Google Maps Can Now Remember Where You Parked Your Car

Good news for forgetful car owners worldwide: Google Maps can now remember where you parked your car. The feature was originally launched in a Google Maps beta for Android, but has now been officially rolled out onto both Android and iOS versions of the app.

The function’s pretty simple: just save your parking spot, and a label will appear on your map. You also have the option to set a timer (lest you get a ticket), send your spot to a friend, or save a pic of the location.

To get the new feature, simply update Google Maps on your Android or iOS smartphone.

Apple Might Be Planning to Charge Your Future iPhone Using WiFi

It has long been rumored that the iPhone 8 will have wireless charging in the form of wireless charging stations, but new Apple news, revealed yesterday, could completely blow that development out of the water in a few years.

AppleInsider reports that Apple was recently granted a U.S. Patent and Trademark for “Wireless Charging and Communications Systems With Dual-Frequency Patch Antennas” — which, in simpler terms. means charging your phone via WiFi.

According to the patents blueprints, this development won’t be able to work on any old WiFi network. Instead, existing WiFi systems will need a specialized antennae, designed to boost signals for it to work. Once that’s set up, however, you’d be able to charge your phone just by being in WiFi range.

Unfortunately, a patent doesn’t mean the science is fully developed yet — but it does mean that when it is, Apple will be the first to have it.

Solar Sidewalks Could Power Our Cities

This summer will see the planned opening of a solar-powered sidewalk on the campus of Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia. The 1,200-foot array should be able to generate about 15,000 kilowatt-hours a year — enough to power one and a half average American houses — even as students walk all over it.

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Thompson Rivers professor Michael Mehta said a major goal of the project is to get people to rethink where solar energy can be gathered. The very fact solar power plants are sometimes called solar farms points to the problem: Many such projects are in rural areas that could otherwise be used for agriculture. Mehta and his colleagues on the Solar Compass Project want urban environments to be put to work gathering solar energy, instead.

Building a high-tech sidewalk can potentially do more than just take in the sun’s energy, according to Mehta. He said the panels could also carry fiber-optic signals or be used to display messages and reroute travelers in response to changing conditions. But the main goal for now will be proving the sidewalks can successfully take in power. Mehta told the paper that the 64-panel array should produce enough power to keep 40 computers running eight hours a day for an entire year.

This isn’t the first experiment with road surfaces capable of harvesting the sun’s energy. A nearly 250-foot bike path called SolaRoad opened in the Netherlands in 2014, while the American company Solar Roadways has hugely ambitious plans to make American roads solar-friendly. But that would require materials capable of gathering solar energy while standing up to the wear and tear of passing vehicles, and no such material exists yet.

The Thompson Rivers project faces a far less challenging task, as the sidewalks only have to be able to withstand foot traffic and the occasional bicycle. Mehta said the solar surface could theoretically support a fire truck, though there are no immediate plans to put the sidewalks to that particular test.

This Robot Hunts Invasive Lionfish

An underwater robot developed to hunt invasive lionfish is being used in the deep waters of Bermuda. The fish species, which is breeding out of control, poses a huge threat to Bermuda’s marine ecosystem. The “Guardian” robot, which is still an early prototype, can hunt and capture up to 10 lionfish in one trip. The robot’s creators hope to also adapt the Guardian into an online game where people can capture fish via a smartphone app.

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Why Facebook Put 10 Tips on ‘Fake News’ in Your News Feed

This week Facebook began inserting advisory pop-ups in the news feeds of users in 14 countries, including the USA, about how to spot fake news. It’s all in support of a new Facebook feature that empowers Facebook to report propaganda websites that look like legit news.

The pop-ups, which Facebook tells Inverse began showing up on Monday, are part of a series of PSAs the site is producing with the News Literacy Project, aimed at “helping people make more informed decisions” when they encounter fake news. The guidelines, which are made up of 10 points, were written in collaboration with the nonprofit First Draft.

