TIME advice

Here’s How to Enable Offline Maps in the Google Maps App

Google Maps shown on an iPad on June 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.
Google Maps shown on an iPad on June 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Thomas Imo—Photothek via Getty Images

The feature can be a huge help when traveling internationally—or just navigating from the subway

Guess what! Google Maps has a hidden offline feature that can be used anywhere.

It may be 2015 but Zuckerberg’s mission to get the whole world on the Internet has yet to be fulfilled. Thankfully, Google Maps has a dark horse ready to ride us out of the Internetless-danger zones — OK Maps. This rarely talked about feature allows smartphone users to access Google Maps even when there is no Wi-Fi or data services available, for both the Android and iOS version of Google Maps. The only catch? You have to save the map ahead of time.

I wanted to give the tool a try to see how well it would serve as a guide when the Internet has betrayed me. To my surprise, OK Maps is remarkably easy to use. The only major downside I found was that saved maps are well, just maps: raw, downright simple maps. It does not allow users to route directions or search places offline and only provides a visual of the place you save. It’s basically an old school paper map but with a flashier screen.

Some point before an excursion, you’ll need to find a location where you have either Internet data or Wi-Fi available. To start, open the Google Maps app and sign into your Google account. Next, type in the location you want an offline map for. Living out my dream trip to Ireland, I use Dublin as an example.

Zoom in or out to focus in on the area that you know you will need for offline access. Google Maps allows users to zoom in and out from saved maps and gives closer details of streets and buildings offline. So it’s generally more useful to zoom out when creating a new map: there’s more data to look at later since it saves more minute details than you think it would.

The OK Maps feature can only download areas as large as 50 km (31.7 miles) x 50 km (31.7 miles). If the area you are trying to save is too large, the app will alert you to zoom in to save. If you really need an entire area, my suggestion would be to create two maps (ex. Dublin East and Dublin West) and use those interchangeably if necessary.

Next, tap the search bar again, this time, typing in the magic phrase “OK Maps” or, according to Lifehacker, “Okay maps.” Google Maps will ask you if you want to save the map. If the area looks good, tap “save.” The app will then ask users to name the map for reference later. All done.

Once the map is saved, it can be accessed again offline by opening the app and clicking on the menu button in the search bar. Depending on the type of mobile device you have, this may look like an icon in the shape of a person or three horizontal lines like in my example. This will take you to your Google Maps account where you can select “My Places.” Scroll down and voilà, your offline map is there for viewing.

Last July, Google announced they had created a new feature to make offline maps even more accessible for users. The feature functions the same way as OK Maps—i.e. you can’t get directions offline but you can look at previously saved maps—however there is a more direct way of saving maps that doesn’t require typing in the elusive “OK Maps” passcode.

To use the alternative method, open up Google Maps and again search for your place. Here, I choose San Francisco. Next, pull up the information about the location you just searched. This can be done by clicking on the name of the location at the bottom of the map. The screen will then change to the information brief. On this window, touch the menu sign (looks like three circles stacked on top of each other) in the top right corner.

When the menu comes up, an option to “Save offline map” will appear. You will want to choose this and then zoom in to your select location. Just as with using OK Maps, these maps can be accessed from within “My Places” on the Google Maps app.

Keep in mind that Google Maps only saves offline maps for up to 30 days. After that, they are wiped off your app. If you need the maps for a longer period of time, you can update the map by going into “My Places,” then selecting “View all and manage.” Find the map you want to renew and click its corresponding menu sign (three stacked circles on the right). Now it is good for the next 30 days.

Although it may not provide the same directive advice Google Maps has taught me to rely on, the offline maps feature can definitely be a useful tool to help get around an unfamiliar location. Even if the excitement of feeling like the Sherlock Holmes of Google Maps wears off, I’m sure saving money by not purchasing an international data plan will still win me over.

This article originally appeared on Map Happy.

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TIME relationships

Investors Are Putting Millions Into ‘Tinder For Elitists’

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Modern Dating Getty Images

Unemployed need not apply

There’s a Tinder for dogs, a Tinder for Jews, and now… a Tinder for elitists.

