Google Flights Expands ‘Tips’ to Offer Cheaper Hotel Bookings, Google Trips Now Shows Discounts

Google Flights Expands 'Tips' to Offer Cheaper Hotel Bookings, Google Trips Now Shows Discounts

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tips on Google Flights will now suggest cost-effective hotel bookings
  • Google Flights was previously providing tips on flight bookings
  • Google Trips app offers access to deals through ‘Discounts’ feature

Making the experience better during this travel season, Google Flights has received a new update that expands the coverage of its Tips with enhanced machine learning efforts to make hotel bookings cost-effective. Google Trips, on the other hand, now comes with a Discounts feature.

Back in August, Google Flights was upgraded with Tips feature, which offered recommendations to save air travel costs. The feature was originally limited to flight bookings. But now, Google has used machine learning to provide you with tips even when you pick a hotel for your stay. You will receive tips above the results of your hotel bookings when room rates are higher than usual, or if the area is busier than usual due to a holiday or in case of any occupational instance such as a music concert or a business conference. All this will eventually help you avoid the busy dates and get the hotels at an affordable charge.

In addition to tips about the change in prices, you can opt for Hotel Price Tracking on your smartphone to get email price alerts about price drops on your choices of hotels. This new feature will also be available on the desktop version of Google Flights site in 2018.

Alongside the updated Google Flights, Google has brought a new version of the Google Trips app with the Discount feature. The new addition will give you instant access to deals on tickets and tours related to top attractions and activities. “Book and save on a tour of the Mayan ruins near Cancun, or get priority access to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. No matter where you’re headed (and if you need ideas, read on), Trips makes it easy to browse and access fun stuff to do on your vacation without breaking the bank,” Google VP of Travel Products Richard Holden said in a blog post.

Deals through the Discount feature on Google Trips will surface for various top attractions, activities, and tours around your location in the coming days.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Lyft Expands Services Across 32 US States

Lyft Expands Services Across 32 US States

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The move boosts the number of states with full coverage to 40
  • Uber says it has near-statewide coverage in 13 states
  • For Lyft, the expansion is a bold move into unserved areas and a gamble

Lyft is driving into the countryside in an effort to raise ridership and steal market share from rival Uber.

The much smaller Lyft announced Thursday that it is offering service to passengers in every corner of 32 US states, including hard-to-reach rural areas. The move boosts the number of states with full coverage to 40.

Uber, which controls about 70 percent of the US ride-hailing market, says it has near-statewide coverage in 13 states. A spokeswoman was skeptical that any company could provide timely service in all areas within a state’s boundaries.

For Lyft, the expansion is a bold move into unserved areas and a gamble that it can carve new markets out of even the most rural areas that have ride-hailing needs but no consistent service. Until now, using a smartphone to summon a ride mainly was reserved for larger metropolitan areas with a lot of people and more potential riders.

Jaime Raczka, regional director of new markets for Lyft, said the initiative will allow the company to outmatch its rivals in terms of coverage area and the number of people with access to its platform. Before Thursday, 79 percent of the US population could get Lyft service. With Thursday’s move, that number rises to 94 percent, she said.

To pull off the expansion, Lyft has been recruiting new drivers for months, many in smaller towns that weren’t previously served. The company wouldn’t say how many drivers it has added, only that it has about 700,000 nationwide.

Currently Lyft has statewide service in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Delaware and Hawaii. As of Thursday it added Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Lyft has at least some coverage in all 50 states, and decided to offer full coverage in the 40 that have consistent statewide ride-hailing regulations, Raczka said. The company said it will even offer rides in the most rural expanses of Alaska and the far reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Just how long it takes to get a ride will vary by area. She wouldn’t give an average response time or fare estimate for rural areas, but conceded that initially it may take more than 10 minutes to get a ride in remote places. Those who have important trips such as traveling to an airport to catch a flight might want to use Lyft’s scheduled ride service if it’s available, she said.

In New York, where Lyft has had statewide service since June, the company’s app showed few cars in the Finger Lakes region late Wednesday night. In Corning, a small town near the Pennsylvania border, the closest Lyft ride was 74 miles and more than an hour away in Binghamton. The app gave no estimate of a pickup time like it does in urban areas.

Raczka says experience has shown that as people find out about the service, they summon more rides and more drivers usually follow. “We do improve service levels once we get into markets,” she said.

