location services

Google Maps AR mode can be more precise, more useful than GPS

Google Maps AR mode can be more precise, more useful than GPS

You may not know it yet, but your location is almost as important as your email address and password. It is one of the things hackers and advertisers love to know, precisely because of how much we've come to unknowingly depend on it. From check-ins to store deals to, of course, navigation, we've come to rely on location data in our modern lives. Even in navigation, however, location can be a hit or miss, both powered and limited by GPS technology. That is why for the next evolution of Google Maps, the search giant is mashing together augmented reality, computer vision, and AI to deliver more accurate and more useful directions and information.

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Bluetooth 5.1 will know which direction a signal comes from

Bluetooth 5.1 will know which direction a signal comes from

Some, especially real estate agents, would say it’s all about location. That’s only partly true when it comes to location-based services and technology. Because as important as knowing the location of an object may be, it’s sometimes just as important to know its direction relative to you. That’s why in the latest core specification of the Bluetooth standard, the wireless technology is finally getting a sense of direction.

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Facebook location-tracking for ads has no off switch

Facebook location-tracking for ads has no off switch

Just when you thought Facebook couldn’t sink any lower, a new discovery might have just added one more nail to its coffin. Then again, it’s really no surprise and Facebook doesn’t at all concerned about keeping it a secret. It turns out that even after you’ve turned off all possible location-tracking features and removed all location data on Facebook, you’ll still get ads related to your location. What makes it worse, however, is that the social networking giant doesn’t and probably won’t provide a way for users to opt out completely.

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Android Nearby Notifications is no more thanks to spam

Android Nearby Notifications is no more thanks to spam

Android features come and go and when it's Google involved, it happens more often than not. In some cases, it causes both developers and users to groan when a favorite feature they've relied on is suddenly announced to be discontinued. This time, however, Android phone owners are probably breathing a sigh of relief. Google has just announce that starting December, the Android Nearby Notifications feature will no longer be sending spam messages to users nearby.

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Google Maps lets you keep tabs on stores instead of them tracking you

Google Maps lets you keep tabs on stores instead of them tracking you

Almost all businesses these days keep track of customers and even just visitors, especially online. Of course, not everyone agrees to this now common practice and disable online tracking, like what Mozilla just provided in the latest Firefox release. Now Google is turning the tables a bit on those businesses. With the new feature in Google Maps’ “For You” tab, users will be able to track stores, locations, and businesses, too. Of course, they’ll only see what store owners want to show them.

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Google updates location tracking policy to reflect actual practice

Google updates location tracking policy to reflect actual practice

Most people take for granted that, almost by default, their smartphones send their location to manufacturers and app developers unless they explicitly say no. Sometimes, however, “no” doesn’t actually always mean no. That’s the rather sticky situation that Google has suddenly found itself in after Associated Press launched an investigation on how the tech giant keeps on tracking your location even after you turn certain settings off. Now Google is updating its policy not to change the feature but to just let people know what it really does.

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Google Maps now shares battery level, shows Earth isn’t flat

Google Maps now shares battery level, shows Earth isn’t flat

Google Maps is one of those conveniences of modern life that many can't imagine life without. But more than just helping us not get lost, Maps also has one other somewhat controversial feature: location sharing. Now more than just knowing where your friends and family are, you will also be able to see how much battery they have left. You know, in case you need to swoop in to their rescue with a power bank.

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Snapchat Send and Request Location is thankfully less invasive

Snapchat Send and Request Location is thankfully less invasive

Snapchat seems to need no help from third-party actors to stir up controversy. But, as they say, bad publicity is still publicity. Even before the widely unpopular redesign or the more recent unskippable ads, Snapchat had its always-on location broadcasting Snap Map feature. That potentially privacy-invasive feature eventually sagged after a brief surge of popularity but now Snapchat has found a compromise: a feature that lets you send or request a location when and where you need it and not forever.

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Android Trusted Places disappears after months of headaches

Android Trusted Places disappears after months of headaches

Google is all about automating things that you shouldn't have to manually do. Like unlocking and keeping your phone unlocked under certain conditions. Android calls this feature "Smart Lock" and those conditions can range from Bluetooth devices to networks to locations. That last one has been the subject of complaints by many users for months but now it seems that Google has found away to silence all of those. Ironically that's by actually removing Smart Lock's Trusted Places option completely.

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Phones can be tracked without warrants thanks to carrier feature

Phones can be tracked without warrants thanks to carrier feature

As smartphones become more and more a common part of everyday life, so too do their potential to be used for harm. While we mostly rely on laws to protect us both criminals and less conscientious companies, sometimes the laws aren't exactly clear or up to modern standards and have just enough grey areas for some enterprising people to take advantage of. Case in point is the ability of some companies and individuals to track cellphone locations even without warrants, all thanks to a feature almost all carriers provide to aid marketing and advertising.

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Do you want a private Android phone or a useful one?

Do you want a private Android phone or a useful one?

Does Google know too much about you, where you go, and what you do while you're there? The privacy implications of services like Location History, one of the lesser-understood but deeply data-rich elements of Android are again under the microscope, as data protection activists criticize the search company for quite how much information it's gathering from users, and how it's using that data to build up surprisingly detailed profiles of them.

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Fynd LTE tracker finds dogs, keys or kids in real-time

Fynd LTE tracker finds dogs, keys or kids in real-time

The tracker market may be growing, but startup Fynd thinks it can out-perform Tile, TrackR and others with its new 4G LTE tracker. Tracking dongles, which promise to help you find your keys, dog, or kids, are increasingly popular, but most rely on Bluetooth and that has some big issues. While it's low-power, Bluetooth doesn't have the service coverage that cellular radios offer.

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