What's Hot in Tech - August 5

Google Maps releases all-new version for iPhone and iPad 


Google Maps for iPhone has always been a great alternative to Apple Maps with its integrated transit directions, beautiful presentation, and access to Google's best-in-class directory of points of interest. However, Google Maps for iPhone has lagged behind its Android counterpart when it comes to features and it didn't provide a full-screen experience on iPads. Google Maps corrected all that in one fell swoop by releasing version 2.0, complete with improved directions and navigation (including cycling!); full-screen support for iPads; and indoor mapping of malls, transit stations, and airports.

Download Google Maps for iOS (iPhone and iPad) 

Foursquare starts delivering ads after you check-in, allows friend check-ins


Foursquare is a great tool for discovering new places to eat or enjoy the day in addition to sharing your activity ("checking in") with friends. It's also a platform for business owners to engage those visiting their establishment or potential customers nearby, looking for something to do. In an effort to monetize its data in a way that's beneficial to its users, Foursquare has started showing related ads after checking in to venues. Imagine checking in to the park on a sunny afternoon and being shown an ad for a nearby discount at an ice cream shop. If you tap to learn more or save the offer for later, the advertising business is charged a fee for serving the ad thus only spending marketing dollars on actual actions taken by potential customers.

A much requested, and recently added, feature has been the ability to check-in your friends who are with you -- picture an engaged group of friends keeping their phones in-pocket because they've all been checked in by one person. A niche problem, I know, but a convenience nonetheless. To enable this feature, visit your Foursquare settings and allow others to check you in.   

Luxury vehicle service Uber allows riders to split the tab with friends  


Living in a major city, it can be tough to find a taxi when it's pouring rain or late at night. Uber and its mobile apps provide the convenience of locating a nearby vehicle, tracking its progress toward your location, and paying without cash or credit card.  Now Uber is putting an end to reimbursing friends who shared a ride by providing an in-app feature for splitting the fare. Download the app update and eliminate the need for IOU's or try Uber for top-notch transportation.

Google announces new tablet and an Apple TV competitor 


The Google Nexus 7 tablet has been one of the best Android tablets on the market and it received an upgrade late last month, inching ever closer in its competition with Apple's iPad Mini. The new Nexus 7 features a high-definition screen, improved cameras, and prolonged battery life, perhaps even putting it ahead of the current iPad Mini -- more on that below.

Along with announcing a new tablet, Google showcased an all-new product for the living room called Chromecast. Chromecast plugs in to your existing television and allows you to stream videos and pictures from your tablet or smartphone (both Android and Apple's iOS)  and utilize any mobile device in your home as a remote. Laptops are in on the fun as well with the ability to also stream media as well as project whatever you're viewing in your browser. Chromecast takes a slightly different approach to the television than Apple TV, which is focused more on media and is not compatible with Android devices.

Learn more or purchase a Nexus 7 or Chromecast

Starbucks wifi soon to be powered by Google instead of AT&T

People like Starbucks for its sources of caffeine but love it for its fountain of free wifi. To date, Starbucks' free wifi has been provided by AT&T but their reign is set to come to a close. Google announced plans to bring "faster" free wifi to all 7,000 company-operated Starbucks locations over the next 18 months. Google is slowly rolling out their lightning-fast Fiber internet service, so this is a perfect opportunity for increased exposure to potential customers.

'Retina' display might be coming to the iPad Mini this fall

I'm often asked for advice by friends looking to buy a new smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other piece of tech. If you're thinking of a tablet, especially an iPad Mini, you'll benefit from a little patience. The second iteration of the iPad Mini is rumored to have a retina display, a high-definition screen that makes reading and appreciating images a true pleasure, which Apple omitted from the Mini's initial release. Apple likes to announce and release products on an annual cycle and we're nearing the next version of the iPad Mini. Reviews say the iPad Mini is the perfect size (7") for a tablet compared to its 10" big brother, but its lack of a retina screen can be a bummer. So wait just a little longer, until September / October, and you'll be rewarded.

South by Southwest festival prepares to hit The Strip, making first appearance in Las Vegas



South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual festival in Austin, TX with three parts: music, film, and interactive (web, tech, startups). Next week marks SXSW's first appearance in Las Vegas with Vision to Venture (V2V), an all-new three-day event focused on startups and entrepreneurs flush with networking opportunities, panels and workshops, and mentorships. I'll be holding a mentor session on the second day of the festival. If you're attending, sign up for a time slot!

Much hyped Google Glass starts releasing more invites to existing beta testers


Google Glass is the search giant's first swing at wearable technology and, pending success, may be a trailblazer in the space. Glass is lenseless eyewear with a small display for showing GPS directions, taking photos, recording video, sending text messages, and more. Earlier this year, Google ran a competition to sell a limited number of Glass to eager beta testers. Those early adopters are now slowly being given invites to distribute to friends, much in the way Gmail was invite-only in its early days.

Digital life automation service IFTTT releases iPhone app with tricks up its sleeve

IFTTT (If This, Then That) is one of my favorite services on the web. IFTTT allows you to create "recipes" tying together "ingredients" (services) like email, Instagram, Dropbox, weather forecasts, and text messages. For example, I have the day's forecast texted to me each day at 6am and receive a text message in the evening if it's supposed to rain / snow the next day. Other possibilities include automatically updating your Twitter profile photo if you change your Facebook photo, or receiving an email when there's a new post on your favorite blog.

IFTTT released an iPhone app to make managing your recipes easier, but more importantly the app provides access to new ingredients including iPhone photos, contacts, and reminders. New possibilities include automatically emailing new contacts with a "nice to meet you" email or uploading new photos to Dropbox.


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As a tech enthusiast, early adopter, and avid reader, I come across a lot of gadgets, apps, websites, and more. Few things excite me more than sharing and discussing these finds with others.