It goes without saying that social distancing is a lifesaver for you and those around you as well. But it is not always easy to determine if you are within the 2-meter safety radius while out running an errand. In comes Sodar, an AR tool that will utilize your phone’s camera to clearly demarcate the safe radius for you.
Sodar uses the smartphone camera as a distance measuring tool and the screen as a viewfinder to show you a radius of 2-meter around you. Technically speaking, Google’s solution employs WebXR to visualize a circle in the same way you see AR objects around you with your phone, somewhat like Pokemon Go.
However, Sodar currently works only on Android devices with the Chrome browser installed on them. Just visit the Sodar.WithGoogle.com website on your phone, tap on the launch button, and you’re good to go. I tried it on my phone and it works really well without any lags or stutters. Here’s how it looks in action:
Ever had to skim through a 2-hour lecture video looking for that specific 10-minute segment that was useful to you? I’ve been through the ordeal quite often, and so have a lot of other people. YouTube aims to end that hassle with its new Video Chapters feature, which as the name suggests, divides a video into different chapters for ease of navigation.
Thanks to video chapters, the seek bar will now be broken into multiple segments, with each one representing a specific chapter. Just hover the cursor (or use your finger on mobile) to see the name of the chapter until you find the one you’re looking for. Video Chapters is now live on both YouTube’s mobile app and desktop version.
However, it is up to the creator to divide their videos into chapters and accordingly label each one by timestamps. Also, a video must have at least three timestamps and each one must be over 10 seconds in length for chapters to appear. Here’s a video in which the chapters are clearly distinguishable on the seek bar:
There is no dearth of misleading content on social media, and so are accounts that occasionally drive viral engagement by posting sensational content with harmful intent or laden with wrong information. Facebook aims to put a lid on this trend by verifying the identity of such accounts that tend to be in the spotlight from time to time.
The social media giant says it seeks to “verify the identity of people who have a pattern of inauthentic behavior on Facebook and whose posts start to rapidly go viral in the US.” The goal is to make sure that the account is not a bot or is run by someone who wants to keep his/ her identity a secret. The move aims to boost transparency and let the audience know the source behind the content they’re consuming.
If such an “occasionally viral” or “part-time famous” account fails to comply with Facebook’s identity verification norms, the distribution of their viral posts will be toned down to reduce the size of its target audience. And if a page admin fails to complete the Page Publishing Authorization process, he/ she will no longer be allowed to post from that Facebook page unless their identity is verified.
It is finally here. Twitter’s web app now finally allows users to schedule tweets. Earlier, one had to rely on clients such as Tweetdeck for scheduling tweets that will be automatically tweeted at the specified time. However, do keep in mind that you can not schedule tweets for more than 18 months in advance.
While composing a tweet, just tap on the calendar icon at the bottom and select the date and time when you want your tweet to go live. The social media giant has been experimenting with this feature since last year, but has finally made it publicly available for the web app. Here’s how the feature works:
Another new feature arriving on Twitter is the ability to save a tweet as a draft. To do so, just tap on the ‘X’ button in the top left corner of the tweet composer and then select the Save button. To access your saved tweets, open the compose box and select the Drafts option at the top. But do keep in mind that drafts saved on Twitter’s web client won’t sync with the mobile app.
In times when going to a movie theater with friends is not an option, virtual watch parties have become a hot trend. If you like what Netflix Party has to offer, there is now something similar for Plex as well and it is called Watch Together. And the best part? Watch Together is absolutely free, at least for the time being.
Plex’s Watch Together feature, which is still in beta, works with locally stored media as well as its own catalog of free on-demand movies and TV shows. However, Plex notes that Watch Together might become a Plex Pass exclusive down the road, which means you’ll have to pay for it. While the feature itself is a welcome addition for Plex users, it is still a work under progress and lacks a few key features.
For example, there is no native chat feature, which means you’ll have to rely on a third-party solution like Zoom or good ol’ WhatsApp. Also, the ability to kick someone out of the virtual watch party or outright ban them is not available as of now. Plex says it will take feedback from users and will improve Watch Together with new features in the days to come.
