Google Maps could help your business avoid angry late-night customers

Making sure your business' online details are accurate is set to get a lot easier thanks to an upgrade to Google Maps.

The company has outlined how it is using AI to spot any errors or issues with business listings on Maps, particularly concerning opening hours.

Google says its platform brings together information from several Maps and AI tools to predict what business hours are for most companies, and update the information accordingly, making sure potential customers aren't left lacking the details they need.

Google Maps AI

“Over the past few years, businesses have experienced a lot of change — including constantly updating operating hours based on changing pandemic-related restrictions,” Google Maps product managers Liam Bolling and Kristi Bohl wrote in a blog post

“To keep up with this pace of change, we developed a machine learning model that automatically identifies if business hours are likely wrong, then instantly updates them with AI-generated predictions.”

Along with the AI model, Google Maps also looks at when a business profile was last updated, meaning it's important to make sure your company stays on top of any changes. The platform also looks at the hours of other shops nearby, as well as noting the Popular Times data for the business in question. 

Popular Times pulls in anonymized data from users who have opted in to Google Location History to build up a profile of when a business is particularly busy, as well as offering predictions on wait times or the length of time a customer stays in a shop.

If it spots any anomalies – for example, the most popular shopping hours being around 1pm, despite a business saying it doesn't open until 5pm – then Google Maps will update opening hours accordingly.

Elsewhere, the other tools Google Maps uses range from the the obvious (checking the information on a shop's official website) to using Google Street View to spot an opening hours sign in the window. In addition, the company can also call on its local Google Maps community in certain countries to add in their expertise and verify any changes, or as a last resort, use its AI-powered Duplex conversational technology to actually call the store and ask.

“With this new AI-first approach, we’re on track to update the hours for over 20 million businesses around the globe in the next six months – helping you know exactly when your favorite store, restaurant or cafe is open for business ,” Bolling and Bohl note.

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WhatsApp will soon help avoid the embarrassment of sending the wrong voice message

WhatsApp’s voice messaging feature will soon get some nifty updates to help compose, send, and listen to those convenient audio messages.

The Meta-owned app is the main mode of communication for over two billion people every month. It’s free, highly accessible, and end-to-end encrypted, making it an important app for users around the globe to connect with family and friends. These updates could enhance the already pretty good voice messaging feature of the app by helping avoid miscommunications in audio messages and helping listeners speed through long-winded conversations. 

Included features are:

WhatsApp didn’t provide a release date in the announcement or information about which platforms it will arrive on and in what order, but you can expect the features to roll out over the next few weeks. 

WhatsApp Voice Message Update

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

 Analysis: WhatsApp stays on top for a reason 

 The updates that Meta steadily brings to WhatsApp aren’t anything groundbreaking, and that’s by design. There’s a reason that the app continues to be the most popular global messaging app out there. 

Small features brought about in incremental updates maintain the app’s ease of use by not getting in the way of how the app’s two billion monthly active users already interact with it.

With these updates, it looks like the majority of the interface remains the same, and the new draft previews will help users avoid sending messages that weren’t ready yet. It’s the little things that count the most.

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WhatsApp will soon help avoid the embarrassment of sending the wrong voice message

WhatsApp’s voice messaging feature will soon get some nifty updates to help compose, send, and listen to those convenient audio messages.

The Meta-owned app is the main mode of communication for over two billion people every month. It’s free, highly accessible, and end-to-end encrypted, making it an important app for users around the globe to connect with family and friends. These updates could enhance the already pretty good voice messaging feature of the app by helping avoid miscommunications in audio messages and helping listeners speed through long-winded conversations. 

Included features are:

WhatsApp didn’t provide a release date in the announcement or information about which platforms it will arrive on and in what order, but you can expect the features to roll out over the next few weeks. 

WhatsApp Voice Message Update

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

 Analysis: WhatsApp stays on top for a reason 

 The updates that Meta steadily brings to WhatsApp aren’t anything groundbreaking, and that’s by design. There’s a reason that the app continues to be the most popular global messaging app out there. 

Small features brought about in incremental updates maintain the app’s ease of use by not getting in the way of how the app’s two billion monthly active users already interact with it.

With these updates, it looks like the majority of the interface remains the same, and the new draft previews will help users avoid sending messages that weren’t ready yet. It’s the little things that count the most.

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Today’s Wordle answer #251 (Feb 25) – with hints to help you avoid cheating first

We at TechRadar have been wondering about how we should cover the massive Wordle trend that’s been taking over the globe – after all, just giving away the answer feels a little bit too simple – although, don’t worry, today’s Wordle answer for puzzle #251 (Feb 25) is below, and you can scroll straight to it if you want.

But wait! The whole beauty of Wordle, in our eyes, is the learning that comes with trying to figure out the word. The way it forces you to dredge up old words, to think strategically about how words are made, and learning new ones when you fail.

So we’ve come up with a double-pronged strategy: we’ll update this page with the Wordle answer every day (so do give it a bookmark) but we’ve also enlisted one of our best, most-seasoned writers in Lance Ulanoff to run a daily diary giving tips on how to win at Wordle each and every (week)day.

Today’s Wordle hint from Lance

Wordle Guesses

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re getting stumped on today’s word, remember the hidden rule of Wordle: a single letter can appear more than once.

