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WhatsApp lets users share their real-time locations

This week, messaging app WhatsApp announced a new feature that allows users to share their real-time location with family and friends. The feature is encrypted end to end to ensure users’ privacy and security, and it allows you to control who can see your location and when they can see it. Live Location will be rolling out in the next few weeks on both iOS and Android.

To use Live Location, start a chat with the person or group you’d like to share your location with. You’ll find the new option “Share Live Location” under “Location” when you hit the “Attach” button. You can decide how long you want to share your location, and then hit “Send.” If you want to stop sharing your location before the timer expires, you can choose to do so at any time. And if multiple people in your group share their locations with one another, it will all be visible on the same map.

WhatsApp has been steadily increasing in importance. It recently become a top news source in some countries and has a billion daily users. It’s nice to see that the company is focusing on that impressive user base and continuing to add new features.

Source: Whatsapp


Snapchat will offer European users exclusive Olympics content

Snap is clearly hungry for original and exclusive web content for Snapchat’s Discover platform. Yesterday, the company announced it was forming a studio in partnership with NBCUniversal. Then, this morning, Snap revealed that it’s partnering with Eurosport, which is owned by Discovery Communications, to bring exclusive behind-the-scenes content from the Olympics Winter Games, which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018. This content appears to be limited to Snapchat’s European users.

The partnership will cover both Our Stories, which are curated stories that highlight Snaps from the general user database, and Publisher Stories, which are produced and submitted by media partners. Snapchat will have a dedicated team working on Eurosport’s Publisher Story, which will complement the Olympics footage aired on the streaming platform Eurosport Player. The partnership also includes a “strategic advertising agreement.”

This isn’t the first time the two organizations have worked together. Previously, Eurosport’s parent organization Discovery produced shows for Shark Week that aired first on Snapchat. Shark Week on Snapchat ran for a week; over 17 million users tuned in to watch the show.

Source: Discovery Communications


EV chargers have started popping up at UK Shell stations

As promised, Shell is adding electric vehicle charging to its UK petrol stations. “Shell Recharge” is already already available at three locations in Holloway (London), Derby and Whyteleafe (Surrey). A further seven sites across Greater London and Reading will be opened up before the end of the year. Though this is welcome news for EV owners, 10 stations is but a fraction of the 1,000 that Shell currently operates in the UK. The company has a long way to go before it can match Tesla’s Supercharger network, or the nationwide infrastructure offered by Ecotricity and Chargemaster’s Polar scheme.

Still, it’s a start. The 10 stations will offer 50 kW DC chargers with connections for combined charging system (CCS), Chademo and AC Type 2 (43kW). Every car is different, but Shell says its Recharge stations will take will take most batteries from zero to 80 percent in 30 minutes. Those figures are competitive with most public UK chargers, but are a long way off the 120 kW throughput offered by Tesla. Drivers will need to pay for their electricity using a payments app called Smoov. It will normally cost 49p per kWh, but until June 30th, 2018, that figure is being kept at 25p.

Via: EV Fleet World

Source: Shell (Press Release)


The creators of Vine built a trivia show app called HQ

The Vine guys are back, but this time it’s with a gameshow app called HQ. However, this app isn’t like you’re typical trivia game where you can play whenever you want. With HQ, gameplay is live and takes place twice a day. “It’s a way to give people a chance to have fun, maybe win, maybe learn something new,” Vine cofounder Rus Yusupov told TechCrunch.

HQ’s trivia is only available at 3PM and 9PM Eastern, which is when HQ’s host, Scott Rogowsky, asks a handful of multiple choice questions live. If you answer a question correctly within 10 seconds, you can advance to the next one and everyone who successfully answers them all splits a cash prize that’s doled out via PayPal. The jackpot isn’t always the same and HQ’s creators are toying with different ways to fund it. Yusupov told TechCrunch, “We’ve been playing around with options. This Sunday we did a sponsored game that let us give away the biggest prize.”

While this sadly isn’t the return of Vine, it’s nonetheless an interesting take on game apps. “We just wanted to make something that people play with their friends and family,” Yusupov said.

Via: TechCrunch


Apple’s self-driving tech appears to be one fully-contained unit

Like so many companies, Apple has been working on its own version of self-driving technology. Last year, we learned that the company had moved away from designing its own vehicle, opting instead to develop a system that could be incorporated into existing vehicles. We’ve had glimpses of this system before — it’s codenamed Project Titan — but thanks to Voyage cofounder MacCallister Higgins, we now have an up-close view of it.