Life in lockdown is hard. And like me, if you’ve been working from home for the past four months and have forgotten what being social feels like, your anxiety levels must be through the roof too. Thankfully, Google Search is here to lend a helping hand dealing with your anxiety issues.
Starting today, when you look up for information on anxiety disorders, the knowledge panel will present a series of clinically-validated questions called GAD-7 (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7). You’ll also find other relevant information such as symptoms and common treatment for anxiety in the panel.
The answers will be used to assess your anxiety levels on a scale of minimal to severe. Depending on your self-assessment result, you can choose to go through additional resources developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Google says the users’ responses to the questions will be private.
Google Search’s anxiety self-assessment feature is currently limited to the US only, but the company has plans of expanding it to more markets too.
Google has announced that Stadia players can now stream content at 1440p resolution – up from 1080p – provided they have the suitable hardware and internet connectivity at their disposal. You need to have a monitor with a screen resolution of 1440p or 4K, or a 4K TV with Chromecast Ultra plugged into it, in order to stream at such a high resolution.
Aside from having the right hardware, players must also have an active Stadia Pro subscription and must be hooked to a network with an average speed of 35Mbps or higher. But do keep in mind that cellular connectivity won’t cut it, and you’ll need a fairly stable Wi-Fi connection that can bear the cost of consuming an average 20GB of data per hour if you play games at 4K on Stadia.
You must also make sure that the Windows machine or Chromebook on which you are enjoying Stadia streaming at 1440p resolution should be capable of VP9 hardware decoding. Of course, with Stadia Pro, you also get perks such as 5.1 surround sound and High Dynamic Range (HDR) graphics.
Google has rolled out an update for Gmail that adds a new Quick Settings menu to help users customize the look and layout of their inbox. Just to be clear, the Quick Settings menu does not introduce any new features, but it simply makes those customization options easier to find that were earlier buried deep within the main settings section.
Under the Quick Settings menu, you can find themes to jazz up the look of your inbox, choose an email density layout (default, comfortable or compact), play with the inbox type, apply a reading pane, and more. Take a look at the GIF above to see how the new Quick Settings menu in Gmail makes the task of customization much easier.
Google says the rollout of Gmail’s latest update carrying the Quick Settings menu has already begun and it will start showing up for users within the next 15 days. Do keep in mind that these customization options will also be available in their usual place in the main Settings menu if you want to dig deeper and play with more advanced options.
Writing a description for an image is a no-brainer when you are limited by Twitter’s character count or if you simply want to explain the context, but adding it has been a bit tricky so far. That changes now, as Twitter now lets you directly add a text-based description when you select an image without going to the image edit settings.
Starting today, you’ll see an alt-text field on Twitter’s mobile app and desktop client that will let you quickly add an appropriate description for an image in your tweet. Twitter says this is an accessibility feature that will “enable folks who use screen readers to interpret images in Tweets.”
On mobile, a black text field below the image appears with the “Add description…” caption. You can tap on it and fill it with the description you have on your mind. As for the desktop client, you just add an image and tap on it to find the “ALT’ section at the top for adding the description. The change is live for regular tweets as well as direct messages you send to a friend or follower.
Facebook has renamed its Calibra digital wallet for storing the Libra cryptocurrency and is now calling it Novi. The new name is a derivative of two Latin words “Novus” and “Via,” which translate to “new” and “way” in English respectively. Novi has been developed by Novi Financial, a subsidiary of Facebook that operates independently, as per an official blog post.
The premise, however, remains the same. You add money to your wallet, it is converted into the Libra digital currency, which is then stored in the Novi wallet. The wallet will be accessible as a standalone app and also from within Facebook’s family of apps that include Messenger and Whatsapp.
With the Novi wallet, users will be able to send and receive Libra coins almost instantly, and as per Facebook, it will be as simple as sending a message, and there won’t be any hidden charges either. The social media giant will introduce an early version of Novi as and when the Libra network is made available to users.