And so can another.

If you want to follow along further to find another route to the Wordle answer, then follow Lance’s Daily Diary – How I solved Wordle #251 (obviously, spoilers for today's answer)

Other ways to find Wordle’s 5 letter words

Look, we’re going to make one final plea before we give you the answer – why not try a 5 letter word generator? There are loads of great tools online that can help you learn a bit more about the world of Wordle and how to get the right letters first – how about you check one of those out?

One of our favorites is WordFinderX, which allows you to put in letters at the start and the end if you know them and, crucially: allows you to enter any letters that don’t fit.

WordFinderX - game for beating Wordle home page

(Image credit: WordFinderX)

Started to take advantage of the Words with Friends craze, this website has blatantly had a huge rise in traffic of late, but it really does do the job.

We won’t lie – if you’ve entered two words already in Wordle, you’ll quite quickly be left with only a few words to try – so it’s pretty close to getting the day’s Wordle answer. 

Speaking of which…

Today’s Wordle Answer #251 (Feb 25)

Wordle Guesses

(Image credit: Future)

OK, today’s answer if you want it: VIVID. 

A right ol’ crafty answer today, using the same letter twice… twice. Many people are going to get stumped by this one, we feel – although it’s still one of the better-known words out there.

Meaning 'an intensely deep or bright color' or 'powerful feelings or strong, clear images in the mind', the definition of vivid is pretty… well, vivid in itself.

How did you do yesterday?

If you’ve been playing regularly and keeping that ol’ streak extended, then you’ve probably already worked out yesterday’s answer, which was BLOKE (a superbly British word that’s slang for man).

But, thanks to the genius WordleStats Twitter feed, you can now see how you stacked up against everyone else. And if you got it in under 4 attempts then kudos – you’re officially a Good Wordler.

See more

Love a bit of Wordle but annoyed it only lasts one day? Well, why don't you try Wordle Unlimited, the hugely unofficial game where you can play as many times as you like – and we've got all you need to know on how to use and play Wordle Unlimted ready for you.

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This Gmail update just made it harder than ever to avoid video calls

Avoiding video conferencing meetings could soon be trickier than ever now that Google has made it much simpler to join a video or audio call via Gmail.

The company has announced that users can now start or join meetings and audio calls from 1:1 chats in Google Chat in Gmail on Android and iOS.

“As some teams begin to return to office, while others remain distributed, we hope this makes it easier to connect with your colleagues in the hybrid work world,” Google wrote in a blog post announcing the new addition. “This feature will allow you to seamlessly switch between chat to a video or audio call when needed, helping you collaborate and move your work forward.”

Google Chat calls

Going forward, Gmail users will now see a phone and video icon in the top right corner of a 1:1 Google chat window that, when clicked, will start a direct call with the contact.

In order to join a call, you just need to select the phone or video chip within the 1:1 chat window, and while on a call, you’ll see a banner of the person you’re on a call with, the call duration and a Meet icon in the chat roster.

Missed calls will be indicated with a red phone or video icon within the conversation and the chat roster.

Google Workspace video call

(Image credit: Google)

The feature is hosted as part of Gmail, so if you select to join a call from the Google chat app, you'll be redirected to the Gmail app. If you don't have the Gmail app installed on your device, you’ll be prompted to download it via Google Play store or the App Store

The feature, which will be rolled out to all Google Workspace customers, as well as G Suite Basic and Business customers by default, is currently only available for 1:1 meetings so far. This means there's no group calls for the moment, but given the ongoing popularity of video calls, this can't be too far away.

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This new Gmail update will help you avoid hybrid working confusion

Showing up alone to an in-person meeting could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new Gmail update.

With workers across the world slowly returning to office life (if they haven't adopted hybrid working of course) physical meetings are unfortunately becoming more common once again.

But as many workforces balance home and office working, this can lead to confusion about who will actually be at a meeting in-person, and who will be there virtually – something Gmail and Google Calendar now hope to have fixed.

RSVP in Gmail

Going forward, Gmail users will now be able to specify whether they will be attending a meeting either virtually or in-person in their email RSVP.

The function had initially been added to Google Calendar back in July 2021, but is now available within Gmail RSVPs for extra functionality. Users will now see a drop-down arrow next to the “Yes” option in a meeting invite where they can select “Yes”, “Yes, in a meeting room” and “Yes, joining virtually” choices.

RSVP in Gmail

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

“With these RSVP options, you can indicate how you plan to join a meeting—in the meeting room, or virtually,” a Google Workspace blog announcing the feature noted. “Then, both the organizer and guests will be able to see how attendees are planning to attend the meeting in the event detail. This will help meeting attendees know what to expect when joining a meeting, and prepare accordingly.”

The blog did highlight that the new RSVP options are not shared with contacts on other platforms, such as Microsoft Outlook.

Google says the feature has begun rolling out now, and will be available to all Google Workspace customers, as well as G Suite Basic and Business customers, within the next few weeks.

The news comes shortly after the launch of a new “Focus time” feature in Google Calendar that will allow users to block out periods of time where they can avoid meetings and get their heads down for actual work.

Setting such a marker in your Google Calendar will also allow users to automatically decline meetings, meaning no last-minute rush to finish off work.

Need extra help? These are the best calendar apps around

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