Google confirms it’s rolling out new reviews format for hotels

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that it is now rolling out a new user interface and feature set around local reviews for hotels. Earlier this month, we saw Google begin testing new hotel reviews features, and now Google has begun to roll them out. Sergey Alakov was the first to notice these beginning to roll out.

A Google spokesperson confirmed this with us just now and said in a statement:

Google is continually improving the information shown to people to help them make decisions about where to go. When people are searching for a hotel to stay at, we want to ensure we make it easy for people to find useful and relevant web reviews about that place to help them make informed decisions.

The new hotel reviews interface added some core features. Here are a few:

  • Third-party reviews show in a carousel for some of the listings.
  • The review overview section has a more robust interface showing stronger colors and reviews also by attribute.
  • The detailed review section will show a graphical user interface based on type of travel.

Here are some screen shots we are able to see now of the new interface:

[“Source-ndtv”]

Microsoft’s Latest Workplace Tech Demos Creep Me Out

Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

If you’re an employee under the heel of a giant corporation you should probably be terrified by the vision of the future of connected gadgets that Microsoft just revealed at its Build developer conference here in Seattle.

Two demos from today’s keynote stood out, both for being entertaining and for revealing a potentially frightening future for anyone working for a big employer with the will to micro-monitor its employees.

The first featured cameras watching employees on a construction worksite. The cameras are tied into the cloud, where artificial intelligence monitors everything in real time, noting identities of employees as well as identifying almost every single piece of equipment on the worksite.

That is undoubtedly cool, especially as the AI can instantly notice when someone is on the worksite that shouldn’t be, or identify when someone is using dangerous equipment in an ill-advised fashion.

It is also, you know, terrifying. Microsoft’s demo purposely focused on a construction worksite, where accidents are too common, and a smart AI overseer sort of makes sense. Spotting OSHA violations or trespassers quickly and then relaying that information to an employer via mobile notifications could genuinely save limbs and lives.

But my brain immediately started conjuring a scenario that was much more oppressive—One where these cameras were in some open office where people come to work in skirts or button downs from Dillard’s. Not a place where security or safety is a primary concern, but instead, a place where employers obsessively monitor employees in some misguided attempt to maximize profit by chewing up and spitting out the fleshy cogs in their machine.

With a surveillance system like this you couldn’t invite your friend to stop by for lunch because your boss would know, a notification instantly appearing on their phone. There’d be no long lunches or grabbing extra office supplies from the closet. Take a too smoke breaks or have a bout of indigestion that leaves you on the toilet longer than usual? The AI would be able to notice so quickly that your boss could meet you in the hallway with a bottle of Pepto Bismol.

In this screenshot an employer is getting a notification because this guy hasn’t set a jackhammer down correctly. (Image: Screenshot)

The little bit of autonomy many employees still have in the office would be eradicated if this system were moved away from construction worksites and into more traditional offices.

This further illustrated by the other big demo of Build’s Day 1 Keynote. It focused on Cortana, and how it could now be everywhere, instead of just lashed to your laptop or phone. The demo shows a woman chatting with a Cortana-powered Invoke speaker in a set intended to represent her home. Then it reminded her she had a meeting, so she hopped in the car, where it promptly told her traffic was going to make her late and notified her workplace, then slotted her into a meeting already in progress.

Image: Screenshot

This sounds wildly cool and convenient, but there was one thing Microsoft left unsaid. This woman was logged into her home and car with her workplace ID, which means potentially her employers could now have access to data from her home and car life. If work-life balance is of any concern to you, the fact that your home speaker system might one day tell you to hurry up and get to the office because you’re late and you’re chronically late should be alarming.

These demos illustrate the trade-offs inherent in a world in which we use more and more connected gadgets. You have to give up some of your privacy in order to reap the benefits of a network of devices tuned to you and your whims. But the realities of these trade-offs start to feel worse with Microsoft because despite its array of consumer products, like the Surface Pro and Microsoft 10 Home, Microsoft is in the business of working with businesses. Those are its primary clients, and it’s very much who Microsoft spent the majority of today’s keynote speaking to. You are not the business model, your company is. Asking consumers to give their data to a big faceless corporation like Google so it can sell ads is one thing—but asking them to also give all that data to the people who sign their checks is another.

[“source-gizmodo”]

Best apps and games for getting out and enjoying the outdoors

Image result for Best apps and games for getting out and enjoying the outdoorsJust because you like being on your phone doesn’t mean you have to stay inside all the time.

Ahh, summer. For those of us who live in the North, it’s that brief couple of months where we can go outside and comfortably enjoy the outdoors. And yet, it’s still all too easy to stay inside, watch Netflix, and just lay about. Sometimes you need something to prod you up on your feet and set you off on a quick and fun adventure.

