Tech round-up for August 4: Waze comes to Android Auto, Jawbone folds, can drones be useful?

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This week, evidence that drones can be a force for good, and why we can’t make fun of Jawbone anymore. But first, a bit of jealousy from Apple Carplay users as Waze gets Android Auto integration.

Android Auto users get Waze integration

The Waze traffic and navigation map is getting better for Android users. The service, which combines map information with real-time data on traffic from multiple sources, including drivers on the road, has now been integrated into Android Auto.

What that means is that Android Auto users can get the Waze functionality on the console screens of their vehicles, and use steering wheel buttons and touch screen controls to use the app. Not to mention voice commands.

Android Auto is available from almost all of the major auto manufacturers as well as in aftermarket stereo systems.

I’m a fan of Waze, and am patiently awaiting news that it has also been integrated into Apple’s Carplay. But Waze is a Google product, so that might take longer to happen.

Jawbone, which made the Bluetooth headsets we love to mock, is folding

It was only around 10 years ago that we were all making fun of a stereotypical business executive who was fond of talking on a mobile phone using a wireless device stuck into one ear.

Those in-ear headsets were at the forefront of wireless transmission using Bluetooth. They were prominent: you couldn’t miss them sticking out of our ears. And we were so arrogant, seeming like we were having conversations with ourselves, pointing to our ear when passers-by looked at us in disgust.

Well, Jawbone, the company that developed those earpieces and established a market for them, is shutting down.

The story is that this is all a result of Jawbone transitioning from Bluetooth headsets and speakers to connected health products. It also likely has something to do with the fact that Jawbone and Fitbit have a protracted legal battle going on around alleged patent infringement and theft of trade secrets.

Sometimes drones aren’t so bad

I’ve been known to rail about people using drones to do stupid things like chase wildlife and spy on others.

I’m even more concerned that so many people are purchasing and using the damn things without giving a thought to things like safety and privacy.

And don’t get me started about the slippery slope that is drone warfare. Hasn’t Call of Duty taught us anything?

But occasionally I’m reminded that, when used for good, drones can have a place in polite society.

The video below is footage from a drone that was flown – by a professional UAV pilot and with permission from the Monticello Dam – over a bell-mouth spillway constructed in Lake Berryessa, a reservoir in Napa County, California that provides electricity to the San Francisco Bay area.

The spillway is an overflow mechanism, and this spring was the first time since 2006 that there was sufficient water in the reservoir for the “glory hole” to be used.

If you’re wondering, the diameter of the spillway is 22 metres (72 feet) at the opening, and it narrows to 8.5 metres (28 feet) at the bottom of a 61 metre (200 feet) drop.

At the bottom of it all are turbines and other equipment to generate electricity, one good reason the pilot didn’t fly into the middle of the falling water.

Just imagine what some of the people you see flying drones would do.

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