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Lyft Joins Uber in Threatening To Pull Out of California Over Driver Status

Slashdot.org - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 10:06
Lyft said it would shut down operations in California if forced to classify drivers as employees, the company's executives said in an earnings call with investors on Wednesday. Lyft joins Uber in threatening to pull out of one of its most important US markets over the question of drivers' employment status. From a report: At issue is the classification of ride-hailing drivers as independent contractors, which Uber and Lyft say most drivers prefer because of the flexibility and ability to set their own hours. But labor unions and elected officials contend this deprives them of traditional benefits like health insurance and workers' compensation. Earlier this week, Uber and Lyft were ordered by a California superior court judge to classify their drivers as employees. Both companies have said they would appeal the ruling, which was stayed for 10 days. But if their appeals fail, Lyft may join Uber in closing up shop in California, the company's president John Zimmer said. "If our efforts here are not successful it would force us to suspend operations in California," Zimmer said on a call announcing the second quarter earnings of 2020. "Fortunately, California voters can make their voices heard by voting yes on Prop 22 in November."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

SNCF empowers its frontline teams with AndroidSNCF empowers its frontline teams with Android

GoogleBlog - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 10:00

Editor’s note: Today’s guest post is from Antoine Houlgatte, Android Enterprise Global Project Director and Pierre-Yves Chardon, Android Enterprise Engineering Leader from SNCF, France's national railway. 

At SNCF, we’re committed to providing a safe and comfortable experience for the hundreds of millions of passengers who ride our trains annually for daily commutes, short trips, and extended travels throughout France.

Mobile devices have long been essential for our frontline workers and business teams in their daily work. Yet we sought a more powerful platform with wider device choice and stronger management features for our fleet. With Android Enterprise, we could manage many device types and secure our data while providing private personal usage.

All aboard with Android

SNCF undertook two key initiatives as part of our transition away from a legacy management system. Our first project was to deploy 12,000 rugged devices to our passenger ticket inspectors and train managers. They’re connected to portable printers and mobile point of sale devices for scanning tickets and accepting payments when passengers begin their journey. 

Our teams use our internal apps for confirming schedules, answering passenger questions and connecting customers to our services from the platform and aboard trains. As dedicated devices, they can be shared by our 16,000 employees who can pick it right up and access our key services.

Simplifying the customer experience

With another project we deployed another 21,500 devices that serve as the primary digital tool for passenger information officers on trains and in stations. These personally-enabled devices include 40 key applications for our frontline teams to assist with passenger support and communication—these apps are critical for services like helping passengers with their seat assignments and requesting services for those who may need additional attention like children or those with reduced mobility. Safety is essential, which is why we provide our teams with a passenger safety app that lets agents trigger an alert with a single gesture to quickly reach security personnel.

During the rise of the pandemic, our teams could assist passengers with their seat assignments while still complying with critical social distancing requirements. And our internal productivity suite apps are pushed out so everyone can access the services they need.

With these devices we sought to give our employees privacy and control over their personal information by enabling the Android work profile. This remains separate from the personal profile and gives IT specific controls over work apps and data. Our employees expect this type of privacy, and our IT team still has the enterprise-grade controls it needs to protect corporate resources. The work profile has been popular with our employees, and we plan to expand this deployment further.

Growing mobility with Android

Along with expanding the number of devices, we plan to start using Android zero-touch enrollment with future device rollouts to further streamline our processes, as our frontline employees will be able to receive a device with apps and configurations already set. 

Android Enterprise gives us a strong foundation to expand our mobility ambitions, and we look forward to supporting our frontline teams and finding new ways that mobility can enhance the customer experience.

Categories: Technology

Apple Readies Subscription Bundles To Boost Digital Services

Slashdot.org - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 09:14
Apple is readying a series of bundles that will let customers subscribe to several of the company's digital services at a lower monthly price, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing people with knowledge of the effort. From the report: The bundles, dubbed "Apple One" inside the Cupertino, California-based technology giant, are planned to launch as early as October alongside the next iPhone line, the people said. The bundles are designed to encourage customers to subscribe to more Apple services, which will generate more recurring revenue. There will be different tiers, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private plans. A basic package will include Apple Music and Apple TV+, while a more expensive variation will have those two services and the Apple Arcade gaming service. The next tier will add Apple News+, followed by a pricier bundle with extra iCloud storage for files and photos. Apple's plans, and the structure of the bundles, may change. But the goal is to offer groups of services at lower prices than would be charged if consumers subscribed to each offering individually.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Make travel decisions with confidenceMake travel decisions with confidence

GoogleBlog - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 09:00

As some countries around the world begin to reopen this summer, we’re seeing more searches for places to go on vacation. Because the impact of COVID-19 on destinations can vary, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest travel-related information for places you may want to visit. If you’re looking to travel soon, here are a few updates to help you make travel decisions with confidence.

