Google is bringing video reviews to Google Maps

e’re still very far away from real-time Google Street View or satellite imagery on Google Maps, but Google is, for the first time, introducing video in parts of its mapping service. Users who are part of the company’s Local Guides program can now shoot 10-second videos right from the Google Maps app (or upload 30-second clips from their camera roll).

While the company quietly launched this feature for Local Guides about two weeks ago, Google is now also notifying them about it via email and will likely release it publicly in the near future.

Until now, you could only upload still images to Google Maps. Videos, however, can capture a restaurant’s, store’s or sight’s atmosphere far better. Google is also explicitly allowing users to use their videos for personal reviews (as long as they adhere to its usual review policies that also apply to written reviews). Local businesses will, of course, also be able to use this feature to highlight their own products, too.

To record or upload videos to Google Maps, you’ll have to search for and select a place in Google Maps (this is Android-only for now, as far as we can see), scroll down and tap “add a photo,” tap the “Camera” icon and then hold the shutter to record (or you can upload a short video, too).

For now, though, the program is only open to Local Guides on Android, but it looks like Google is also testing this with local businesses already. As far as I can see, though, the videos will be visible on all platforms.

While this may look like a minor update at first, it’ll make for quite a change on Google Maps, especially for local business owners. Snapping a few pictures is pretty easy, after all, but chances are that many of them will soon want to take professional video of their locations, which is far harder and — if they hire a videographer — expensive.

[“Source-techcrunch”]

Trips App by Lonely Planet: Where Instagram Meets Google Photos

Trips App by Lonely Planet: Where Instagram Meets Google Photos

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Trips by Lonely Planet is available on iOS
  • It lets you create a curated version of your holiday
  • You can follow other people for travel ideas

Lonely Planet – well-known for its travel guidebooks – is stepping out into the social realm. Its new app, Trips, wants to help you share your travel experiences with fellow travellers, while being inspired by trips other people take. Essentially, it wants users to create their own guides for each other, and help foster a community in the process.

It’s not so much a social network in the traditional sense, but rather a curated way to present your travels. Sure, you could create a Facebook album for all to see, but it’d be buried amongst thousands of other pieces of content. Or like millions of others, you could put your vacation photos up on Instagram, and make use of its album feature for a slightly-more curated feel. The lack of easy navigation still persists with Instagram though, undercutting the experience.

Neither will give you what Trips attempts to offer. The Lonely Planet app creates a chronological feed out of your vacation pictures and videos, replete with headers, captions, text, location tags, and maps. Think of it as Instagram meets Google Photos albums, albeit minus the former’s size, and the latter’s AI-smarts.

At first start, Trips will recommend you to follow a bunch of fellow travellers, curated by Lonely Planet itself. Later, you can add your friends, or select from other strangers whose holidays appeal to your liking. Your home page will then be populated by trip cards, all of which are a virtual scrapbook in themselves.

lonely planet trips home discover Lonely Planet Trips

The home page and Discover tab of Lonely Planet’s Trips

Then there’s the Discover tab, which lets you pick from a variety of holiday types to browse through. There’s Adventure, Wildlife and Nature, Cities, Ruins, Road Trips, Festivals and Events, Art and Culture, and so forth. Each of these contain trips shared by the community or the Lonely Planet team, such as “The Wilds of Namibia”, “Crossing the Romanian Mountains”, or “A Week Around Iceland”.

To create your own trips, you select the blue-coloured plus symbol button in the middle, which takes you to your photo library. If you only use your iPhone to take pictures, this will suit you fine. But if you carry a professional camera with you, and those pictures are on Google Photos, Dropbox, or some other cloud service, you’ll need to import them yourself first. It’s a restriction baked in by Apple, one that will hopefully be lifted with the introduction of Files in iOS 11.

Once your pictures are in the app, Trips will attempt to sort them on its own, and use embedded geotags to create a map and name. It creates new sections whenever you change location, and then hands it off to you to make further additions, such as changing the title, adding an intro, and putting captions or tips in between your pictures.

lonely planet trips view Lonely Planet Trips

The opening page and inside look at a trip in Lonely Planet’s Trips

The option to collect your pictures in one place is what separates Trips from Instagram, while the ability to add captions is how it adds onto the Google Photos album experience. After you’ve finalised the look of your curated trip, you can choose it post it publicly, or share it privately with people you know.

This brings us to one shortcoming of Trips that people may not like. Although Trips allows you to view your well, trips, on a desktop, you can’t make any changes or create new ones from the browser. In fact, you can’t even view someone’s profile on a computer. By contrast, Google Photos is a full-fledged experience on both desktop and mobile. Plus, Photos’ map widget (below) – which creates two points and a dotted line to signify travel – is a lovely touch that helps visualise your journey.

In itself, Trips is a pretty way to browse through vacation ideas, glean some tips, and offer your own experiences. It’s a digital magazine that’s continuously updated, but it doesn’t do anything more that. You can’t edit your images inside the app, and you can’t leave comments on trips created by people you know.

lonely planet trips edit google photos Lonely Planet Trips

Map widget in Lonely Planet’s Trips, and Google Photos respectively

There’s some work to be done here, and it’s definitely worth the effort, considering the size of the travel market. Studies have shown that millennials are more interested in saving up for travel than in buying a house. At the same time, people spend 85 percent of their time with just five of the apps on their phones, so it’s going to take some convincing to make people choose Trips over Instagram.

