Friday, October 19, 2018

Share your ETA in real time on Google Maps for iOS with your friends and family

Google Maps’ ETA sharing feature, which lets the app share your navigation route with friends in real time, is coming to iOS today. The feature has been available on the Android app since last year, and was introduced with the clip above. The video shows some specific use cases for ETA sharing, like when you’re planning a surprise party and need to coordinate partygoers’ arrival times. It’s also just a neat, useful tool for when you want to know your friends’ whereabouts, a feature that’s long been available on other navigation apps like Waze and Citymapper.

The update also allows for ETA sharing across third-party apps like Facebook Messenger, Line, and WhatsApp, a feature new to Android as well. You can access it by going to the ˄ button —> “Share trip progress.” Journey sharing is available for when you’re navigating by driving, walking, and cycling, and it will end automatically once you reach your destination, or after a manually set time.

Apple announces Mac and iPad Pro event for October 30th

Apple isn’t done with product events for 2018. Today the company issued media invites for an October 30th event in Brooklyn, New York where it’s widely expected we’ll see new iPad Pro tablets and potentially several updates to the Mac lineup. The event’s tagline is “there’s more in the making,” and its location is a bit of a surprise. It was reasonable to believe Apple would again present its new products in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park after last month’s iPhone event.

Apple sent out a slew of unique invite designs for the event, so there’s a lot to look over if you’re trying to find any hints or teases of what’s to come.

The new iPad Pro is rumored to have slim bezels and Face ID, expanding Apple’s your-face-is-your-passcode technology beyond the iPhone for the first time. It’s also been reported that this year’s iPad Pro will switch over from Lightning to USB-C and be available in 11- and 12.9-inch display sizes.

The October event is where Apple will likely announce its long-awaited successor to the MacBook Air laptop. In August, Bloomberg reported that the laptop will have slimmer bezels than the Air and have a high-resolution Retina display. It’s expected to slot in beneath the 12-inch MacBook as the company’s new low-cost laptop option.

Bloomberg also reported that a new Mac Mini is in development and that Apple is aiming the upcoming desktop at power users, app developers, and customers who’ve used the Mini as a home theater PC.

On the software side, Apple is likely to share release details for iOS 12.1 (which features Group FaceTime and dual-SIM support) and the upcoming watchOS update that will enable the Series 4’s EKG functionality.

What else might be in store? Will the delayed AirPower charger make a better-late-than-never appearance in time for the holidays? Is Apple ready to tease the new Mac Pro that it has said is coming sometime next year? The Verge will be at Apple’s event bringing you all the iPad and Mac news as it’s announced.

In Europe, Google will start charging Android device makers a fee for using its apps

Google is changing the way it licenses its suite of Android apps in Europe, leading the company to charge a licensing fee for the Play Store and other Google apps for the first time.

The changes come in response to a July ruling by the European Commission, which fined the company $5 billion for antitrust violations and ordered it to stop “illegally tying” Chrome and search apps to Android.

Google hasn’t historically charged for Android and its apps because of the revenue brought in through Chrome and search. But splitting them up changes the equation, so companies will now find themselves paying for things — like the Play Store — that we generally consider to be core parts of Android, but are in reality Google services.

The base Android operating system will remain free and open-source, but if phone and tablet manufacturers want Google’s apps and the Play Store, they’ll have to pay a license fee in Europe. And they’ll now be able to license Chrome and search separately, rather than being required to accept everything as a bundle.

To break it down:

  • Android, more formally known as AOSP, or Android Open Source Project, is free.
  • The Play Store and many of Google’s other apps, like Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube, will be bundled together under a paid licensing agreement.
  • Chrome, in a bundle with the Google Search app, can be added on top of that agreement for free, but it isn’t required.

It is not yet clear how much the fees will be. But one way or another, device makers have to pay if they want any of these Google services.

