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New features in Google Earth mobile, desktop launch this week

Just in time for Earth Day 2017, tech giant Google debuted a brand-new version of its virtual explorer program, Google Earth, packed with a multitude of exciting new features.

“We want to open up different lenses for you to see the world and learn a bit about how it all fits together; to open your mind with new stories while giving you a new perspective on the locations and experiences you cherish,” Google product manager Gopal Shah wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

Here’s what you can expect from the new version:

Voyager: Interactive, informative and fun guided tours

The new Voyager feature allows you to go on interactive guided tours with the help of “some of the world’s leading storytellers, scientists and nonprofits,” Shah wrote.

For example, you can use the feature to go on a tour of Tanzania’s Gombe National Park and learn about chimpanzee research and conservation efforts from Jane Goodall herself.

Or you can journey to Earth’s major habitats -- islands, mountains, deserts, jungles and more -- to learn about the wildlife in each with guidance from experts at BBC Earth.

You can even make a stop in Mexico to meet one of Sesame Street’s “Girl Muppets Around the World”, Lola, and learn about modern Mayan cultures or see what traditional homes from cultures around the world look like in a special Voyager story called “This is Home.”

Shah said Voyager includes more than 50 immersive stories with more added on a weekly basis.

“I’m feeling lucky” button: See where the world takes you with the click of a button

The new “I’m feeling lucky” Google Earth button could throw you into the depths of the Amazon rainforest, the Zao Hot Spring in Japan or one of the other 20,000 curated places around the globe.

At any given place, you can open a Knowledge Card and view images, learn about the history and more.

3D button: See any place from any angle

A new 3D button appears in the corner wherever you (virtually) are, so you can take in drone’s-eye views of the the world’s marvels.

For example, Shah wrote, you may choose to uncover the awe-inspiring architecture of the Château de Chambord in France’s Loire Valley or perhaps plunge into the depths of the Grand Canyon’s geological layers.

Postcards: Share the beauty you stumble upon with loved ones

This new feature allows you to share your favorite Google Earth finds with family and friends. Share a Postcard and your loved ones will be able to click on the link and immerse themselves too.

Shah said the new Google Earth is now available on the web in your Chrome browser.

This week, it will roll out on Android devices and will be available on iOS and other browsers in the “near future.”

Here's how to watch NASA's first live 360-degree video of a rocket launch

NASA and United Launch Alliance will broadcast the first 360-degree view of a rocket launch live Tuesday as a cargo payload heads to the International Space Station.

>> Read more trending news

The launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is scheduled for 11:11 a.m. EDT with a 30-minute window. The broadcast begins at 11 a.m. EDT.

To see the launch live, go to NASA’s YouTube channel and use your mouse to manipulate the view.

>> Click here to watch the livestream on YouTube

“While virtual reality and 360 technology have been increasing in popularity, live 360 technology is a brand-new capability that has recently emerged,” NASA said in a statement. “Recognizing the exciting possibilities opened by applying this new technology to spaceflight, NASA, ULA and Orbital ATK seized this opportunity to virtually place the public at the base of the rocket during launch.”

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft will be loaded with 7,600 pounds of research, supplies and hardware for the space station. It will launch on ULA’s Atlas V rocket.

What are the differences between Nokia 2000, 2017?

Some consider it the workhorse of the cellphone world, and it is making a comeback of sorts. 

The Nokia 3310 will be hitting store shelves soon after being announced earlier this year.

And while the original and the new versions look similar, the 2017 model has a few bells and whistles that the original didn’t.

>> Read more trending news

The new version is lighter, but longer and wider than the original. That’s because the phone isn’t as thick as the 2000 model, Forbes reported.

Buttons are more rounded also. 

The standard bluish-gray color isn’t the only option. You can get factory red, yellow, blue and gray. But other covers from non-Nokia companies are expected.

The screen will be a full-color LCD, not black and white, and will measure nearly a full inch bigger, Forbes reported.

The 2017 Nokia 3310 will have a camera, but nothing like the iPhone or Android versions. It will have a basic 2MP rear camera. It will have a flash and basic video options. There is no front-facing lens.

There will be limited 2G connectivity and no WiFi, Forbes reported.

As for cost, the phone will be much more affordable than the current high-tech options. It will have a price tag of about $52.

The phones will be for sale between the end of April or the beginning of May. The bad news is there are no plans to sell them in the US or Canada due to the fact that the countries no longer use 2G, Forbes reported.

Instagram stories more popular than Snapchat

Instagram debuted its stories feature in August, and many social media users immediately noticed the stark similarities between the platform’s new feature and Snapchat, an app that focuses on allowing users to send temporary videos.

Now, eight months later, Instagram’s ‘Snapchat clone’ is more popular than Snapchat itself. 

>> Read more trending news

According to Instagram, more than 200 million people use the platform’s stories feature each day. That’s up 50 million users since January.

Fourth-quarter records for 2016 showed Snapchat as having about 158 million daily users.

Snapchat turned down a $3 billion buyout deal from Facebook, which owns Instagram, in 2013. Since then, Facebook has rolled out its own version of video-sharing developments on its platforms, including Messenger and WhatsApp. 

Instagram rolled out new “selfie stickers” and geostickers, reminiscent of Snapchat’s geofilters, on Thursday. 

 

Ford designs baby crib that mimics soothing car ride

Many parents have noticed how an evening car ride will lull a fussy baby to sleep. Automaker Ford has designed a crib that mimics that experience, in the safety of a family's home. 

>> Read more trending news

The Max Motor Dreams crib was conceived as part of an ad campaign for Ford's Max line of cars, according to CNN. The crib simulates a car ride's gentle rocking movement, emits white noise that sounds like a car engine and is lined with lights that turn on and off, which mimic streetlights during a nighttime ride. 

