Apple unveiled a range of India-specific features in iOS 13 at WWDC this week as it begins to adapt its software for the world’s second largest internet market. But if you want to see how far an international service can be customized for the Indian market, look to Google Maps.
The app, which is used by hundreds of millions of people in India, today introduced three new capabilities: the ability to check live status of trains, bus travel times in 10 of India’s largest cities, and mixed-mode commute suggestions that combine auto-rickshaw and public transport.
For live status of trains, the company says it worked with Sigmoid Labs, a local startup it acquired last year. Sigmoid Labs maintains an app called ‘Where is My Train’ that offer similar functionalities — and that continues to exist as a standalone app.
The update means Google Maps users in India can now find all the suitable trains between two destinations and check their whereabouts from within the app. Each day, more than eight million people in India hop on a train to move between and through towns and cities to get to work.
For bus travel times, a feature Google is introducing for the first time in any market, the company says it is relying on a combination of its live traffic data and public bus schedules to calculate delays and provide accurate travel times. It is available in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chennai, Mysore, Coimbatore, and Surat.
The mixed-mode commute looks at journeys that combine travel in both an auto-rickshaw and public transport. So, for example, if you take an auto-rickshaw to get to a bus stand, and then board a bus from there as is common across many cities.
Google says Maps app can now suggest users when taking multiple commutes is a viable option and estimate how much time the journey would take. The app will also be able to suggest when a user should make the switch from one mode of transportation to another. This feature is initially limited to Android users who are located in Delhi and Bangalore, but Google said it will be extended to more cities soon.
In recent months, Google has added a number of features to Google Maps in India, some of which are available in other markets, too. Those additions include the ability to report traffic congestion and accidents, and, most recently, support for auto-rickshaw travel. The app also allows users to share their live location with friends and family. Late last year, the company inked a deal with ticket booking platform Redbus to add inter-city bus transportation information.
Google remains aggressively committed to India, a market where it is estimated to have more than 300 million users. The company has used the country as the testbed for many of its services including YouTube Go and Google Station.
That’s helped Google surge in terms of usage. That, combined with the dominant of Android as an operating system, has led to an anti-trust probe on Google’s influence in the nation.
Instagram Stories links are now available for all accounts
Instagram has confirmed that it’s bringing the ability to and links to Stories for all user accounts. When Stories links were first revealed, they were only available for verified accounts or accounts with a certain number of followers. However, Instagram says over the years it has seen that the ability to share links to stories is helpful, so it’s expanding access to everyone.
The Instagram community has been asking for Stories links for everyone to make sharing content with friends and family easier. Links are now available for sharing for everyone with no stipulation on account size. To add links to Stories, users can use the Link sticker.
When people click the sticker, they will be redirected. Adding a Link sticker is easy and starts with capturing or uploading content to the story. Users then select the sticker tool from the navigation bar and tap the Link sticker to add the desired link. Once that is complete, users can place the sticker on their story, and there are variations of the sticker available.
Instagram also says it’s working on customizing the sticker to make it clear what users will see when they tap it. Instagram is also talking about its ongoing effort to keep its community of users safe. To facilitate safety, new accounts and accounts that repeatedly share content, including hate speech or misinformation, as well as anything that violates community guidelines, won’t have access to the Link sticker.
The Link sticker isn’t the only change Instagram has made this month. Previously, Instagram announced that its desktop app was getting photo upload capability. Before adding the capability to upload content from the desktop app, all uploading had to be done from the mobile app. The change was implemented on October 21.
2021 MacBook Pro teardown tease shows what’s on the inside
It’s very common for manufacturers like Apple to release new products, and fans always want to know what they look like on the inside. However, the last thing most of us want to do is tear apart our brand-new and expensive gadgets to look. Thankfully, IFIXIT has been gutting new devices for a long time, giving us a look at what’s on the inside without having to trash our own hardware.
Right now, a teardown for the 2021 MacBook Pro is being teased with a few pictures ahead of the full reveal. As you would expect, everything is packed very tightly into the thin and lightweight MacBook Pro notebooks. While there are no real details offered at this time about the hardware inside, we already know what to expect from Apple’s official event.
Apple has fitted its 2021 model notebooks with additional ports. An improved keyboard is integrated that hopefully won’t break if you eat lunch and work at the same time. MagSafe charging is integrated, and Apple ditched the Touch Bar for traditional function keys. The real changes come in new Apple silicon running the show. One interesting tidbit that has been shared from the full teardown is that the battery cells have pull tabs to make them easier to remove and aren’t crammed under a logic board.
We hope that means should your battery go bad down the road; you don’t have to completely disassemble the notebook to install a new one. The four outer cells of the battery have pull tabs similar to those used in the iPhone and MacBook Air. However, we will have to wait for the full teardown to know everything about these batteries and just how easy they are to remove and replace.
The prospect of more DIY friendly component placements should have Mac fans excited. The gang also got their hands on that $20 official Apple polishing cloth, simply called the “Polishing Cloth.” A price of $19 is pretty steep for cloth used to shine the screen of your iPhone, but it has an Apple logo, and that’s enough for some. The cloth feels like Alcantara and appears to be the same material used inside the iPad Smart Cover.
Android apps on Chrome OS will soon behave better with Compatibility mode
Although it isn’t exactly the one Google OS to rule them all, Chrome OS has long been able to run both of Google’s preferred platforms and then some. It did take a while before it could properly handle Android apps and, even then, there are still a lot of rough edges thanks to the wide variety and quality of those apps. Years after there have been tablets, many Android apps still live in a phone-only world, but that’s, fortunately, changing with Google’s latest push for big-screen Android devices and, of course, Chromebooks.
Android apps that have been made only with phones in mind behave unpredictably or undesirably on large screens. On tablets, they often force a portrait orientation, which can be awkward and unusable for tablets 10 inches or greater in size. On Chromebooks, the app’s UI gets stretched, delivering a very suboptimal experience.
Some Android apps let windows be resized on Chrome OS, allowing users to select what best works for them. Not all apps support this, however, and it’s often a guessing game that people shouldn’t have to play. With the upcoming Android 12L changes, they won’t have to.
As spotted by Chrome Unboxed last month, Google has been working on a compatibility mode for Android apps on Chrome OS and, apparently, on Android tablets, too. This will add a very conspicuous button in the middle of an Android app’s window title bar, indicating that a certain app’s UI is optimized for a certain form factor. More importantly, this feature automatically resizes an app’s window to make it look and behave better on Chromebooks and even lets users switch between different form options.
This is part of Google’s newly-announced push to support large-screen Android devices, what it calls Android 12L. Ideally, developers would design their apps to support different screen sizes and form factors, including foldables, but this Compatibility Mode at least offers a stop-gap measure for apps that don’t.
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