Alex Chitu / Google Operating System:
Google now allows you to download your saved search history — Export Google Search History — I've mentioned last year that Google tested a download feature for search history. It looks like this feature is available for everyone. Just go to Google Web History, click the gear button and select “Download”.
Twitter is finally letting users receive direct messages from other users without having to do the "follow me" dance.
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Thanks to a recent explosion of wearable devices and continuing improvements in smartphone sensors, we're collecting more data about ourselves than ever before: steps taken, sleep had, calories burned, distance run, and many other metrics.
There's still plenty of room for improvement in terms of health tracking and sensor technology, but the basics are comprehensively covered, and the data is pouring in. So what, actually, do we do with it?
The next challenge for developers is finding meaning in our wearable data, turning an endless table of figures into something that's useful and life-enhancing. Knowing your average step count for the year is one thing; knowing what to do about it is another.Working Harder ... And SmarterThe Jawbone app makes suggestions.
The process of setting goals—exercise, steps, sleep—is now a familiar one that underpins just about any activity tracking app out there. Yet some users are struggling in making sense of this data or finding the motivation to keep recording it without any ultimate payoff.
There are several groups of people working on the problem. TicTrac, for example, pulls in data from trackers and apps to provide a deep look at your activities and health. The platform is based around core areas (like fitness or sleep), enabling users to both visualize their data and act on it.
One of the more promising platforms in this area—though still in the early stages of development—is the Web app Exist. It imports data from wearables, apps and services to build up an overall picture of users' health, attempting to find patterns and trends you can then act upon.Exist aims to do more with your data
The number of plugins Exist already supports is impressive: Fitbit, Jawbone, Twitter, RescueTime, Last.fm and even weather forecast feeds. Many more integrations are expected further down the line as the platform grows, and there's an API in the pipeline to make this easier.
"We were inspired to create Exist after frustration using activity trackers on their own," explains co-founder Belle Cooper. "There's so much more you can do with your steps and sleep data in the context of your entire life. It can be pretty boring to just watch that 10k steps goal every day, not to mention the motivation it provides fades pretty quickly. We wanted to build on top of those raw numbers to provide something more useful."
That usefulness manifests itself in various different ways, such as charting an average sleep time or step count over many months. Some of the correlations the app can draw are pretty bizarre—like the relationship between how far you walk each week and how much you tweet—but as Exist adds more integrations it will become more helpful to its users.In The Mood
One of Exist's manual features is also one of the most important. Users can opt in to rate their mood at 9pm each evening, which can then be charted against steps, sleep and other data. Is too little shut-eye putting you in a bad frame of mind? Is a lot of music good or bad for your mood? It's also handy at spotting something out-of-the-ordinary—a sudden shift in average bedtime perhaps, or an unexpected surge in productivity—and alerting users to something they otherwise wouldn't have noticed.
"We track the strength of correlations over time," Cooper says, "so users can see that, for example, last year they were more likely to have a good day on the weekend, but this is less true lately. We can't provide the reasons why this is—that's up to you to find out—but we uncover patterns that users may not have noticed on their own."
Exist gets smarter over time too, using data from the past 90 days to suggest new targets for the future. If you play tennis every Wednesday, for example, Exist suggests a higher step goal for that day, without interfering with the overall average.
"This is built-in and requires no effort from our users apart from checking Exist each day to see what their goal is," Cooper explains. "It actually becomes fun to see what goal you've been set—or set for yourself through your actions, essentially—for the day. This is one of our biggest aims for Exist: to make your data useful and actionable with as little input from you as possible."Drowning In DataThe main Exist user dashboard.
Right now, the Exist team consists of two people working in their spare time, so progress is gradual. Alongside new integrations with third-party hardware and software, iOS and Android apps are imminent. The aim is to collect as much information as painlessly as possible.
"I think context is something we're still trying to achieve in terms of wearables and all personal data," Cooper says. "Seeing your step count for the day without the context of what else was happening in your life gives you a really skewed view of your progress and can make it disheartening to work on building healthy habits or achieving goals."
"Our lives are so connected and interwoven that it's impossible to get a picture of even one aspect, like your health, from just one or two data points. We need to find better ways to connect all of this data, and allow the user to provide context for outliers in their data."
For example: If you're suffering from a bad cold, it's probably better for you to stay in bed than try and hit that 5,000 step target for the day—your fitness app should be intelligent enough to recognize this and adapt accordingly.
More data is required, and (as the data load increases) more intelligent ways of sorting through it. As developers catch up with the wearable boom, apps like Exist are going to be invaluable in telling us not just how we're doing but what we should be doing next.
Lead image courtesy of FitBit; screenshots by Exist and Jawbone
Everyone takes resealable bags for granted, but there’s a lot of R&D behind them.
In Tomorrowland, we get the future we need, but maybe not the one we deserve.
The post Tomorrowland’s Problem Isn’t Tomorrow, It’s Yesterday appeared first on WIRED.
Your phone can be across the room or across the world, and your Google watch will still work.
The post Google’s Smartwatches Now Let You Leave Your Phone at Home appeared first on WIRED.
Google's sketchy search result bias may hurt competitors, but it's users who are really harmed because they end up results that are less relevant to their needs.