Or, as The League creator Amanda Bradford prefers to describe the dating app that only allows a selective cohort of singles to join, “curated.”

“The best universities curate students,” Bradford said to Business Insider. “Employers curate their employees. Work and school are the top places where 20-somethings meet each other. So it makes sense for a dating community [as well.]”

And even though the power couple-making app is only in beta with 4,500 San Francisco-based users, The League just announced $2.1 million in investor funding Thursday.

“I was just going to raise a small seed round, but we had a bunch of interest and we went from $500,000 to $2.1 million almost overnight,” Bradford told Tech Crunch.

What are investors putting their money into?

The League is all about selectivity. Singles apply to join, and then wait for approval by administrators. While apps like Tinder, Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel pulls user data from Facebook, The League also goes to LinkedIn to curate its community — largely made up of lawyers, doctors and tech execs.

Business Insider reports:

The acceptance algorithm that The League uses scans the social networks to ensure applicants are in the right age group and that they are career-oriented. That doesn’t mean they have to be Ivy graduates or work for a big-name firm. But they should have accomplished something in their 20s.

Those accepted not only get to check their 5 p.m. “happy hour” matches, but they also get a pass to refer a friend.

TIME apps

5 iPhone App Deals You Just Can’t Miss This Weekend

Try 'Scan & Translate' to eliminate the language barrier

Looking to download a few great iPhone apps while saving some money this weekend? Check out these five, all on sale or free right now.

  • Scan & Translate

    Scan to Translate
    Scan to Translate Scan to Translate

    Similar to Google Translate, this app allows you to scan and translate text in another language. That makes it a fantastic tool for traveling (when, for example, you have no idea how to figure out menus and street directions), or for students working with texts in foreign languages. It’s also handy for getting over simple language barriers in day-to-day interactions.

    Scan & Translate is on sale for $1.99 in the App Store.

  • Lost Yeti

    Lost Yeti
    Lost Yeti Lost Yeti

    Very few puzzle games have plots, and the ones that do seem to try a little too hard. However, Lost Yeti seems to strike the perfect balance. The object is simple: Players must free a trapped Yeti (or Bigfoot, as some call him) by completing puzzles that unlock a footpath. It’s the sort of game you can spend a lot of time tinkering around with — but don’t get lost in the woods.

    Lost Yeti is temporarily free in the App Store.

  • Cycloramic

    Cycloramic
    Cycloramic Cycloramic

    Another app that helps you take advantage of your new phone’s advanced photo capabilities, Cycloramic can let take way better panoramic photos. The app can take wide-angle photos, but it also has a hands-free mode allowing it to snap fully 360º shots by rotating your iPhone using its vibration motor. If that sounds confusing, worry not: The app packs very clear instructions on how to get the best results.

    Cycloramic is temporarily free in the App Store.

  • Touch2Face

    Touch2Face
    Touch2Face Touch2Face

    Touch2Face is one of those rare apps that doesn’t sound like it does much of anything, but it will actually change the way your use your iPhone. It’s simple: Touch2Face creates icons in your iPhone’s notification dock or home screen for dialing up your favorite people, which eliminates the need to scroll through your endless list of contacts. There are options to have the buttons make FaceTime calls or stick to regular voice dials.

    Touch2Face is temporarily free in the App Store.

  • Message Art

    Message Art
    Message Art Message Art

    For some reason, this app’s developers have decided to market it to towards children and parents when it’s obvious that 1) very young children shouldn’t have iPhones and 2) that it’s likely to be used and enjoyed by adults. The app allows you to draw pictures, doodle over photos from your library, or even hand-write notes and send them as an image via iMessage. It’s a lot of fun to use, and sometimes more intimate than normal text messages.

    Message Art is temporarily free in the App Store.

TIME apps

A Bunch of New Microsoft Office Apps Are Coming This Year

Microsoft Holds Annual Shareholder Meeting
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addresses shareholders during Microsoft Shareholders Meeting December 3, 2014 in Bellevue, Washington. Stephen Brashear—Getty Images

The new Microsoft Office is designed for Windows 10

Microsoft has plenty of upgrades in the pipeline for Office users.