Facebook Vice President Adam Mosseri said in a press release earlier described the news feed as a “place for authentic communication.”

Click further to read the guidelines:

1. Be skeptical of headlines. False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.

2. Look closely at the URL. A phony or look-alike URL may be a warning sign of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL. You can go to the site to compare the URL to established sources.

3. Investigate the source. Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their “About” section to learn more.

4. Watch for unusual formatting. Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.

5. Consider the photos. False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.

6. Inspect the dates. False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense, or event dates that have been altered.

7. Check the evidence. Check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.

8. Look at other reports. If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.

9. Is the story a joke? Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humor or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody, and whether the story’s details and tone suggest it may be just for fun.

10. Some stories are intentionally false. Think critically about the stories you read, and only share news that you know to be credible.

We already know the backstory of Facebook’s reform efforts by heart: In the run up to the 2016 presidential election, fake news spread across Facebook like wildfire, influencing people’s opinions about candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This pattern may or may not have changed the outcome of the election, of course. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg insisted that it did not in the face of damning evidence, his actions to help people spot bullshit signaled some acceptance on the company’s part.

After you see these pop-ups a few times in your newsfeeds, they will disappear. It’s direct, but relatively unobtrusive, action.

A Robot Magic Kingdom? Disney Wants Huggable Humanoids to Play Characters

The signature characters who wander around Disney theme parks taking photos with kids and signing autographs may be played by huggable humanoid robots in the future.

Disney Enterprises filed a U.S. patent application for a “soft body robot for physical interaction with humans” that would act like an animated character, reported the Orlando Sentinel last week (April 7). The patent describes a rigid robot with pliable chambers filled with fluid or air. Designed to reduce collision impacts with humans, these chambers could sense pressure and adjust its inflation appropriately.

Sketches of a prototype, and the robot’s description, parallel the design of Baymax, a soft-bodied robot from Disney’s 2014 film “Big Hero 6,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. Specific characters were not named in the application, however.

“It’s hard to know why Disney decides to file for a patent, but they have been looking at soft-body robots since ‘Big Hero,'” theme park writer Jim Hill told the Sentinel. “Disney is still terrified that even with this soft technology, a robot could accidentally harm a child. They do a lot of testing.”

Though robots are already used throughout Disney’s parks — including some free-roaming characters like Push the Talking Trash Can and Lucky the Dinosaur — the patent filing notes that it is difficult to ensure complete safety in human-robot interactions, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Disney inventors have already tested two prototypes, according to the patent application. In these tests, “the robot was robust to playful, physical interaction,” which likely means that tests were successful in inflating the robot for safe contact.

Disney officials did not offer comment on the application, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Police Departments Are Buying Drones Like Crazy

Police officers, the stereotype goes, love coffee, donuts, and now perhaps drones. A new study from Bard College finds that an unprecedented number of law enforcement and emergency response departments purchased drones in 2016, a trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing. The report lays out startling figures on drone purchases by police around the country, tracking the dramatic rise in police drone usage over the past few years.

According to the study, published April 6, all but seven states have at least one UAV operated by police, sheriffs, emergency response, or fire departments. Without ruling out the possibility that it missed a significant number of drone purchases, the report says that “at least 347 state and local [agencies] in the U.S. have acquired drones.” In 2016, more of the departments studied acquired drones than in all previous years, combined.

The federal government is also training local cops to use drones.

Local law enforcement purchases the most drones by far. Local municipal police departments and fire departments comprise 28 and 20 percent of drone purchases, respectively, and sheriff’s offices account for a whopping 35 percent. The researchers note that the law enforcement organizations typically opt for consumer-level drones rather than more expensive, professional level surveillance drones. This is likely due to cost, more than anything else, but it also allows police drones to “blend in” among the ever-growing air-traffic population over densely populated areas. With the FAA beginning to enforce more stringent no-fly zones over cities, however, lone cop-drones sailing through restricted airspace might eventually start to stick out.

