It’s nice when companies do their best to help you out. Whether that’s going out of their way to find you the best deal on a phone contract or letting you have a 30 second head start after being found shopping in a Sainsbury’s skip, you really appreciate that extra mile. And that’s exactly what Google have been doing lately. With their updates to Google Now, Google Maps and Google+ Communities they seem to really want to improve everything for us, the users.
Flying Made Easy
Have you ever been second in line at the check-in desk after waiting nearly an hour to get through only to find you’ve left your boarding pass at home in the drawer labelled “Important – Do Not Forget”?
I have and there’s nothing more depressing than arriving back from a flight you’ve had to miss, weeping into your overpriced Departures coffee and eating your bodyweight in comfort pick ’n’ mix in a vain attempt to recover from your own foolishness.
But, with Google Now, you’ll never have to worry about that again. The latest update to the Android software constantly assesses your surroundings. So if you’re at the airport, it will automatically bring up your boarding pass and when you get to your destination it will bring up upcoming events. It may even suggest great places to eat when it gets to the evening.
It’s such an exciting piece of software and the possibilities for it are endless – not that I’m suggesting rushing out and buying an Android phone with Jellybean 4.1 or anything (I am).
Google Maps Help You Find Europe
Over the last decade, our reliance on Google Maps to help us locate even the simplest of destinations has reached unstable proportions – to the point where I’m often unable to find the bathroom without a garishly large B hovering over the doorframe.
If you’re in a similar position, you may be delighted to hear that Google have recently updated the quality of their maps for 10 countries across Europe, including Spain, Latvia and Estonia, so they now accurately display recent developments such as new motorways, paths and university campuses.
This is great news for fellow Google Map addicts across the United Kingdom and Europe, who would have previously panicked to the point of hyperventilation, worrying that the grassy field in front of them, nought but a grey box on their display, was in fact a gaping chasm trying to fool them into stepping on it.
Find Your Tribe
Things have never been easier socially. You can keep in touch with friends, plan parties and make sure your network stays updated on your every movement – because who doesn’t want to know what colour your baby’s sick was this morning?
Yet one thing has always been missing. And that’s finding like-minded people. Whether you’re into extreme sports, knitting or creating life sized models of celebrities out of celeriac, there’s something out there for everyone. Often though it’s you who has to go out there and find your ‘tribe’ and that can be a real chore. But now, Google+ is making that task easy.
With Google Communities you can simply search for your passion and find, follow and communicate with other people who share it. Better still, you can all hangout together and enjoy this in a visual way. One watch of the video below gives a startling example of what could be possible with this tool and it’s something I genuinely can’t wait to try – if I can actually find anyone else out there who buys bulk order celeriac.
Boffins Animate The Pixar Light
The internet certainly has no shortage of engineers, designers and technology experts dutifully attempting to create amazing examples of artificial intelligence, while at the same time entertaining the world-weary newsletter editors desperately searching for ways to finish their posts on a wistfully whimsical note. And these clever chaps are no exception.
In a feat of extraordinary brain power, design students Shanshan Zhou, Adam Ben-Dror and Joss Doggett have created a lamp that not only moves of its own accord but responds to sounds, craves attention, recognises faces and hates being switched off.
It’s an adorable video and one that makes me wish I’d asked for that in my letter to Santa rather than a cross between a kitten and Matilda from Robot Wars. And the box set of Rising Damp.