Google’s New Application Tools for Maps, YouTube, and Assistant Put Privacy in the Hands of Its Users

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Just in time for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Assistant were recently announced to have new tools related to user privacy and security. The new updates to these applications give users more control over what data Google can retrieve, and even gives the option for users to delete already collected data such as within Google Voice Assistant. 

Google Maps has now included an incognito mode to keep the application from tracking which places you search for and where you travel to, this thus giving its application users more control over privacy. Incognito mode also helps to keep users’ personalized recommendations from including any locations that would otherwise be irrelevant. Android and iOS users are expected to have this feature available to their Maps application this month.

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YouTube is receiving an update as well, with users now able to choose when the app will automatically delete accumulated history. You can choose to keep your watch history for three or 18 months, or just choose to keep the data until you delete it manually.

Google Assistant is also getting an update that allows users to delete any saved voice data. By saying phrases like “Hey Google, delete the last thing I said to you,” or “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week,” to your device, Google Assistant will delete its “Assistant Activity”. Deleting voice data from a while back would require you to go into account settings.

After it was revealed that actual people could listen to voice recordings for the purposes of improving voice assistants, Google, Amazon, and Apple all took action to remedy the privacy situation. Alexa, for instance, was implemented with the option for consumers to choose whether recordings will be reviewed. Two months ago, Apple also stated the suspension of its Siri grading program which similarly recorded user audio. The company commented on how they would incorporate consumer participation choice in the grading program with a future update. 

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This Google Assistant feature is expected to be released in all languages by next month. The English commands will be available this month. 

Lastly, Google had released Password Checkup within its Password Manager tool. The Checkup feature notifies its users if their passwords have been compromised from a data breach, weak and need to be strengthened, or whether a password has been reused. Google will be adding this tool to Chrome soon, but users can still take advantage of the feature at

Google’s Got You Covered for this Busy Thanksgiving Holiday

As you’re preparing to travel and visit family and friends this holiday season, Google wants to make your Thanksgiving a little less stressful. As we all know, Thanksgiving traffic is an inevitable headache, but with Google Maps’ recently published trends report on which hours are busiest for travel, shopping, and leisurely activities, you can now plan ahead.

According to Google’s blog report summary, traffic is busiest between 3-4PM the day before Thanksgiving and gets better in the morning hours of Thanksgiving day. The report also recommends leaving during the morning hours of Friday or Sunday for your travel back home, as traffic tends to get heavier during the afternoon hours after the holiday ends.

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Google has also made it simple to track which locations and attractions are busiest during this week. Visit volume to bakeries and grocery stores tend to get higher around noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Shopping centers and movie theaters also tend to have higher volumes of people around noon on Wednesday and Black Friday.

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Additionally, Google has provided plenty of resources in case your Thanksgiving doesn’t go according to plan (e.i. burning the turkey). Google Maps allows you to search for needed stops along your trip, share your ETA with loved ones, save your parking location, avoid the lines for that shopping trip, and much more!

Whether your heading to the airport or hitting the road this week for travel, Google Maps is determined to get you to where you need to be, stress and worry free.

Google Asus Reveal Their Smallest PC: Chromebit

In a complicated world, sometimes, simplicity is key. Google and Asus are ready to release their newest work in collaboration – the Chromebit, an $85 computer on an HDMI stick. The Chromebit is a stick-shaped Chrome OS desktop, just slightly larger in length than the palm of your hand. With the HDMI port, you can plug it right into any monitor or TV that supports HDMI connections. From there, all you need is a keyboard and mouse to attain a fully functioning PC.Google-Chromebit

Since it is just larger than a USB drive, you will probably notice a few differences from traditional Chromebooks or PC’s. The Chromebit can hold 16GB worth of storage, mainly allotted for Google Chrome since it is an online-only PC. It doesn’t sound like very much, but it is intended for cloud-based work – all which can be done via the Chrome browser. Google Drive allows you to save documents made on Google Docs or Sheets, and you can access email via Gmail. Everything else you might want to use it for (Netflix, browsing, etc.) is already accessible via the web.

