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How to get to the polls for free at the 2018 midterm elections – TechCrunch

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In case you haven’t heard, polls will open Tuesday morning across the U.S. for the 2018 midterm elections. It’s a big deal, so go vote.

And this year, there are more free ways to get to the polls than ever before thanks to a variety of non-partisan “get the vote out” campaigns from ride-hailing, bike-sharing and scooter companies.

Here’s a handy list.

By bike

Motivate, one of the largest bike-share operators in North America, has launched an Election Day campaign to give people in nine urban areas access to free bikes for the day.

Motivate operates Citi Bike in New York & Jersey City; Divvy in Chicago; Bluebikes in the Boston metro area; Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C.; Nice Ride Minnesota in Minneapolis; Ford GoBike in the San Francisco Bay Area); BIKETOWN in Portland, Oregon; and CoGo in Columbus, Ohio.

Riders across almost every Motivate system can use the code BIKETOVOTE in their local bike-share app to access a free day pass. In Chicago, Divvy riders must use the code VOTE18 to access the free day pass.

Portland has a vote-by-mail system. But BIKETOWN riders can use the code BIKE2VOTE to access 30 minutes of free ride time on November 6.

Lime is also offering free access to its fleet of electric bikes on Election Day. Users just need to enter the code LIME2VOTE18 to unlock any of its shared bikes or electric bikes.

Los Angeles’ bike-share program, Metro Bike Share, will also offer free rides on November 6. Use the promo code 1162018 at any kiosk to get your free 30-minute ride. The promo code is good for one Single Ride. Rides are $1.75 per 30 minutes thereafter.

By car

Depending how far you are from the polls, these ride-hailing offers could be free. At least one way.

Uber is giving $10 off a single ride to the polls on Election Day on the most affordable Uber option available in your city (Express POOL, POOL or UberX, in that order). To access, open the app and then tap menu > payment > add promo code. Enter the promo code VOTE2018. Users should then request their ride using Uber’s polling place locator, right in the Uber app.

Uber’s promotional offer is not available for rides from polling locations and is not available at all in Michigan, Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories.

Lyft is working with Vote.org, Nonprofit Vote, TurboVote and other organizations to distribute codes to those who need them. The ride-hailing company is offering 50 percent off rides and free rides in underserved communities.

To claim your 50 percent off promo code, click on this link and then enter your ZIP code. You’ll see the promo code in your app on Election Day. Promo codes are valid for 50 percent off any standard ride to a polling location on Election Day, up to $5.

By public transit

A number of transit agencies in some of the country’s largest cities are offering free rides, including Houston, Dallas, Tampa and San Antonio. This year, the Los Angeles Metro system, which serves more than 1.3 million passengers daily, is joining in.

LA metro transit is offering free bus and train rides on Election Day. LADOT, Long Beach Transit, Baldwin Park Transit, Pasadena Transit and Santa Clarita Transit in the Los Angeles area are among those offering free rides. Paratransit customers will also receive free rides to and from their polling place.

By scooter

Lime is offering free access to its fleet of electric scooters on November 6. Users enter the same code, LIME2VOTE18, to unlock any of its scooters, or its shared and electric bikes. The free rides to and from your polling location last up to 30 minutes and are available in more than 100 cities across the U.S.

Skip Scooters, which operates in San Francisco, Portland and Washington, D.C., is offering $5 rides to the polls.

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Android may soon get new emojis without waiting for an OS update

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It seemed for a time that emojis would be the new hieroglyphics that our descendants would scratch their heads at thousands of years into the future. These pictorial representations of emotions, peoples, and objects are lightweight, compared to GIFs and stickers, and are more common across platforms and devices thanks to the Unicode standard that gets updated and enlarged regularly. Unfortunately, smartphone platforms like Android aren’t always able to catch up with these changes but Google might be paving the way for updating emojis outside of major Android OTA updates.

It might shock some people but emojis are actually part of the Unicode standard, the specification that pretty much determines the symbols that will be universally accepted across computers. Yes, emojis are pretty much extensions of the same letters that make up the world’s languages and are, therefore, handled and displayed by each operating system’s fonts.