First, the newest version of Microsoft’s Office software suit, named Office 2016, will arrive in the second half of 2015, the company announced Thursday. Office 2016 will feature full-fledged apps designed for PCs and keyboard-and-mouse use.

Microsoft is also rolling out separate versions of its Office apps designed for the upcoming Windows 10 operating system, which is designed to work seamlessly across various devices. Accordingly, those apps, including forms of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook, will work on PCs, tablets and mobile phones. Here’s a look at Word for Windows 10, for example:

Word for Windows 10 Microsoft

General Manager for the Office Product Management Team Julia White said Thursday that the so-called Office for Windows 10 apps are “built for touch and offer the unmistakable Office experience you know and love.”

“As ‘universal’ Office apps, they truly are the same app across device size, providing a consistent way for independent software vendors and developers to extend and integrate with Office apps,” added White in a blog post.

The Office for Windows 10 apps will be pre-installed on Windows 10 mobile devices, and a free download for other machines. Expect them to arrive “later this year,” per White.

TIME apps

Now You Can Turn Your Instagrams Into Fake Tattoos

TIME.com stock photos Social Apps iPhone Instagram
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Picattoo: For people who love their selfies a little too much

Turning your Instagrams into nail art is so passé: There’s now an app that converts your Instas into fake tattoos, because nothing says “I really enjoyed my Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict” like temporarily tattooing it on your forehead.

For $14.99, Picattoo will ship users a 12-pack of “Insta-tats” worldwide. The Netherlands-based service, created by the company Ink361, laser prints users personal Instagrams on temporary tattoo paper. And unless the wearer decides to “scratch it off with rusty nails”—the app’s FAQ section gets a little too real—the product should last up to a week.

For the person who wants to immortalize their cat Instas on more than just their forearms, you can also print your pictures on marshmallows and sneakers.

And after all the time it took for you to pick the perfect filter, your Instagram deserves it.

(h/t: TechCrunch)

TIME Software

It Might Finally Be Time to Say Goodbye to Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer
The logo of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 9 is displayed on a computer monitor in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft has unveiled 'Spartan,' a new browser for Windows 10

You’ve had a good 20-year run, Internet Explorer. But your days are probably numbered.

News of your potential demise started as whispers late last year when reports emerged that Microsoft was working on a wholly new Internet browser. They gained momentum about a week later with a leak detailing some of this mystery browser’s features. And they finally solidified Wednesday when Microsoft made it all official, unveiling for the first time “Spartan,” which could become one of the company’s only browsers not called “Internet Explorer” in two decades.

Microsoft hasn’t started digging your grave just yet. For now, you’ll have to share hard drive space with your lean, more stylish cousin once Windows 10 arrives sometime this year. And there’s always the chance your makers might give Spartan an IE designation before that.

But that seems unlikely. The whole point here is that you’re boring, washed up, old news.

Sure, you’ve still got nearly 60% of the global market share for browsers. But that’s peanuts compared to the world-dominating numbers you put up before Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox started nipping at your heels. And because Windows Phone has flatlined, you’ve barely made a blip on mobile, where most people are using the web these days.

But the biggest problem you face, Internet Explorer, is that you carry 20 years of brand baggage—and it’s not good. You’ve developed a reputation, however unfair, as slow and unwieldy. We’re long past the point where a makeover and a bigger number alongside your name can turn you into the prettiest browser at the ball. If you weren’t packaged along with Windows—long your biggest and most controversial advantage—there’s no telling how far your figures might fall.

Microsoft needs something fresh, something new. It needs Spartan.

Besides marking a fresh start, what does Spartan do that you don’t? It’s leaner, faster, designed with mobile in mind. Close integration with Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated assistant, means it will bring users relevant information like flight delays without even having to visit an airline’s website. Spartan’s note-taking mode turns the web into a canvas, letting users scribble notes on live websites and send off them to colleagues or friends. Spartan could even be made available for non-Windows platforms like Android and iOS, helping it gain market share on mobile, which is clearly the future.

