cyclists can be the only beings on the planet who still ask others for directions. This is because there is a lot of bike specific knowledge required that you can only get from other riders. How steep is that hill? How are the bike lanes on this route? An app usually can’t tell you those things.
Now, Google is adding some new features to Maps that Will tell you those things. The enhanced view for cyclists includes more bike route data (if available) showing where the bike lanes are, how heavy the vehicle traffic is, and if the chosen route includes a steep hill. It can also warn you about stairs along the route or tell you that you have some gravel sections to look forward to. The maps will also provide turn-by-turn directions made just for bikes.
The riders will now have to find some other excuse to talk to each other. Perhaps they can complain about the lack of investment in transport infrastructure.
Google is also adding photorealistic 3D views of landmarks and more nuanced tools for sharing your location with others. Earlier this year, the company teased a Maps feature it calls Immersive View, an improved setting of Street View that lets you zoom and pan around the world with unprecedented freedom. Google’s new benchmarks aren’t exactly that, and the company hasn’t said when the feature will appear, but it seems like a step in that direction.
Along with the Maps update, some changes will be coming to the Google Play store, the official repository for apps on Android devices. The updates aim to clean up some of the nastiest app practices in the store. That includes banning similar apps that try to trick people into downloading them, removing misinformation about vaccines, and limiting full-screen ads in apps. While the company’s changes may help make the ads a little less annoying, Google isn’t ready to completely remove tracking cookies just yet. Almost all Play Store updates will be available on August 31.
TikTok has game
Clearly, no social platform is interested in staying in your lane. While every other app is busy trying to be TikTok, the Chinese platform has been itching to shake things up on its own. The app began its foray into gaming last November, when it announced a partnership with game developer Zynga. (You know, from Farm infamy.) Now, as spotted by TechCrunch, TikTok appears to have quietly released a few games on its platform. They’re made by a few different developers, none of them Zynga, at least for now. Games are a small part of the TikTok platform, available if a user taps on videos posted by someone who attached a game to their upload. You play the game right there, “inside” the person’s video.
TikTok has not officially announced the feature or commented on whether it would be rolled out more widely. But expansion is certainly possible, even if TikTok has a history of shelving somewhat promising experiments like its Shop tab.
Yes, YouTube also wants to be TikTok
In September 2020, YouTube launched its Shorts feature, which allows users to make quick video clips that can be played in endless scrolling. It’s been a successful enough effort on the video giant’s part, though it hasn’t caught on to the zeitgeist the way TikTok has. Now YouTube is trying to make it even easier to post Shorts. On Thursday, YouTube posted an update on its support page that allowed users to convert parts of longer YouTube videos into 60-second clips instead of just making a short one on its own. Creators can insert links that will take viewers to the longer version of the video, keeping even more eyes on the platform.
In other “everything is TokTok now” news…
instagram gets reel
Even if you don’t use Instagram much, you’ve probably heard of its controversial Reels feature. It’s a tab full of streaming videos, often from accounts you don’t follow. It’s a blatant rip-off of TikTok, even using some of the same songs and sound effects you’ll find on the mega-popular social platform. And now Instagram has made it known that it plans to engage in full-screen looping videos.
Last week, Instagram parent company Meta said it would change the algorithms of its sites to look more like TikTok. Now, that has bled over to Instagram and Reels. The reaction of the users was immediate. Reels has proven to be very unpopular and even managed to irritate a Kardashian or two. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg have defended the TikTokification of their apps, telling users that the company’s usage data shows that this experience is what they really want from everyone. modes. (On an earnings call, Zuckerberg said he expects AI-powered recommendations to make up half of his Instagram feed by next year.)
Mosseri backed off some of your statements just a day later. In an interview with journalist Casey Newton on platformsMosseri said Instagram will “take a big step back, regroup and figure out how we want to move forward.” That doesn’t seem to translate into any big change of plan, though, and will most likely scale back the rollout a bit, enough to give the hoopla time to die down.