Google Maps update puts a focus on navigation inside the app

Over the past few weeks Google has added in-app Uber booking and parking availability to Maps, but it isn’t done with the improvements. In an update rolling out today, the app will receive some better navigation—not in how we drive but in how we get around the maps navigation

A blog post details the change, which will only affect the Android version of Maps. The update adds a new menu bar to the bottom of the home screen that brings easy access to three common features: places, driving, and transit. Designed to cut down on the number of taps you’ll need to make to get directions and find restaurants, the update focuses on delivering real time at a glance, according to a Google blog post:

Under the new places tab, users will find lists of restaurants and bars around you, as well as a search bar that lets you find ATMs, pharmacies, gas stations and grocery stores. Additionally, if you tap the car icon you’ll be able to quickly get an estimated time of arrival for going home or to work, as well as traffic conditions and any possible reported delays. Finally, the subway icon will show you the best train or bus to catch for your commute, or you check out schedules for stations and stops near you.

google maps nav
Google Maps’ new navigation helps you get the information you need quickly.

 We all love Google Maps, but let’s face it, no one wants to spend any more time with it than they have to. With this latest update, Google hasn’t added any new features, but by streamlining the interface a bit, it will help us get where we’re going that much faster.

This story, “Google Maps update puts a focus on navigation inside the app” was originally published by Greenbot.

Google to Be Investigated by Indonesia for Possible Unpaid Taxes

Google to Be Investigated by Indonesia for Possible Unpaid Taxes

Indonesia’s tax office will investigate Alphabet Inc’s Google for suspected unpaid taxes in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, a senior finance ministry official said on Thursday.

Muhammad Hanif, head of the specials cases branch in the tax office, said Google’s refusal to cooperate after it was sent a letter in April requesting to be allowed to examine the company’s tax reports had raised suspicions.

“We will elevate this to an investigation because they refused to be examined, and this is definitely an indication of criminal activity,” Hanif told a news conference.

He added that the probe would not be launched until the end of the month at the earliest.

Taj Meadows, head of policy communication for Google in Asia Pacific, declined to comment immediately on the issue, but said in an emailed response that the company would revert as “soon as it can”.

The government had also asked to examine the tax reports of the Indonesian offices of three other US Internet based companies – Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook.

Those three companies have complied, officials said.

Yahoo and Google have formed Indonesian limited liability companies, while Twitter and Facebook operate branches of their Asia-Pacific offices in Indonesia.

The government believes these companies owe income and value added tax on billions of dollars of revenue they generate from advertising in Indonesia, the tax office said.

Hanif said Google’s Indonesian entity was only allocated around 4 percent of the total revenues generated from the country, and it was this amount that was taxed, which he described as too small and “unfair”.

The communications ministry had estimated the value of digital advertising in Indonesia at about $800 million (roughly Rs. 5,361 crores) last year. The ministry said all of it was untaxed.

There was no immediate explanation for the wide discrepancy of the two agencies’ estimates for digital advertising revenue.

Indonesia is facing a sizeable revenue shortfall this year as the resource-rich country can no longer rely on commodity-related income.

In a separate development, the tax office said it is checking whether Ford Motor Co had avoided paying appropriate taxes, after a local newspaper reported that the US car maker modified imported Everest model vehicles sold in Indonesia to pay a lower tax rate.

If the car maker is proven to have caused state losses, it may have to pay back taxes of up to four times the amount it owed, according to Indonesian law.

“We have always strictly complied with all Indonesia government regulations and policy, including all import-related tax and customs requirements, related to each of our Ford vehicles officially marketed and sold in the country,” he said.

Ford announced in January it is closing all operations in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, where it held a 1 percent market share.


Facebook, Google, Twitter Deliberately Fail to Tackle Terrorism

Facebook, Google, Twitter Deliberately Fail to Tackle Terrorism: British Panel

In the first-ever widespread criticism of US technology giants and social media platforms, the British Home Affairs select committee has slammed the internet behemoths of becoming a “recruiting platform for terrorism” and “passing the buck”.

Led by Keith Vaz, the British parliament’s longest-serving Indian-origin MP, the panel rapped Facebook, Twitter,Google and YouTube, saying the companies were deliberately failing to stop terrorists from using their platforms to promote their sinister agenda, The Telegraph reported on Thursday.

“Huge corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter, with their billion-dollar incomes, are consciously failing to tackle this threat and passing the buck by hiding behind their supranational legal status, despite knowing that their sites are being used by the instigators of terror,” Vaz was quoted as saying.

According to the committee report, “It is alarming that these companies have teams of only a few hundred employees to monitor networks of billions of accounts and that Twitter does not even proactively report extremist content to law enforcement agencies”.

They specifically mentioned the case of hate preacher Anjem Choudary, stressing that Twitter and Youtube refused to remove his posts praising violent extremism despite repeated requests by the police.

