for a better navigation in Android.

 

Software keys, Functions

 

The 3-key setup in Android is beautifully efficient. It works, and I think few people would have complaints with it. Like previously mentioned, my first device had 4 keys, and some were known to have 5. The removal of the Search button first, and the Menu button later meant a simpler, more efficient Android user interaction. The functions aren’t gone, but now have to be incorporated into the apps that feature them – because this was the problem all along; some apps didn’t need a Menu button, and even more apps didn’t need a Search button. This was a great fat trim by Google.

The movement from capacitive buttons to on-screen buttons allows for a lot of versatility that hasn’t been fully exploited: the keys are no longer tied to a graphic or icon, and thus their function isn’t predetermined to the user. In theory, having on-screen keys means that the keys can take many shapes and do many things, dynamically adapting to the context of the screen. You don’t see much of this on Android. The back key turns into a “Down” key when your keyboard is up, but that’s about it. I’d love to see more things like this, but with more creative context-sensitive functions.

The problem with this is the fact that there are just 3 keys. While you could have some nicer functions appear when the context is right, that would mean some other keys would have to go for the time the new option is available – and we don’t want that. After all, it’d be terrible to not be able to go home or switch apps when a certain element is on the screen. Regardless, I think something else can be done to maximize the possibility of on-screen buttons. Which leads me my second point about the bottom keys: Customizability.

The LG G3 had something that almost every reviewer loved about it, even if some didn’t use the feature: you could customize the navigation keys! Something so simple had taken almost 3 years (since the first software keys on the Galaxy Nexus) to be incorporated by any official phone maker. On LG’s flagship, you could set how many keys you wanted at the bottom, and what keys you wanted there, including access to useful features like multi-window, the deceased menu key, and something we didn’t even know we wanted in the form of a key to bring down the notification panel. Now, the best part about this is that the phone has a large display – and most phones are going this way – so it has the room to accommodate for more buttons without sacrificing much. We’ll talk a little more about phablets in a bit.

nexus2cee_ImportantGenerousAdeliepenguin_thumbAs another note, there’s still a lot of functionality ground Google hasn’t explored with their softkey offering. For example, ROMs like Cyanogen, Omni, Carbon, and Paranoid Android have had the “quick-switch” on the recents key for a while, allowing you to long-press the recents key to quickly access the app you opened before the current one. A little thing like that can do wonders for navigation and can really trim a second or two out of the transition. Things like sliding up software keys have also been known to be incorporated in ROMs. And much more could be thought of and added if Google employees sat in front of the drawing board (with a nice paycheck incentive, of course!) to come up with the future of Android navigation. Things like letting us link a few keys or functions to a single key slot, then swiping the software keys up to swap between them for when we need them, maybe having a nice little menu pop up for visual aid as to what key we are selecting. Not the best idea, but it took me a few seconds of unpaid thinking to come up with… I’m sure a software designer could do much more.

 

Recents panel, Animations

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3 - 6BCLnzHThe new recents panel is beautiful. Simply beautiful! The Lollipop dev preview had me in awe at the sight of such a pretty, colorful and smooth stack of cards for me to file through. But now that I’ve been using Lollipop on multiple devices for a few months, it doesn’t feel all that special, and the initial magic is gone. The old panel, albeit uglier, worked a little better. I find myself spending more time scrolling through the cards back and forth than I did with my older panels. SlimKat and Paranoid Android, for example, also had very efficient recents panel alternatives, that worked well and fast. And I had added in a rather unconventional one for my Note 3’s ROM (pictured) that worked surprisingly well for a phablet.

The motions of the card-stack aren’t confusing enough to warrant a redesign, and admittedly I don’t have a big gripe with the new system, as looking at it is pleasing. But what I think of it when I see it is something that I feel Google is increasingly adopting: style over function. The long animations of Lollipop are pretty, but like hundreds have already pointed out before, they are just way too drawn out. I keep my animations either disabled or set to .5 speed, as I’m sure many here do. Without faster animations, I feel like I’m waiting for my processor-powerhouses of phones to do things I know it can do in a pinch. This also detracts from navigation, as the point of efficient navigation is to save time, not look cool.

