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Google is bringing back Map Maker edits, but it wants you to behave

A few months ago, Google was having some problems with vandalism on its Maps getting through the Map Maker auto-approval process

“We have been experiencing escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months,” Pavithra Kanakarajan, Google product manager, had said at the time.

It led to the search giant turning off the custom map editing feature, or Map Maker, back in May, but it has now announced that Google will reopen it in August.

A call for help

In a post on Google’s product forum page, Kanakarajan explained that as they open up Map Maker again, their new method of capturing vandals will be the use of volunteer moderators.

“The reason for this change is that every time we observed someone attempting to vandalize the map, many of you acted quickly to remove the offending feature and demonstrated real ownership for maps within your region,” she said.

“We have come to the conclusion that of all the defenses available to keeping our maps clean, the interest of a community of well-intentioned users, is among the most reliable and fast.”

With the new system, edits will take longer to be approved, as regional Leads will be in charge of approving the majority of edits in their region, while Google’s own moderators will jump in occasionally.

Google is hoping this will help will their vandalism issue, but only time will tell.

iPods getting spec update, new colours next week

It looks like Apple isn’t ready to let the iPod die off just yet: French website iGen reports that new models are arriving on 14 July with upgraded processors for the iPod touch models.

Those new colours we got a glimpse of a couple of weeks ago are apparently going to be available, and the cosmetic refresh is going to cover the whole line: iPod touch, iPod nano and iPod shuffle.

The smaller models won’t get spec bumps, iGen says, but the touch is going to get a 64-bit upgrade on the 32-bit A5 it currently sports.

The sound of music devices

None of this has yet been confirmed by Apple, but the 14 July date is based on code spotted inside the latest iTunes 12.2 software. Apple has traditionally unveiled new iPods in September.

With the recently launched Apple Music to promote, it seems the tech firm is eager to redouble its efforts on music hardware as well – even if most of us are using our smartphones as jukeboxes these days.

Keep your eyes on the Apple Store on Tuesday if you think you might be in the market for some new iPod devices. Gold, dark blue and bright pink colours are expected to be added to the line-up.

New Virgin America in-flight Wi-Fi will put others to shame

Virgin America is taking on the woes of snail-like in-flight Wi-Fi, announcing that it will begin trialing new tech that could give passengers connectivity fast enough to stream videos from services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu.

A new partnership with ViaSat will allow the airline to leverage ViaSat’s Ku/Ka-band antenna, which, according to Virgin America, includes “the highest capacity Ka-band satellite in the world offering 140 gigabits-per-second.”

“ViaSat’s technology will deliver internet speeds that are typically 8- to 10-times faster than any other in-flight WiFi system – allowing travelers to experience internet speeds similar to what they have at home, with the freedom to watch, stream video and shop directly on any connected device when in-flight,” Virgin America said in its announcement.

ViaSat’s VP and GM for Commercial Mobility said that with the company’s technology, passengers could get “an in-flight, online experience just like they’d get on the ground – including streaming high-quality video.”

Trails for speed

Virgin America will begin trails with one aircraft starting in September, while the roll-out will continue next year on 10 of the airline’s new A320 aircrafts scheduled for Hawaiian routes.

Virgin America hasn’t yet decided if it will eventually roll-out the new tech to the rest of its fleet.

During trials, the airline will offer free Wi-Fi to passengers on the first ViaSat-equipped aircraft, with pricing to be introduced next year with the final roll-out.

Hopefully, all of this signals of a time where we won’t be stuck on loading pages and dropped connections while traveling across the world.

Apple Pay tipped to arrive in the UK on 14 July

Last month Apple told us its mobile payments system would launch in the UK in July, and now we can be even more precise – 9to5Mac says the 14th is the date, based on documents it’s seen from retailers.

That gives Brits until a week on Tuesday to prepare themselves for the arrival of the service that will let you swipe your iPhone or Apple Watch to make a payment, much as you already can with a contactless credit card.