The Max Motor Dreams crib was designed in Spain and is a single pilot project at the moment, Ford said in a press release. However, due to the overwhelming interest, Ford is considering a full-scale production.

Twitter revamps 140-character limit for replies

Does that long Twitter name prevent you from answering a tweet fully? No more, Twitter has freed up some character space. The handles in replies no longer count toward the 140-character limit on tweets, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

To make that happen, the handles — a person's Twitter name preceded by the @ sign — are being removed from reply tweets. When you reply to people on Twitter, the handle will be displayed above the tweet in small text. You must click to see the names of any additional people included in the conversation. Usernames in original, non-reply tweets still count toward the character limit, CNN reported.

"In our tests of this new experience, we found that people engage more with conversations on Twitter," product manager Sasank Reddy said in a blog post announcing the change.

Now the company is rolling out this new twist to all of its 319 million active users, CNN reported. It will show up on Twitter.com as well as in the iOS and Android apps.

In September, Twitter announced that quoted tweets and attached media would not count toward the 140-character cap, CNN reported.

Here’s how to use Twitter's updated mute feature to prevent spoilers for your favorite shows

A new Twitter feature allows users to mute words, phrases and hashtags from view on timelines and in notifications, and it could mean a way out of having your favorite shows spoiled.

>> Read more trending news

USA Today reported that the social-media company announced the tool as a way to prevent abuse, but the ability to avoid show spoilers appears to come as an additional benefit. That initial feature only applied to user’s notifications, so a user could see offensive content -- or spoilers of a show or movie -- on their timeline and across Twitter.

The new mute allows users to stop certain words, phrases, emojis, usernames and hashtags from appearing in their Twitter feeds and can be adjusted for specific time periods: 24 hours, seven days, 30 days or forever.

The only catch is that those muted items will still appear in a Twitter search.

Here’s how to mute hashtags on the Twitter app for iPhone’s iOS and Android:

  1. Go to the notifications tab and tap the gear icon.
  2. Tap muted words.
  3. On iOS, tap “add.” For Android, tap the “plus” icon.
  4. One at a time, add the word, phrase, emoji or hashtag you would like to mute.
  5. Choose to enable the mute feature in notifications, your timeline or both.
  6. Select whether the muted items pertain to anyone on Twitter to only people you don’t follow.
  7. Choose how long you want the items to be muted and tap save.

More information on how to edit or unmute items and how to enable the feature on Twitter’s mobile site and desktop is at Twitter’s support website.

House representatives vote to repeal internet privacy protections

The companies that provide you with internet service may soon be able to sell your web browser and app history to advertisers without your consent.

>> Read more trending news

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to repeal rules preventing internet-service providers from doing so. The Senate already voted in favor of the repeal.

Now the legislation is being sent to President Donald Trump, who is a strong supporter of the move, according to Reuters.

If the president signs the repeal, companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon can sell the personal browsing habits of their customers to advertisers, who can then use that trove of data to create ads targeted to that user.

This is similar to what Facebook already does, but it would be on a larger scale and wouldn’t require someone to give IPSs permission to use their information, according to The Guardian

Cox Media Group, which owns the site this story is displayed on, generally does not disclose that information. “We will not disclose personally-identifying information collected through our website to third parties except as provided in this privacy policy,” according to CMG’s website.

While the House and Senate are supporters of the move, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the American people are not. 

“Overwhelmingly, the American people do not agree with Republicans that this information should be sold, and it certainly should not be sold without your permission," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "Our broadband providers know deeply personal information about us and our families."

So if the privacy laws are repealed, what can you do to protect their browsing history? Unfortunately, not much unless the person is tech-savvy. The Guardian suggests encrypting internet traffic. This can be done through a VPN service, which requires a subscription cost, or using Tor, a software program that enables anonymous communication.

Facebook has never looked more like Snapchat

While imitation probably isn’t the sincerest form of flattery among competing tech companies, Facebook’s new Snapchat-like app updates are an obvious hat tip to Snapchat’s years-old features.

>> Read more trending stories

Facebook announced the new updates Tuesday morning: a camera filled with effects and filters, short visual “Stories” and disappearing messages.

“The way people create content is changing to be from text to photos and videos,” Connor Hayes, product manager for Facebook stories, told The Verge. “This is in turn changing the way they’re sharing with one another and interacting online ... something that Snapchat has really pioneered.”

In 2013, Facebook tried and failed to strike a deal to buy Snapchat for $3 billion.

>> Related: What is WhatsApp? 5 things to know about the popular messaging app

And since then, it has cloned some of Snapchat's most popular features in an all-out effort to maintain dominance in the arena of photo and video communication.

While Snapchat has half the number of daily active users of Facebook-owned Instagram's 300 million audience, Facebook has noticed its “surging popularity” among younger users, CNN reported.

Here’s more on the new Snapchat-like features rolling out Tuesday on iOS and Android:

Camera effects

Similar to Snapchat’s camera filters feature, Facebook’s will pack dozens of effects (think glitter beards and sloth hats) and interactive features, including “reactive effects” such as falling snow.

Stories

Facebook replicated Snapchat's Stories format for Instagram in August and on Tuesday announced a similar release in its main mobile app. 

Users have options to share multiple media as a “visual collection” (or Story) to appear on top of Facebook’s news feed or on their timelines.

Similar to Snapchat and Instagram, the Stories will disappear in 24 hours.

Direct

Users will also be able to share their visual compilations directly to an individual or group of Facebook users if they choose to — part of the app’s new “Direct” feature.

Like Snapchat, when you send a photo or video via Direct, your friends will be able to view it once, replay it or reply. After the conversation ends, the content is no longer visible.

Robots Through the Years

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