HomeAway & Owners Direct (review)
HomeAway & Owners Direct app provides you with everything you need to plan, book and manage your perfect holiday rental.
The HomeAway & Owners Direct app for Android has only been available for a year or so, but it is now well established and has surpassed many leading accommodation apps on the market, offering better accommodation than many of them. The app is also free to download for iOS so even if you don’t end up booking on it, you’ve wasted no money.
You are able to search various destinations around the world, with the search bar being the main home screen. Once you’ve typed in your destination, the app comes up with however many results there is, you tap in your preferred dates and narrow the results down with; price per night, number of guests, number of bedrooms and number of bathrooms.
Then you are presented with a list of all of the accommodation fitting your criteria. One of the most pleasing things about the search, is that it the results are complete with price per night and their star rating, so you are able to simple scroll past them if they don’t interest you. Upon clicking on a result, it gives you more information, such as facilities; TV, WiFi, kitchen etc, its location on a map and reviews from previous customers.
The convenience of the app is also pleasing, as your search is remembered for next time, so you don’t need to trawl through all of the results again. You are also able to share your favored results via number of options, including message, mail, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, if your fellow holiday-goers wish to see.
There is also a favorite option, which stores all of your favorite rentals, the practicality of the app again coming up trumps.
The managers of the rentals are also on the app, as well as how long they have been a member, the languages they speak, their response rate and the last time they updated their calendar, so you are able to see their reliability.
You can inquire about a rental without actual booking through the message feature. The app is one of the easiest on the market when it comes to making an account, and in short, is a fast and simple process.
The option to be able to message an owner is a great addition and whilst other features on the app are easy to use, the message between renters and owners is somewhat clumsy and it can be difficult to pick up a conversation, however, that’s the only criticism of the app.
Once your trip is booked, the app stores all of your details, so if you happen to need them for any reason or wish to check something, you can simply open the app and tap My Trips.
HomeAway & Owners Direct is definitely better than its rival apps, with its ease of use, convenient features and plethora of results proving very impressive.
The detail in the search results helps potential renters find exactly what they’re looking for without looking for hours. The only criticism of the app is the gawkiness of the messaging option but with a little patience, it’s easy to put up with.
Digital Offers: Become a Linux pro for just $69
You’re probably quite familiar with Windows or Mac OS X — chances are you’re visiting us from a computer running one of them right now. However, Linux and UNIX are two operating systems that any self-respecting programmer needs to know. Both are powerful, flexible operating systems in use by many big companies, and are common OS choices for programmers.
If you’ve been interested in learning how to code and use Linux and UNIX, you might be at a loss as to where to start. But it’s a great set of skills to know, especially if you’re maybe looking to transition into a new career. Considering many leading tech and data-driven companies use Linux, this is an excellent foundation for any aspiring professional programmer.
But taking the time out to go back to school, or participate in a Linux coding boot camp just might not be feasible either for your budget or your schedule. There is a way to learn everything you need to know about Linux at your own pace, and for a very reasonable price at that!
Android Central is happy to offer The Complete Linux System Administrator Bundle for a one-time payment of $69. This bundle includes over 100 hours of training materials and would typically cost well over $2000 for all that is included here.
This bundle is broken up into seven courses, which each focus on a different aspect of Linux. From Comprehensive Training in Linux and Unix Fundamentals to Bash Scripting in Linux, these courses will guide you from knowing next to nothing about Linux, to putting you in a position to not only become a competent Linux administrator, but also potentially giving you a leg up on your competition.
All told, this bundle offers over 600 lessons to work through at your own pace, since you get lifetime online access to all the course materials. And with a 96% discount off the regular price, if you’ve been considering learning Linux, there’s no better time than now. This is a limited time offer, so act now!
See at Android Central Digital Offers
Great Gadget Gifts at $50, $100, and $200
Get your tech-centric pal or loved one something new to play with.
Life is full of little gadgets that make life more interesting, so why not help out a friend or family member? We put together a list of neat tech that quickly automates your home or adds a bit of flair to your smartphone. There are great choices at $50, $100, and $200 price points!
- Under $50
- Under $100
- Under $200
Find yourself consistently without any battery power in the car? Get a double-headed Tylt Y-Charge. It’s designed to keep cables separate, but organized. Each USB port charges at 2.1 amps. It works with both smartphones and tablets of all sorts and comes in four different colors.
