TIME Mobile

You Can Now Order Food Right From Google Search

Google Food
Google Google Food

Google continues to add more functionality to mobile searches

Google is making it even easier to be a lazy eater.

Starting Friday, users will be able to order food directly from a Google search. Users who search for nearby restaurants on their phones will see a “Place an order” option in the information card that appears in the search results. Select that button and you’ll have the option of going directly to the restaurant’s page on one of six food-ordering sites: Seamless, Grubhub, Eat24, Delivery.com, BeyondMenu and MyPizza.com.

Google says it plans to add more options in the future.

Embedding more functionality in mobile searches makes sense for Google, which has seen its search dominance put under pressure by the emergence of single-purpose apps. Instead of using Google to find restaurants, for example, users might use Yelp’s app. The tech giant is doing everything it can to make sure Google search results are a kind of one-stop-shop that lets users execute many different types of actions, including ordering lunch.

TIME Companies

Here’s Why Uber Would Spend $3 Billion on Maps

Uber Taxi App In Madrid
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez—Getty Images In this photo illustration the smart phone taxi app 'Uber' shows how to select a pick up location at Cibeles Square on October 14, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.

Maps are essential for driverless cars

Ride-hailing company Uber is willing to pay up to $3 billion for HERE, a Nokia-owned mapping service that competes with Google Maps, the New York Times reports.

Nokia, a Finnish company you probably best know for its trademark and stubbornly infectious ringtone, is undergoing a highly transformative shift. Once a leading smartphone maker, it’s now focusing networking hardware business. The biggest sign of that shift: Nokia sold its handset division to Microsoft for more than $7 billion last year. So it makes sense for Nokia to want to unload its mapping unit, for which it could earn a pretty penny while also increasing the company’s focus.

But why would Uber want a mapping company? Two reasons.

Uber’s backend systems are powered by Google Maps. When you load up Uber’s app and drop a pin for a pickup, that’s Google Maps. When your driver is following GPS directions to your destination, that’s Google Maps too. Uber’s recent moves into shipping packages rather than people signal it’s interested in becoming more of a full-on logistics company, akin more to UPS than your local yellow cab service. For Uber, having its own mapping unit would reduce its dependence on another company — Google — while it continues to evolve.

There’s another factor at play here, too. Uber executives haven’t been shy about their fondness for driverless cars; the company is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to work on the technology. After all, robots don’t strike for higher wages, nor do they assault passengers.

Driverless cars need two things to work. The first is on-car sensors, which constantly monitor for changing road conditions that require an immediate response, like pedestrians and stop signs. The second is maps, which tell the car where to go on a bigger scale. For driverless cars to be feasible, the maps that power them have to be updated constantly. Imagine a driverless car doesn’t know that construction means a bridge is out, for instance: Dead end. Acquiring HERE, then, would help Uber more quickly realize a future where driverless cars get us all from A to B without us batting an eyelash.


TIME Smartphones

What It’s Like to Have Siri As Your Mom

Let’s face it: Siri isn’t the USS Enterprise computer Apple promised us in 2011. The digital personal assistant can barely comprehend simple English phrases (“When should I cash in my Beanie Baby collection and retire?”), let alone wash your Humvee or walk your ferret. (Come on, future!)

And if you need emotional support, forget it. There’s no app that can replace good, old-fashioned mother’s love. Unless, of course, your mom is Siri.

Read the rest of the story at the Daily Dot.

TIME Social Media

How to Turn Off Everything You Hate About Facebook

Facebook logo on an iPhone 5s.
Lukas Schulze—picture-alliance/dpa/AP Facebook logo on an iPhone 5s.

Because we all need a break

Facebook can be a real hassle. It lets your friends spam you with annoying app invites, tells all your contacts when you’re online so they can harrass you, and bugs you about your old coworkers’ birthdays even though you haven’t seen them in three years. Facebook is a classic oversharer.

The good news is there’s a way to get Facebook to quiet down. The bad news is, well, there isn’t any bad news. In fact, all of these things might get you to love Facebook; it’s really an invaluable utility for most of us—and one that can be enlightening, funny, and interesting. But before it can be those things, you have to turn off all the things that annoy you. Luckily, that’s just a click of a few buttons away, so let’s get started.

App invites

Invitations to install apps or join games are the number one most frustrating feature of Facebook. Depending on how addicted your friends have become to the time-sucking titles on the site, you could be bombarded with invites on a daily basis, and most apps make it way too easy to spam an entire friends list with annoying alerts. It’s time to put an end to this nightmare.

Open your Settings screen on the Facebook Web client and click on the “Blocking” tab on the left sidebar. Under the heading “Block App Invites,” type in the name or names of anyone on your friends list who needs their app invite privileges revoked. You may also laugh maniacally while doing this, though that is entirely optional.

You can use this same page to block specific apps from contacting you entirely (goodbye forever, Mafia Wars!), and even prevent your friends from sending you event invitations, though those are typically far less frequent than the app invites we all know and loathe.