The latter doesn’t offer the former’s level of curation, but it’s where all your friends and family are. And that counts for a lot.

Trips by Lonely Planet is now available on iOS.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Google Search Now Shows a Screening Test If You Search for Depression

Google Search Now Shows a Screening Test If You Search for Depression

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Google to show depression test widgest on similar searches made in the US
  • Google’s Knowledge Panel will walk you through a test series
  • It will also list symptoms and possible treatments for depression

People in the US will soon have an option to take a screening test on Google to know if they are depressed or not.

Now, when users in the US will search for “depression” on Google, they will see a box atop the results on mobile, which the search giant calls a Knowledge Panel. The Knowledge Panel contains information on what depression is, what its symptoms are and the possible treatments.

“Now when you search for ‘clinical depression’ on Google on mobile, you’ll see a Knowledge Panel that will give you the option to tap ‘check if you’re clinically depressed’, which will bring you to PHQ-9, a clinically validated screening questionnaire to test what your likely level of depression may be. To ensure that the information shared in the PHQ-9 questionnaire is accurate and useful, we have partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness on this announcement,” Google said in a blog post.

google depression DepressionAccording to Google spokesperson Susan Cadrecha, cited by The Verge, the feature is being rolled out on mobile in the US soon and it is not meant to subvert a medical evaluation.

“The results of the PHQ-9 can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor,” according to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which partnered with Google on the questionnaire.

According to NAMI, clinical depression is a fairly common condition with almost one in five Americans experiencing an episode in their lifetime. But only about 50 percent of people who have depression get treated for it.

“Mental health professionals often refer to major depressive disorder as clinically significant depression or clinical depression. Clinical depression is a treatable condition which can impact many aspects of a person’s life. The PHQ-9 can be the first step to getting a proper diagnosis,” the NAMI statement added.

Written with inputs from IANS

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Walmart Partners Google to Launch Voice-Activated Shopping

Walmart Partners Google to Launch Voice-Activated Shopping

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Walmart has partnered Google to allow buyers to order through voice
  • The voice-activated shopping capability will be available in September
  • Google Assistant will know exactly the brands and the size user wants

Walmart is diving into voice-activated shopping. But unlike online leader Amazon, it’s not doing it alone.

The world’s largest retailer said Wednesday it’s working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items from laundry detergent to Legos for voice shopping through Google Assistant. The capability will be available in late September.

It’s Google’s biggest retail partnership – and the most personalized shopping experience it offers – as it tries to broaden the reach of its voice-powered assistant Home speaker. And it underscores Walmart’s drive to compete in an area dominated by Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo device.

“Voice shopping is becoming a more important part of everyday shopping behavior,” said Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart’s US e-commerce business.

The voice-activated devices are becoming more mainstream as they become more accessible. Even Apple has one coming out this year. Walmart has said Google’s investment in natural language processing and artificial intelligence will help make voice-activated shopping even more popular.

And Lore said the personalization of the partnership means people can shout out generic items like milk, bread and cheese, and Google Assistant will know exactly the brands and the size that the user wants.

Google introduced shopping to Home in February, letting people use voice to order essentials from more than 40 retailers like Target and Costco under its Google Express program. But that was far behind the Echo, available since late 2014.

Walmart, which has more stores than any other retailer and the largest share of the U.S. grocery market, is also working hard to close the gulf online between itself and Amazon.

It has overhauled its shipping strategy and is expanding store-curb pickup for groceries ordered online. But it’s also had to look beyond itself and form partnerships. Walmart announced Monday that it’s expanding its grocery delivery service with ride-hailing service Uber, and it’s been testing same-day delivery service with Deliv at Sam’s Club in Miami.

Amazon generally has been building its network of services on its own, using its $99-a-year Prime membership with same-day and even one-hour shipping options to develop loyalty.

It’s also been drawing in customers with its Alexa-powered devices. Amazon doesn’t give sales figures for Echo, but Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated that it’s sold more than 10 million Alexa-powered Echo devices in the U.S. since late 2014. That includes the core $179 Echo as well as the less expensive and smaller Echo Dot and the portable Amazon Tap.

To be more competitive with Amazon, Google Express is scrapping the $95-a-year membership starting Wednesday, allowing shoppers to get free delivery within one to three days on orders as long as the purchase is above each store’s minimum.

Walmart is integrating its Easy Reorder feature – which has data on both store and online purchases – into Google Express. Shoppers who want to reorder their favorites have to link their Walmart account to Google Express.

With other Google Express retailers, personalization takes time as the assistant learns shoppers’ preferences, says Brian Elliott, general manager of Google Express. So the quick personalization with Walmart should make voice-activated shopping more attractive, he says.

While one of Walmart’s biggest advantages over Amazon is its massive number of stores, Amazon’s nearly $14 billion offer for Whole Foods could shake up the landscape.

Walmart says it will be tapping its 4,700 U.S. stores and its fulfillment network next year to offer more kinds of customer experiences using voice shopping. For example, shoppers can tell Google Assistant they want to pick up an order in a store. Lore said the company wants to make voice shopping as easy as possible.

“That’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google. We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be,” Lore wrote in a corporate blog post.

Independent internet analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodal, who was unaware of the Google deal at the time of the interview, says Walmart is going in the right direction, though it has a long way to go. She noted that partnerships with companies like Uber enable the discounter to get the business “up and running” and it will be able to learn a lot.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]