See at Amazon
AUKEY Ora Lens
Have a friend or family member that’s curious about getting serious with their smartphone photography? Grab the Aukey Ora Lens. It’s a dual 140-degree wide angle and 10x macro clip-on lens and it snaps on easily to almost any Android smartphone.
See at Amazon
Help your pals turn any speaker into a Chromecast-connected one. Chromecast Audio lets you stream apps like Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Google Play Music from your smartphone to your favorite speakers of choice. Chromecast Audio is also a cheap way to turn that dusty amplifier in the garage into a party machine.
See at Google
Surely, you’ve misplaced your keys or wallet at least once in your lifetime. We bet your friend knows what that feels like, too. Help them out preemptively for the next time this happens with a Tile Mate key finder. It’s a small, thin Bluetooth tracker that you can clasp onto your keys — or whatever else you might want to track — to keep tabs on your stuff. When you’re desperate to locate your things, use the app to determine its last-pinged location. There’s also the Tile Slim for affixing to phones, tablets, and wallets.
See at Amazon
Choetech USB-C Adapter
It’s a USB-C to Micro USB adapter that attaches to your keys! It’s a genius little too that will no doubt come in hand for you and your friends sporting Android’s next-generation standard. These come in a pack of two and make thoughtful stocking stuffers for those friends who are transitioning their cords over just like you.
See at Amazon
Amazon Echo Dot
Easily automate any home with the Amazon Echo Dot. This voice-controlled apparatus utilizes Amazon’s Alexa to do things like play music, control smart home devices, and give you the day’s daily headlines. Best of all, you don’t need the regular Amazon Echo to take advantage of this affordable gadget.
See at Amazon
Daydream View VR headset
Give the gift of virtual reality. Daydream View enables access to virtual reality’s vast offerings. You can use it to play games, watch movies, and even make new friends in virtual worlds. It also comes with a stowable controller that utilizes precision tracking. The only slight setback might be your pal’s phone; Daydream View requires a Daydream-ready device.
See at Google
If you’re unsure of the kind of your phone your friend’s wielding, the more universal, and cheaper Cardboard also makes a nice gift for potential VR heads.
Philips Hue LED Starter Kit
If your friend has already got an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot in the home, considering pairing them with a Philips Hue LED Starter Kit to get their voice-activated apparatus even more revved and roaring. The kit includes two white LED bulbs and a Hue bridge hub, which is also compatible with any other ZigBee-certified and Wink home automation gadgets.
See at Amazon
It looks like a fancy air fresher, but it’s really one of the simplest ways to technologize a home. Google Home gives you immediate access to Google Assistant. All you have to is call out, “Ok Google” to ask it questions and tell it do things. You can also use it to play music and voice-control other smart devices in your living room.
See at Google
Nest Cam Indoor security camera
Be your friend’s gateway to home security. The Nest Cam Indoor security camera is simple to set up and offers around the clock video. It records in Full HD and features night vision. Once it’s activated, you can easily check in from anywhere with the Android app. Nest Cam also comes with a free trial of Nest Aware, which is required to activate intelligent alerts and continuous cloud recording,
See at Amazon
What are your favorite gifts at any price this holiday? Let us know!
Everything you need to know about Google Daydream
What is Google Daydream?
Without being overly technical, Daydream is a new way to experience games and video on your phone. Instead of looking down at your screen and swiping or tapping, you can put your phone in a specially made headset and experience a 360-degree immersive environment that allows you to really step into the world instead of viewing it on a small screen.
Read more at VR Heads
BlackBerry will make another Android phone with a physical keyboard
BlackBerry has one last keyboard phone for us.
John Chen likes to tease. He’s been doing it ever since he took over the CEO role at BlackBerry from Thorsten Heins in 2013, and even now, after the company has rededicated itself to software, he is still talking about that elusive dream phone for keyboard addicts.
“We have one keyboard phone I promised people,” Chen told Emily Chang of Bloomberg TV. “It’s coming.” While the company stated earlier this year that it would no longer design or manufacturer its own smartphones, it appears that this latest keyboard-adorned device could be the last BlackBerry built in-house.
BlackBerry’s latest two phones, the DTEK50 and DTEK60, were built by TCL, whose reference designs were also used in the Alcatel Idol 4 and TCL 950, respectively. Previous to those, the Priv showed that BlackBerry could bring its iconic keyboard to Android with little detriment to the overall experience.