This story was originally published at the The Kernel, the Daily Dot’s Sunday magazine. Read the rest of the story at The Kernel.

TIME Social Media

Facebook Study Says Users Make Their News Feed Less Diverse

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

But some have already questioned the results

The long-held notion that Facebook’s algorithm leads to the creation of “echo chambers” among users isn’t exactly true, according to a report published Thursday in the journal Science.

After studying the accounts of 10 million users, data scientists at Facebook found that liberals and conservatives are regularly exposed to at least some “crosscutting” political news, meaning stories that don’t conform to their pre-existing biases.

The algorithm for Facebook’s News Feed leads conservatives to see 5% less liberal content than their friends share and liberals to see 8% less conservative content. But the biggest impact on what users see comes from what they clicked on in the past. Liberals are about 6% less likely to click on crosscutting content, according to the research, and conservatives are about 17% less likely. Facebook’s algorithm serves users stories based in part on the content they have clicked in the past.

Ultimately, the study suggest it’s not Facebook’s algorithm that’s making your profile politically one-sided, it’s your own decisions to click on or ignore certain stories. However, some observers argue the Facebook study is flawed because of sampling problems and interpretation issues.

TIME baltimore

#TheBrief: When Citizens Record Police

The ACLU's "Police Tape" app has led the way for other police surveillance apps

Freddie Gray. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. The names of those who died after violent encounters with police have turned into an international rallying cry.

Now that everyone has a camera in their pocket, young innovators are developing more ways for communities to document the actions of police. Watch #TheBrief to find out more.

TIME Social Media

How Twitter Can Become the Premier Site for Job-Seekers

The Twitter logo is shown at its corporate headquarters  in San Francisco
Robert Galbraith—Reuters

Twitter should add a traditional job board to its social media platform to enhance its value for job seekers

A new study shows that Twitter has more job openings than other social media sites and more job seekers than even LinkedIn. In addition, the number of Twitter users grew more rapidly than LinkedIn and Facebook in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. Much of this growth seems to be coming from young professionals and high income workers, fertile demographics for employers.

Despite that, only 15% of recruiters have actually found someone to hire through Twitter. A possible reason for this is a lack of response from job seekers to Twitter postings; the people surveyed by Software Advice cited inconsistency of job postings and poor communication by companies with job seekers as reasons for dissatisfaction. 76% of them indicated that their primary interaction with employers on Twitter is to check out company profiles, not necessarily to apply for jobs themselves.

All this begs the question of how Twitter can improve its performance as a matchmaker for jobs. One good way would be for the company to set up a traditional job board, organized by categories, along the lines of a Monster.com.

Currently, the primary way for a Twitter user to find a job is by following specific companies he or she is interested in or by searching via hashtags related to jobs, companies, or industries. While these methods can bear fruit, they’re a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. For example, a search for the hashtag #jobsearch will produce hundreds of tweets that are only tangentially related to actual jobs, including articles on job hunting, random thoughts, and junk tweets that use the hashtag for promotion.

In addition, unless you search for every possible hashtag an employer might use and unless the employer uses the right hashtags, you could easily miss a posting for your dream job. Not to mention that as new tweets keep appearing every few seconds, the process of finding an appropriate job can be extremely time consuming and difficult.

This might also explain why job seekers tend to use Twitter more for gathering information on specific companies than to check out job postings and even less to apply through Twitter. The pace of Twitter is so fast and the content so diverse and scattered that finding a job directly through the Twitterverse is simply too challenging.

Sites like Monster.com or CareerBuilder, on the other hand, provide a more attractive option by aggregating job postings and making it easy for job seekers to view jobs by different parameters such as functional area, industry, region etc. It’s less dynamic than social media but comfortably static for users.

What Twitter needs to do is add this functionality to complement the strength of its own platform. While traditional job boards are great for active candidates, Twitter can also be useful for general career development and to keep a pulse on the market for a future job hunt. It’s a real-time information medium that also allows users to gain market insight and to communicate directly with companies they may be interested in working for. That’s a huge advantage for Twitter.

The only real service that the company needs to provide is to curate tweets to differentiate between actual job listings and other types of tweets, and to aggregate those tweets under common verticals like function, industry, and region.

There is, of course, tweetMyJobs, a leading social media add-on service that enables job seekers to receive targeted job matches via Twitter and to send resumes to employers. The site also helps employers set up profiles and send out listings to job seekers through social media. But that further illustrates the tremendous opportunity that Twitter is failing to take advantage of.

By becoming a go-to site for job seekers, Twitter could potentially outpace its competitors in the space and create a new revenue stream in the future by charging employers for posting listings. As those looking for employment or career advancement search for new ways to find what they’re looking for, Twitter, by standing at the vanguard of social media, is uniquely positioned to help them.

S. Kumar has worked in technology, media, and telecom investment banking. He has evaluated mergers and acquisitions in these sectors and provided strategic consulting to media companies and hedge funds.

TIME Security

Has Your Browser Been Hijacked by Fraudsters?

