Last year, Google rolled a new earthquake alert system for Android. At the time, it was California-only and based on the USGS's ShakeAlert, but the company also started work on another plan: Using the world's army of Android phones themselves to gather seismological data for earlier detection, notifications, and better accuracy. At the time, that crowdsourced data was limited to Google Search, but today Google is bringing it in the form of early earthquake detection notifications to phones, too — but only if you live in New Zealand or Greece.
When it comes to earthquakes, early warnings are key and can potentially save lives. Google recognizes that, and has announced that it's working on earthquake alerts sent right to all Android phones in affected areas, starting in California. For other regions, the company is testing and launching a crowdsource-based approach, relying on the accelerometers found in almost any Android phone in the world.
If you're a developer testing different features in your app, you may want to emulate how it behaves in certain conditions, such as when all sensors are off. And if you're a curious user, you might be curious enough to toggle your device's sensors off or on, maybe if one of them is wonky or if you're just paranoid and don't want your phone to know anything at all, not even if its upside down or not. Well, with the latest Q Beta 3, you'll finally have control over that.
I love science. That has to be pretty obvious from both of my work fields, but there's also more to my passion for science than medicine and technology. My physics professor used to call me "The Brain" because, well, I had a knack for solving the most complicated physics problems he could come up with. I want my kids to have this same love for science and this same curiosity, and I'm glad that the world we're in right now not only encourages this kind of enthusiasm, it also celebrates it and has developed more communities and tools and environments where kids can indulge in their scientific pursuits.
How far we've come since the early days of running from zombies! Why, back in my day, if we wanted to be chased by hordes of the undead, we had to actually get out of the house and run around, since GPS was the only supported method for keeping track of our progress. Now, however, the app that's designed to get you working out by forcing you to flee for your life has added accelerometer support, so treadmill runners can get in on the action. Nifty!
In addition to accelerometer mode, there is also a bit of new content.
While owning an actual supercar can prove to be outrageously expensive, with $0.99 and your Android phone, you can get the next best thing.
Indeed, 2XL Games has just released what might be termed the most ingenious gimmick ever: XLR8 (pronounced “accelerate”), an app that makes smooth, supercar-esque engine noises that cover up the dusty old cough of your own machine’s engine.
Assuming your Android device has GPS (most do nowadays), you can simply plug it into your car’s stereo, just as you would if your intention were to listen to some music. XLR8 then senses the direction in which your car is moving via the phone’s accelerometer and uses this information to make engine noises that correspond to your turns, accelerations, stops, etc.