Google adds polling place, ballot information to search results

Voters fill out their ballot paper in London, Tuesday, March 1, 2016 as voting begins in the U.S. Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary.
Image: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Google is making it easier for you to find information about the upcoming election.

The company is updating its search so that information about polling places and who is on your ballot will appear directly within search results.

Now, when you enter queries like “where is my polling place” or “who’s on my ballot,” Google will surface relevant results within the search in both Spanish and English.

In both cases, you’ll need to enter your home address where you’re registered to vote in order for the correct results to be displayed (if you have your location saved in Google Maps it can also pull from there.)

If you’re looking for a polling place, the results will show designated polling places in your area.

Image: google

For ballot information, the search results will reflect everything from presidential candidates down to local offices like school board positions. From there, you can click into the individual results to find additional information about candidates. Google says it may not be able to turn up results for every single local race nationwide just yet, but the company is working with local secretaries of state and other organizations to add more to the results.

The update is the latest search addition to emphasize voting. The company previously rolled out a similar search feature for helping people register to vote and highlighted the voter registration process in a recent Google Doodle.

Additionally, Google is also making all of its election data available to third-party developers via its Civic Information API, which helps other developers integrate the information into their apps.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Ad fail: Google Assistant gets flight info wrong in Pixel smartphone ad in India

Humans are letting down the super smart Google Assistant.

Its a big day for Google in India. The company is launching its Pixel smartphones in the country today. On the occasion, Google ran a two-page ad on Times of India newspaper, showcasing the power of one of Pixel’s most interesting features, Google Assistant. Its only sin: the almighty artificial intelligence bot has got the facts wrong.

In the ad, Google Assistant is shown responding to a users query who wants to know about their flight to London. The plane, the United Airlines Flight 83, is shown to depart from DEL (New Delhi) and reach LHR (London Heathrow, United Kingdom). Which seems about fine except that United Airlines Flight 83 doesnt actually fly to LHR. The plane instead flies to EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport).

In Googles defense, its Assistant probably knows all of this and its likely the fault of people who were tasked for this ad. We checked Google Assistant on Allo for United Airlines Flight 83 and it did show its destination to be EWR and not LHR.

It also doesnt help that Times of India is the countrys most circulated English newspaper and people are going to notice it. Oh well.

Google Assistant is the headline feature of new Pixel smartphones. The feature uses artificial intelligence to understand what users are saying and responds conversationally with most relevant and accurate answers. Google Assistant will be exclusive to Google’s Pixel smartphones Pixel and Pixel XL until next year.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Apple is betting a drone fleet can make its Maps as good as Google’s

Image: AP

In news that should make anyone who’s experienced an Apple Maps fail a little less angry, Bloomberg reports that unnamed sources say that Apple is taking steps to overhaul its Maps service.

The report’s sources claim Apple is building a new team of robotics and data-collection experts with the directive to use drones to capture and update map information. Up to now, Maps data has been collected by a fleet of street-bound cars, so taking to the sky would immediately expand the effort.

The drones would be especially helpful for up-to-the-minute road monitoring for accurate traffic information, an area where Apple Maps has lagged behind Google Maps. The data collected will be sent to Apple teams, which will be tasked with updating the app for the highest level of accuracy possible. According to Bloomberg‘s sources, at least one person from Amazons Prime Air division has been brought in for the work.

But do we really want a bunch of flying Apple cameras patrolling the skies across the country? The company will have to abide by the Federal Aviation Administration’s commercial drone-use regulations, which Apple committed to when they were rolled out back in August.

Those regulations might make the drone initiative in cities near impossible, since flying over people and buildings are two of its strongest prohibitions. But in countries where there aren’t commercial restrictions, Apple can fly all it wants.

Along with the drones, Bloomberg‘s sources said that Apple is also developing new Maps features for use indoors and for its in-car navigation service. In a move that went largely under the radar last year, Apple acquired Finnish startup Indoor.io, a deal now confirmed.

That purchase, along with the more well-known acquisition of WiFiSlam (whose tech looked to be behind a mysterious mapping app that popped up last year) point to improved indoor navigation on Apple Maps.

In the future, Appel Maps users might be in for a new indoor mapping view for high-traffic buildings (think airports and museums).

BONUS: Keep this mini camera drone inside your phone case for the best aerial selfies

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Two Google publisher metrics suspended over missed deadline

Google’s DoubleClick ad network had an issue with the Media Rating Council’s updated rules.
Image: (Associated press/David Goldman)

In the wake of revelations that Facebook overestimated a key video metric for years, Google the other half of the mobile advertising duopoly is having troubles of its own.

While Google’s issue was more of a technicality than intentionally misleading advertisers, it seems the search giant’s publisher ad network, DoubleClick, failed to update its measurement model to account for new rules from a major trade group in April. This led to the suspension of two of its mobile viewership metrics.

The Measurement Rating Council the benchmark accreditor for how online ad impressions are measured announced the decision last month, Business Insider first reported.

The group rewrote its rules in spring to mandate that ad impressions only be counted after “reasonable assurance that the ad wasrendered on the device.” The previous standard measured each time an ad was served.

Because of the scope of the project, Google wasn’t able to meet the new criteria within the allowed 30-day window, and accreditation of its mobile web impression measurement and viewability metric used to verify impressions was put on hold until the company is able to address the issue.

A Google spokesperson told Mashable the company is hoping to do so by the end of the year.

In the meantime, the Alphabet-owned site still has dozens of other metrics with the requisite papers in order.

As the industry transitions to new metrics for how they count ads, were working closely with publisher partners to make sure they continue to thrive,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Were updating the methodology for our publisher ad server [DoubleClick For Publishers] to reflect the change.”

