Google Maps AI upgrades could solve your EV charging headaches

It’s a big day for Google Maps. First, the 3D buildings layer is rolling out to all Android users after months of waiting. And now we’re learning the app is expanding its eco-friendly features by introducing new ways to find EV charging stations and “lower-carbon travel alternatives”. The former, according to the announcement, aims to help electric vehicle owners map out those long road trips for the summer.

First, text summaries will appear in Google Maps describing the exact location of a nearby charging station. The tool utilizes artificial intelligence to take “helpful information from user reviews” to build directions below the name of a charger. As the company explains, you'll see step-by-step instructions telling you to drive down into an underground parking lot, follow the signs, and turn right just before you exit to find a station. 

The company explains that since it sources from the community, generated summaries are “accurate and up-to-date”. To continue feeding the feature, reviews for charging stations will ask for extra details from the type of plug you used to how long you spent waiting.

New Google Maps features

(Image credit: Google)

While driving in your EV, Google Maps will highlight nearby chargers on your car's dashboard display. Indicators provide the name of the station, how many ports are open at a given time, and the ports' charging speeds.

Lastly, Google Maps will recommend the best charging locations for people taking multi-stop trips. The suggestions it makes depend on your EV’s battery level. For example, if the car is fully charged, the app will point out stations nearer your destination rather than the ones closer to you. 

Everything you see here is scheduled to roll out within the coming months, but their availability differs. Review summaries will be available on the mobile app while the charging station indicators and suggestions will be exclusive to vehicles with built-in Google software.

Charging stations appearing on Google Maps trip

(Image credit: Google)

Google Search's travel update

The other half of the patch will see Google Maps make “public transit or walking suggestions” below driving routes  – so long as travel times are “practical.” It won’t recommend you hop on a bus if it takes longer to go from point A to point B. This feature is receiving a limited rollout as it’s only being released for around 15 cities around the world including London, Paris, and Sydney.

Google Maps new public transit recommendations

(Image credit: Google)

Google Search is also getting a travel-centric update. The search engine began adding information for long-distance train routes into results back in 2022. Moving forward, these details will include schedules and ticket prices with a purchase link on the side. What’s more, long-distance bus routes are going to be present too. 

The new train data on Search is now available across 38 countries such as the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Spain. The bus route info, on the other hand, is seeing a more limited release as it'll only show up in 15 global regions, including the United States, France, and Germany.

Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the 10 things you didn't know Google Maps could do if you want to learn about all the neat tricks.

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Microsoft charging for Windows 10 updates is a necessary evil – but will it get people to upgrade?

Microsoft has announced that from October 14, 2025, it will no longer support Windows 10 – and if you wish to continue to use the operating system, you’ll have to pay for security updates.

While the idea of paying to update Windows 10 is concerning a lot of people, sadly it’s a bit of an inevitability. By the time Windows 10 reaches that ‘end of life’ date, the operating system will be 10 years old.

By this point, it’s likely that Microsoft will have released Windows 12, while still also supporting Windows 11. The idea that even a company as big as Microsoft could offer full support for three different operating systems is rather fanciful.

In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, I think this will actually be for the best. I’d much rather Microsoft focused on supporting its current OS by releasing security updates, bug fixes and new features, rather than spreading itself too thinly with legacy support.

Sure, it would be nice to still get those Windows 10 updates for free, but I guess this is a way for Microsoft to justify keeping a small team for releasing essential security fixes for people who want to stay on the platform.

The choice is yours

This move, which was announced in a blog post (and reported by MSPowerUser), leaves Windows 10 users with a choice.

Firstly, they can upgrade to Windows 11. This is likely Microsoft’s desired outcome, as the company has been trying to encourage people to switch to the newer OS for years now, and despite various schemes, such as offering the upgrade for free, and littering users’ desktops with pop-ups suggesting they switch, many Windows 10 users remain reluctant to do so.

The threat of having to pay for updates could be enough to make them change over. While I don’t love that idea, Windows 11 is a decent OS with some useful features that people sticking with Windows 10 are missing out on. If you do upgrade, you get those new features, as well as free updates until Windows 11’s end of life, which won’t be for a while yet.

Another option is to stick with Windows 10. If you do, you’ll need to pay to get security updates (there won’t be any new features added once Windows 10 hits end-of-life). Microsoft hasn’t revealed how much this will cost, but it will likely be a subscription that will provide monthly updates.

You should also be able to use Windows 10 without paying for updates, as the operating system will continue to function after the date. This might sound appealing, but I really don’t recommend it. 

Without paying, you’ll likely not get any updates, which means if a new virus emerges or security vulnerability is discovered, your PC will remain unpatched and exposed to the risk. After Windows 10 enters its end-of-life period on October 14, 2025, there’ll be no technical support offered, either – so you really will be on your own.

Malicious actors will know that Windows 10 will no longer get free updates, so it’s likely they will begin targeting unpatched versions.

Finally, you could switch operating systems to open-source Linux. Linux distributions come in all shapes and sizes, can run on pretty much any PC hardware and offer a lot of the same features and applications as Windows 10 – and all for free. Many distros, such as Ubuntu, openSUSE and Mint, offer Long Term Support (LTS) versions, which have commitments to be updated and supported until dates far off into the future – and most of these are also free.

