New Google Maps Commuter Tab Shows Traffic Delays and Tracks the Location of Your Train or Bus

iStock.com/pressureUA
iStock.com/pressureUA

Bad news for the perpetually tardy: “I was stuck in traffic” is no longer a valid excuse for being late to work. That’s because Google Maps just added a new function that monitors traffic in real-time and lets commuters know whether their drive or public transit will be delayed. The update will be available for Android and iOS devices beginning this week.

The goal of Google’s new Commute tab is to better prepare people for the obstacles that lie ahead—say, an accident or highway congestion—or help them beat traffic altogether. Commutes during rush hour can be up to 60 percent longer than expected, Google says, citing commute data from 25 North American cities. “According to historical Google Maps data, people in North America spend a full day per month commuting—which almost adds up to a two-week vacation each year,” the company said in a statement.

Before leaving the house, you can check the app to see if your commute will be normal or longer than usual. Alternate routes will be suggested when a delay is present, ensuring you’ll get to work as soon as possible. If your commute involves a combination of driving and public transportation, Google Maps will even let you know when to leave the house based on road traffic, when the next train leaves, and how long it takes to walk from the train station to your destination.

On top of that, commuters in 80 cities around the world will be able to look at a map and track the exact location of their bus or train in real-time. Residents in Sydney, Australia, can use Google Maps to check the passenger capacity of incoming trains and busses, and Google hopes to roll out this function in other cities soon, The Verge reports.

The new update even lets you control Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play within the app so that you don’t have to toggle between apps to access your music. This is partly a safety feature for those who like to play mobile DJ while driving—although this isn’t advisable when you’re creeping in traffic and trying not to rear-end the vehicle in front of you.

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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The Reason Dogs Are Terrified of Thunderstorms—And How You Can Help

The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Deafening thunder can be a little scary even for a full-grown human who knows it’s harmless, so your dog’s terror is understandable. But why exactly do thunderstorms send so many of our pawed pals into a tailspin?

Many dogs are distressed by unexpected loud noises—a condition known as noise aversion, or noise phobia in more severe cases—and sudden thunderclaps fall into that category. What separates a wailing siren or fireworks show from a thunderstorm in a dog's mind, however, is that dogs may actually realize a thunderstorm is coming.

As National Geographic explains, not only can dogs easily see when the sky gets dark and feel when the wind picks up, but they can also perceive the shift in barometric pressure that occurs before a storm. The anxiety of knowing loud noise is on its way may upset your dog as much as the noise itself.

Static electricity could also add to this anxiety, especially for dogs with long and/or thick hair. Tufts University veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, who also co-founded the Center for Canine Behavior Studies, told National Geographic that a static shock when brushing up against metal may heighten your dog’s agitation during a storm.

It’s difficult to nail down why each dog despises thunderstorms. As Purina points out, one could simply be thrown off by a break from routine, while another may be most troubled by the lightning. In any case, there are ways to help calm your stressed pet.

If your dog’s favorite spot during a storm is in the bathroom, they could be trying to stay near smooth, static-less surfaces for fear of getting shocked. Suiting them up in an anti-static jacket or petting them down with anti-static dryer sheets may help.

You can also make a safe haven for your pup where they’ll be oblivious to signs of a storm. Purina behavior research scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan suggests draping a blanket over their crate, which can help muffle noise. For dogs that don’t use (or like) crates, a cozy room with drawn blinds and a white noise machine can work instead.

Consulting your veterinarian is a good idea, too; if your dog’s thunderstorm-related stress is really causing issues, an anti-anxiety prescription could be the best option.

[h/t National Geographic]