Fonts on Android, unfortunately, aren’t as flexible as their desktop counterparts. They reside in a read-only part of the OS that can only be changed by a firmware update, which also requires a reboot. Google usually waits for major Android updates to include new emojis, which means Android users are often late to the party.

XDA reports that there are some changes to Android’s source code that hints Google might be moving fonts to another location. Specifically, fonts, and therefore emojis, might soon reside in the /data partition of the device that can be written to by a system_server process. In other words, it might be possible in the future to have new emojis come simply via a Google Play Store update.

The site does note that the change is still in its early stages and may not even make it to the next Android release. This change won’t just affect emojis, of course, but will also benefit Android’s entire font system in general.

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Google Fit Wear OS update comes just in time for the holidays

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The holiday season is upon us, a season that is usually associated with rest, relaxation, and, more often than not, stuffing ourselves beyond capacity. While self-care is definitely important, part of that involves also taking care of physical fitness. Knowing that many health-conscious people will be fussing and fretting over their calories over the next few weeks, Google has started rolling out an update to Google Fit for Wear OS smartwatches that will make keeping track of your workouts actually take less work.

There is really only so much you can do and see on a tiny smartwatch screen and the challenge has always been to cram as much information as possible without overdoing it. The latest Google Fit on Wear OS update does exactly that, providing information you can quickly digest at a glance while keeping additional data just a swipe away.

Workout metrics like distance covered, calories burned, and heart rate are, for example, accessible on just two screens. But since most people like to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks during workouts, media controls are also just a swipe away for quick and easy access without breaking a sweat, figuratively, of course.

Keeping track of workouts isn’t always just a matter of looking at your stats but also about defining and reaching goals. You can now do that from your wrist and even celebrated when you do achieve that milestone. Google Fit will also remind you to take a literal breather to make sure you aren’t always running on adrenaline throughout the day.

To make sure you don’t get interrupted when you accidentally tap your smartwatch and end your session, you can now also enable Touch Lock directly from your workout screen. You can still press hardware buttons, hopefully not accidentally. Google notes that for this particular feature, the smartwatch must also be running on the latest Wear OS H MR2 version as well.

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Huawei EMUI 11 update schedule gives a tiny bit of hope

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Huawei has really been hit hard this year, and not just because of the novel coronavirus. Sanctions and restrictions from the US may cause it to fold, raising concerns about its capability to continue supporting existing customers and products. As if trying to assuage those fears, Huawei has just published a massive and ambitious roadmap for updating its existing phones to its latest EMUI 11 across the world. But while it is generally good news, the fine print still leads to some rather disappointing points in Huawei’s mobile business.

Huawei’s advertised roadmap for EMUI 11 updates is a rather long list that covers a wide range of smartphone models across the world, except the US of course. Huawei is promising that it will able completed by the first quarter of 2021, which is why it’s a rather ambitious promise considering the company failed to finish its EMUI 10.1 rollout to those markets. Unfortunately, that long list also belies the number of smartphones that aren’t actually included in its update plans.

The Huawei Mate 30 and P40 series are, unsurprisingly, the first to receive the update, which Huawei says should start next month. Suspiciously absent, however, are the Lite versions of these models, which leaves them in inconsistent EMUI versions. The list also doesn’t include any of the company’s P smart and Y series phones, suggesting that Huawei has probably forgotten about its mid-range products.

The other caveat is that, despite the name, EMUI 11 is actually based on last year’s Android 10 only. Huawei has yet to actually make the jump to Android 11 if it could at all. Given it is reported operating under “survival mode”, giving its users the latest Android version is probably the least of its worries.

This EMUI 11 Update Plan is clearly Huawei’s way of showing that it is business as usual. Sadly, it’s not exactly the reassuring message that its customers may have wanted to hear. Still, given everything that’s happening to the company, owners of recent P and Mate series phones will still have to look forward to, presuming the company does deliver on time in the next four months.

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