It’s unclear what form the new keyboard BlackBerry will take, whether it will be a slider like the Priv or a more conventional 1:1 square like the Classic, adapted for Android. BlackBerry was rumored to have been developing a version of the Passport that ran Android, and a couple prototypes have been seen floating around various places, but Google’s OS was never designed to be run in a square environment, and many apps likely wouldn’t run properly.
Right now, we don’t know much else: what it will look like, when it will go on sale, and how much it will cost. Nor do we know if it will get carrier support in the U.S., something that looks increasingly scarce as BlackBerry moves away from its handset roots.
- Complete BlackBerry Priv review
- BlackBerry Priv specs
- The latest Priv news
- Interview: BlackBerry’s President of Devices
- Join the discussion in the forums
Making the Porsche Mate 9: A conversation with Porsche Design and Huawei’s Chief Design Officers
Joon-Suh Kim and Roland Heiler on their companies’ partnership, and the first Huawei/Porsche Design product — the new Mate 9.
An unexpected arrival alongside the regular Huawei Mate 9, the curvy, ridiculously-specced Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 is supposed to represent the peak of smartphone technology and design. With a curved screen, pitch-black anodized aluminum rear, a 4,000mAh battery, 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, this phone would turn heads even without a major luxury brand on the front. So it’s a fitting inaugural phone for the Chinese manufacturer and its German design partner.
The Porsche Design Mate 9 is less of a traditional “phablet” than most phones in the Mate series. And at first glance, it’s closer to many of Samsung’s recent designs than anything Huawei has put out recently. (Despite the very prominent Porsche branding on both sides of this phone.)
It’s an exclusive product by design, and one that plays into Huawei’s strategy of associating itself with big Western brands (Leica and Swarovski are two recent examples.)
To get a feel for the new device, and the partnership that led to its creation, we sat down with Roland Heiler, Chief Design Officer of Porsche Design, and Joon-Suh Kim, Chief Design Officer of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, shortly after the announcement in Munich, Germany.
Joon-Suh Kim, Huawei CBG Chief Design Officer (left), Roland Heiler, Porsche Design Chief Design Officer (right)
The announcement of the Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 on November 3 — alongside the larger, more affordable regular Mate 9 — seemed to come out of nowhere. But in fact, the two companies have been working together for more than three years.
“I don’t even know anymore exactly how it happened,” Roland Heiler tells us, “But we were looking for a partner at the time, and Huawei was in a mood of co-operation at the time because we had already heard they had contact with Leica — which is another fascinating element in this smartphone.”
“One thing came to the other, and I guess it… it’s just like, when you meet the right people, something positive comes about. And this is something we learned afterwards, by the way — the Huawei culture inside the company, coming right down from the top management but also from the founder, is about people working together, about people communicating and exchanging knowledge.”
Of course, under this partnership, Huawei still manufactures the Porsche Design Mate 9 itself. Internally, it uses most of the same guts as the regular Mate 9 — though with a few key upgrades. The key difference is branding — but it’s not as superficial as it may sound. For the design company, it’s about translating what makes the Porsche Design philosophy into smartphone form.
You cannot do everything yourself. You have to bring the good elements of the available partners together, and then it works.
“Our classic combination is that we bring our design, our brand to the table, and work with a very capable partner. So for example, Porsche Design Sport is with Adidas. We just launched a few weeks ago, three new audio products with a company called KEF, a very very high-quality, well-known British brand. We’ve done two [sets of] headphones with them — in-ear, over-ear — and also a soundbar.”
“That’s a classical way of co-operating. This is what is really important. You cannot do everything yourself. You have to bring the good elements of the available partners together, and then it works.”
“Internally at Huawei, we call this ‘collective wisdom,’” says Joon-Suh Kim, Heiler’s counterpart at the Chinese phone maker. “This is how we strategically work with partners to create even more [than] what we can do by ourselves. So [these are] good examples — the way we work with Leica, the way we work with Porsche Design. It was a fantastic journey for Huawei to develop and reach even further.”
The phone wasn’t suddenly just made in less than one year. It took a whole three-and-a-half year collaboration.
“I remember, actually, it was three and a half years ago, Porsche Design came to Huawei. It was quite a long time ago. Porsche Design was looking for a technology partner which can achieve their expectation. So this is how we started, and it took a long time actually. [The phone] wasn’t suddenly just made in less than one year. It took a whole three-and-a-half year collaboration. And then finally we achieved it.”
