Weekly Tech news, Week of March 27-31

Here we will gather all the nifty stuff that’s new in the world of technology.

I can’t decide if this is creepy or awesome. Google is adding a feature to its Maps app that will (supposedly) make it easier to find your car in a parking lot. For people like me that can get lost in their own backyard, this little add-on seems like a godsend. To work it, you tap on the little blue dot to leave a parking reminder. You can then enter notes or take pictures to help you figure out where you left your car. You can also set a timer for metered spaces so you remember to trek out there and refill the greedy little bugger before time runs out.

But what if your phone gets stolen? Not only will the erstwhile thief have your phone, they get a bonus car for free. Or maybe I’m  just super paranoid.

Way to be late to the party, Samsung. Samsung has (finally) joined the ranks by adding a virtual personal assistant to their newest phone. The company’s version is called “Bixby”, and will be available on their Galaxy S8 phones coming out in late March. Despite being tardy for the party (sorry–couldn’t resist) Samsung insists that their AI assistant will be better than its competitors because it is meant to replace all text- or touch-based apps. For example, once an app supports it, Bixby will support all of an app’s functions in turn. In addition, the Bixby user will not have to memorize specific voice commands–the app has been designed to be more intuitive. According to the Samsung blog, “When using a Bixby-enabled application, users will be able to call upon Bixby at any time and it will understand the current context and state of the application and will allow users to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously.” In plain English, this means that the app will know what you are looking at on your screen and will act accordingly. The company also hopes to expand the interface’s usefulness to other applications.

Star Wars fans, here is something to tide you over. Most of you know by now that the newest installment in the Star Wars saga will be out this December.  The Last Jedi will be in theaters by the end of 2017. Also, the Orlando Sentinel gave everyone a little teaser on what the upcoming Star Wars land will look like. And yes, children, it will have AT-AT walkers. You can check out the article here. The good folks at Disney were also kind enough to release a teaser trailer for The Last Jedi. Apparently, we actually get to hear Mark Hamill speak this time.

 

 

If protesting isn’t to your taste, or if activism seems too, well, active for you, technology literally has come to the rescue. Microvolunteering–yes, that’s a thing–allows you to complete a few simple tasks to help researchers and nonprofit organizations. If you have a bit more time on your hands, you can enlist in YouTube’s Heroes program, in which volunteers flag inappropriate comments and videos, as well as add captions and subtitles to clips. This helps to alleviate online bullying. To join up in the fight against trolls, click here. If you are feeling really ambitious, check out the United Nations’ online options to help in your little corner of the world.

Honorable mention this week goes to E-bay. In an attempt to compete with Amazon, the site is now offering guaranteed three-day delivery. They still can’t beat Amazon’s terrifying speeds. One hour delivery? I’ve ordered pizza that hasn’t come that quickly.

And speaking of speed, did you know that you can choose a customizable speed for Commercient’s SYNC app? We can offer you any option from once a day to real-time. Contact us to learn more.