Device makers have three options here: make a phone without the Play Store or any other Google apps; make a phone with the Play Store and all Google apps but Chrome and search; and make a phone with all those apps, like most Android phones that ship today. It’s really only that middle option that’s new — but it’s a big deal for Google, which could lose a huge revenue stream, and for competing browser and search engines, which have an opportunity to get key placement on devices in their stead.

“Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the [European Economic Area],” writes Hiroshi Lockheimer, who leads Android.

There is one other key change happening here. In the past, Google required that companies building phones or tablets that included the Play Store only build phones and tablets that included the Play Store — they couldn’t make other devices with a forked version of Android. Now, that’ll be allowed. So if Samsung wants to ship both the regular Galaxy S9 with Google’s Play Store and some whackadoo Galaxy phone that runs, say, Amazon’s Fire OS, it can now do that in Europe.

Lockheimer clarifies that Android more broadly will remain free and open source. These changes only affect the Google products that are traditionally bundled with the OS. If companies don’t want to pay, they can still ship a device without any of Google’s apps and services, as Amazon has long done and as already happens in China, where Google doesn’t operate.

But the Play Store is likely to keep phone and tablet makers attached to Google, since it’s where users can access the vast majority of Android apps. And since there is no way to get the Play Store and Google’s apps in Europe without paying the license fee anymore, it’s likely that cost will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher device prices.

That said, Google is appealing the European Commission’s ruling. Ultimately, it doesn’t want to have to split up Android, Chrome, and search. But for the time being, it has to comply with the commission’s decision, and it’s going to put these changes into place starting October 29th.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said that Google isn’t required to charge for its apps or the Play Store, and that it’s Google’s responsibility to change its policies in a way that complies with the ruling. “The Commission will closely monitor Google’s compliance to ensure that the remedy is effective and respects the decision,” the spokesperson said. They added that the decision is meant to allow other browsers and search engines to “compete on the merits with Google for pre-installation on Android devices.”

You can preorder the iPhone XR right now

The iPhone XR, Apple’s new lower-priced iPhone option that starts at $749 for a 64GB model, is now available to preorder online ( or the Apple Store app) or by walking into an Apple store. It comes in six different colors, including black, white, red, yellow, blue, and coral. Just for the iPhone XR, Apple’s selling a clear case for the first time, so you can show off the new colors while still protecting the glass back.

The iPhone XR offers a lot of the same specs as the iPhone XS, namely the same A12 Bionic processor and primary camera, but has a 6.1-inch LCD screen instead of an OLED screen. It also doesn’t have 3D Touch, nor the secondary telephoto camera and the stainless steel frame of the iPhone XS and XS Max, but it does feel noticeably lighter. Given its price point, the iPhone XR is essentially the successor to the iPhone 8, and early forecasts predict that it may be the more popular model sold.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Verizon giving all bay and gulf county customers in Florida 3 months of free service

Storms have been wreaking havoc in the Florida panhandle and Verizon says it’s committed to repairing the damage done to its network.

While it’s working to get operations back to 100%, the carrier announced this afternoon that is crediting every Verizon customer in Bay County and Gulf County with 3 months of free service for each line. This free service is for both consumer and business accounts.

Additionally, here are the locations of Verizon portable cells to, “support the critical effort of first responders and other mission critical organizations.”
  • Bay County Emergency Operations Center and 911 Center
  • Bay County Sheriff’s Office
  • Blakely Emergency Operations Center
  • City of Parker Police Department
  • FDOT Chipley Office
  • FEMA Office
  • Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center
  • Gulf County Emergency Operations Center
  • Lynnhaven Emergency Operations Center
  • Mexico Beach
  • Miller County 911
  • Panama City Police Department
  • Springfield Police Department
  • TECO Peoples Gas, Panama City
  • Tyndall Air Force Base
  • Washington Emergency Operations Center in Chipley

While free cell service is always nice, we’d like to remind everyone to stay safe down there!