 

Interface, Phablets

 

Another big point of navigation is the cardinal location of objects in the interface. I think that Google has a weird double-think on this front. On one side, they are pushing bigger screens to our pockets with their affinity for phablets, given that they opted for a 6 inch device with their latest flagship, often coined their “vision of Android”. At the same time, Google has been doing very little (read, nothing) to incorporate phablet features into Android. And most importantly, phablet navigation. If anything, I feel like they are doing the opposite with their apps.

The bane of a (right-handed) phablet user’s user experience is objects located to the upper left corner of the screen. Which is, coincidentally, where Google’s guidelines place the action bar, the heart of modern apps. If it wasn’t for the Note’s one-handed mode (which shrinks the entire screen), I’d be forced to risk my phone’s integrity by doing hand gymnastics worthy of the power-user olympics Gold Medal. That is just not cool.

Then there’s the fact that, like previously mentioned, phablets can efficiently house more than just 3 software keys, like the G3 proved. But another big issue for navigation on phablets is the fact that the bottom edge of a phablet also requires some hand gymnastics, particularly the bottom left corner. All of this detracts from navigation, as you have to re-adjust your hand to reach certain aspects of the screen. Even Apple had the foresight to incorporate a feature to make one-handed reachability easier on their phablet.

There’s many solutions to this problem. The easiest would be hiding the navigation keys, like their immersive mode already allows for, and adding PIE controls. Many ROMs have incorporated PIE controls already, and there’s Playstore alternatives out there too. The problem with the latter is that they aren’t officially supported, they can be pushed out of RAM and some functions like Menu and Back require root. That already makes it not as good as a built-in solution, which Google has already patented, but never applied!

And finally, there’s some additional features that greatly enhance phablet navigation, such as keyboards that adjust to the side of the screen (like featured on LG and Samsung phablets), or Samsung’s previously mentioned one-handed mode, which comes handy more often than you’d think. But the other very overlooked Samsung feature that just makes handling navigation so much more organic is their multi-window. If there is a reason to have a phablet, multi-window would be it. Some bits of multi-window code were found in AOSP code, and everyone expected Lollipop and its host phablet to bring it, but it didn’t. And Samsung’s solution in particular has fundamentally changed the way I see apps on my phone. If I am watching a YouTube video, and I want to navigate to the chat I had opened previously, rather than switching apps and missing out on the video or audio by pausing it, I can just swiftly resize it and leave it playing on a corner as I type my message. I never thought it would be as useful as it is, but I use it literally all the time and it brings the mobile OS closer to a fully fledged desktop replacement. It’s something you’ve got to try and get used to in order to fully appreciate, and I can’t imagine daily driving a phone without it now.

Finally, having the 480 DPI standard on a phablet is a little ridiculous, specially when Google insists on the Nexus 6’s default launcher to have 4×4 grids of immense icons. It looks like a stretched out phone, and with more room for more content you can also have a better effective navigation, as more options are available to you at any given time without necessarily sacrificing much intuitiveness or ease of use and reach.

 

Where are you going, Google?

 

So here I am wondering why Google’s software designers haven’t addressed some of these issues, added some of these features, and adapted their software to their new vision. There are hundreds of multi-tasking solutions I haven’t talked about, many of them on the Playstore or on XDA ROMs. Switchr, for example, works great and I used it for a while. There are also ways to access apps without visual aid, such as gestures. Why can’t Google look at their developer community and draw inspiration from them? Why can’t they act on their own patents? And why don’t they try to push navigation forward, in a time where we want our experience to be more efficient and pleasant? I love Lollipop, to the point where I can’t go back to my old KitKat ROMs and all the Xposed goodness. But in my sweet love for Lollipop’s optimizations and new features lay some grips and annoyances with its setbacks and conformities. Let’s hope the next version makes the OS as fluid and organic as it can be.

The post Is Google Lost? A Reflection On Android Navigation appeared first on xda-developers.

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