How much longer you’ll be around, IE, depends on Spartan’s success. Perhaps your new rival won’t be as good as Chrome or Firefox, and Microsoft will shy away from it. Maybe having two baked-in browser options will confuse Windows 10 users, and they’ll stick with you out of habit. Or maybe Microsoft will call Spartan “Internet Explorer 12″ after all. But if Microsoft does decide to pull the plug on you, IE, despair not: 20 long years of service qualifies you for a dignified retirement.

TIME apps

You Can Now Chat With WhatsApp On Your Desktop

Social Networks Facebook WhatsApp.
Facebook next to the WhatsApp logo on iPhone on February 25, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Marie Waldmann—Photothek/Getty Images

WhatsApp is jumping on to a new platform: your browser

The mobile messaging app that has become ubiquitous among international chatters now can be accessed from your web browser.

WhatsApp on Wednesday unveiled a new browser-based desktop chat option, calling the feature an “extension” of its smartphone apps. The web experience “mirrors” conversations from your mobile device, said WhatsApp.

The company’s desktop solution, however, is somewhat convoluted. To use it, you have to open https://web.whatsapp.com in Google Chrome and scan the QR code inside your WhatsApp smartphone app. Then, you must keep your phone connected to the Internet and make sure you have the latest version of WhatsApp.

There’s one big caveat, too: you can’t connect WhatsApp to your browser if you have an iPhone.

Facebook announced in February of last year it would purchase WhatsApp in a deal that closed in October for $19 billion in cash and shares. The app has more than 600 million active users.

TIME apps

5 iPhone Apps You Just Can’t Miss This Week

TIME.com stock photos iPhone Apps Uber
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Try Chrome Remote Desktop, which lets you access your desktop from your mobile phone

It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found five apps actually worth downloading.

Chrome Remote Desktop

This app is as straightforward as it is useful. Every developer or software company seems eager to cram every device you can possibly own into a single tool, but Google has found a way to do it best. Remote Desktop lets you use your phone to access your computer desktop; you can choose to access one of several different desktops from your mobile device. And on an iPad, this app eliminates the need to carry your laptop everywhere.

Chrome Remote Desktop is free in the App Store.

Power Nap HQ

The danger of napping is that complacency, exhaustion, laziness, and snoozing will get the best of us almost every time we try to shut our eyes for 20 minutes. We might set our timers for 20 minutes, but by the time they go off, we’ve only been asleep for a few short minutes.

This new app tracks users’ movements to see when they have fallen asleep, and then uses this data to wake them up after a desired amount of time. It keeps us from falling into a frustrating five-minute nap or from a midday slumber so long our regular sleep pattern will be disrupted.

Power Nap HQ is available for $0.99 in the App Store.

Cat Facts Extreme

Perhaps one of the most brilliantly inane apps ever created, Cat Facts Extreme is the perfect way to bring a smile to your cat-loving friends — or drag everyone else into an abyss of frustration. Go through your contact list and choose which friends deserve to have cat facts texted to them. It’s really the simpler pleasures of technology that can be the most meaningful.

Cat Facts Extreme is free in the App Store.

Stayful

Stayful not only searches multiple databases in order to find you the best hotel rates in a given city, but it will actively negotiate the best price for you with the hotel. How exactly it works is something of a mystery, but so long as the result is cheaper rates, then Stayful has done its job. Not only is the idea itself incredibly useful, but the interface is easy to use and takes the headache out of online booking.

Stayful is available for free in the App Store.

Flush Toilet Finder

What happens when nature calls but you can’t answer? It’s a place we’ve all been, and as it happens, resentful restaurant owners aren’t terribly gracious when you ask to use their bathrooms. Flush Toilet Finder is rather self-explanatory: The app uses your GPS to locate all the public restrooms in your area, which can make a critical difference when you’re on the move and won’t be home for a while.