Get travel related updates about a destination

When you search on Google for information like hotels, flights or things to do, you already see when there’s a COVID-19 travel advisory or restriction for your destination. And, we recently introduced driving alerts to notify you about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route in Google Maps. As restrictions and advisories begin to lift, we’re adding information about travel resuming in a specific destination on Google Search. In the next week, you’ll  see the percentage of open hotels with availability and flights operating at the city or county level based on Google Flights and Hotels data from the previous week.

    Travel trends including flights operating and open hotels with availability on Google 

When you visit google.com/travel and tap on a trip you’re planning, or search for hotels and things to do, you’ll now see trendlines for hotel and flight availability. Links to additional local resources, including the number of COVID-19 cases, are provided as well.

Find hotels and vacation rentals with refundable rates

Due to the uncertainty around COVID-19, people often want flexibility when making travel plans. Many hotels and vacation rentals now offer free cancellation to give travelers more confidence when planning trips. Search for a hotel, and later this month a vacation rental, on google.com/travel and filter to see only rooms or properties with free cancellation policies. Tap on a specific listing to see more details. 

        Free cancellation filter for hotels

The uncertainty of COVID-19 makes it hard to navigate travel decisions. We’ll continue to share the most relevant information so you can make informed decisions and travel safely when the time comes. If you do have travel plans coming up, here are tips from the CDC to help keep you and those around you safe while on the road.

As travel restrictions start to lift, find COVID-19 travel trends like flights operating and hotel availability for destinations on Google.
Categories: Technology

Update your Business Profile on Google Maps and SearchUpdate your Business Profile on Google Maps and Search

GoogleBlog - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 09:00

When it comes to your business’s online presence, putting your best foot forward matters. And with more than 15 million edits made to Business Profiles each month, we know how important it is to quickly make changes so your business information on Google is engaging and up to date—from adding a phone number to sharing COVID-19 safety requirements with customers.

Today, we’re making it easier to update your Business Profile directly from Google products you already use. Now you can create posts, reply to reviews, add photos and update business information right from Google Search and Maps.

To start, make sure you are signed in with the Google account used to verify your business. On Google Maps, simply tap your profile picture on the top right corner of the mobile app and select “Your Business Profile” to access these tools. On Google Search, you can look up your business by name or search for “my business” to update your profile. The “my business” functionality is currently available in English and will expand to other languages over the coming months.

Update your Business Profile and engage with customers directly from Search and Maps

We’re also rolling out more free tools on Google Maps and Search that will help you understand how your business is performing and how you can enhance your online presence. Business owners and managers will see a revamped performance page with new customer interaction insights. This page will provide refreshed metrics on a monthly basis, and will evolve over the coming months to share more helpful data to business owners. All of these features will be available on an upgraded merchant interface that will offer helpful recommendations about how you can improve your Google presence—whether it’s adding information to your Business Profile, responding to recent customer reviews, or using Google Ads to help your business stand out.

Business owners can also continue to use the Google My Business website and mobile app to update business information and connect with customers. If you’re a business owner who has not yet verified your listing, learn more about how to do that here.

As more business owners rely on digital tools to connect with customers and keep business operations running, we'll continue to update our offerings to be as helpful as possible. Creating more convenient ways to update your Business Profile and keep tabs on your online presence are just some of the ways we’re doing this.