The post Opinion: In Its Antitrust Debacle, Was Google’s Real Victim You? appeared first on WIRED.
The Edyn Garden Sensor was built after CEO Jason Aramburu spent years with farmers in Panama and Kenya, and it's a low-cost sensor designed to coach anyone to a better yield.
As the earliest of Apple Watch adopters get ready to strap on their new iPhone companions, Google decided to remind everyone that it, too, has a smartwatch platform. Monday, the tech giant announced changes to the Android Wear software, some of which take direct aim at the competition.
The software update turns on Wi-Fi support, letting watches work even without smartphones nearby, plus the ability to move through notifications with new wrist-flicking interactions, always-on apps and sketch-to-send emoji replies.
Google’s wearable software may be less than a year old, but in the fast-moving world of smartwatches, it already runs the risk of becoming stale. Altogether, its new updates put Android Wear a little more on par with the Apple Watch, which lands on (some) customers’ wrists in mere days. Consider these strategic moves; the Apple Watch also uses Wi-Fi and lets users draw on top of its watch face. Here’s how Google’s version works.Ready To Wear
Last year, teardowns revealed that the Moto 360 and Samsung Gear Live had Wi-Fi-capable radios, though neither actually offered any features that used them. Now we know why.
Putting to bed recent rumors, Google is flipping the switch on Wi-Fi support. The software already allows for offline music and standalone GPS features, primarily to unshackle its fitness features. But Wi-Fi support could be the biggest liberator yet.
Previously watches like the Moto 360 and LG’s G Watch R required a Bluetooth connection with smartphones to work. Now, as long as both the watch and the phone are connected to the Internet, the wearable will be able to pipe notifications and put Google Now features on the wrist. In other words, you can still use your watch, even if you leave the house without your Android smartphone.
To build on the convenience theme, Google also gave users the ability to flick their wrists to move forward and back through info “cards” on the watch, which should be handy when those hands are full, as well as keep apps and screens from going to sleep. The latter may be helpful when checking off grocery items or navigating through city streets.
Interesting features, considering Apple’s watch has gotten flack for being clunky and difficult to use. The rival watch forces people to learn how and when to use taps, “Force Touches" and the Digital Crown.
Android Wear will also feature new way of responding to messages, by drawing emoji, seems fun and charming.
Sure, it looks like a direct attack on the Apple Watch, which lets people make simple sketches and send them to contacts. But Google’s variation on the theme matches your shaky scrawl with its own library of hundreds of emoji texting graphics, pulling up the one it thinks you’re trying to send. That spares recipients, who won’t have to decipher the chicken scratch you just blasted their way.
Amid these extras, Android Wear also boasts one fundamental change: a new app drawer. Similar to what third-party apps like Mini Wear Launcher do, Google made watch apps and contacts easer to reach from the main watch face. Instead of speaking or going through menus, you just swipe left.Ready Or Not
Google may have just closed some of the gap between its play for the wrist and Apple’s, but it also silences criticisms that Android Wear requires too much swiping.
The changes may also come with downsides, though. Flick-based motion control may be ripe for accidental triggering, and the potential effect of always-on apps and displays on already limited battery life could fill any Android watch user with dread.
The company does its best to ease battery worries, stating that "the screen is only full color when you're actively looking at it—so you get the info you need, and you save on battery life.” That may help, but we’re skeptical. There will likely be some sort of impact on those power cells, especially with Wi-Fi added to the mix.
Even if the new features just sip instead of guzzle power, they’re drinking from an awfully shallow well. For the most part, Android smartwatches tend to only last for a couple of days as it is.
We’ll know for sure once the changes roll out over the next few weeks. The LG Watch Urbane will be first up; at some point after that, LG's G and G Watch R, the Moto 360, Samsung Gear Live, Asus ZenWatch and Sony’s SmartWatch 3 will receive the update.
Lead photo courtesy of LG; Moto 360 photo courtesy of Motorola; all other images courtesy of Google
Seeing Mad Men through its ads: Every week, WIRED takes a look at the latest episode of Mad Men through the lens of the latest media campaign by advertising agency Sterling Cooper & Partners. Don Draper has landed the Don Draper account, and he’s working on it round the clock. During his off hours, his […]
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Soon, GameStop stores will be able to answer the phone and say, "Yes, we have Battletoads."
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Here is a quick overview of my segment on Science Friday with Ira Flatow in which we talk about my book, Geek Physics.
The Audi Museum in Germany has assembled a great collection of historic Bavarian police cars.
The post 11 Historic German Police Cars, From Lamborghinis to VWs appeared first on WIRED.
Next generation navigation services could tell you where to walk via electrodes on your thighs.
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We round up eight alternative sleep aids—five supplements and three "cocktails"—and swallowed them over the course of six weeks.
The post I Used Myself as a Guinea Pig for 8 Alternative Sleep Aids appeared first on WIRED.
It turns out the solution to VR simulation sickness might be right under our noses.
The post How to Reduce VR Sickness? Just Add a Virtual Nose appeared first on WIRED.
This week on Game of Thrones we find out if Arya made it across the Narrow Sea, if Daenerys can rule in Meereen, and a bit about the future of Jon Snow.
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