Flush Toilet Finder is available for free in the App Store

TIME Social Media

Facebook’s Going to Start Weeding Out Fake News Stories

But don't worry — The Onion is safe

Get ready to see less “news” stories about Santa Claus truthers and dinosaur sightings in Utah proliferating on your Facebook feed.

The social media platform announced in a blog post Tuesday that it is making a concerted effort to decrease the number of hoaxes and misleading stories in users’ News Feeds.

Sample “hoax” post included in its press release Facebook

“People often share these hoaxes and later decide to delete their original posts after they realize they have been tricked,” Facebook explains. “These types of posts also tend to receive lots of comments from friends letting people know this is a hoax, and comments containing links to hoax-busting websites.”

Internal data shows that people are twice as likely to delete a post after receiving a friend’s clarifying comment.

Users are given the option to report a new story as false.

Facebook’s instructions on how to report fake news stories Facebook

While Facebook won’t delete or fact-check the content, it will not only reduce the distribution of posts that have been reported as false but also add a warning to future sharers.

But don’t worry — this doesn’t mean The Onion is going anywhere.

Facebook clarified that users rarely reported satirical content, so that humorous genre won’t be impacted.

TIME apps

This Is What It’s Like To Have Your Skype Call Automatically Translated

Skype
In this photo illustration, the Skype Internet phone program is seen September 1, 2009 in New York City. Mario Tama—Getty Images

Hands on with Microsoft's new real-time voice translation service

Microsoft’s Skype Translator, designed to automatically translate conversations between speakers of two languages in real-time, is far from flawless. In fact, sometimes it’s unintentionally hilarious. But for all of its botched words, delayed responses, and its curious ability to recognize “Kim Kardashain” but not “Kanye West,” there’s no denying that it works.

Skype Translator is in fact a package of four technological feats stitched together into one experience. First it transcribes spoken words into text, which is displayed in a running feed alongside the video conference. Next it prunes out the “um’s” and “ah’s” and repetitious words from the conversation, while adding punctuation to the written record. Then it translates the text and finally reads it aloud to the end user. In total, the program takes roughly four seconds to clear all of these hurdles — to varying degrees of success.

I got the chance to try Skype Translator Monday at Building 99, Microsoft’s research hub in Redmond, Washington. It stumbled right out of the gate when I introduced myself to Karin Nova, a professional translator in Slovakia who was contracted by Microsoft to demonstrate the software.

“Hi, nice to meet you,” I said to Nova, “I’m Dan.” The program, thrown by the proper name, told Nova that I was “down.” In fact, it had an insistent habit of translating names into similar-sounding words. Our brief discussion about the the marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West translated the first name flawlessly, but Kanye West was alternatively transcribed as “Conde West” and “con you whilst.”

Surprisingly, Skype Translator does better with longer sentences, thanks to the extra context clues. Nova’s explanation of how frequently she uses Skype Translate came through without a hitch. “I think that I don’t know the exact number,” came her translated response, “but over the last few months. Five a week surely.”

That awkward period breaking apart her last sentence highlights one of the Skype team’s trickiest challenges: How to get punctuation in its proper place. That’s a surprisingly essential feature — fragmented sentences require several readings to make any sense.

The program also includes a profanity filter, that, when switched on, discreetly mutes curse words. My attempts to slip an obscenity past Skype’s filter failed. Novak, who’s fluent in nine languages, politely smiled at each juvenile attempt to trick the system.

But most often, the translations fell somewhere between awkward and comprehensible. I know Novak was eager to visit New York City — that much was clear when she said, “I want to meet all of New York City and I want to attach it with a concert of a group I like.” From that, I also gathered she probably wants to see a concert during her visit.

Usually any confusion can be cleared up with a follow-up question. The result is a conversation that requires a few extra sentences of clarification, but the meaning eventually comes through intact. And that’s where the promise of this technology becomes apparent — Skype Translator is far from eliminating language barriers, but it has already lowered them considerably.

That raises a sensitive subject for professional translators like Novak: Does she feel threatened by this technology? “Not yet,” was her translated response, “and in the future I think. The machine of humans, they can work together.”

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