The COVID-19 pandemic has literally brought the world to a standstill for almost 3 months. This is having repercussions on the economies,the mental well being of people and various industrial sectors. However, with countries deciding to lighten restrictions, businesses are slowly inching back to normalcy and with the travel restrictions becoming easier people are taking the risk to travel. The pandemic however is showing no signs of slowing down as the worldwide cases hit almost 32 million while the death toll is almost at one million.
With the number of cases increasing, technology giant Google is introducing a new feature to its Maps called COVID layer. This feature will show the users important information like the number of COVID-19 cases in an area which will enable a user to make decisions on their travel plans and whether or not to take the trip. Google will roll out the new feature in its latest update this week on both Android and iOS this week.
Google in its blogpost said users can see the data in Google Maps after opening it and tapping on the layers button on the top right hand corner of the screen and clicking on the COVID-19 info. This will then show a seven day graphic of new COVID cases per 1,00,000 people for the area in the map at which a user is looking.
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Google will also add a colour coding feature which will help users to distinguish the density of new cases in an area. Trending case data is visible at the country level for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports, along with state or province, county, and city level data, where available.
The data is going to be gathered from different sources which will include Johns Hopkins University, the New York Times, and Wikipedia. These sources get their data from the World Health Organisation (WHO,) government health ministries and local hospitals.
Google’s Hum To Search Feature Is Here To Make Searching For Songs Easier
When Shazam was released for the first time, the entire smartphone community breathed a sigh of relief because the app let users search for songs by making the app listen to what is being played in your surroundings. Since then finding new songs and genres has become easier as searching for songs at your favourite clubs or at a friend’s party is now at one’s fingertips. But, what if you only know a piece of music or a tune which is stuck in your head and no way to identify the song.
Google is making it possible to try to find a song with its new feature called ‘hum to search.’ The feature can listen to humming, whistling or singing to identify songs. ‘Hum to search’ is triggered when you ask Google “what is this song?” and then proceed to perform bits of the tune to the best of your ability. Google will then present a list of songs according to a percentage match score which comes closest to your performance.
Google’s machine learning algorithm converts the audio input into a numbers based sequence which it then matches with other song melodies and tries to find the closest matching tune. The model was trained with several sources with actual people singing, humming and whistling in addition to real studio recordings. Google’s algorithms can also strip away musical instruments, as well as the timbre and tone of the singer’s voice in order so it only relies on the actual numeric sequence in the song matching process.
The ‘hum to search’ option is live and currently supports more than twenty languages. While the feature might seem minor in terms of utility it makes up for improving the quality of life on a major level. Google has once again proved to the world as to why it is the best company out there with their ‘hum to search’ feature.
Leading Brands Which Jumped On The Baba Ka Dhaba Bandwagon For Positive Change
A few days ago, a video appeared on social media of an old man and his wife, who run a small food business in South Delhi. The old man can be seen breaking down on the video, because business has been quite bad due to low demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The old man who is now being called as Baba spoke about how it has been difficult for his wife and himself to make a living. The video quickly went viral on social media and #BabaKaDhaba began trending. The video was widely shared by celebrities, politicians and the people at large and Baba was not prepared for the outpouring of love, help and the surge in demand all of a sudden.
Famous brands have also decided to get in on the #BabaKaDhaba bandwagon and Zomato was the first to make the most of the moment marketing. A Twitter user tagged Zomato on the viral video and asked if they can add Baba Ka Dhaba on their app and Zomato obliged and went ahead and added Baba’s Dhaba as a listing on their platform. Even the Indian Premier League franchise Delhi Capitals, shared the video and urged Delhites to go and help the Baba and his little eatery.
UPDATE: baba ka dhaba is now listed on zomato and our team is working with the elderly couple there to enable food deliveries
thank you to the good people of the internet for bringing our attention to this ❤️
— zomato india (@ZomatoIN) October 8, 2020
Sach mein, Dilli ka Dil ek misaal hi hai! So heartwarming to see Delhiites visit #BabaKaDhaba and bring a smile back on the lovely couple 🙂 !
— Delhi Capitals (Tweeting from 🇦🇪) (@DelhiCapitals) October 8, 2020
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Pepsi also stepped up and provided a dealer hoarding, a fridge full of Pepsi beverages for free so that Baba can sell the beverages to his customers apart from sending rations for Baba’s home.
Credit managing startup OkCredit helped the Baba by setting up a QR code for payments so Baba can keep a track of receivables and credit as Baba Ka Dhaba caters to the crowd who frequent nearby institutions and trucks drivers. Google has set up a Google Pay QR code so customers have additional mode of payment.
The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) pledged to upgrade the infrastructure of Baba Ka Dhaba to make it COVID-compliant. The dating app Tinder also shared a tweet from their official Twitter account to urge others to choose the eatery for their next date.
We recommend #BabaKaDhabha for your next date 🔥
— Tinder India (@Tinder_India) October 8, 2020
Although Baba Ka Dhaba has become a hotspot for brands to advertise themselves, the incident will be a lesson on how social media can be a great agent for change and spreading positivity.
Google Relents By Deferring 30% Play Store App Fee For Developers
Indian companies and startups are beginning to come together and are calling for an Indian companies only alliance, to take on tech giant Google. This comes after a severe backlash from the Indian Startup ecosystem over Google’s billing policies. Last month Google clarified apps which fall under the category of education, games, dating and other content must use its in-app Google billing system in India as long as the apps are distributed through Google Play store.
Phones which run on Google’s open source operating system, Android, own about 90% of the smartphone market in India. Paytm was pulled out from Google’s Play store for several hours after Google said Paytm violated its policies. Sensing the disgruntlement among Indian startups, which incidentally also contribute to Google’s cloud business, the tech giant took the decision to defer the 30% commission till March 2022.
“We will be setting up Policy Workshops to help clear any additional questions about our play store policies (sic,)” Purnima Kocchar, Director of Business Development, Games & Applications, Google Play said in a blog post.
The move was welcomed by the Indian Startup ecosystem as they believe Google is listening to their concerns while some leading startups believe this deferment offers a unique opportunity to come up with an Indian alternative for the play store under the Atmanirbhar Bharat push. Paytm on Sunday said it is starting a service where other apps can be listed on its payments app and one can use them within Paytm, similar to a super app. Paytm said it has been testing the mini app store with select users and it will be free of charge. Paytm’s Mini App Store aims to drive a self-sufficient India and retain consumer spending within the country, the startup said in a statement Monday. Pioneered by Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, mini apps are custom-built, low-cost software for basic mobile phones that offer users an app-like experience without the need to download full versions.
Founder of CCAvenues, Vishwas Patel said “ust because Google owns the gate and the gateway to the digital ecosystem of this country, they should not act arbitrarily and enforce their rules and regulations which are contrary to our country’s laws. Also, they cannot force Indian apps developers/owners selling digital services to compulsorily use the Google Billing and payment system and charge 30 % MDR (sic.)”
India has a wealth of technical resources and it will be interesting to see how the Indian Startups will come up with ideas to create a new system which will bring down the digital monopoly of a behemoth.
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