To give some context, that means Porsche Design was talking to Huawei while it was still launching phones in partnership with BlackBerry. The last Porsche Design BlackBerry, the P’9983 Graphite, was announced in March 2015. The revelation is not entirely surprising — the writing has been on the wall for the ill-fated Canadian manufacturer for some time.
So what took so long? Well, Huawei and Porsche Design didn’t begin work on a co-branded phone immediately. “It’s like when people meet, you know?” says Heiler, “It takes a while to get to know each other.”
“[In that time] we could have developed two phones, actually,” Kim adds, “We had a certain [amount of] time to get to know each other, and it took a little bit longer.”
The two also took their time so as to come up with a product that was a real joint effort, not just one company’s phone with another’s logo. “We really tried to have a real collaboration,” Huawei’s design boss says.
“What was more important for both companies was to do it with the right product,” adds Heiler, “and not do something that would’ve been possible quicker. And when this opportunity showed up on the horizon, that we could actually co-operate on a phone of this quality, of this performance, we really are proud to be at the top performance level of the smartphone world at this time. That’s when we both felt: ‘This is the way to do it, and we’re going for it!’”
“Because both companies have their own values and don’t want to sell themselves cheaply.”
Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu unveils the Mate 9 in Munich, Germany.
For Porsche Design, the very name of the company, and its brand strategy, means it’s putting a lot on the line when it starts working with a new partner. It also has its own design sensibilities, drawn from decades of previous products. Nevertheless, the team comprised of both companies’ designers quickly gelled, as Roland Heiler explains:
“We bring a big package to a co-operation like that, because we bring the name ‘Design’ in our DNA. I think this was probably something that was unusual, or not so typical a thing for Huawei. But we quickly found a very good way of collaborating, because the design teams — that’s the beauty of letting the people who do the work actually get together and figure this out — they harmonized very well. And so it was no big discussion, you know, how this design process has to go.”
“We had deadlines, obviously the deadlines are always linked to some kind of milestone you have to pass in the development cycle. And to be honest, we did not waste a lot of time on this thing. Because it was a pretty tough path in the end.”
The phone itself is unlike any previous Huawei design. For starters, there’s a subtle left-to-right curve to its AMOLED screen. That’s mirrored by the angle of the brushed aluminum back. And unlike the regular Mate 9, the Porsche Design version uses a front-facing fingerprint scanner, which doubles as a home key, flanked by two other capacitive buttons.
It’s also a good deal smaller, with the display measuring 5.5 inches diagonally.
“Size-wise, I think it’s perfect.” Heiler tells us. “This is actually a very nice size, because… it’s also kind of unisex, which is nice. Because it’s not a very strong, masculine statement only. The softness of this curvature is also appealing to female customers, I should think.”
It’s kind of unisex, which is nice. Because it’s not a very strong, masculine statement only.
“What’s really beautiful about this surface treatment is that you don’t get the classical situation where you have a curved edge, and then there is a flat piece, which reflects light completely differently, and there’s another curved edge…. There’s actually a light reflection which is very silky and smooth across the entire surface.”
The murdered-out, Darth-Vader-black anodization also plays into the history of Porsche Design, Heiler tells us.
In combination with this brushed black finish, I think we’re right on the brand
“In combination with this brushed black finish, I think we’re right on the brand with this surface treatment. So we’re very happy with this. And you have a little bit of shine where the polished edges are. But not too much. Not too much bling-bling, because that wouldn’t go with our brand. It adds that touch of value and craftsmanship to the product.”
“Of course in the past we’ve also had completely black products. In fact, the first product that Porsche Design came out [with] in 1972 was completely black. It was a watch. And it was also the very first black watch ever. Because nobody would’ve thought of making a watch black because a watch was considered jewellry. But [founder Ferdinand] Porsche didn’t think of a watch like that. He actually looked at it as a precision instrument.”
“So black plays a certain role in our brand, I have to admit.”
But although both the Porsche Design Mate 9 and its larger, more affordable, non-Porsche sibling both share a name — and a technical platform — Joon-Suh Kim says they’re aimed at very different types of consumers.
“The targeting is definitely different. That’s why the price is also very different. Because Porsche Design is mainly for the high-end, premium consumer, who really, really cares about true premium-ness and really high performance and high spec. But for the [regular] Huawei Mate 9 it’s for people who are looking for that high-performance product with a pretty reasonable price.”
“So the segment itself is totally different. And design aspiration is also different. Even though we have the same name — Mate 9 — that represents the performance. In terms of performance category, they are the same level. Most specs are very similar, but the highest specs we’ve put into the Porsche Design [Mate 9], because it’s a very, very special edition.”