Whether you’re looking to set up your fitness game, or simply spend a bit more time outside enjoying that fresh air, these apps and games are worth checking out — and stackable! I don’t know about you, but the idea of playing Pokemon Go while outrunning zombies is pretty compelling…

c:geo

If you’ve never tried geocaching before, you’re sure to be surprised with just how many little treasure hunts are hidden in plain sight all around you! It’s a fun hobby that’s really taken off due to cellphone GPS making it easier than ever for the average person to check it out.

Once you’ve registered and configured the app, geocaching is a fun activity you can do at any time, wherever you are. Simply load up an app, use the map to target a nearby geocache, then head to that location and start searching! The geocache will be cleverly hidden in the area. Once you’ve found it you sign and date the included, re-hide the cache exactly how you found it, then share your experiences online.

There are several geocaching apps available for Android, but c:geo is your best bet. It’s an open source app that’s super easy to use for beginners and includes all the features you need to start hunting. It’s an unofficial client for Geocaching.com, one of the internet’s biggest communities for geocachers.

So what are you waiting for? Grab some friends and head out on your own geocaching adventure!

Download: c:geo (Free)

Zombies, Run!

Part fitness tracker, part audio drama, Zombies, Run! is the perfect app for those of us who really need to be motivated to keep running. Developed by Six to Start, this app has been around for quite some time, but it’s always a fun recommendation to throw out there for anyone looking to jumpstart (and maybe jump scare) a running routine. Simply load up the game on your phone, pop in your favorite workout headphones and head out on your adventure.

You fill the role of Runner 5, a survivor in an ongoing zombie apocalypse that must head out into the infected lands on missions to collect supplies and find new survivors. You’re able to listen to your own music for the stretches, with the story cutting in between songs. If you start slowing down, you may hear the living undead creeping closer — and it proves to be pretty motivating if you’re buying into the narrative. Of course, you don’t have to run. If you’d rather not have your evening jog or walk spoiled by a pack of audio zombies chasing you, you can turn the feature off.

The base app is free, but you can pay a monthly or yearly subscription to unlock all the missions and content at once. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Download: Zombies, Run! (Free w/ optional subscription available)

The Walk: Fitness Tracker

If running from zombies is a bit too intense for you, Six to Start also has a step counter app that uses the same storytelling mechanic to tell a different story. Developed and based in the UK, you are the star of an audio drama that spans 500 miles of walking.

While Zombies, Run! plays like a horror movie, the story here is more like a political thriller movie: A bomb has exploded in Inverness Station and you’ve been given a package that just might save the world. You must keep walking to stay alive and deliver the package to the other side of the UK, dodging agents of evil as the story continues to unfolds as you walk.

There are 51 episodes to listen that total over 800 minutes of audio. The game will track your steps even when your phone is asleep also adapt to your individual fitness level, so that it never feels too easy or too challenging. It’s another interesting app that might give you more reason to get up and take a walk outside, which is always a good thing.

Download: The Walk: Fitness Tracker ($2.99)

Clandestine Anomaly

Clandestine Anomaly is a pretty interesting game that turns your neighbourhood into a battleground between intergalactic rivals, with your smartphone supercharged with everything needed to keep the evil Leecher virus from taking over Earth.

One of the first thing you do in the game is outline the perimeter of the play area — about a square mile or so —and each new level pops up linked to a GPS location on a map. At its core, Clandestine Anomaly is a tower defence game where you use sensors to detect the Leecher pathways back to their spawning portals. You’re able to play and destroy the oncoming waves from the comfort of your own home — but if you actually head to the area on the map where the battle is going down, you’re able to use augmented reality to launch devastating attacks and gain the upper hand. In later levels, you need to be there to have any chance of being successful.

It’s a really intriguing concept and while you only get four levels before you’re required to pay to unlock the full game, it’s worth giving it a shot if only for a cool look at how augmented reality can be incorporated into games.

Download: Clandestine Anomaly (Free w/ IAP to unlock full game)

Pokémon Go

A fairly obvious inclusion on this list. As we get closer to the one-year anniversary of the release of Pokémon Go, love it or hate it, it’s still going strong with millions of regular players enjoying regular global events as they work to fill their Pokedex with the recently added Gen 2 Pokémon.

As we head towards summer, Pokemon Go may have a resurgence as we all look for more reasons to go outside for a walk somewhere. If you’re thinking of getting back into the game or trying it for the first time, you might want to invest in Pokemon Go Plus, a Bluetooth accessory that lets you play the game throughout the day without using your smartphone. You can pick yours up at online retailers like Amazon or Best Buy.

Download: Pokemon Go (Free w/IAPs)

The ultimate outdoor challenge

If you’re down for a challenge dive into the maps in c:geo, plan a nice long route with several geocaches on the way, then head out while playing Zombies, Run! and Pokemon Go with the Pokémon Go Plus all at the same time. See how many geocaches you can find, Pokémon you can catch, and zombie hordes you can outrun simultaneously in an hour.

Got any recommendations of your own? Drop us a comment!

[“Source-androidcentral”]