Google Maps New Transit Tool

By Tracey Dowdy

Once upon a time – well, 2005 to be exact – Google revolutionized the way we interact with maps when they introduced Google Maps. To celebrate its 15th birthday, they’ve taken user feedback and implemented updates and features that make it an even more integral part of your life. 

Though it started out as a simple navigation tool, each update brought a more robust service that allows users to find restaurants, gas stations, and even EV charging stations along your route. The latest update will be especially useful for commuters using public transit with displays of how hot/crowded a route may be as well as if there is normally security present. The update also makes several tools you had to hunt for in previous versions more easily accessible. Don’t worry if you don’t have the new version yet. Google tends to push out app updates slowly over a period of days and weeks. 

In the updated Explore tab, you can see events happening around you and discover places to eat, shop, and other activities.

The Commute feature from previous versions of Maps has also been upgraded. Here, you can get step-by-step instructions here for your trip whether traveling by car, public transit, on foot, or by bike. You can see how crowded your bus or train is, plus access real-time rider-supplied information regarding accessibility features, temperature, if there is a women’s-only section or carriage, and if there is security is present.

In previous iterations, places stored in Saved were buried deep in the navigation menu up in the upper left-hand corner. Now, you can find those places under the Saved tab at the bottom of the Maps app.

The Contribute tab, previously called Your Contributions, allows users to share reviews and photos of places you’ve visited, suggest edits to the map, add photos, business reviews, and even add a missing place on the map. Plus, users who join Google’s Local Guides program can earn points for contributions, and those points help you reach higher levels of the Local Guides program. At Level 4, you unlock your first Local Guides badge and higher levels lead to special perks and early access to Google features and rewards like a free six-month subscription to Google One.

This new Updates tab is similar to the For you tab. It allows users to see what’s happening in your area, with guidance from locals and from publications such as Surface and The Infatuation.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

Tuesday, February 18: Experiencing the Best of Boston

EXPERIENCING THE BEST OF BOSTON

When: Tuesday, February 18, 2020
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT
The city that kicked off a revolution with a giant tea party is loved by locals and is a celebrated tourist destination. If you’ve ever lived in Boston, been to Boston, or one day hope to visit Boston, you won’t want to miss the #UltimateGuideBoston Twitter Chat at 3 pm ET on Tuesday, February 18.
Join host Dana Freeman (@DanaHFreeman) and the team as we create the Ultimate City Guide by exploring everything to see, do and eat in this amazing city!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a brand new iPad or a smartphone wireless charger!
ALSO be sure to enter
Verizon’s #UltimateGuideBoston Instagram #Contest
for a chance to win a $500 cash prize
AND a $300 Verizon gift card!
Here are the official rules

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: UltimateCityGuide) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2SGi4Ri
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#UltimateCityGuide) on Tuesday, February 18 between 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced 

Thursday, February 13: Navigating Your Future with 5G

NAVIGATING YOUR FUTURE WITH 5G

When: Thursday, February 13, 2020
9:00 – 10:00 pm ET
6:00 – 7:00 pm PT
Thanks to the roll-out of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network, the future is finally here! This ground-breaking technology is poised to transform our lives – now!
Join host Marv Dorner (@BeBizzy) and the #5GBuiltRight team as they assist you in navigating your future with 5G. We will be exploring this exciting next-generation technology and discussing how it will impact the way we live, work and play!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a Wireless Bluetooth Speaker or one of TWO Wireless Smartphone Chargers!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: 5GBuiltRight) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2uz2zlZ
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#5GBuiltRight) on Thursday, February 13 between 9:00 – 10:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced 

Books for Teens – Black History Month

By Tracey Dowdy

February as Black History Month. Although we should celebrate the accomplishments of people of color here in America as well as around the world every day, this is an opportunity for you to educate yourself and your children about black scientists, musicians, authors, educators, innovators, and heroes who helped shape this country. 

These books are a great place to start. 

No list would be complete without Michelle Obama’s autobiographical memoir, Becoming that follows her journey from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to becoming America’s first African American First Lady. With over 7,000 positive reviews and a 4.9-star rating on Amazon, it’s a book that will both inspire and challenge you. 

Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling coauthor of All American Boys, described Nic Stone’s novel first novel “Dear Martin” as “Raw and gripping.” The story follows Justyce, a black teenage boy, who goes on a journey of discovering the hardships of being a black male growing up in Atlanta. The story takes an unflinching look at racism and how black men are treated by society solely because of the color of their skin. 

Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie first popped up on my radar when I saw it on former president Barak Obama’s past summer reading list. The story chronicles two Nigerians trying to make their way in the U.S. and the UK while raising questions of race and what it means to belong. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is probably best known for her TED talk on the danger of a single story, but she also appeared on Beyonce’s song “Flawless.” She’s the author of many other works such as her essay “We Should All Be Feminists.” 

The title of Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, stems from his birth to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was illegal in South Africa and punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Noah’s mother kept him mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, in order to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, seize him and take him away. His stories are by turns hilarious, heartwrenching, and make the reader think deeply about class, culture, and racial tensions that transcend international borders. 

Black Enough” by Ibi Zoboi is a collection of mesmerizing short stories about what it’s like to be young and black in America. Stories range from kids who’ve been told they are “acting white” to those who are marginalized for being mixed race. It’s an honest look at the complexities that come with racial identity in contemporary American culture.

In “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, sixteen-year-old Starr moves between the poor neighborhood where she lives and the posh suburban prep school she attends. When Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer, things escalate quickly when his death becomes a national headline. The story could be pulled from real-life headlines and will break your heart and pause the next time a tragedy like this makes the news. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Apple Maps

Apple Maps Tips and Tools

By Tracey Dowdy

My early experiences with Apple Maps was less than impressive. From sending me to a disused grocery store parking lot instead of a funeral home and directing me the wrong way down one-way streets, I dumped the app and turned to Waze and Apple Maps for directions. 