Apple has already said that M&S, Boots, Costa, McDonalds, Subway, Waitrose and Transport for London will all be supporting the system at launch, which accounts for around 250,000 different locations.

Hey big spender

According to the sources speaking to 9to5Mac, eager buyers will be limited to a £20 limit for transactions (again, just like a contactless credit card). Apparently that limit will be lifted in the autumn.

9to5Mac also says that staff at Apple stores are going to begin training on the 12th, ready to assist you in all your Apple Play queries and of course help you buy a new iPhone by swiping an old one… if you want to.

However, as Apple will know, getting UK shoppers to ditch cash and cards isn’t easy. Samsung has its own payment system on the way too, so Apple Pay is by no means guaranteed to succeed.

Office 365 integration turns Cortana into your work assistant

Cortana takes a bigger presence in the latest Insider Preview Build 10158 of Windows 10, especially for Office 365 users. Microsoft announced that the Halo-inspired digital voice assistant can deliver alerts for flight information, commuter traffic and package deliveries on the desktop, and Office 365 users can now get a glimpse of their schedule with deeper Cortana integration.

“By integrating with Office 365, Cortana can proactively help you prepare for an upcoming meeting,” Microsoft said in a statement. “Cortana brings you helpful information about the people you’re meeting with, recent documents they’ve worked on, and reminders about when and where you need to be next so you won’t be late.”

Your office assistant

Screenshots posted by Microsoft show that Cortana can complement your schedule with glanceable information, like the weather forecast. On Windows 10 Mobile, the screenshot also shows actionable buttons for an appointment entry so you can notify meeting participants if you’re running late, or open Skype if it’s a virtual meeting. Mobile integration will occur later this year, but desktop and tablet integration is available now.

In another example, Microsoft shows flight information with a flight tracker to notify if your plane is on time. In the same view, Cortana also delivers traffic information to help you get to the airport on time for your flight.

Microsoft isn’t the first to roll out proactive or predictive notifications. Rival Google offers similar alerts on its Google Now platform, but Google doesn’t have deep integration with Google Apps.

How it works and how to get it

“Through Office 365, Cortana can pull together insights to help you be more connected – like how you and your colleagues are connected to each other, documents you share and your upcoming meetings with them,” Microsoft said. “Cortana will even deliver reminders when that important person contacts you.”

Microsoft did not specify where it is gathering the insights to make Cortana more useful for work, but Microsoft demoed various work-related features using data from the Power BI platform at the Ignite conference.

“This lets you ask questions like ‘which projects are due to be finished by July?’ or ‘which countries are my best customers in?’ or ‘how many PCs do my customers have by industry?’ – which sound like the questions you can already ask Cortana, just with a knowledge base about your business rather than more general web searches,” we reported in May.

To get Cortana integration, you must be part of the Windows Insider program running the latest preview build, have an Office 365 account from work and be part of an organization that supports Cortana through the First Release program. For organizations that do not want Cortana integration at this time, Microsoft allows IT administrators to opt out of Cortana connectivity in the Office 365 Admin portal.

In addition to delivering your daily schedule, Cortana could be used to send emails with your voice. With dictation, you can tell Cortana the email recipient and compose the message with your voice.

It’s unclear if Cortana’s integration with Office 365 is the same personal assistant project that Bill Gates confirmed he is working on. Microsoft is also said to be involved with a Work Assistant app.

Windows 10

Windows 10 will be available on July 29 for customers to download. Microsoft offers Windows 10 as a free upgrade during the first year of release for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 owners. For ineligible customers, Windows 10 Home costs $129 (£99.99, €135) and Windows 10 Pro will retail for $199. Microsoft has not revealed international pricing for Windows 10 Pro.

Cortana will be one of the highlight features of the operating system, allowing users to search the web, find local files on their systems or network and receive notifications and alerts. Other new features included in Windows 10 include the return of the Start menu, new multitasking capabilities, the Microsoft Edge browser and Continuum for users who work with convertible notebooks.

In addition to Windows 10 availability, Microsoft has hinted that Cortana could make the leap to competing iOS and Android operating systems.

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