Going to need more than 140 characters to go over 🍎’s Project Titan. I call it “The Thing”

— MacCallister Higgins (@macjshiggins) October 17, 2017

Higgens posted a short video on Twitter of a Lexus SUV topped with Apple’s sensor array, which he called “The Thing.” He also said that the majority of the compute stack is likely contained within the roof unit itself, rather than stored elsewhere in the vehicle, and noted that it had six LiDAR units on the front and back. Such a self-contained unit would be pretty easy to pop onto any car really without requiring many additional modifications to the vehicle itself, which is probably why Apple has opted for such a design.

You can take a peek at Apple’s roof array in Higgens’ video above.

Via: TechCrunch


Amazon and eBay accused of turning blind eye to VAT fraud

It’s not uncommon to see a headline vilifying a well-known tech company for their incredibly low tax contributions despite turnovers in the billions. The EU is famously taking Apple to task, but more often than not, these clockwork bouts of outrage are frustrating to endure. If these “loopholes” are built into the system, it would seem energy could be better spent lobbying for tax reform instead of telling the same story ad infinitum. But this isn’t one of those stories. In a new report, the UK government’s Public Accounts Committee has made some pretty strong allegations against Amazon, eBay and other unnamed online marketplaces, accusing them of facilitating VAT fraud.

A company based outside of the EU can sell a product to a UK customer without charging 20 percent VAT; but, if that product happens to be on UK land when the sale takes place, they are obligated to charge VAT. Sites like Amazon and eBay have blurred the lines somewhat, however. Third-party sellers based outside of the EU sell to UK customers through those platforms, but the products themselves are typically stashed in warehouses (aka fulfilment centres), which is why they arrive with you the next morning.

The committee is accusing Amazon, eBay and others of being complicit in fraud by turning a blind eye to third-party sellers that aren’t charging VAT, even though the products they’re selling are sitting on the shelves of UK warehouses when the transactions take place. This scenario obviously gives the sellers an illegal, competitive advantage over businesses based in the UK and others that play by the rules. On top of that, the government is missing out on all that sweet tax revenue, which HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) estimated was between £1 and £1.5 billion in 2015-16 — “depriving public services of funds at a time of austerity,” as the committee puts it.

Amazon and eBay are also accused of taking a lax approach to self-policing these third-party sellers despite claiming it’s within their interests to maintain their reputations. The committee asserts their checking procedures aren’t robust or proactive enough — “it is bewildering to us that these big companies have taken such little action to date.” It’s also said online marketplaces don’t cooperate properly with HMRC and share enough data to make identifying non-compliant traders easier. In further damaging claims: “The Committee conducted some mystery shopping which showed how easy it was to buy something, have it delivered the next day from a UK base and not pay VAT. We were even offered a partial refund when we repeatedly requested a VAT invoice.”

That’s not to say the Public Accounts Committee thinks HMRC is ill-equipped to deal with the problem. In fact, the report saddles almost as much blame on HMRC for failing to tackle VAT fraud. According to the committee, HMRC underestimates the impact of online VAT fraud, and doesn’t do nearly enough to tackle it in the face of repeated warnings from the committee itself and several campaign groups. It’s alleged that “HMRC waited until the introduction of new measures under the Finance Act 2016 before it attempted to hold online marketplaces responsible.” And yet, HMRC has done little since, with no prosecutions thus far or even a namecheck of a non-compliant trader. In statements sent to The Guardian, Amazon, eBay and HMRC basically said they were all doing their best, etc.

In no uncertain terms, the Public Accounts Committee has recommended HMRC basically step up and do its job, part of which should involve setting up proper cooperating agreements with marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, potentially via new legislation if necessary, as well as chasing unpaid VAT from bygone sales. Furthermore, the committee recommends HMRC gets its ducks in a row posthaste. “With Brexit and the uncertainty over trading and customs this issue is only going to get more complicated.”

Via: The Guardian

Source: Public Accounts Committee


Google’s Pixel 2 is hiding an old-school menu button

Google has a bit of a throwback tucked away in the Pixel 2. Depending on the app, you can access the old-school Android menu button by tapping in the lower righthand corner of the screen, as spotted by Android Police. As you’ll see in the video embedded below, it doesn’t seem to do much, but hey, it exists. Android Police says that to access it, you need a Pixel 2 running the stock software and an app that targets Android Honeycomb or an earlier version of the OS. As of now, it’ll appear in the settings menu, along with Google Maps and Inbox.