Drones are still subject to the same restrictions in use by police as any other technology, meaning that they’re only being used for surveillance and other non-violent uses. Last year, police in Dallas famously used a non-lethal drone for lethal purposes by strapping an explosive to its back. That was the first ever use of a lethal robot by police — but there are rumblings indicating that American law enforcement may be gearing up for a flurry of similar uses, in the future.

In this parlance, there’s little difference between aerial drones and ground-based robots, though aerial drones are much more likely to be automated, at this point. The same researchers who produced this study also previously documented the police acquisition of ground-based drones like the one used in the Dallas killing.

That said, drones can be used by police much more widely than just to attack or even follow suspects. Some police departments are turning to drones to try to reduce traffic fatalities, others for search and rescue.

Check the study to see if your local department is on there — but, spoilers, it almost certainly is.

This Fitness Tracker Wants to Tell You How Stressed You Are About Not Being Fit

Staying active is a big part of staying healthy, and that’s often the reason given for why you should wear a fitness tracker; they’re a constant reminder to get up off the couch. But stress can be just as detrimental to your health as sloth, so Garmin hopes its new vívosmart 3 will finally quantify what you already know: you need a vacation. Besides all the features we’ve comes to expect from a fitness tracker, the vívosmart 3 has a stress tracker built in too.

The Garmin vívosmart 3 is an update to the late 2015 eyesore, the vívosmart HR. Like the vívosmart HR, the new vívosmart 3 doesn’t include any GPS hardware for tracking a running or cycling route. That’s odd coming from Garmin—a company notable for its GPS tech. Yet it’s also a minor trade-off which results in a fitness tracker that doesn’t look as bulky as a smartwatch, despite also being able to receive vibrating alerts for emails, messages, phone calls, and appointments when connected to the Garmin app on a smartphone.

The lack of bulk isn’t just a welcome change from other smartwatches, but the vívosmart HR as well. A year and a half of technological advancement has resulted in a smaller, sleeker fitness tracker that, among other improvements, is just more comfortable to wear.

Though that’s not a terribly difficult feat to accomplish. The vívosmart HR is monstrous compared to the new vívosmart 3. The protruding heart rate sensor and LEDs on the older model dug into my wrist, making it uncomfortable for me to wear.

In the vívosmart 3 that lump has been reduced to a barely noticable bump more in line with heart rate trackers on other wearables. Garmin claim’s the new model measures everything you’d expect a fitness tracker equipped with a heart rate sensor to quantify, but Garmin is also introducing two additional metrics for VO2 max levels and stress.

VO2 max (also known as maximal oxygen consumption) is a metric designed to give athletes an indication of their overall physical fitness. If you’ve ever seen a professional athlete running on a treadmill while wearing a breathing apparatus, that device is calculating their VO2 max. Last year Fitbit claimed to be able to measure the number with nothing but a heart rate monitor, and Garmin is now making the same claim, helpfully translating the number to a fitness level score ranging from poor to superior. Until we get a chance to hop on a treadmill and pick up an oxygen mask you’ll want to take that metric with a grain of salt.

More useful to non-athletes struggling to find the time (and motivation) to stay fit, is the vívosmart 3’s claimed ability to assess stress levels by measuring variations in a wearer’s heart rate. The results are delivered via a simple graph, and the wearable can even walk you through breathing exercises to help you relax. It’s a clever way to reinterpret a user’s heart rate data, and a feature that companies like Fitbit don’t offer yet. Yet a couple of goofy Kickstarters have made similar claims, and were quickly noted to be virtually incapable of accuracy. Without additional context about someone’s lifestyle and health, measure stress via heart rate is far from being an accurate, and definitely not a replacement for doctor’s consultation.

The vívosmart 3 also includes a mostly-improved display compared to the always-on but unlit LCD display on the vívosmart HR, which was occasionally hard to see indoors. However, the glowing display on the new vívosmart 3, which automatically turns on when you raise your wrist, is hidden behind a thin layer of smoky rubber. As a result the display always looks a little fuzzy (I swear it’s not a problem with my camera) but is also very difficult to read outdoors in the sun, despite it being so bright indoors. If you’re primarily a runner, that could very well be a deal breaker.