Apple has made multiple improvements since then, and its latest redesign finally gives Google Maps a run for its money.

Share your ETA

As of iOS 13.1, Apple lets you share your estimated time of arrival through Apple Maps, iMessage or text when you’re using Apple Maps navigation. 

  • Open Apple Maps and get turn-by-turn directions to the location. 
  • When viewing the directions, swipe up from the bottom of the area that displays your arrival time and shows the end button.
  • Tap Share ETA. 
  • Select the contact or contacts with whom you want to share.

Apple Maps will be used to share your location, route, and ETA, if your iPhone is running iOS 13.1 or newer, and you’re sharing your ETA with someone with an iPhone on iOS 13.1 or newer. However, if you share your ETA with a non-iPhone user or someone running an older version of iOS on their Apple device, a message will be sent. Plus, if you run into traffic or another delay that extends your trip more than five minutes, the app will send an update with an adjusted ETA. 

Maps are more detailed

Apple has worked hard to improve Maps and the new design features “better road coverage, pedestrian data, more precise addresses, and detailed land cover.” The updated, more detailed maps were included in iOS13.1 – no need to update manually.  

Apple Maps now features Look Around, similar to Google’s Street View. It uses photos to show you exactly what a location looks like in person and allows you to move around the city streets. Currently, Look Around is that only available in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Oahu, Houston, and Los Angeles, though Apple plans to add more cities in the future.

The good news is that even if you don’t live in one of the supported cities you can still check out Look Around to see it in practice. 

  • Open Apple Maps and zoom in on a city that has Look Around. 
  • Zoom in to a specific area, or until you see a pair of binoculars show up in the top-right corner of the map.
  • Select binoculars.

When the window opens, expand Look Around to full-screen mode by tapping on the double-arrow icon. 

Once the window is open you can swipe around to change the direction of the photo, tap on the street to move further down the block. You can tap on the name of a business to zoom in on its address, hours, phone number and website, just like in Google Maps. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 11: The Best of Seattle

EXPERIENCING THE BEST OF SEATTLE

When: Tuesday, February 11, 2020
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT
The city that gave us Starbucks coffee and Jimi Hendrix is loved by locals and is a popular tourist destination. If you’ve ever lived in Seattle, been to Seattle, or one day hope to visit Seattle, you won’t want to miss the #UltimateGuideSeattle Twitter Chat at 3 pm ET on Tuesday, February 11.
Join hosts Chris Staudinger and Tawny Clark (@CaptainandClark) and the team as we explore everything to see, do and eat in this amazing city…and create the Ultimate City Guide!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a brand new iPad or a smartphone wireless charger!
ALSO be sure to enter
Verizon’s #UltinmateGuideSeattle Instagram #Contest
for a chance to win a $500 cash prize
AND a $300 Verizon gift card!
Here are the official rules

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: UltimateCityGuide) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2S2L6vd
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#UltimateCityGuide) on Tuesday, February 11 between 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced 

Use AR for Your Online Shopping

By Tracey Dowdy

Today in “Been around for a while but just popped up on my radar” news, I was reminded of Amazon’s AR View which allows Android and iOS users to view products in your home before you buy them. 

I’ve recently started a kitchen/family room renovation, and the option to see whether or not that island or cabinet will fit or overwhelm a space before I buy is very appealing. So, I started doing a little research and it turns out they’re not the only – nor were they the first – to add AR to their online shopping features. IKEA and Wayfair were among the first to use AR for furniture and home goods retailing to realize that letting consumers place and manipulate catalog items at scale in their homes without having to first purchase the item was a ticket to bigger sales. 

It’s not just furniture. Sephora offers magic mirrors in both their retail stores and their mobile app to help customers visualize what different colors and make-up treatments will look like on them. L’Oreal, Cover Girl, and others also saw AR’s potential and jumped in with their own versions.

Ikea’s Ikea Place app allows shoppers to virtually place Ikea furniture within their home, checking for fit in color, look, size and more. Perhaps most impressive is that the app scales furniture size with 98% accuracy, so you can feel confident the item really will fit in the space and not have to fear roaming an actual Ikea trying to follow the arrows to escape. Here’s to your relationship surviving assembling that flat pack – for that you’re on your own.

Lowe’s lets customers shop their furniture line with the Envisioned by Mine and the Measured by Lowe’s apps, which turns your phone camera into a virtual measuring stick to measure the dimensions of floors, walls, and other items, making it easy to shop for furniture online and in-store.

Perhaps the universe’s greatest gift to home renovation is Dulux’s Visualizer App lets you pick a color from anywhere and see the colors live in your living space. Save the image as a video or photo which you can then share with your family and friends for that always important second opinion. 

Not every retailer has AR native to their apps or websites, but as the old iPhone commercial says, there’s an app for that.  The Amikasa app invites any furniture seller to upload 3D imagery of their product to be featured on the app and similarly, TapPainter lets users visualize paint colors from several different brands. Users select shades from a color wheel or input a color code from a swatch.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple behind TV’s Fixer Upper and owners of Magnolia Market use Apple’s ARKit to allow shoppers to view their entire product line, everything in store and in stock, from any angle, allowing you to examine the product from above, below, or around the side.

Stone Crandall, Magnolia’s digital experience manager, says, “Thanks to AR, online shoppers will now have the answers to: How will this piece look in my home? How big is the item in real life? What does the inside look like, or the back? At the end of the day, nothing tops the in-store experience, but AR provides the capabilities for guests to make equally informed buying decisions from afar, at all hours of the day.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some shopping to do.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.