We’ve confirmed it exists, using Engadget’s Pixel 2 review unit. It seems unlikely that Google will power it on via a firmware update a la the handset’s custom imaging processor, and there’s also potential for it to get killed off with a future patch. If you’re unboxing your Pixel 2 today or tomorrow, now you’ve got one more thing to try out.

Via: 9to5 Google

Source: Android Police


‘Women of NASA’ Lego set available starting November 1st

Back in March, we reported that Lego would make a “Women of NASA” set, which was submitted to the Lego Ideas competition by MIT deputy news editor Maia Weinstock. Now, the set is finally ready. It will be available November 1st for $25/€25.

The set contains four different figures: Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space. Margaret Hamilton, who led the team that developed the software for NASA’s Apollo missions, is also included. Rounding out the list is Nancy Grace Roman, who helped bring the vision of the Hubble Space Telescope to life.

Katherine Johnson, who was become a household name thanks to the book and movie Hidden Figures was also included in Weinstock’s original pitch, but is apparently not included in the final set. We’ve reached out to Lego for a comment, but TechCrunch reports that there were problems gaining approval from Johnson and her family at the time the set was being planned.

It’s always nice to see some of the well-known female figures in our space program being celebrated, especially those who aren’t necessarily household names. This seems like a pretty good way to honor their contributions to the US space program.

Source: TechCrunch


Zero’s latest electric motorcycles can recharge in an hour

Zero Motorcycles’ electric bikes can be fun to ride, but recharging is another matter entirely. It’s tough to wait hours when all you want to do is go back on the open road. That shouldn’t be such a problem with the company’s just-introduced 2018 models. If you use a 6kW Charge Tank accessory with the newest Zero S, SR, DS and DSR, you can charge up to six times faster — as little as an hour for the S or DS ZF7.2 when you plug into an ordinary Level 1 outlet. Models with larger batteries can still top up in two hours if you use a Level 2 EV charger. Neither charging rate is as speedy as filling a gas tank, of course, but they’re fast enough that you could come home with a low battery and head out again after dinner.

The new e-motorbikes should be more exciting rides, too. If you have the ZF7.2 power pack, you should get 11 percent more rear-wheel torque. The powertrains, meanwhile, have been tweaked to supply up to 30 percent more power and torque. Combine these with up to 10 percent added range on the ZF7.2 and ZF14.4 batteries (up to 223 miles) and you should have an easier time overtaking big rigs on the highway.

There’s also an improvement in an unexpected area: your phone. You can now update your bike’s firmware through Zero’s mobile app, so you can improve your performance while sitting in your own garage.

Prices for the bikes are the same as the 2017 models, which starts at $8,495 for a Zero FX and culminates at $16,495 for the SR and DSR models. Be ready to pay extra if you want that vaunted fast charging, though: the Charge Tank will cost you an extra $2,295. That could make sense if you ride almost constantly, but you may want to save your cash if your bike only comes out for the daily commute.

Via: CleanTechnica

Source: Zero Motorcycles


Motorola’s newest mod puts an Alexa speaker on your phone

Ever wanted to have an Amazon Echo speaker with you wherever you are, rather than relying on your phone’s built-in voice assistant? Motorola is betting you do. As promised, it’s releasing an Alexa-powered Moto Mod (the Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa, to be exact) that slaps an Echo-like device on the back of compatible phones like the Moto Z2 Force or Z Play. The key, as you might guess, is that it delivers that across-the-room voice control in a way your phone can’t by itself.

The large dedicated speaker is clearly one advantage, but there are also four mics to make sure it picks up your voice in relatively noisy environments. And with a 15-hour built-in battery, you won’t kill your phone if you’re constantly asking questions. The mod also has a clever dock design that’s intended for use on your nightstand.

If there’s an obstacle, it’s the cost. The Alexa speaker will be available for $150 US (£99 in the UK) when it ships in November to those countries where Alexa has official support. At that price, you’ll have to really like the idea of a truly portable Echo speaker that fits in your pocket; this might be excessive if you just want another Echo for the office.

Source: Motorola Blog

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