Sometimes, watching a video on YouTube might not be enough to satiate your curiosity, which is why users like me often end up firing up the web browser to know more about a particular topic. Google apparently wants to remove the hassle of switching between apps and has started showing Google Search results alongside the relevant videos for your query in the YouTube app on Android.
First spotted by a user on Reddit, we tried to replicate the new feature and it worked. When you search a keyword in the YouTube app, a row titled “Result from the web” appears between the video recommendations. You can either click on the search result to directly open the webpage without exiting the YouTube app, or you can tap on the Search “(your search keywords)” on Google button below.
However, it appears that the test is being conducted among a limited number of users because the in-app Google Search results don’t show up for everyone. We also noticed that the Google Search result in the YouTube app mostly pops-up when you search for a how-to or tutorial video. Google is yet to officially detail its new feature, so we may have to wait a bit to know more about it.
Just when the talks regarding Facebooks’s mega GIPHY acquisition and how it would provide the social media giant with an enormous amount of user data had started to wane, the GIF sharing platform is back in the news again. Popular video conferencing solution Zoom has disabled GIPHY integration in Zoom Chat without giving any specific reason behind the move.
The vague explanation given by Zoom only says it has disabled the feature to “ensure strong privacy protection for users.” The company adds that once additional technical and security measures are put into effect, GIPHY integration in chats will be enabled again.
The change was listed in a blog post that also mentioned a few other tweaks such as an audio chime to alert the host when someone enters or leaves the Waiting Room. Moreover, in case of meetings that require registration, the host will have the option to allow the participant to join the call from multiple devices or restrict him to a single device.
After being dealt with multiple major blows by the Trump administration in the US, HUAWEI is now staring at another huge crisis for its bread-and-butter telecom business in the UK. As per a report from TheGuardian, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has instructed officials to move forward with plans that would effectively end HUAWEI’s involvement in the country’s 5G infrastructure.
The goal, reportedly, is to phase out all networking equipment supplied by HUAWEI from its 5G infrastructure by the year 2023. Johnson is said to be facing immense pressure from Conservative parliamentarians who are opposed to any HUAWEI presence in their 5G network citing security risks, while also hoping for reduced dependence on Chinese goods.
The pressure to do so intensified in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic after reports emerged of China not warning the international fraternity in due time to prepare for the crisis. The plan reportedly has the backing of UK’s intelligence officials as well, who argue that “any risks that HUAWEI equipment could be exploited for mass surveillance could be contained.”
Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Edge browser is zippy, but it has been missing out on a few key features, with extension sync being one of them. But the latest build of Chrome browser finally addresses that shortcoming. Release notes for Edge (v83.0.478.37) say extension syncing is now available for users.
If you run the Edge browser across multiple devices, your extensions will now be automatically synced, provided you are signed in with the same account. And this is applicable for extensions downloaded from both the Microsoft and Chrome Store. However, you still have the option to disable extension syncing.
In order to sync extensions on the Edge browser, tap the menu button (…) and select Settings. Once there, tap on Sync under your profile and flick the toggle to enable extension syncing. The new feature is now live and will reach all Edge users within the next few days.
Facebook’s Messenger Rooms video calling feature started rolling out globally earlier this month, with the company also announcing plans of Instagram integration back then. That vision has finally materialized, as Instagram users can now create a Messenger Rooms group from within the app itself.
Just tap on the video button at the top right corner in Instagram Direct and then select Create a Room option followed by picking up the contacts you want to have a group video call with. Once you’ve done that, you can create a link that can be shared with them on any platform, or directly go to the Messenger app by tapping the Join Room button.
An easy way to video chat with up to 50 of your favorite people? Yes please
Up to 50 people can join a Messenger Rooms group video call, and even those who don’t have a Facebook account can join the party. In addition to Instagram, Facebook has already started testing this feature on WhatsApp’s beta channel and will soon bring the Messenger Rooms integration to more users via the stable stream.