Proper viewership gauges have become an increasingly big topic of conversation in the ad industry as ad fraud networks of bots designed to mimic human behavior and scam advertisers and technical load problems have thrown into question the true value of display advertising.

Two years ago, Google revealed that half of all digital ads served are never seen by actual people for these reasons.

The MRC an obscure, half-century-old agency with an outsized influence has been leading the charge for a new viewability standard along with other industry trade bodies like the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

A consensus was eventually reached: At least half of every ad must be seen for one second or two seconds for video in order to qualify.

“We did a lot of research around this focused on where you had evidence that ads were in view and had been recognized by a user,” David Gunzerath, senior VP and associate director at the MRC, said in an interview at the time of the update. “With all our measurement standards, we’re always sort of revisiting them and re-challenging them over time.”

The MRC has accredited a total of 18 different companies for ad measurement, including giants like Nielsen and Rentrak, but not all of them have been vetted since the change due to the intervals of the group’s audits.

The suspension is expected to have little impact on Google’s day-to-day business.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Is Samsung’s Loss A Win For Apple And Google Phones?

The Google Pixel phones.  (Google)

With Samsungs Galaxy Note 7 effectively dead for now, Google phones are emerging as a strong alternative, along with the iPhone 7 Plus.

The first pure Google-branded phones could not have arrived at a better time. Googles new Pixel phone will be an attractive option to high-end Android phone owners, Bob O’Donnell, president and founder of TECHnalysis Research, told FoxNews.com in an email.

The larger version, the 5.5-inch Pixel XL, is priced at $869 (128GB), very close to the 64GB Galaxy Note 7, which was priced at around $850 at most U.S. carriers.

Like the Note 7, the Pixel XL sports an AMOLED display with a 2,560-by-1440 resolution. And other internal specs are similar, if not identical to, the Note 7, including the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core 820 processor (Google lists the processor as the 821 for Pixel), 4GB of RAM, a USB-C connector, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

More on this…

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

After being rejected by Google, this engineer posted the interview questions he was asked

Google company headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/ap photo

Working for Google may sound fun, but the interview process sure doesn’t.

After applying for a director of engineering role at the company, Pierre Gauthier a computer engineer who started his own tech company 18 years ago was asked some pretty intimidating questions in a phone interview.

After failing to give the Google recruiter the “right answers,” he decided to create a Gwan.com blog post to share the challenging questions, his responses and candid thoughts with the public.

Though Gauthier managed to answer the first four questions correctly, it was all downhill from there. Gauthier soon found himself arguing his answers with the recruiter, and by the ninth question, he frustratedly asked, “What’s the point of this test?”

Basically, if Google ever calls you for an interview, here are ten questions you’ll want to know the answers to:

1. What is the opposite function of malloc() in C?

2. What Unix function lets a socket receive connections?

3. How many bytes are necessary to store a MAC address?

4. Sort the time taken by: CPU register read, disk seek, context switch, system memory read.

5. What is a Linux inode?

6. What Linux function takes a path and returns an inode?

7. What is the name of the KILL signal?

8. Why Quicksort is the best sorting method?

9. There’s an array of 10,000 16-bit values, how do you count the bits most efficiently?

10. What is the type of the packets exchanged to establish a TCP connection?

Those sound like a joy, right?

And just in case you didn’t think Gauthier was properly qualified for the position, he began his blog post by summarizing his many years of experience:

For the sake of the discussion, I started coding 37 years ago (I was 11 years old) and never stopped since then. Beyond having been appointed as R&D Director 24 years ago (I was 24 years old), among (many) other works, I have since then designed and implemented the most demanding parts of TWD’s R&D projects…

Following his less-than-satisfying interview experience Gauthier posed the question, “Is Google raising the bar too high or is their recruiting staff seriously lacking the skills they are supposed to rate?”

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Google’s updated Timelapse is the biggest timesink of the day

In 2013, Google launched Timelapse a Google Earth project that shows us how the Earth has changed in the last thirty years or so.

Now, Google has updated Timelapse with the four past years of imagery it now spans the period from 1984 to 2016 and “petabytes” of new data, which includes new, sharper images.

The imagery gives you quite an amazing view into various processes that change the shape of our planet deforestation, glacial motion, urbanization, war. Google offers a curated selection of interesting locations and events, such as the reconstruction of the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco or the movement of the Hourihan Glacier in Antarctica.

San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge reconstruction

Image: Google/Landsat/Copernicus

You can, however, point the map to any location in the world and see how it changed over time (though the imagery might not be of the same quality everywhere).

See a YouTube playlist with all of Google’s curated Timelapse examples, below.

Google has shared an interesting insight on how Timelapse was created on its blog it took three quadrillion pixels and more than 5,000,000 satellite images to do it. Check out the details here.

Google Earth Timelapse is available at https://earthengine.google.com/timelapse/.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Louisa May Alcott Google Doodle Makes Us Want To Read ‘Little Women’ Again

“I like good strong words that mean something,” Louisa May Alcott writes as Jo March in Little Women.

With our current political climate, this quote from Alcott’s iconic novel which is loosely based on her own childhood holds even more weight.

The novelist was born on Nov. 29, 1832, and this Tuesday is her 184th birthday. As such, Google is celebrating the life and wise words of the author who brought us the March family and so much more … with a Doodle!

The Doodle, by Sophie Diao, shows sisters Beth, Jo, Amy, and Meg, and Jo’s best friend Laurie (played by the delicious Christian Bale in the film).

Outside of her writing, Alcott was a suffragist, abolitionist, and feminist. She was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War and her family’s home was a station on the Underground Railroad. An active member of the women’s suffrage movement, Alcott was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts. 

“I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead,” Jo March says in Little Women. “I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/