Today’s cache | New Google Maps features, Windows 10 update, and more

Today's cache is your daily download of the top 5 updates from the world of technology.

Both Microsoft and Google have made updates to their services to enhance user accessibility. At Google, the Maps team has improved accessibility function for users with disability to find wheelchair accessible places. Microsoft’s Windows 10 update has enhanced the software’s magnifier and narrator function to make it easier for user with low or no vision.

Samsung has launched its Terrace TV for outdoor viewing. The new TV sets come with IP55 water and dust protection.

In Britain, the markets regulator has stepped up efforts to fight fake reviews online during the lockdown.

Lastly, over 40 million Wishbone users’ records have been leaked online.

Two new Google Maps features

Google Maps has added two new features to help health responders find hotel rooms and people with disabilities find wheelchair accessible places.

Healthcare practitioners treating COVID-19 patients are worried about being in the same space with their family as they might mistakenly infect family members.

Now, using Google search and Maps, health workers can find hotels with special policies for COVID-19 responders. They can search for “hotels for essential workers in New York” and narrow down results using a new ‘COVID-19 responder rooms’ filter.

On the Maps, they will find a tip at the top of the results if hotels in the area have a special policy for frontline workers. To keep track of hotel properties offering special accommodations, Google is working with hotel chains, including Choice Hotels International, Hilton, and IHG Hotels & Resorts.

The new search feature is focused on the US and UK. The team may do a global launch after sometime.

Separately, Google has rolled out an ‘Accessible Places’ feature to help wheelchair users find where wheelchairs are available using information on Google Maps.

To get wheelchair accessibility information feature displayed on your Maps app, update to the latest version, go to Settings, select ‘accessibility,’ and turn on ‘Accessible Places.’

As of now, Google Maps has accessibility information for more than 15 million places globally. In total, the user community has contributed more than 500 million wheelchair accessibility updates to Maps. Some store owners have also contributed information about wheelchair at their premises.

The accessibility feature will be rolled out first for users in Australia, Japan, US and UK. The team is working with other countries to bring them on board.

Samsung launches Terrace TV

Samsung announced on Thursday its latest TV, the Terrace.

Designed for outdoor viewing, the Terrace has IP55 water and dust resistance. The display screen can increase brightness to 2000 nits to let users enjoy watching even while the sun is out.

The TV comes in three screen sizes: 75-inch, 65-inch and 55-inch. The largest is priced at $6,499, the medium is sold at $4,999, and the smallest is $3,455.

The sizeable increase in the price, compared to Samsung’s QLED 4K TVs, is due to the weatherproofing technologies used to protect the device from outdoor dust.

The TV has a built-in HDBase T receiver that transmits ultra high definition video and audio. And the device need only an AC outlet to plug-in and start watching.

The panel of Terrace is similar to the standard, top-end QLED TV. And the TV has all the features, including anti-reflective coating, local dimming and extended quantum dot colour.

The latest TV will be first launched in the US and Canada, and will reach other markets later this year.

40 million Wishbone users’ records leaked online

Wishbone is a mobile app that lets users compare two items using votingl. Data of its 40 million users have been stolen by a hacker and put up for sale, ZDnet reported.

The leaked data was advertised for sale on several hacking forums. The price for the data was .85 bitcoin (about $8,000), as per the ads spotted by ZDnet.

The data includes login names, email addresses, phone numbers, city/state/country, and hash passwords.

After reviewing some passwords, ZDnet said they are in MD5 format. This format of passwords are weak, and can be cracked to show the original plaintext passwords.

The leaked data also includes Wishbone profile pictures. The seller claims that the data was taken from a hack that happened earlier this year.

It is is not clear if the seller was also the one who hacked the data. According to security researchers, the individual posting ads in the forum is called ‘data broker.’ They are cyber-criminals specialised in buying and selling hacked databases.

Windows 10 new accessibility features

Microsoft on Thursday announced some updates to its Windows 10 accessibility features to make it easier for users with low or no vision.

The improvements include making the text cursor easier to see and follow with the help of a built-in Magnifier feature. Users can make cursors wider and add a text indicator under it. They can even choose a custom colour to make it easier to find on screen.

“Now Magnifier will follow the text cursor in the center of the display by default, so that users can find the text cursor in an expected location,” Jeff Petty, Window Accessibility Program Manager, said in a blog post.

Another new feature in the update includes reading texts aloud. The Magnifier feature now includes play, pause, next sentence, previous sentence and read from here controls to make it easy to read text in Chrome, Edge, Firefox and other Windows applications like Word, Outlook and PowerPoint.

The magnifier will highlight every word that is spoken and will scroll content into view.

Apart from the magnifier feature, Windows 10 has a redesigned Narrator. It has added new sounds for the common actions like ‘scan on’ and ‘scan off’ when switching between scan mode and other modes. By default, both the words and sounds are turned on, to learn the new sounds.

Also, when proofing a message or document, Narrator can handle initials, mixed and all cap words.

UK regulator steps up fight against fake reviews

United Kingdom’s competition regulator stepped up its attack against fake reviews during lockdown, Reuters reported.

The watchdog has started an investigation to know whether steps taken by websites to fight fake news was enough to protect customers as shopping online increased during the lockdown.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority said it will look into suspicious user reviews, manipulation by businesses and paid reviews. CMA said it was not accusing any website of having acted illegally.

This investigation by CMA builds on its earlier probe into fake reviews on eBay and Facebook.

In Britain, online non-food sales jumped by nearly 60% as fewer people visit stores to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:34:50 PM |

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