Uber Adds 911 Button to Help Riders Feel Safer

iStock
iStock

Uber has rolled out a feature that it hopes will give riders some peace of mind on the way to their destinations. As The Verge reports, the new emergency button gives passengers the option to contact 911 from within the Uber app.

The feature is located in the "safety center"—a new section of the app that also contains information about insurance coverage, community guidelines, and the screening process for drivers. To make an emergency call, tap the shield icon in the bottom right corner of the screen and select "911 assistance" from the menu that pops up. The app will ask you to confirm that you wish to dial 911 to avoid any unintentional calls.

All drivers must pass a background check before joining Uber, but that hasn't done much to protect the company's reputation when it comes to safety. CNN reports that 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault or abuse in the past four years. The emergency button is part of a larger effort from the brand to regain customers' trust.

The new feature is a start, but it's not a guarantee that riders will receive the help they need if they find themselves in a threatening situation. Cell phones can only give 911 dispatchers a rough estimate of the caller's location, and if someone is calling from a moving vehicle, that makes the dispatchers' job even harder. Fortunately, in select locations, Uber is also testing a version of the feature that automatically sends the rider's location and trip details to dispatchers when a call is placed.

While most viral Uber horror stories are from the rider's perspective, inviting strangers into their cars creates a safety hazard for drivers as well. A similar emergency button will be added to the driver's side of the app following this current version.

[h/t The Verge]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]