Easily create posts, reply to reviews, add photos and update business information with free tools right from Google Search and Maps.
Categories: Technology

Apple's Climate Promise Depends on Taiwan Partners Going Green

Slashdot.org - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 07:30
Apple has gone carbon neutral. But in order to say the same for its flagship iPhone, it's going to need help from Taiwan. From a report: More than three-quarters of the emissions that come from making Apple's ubiquitous products come from outside suppliers, according to the company's Environmental Progress Report. That includes Taiwanese electronics giants like TSMC and Foxconn, which still get about 90% of their power from non-renewable sources, according to company reports. That's changing though. The firms are installing solar panels and buying power from offshore wind farms in line with Apple's target of having all of its products be carbon-neutral by 2030. It underscores how climate pressure is increasingly coming not only from activists, but from within company's own supply chains. "What Apple and other companies are trying to do is contribute to meeting Paris climate targets by decarbonizing their own footprints and making it a precondition for their partners and suppliers to use renewable energy," said Prakash Sharma, director for the energy transition practice at consultancy Wood Mackenzie Ltd. "It's gaining momentum because more and more companies are moving in that direction."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pompeo Says Trump's Executive Orders Are 'Broader' Than Just TikTok and WeChat, Hinting at More Action

Slashdot.org - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 06:00
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Donald Trump's executive orders against TikTok and WeChat could be "broader" than just those two apps. From a report: Pompeo did not elaborate, but his comments could be hinting at action against other Chinese apps or even TikTok's parent company ByteDance, or WeChat owner Tencent. "So when President Trump made his announcement about not only TikTok, but about WeChat -- and if you read it, it's broader even still than that -- is that we're going to make sure that American data not end up in the hands of an adversary like the Chinese Communist Party, for whom we have seen data uses in Western China that rival the greatest human rights violations in the history of mankind," Pompeo said in a speech in Prague, Czech Republic. The orders name both Tencent and ByteDance. One of the executive orders prohibits âoeany transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd. ... Beijing, China, or its subsidiaries, in which any such company has any interest" as identified by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Another executive order prohibits "any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd. ... Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

An update on our 2020 U.S. election effortsAn update on our 2020 U.S. election effortsDirector, Trust and Safety

GoogleBlog - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 05:00

As we approach the US election on November 3, we’re helping voters access authoritative information about the election, enhancing our efforts around election security and transparency, and connecting people to the democratic process. We wanted to provide an update on our work.

Helping voters access authoritative information

We just launched two features in Google Search with detailed information about how to register and how to vote. We know election deadlines and requirements vary by state, so no matter where you live, you can search for “how to register to vote”—and you’ll find information about voter registration in your state. That includes deadlines, registration options, and an easy way to check the status of your registration. 


When you search for “how to vote,” you’ll find details about how you can vote in your state—such as ID requirements, registration and voting deadlines, and guidance for different means of voting, like in person or mail. We work with non-partisan, third-party data partners, such as Democracy Works, which aggregates official data directly from state and county election administrators, and we link to your state government’s official website for more information.

Enhancing election security and transparency

As we’ve detailed, we’re making a very significant investment in election security. Our Threat Analysis Group (TAG) and our Trust and Safety teams work together to identify and prevent government-backed attacks against Google and our users. The Threat Analysis Group has flagged phishing attempts we’ve identified against campaigns and continues to share regular updates about actions we take against coordinated influence campaigns on our platforms. 

To stay ahead of threats, we meet regularly with government agencies responsible for election integrity and other technology companies to discuss trends. As we reiterated yesterday, this coordination is critical and will continue through the election. 

We’ve seen incredible engagement in our election security trainings with USC’s Annenberg School. In fact, the nonpartisan trainers have already trained over 3,000 campaigns and election officials on how to prevent digital attacks, phishing campaigns and hacking attempts—and they plan to complete sessions in all 50 states by September. 

Additionally, to help people involved in campaigns, we recently launched enhanced security for Google accounts to complement our Advanced Protection Program, offering additional safeguards for G Suite and Gmail users during the election season. People can easily self-nominate to receive additional security checks for active threats and suspicious activity, like hacking and phishing.


Last year, we introduced new policies for election ads and limited the ways political campaigns can target their ads—taking more steps to eliminate micro-targeting of voters. To build on these efforts, we recently expanded our policies - such as prohibiting ads that disseminate illegally obtained materials. We also enforce policies to prohibit content on our platforms that undermines trust in the democratic process, like calls to participate in voter fraud or false claims around the U.S. census or election results. We’re also updating our Political Ads Transparency Report to include more information about the election ads that run on our platform, new ways to sort campaign spending, and more frequent updates—giving people detailed insight into the political ads that run on Google and YouTube.