Available now for $140, the vívosmart 3 comes in at $10 cheaper than the new Fitbit Alta HR, while doing essentially the same types of fitness and activity tracking. But as we pointed out in our review of the Alta HR, the popularity of fitness trackers has been in decline since the resurgence of smartwatches, and Fitbit recently laid off six percent of its staff. So if you’re still in the market for a fitness tracker, and want to guarantee your investment will be supported for at least a few years, Garmin always has its GPS business to keep it afloat. One less thing to keep your stress levels in check.

Instagram Could Make Teens Less (Or Is It More?) Depressed

A new study brings some welcome news for parents who are worried about their kids incessantly thumbing through glossy, filtered photos of their friends’ lives on Instagram. It turns out that adolescents’ use of Instagram is associated with a sense of greater closeness to their friends, which in turn lowers their likelihood of depression. But the same study gives parents something to worry about: It found that Instagram use is also linked to depressed mood.

“This study offers practitioners greater insight into the outcomes of adolescents’ Instagram use,” said author Eline Frison from the University of Leuven in Belgium. “More specifically, using Instagram can be both beneficial and harmful for adolescents’ well-being. If using Instagram stimulates adolescents’ closeness to friends, it is beneficial in the long run, but if Instagram is not capable of that stimulation, it is harmful in the long run.”

The study, which is as-yet unpublished and will be presented next month at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, surveyed 1,840 adolescents twice with six months in between about their use of Instagram. Researchers found that adolescents who used Instagram during the first survey were more likely to be depressed during the second survey. But here’s where things get more complicated: Adolescents who used Instagram during the first survey were also more likely to report closeness to their friends during the second survey and that, in turn, was negatively associated with depressed mood.

These findings add to a bevy of seemingly contradictory research about social media — some studies suggest it can make people feel more isolated, while others say it can help people feel more connected.

So, how can Instagram be associated with both lower and higher likelihood of depression? Well, researchers did not distinguish between types of Instagram use — for example, whether it was merely passive (meaning, an adolescent just browses their friends’ feeds) or active (meaning, they post comments on their friends’ photos). Past research has shown that different kinds of social media use can have different mental health outcomes — in general, active social media use is shown to have more positive impacts than passive use. As Frison told Vocativ in an email, “It is therefore possible that active Instagram use caused the positive outcomes … whereas passive Instagram caused the negative outcomes.” More research is needed, though, to determine exactly what is going on here.

In the meantime, young people and their parents can take heart that Instagram can, as with anything, be good or bad for you — it’s likely all in how you use it.

Facebook’s New Tool Aims To Stop Revenge Porn

With a set of new tools, Facebook is seeking to stop the spread of revenge porn on its network, the company said on Wednesday.

To help stop intimate photos from being shared without a person’s consent, the social network will implement photo-matching tools that identify reported images and not only take them down from other Facebook News Feeds, but across all Facebook-owned platforms including Messenger and Instagram.

“If someone tries to share the image after it’s been reported and removed, we will alert them that it violates our policies and that we have stopped their attempt to share it,” Facebook said in a company blog post.

This is not the first time Facebook has tried to address revenge porn. However, people have still managed to post and share intimate photos of others without their permission. The most recent high-profile case was of a group of U.S. Marines who were posting nude photos of servicewoman in a secret Facebook group. They eventually moved on to using Snapchat when Facebook cracked down on the groups after they received publicity.

Facebook is not alone in the fight against revenge porn and worked with other online communities to build out the system. The company also hopes to start a domino effect and help other companies in the industry implement similar features.

“We worked with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and other companies to create a one-stop destination for victims and others to report this content to the major technology companies,” Facebook added.

To report a photo that might be considered “revenge porn,” users can click on the ellipses icon next to a post and then “report.” Users will then be asked to provide a reason for reporting the image.