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. Read More
Machine learning may border on magic, and provide many of the biggest technical benefits we've enjoyed in the last decade, but it has plenty of "weak spots." One of Google's biggest concerns is that models are often trained using example data that's too easy to interpret, making them unprepared for the greater ambiguity of the real world. Case in point: Telling a donut from a bagel. Read More
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. Read More
If there's one thing that annoys me more than almost anything else, it's the selfie stick. If you use one, I'm sorry, I really am, but I just can't stand them. Walking around packed central London streets is hard enough without people flapping about with creepy telescopic camera mounts. So when a company says they want to kill the selfie, and by virtue also the selfie stick, I'm all ears.
ElsiePic is a new app with an interesting premise. It's essentially a crowdsourcing app for finding a photographer in the vicinity who will take your photo so you don't have to resort to a selfie or give your phone to a stranger. Read More
As I have moved on from sharing my every move via Facebook, one of the most useful things I do on the platform nowadays is take advantage of the expertise of my friends. Finding a place to get lunch, identifying a dentist covered by my employer's insurance, and all manner of similar problems can be solved in part by soliciting suggestions from my social network. Facebook is now rolling out a feature called Recommendations that helps you make sense of your friends' input. Read More
If you've been a smartphone user for any length of time, you've probably thought that you could design a smartphone better than those hacks who had the gall to put the headphone jack on the top/bottom (delete whichever is inappropriate). Well now you can! Sort of. Chinese manufacturer ZTE is putting out press for "Project CSX," a program that will design products based on input from a community of users. The home of the project is over on the company's official forums. Read More
Each year in the US, it's estimated that somewhere between ten and twenty thousand people are victims of human trafficking, mostly for some form of prostitution or abusive labor. A disproportionate amount of these victims are women, children, and immigrants. Law enforcement agencies and non-profit groups all over the country attempt to stop the trade of human lives, but the clandestine nature of the operators and the cooperation of apparently legitimate businesses makes actual tracking and prosecution difficult, and only a tiny fraction of the estimated victims are freed. Read More
A couple of months ago, while tearing down an updated APK, Cody found hints that Google Maps would be crowdsourcing to curate suggested edits to Places. The feature didn't appear to go live then, but it seems that it's been showing up for some users over the past couple of weeks.
If you're checking a place in Google Maps, you might start seeing notes in yellow below certain information telling you that someone has submitted an edit for said info. Tapping that surfaces a card which is very similar to the ones that Google Maps uses to ask you questions about Places. Read More