“In a way, it’s from the same series, but with a different character. The target audience is different.”
The surface quality has to be perfect because it’s so close to you. It’s an unforgiving object, basically, when it comes to design flaws.
That “character” has to do with not just how the Porsche Design model looks, but also the shape and size, and how it feels, says Roland Heiler.
“When it comes to the design, Porsche Design has a desire to create something that is in line with the DNA, that is very clean, very simple. And I think the architecture of having a very symmetrical device, that has basically the same shape that it has on the front — it’s only a material difference. Otherwise, it’s a very clean design. I consider this a big difference between the two products.”
But when so much of the object you’re designing is dominated by a single sheet of capacitive glass, it can be hard to differentiate.
“As a designer, it’s kind of challenging anyway to design a smartphone nowadays because there’s so little surface to design,” Heiler says, “because most of it is screen, and then there’s the back side. And then you have an area where you can actually do a little bit of detailing. But if you compare it with a car, the body of a car is a complete new design every time. You have a [much] bigger playground.”
“The amount of surface to design is reduced — to the max, I’d say. I think people are very sensitive to the way they look at a smartphone, because you are up close, you actually look at the detail and chamfers, the finish, the way things are chamfered or polished. The surface quality has to be perfect because it’s so close to you. It’s an unforgiving object, basically, when it comes to design flaws.”
For all this talk of differentiation, the inevitable comparison is with Samsung’s “edge” series phones, which have pioneered curved screens in handsets. But Joon-Suh Kim — himself a former Samsung designer — says Huawei’s approach to curved displays is “fundamentally different” to the competition.
“It’s not about function. It’s all about design, and usability. This is the importance of the beauty of symmetry,” he explains.
He’s also unimpressed, it seems, by Samsung’s “edge screen” UI, which adds shortcuts and other software features on the curved portion of the display. By contrast, the Mate 9’s left-to-right curve is incredibly subtle, mirroring the curvature of the metal back. And there are no software gimmicks attached.
“To the normal consumer’s eye, it looks similar. But what I can say [is] that our starting point for this technology and design is fundamentally different. [Previous curved-screen phones] wanted to have functionality on the left and right, even though [the] smartphone design becomes very, very thin. So you can imagine having certain functions on the left and right is not really that meaningful anymore.”
“We made it a very gentle curvature to make sure when you hold it, it’s very comfortable. Some products, when you flip them over, maybe feel even better. But our product, like Roland mentioned, is pure front and back, symmetrical.”
“You have less chance to misoperate it” compared to phones with wider curves, Kim says.
You couldn’t do a product like this with bad manufacturing because it wouldn’t work.
“What we like about this in terms of design is that it reflects the simplicity that most of our products have,” Heiler adds.
“It’s a certain combination of simplicity yet super-high quality that then brings simple shapes to life. You couldn’t do a product like this with bad manufacturing because it wouldn’t work. This symmetrical approach — top to bottom, but also back to front — is very much in line with a lot of things we’ve done in the past. So this is carrying the DNA and the identity of our company on the outside. And on the inside, it [also] has a lot of values that we appreciate.”
Both designers are mum on whether any future Porsche Design/Huawei phones are in the works, but after taking more than three years to get the first collaborative product out the door, it seems unlikely they’ll part company anytime soon.
So where next?
“We’re dreaming,” Heiler says with a laugh. “We’re dreaming at the moment!”
The Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 will go on sale in December in Europe, priced €1395, ahead of a global launch in January 2017. (Huawei tells us it has no plans to launch the phone in the United States.)
More: Huawei Mate 9 hands-on preview
Microsoft’s iOS app augments hues for color-blind folks
Color Binoculars landed on the App Store today, promising to infuse the real world with color for anyone with the three most common forms of color blindness. This isn’t the first app designed to help color-blind folks see a broader spectrum of colors, but it comes from two Microsoft software engineers (one of whom is color blind), and its straightforward filter method is simple to use.
The app uses the iPhone camera to adjust colors in a way that makes them easier to distinguish for color-blind people. The enhanced image shows up on the iPhone screen, allowing users to pick out flowers, choose matching outfits or take in the beauty of fall, for example.
Tom Overton and Tingting Zhu started working on Color Binoculars during Microsoft’s 2015 Hackathon and they finished it in the company’s Garage program, which helps experimental apps go public. Overton is color blind, so he was both a developer and the app’s main tester.