Uber says is has close to statewide coverage is in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. Spokeswoman MoMo Zhou questioned whether Lyft would have drivers available for rides in areas with low demand.

There’s clearly a market for ride services in rural areas, especially from people who are older, disabled or injured, said Gartner analyst Michael Ramsey. Until it becomes established, Lyft will have to pay drivers extra to fetch passengers in rural areas, generating some big losses, he said.

“That will allow them to gain market share, but it’s not going to be free,” Ramsey said.

He expects demand to grow and eventually pay off for Lyft. “There are a lot of people who need mobility, and especially in rural communities, don’t have access to it,” he said. “Demand comes from the supply, and vice versa.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Apple Swift Playgrounds Educational Coding App Expands to Robots, Drones, and More

Apple Swift Playgrounds Educational Coding App Expands to Robots, Drones, and More

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Swift Playgrounds to offer new way to learn to code using robots, drones
  • It is an intuitive programming language for building apps
  • The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available from June 5

Tech giant Apple has announced that Swift Playgrounds, its educational coding app for iPad, will now offer a new way to learn to code using robots, drones and musical instruments.

Swift Playgrounds is great for students and beginners learning to code with Swift, Apple’s intuitive programming language for building apps.

“More than one million kids and adults from around the world are already using Swift Playgrounds to learn the fundamentals of coding with Swift in a fun and interactive way,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering.

“Now they can instantly see the code they create and directly control their favourite robots, drones and instruments through Swift Playgrounds. It’s an incredibly exciting and powerful way to learn,” added Federighi.

Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to programme and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3, Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more.

The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available as a free download on the App Store starting from June 5.

Swift Playgrounds is compatible with all iPad Air and iPad Pro models and iPad mini 2 and later running iOS 10 or even later versions.

[“Source-ndtv”]

Independent Agency Periscope Expands Its Creative and Strategy Departments With Several New Hires

(L. to r.) Rhea Hanges, Jen Stocksmith, Brian Boord, Renae Hermen and David Hahn

Periscope announced several new senior-level hires in its creative, strategy and media departments as it moves to reposition itself as an “agency of the future.”

The Minnesota shop, one of the country’s largest independent agencies, added nine names to its lineup, as people from as far afield as Atlanta and Kansas City made the move to Minneapolis.

They include group creative director Brian Boord (formerly of DDB Chicago), creative director Rhea Hanges (BBDO Atlanta), Jen Stocksmith (New York’s VaynerMedia), creative David Hahn (Barkley of Kansas City), associate media director Caitlin Curran (BPN Chicago) and senior brand strategist Tony Smith (FCB Chicago).

Newly hired group director of integrated media strategy Renae Hermen and strategy director Maggie Summers join Periscope from fellow Minneapolis agencies Novus Media and Peterson Milla Hooks, respectively, while Erik Jacobs leaves area shop Olson to become the director of Periscope Creative Studios, the agency’s in-house content unit.

Hanges called Periscope “one of our industry’s best-kept secrets” while Boord, a former Periscope art director who spent five years at DDB working on such brands as Skittles, State Farm and McDonald’s, said, “I am excited to come back to an agency that has grown and changed into an industry leader.”

The phrase “agency of the future” is not unique to Periscope. But what does it mean?

According to CEO Liz Ross and chief creative officer Peter Nicholson (who joined from McKinney just over a year ago), independence and an integrated, full-service business model are key differentiators.

“When I came here a year ago, my vision was to evolve Periscope from a regional leader to a top creative shop,” Nicholson said in a statement, citing such recent work as the Trolli Beardsketball campaign. Ross added, “We have so much we can offer not only to clients but to our teams by being an independent and integrated agency. The collaboration is easier, and bigger, bolder ideas are free-flowing.”

At last year’s Advertising Week, the two told AdExchanger that Periscope has been able to unite its media and creative departments more completely because its leadership doesn’t have to answer to a holding company. Senior innovation strategist Carter Jensen also discussed Snapchat, location-based mobile beacons and other digital initiatives in a recent Adweek profile.

“The advertising industry, particularly those with holding companies, is playing catch-up with this full-service integrated model,” Hermen said of her new employer. “It was a no-brainer to join a team that’s leading in that method.”

Periscope’s clients currently include Target, Best Buy, Walgreens, ExxonMobil, Petco, UnitedHealth Group and Autotrader, among others.

[“Source-adweek”]