Of course, this is the option Microsoft would least like you to take (which might be enough to sell you on it, if you feel particularly put out by the company’s decision to charge for Windows 10 updates).

At least you won’t have choose an option soon, as there’s a while left until October 14, 2025 – and hopefully by that time we’ll all be playing GTA 6, anyway. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind for now, so you don't suddenly find yourself using a compromised version of Windows 10.

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Meta Quest 3 Elite Strap with Battery sales are paused due to a charging fault

If you've bought a Meta Quest 3 and are thinking of buying the Elite Strap with Battery, you can't – at least for the time being. Meta has paused sales of the accessory while it investigates issues with device charging.

The Elite Strap add-on offers a more ergonomic fit that's easier to adjust, and it's also available with a battery pack for longer gaming sessions between charges. It's that latter version that's been pulled, as Road to VR reports.

This hasn't come out of nowhere, either. Complaints of reliability issues have been rumbling for weeks, with users reporting that after an initial period during which everything is fine, the strap suddenly stops charging the Meta Quest 3 completely.

Meta has confirmed to Road to VR that it's manufacturing a new version of the Elite Strap with Battery that won't have this fault. Sadly, this has happened before – there were issues with the accessory straps for the Meta Quest 2 as well.

What you can do

As for what you can do as a Meta Quest 3 owner, clearly not buying an Elite Strap with Battery is a good start. Meta won't sell you one right now, but these straps still seem to be available from third-party retailers at the time of writing.

If you've already got one that's faulty, you can try returning it to Meta for a replacement, though Meta admits that this “may not necessarily resolve the problem”. It seems to be a bit hit and miss as to whether you're going to end up with a working unit.

It's not a great look for an accessory that costs $ 130 / £130 / AU$ 220, although Meta does at least now seem to be working on the problem. In our Meta Quest 3 review, we were hugely impressed with the headset itself, so it's a shame that accessories are letting it down.

Apparently there's an issue with the firmware on certain units, so hopefully new and improved versions of the strap should be out soon. Meta hasn't put a timescale on it, but it told Road to VR that these would be available “as soon as possible”.

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Apple explains what ‘Clean Charging’ is for iOS 16.1 – but it’s US only for now

iOS 16.1 is now available for iPhone 8 and newer handsets, and it comes with an interesting carbon-saving feature that helps bolster Apple's eco-friendly credentials – and the company has now explained how it works.

In a support document, Apple states that when this feature is enabled, your iPhone gains an overview of the carbon emissions being used in your area, and iOS 16.1 will charge your device during times when cleaner energy production is being used.

It's an interesting feature, and it makes us wonder how this could expand to Apple's other devices.

A reduced carbon footprint for your MacBook Pro?

Macbook Pro 14-inch

(Image credit: TechRadar)

iPhones are one of the most repeatedly charged devices that many of us rely on every day, but most of us don't think about where the electricity we use to charge our iPhones comes from.

At the moment, this feature is only available to people in the US, though we hope it gets a global rollout soon. If you're in the US and you don't see Clean Energy Charging in your battery settings, you need to have Location Services enabled, alongside System Customization and Significant Locations. These can all be found within in Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services.

It's too early to tell if the Clean Energy Charging feature will make a big difference in carbon emissions, but if it does, could we see it come to other Apple products, such as Macs and MacBooks?  With rumors that new M2 MacBook Pros could be arriving soon, it could be perfect timing for this feature to pop up in a future macOS Ventura update.

Apple recently published a press release, calling on its supply chain to fully decarbonize by 2030 and use fully-renewable sources, so it's clear that the company is getting serious about minimising the environmental impact of its products.

We're expecting the company to go harder in its renewable-energy efforts in the near future, further showing the industry how it can thrive in a clean-energy world while we enjoy sending memes to friends over iMessage.

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Realme X50 Pro 5G confirmed to have 65W SuperDart charging

Realme X50 Pro 5G is shaping up to be a spec-beast as we learn more about it. It is now also confirmed to have one of the fastest charging speeds on a phone.

Fast charging has become common fare on Realme smartphones, even in the budget segment. It originally borrowed Oppo’s VOOC charging and continued to stick with it as newer generations became available. With the X50 Pro 5G, it is looking to bring the SuperVOOC 2.0 tech to its arsenal. 

A teaser by its European arm confirms that the Realme X50 Pro 5G will feature “SuperDart Charge”, which is its version of 65W fast charging. There probably will be no official confirmation if it is the same as Oppo’s, but knowing the company’s history, it’s a rather safe bet.

For context, the Oppo Reno Ace has a 4,000mAh battery with support for 65W SuperVOOC 2.0. It takes only about 27 minutes to go from 0 to 100%, which is the fastest seen on a smartphone. A five-minute top-up is said to take the battery to about 27%. 

The rest of the specifications are no slouch either. The Realme X50 Pro 5G will be powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset with up to 12GB of RAM. IT will natively support 5G at both NSA and SA standards. It will also run on Realme UI over Android 10 out-of-the-box.

The phone was originally slated for unveiling at MWC 2020, but since the event got cancelled, Realme will be moving to an online unveiling for the X50 Pro 5G. It will now be launched online globally in Madrid on February 24th. 

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