Connecting people to the democratic process

With both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions set to be virtual, we want to make sure you can still follow these historic events at home. You can watch next week’s Democratic National Convention live on YouTube, and you can tune in to the Republican National Convention on YouTube the following week. This continues our longstanding tradition of live-streaming major political events—including State of the Union addresses, debates and conventions. YouTube aims to keep you virtually connected to the political activities this election season, which you can read more about here

We’ll also be updating our2020 Elections experience on Google News, to include extensive coverage of major issues, live streams of major events, and reminders of registration and voting timelines.

As we approach November’s election, we will continue to ensure that all of our products are built -- and our policies are enforced—in a fair, objective, and nonpartisan way, without regard to political ideology. Our platforms have empowered people and organizations from across the political spectrum, giving them a voice and new ways to reach their audiences. We’ll continue to keep you updated on all of our work to support the 2020 U.S. election and other elections around the world.

Categories: Technology

Improve performance and security with Server-Side TaggingImprove performance and security with Server-Side Tagging

GoogleBlog - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 04:00

To measure the effectiveness of digital campaigns and understand the customer journey, businesses often work with a variety of technology partners. Doing so typically requires businesses to add JavaScript code written by these partners, also known as third-party tags, directly to their websites. But when too many tags load on a site, it can negatively affect the customer experience--and conversion rates. Plus, since third-party tags running directly on a site could have broad access to information entered on that page, it’s important for businesses to have control over what information those tags can access.

To help address these challenges, we’re introducing Server-Side Tagging to Google Tag Manager and Tag Manager 360. You’ll now be able to move many third-party tags off your site and into a new server container hosted in your Google Cloud account. That means when customers interact with a page on your site, third-party tags are loaded directly in the server container rather than the site. This provides you with faster page load times, greater security for your customer data, and additional data controls.

Deliver faster site experiences to your customers

When you move third-party tags off your site, fewer tags must load when your customers visit – leading to faster page load times. A recent research study showed that a decrease in page load times for mobile sites improved progression rates for every step of the purchase funnel for all brands surveyed. In fact, for retail sites every 0.1 second reduction in mobile site speed on average increases average order value by nearly 10 percent.

Consider an ecommerce retailer that works with many technology partners to execute marketing campaigns and measure customer behavior. Whenever this retailer wants to work with a new partner, for example to run email marketing campaigns, it needs to add a new third-party tag to its site to measure success. Instead of doing that, the retailer can now place the new tag into its server container in Tag Manager. And when a customer loads the retailer’s site, this tag will run in the server container after the page loads. This allows businesses to measure the success of their campaign without impacting the customer experience.

Secure your customer data

When customers engage with your business online, they share information with you. You want to ensure that information is safe and only authorized partners are able to access it.

When third-party tags are implemented directly on your site, these tags are able to access and interact with other information customers are entering into your site. With Server-Side Tagging, you place third-party tags in a secure server container in your Google Cloud project. This means tags in your server container only have access to information sent to the server and no longer have access to the information entered on your site. And because these tags are placed into your server container, you gain visibility into what data the tags are collecting and where that information is being sent.

Control the behavior of third-party tags

Tag Manager already allows you to control third-party tag behavior through a sandboxed version of JavaScript, ready-to-go tag templates fromthe Community Template Gallery, and a permissions model for all third-party tags. All of these capabilities continue to be available with Server-Side Tagging.

Each tag that you add to your server container will have to declare how it will behave, for example which cookies can be accessed or where data can be sent. And you can also set policies to automatically control what tags are allowed to do. This helps you ensure that any new tags added to your container follow the same permissions so you do not need to continuously check tag behaviors in the future.

Get started with Server-Side Tagging

Server-Side Tagging is now available to all Tag Manager and Tag Manager 360 accounts. When you log into your Tag Manager account, you can create a new server container and connect it with a new or existing Cloud account. You can learn more about setting up Server-Side Tagging for your business with this guide. And if you don’t have a Tag Manager account, you can create one for free.

We’re introducing Server-Side Tagging to Google Tag Manager and Tag Manager 360. You will now be able to move many third-party tags off your website and into a new server container that is hosted in your Google Cloud account. This provides you with faster page load times, greater security for your customer data, and additional data controls.
Categories: Technology

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