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Google Launches A Car-Pooling Application ‘Waze’

The carpooling fees are supposed to be similar to what it would cost to take a train or type of public transportation to work.

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The Waze application is displayed on a smartphone in San Francisco. VOA

Google will begin offering its pay-to-carpool service throughout the U.S., an effort to reduce the commute-time congestion that its popular Waze navigation app is designed to avoid.

The expansion announced Wednesday builds upon a carpooling system that Waze began testing two years ago in northern California and Israel before gradually extending it into Brazil and parts of 12 other states.

Now it will be available to anyone in the U.S.

Drivers willing to give someone a ride for a small fee to cover some of their costs for gas and other expenses need only Waze’s app on their phone. Anyone willing to pay a few bucks to hitch a ride will need to install a different Waze app focused on carpooling.

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company’s offices in Toronto. VOA

About 1.3 million drivers and passengers have signed up for Waze’s carpooling service, the company says. About 30 million people in the U.S. currently rely on the Waze app for directions; it has 110 million users worldwide.

Waze’s carpooling effort has been viewed as a potential first step for Google to mount a challenge to the two top ride-hailing services, Uber and Lyft.

But Waze founder and CEO Noam Bardin rejected that notion in an interview with The Associated Press, insisting that the carpooling service is purely an attempt to ease traffic congestion.

“We don’t want to be a professional driving network,” Bardin said. “We see ride sharing as something that needs to become part of the daily commute. If we can’t get people out of their cars, it won’t be solving anything.”

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Anyone willing to pay a few bucks to hitch a ride will need to install a different Waze app focused on carpooling. Flickr

Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey also sees Waze’s service as a bigger threat to other carpooling apps such as Scoop and Carpool Buddy than to Uber and Lyft. “Carpooling is a much different animal,” he said.

It’s a form of transportation that Bardin said Waze had difficulty figuring out. Early on, Waze tried to get more drivers to sign up by emphasizing the economic benefits of having someone help cover gas costs for a trip that they were going to make anyway.

But earlier this year, Waze realized it needed a better formula for connecting strangers willing to ride together in a car. Many women, for instance, only want to ride with other women, Bardin said, while other people enjoy commuting with others who work for the same employer or live in the same neighborhood.

“Carpooling is a more social experience,” Bardin said. “A lot of time those of us working in the digital world forget that social connections are often the most important thing in the real world.”

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

Waze’s app still sets a price for each carpooling trip and transfers payments without charging a commission. That’s something Waze can afford to do because Google makes so much money from selling digital ads on Waze and its many other services.

Also Read: In India, Carpooling and Ride-Sharing Can Actually Improve Urban Mobility: Uber

The carpooling fees are supposed to be similar to what it would cost to take a train or type of public transportation to work, Bardin said. Drivers and riders can agree to adjust the price upward or downward, but the fees can never exceed the rate the Internal Revenue Service allows for business-related mileage — currently 54.5 cents per mile.

Even though Waze’s carpooling service doesn’t appear to be driven by profit motive, Ramsey isn’t convinced that will always be the case. “I do think Google is realizing that it can’t just keep making all its money from selling ads,” he said. (VOA)

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Google Walkout Organisers Face Retaliation at Work

Some 20,000 Googlers had protested last year against the Internet giant’s handling of sexual harassment and, more broadly, its workplace policies around equity and transparency

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

Two Google employees have said they have been retaliated against for helping to organise a walkout among thousands of company workers in November 2018 and are planning a meeting to discuss alleged instances of retaliation, the media has reported.

Some 20,000 Googlers had protested last year against the Internet giant’s handling of sexual harassment and, more broadly, its workplace policies around equity and transparency.

“We prohibit retaliation in the workplace, and investigate all allegations,” a Google spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Fortune on Monday.

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FILE – A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

Claire Stapleton, another walkout organiser and 12-year company veteran, said in the email two months after the protest she was told she would be demoted from her role as marketing manager at YouTube and lose half her reports, according to The Wired.

Also Read- Huawei ‘P30 Lite’ to be Available on Amazon India Soon

Organisers of #GoogleWalkout had published a list of demands for management, including an “end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees” and a “clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously”. (IANS)