Tom Overton and Tingting Zhu (Image credit: Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures)
“It’s an app that helps color blind people distinguish color combinations that they would normally have trouble telling apart,” Overton tells the Microsoft blog. “For example, since I have difficulty distinguishing between red and green, our app makes reds brighter and greens darker so that the difference is more obvious. It replaces difficult color combinations, like red and green, with more easily distinguishable combinations, like pink and green.”
AT&T’s Optional ‘Stream Saver’ Feature Will Throttle Streaming Video Starting in 2017
AT&T today announced a new “Stream Saver” feature, which it says is a “free and convenient” data-saving option that allows customers to watch more video by downgrading video quality.
Stream Saver mimics T-Mobile’s Binge On option, automatically streaming video at “about 480p,” or standard definition quality instead of high definition quality.
AT&T is making Stream Saver an optional feature, with customers able to turn it on and off at will using myAT&T or Premier for business customers. According to AT&T, Stream Saver can be toggled off at any time with no charge to AT&T customers. While it is available for most streaming video, AT&T says Stream Saver is not able to detect and optimize all video due to the way some content owners deliver video streams.
As an optional feature that isn’t limited to specific content partners, Stream Saver does not seem to raise the same questions about net neutrality that have caused T-Mobile’s Binge On feature to be scrutinized by the FCC.
Through Binge On, T-Mobile offers free video streaming at 480p when customers watch content from select partners. T-Mobile has dozens of audio and video partners, including YouTube, Amazon Video, Netflix, Sling TV, VUDU, HBO NOW, Showtime, Hulu, and more.
AT&T plans to make Stream Saver available to customers starting in early 2017.
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T-Mobile launches LTE for US forces at Guantanamo Bay
Despite President Obama’s first-term pledge to close it, the “Gitmo” Guantanamo Bay Naval Base remains open. It’s hard to believe, but the 5,500 military families and staff living there have never had cellular data coverage — until now. T-Mobile has expanded its 4G LTE coverage to the base by installing 11 new cell sites with LTE coverage. CEO John Legere says he’s “honored” to offer the service as part of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative.
Folks there have never been able to text or surf using cell data. “The new 4G LTE coverage is a huge boon to everyone at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay,” Captain David Culpepper told T-Mobile. John Legere and Co. reportedly took over from a small private company with “not very good” service, according to a Reddit commenter. “Lots of families on NAS Guantanamo here [and] connectivity is a pain … the facility is way more than just that [prison and camps], with lots of similar activities and things we get in the rest of the US,” says user “nps-ca.”
Gitmo residents get the same level of service as folks on the mainland, and a screenshot (above) shows healthy 38 Mbps upload and 26 Mbps download speeds. As of August, residents could buy postpaid and prepaid T-Mobile plans, along with smartphones and accessories, from a retail kiosk in the Navy Exchange store.
In a separate arrangement, T-Mobile recently started offering cellular roaming service in Cuba. That gives vacationing magenta customers access to text, mobile and data, thanks to a deal with the government-run Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba company.
Facebook has plans for an always-on Safety Check hub
Over a billion people now use Facebook on a daily basis, and that’s just on their phone. That dominance is bringing in huge profits, but the site’s popularity makes it an incredibly useful tool during emergencies. This is thanks to the company’s Safety Check feature, which was launched to help help account for people during natural disasters but has since been used to mark people safe following attacks in Paris, Nice, the nightclub shooting in Orlando and other local tragedies.
After claims that Facebook was exerting too much influence over events deemed important enough to activate Safety Check, the social media giant has put some control in users’ hands, but it wants to do more. Wired reports that the company is developing what it’s calling a “crisis hub,” a place that offers live information and media about natural disasters and other events where people can say that they’re safe.
Given that Facebook automatically becomes home to status updates, news articles, live video and other important media following a major event, it makes sense that it would collate all of that information and display it in a single stream. Safety Check product lead Katherine Woo and her team are developing algorithms that are capable of doing just that, giving users a dedicated place to check on the welfare of others but possibly mobilize a response if the event calls for one.
Facebook remains quiet on what its crisis hubs will look like, or when it expects them to go live, but Wired reports that Facebook Live will play a big part. If users broadcast live video or post updates, be it from a disaster zone or a protest, Facebook can become a reputable news source alongside traditional news media. As the recent US elections show, Facebook as a platform has great influence, even if Zuck and co. don’t believe it helped Donald Trump win the presidency.