Heartbleed Extensions
Chromebleed

It's not unlikely, according to a sobering new study

Illicit “ad injectors” are infecting a not-insignificant proportion of Web browsers, according to a study by Google and the University of California.

The pieces of software replace the ads you’re supposed to be seeing with different, unapproved ones, hurting not only Internet surfers, but advertisers like Amazon and Wal-Mart (and many others), as well as publishers who lose revenues, the study authors said.

Ad injectors make their way into browsers through software downloads and browser extensions. Many users might not even know their browsers are afflicted with them. Google says it has identified more than 50,000 browser extensions and 34,000 software applications that send the fraudulent ads to browsers, pushing aside the ads that were supposed to show up.

Most alarmingly, about a third of the injectors are equipped to steal account credentials and hijack Web searches, returning results meant to benefit the fraudsters. More than 1,000 networks distribute the injectors, Google said, with many of them pushed by “affiliates” who get paid some pittance whenever somebody clicks on one of the ads.

The ads come from so-called “injection libraries,” often via legitimate ad networks. Advertisers big and small end up paying for injected ads they have no knowledge of.

Sometimes, the ads appear even on Web pages, such as Wikipedia, that don’t normally feature advertisements.

Google says that so far in 2015, it has received more than 100,000 complaints about injectors in its Chrome browser. The study indicates that all the major browsers are vulnerable.

And you’re not safe if you’re on a Mac. According to the study, 5.1% of all pageviews involving injected ads came from a computer running Windows. Macs accounted for 3.4%.

Fixing the problem isn’t easy. Google says it stepping up its monitoring of extensions for Chrome to ensure that they don’t run afoul of policy. Other browser makers do the same. But with so many extensions out there, much of the responsibility falls on users themselves to be hyper-vigilant when downloading software.

 

TIME Web

Photo-Sharing Site Flickr Just Completely Reinvented Itself Again

Flickr Mobile Camera Roll 2015
Flickr

Flickr is trying to stay afloat in an era of Instagram and Facebook

Flickr is trying to reclaim its throne as the king of photo-sharing apps with a major redesign of its services.

The Yahoo-owned site announced Thursday a string of new features for its desktop and mobile platforms. Among the features are an updated search algorithm that allows you to find images with a certain color, size or orientation, as well as a new cloud-based Camera Roll that can auto-organize your photos across over 60 categories including landscapes, animals and screenshots.

It’s the second major update in two years as Flickr, once the go-to site for photo-sharing back in the mid-2000s, attempts to stay afloat in an era of Instagram and Facebook. In 2013, Flickr underwent a series of massive changes that were met with mixed reviews: while every user was given a free terabyte of storage (that’s about 70 times Google Drive’s free storage), many still were angered by the elimination of paid unlimited storage and the design overhaul.

 Redesign
FlickrFlickr Redesign

The updates are Flickr’s latest attempts to stay relevant in a sector that has exploded in just a couple of years. Back in 2008, Flickr and its main competitor Facebook — both four years old at the time — had comparable shares of the some 20 million photos shared online daily, according to estimates in KPCB’s annual Internet Trends report. Flash forward to 2014 and about 1.8 billion photos were being shared online daily, with about 350 million on Facebook, 60 million on Instagram, 700 million on Snapchat and Whatsapp each — but fewer than 10 million on Flickr.

TIME Video Games

This Is the Best Game on the Apple Watch

I'm convinced Apple's newest device might actually be fun to play games on

A few weeks in, the things the Apple Watch does well are pretty obvious. It’s a great fitness and exercise tracker. It’s built-in apps work as advertised. It’s a nice-looking physical object. It tells the time.

But as a new product, running a 1.0 operating system, there’s also a lot to improve on. One of the biggest outstanding questions is whether or not people will use the Watch to do things they’re already used to doing on their phones, like reading the news and playing games.

The later in particular, seems in greater doubt. Most of the titles released so far are either relatively light-weight (and benign) extensions of their phone counter parts or uber-simple incarnations of popular games. Most of these don’t last past an initial blush of gee-whiz.

Lifeline, a newly released game by 3 Minute Games, could change that. It’s the first game I’ve loaded on my Watch that is not only fun to play, but fun to play specifically on a wearable.

MORE: These May Be the Most Absurd Apple Watch Accessories Yet

The premise is fairly is simple: A far-off radio signal connects you to Taylor, a young student who was selected to study rats in space. He sends a distress signal when he crash lands on a moon somewhere—all of this is communicated through simple text messages. From there, it’s essentially a choose-you-own adventure style narrative with the player directing Taylor to try this or that, go here or there, and so on.

Communication goes silent as Taylor follows your instructions, taking time to travel somewhere for example. This real-time aspect is what makes Lifeline a convincing simulation of actually working with someone. That, and its extreme simplicity, make Lifeline a compelling game to play on your watch.

This also works because of a strong story. Lifeline was written by Dave Justus, a co-writer on the also narratively excellent The Wolf Among Us. It can be played solely on a phone, but if you have an Apple Watch, it’s worth downloading.

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