As for a power supply, you will need to have the stick connected to a power source at all times, much like a typical PC tower. Timages_-_chromebithe Chromebit comes with a charging cord since the stick is so small and doesn’t have room for a battery. It does, however, have a USB port at the end of the device. Most people will use this to connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, though it is noted that you can just use a USB hub to connect it to multiple devices.

Due to the limitations in ram and memory, I can see the Chromebit generally being used as a mediahub, potentially for the living room or conference room. Although it’s small and portable, it doesn’t make for an efficient travel computer, since it needs power-supply and a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. But if you don’t have Chromecast already, this could satisfy your online-streaming or basic web-browsing needs. If all you need is an out-of-the-way desktop and some easy browsing, you won’t be able to beat the price. Google Asus Chromebit will be available at Amazon, Fry’s, and Newegg.


Explore the World with Google’s Street View Collection

Google Street View has a gallery collection with views of some of the most fascinating places in the world. Have you ever wondered what Antarctica looks like? Maybe you’ve always wanted to tour the White House? From inside the Palace of Versailles to the scenic Swiss Alps, the gallery is a host to hundreds of images most would never get a chance to see in person.

If this wasn’t enough to intrigue users, their newest project, titled “Ocean” takes Street View into the deep blue sea. The Ocean project explores the depths of the Great Barrier Reef. The underwater images highlight schools of colorful fish and the region’s signature coral reef. Like traditional Street View navigation, you can use arrows to move in areas that have been photographed.

The Maps’ Street View shows a photographer encountering a sting ray.

Other notable projects of the collection include Scenic Hawaii, Art Project, World Landmarks, World Wonders, and Nasa. Visit the full gallery.

Apple Releases iOS 6

For those of you with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, the newest iOS has just been made available for download. Along with some minor changes, iOS 6 touts two great new features:  turn-by-turn navigation on Apple’s new Maps app and the Passbook app. Here’s the rundown on the latest update:
Apple Maps– Gone are the days of pre-installed Google Maps. While the new Maps isn’t as easy to use as Google’s, it is still impressive with fly-over mode and yelp integration. The one new feature worth noting is turn-by-turn navigation which lets users have a safer driving experience with voice guidance from Siri. 
Image of Apple Maps Courtesy of Engadget
 Passbook –The closest thing to an app that acts as a wallet, Passbook helps manage your coupons, tickets and reservations in one place. The app organizes your various items into large tabs, making it easier to pull up important information like confirmation numbers and scannable barcodes. As of now, no iPhone has NFC, making mobile payments something Apple might add on the next generation iPhone.
Image of Passbook App Courtesy of Egadget
 Minor Changes:
  • Do Not Disturb – This sets notifications off temporarily for a better night’s rest.
  • Panorama– The camera can now take panorama photos up to about 270 degrees.
  • Phone– New options allow you to get a reminder to call someone or message them back via text instead of the single option of only ignoring calls.
  • Facebook Integration– Facebook posts can now be made directly from the notification center.
While all new features will work on the 5 and 4S, features that have hardware requirements will not work on the 4 and 3GS.

Google Maps Coordinate

Google has just introduced a web tool and mobile app that will help increase efficiency for employees who work on the field or are mobile.

Watch this video to learn how Google Maps Coordinate works:

Businesses can sign up for the service at a cost of $15 per employee.  This service is sure to increase efficiency in most lines of business especially since the API will allow for customization to the app.

Google’s Maps Event Unveils Exciting New Technologies

As the day progresses, we continue hearing more details about Google’s newest features to Maps like 3D maps for Google Earth (which we know several of our clients will find extremely beneficial) and offline maps for Android users.

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Additionally, they showcased their newest method of Street View capturing: a 40 pound backpack. This will allow for areas that cars and bicycles can’t access to be mapped.

Next week Apple will announce its own version of maps at WWDC so it’s no surprise that Google will do all it can to stay on top of the game.

CLICK HERE to read through Engadget’s live blog.