This is how Google reacted to 99 smartphones 'Maps Hack'

By Xite - February 5, 2020
Google has wittily responded to a recent ‘Maps hack’ in which an artist put 99 smartphones in a wagon and walked them on a street. Google said that it is users’ creativity that helps the company....

Recently, artist Simon Weckert filled a cart with 99 second-hand smartphones and transported them in a handcart to generate ‘virtual traffic jam’ on Google Maps. While it seems fun at first, it's actually quite dangerous once you understand the gravity of the situation. Google, in response, was not only sensitive enough to understand the profundity of the situation and but also come out with a witty reply. The company said that it loves the creative uses of Google Maps.

‘Whether via car or cart or camel, we love seeing creative uses of Google Maps, as it helps us make maps work better over time. Traffic data in Google Maps is refreshed continuously thanks to information from a variety of sources, including aggregated anonymised data from people who have location services turned on and contributions from the Google Maps community,’ Google told 9to5mac.

The search engine giant also said that it has launched ‘the ability to distinguish between cars and motorcycles in several countries, including India, Indonesia, and Egypt,’ but hasn't quite cracked travelling by wagon.

For those unaware, Weckert loaded 99 borrowed smartphones with an active SIM into a wagon and turned on the Maps navigation. He walked down a street, fooling the algorithms of Maps into recognising high congestion in the area. As a result, Maps displayed the street as red which may have provided an alternate route for those who were navigating through Maps and were to cross the street where Weckert did the experiment. 

Interestingly, Weckert said that if he stopped, Google Maps wasn’t affected, which means that movement was always needed to fake a congestion. At one instance, another vehicle drove past the artist, and apparently, the driver was using Maps. Google’s system recognised that there was no traffic jam and the red colour of the street was set to normal.

Google uses a large number of devices running Maps in a single place to acquire data, and based on that data, it displays the situation on roads. The company also mentions that its systems are continuously refreshed from a variety of sources to provide the most comprehensive and accurate traffic situation possible.

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