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In case you haven't heard, Google has been completely overhauling its web-based map service and unveiled the first beta edition just two months ago at the company's I/O conference. Up until now, you needed to be invited by Google to participate in the beta program but as of today, Google has opened the doors and allow everyone to experience the new Google Maps.
Obtaining access to Google Maps Beta is a simple as visiting maps.Google.com. Once there, you'll be prompted to try out the newly refreshed maps via a box in the left sidebar. The new Maps provides a fullscreen experience and appears to be much quicker at loading than its previous iteration. The zooming is fast and smooth and Google has integrated a new, much smarter search box that is able to display your recent searches, directions, transit, traffic, and bicycling info.
Yes, this means that Google can now show you real-time traffic data right from your desktop at any point in the day. To use this feature, users can simply type a search string similar to "Traffic Near Las Vegas, NV" and the map will pop up and highlight roots with green for fast-moving areas and red for very slow congested areas. Users can use similar search strings to find restaurants, shopping venues, and even entertainment in areas anywhere in the world.
aEdward Snowden is probably the most wanted man in the world right now to the United States, with every single slither of information he releases has huge repercussions for every citizen. Today's revelation? Outlook.com has a backdoor, and Microsoft built it for the NSA.
When Microsoft starting testing Outlook.com, the NSA asked for access. Microsoft were forced to work, asking the FBI for some assistance, which took five month of collaboration to build a workaround that gives the NSA full access to encrypted chats on Outlook.com. The backdoor access began two months before Outlook.com went live.
There is a workaround, supposedly, where enabling encryption on Outlook will stop the NSA and probably half the governments of the world from looking at your private data. An NSA newsletter states: "For Prism collection against Hotmail, Live, and Outlook.com emails will be unaffected because Prism collects this data prior to encryption."
I've been loving the refreshed Google Play Store on my various Android-based devices, but now the web enjoys the same thing. The refreshed, card interface design is now on the web.
Videos can continue to be rented and purchased, with the same going for books and devices. Subscriptions to magazines and Android app installations to your Android-based devices can all be done with the click of your mouse. The benefits of the refreshed look of the Google Play Store on the web include larger screenshots for Android apps and content, and it's all done on Google's webP format which loads much quicker than the previous site.
The menu sidebar is also identical to the usual Google apps on Android, which is a nice touch from Google.
Last month, I reported that Yahoo would begin resetting inactive user accounts today, July 15. As expected, the company has started following through with this plan. This morning, Yahoo announced that it has launched its username wish list notification page (Source #2) where users can go and list up to five usernames they have always wanted associated with their Yahoo account. If and when these names become available, and after the reset process is complete, Yahoo will notify you of which names you were granted.
Some of you may be wondering how Yahoo plans on determining which accounts get deleted and which accounts stay. The answer is quite simple: if your Yahoo account has been inactive for at least twelve months, your name, account, and all emails will be deleted. More than likely this has already taken place, but reports say that the process could take a few weeks.
Yahoo says that those first in line for a username will be emailed a link which allows them to claim them sometime in mid-August 2013. After that, Yahoo will allow you to add usernames to a watchlist so you the first to know when they become available. This leads us to believe that the inactive account deletion process will be an ongoing thing, and accounts will be deleted as they pass the 12 months of inactivity milestone.
Google's Latitude service is about to enter the way of its now-defunct brother Google Reader. Today, Google announced that it would be canceling its Latitude service effective August 9 as a result of a Google Maps for mobile update.
Google Latitude is a location-aware application that allows users to share where they are with others. This has long been a major feature of Android and allows the friends to share their locations with each other. Google says that any third-party application that made use of the Latitude API will cease to function on August 9 as well.
This morning, Google announced that it will once again allow users to make phone calls from within Gmail through the use of Google Hangouts. The company says that it doesn't matter whether its users are on Gmail or on the web; all users will be able to call the US and Canada for free.
Google says that it heard the cries from many users who were disappointed that they could no longer make calls from within Gmail and this was the major factor in their decision to return the service. Calls can be made to anyone in the US and Canada for free from any country in the world where Hangouts are available. Calls can also be placed outside of North America through the use of Google Voice. A call to India will cost users $0.02 per minute while a call to Mexico will run users $0.15 per minute.
