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Google Reacts to 99 Phones 'Maps Hack': Such Creative Uses Help Us Improve Services

Whether via car or cart or camel, we love seeing creative uses of Google Maps as it helps us make maps work better over time

Google Reacts to 99 Phones 'Maps Hack': Such Creative Uses Help Us Improve Services
Image: 9to5 Google

We recently reported about a Berlin-based artist who duped Google Maps by dragging 99 second-hand phones on a cart through various streets and roads. While he didn’t actually create any traffic, but the result was that Google Maps’ servers interpreted this as traffic congestion thereby showing the same to people using the service. The ‘fake’ traffic made drivers avoid those roads and streets, which were actually empty.

Now, Google has given a response regarding the ‘experiment’ and agreed that a large number of devices running Maps in a single place, is proof of a traffic jam. However, Google went on to say that this experiment was something that was rare and a very specific case that took advantage of this scenario.

Here’s the complete statement a Google spokesperson gave to 9to5Google:

“Whether via car or cart or camel, we love seeing creative uses of Google Maps as it helps us make maps work better over time.

Traffic data in Google Maps is refreshed continuously thanks to information from a variety of sources, including aggregated anonymized data from people who have location services turned on and contributions from the Google Maps community. We’ve launched the ability to distinguish between cars and motorcycles in several countries including India, Indonesia and Egypt, though we haven’t quite cracked traveling by wagon. We appreciate seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this as it helps us make maps work better over time.”

The statement basically hints that the company does use a case like this to improve traffic data on Google Maps. The search giant also said that it continuously refreshes its systems by referring a variety of sources to provide the most “comprehensive and accurate maps possible.”

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Tech

Apple Has Started Rolling-Out Redesigned Maps App in the US

The revamped Apple Maps has some features similar to those in Google Maps, such as local street pictures, AI to sync flight status and reservations to the calendar.

Apple Has Started Rolling-Out Redesigned Maps App in the US
Apple on Thursday said it has finished rolling out an overhauled map app in the US in another attempt to challenge Google’s popular smartphone navigation software.

(Image: Apple Maps Logo/ Wikimedia.org)

Apple said it has finished rolling out an overhauled map app in the US in another attempt to challenge Google’s popular smartphone navigation software. Apple spent years rebuilding the application, its cars travelling millions of miles to map roads after a version launched in 2012 was so problematic it prompted a rare public apology from chief executive Tim Cook. Mapping programs on mobile devices is seen as a way to stay in tune with smartphone lifestyles and pursue opportunities to make money connecting people with nearby offerings such as restaurants, theatres, clothing shops and other businesses.

Apple said the redesigned “Maps” program is fast, accurate, and comprehensive, even weaving in transit options in some locations. Maps will begin rolling out in Europe in the coming months. “We set out to create the best and most private maps app on the planet that is reflective of how people explore the world today,” Apple senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue said in a release.

“It is an effort we are deeply invested in and required that we rebuild the map from the ground up to reimagine how Maps enhances people’s lives, from navigating to work or school or planning an important vacation, all with privacy at its core”. Apple Maps had some features similar to those in Google Maps, such as pictures of locations taken at street level and artificial intelligence to check the status of flight reservations noted in email boxes or on calendars.

As with other products, Apple stressed work done to protect user privacy, such as obscuring search terms, routing, and other data, according to the company.

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Tech

Huawei Will Get TomTom Navigation Since The U.S. Would Not Let Them Use Google Maps

The deal with TomTom gives Huawei access to navigation apps and services for its own smartphone operating system.

Huawei Will Get TomTom Navigation Since The U.S. Would Not Let Them Use Google Maps
The deal with TomTom gives Huawei access to navigation apps and services for its own smartphone operating system.

Dutch navigation and digital mapping company TomTom said it has closed a deal with China’s Huawei Technologies for the use of its maps and services in smartphone apps. Huawei was forced to develop its own operating system for smartphones, after it was effectively blacklisted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration last year out of concerns over national security. This banned Huawei from using Google’s official Android operating system, along with widely used apps such as Google Maps, in new phones. The deal with TomTom means Huawei can now use the Dutch company’s maps, traffic information and navigation software to develop apps for its smartphones.

TomTom spokesman Remco Meerstra said the deal had been closed some time ago but had not been made public by the company. Meerstra declined to provide further details of the agreement. TomTom, which is moving away from selling devices to offering software services, sold its telematics division to Japan’s Bridgestone last year to focus on its digital map-linked businesses.