Google Building Bluetooth Tracker into Android; Messenger Gets New Shortcuts; Waymo Bringing Driverless Rides to SF; Hamburger Vending Machine in New Jersey Mall

Apple waited a while to jump into the tracker business (which Tile had championed for several years), and quickly sucked plenty of air out of that room. Now, Google is getting into Bluetooth tracking…but with a twist…building it directly into Android. 9to5google.com reports that code has been spotted that would allow for tracking. After initially only being an Apple to Apple feature, Apple pushed out ‘Tracker Direct’ last year to let Android users track AirTags, and Tile launched such a feature this month. Google is apparently baking in the feature in a yet to be released version of Android. In mid-March, a pre-release version of Android showed up with ‘unfamiliar device alerts’ and ‘Unfamiliar Tag Detected Notification.’ What Google appears to be making won’t have to be activated by the user to scan for nearby trackers…it will be on in the background. As is always true with this kind of in the weeds find in a software build, no clue as to when or if it might be released into the wild, or what other features Google might add.

Facebook’s (Meta) Messenger is picking up some new shortcuts that will let you send silent replies, or ping everybody in a group chat, like Slack allows for. According to theverge.com, those two shortcuts are available now, and there will be more unveiled in the next few weeks. For example, /pay will let you send or request money right from the Messenger chatbox on both iOS and Android. You will also be able to key in /gif and a topic and get a selection of graphics to drop into your chat. (As with everything computers, this is all relative…when I typed ‘chatbox’ above as well as just now, auto-correct helpfully changed it to ‘hatbox.’ Who the hell these days uses or needs to type hatbox?

Waymo is getting set to offer totally driverless rides in San Francisco…with NO safety driver aboard! Theverge.com says the Google (Alphabet) subsidiary is going to test the program on employees first, but will then expand to members of its ‘Trusted Tester’ program. I have always joked about being into work in San Francisco unless I get hit by a bus…now, it looks like I will have to update to being hit by a driverless car! Waymo has been running driverless rides outside Phoenix for over a year now, and is also going to add downtown Phoenix in addition to SF. Eventually, the service is expected to expand to regular humans. General Motors’ Cruise division has been running driverless car tests in San Francisco for quite a while, now. The last several years, you would have been hard-pressed to walk a block or two in SF without seeing a Waymo car, one from Cruise, or a Zoosk vehicle tooling down the street. 

It won’t do any good to yell at it if it messes up your burger order. A startup has put a hamburger vending machine in Jersey City’s Newport Centre Mall. RoboBurger says its robot burger vending machine will be the ‘biggest innovation in hot food vending since the invention of the microwave. Engadget.com reports that the contraption takes about 6 minutes to make you your burger…using a process that’s pretty much the same as a fast food restaurant’s. Automated grill fries the burger while the bun is toasted elsewhere in the 12×12 box. It supposedly will ad ketchup, cheese, etc based on what you key in when you order the sandwich. The startup says it has a built in cleaning system that meets the National Sanitary Foundation’s standards. RoboBurger says they do use grass-fed Angus beef. They plan to expand to a number of other malls and airports this year. Yum?



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