Users do not need to make calls through Gmail alone as Google+ and Chrome extensions also support the feature. The company tells us that with Hangout calls up to 10 people can converse through the video chat while up to five people can participate in voice only. This gives the ability for 15 people to be on the same call it one time.
When it comes to US electronics resellers Newegg.com only comes in second to retail giant Amazon.com. Up until now The Egg as is affectionately known, has only been available in the US, Canada, and China. That is about to change as the company has just announced an expansion into Taiwan that will take place between July and August of this year.
Newegg.com already operates an office of around 200 people in Taiwan and is expected to expand their employment to around 300 to 400 employees in the next few weeks. The company says that it will initially offer its existing range of products and will eventually expand to incorporate more local goods as time progresses.
Website Bit-Tech.net is also reporting that it sources have confirmed that Newegg will begin expanding into the UK shortly as well. There sources however state that the UK expansion will take place before the Taiwanese launch which means that we can see a Newegg.co.uk domain pop up any day now.
A few months back, Yahoo announced the creation of a new menu bar that would be shared across all of its desktop website services such as mail, search, and photo sharing. Many scoffed at the idea, but others pointed out that Google has been doing the same thing for some time. This morning, Yahoo rolled out the new menu bar to its recently reinvigorated photo sharing service Flickr.
While the new menu bar is technically a useful feature, many Flickr users are not so convinced and as a result, they have taken to the Flickr help forums to vent their disdain. One user wrote "Gosh, what a design disaster...if that annoying bar would at least fit the site design wise at little. Yahoo has learned nothing in the last decade as it seems. Dropping pro account now. Sorry guys, this is just too much."
Historically, I have not been a major fan of Flickr, but have recently flipped a 180 when the service began offering 1TB of free storage to its users. As an ex-professional photographer who still does small shoots on the side, this new amount of storage was very appealing to me. The new integration of this menu bar in its current form is definitely not appealing to the eyes, nor is it in any form inline with the refined, dark theme that Flickr has been sporting since the update.
Facebook first brought its stickers to its mobile applications back in April. Those same stickers will soon be available to web users. Stickers are larger pre-made images that are similar to the simple smiley but can be animated and are quite a bit larger. Stickers are just another way for Facebook to ensure that users don't head to alternative messaging platforms.
To use stickers on the web platform, simply click the usual smiley button to open the smiley menu. Click the basket icon to open up the Sticker Store where you can select from up to 16 different sticker packs. Contrary to what the name might suggest, all of these sticker packs are free. Facebook could possibly charge brands to put sticker packs into the Sticker Store, bringing in more revenue for the company.
In related news, TechCrunch is reporting that the person behind the whole sticker idea has left Facebook. Sophie Xie has only been with Facebook from 2012, but it appears that she will be moving on to bigger and better things. She originally conceived the idea during one of Facebook's famous hackathons. Her team will have to carry on without her.
Google has added new and updated 3D imagery for 50 cities in the United States. Google has promised to bring 3D buildings to the majority of large United States cities, and today's update appears to be a great step towards that goal. Today's update brought new or updated imagery for 50 US cities. New additions include Las Cruces, NM and Bend, OR, while San Francisco, CA and others received updates.
The full list directly from Google:
Anniston, AL; Auburn, AL; Barstow, CA; Bastrop, TX; Bend, OR; Birmingham, AL; Boulder City, NV; Buffalo Core, NY; Cape Girardeau, MO; Casper, WY; Cheyenne, WY; Chicago, IL; Chico, CA; College Station, OH; Delano, CA; Desert Hot Springs, CA; Dubuque, IA; Edmonton, NY; Enid, OK; Farmington, NM; Grand Forks, ND; Grand Junction, CO; Great Falls, MT; Hanford, CA; Healdsburg, CA; Helendale, CA; Hot Springs, AR; Idaho Falls, ID; Kelso, WA; Killeen, TX; Las Cruces, NM; Lawton, OK; Leeds, OK; Madera, CA; Malibu, CA; Merced, CA; Modesto, CA; Ocala, FL; Odessa, TX; Ojai, CA; Picture Rocks, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Prescott, AZ; Rapid City, SD; Redding, CA; Riverside, CA; San Angelo, TX; San Francisco, CA; St George, UT; Texarkana, TX; Twentynine Palms, CA; Victoria, TX; Winnipeg, TX; Yuba City, CA.