Choudary, 49, was convicted of terror offences last week and faces up to 10 years in prison. He was set to be questioned by French and Belgian security services over his links to Islamic State (IS)-affiliated terrorists.

The British panel also warned that social media platforms are becoming the “vehicle of choice” for spreading terrorist propaganda.

“If they continue to fail to tackle this issue and allow their platforms to become the ‘Wild West’ of the internet, then it will erode their reputation as responsible operators,” the report added.

Reacting to the report, Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook UK, was quoted as saying: aceTerrorists and the support of terrorist activity are not allowed on Facebook and we deal swiftly and robustly with reports of terrorism-related content.”

Last week, the micro-blogging website Twitter had announced it had suspended an additional 235,000 accounts for violating its policies related to promotion of terrorism in the last six months.

Twitter had announced the blocking of more than 125,000 accounts earlier this year which were primarily related to the IS terror group.

“This brings our overall number of suspensions to 360,000 since the middle of 2015. As noted by numerous third parties, our efforts continue to drive meaningful results, including a significant shift in this type of activity off of Twitter,” the company had said in a blog post.

Google to Start Ranking Websites With Popup Ads Lower in Mobile Search Results

Google to Start Ranking Websites With Popup Ads Lower in Mobile Search Results
  • Websites with unnecessary ads to rank lower in Google search results
  • Google says unnecessary ads hindering with browsing experience
  • Google mentions exceptions to its new advertisement rule

Google announced on Tuesday that starting January 10 next year, websites that allow intrusive interstitial advertisements that hinder immediate access to content, will start ranking lower in its mobile search results.

In its blog post to webmasters, Google said, “Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

As a result of this change, the ranking of those websites will be lowered if they contain advertisement popups that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page. Google has also mentioned other scenarios where the unnecessary advertisements affect users’ browsing over here.

However, the California-based company has pointed out that there are certain exceptions where the popups or messages are necessarily required by the websites and cannot be avoided. Such cases include interstitials that appear in response to legal obligations, such as for cookie usage or for age verification. Even is the advertisements use reasonable amount of screen space won’t impact the website’s ranking, Google said.

Moreover, Google also admitted that the websites where the content Is not indexable and sits behind a paywall, login dialogues are necessarily required and can’t be avoided.

Google also announced that it will be removing the mobile-friendly label from its search results as it has found that around 85 percent of the websites in its search results now meet the criteria since their introduction in 2014. The mobile friendly label was essentially given to a website that was optimised for mobile devices, for example, where the text and content was readable without zooming and the tap targets are appropriately spaced. It added that even though the label is being removed to make search results “uncluttered,” the criteria will still continue to be a ranking signal.

Google, RailTel Launch Free Wi-Fi Service at 9 More Railway Stations

Google, RailTel Launch Free Wi-Fi Service at 9 More Railway Stations

Google and RailTel on Friday announced that its free Wi-Fi service for Indian railway stations has been rolled out to nine new stations across the country. The search giant added the service will be formally inaugurated by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu soon.

To recall, Google had launched its free Wi-Fi service at Mumbai Central in January this year, and plans to roll out the facility to 100 stations by the end of 2016, and to 400 stations eventually.

With Friday’s announcement, Google has launched its free Wi-Fi service in 10 railway stations across India. These are Bhubaneswar, Bhopal, Ernakulum Jn (Kochi), Kacheguda (Hyderabad), Mumbai Central, Pune, Ranchi, Raipur, Vijayawada, and Vishakhapatnam.

Google in an emailed statement said the service, which is built over the fibre network of Raitel, is designed to offer a high-speed broadband experience to users. The company added it is committed to work with Indian Railways and RailTel to deliver high-speed Wi-Fi network that will be available to 10 million Indians a day by the end of the year.

“The network is now live in ten key stations across the country and we are scaling up our efforts to roll out the network quickly to cover some of smaller stations where connectivity is much more limited. As Internet adoption grows in India, easy and affordable access to high-speed networks is the real need of the hour. With 100 stations live, this project will be the largest publicly accessible high speed Wi-Fi network in the country, but our real hope is that this project will set new benchmarks in delivering a reliable and consistent network connectivity in the country,” said Gulzar Azad, Head of Access Project, Google India.

Commenting on the launch, Chairman and Managing Director of RailTel Shri R. K. Bahuguna said, “As outlined by the Hon’ble minister Shri Suresh Prabhu – modernising and improving the amenities available to passengers of Indian Railways is big part of our focus. And we are very proud to say that Indian Railways has taken the lead to offer the best Wi-Fi network experience available to passengers today in the country. And while the service will be free for a reasonable amount of time, our long-term goal is to make this project self-sustainable to allow for expansion to more stations and places, with RailTel and other partners, in the future.”